Friday, February 01, 2008

Obama "Harry and Louise's" Hillary Clinton

Ezra Klein discusses an Obama mailer which is almost a complete copy of the (in)famous Harry and Louise campaign from 1994's Clinton care debates (created by my former boss Chip Kahn). See also The System by Haynes Johnson and David Broder.

Klein discusses the mailer in light of each candidates health care plans, and it is a pretty good analysis, particularly when dealing with the issue of affordability and coverage mandates.

However, the mailer is absolute brilliance in its design and the sub-message. First, it addresses a particuarly vital issue and trashes Obama's opponent's direct message. The mailer of course, as Klein points out, fails address teh same weaknesses in his plan. But Obama's plan is not nearly as well known as Clinton's plan, which is, in large part, a tweaking and updating of a 14 year old plan that was defeated. In this way, the Harry and Louise mailer is brilliant--absolutly brilliant as it does three additional things at the same time it undermines his opponent's current message.

First, the visual references in the ad tie Hillary to a failed policy effort, one in which she played a very visisble role. Second, by tying her to the failed Clintoncare initiative, it undercuts her "experience" factor as despite the lessons that come from failure, most people don't consider failures to be valid experience, at least not without some attendent successes to offset the failures. Third, it puts Hillary right were Obama wants her, in the past. His is a campaign about the future and as the ad references, she is a relic of the past.

Brilliant, I say, brilliant.

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