Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Barack's Brand

A good title, but there's little analysis on the premise in a Chicago Tribune story today entitled, "Obama 'brand' has taken a hit."
"They made a very serious choice that will have long-standing consequences - to put their brand at stake in order to try to deliver this knockout blow, that they've been campaigning about this -- you know, with this notion of politics of hope. I don't think that that's how they've behaved," said Clinton strategist Geoff Garin.

There's no doubt that Barack is willing to cross over to the dark side when circumstances require. As he described yesterday, after you take a few elbows to the ribs, you have to respond. While this has brought him down into the ring that he sought to float above, the question is - does the brand remain strong even as he mixes it up like any old street fighter?

For the sake of primary season, I suspect that the Obama calculation is correct - his brand as the good guy will remain strong enough as Hillary solidifies her brand as the 'do anything to win' candidate - that he can afford to do the dance he's doing. Democrats know the game that the Clintons are playing, and most of them don't like it.

The damage that's done is, of course, long term. It will be harder for Barack to act like the Messiah during the general election. He and McCain will mix it up on equal terms - one party nominee against the other - and Barack will be forced to answer for his thin resume and shaky associations, as John McCain will have to answer for his long history in public life.

This is the gift that Hillary has given the nation.

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