Hey, Remember When Obama Really Wasn’t That Great?

13May08

I barely do. Honestly. While I may have become a believer in Obama, I certainly wasn’t always. While part of that is people like me coming around to him (and abandoning my tragically less electable Joe Biden, who should be the Secretary of State in the Obama administration), the other story, one that has been largely ignored, is how Obama’s campaign actually improved exponentially in the weeks before Iowa up until now. Obama became much better versed on policy, his message became consistent and powerful, and his success while basically entirely eschewing the negative bate thrown at him by Clinton is nearly unbelievable in the post-modernist Rovian era.

I can’t stress enough how much I want him to be president. But there are criticisms by Hillary supporters that Obama supporters are basically unthinking cult members, or “Obamabots” as they have been labeled. This is a pathetic criticism by the Clinton camp, and I’m sure Dr. Freud would be intrigued by its projectionist implications, especially since we already know that only dumb white people support Clinton (please, I come from the white working class background, I mostly jest). But anyway, to prove we aren’t all robots, here is a review I wrote of Obama’s then discombobulated website, around November 2007. Enjoy, knowing the Democratic candidate has corrected all the missteps pointed out…

Barack Obama has garnered much attention for his use of the internet in this particular election, primarily due to his association of being the candidate of the youth. Aside from his own website, Obama currently has the largest Facebook group of any presidential candidate (now that Stephen Colbert is out of the race) at 381,069 in his official group (and thousands of others in non-official groups), and has also succeeded in attracting attention on MySpace as well. Simply put, Obama is clearly following the trend of social networking websites and using them to his advantage.

Obama’s own website should be a reflection of his savvy on other websites. The viewer is greeted by a YouTube video of Obama briefly stating his case for the presidency, as would typically be expected. The video element allows the user to feel immediately connected to the person, and it allows Obama to show off his best asset – oration. The website has an immediately personal feel.

However, immediately to the left of the YouTube video are blank informational fields requiring the user to sign up for his mailing list in order to enter the website. If it wasn’t for some careful web-browsing and the discovery a hidden link, the user, who may simply wish to gather some information on Obama and would not want to bombarded with campaign emails, would not be able to enter the site. While Obama is wise in allowing the more committed users to sign up for updates immediately, it may turn those away who don’t wish to deal with the spamming. These are potential voters, and Obama should recognize this flaw, and institute clear links directly to his site such as the Edwards and Clinton campaigns do.

Once inside the actual campaign site, one cannot help but be immediately overwhelmed. Obama’s page has more links than a sausage factory. The website tries to distinguish too many things at once; the user is forced with trying to make sense out of links to donate to the campaign, watch a video of Obama’s latest speech, RSVP to a rally in Iowa, buy from the Obama online store, RSVP to three other rally’s, to “join the Countdown to Change,” Barack TV, current news on Obama, the latest HQ blog, Obama’s Iowa HQ and New Hampshire HQ, My.Barack.Obama.Com, the “action center,” as well as links to popular websites at the bottom of the page. If the last sentence seems too long, then Barack Obama’s website clearly needs some sort of visual re-organization, because it is nearly impossible to find any information on the candidate’s actual positions. The widely used criticism of Obama, that he is for vague operational change instead of offering specific plans for organizations certainly holds true thus far.

If the user is not already turned off by the site, he or she can find a conspicuously less obvious tab outlining Barack Obama’s positions. For example, we can click on Obama’s “Plan to End the Iraq War,” and again, a criticism of Obama comes to the surface. The first two paragraphs essentially only differ in semantics; take for example the first sentences of each of the paragraphs: “Before the war in Iraq ever started, Senator Obama said that it was wrong in its conception,” versus “Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning.” These sentences, besides making a high school English teacher cringe, also say nothing about his actual “Plan to End the Iraq War.” It is only when we scroll down, we are led to an unspecific plan, starting with: “withdrawing our troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year.” Not only does this plan not explain anything to any user researching Obama, it does not even make sense. The average user has no explanation of how large a “brigade” is, nor does Obama give a reason for his fluctuation of “one or two brigades” per month. Furthermore, since Obama will not be president by next year, his plan cannot come into fruition, thus completing this process “by the end of next year” is a completely moot point to make. His plan is hidden from view on the main site for good reason.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the site is the Obama blog, a concept which has real promise. Instead of writing the blog himself as would appear to be the case, Obama’s blog is no more than stories posted in his favor by those working on his campaign. In the blog, one would expect typical blog format, in which the creator of the blog interacts with the people reading it, thus allowing a discussion to be formed. However, Obama himself is no where to be found. The blog, which could function as a well-monitored travel journal for Obama to relate his experiences with meeting the American people, is squandered. We are not allowed an in-depth view of a man who is running for president primarily on character values. We are allowed to comment, but only if we have registered with the website, and while in truth this saves the campaign face from enemy attacks, even positive comments are not displayed.

This student must wonder if all of the hype surrounding Obama’s campaign may only be attributed to the lack of knowledge regarding the internet, especially by older political pundits and columnists. It is truly a shock to come across such disorganization from a candidate that is trying to be the leader of the free world. The only positives this site has going for it are the near-requirement to sign up for Obama’s mailing list, and that the disorganization hides Obama’s lack of political policies and experience.

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One Response to “Hey, Remember When Obama Really Wasn’t That Great?”

  1. Great Post…

    Godfather (theslowbleed.com)


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