Monday, January 7, 2008

Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton: A Personal Pronoun Apart

I was channel surfing this evening when I ran across a spot contrasting Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's campaign styles. I think it was a David Schuster piece, but I might be wrong. I have been looking for the video. Sadly I can't find it. The point of the piece is that Hillary's appearances on the stump emphasize Hillary and what she will do for us. The predominate pronouns are "I," and "me."

Obama's stump speech, in stark contrast, places a great emphases on the words "you," "we," and "together."

At a very personal level Hillary, despite her best intentions, is delivering a very off putting message. She is telling us that we are incapable of caring for ourselves. We need somebody to care for us. She is a good mommy and she will take good care of us.

Obama, on the other hand, is calling us to action. He is not important. He is merely the vessel for us to use when restoring our hope and pride in our country. His message is that the election is not about him. It is about us. He isn't our daddy. He is a messenger calling us to action.

David Schuster, or whoever noticed that subtle variation in personal pronouns, is on to something. It probably explains why Hillary is tanking and why Obama is soaring despite the fact that their actual positions are so similar only a policy wonk can tell the difference. I have raised four children, the youngest is 19. Trust me when I say that every young adult reaches a point where he or she no longer wants or responds to a mommy or a daddy. Most of them, on the other hand, will listen to a messenger's call to action, especially when the message is hopeful.

Here are the two latest ads from Clinton and Obama. Listen to the subtle use of personal pronouns.

First, Barack. Notice that in this ad he uses the pronoun "I" but only in connection with his role as the bearer of our message to the Washington lobbyists.

Now Hillary. This ad is all about Hillary and her readiness to lead. She doesn't call on us to do a damn thing. She will take care of everything. She isn't a message carrier. She is a parent.

Like all "war" presidents, especially presidents who call themselves "the decider," George Bush has tried to sell himself as our daddy for the last 7 years. Americans are sick to death of daddies. Hillary should fire her entire staff for not realizing what they were doing. In a year where Americans want to be called to do something important, she has tried to assume the role of mommy protector. She is toast.