We've been through a lot in the two-year slog that will be remembered as Campaign 2008.
Obama’s fist bump. Palin’s lipstick. McCain’s plumber. Clinton’s tears.
We’ve been through a lot in the two-year slog that will be remembered as Campaign 2008.
What will endure? What will fade faster than a campaign promise?
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The answers depend, in part, on who wins Tuesday night.
If Barack Obama becomes president, he and Michelle may soon be fist-bumping on the White House portico.
If John McCain pulls out a victory, Tina Fey’s spot-on sendup of GOP running mate Sarah Palin could well be “the iconic image of the 2008 election,” says Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University.
Remember the minitempest over Obama’s lipstick-on-a-pig comment, and whether it was a subterranean insult to Palin? Or Hillary Rodham Clinton’s gripping account of her arrival in Bosnia under sniper fire, which never happened? Or McCain’s ad lumping Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton as just another celebrity? Or the video of John Edwards carefully coifing his hair, set to the music of “I Feel Pretty?”
And Joseph Biden’s put-down of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s speeches as nothing more than “a noun, a verb and 9/11.”
There was Palin’s eye-popping announcement during the Republican convention that her unwed teenage daughter was pregnant.
And will.i.am‘s viral Internet paean to Obama, “Yes We Can,” featuring celebrities like Scarlett Johansson and John Legend.
There was Clinton’s doomsday ad claiming she was best equipped for the 3 a.m. phone call.
And McCain’s Web ad mocking Obama as “The One.” (Complete with images of Charlton Heston as Moses parting the Red Sea.”)
There was Obama dancing his way onto the set of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” (McCain did “Ellen,” too, but he didn’t dance.)
And McCain planting himself on the couch with the ladies of “The View.”
There was the Republican convention chant of “drill, baby, drill.”
Obama had Obama Girl.
McCain had “Joe the Plumber.”
Remember Clinton choking up in New Hampshire about what was at stake in the race, and later declaring that was when she’d “found her voice?”
What will endure?
Obama’s address on race, way back in March, could well stand the test of time, regardless of whether the Democrat wins or loses.
When his campaign was thrown off-stride by his former pastor’s incendiary remarks about race, Obama faced the issue head-on and spoke to the frustrations of Americans of all races: “The anger is real. It is powerful, and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races,” he said.
For McCain, my friends, his most memorable moment may well have come far earlier, when he found redemption in the snows of New Hampshire after losing the Iowa caucuses. His candidacy had been written off not much earlier as essentially dead.
The victor’s path to the presidency will be well chronicled in future history books.
The losers’ treks, no matter how compelling, will get lesser treatment. Except, perhaps, for Obama’s historic journey.
For all of the intensity of Clinton’s quest to become the first woman president, from the dramatic high of her New Hampshire comeback to her excruciatingly long exit from the race, and all of the drama and silliness in between, says Thompson, “ask any 18-year-old freshman entering college five years from now about any of those things and I will be very surprised if any of them can tell you anything.”