Branded Empire: Political Conventions

Some people relish Super Bowl Sunday. Others ogle the Olympics. Me, I never miss coverage of both political conventions. I hunker down on the sofa with my trusty dog Luna and soak it all in, even the lousy speeches. This election year I’ve been struck by the marketing savvy of the Democrats. And shocked by both parties’ failure to grasp the fundamentals of gender politics.

It’s clear that Barack Obama is benefiting from having people on his team such as Ann Fudge former CEO of Young and Rubicam, not to mention Oprah Winfrey. The Greco-Roman set design for his speech gave the impression he already had the gig. When he finished and walked back into the faux White House with his family, it was like a happy ending to a long day on the job. The DNC beat out the GOP’s convention earning 30 percent more in corporate sponsorship fees. And his campaign is tracking the web and is tuned into the blogosphere.

Back in April, blogger Joe Jaffe dared Obama to respond to his post criticizing the campaign for spending too much on traditional media, especially television. Jaffe’s beef was that if the Obama campaign was sincere about reaching younger voters, it shouldn’t use a dinosaur medium. Obama replied. Someone in Obama’s camp had to be tracking Web commentary and had to know Jaffe’s influence made him worthy of a reply.

Back to the convention. My faithful dog Luna is such a sensitive creature. She can’t bear it when people raise their voices. She picks up on passive aggression, let alone aggressive aggression. Anything with venom in it, and she tucks her tail and slinks away.

As Obama’s speech wore on, he began lacing into John McCain. Luna’s ears perked up and before I knew she was squeezing herself under the sofa. So for those who fear that Obama lacks the machismo to defend himself against McCain, I can tell you, he scored high on the Luna senso-meter for steely talk.

As for the Republicans, they’ve been stalled by the latest Gulf storm. But Laura Bush got a rousing reception when she spoke. Cindy McCain got warm applause. I’ll stay tuned to see how Sarah Palin is received.

That leads me to my point about the strange disconnect in both parties regarding Hillary supporters. They’re angry and it’s not going away until someone, hopefully one of the candidates, validates their anger by using the “D” word. Discrimination. The plain truth is that women are discriminated against. They earn less, have less power, and enjoy less upward mobility. These are proven facts. Hillary is a symbol of how far women have come, in the same way that Obama is for African Americans. Asking Hillary supporters to “get over it” and “get in line” only exacerbates their frustration. And asking them to get behind a female VP who is unqualified for the job insults them. Someone needs to drop the “D” bomb so these women feel heard. Then the healing can begin and Hillary loyalists will throw their support behind the candidate who had the machismo to speak the truth.