A reader writes:
Joyner says McCain is the more known commodity and Obama the lesser known, echoing a common theme among political insiders. Even the McCain campaign believes it to be true. To anyone outside the Washington bubble, though, this idea is total nonsense.
Over the past year, while McCain and the Republicans have sat on their hands and helplessly watched, Barack Obama has become an absolute pop culture and media sensation. America is literally obsessed with him. He's a celebrity candidate who became a celebrity by running for president; he's been discussed, debated, and argued over on television, in newspapers, in political magazines, in gossip magazines, on the internet, among every age group, every demographic, every race, and in every subset of American life. It's easy to forget this when you're refreshing Drudge and Halperin every two minutes as us junkies are wont to do, but when it comes to the non-political media, Barack Obama is a superstar, while McCain is a nonentity. He is barely even mentioned.
McCain had his chance to seize the narrative with both hands during the waning months of the Democratic primary. He failed. Thanks to HIllary's campaign, Obama is as defined as he can be in the public consciousness, almost as much as Hillary and Bill Clinton at this point. Most primary campaigns fly under the radar, but this primary campaign was rated by Entertainment Weekly as the surprise TV hit of the season. What's more, Hillary and Barack campaigned aggressively in all 50 states. McCain campaigned in about 10.
On top of all this, Obama has the lopsided money advantage, the lopsided enthusiasm advantage, the lopsided technology advantage, the lopsided earned media advantage, the lopsided paid media advantage, the lopsided volunteer and voter registration advantage, the lopsided issue advantage, the lopsided party advantage, and the lopsided ground army advantage. It's too late for John McCain to "define" Barack Obama. That ship has sailed. In fact, it's Obama who is very quickly defining McCain. Political insiders who have "known" John McCain since 2000 forget that the vast majority of voters have a very hazy memory of that primary election, if they have any at all. In fact, I'd guess that most voters have two impressions of John McCain: that he is old, and that he is a full-throated supporter of the Iraq war. And nothing he has done so far in the campaign has remotely challenged those impressions.