Is Obama Dissing Seniors?

Talented Fixer Chris Cillizza asks whether Barack Obama's new Iowa ad will be "literally and figuratively" the candidate's most important of the cycle.

Every time I speak about my hope for America, the cynics in Washington roll their eyes. You see, they don't believe we can actually change politics and bring an end to decades of division and deadlock. They don't believe we can limit the power of lobbyists who block our progress, or that we can trust the American people with the truth. And that’s why we face the same problems and hear the same promises every four years. My experience tells me something very different. In twenty years of public service, I've brought Democrats and Republicans together to solve problems that touch the lives of everyday people. I've taken on the drug and insurance companies and won. I defied the politics of the moment, and opposed the war in Iraq before it began. This is Barack Obama. I approve this message to ask you to believe -- not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington.

Iowa is a weird place to run this ad, which is why it's so audacious in the first place. A partisan primary is a very weird time to run this ad, which is why it stands out so much. Independents don't vote in the Iowa caucus; Democrats do.

And oh, by the way: older Democrats disproportionately do. 64$ of caucus goers in 2004 were older than 50; in 2000, 63% percent were older than 50. Attempts to recruit college students to lower the average age of caucus goers have generally failed in the past, although Obama is making every effort.

His ran began to air the day before he skips an important political forum: the Iowa branch of the AARP is hosting presidential candidates in Davenport. Weeks ago, Obama decided to skip the forum.

His campaign strongly disputes the notion that Obama intends not to appeal to seniors; they are, after all, helped materially by his new middle class tax relief plan. But Obama's rivals are certain to try and exploit and heighten the generational tension embedded in Obama's argument. Turning the page implies a break with the old ways of doing things; the baby boomers are no longer the relevant generation; the younger age cohorts are fed up with partisanship, etc.