LOLBoris and LOLObama
OK, I’m going to make a clear prediction: Barack Obama is gonna win. I should add that, when Gordon Brown was 10 points down in 2010, I predicted he’d be the next PM: that the disastrous Tory campaign would fail to convince people. When Ken was a mile behind, I was confidently asserting that he would be the next mayor – that differential turnouts would swing it for him. It seems I have a knack for nearly being right. That’s a spin doctor’s way of saying ‘wrong’.
With that in mind, here’s the thing about Obama – and the lesson we learnt from Boris.
People think young people backed Obama because he is radical. I wish that was so. The conventional wisdom is that tens of thousands of young people turned out for him because, like them, he is a raging lefty who wanted to completely transform America. The truth surely more that American young people, whilst to the left of their parents, certainly aren’t the socialists that Fox News would make them out to be. Nope. Like so many people in London, many of them backed Obama not because he is a communist, but because he is cool. Whilst campaigning in local elections last week, I met Oxford students who were voting Green in Oxford and Boris in London – they liked our policies and his hair. OK, Barack doesn’t have ridiculous hair, but he can – in a Youtube clip watched almost as many times as his 2008 DNC nomination acceptance speech – shoot a three pointer at the first attempt:
and whilst they say that you campaign in poetry but govern in prose, he’s taken of late to campaigning in song:
There’s a reasonable case to be made that his mocking of Donald Trump at the 2011 Whitehouse Correspondent’s Dinner ended The Donald’s political career:
Similarly, can you imagine Romney giving this year’s speech?:
Here’s my point: once all the major decisions which directly impact on people’s lives are outsourced to corporate monopolies, then personality does begin to matter. Usually, politicians fit so neatly into the stereotypical ‘middle aged man’ category that they are indistinguishable. Other than that, you get a couple of other plastercasts – ‘intense young politician’ ‘charismatic front person’. But occasionally, someone breaks through that mould. And when people do, they are usually loved. Boris is, alas, just such a person. And so is Obama: he can do the charisma, the inspiring speech. But there is much more to him than that, and that humour and that sense of humanity help make him much less vulnerable: how can you hate a guy who makes you laugh? Compare him to the dull as shitty lager Romney, and you begin with a clear head-start: if 2% of voters stump for the cooler candidate, then the boring one has to make that up elsewhere.
Of course, none of this is to say that there isn’t a significant group of people who will vote on policy issues. There are lots of other reasons to believe Obama will win again, but we have months to go through those. But in the week that Boris Johnson won London mayor, it’s worth reflecting that, in the run for the Whitehouse, Obama has the LOL factor on his side.