In his foreword to Mark Edward Taylor’s fascinating new look at the president, “Branding Obamessiah: The Rise of an American Idol,” Cal Thomas offers some brilliant insights.
Chief among them is this: “Whether Republican or Democrat, a person who uses the Bible other than for the purpose for which it is intended is a religious charlatan and should not be listened to.”
I will offer my own assessment of that: Thomas’s statement is so spot-on and so chilling, it paves the way for readers to truly understand Taylor’s important contribution to the growing library of books that flesh out the real Barack Obama –the man behind the myth.
Taylor postulates that the real secret to Obama’s rise was the perfect storm of branding/marketing that was not before possible. Though Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter knew how to use religious language to further their leftist goals (and thus fool much of the populace), never before has a political figure seemed as … messianic … to so many, as Obama.
People ascribe all sorts of reasons for this political phenomenon, but the thing is, Obama’s handlers marketed him to the top.
Just one of the many historical footnotes that explain his rise: As an inexperienced national figure, Obama was tapped by John Kerry to deliver the keynote at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Was Kerry in on the fix?
As Taylor points out, an improbable string of branding gifts aided Team Obama: the rise of social media, disaffected youth looking for a savior and multi-cultural benefits that weren’t at John McCain’s disposal.
No, Obama’s rise to the top can be explained largely by the branding efforts his advisors (and benefactors, like Oprah Winfrey) devised. And this cat was thinking far ahead of the national stage.
As Taylor writes: “Obama advertised his Muslim roots as part of his global packaging strategy for worldwide appeal.”
Carter and Clinton were change agents, but not on a global scale right out of the gate.
Taylor displays an unusual dose of discernment in presenting a whole slew of branding nuggets that Team Obama used on their way to putting the first black man in the White House.
For example, in Chapter 8 (“Remembering Fiction”) Taylor recounts how Oprah savaged disgraced novelist James Frey for duping her and her audience in his made-up personal tale, “A Million Little Pieces.” Yet, Obama’s “autobiography,” “Dreams From My Father,” gets a pass from change agents like Winfrey, who allow the narrative to play out. Taylor rightly calls “Dreams” fiction.
This is the kind of thing that makes “Branding Obamessiah” so gripping, for Taylor pulls the curtain back on the wizard: “Obama performed his literary looping for more than simple aesthetic enhancement to move the story along. His creation of composite characters made the ‘facts’ notoriously difficult to verify. The reader cannot know whether Obama’s characters ever existed, let alone said what was attributed to them. The characters that populated ‘Dreams’ were either unknown or dead and so couldn’t be cross-examined.”
I promise you such assessments of the subject dominate every page of “Branding Obamessiah” and represent the chief reasons I think you’ll love this book.
Usually, tell-all books on Obama focus on an aspect of his character, behavior or political agenda, and rightly so. Taylor’s niche look at how this man was marketed to a duped public makes it a very entertaining and enlightening read.
Another example of the thoroughness of Taylor’s research (he’s quite a fine writer, to boot) is his discussion in Chapter 17 of the logo that Team Obama came up with: a giant blue “O” over a red-and-white-striped horizon.
Hear Taylor’s sharp analysis again: “Obama aggressively branded his political persona with his own initial, a masterstroke of marketing savvy. Just like Superman, Obama wore his own logo, the flag of his own personal country, making him welcome anywhere here and across the globe.”
Taylor even points out that Obama’s image was carefully cultivated, incredibly, from his beginnings. Obama tells the story of tourists snapping his photo and his grandfather telling him, “I’m sure that your picture’s in a thousand scrapbooks, Bar, from Idaho to Maine.”
It probably is, thus adding to the awe many no doubt feel when they pull out the scrapbook and realize that they had brushed up against “deity” 40-odd years ago. As Taylor points out, it is the deification of the current American president that is the key to understanding his rise to power.
As to the nitty-gritty of actually finding votes, Taylor shows how Obama’s campaign staff appealed to emotion.
In “leverageable insight,” they understood that finding deep emotional needs inside each potential voter was key to tapping votes: “Citizens would like to think that they always rationally deliberate and reason through their options – especially in politics. But the process appears to be much more primal. Most people vote with their hearts – from the gut – not primarily with their heads.”
It is that key observation that forms that capstone to Mark Edward Taylor’s masterful “Branding Obamessiah.” This and other insights await you in a book you won’t want to be without.