Barack Obama has announced that he will be launching a presidential exploratory committee, eschewing fancy launching pads like the Sunday talk shows or a Katrina backdrop and taking it straight to YOU — the people — via his website. In keeping with all the other honors YOU have received this year, starting with the Time Person of the Year and continuing on with nods from AdAge, Fox Sports, and Spin, Obama has specifically bypassed the usual messengers and taken his message straight to the heart of it:
Years ago, as a community organizer in Chicago, I learned that meaningful change always begins at the grassroots, and that engaged citizens working together can accomplish extraordinary things.
So even in the midst of the enormous challenges we face today, I have great faith and hope about the future - because I believe in you.
And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee.
According to MSNBC, the message went up online shortly after 10 a.m., along with the text of the message sent out in an email sent to supporters.
Pretty savvy move, actually, on Obama's part, with the obvious bounty of media coverage to come (never mind in the lead up), to say nothing of the suddern traffic possibilities on his website (if he slaps Google ads up there quick he can totally rake it in!). That's why it's savvy — Obama knows that he's been the object of scrutiny and fascination, obviously, and this is a great way to sow he's not courting it (even though the citizen journalism touch will provide additional play). Says Obama in his message: "Running for the presidency is a profound decision - a decision no one should make on the basis of media hype or personal ambition alone," which addresses the "rock star" buildup around him and, methinks, takes a wee poke at other competing candidates who shall remain nameless for whom naked ambition for the presidency has become something of a defining characteristic. He also takes more than a poke at Iraq — "a tragic and costly war that should have never been waged" — and that, as a junior Senator who came on in January 2005, he can safely say he did not vote for. All that said, now that he's declared let the knives come out; there's no buildup without backlash, so we'll see what the next few months bring.
Update: Apparently John Edwards pre-empted his New Orleans announcement with a YouTube video, though technically the YouTube announcement was an announcement of the announcement — I kid you not. Here's the quote: "Tomorrow morning, from this place, I will announce that I'm a candidate for the President of the United States," which had been similarly announced prior to the actual announcement. I know. Confusing, isn't it? Perhaps that's why the YouTube announcement-of-announcement slipped under the radar; see more at this detailed post from the Blogger's Blog.
Late update to the update, Jan. 26/07: I have just seen the additional comments to the post, including that by Elizabeth Edwards, whom I am flattered took the time to add to the post. I reiterate that my assessment of the "announcement" was based on the language used by Edwards himself in the YouTube video ("...I will announce") as well as the way the announcement (and surrounding announcements) were framed by the press (supporting links provided above). As for flying under the radar, I will say that around the time of Edwards' announcement I was checking the news regularly online and on the cable nets in the course of my regular duties at HuffPo's Eat The Press, and failed to see it mentioned — of course, it is very easy to miss stories with the glut of news out there, but after asking around to a few other media-addled colleagues, the consensus remains that the Edwards internet announcement was not given much media play (and to the commenter who noted that the video had gotten 103,000 views by the time of posting, well...in viral video terms, that just isn't that much, especially two weeks later). I think it's fantastic that Edwards is embracing the medium, though, and applaud his initiative in getting out front with live-streaming, as Elizabeth Edwards points out, and being proactive about reaching Americans. To be honest, all this announcing hoopla is just noise at this point — there's a solid year and a half before decisions are made and actions speak a lot louder than video clips. Edwards' record speaks for itself thus far, and, presidency or no, he is clearly a person with a great deal to offer the country. That's what's important and to the extent that commenters felt this post undermined that I apologize. Thank you all for being so engaged - next time I'll look at the comments a bit more rigorously!
This post originally appeared on HuffPo's Eat The Press.