Over at the The New Republic, Michael Crowley writes:
More handwringing about Obama's optics: I see that tickets for his acceptance speech at Denver's Invesco Field stadium sold out instantly. In light of the apparent traction Republicans got with their 'Celebrity' meme you have to wonder if the Obama team is reconsidering the wisdom of this move. I would recommend any possible stagecraft to minimize the event's scale.
No. No. No. Crowley's instinctive response here demonstrates much of what's been wrong with the Democratic approach to politics over the last decade or so. Obama's ability to draw large enthusiastic crowds is one of his chief political strengths. It is ludicrous not to showcase that strength just because your opponent has--in classic Rovian style--tried to turn it into a liability. That's how you lose elections.
The way to deal with the "celebrity" charge is not to lower your profile; it's to turn that charge back around on McCain. If I were advising Obama, I'd tell him to get up there in front of that sold out stadium and say the following:
My opponent has taken to calling me a "celebrity" in all of his commercials. The suggestion, I can only assume, is that all of you (gesturing to the crowd) show up at events like this and donate your time and your money to this campaign because you're all adoring groupies who are obsessed with me. Now, that would certainly be flattering if it were true, but I'm not going to delude myself. The reality is I can't act, I can't sing, and my personal life is incredibly boring.
The truth is that no one would be paying any attention to me at all if I wasn't talking about things that really matter to a lot of people. You're not here tonight--and you're not watching at home--because you want to be entertained. Lord knows there are plenty of things that you could be doing with your time right now that would be far more entertaining than listening to me. No, you're here tonight because you love your country and you're concerned about the direction it's been heading over the last eight years.
You're not here tonight to see what kind of outfit I'm wearing or to hear my latest hit single--and if you are, I think you're probably going to be disappointed. No, you're here because you want change, you want a government that fights for people like you and not on behalf of powerful special interests; you want a government that keeps you safe by pursuing a rationale foreign policy abroad and keeps your family secure by creating jobs, ensuring access to affordable health care, and fighting for energy independence.
That's why you're here. That's why you're volunteering your time at record levels. That's why you're contributing your hard-earned money in record amounts.
So remember, when John McCain and his surrogates call me a "celebrity," they're not insulting me; they're insulting you. They're insinuating that you are a mindless groupie rather than a concerned citizen, a fan rather than a voter.
But it's not going to work. You know why you're here, you know why you're watching, and you're much smarter than they give you credit for.