With a blog titled “The Brand Chef,” you don’t expect to hear political rhetoric or commentary on the current U.S. presidential skirmish. But when small fissures in campaign brands rear their ugly heads, I have to set aside common thought and comment.
In a “Face the Nation” interview with Bob Schieffer, General Wesley Clark renounced Senator John McCain’s military experience as a benefit to his presidential capacity. Now, Clark – a consummate Hillary Clinton backer – has never been known for treading lightly, but with a virtual backhanded cuff to McCain’s white scalp, he smacked down everything from the Senator’s political accountability to his responsibility and credibility.
While seemingly in shock, Sheiffer pushed back, prompting Clark’s brilliant headline-making statement:
“I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”
What was the Obama team’s response – a sound slap on the wrist?
Okay, I see it’s the week before the 4th of July, but if Patriotism is the “political theme of the week,” wouldn’t you think the Obama team would have sent a spokesperson with a little more diplomacy – let alone a bit less venom? Was Clark sent out as a representative of the Obama campaign or as a hit man from the Soprano family?
From a branding standpoint, where is Obama’s brand message consistency? Obama’s campaign has never questioned McCain’s military credibility – less his ability to be commander-in-chief. Obama has wisely skirted the military point from campaign stop to campaign stop. To have Clark step up and throw the first stone creates a brand disconnect that could be huge trouble for the Obama campaign.
As expected, Obama’s camp sent out a statement on Monday rejecting the comments made by Clark and reinforcing the fact that,
“[Obama] honors and respects Senator McCain’s service…”
But has the damage already been done?
Disconnect in messaging = Brand cyanide.
Let’s stir the pot and cook up some conversation. Do you think this is an Obama brand faux-paz or is this more from the dysfunctional Democratic Party? Where does Obama go from here to quell the ire.