If the medium is the message, where does Barack Obama’s announcement of Joe Biden as his running mate fit in? First leaked by CNN and announced shortly afterwards via text message and on the Internet at 3:00am, the message employed an entirely different medium than previous vice-presidential picks. Does Obama wish to say that he is the candidate of change because he used a new format or that his ticket now possesses stability and foreign policy experience because of Biden’s profile?
Marshall McLuhan meant to say that fact that people in the 1960s had begun watching television in mass numbers, which delivered information in short bursts in between commercial advertisements, was the real message, not what was broadcast on the screen. The change from more traditional and static methods of delivering information was the significant event, not the fact that the television debates between Nixon and Kennedy determined who would be president for the first time.
Essentially, what McLuhan foretold has come to pass. Cultural sophistication has been totally shattered, young people are more concerned about who has the nicest $500 satchel than what’s happening around them or in the world as a whole. American television spends hours dissecting every aspect of the presidential campaign to the point of tedium yet provides only cursory reporting on the conflict between Russia and Georgia, which could escalate to a far more serious problem.
John McCain tells voters that Barack Obama is more of a celebrity and unfit to lead, and the public believes him. Almost a quarter of Americans don’t believe that Obama is a Christian because of his name. McCain’s income and multiple houses make more news than his policies. The Internet and blogs will certainly help decide the election but the level of discourse is wholly superficial.
Regarding the V.P. pick, I think Obama managed to have it both ways to a degree. He has kept his core constituents involved and has responded to some concerns about his ticket. However, the marathon campaign has been over-analyzed to such a degree that media pundits are actually speaking as if this decision will determine the election. Joe Biden can’t receive any votes for president in November. Talking about improving the economy, promoting global stability, and protecting the world from future environmental destruction should be the paramount issues, not the name in small print on the ticket.