The Democrats just have to hope they're better than the Phils with a runner in scoring position.
Not that his supporters need worry much. He has a huge lead and an even huger advantage in ad spending. Also, his campaign hasn't been like the Phillies, who have reached the threshold of final victory despite lots of strikeouts, thanks to many three-run homers. Obama doesn't swing for the fences. He plays small ball.
No "Morning in America" from this guy. No "A Town Called Hope." Unlike the ad campaigns of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, Obama's will be remembered not for its power but for its astonishing discipline.
It would have seemed logical, for instance, to exploit the candidate's stirring oratory to carve a dozen 30-second slices of transcendence, meant to touch and inspire. Nope. After GOP wisecracks about superficial celebrity began to gain currency, both Obama's live appearances and his ads veered light on style, heavy on talking points. The campaign seems to have internalized the advertising axiom that just as the client is beginning to grow tired of the slogan, the public is just beginning to notice it.
That's a bit of a pity, because Obama at the lectern is not merely some slick silver tongue. His speech on race in America, for instance, was one of the smartest, most incisive examinations of the topic ever written. That's what made it so thrilling. Ominous portrayals of John McCain's health-care plans ... not so much.
For those of us infuriated, disgusted and just plain saddened by McCain's embrace of standard GOP fear 'n' smear tactics, it's also been a bit frustrating that Obama hasn't lashed back to debunk lies and expose hypocrisy. But not taking the bait has been shrewd strategy, too; the absence of such advertising became advertising for his preternatural focus and poise. Meanwhile, for once, the press has done a pretty good job exposing the smears, and Tina Fey's Palin turns on "Saturday Night Live" have been a priceless expose-the-hypocrisy proxy.
Indeed, in terms of memorable advertising, the Obama campaign has left it to proxies, too. The Emmy-winning video "Yes, We Can" was produced in the early days of the race by Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am and his celebrity pals. It was and is a masterpiece.
Now, as the campaign draws to a close, comes another, far less ambitious but uniquely pointed spot from a grass-roots group called Mamas for Obama. It features another ex-"SNL" cast member, Julia Sweeney, and her daughter.
"You know what I want? I want a president that I am not embarrassed about. For eight years, I've been embarrassed about our president. My daughter is 8 years old. That means for her entire life, I've been embarrassed about our president. ... And then along came Obama. And not only am I not embarrassed by him, I look up to him. And, no, I don't love everything he has said or every single thing he has voted for, but he inspires me. ... It's such a relief to actually admire him. ... Because he represents the best of us: our open-mindedness, our fantastic educational system. I love his internationalism. I love his intellect. And when did 'intellectual' become a bad word, anyway?"
The kid pipes in here and there, more cutely than obnoxiously, to punctuate things and remind you this is a mom talking. Finally, Sweeney returns to the pitch: "How exciting would it be to have him president? So the opposite of embarrassing!"
As small a desire as you can imagine. But a small little swing can bring the runner home.