Obama Wakes up The Voters: The “Romnesia” Effect

Obama on the Campaign Trail

By invoking the term that op-ed columnists, twitter activists and bloggers have been using for a year or so, Obama is demonstrating to prospective voters that heʻs the kind of leader who:

1. Has a sense of humor.

2. Pays attention to the language and ideas that are galvanizing discussion.

3. Says it like it is, with savvy.

The key to making ALL THREE impressions is that Obama needs to tell the truth — cite real sources — when he talks about Romnesia. Itʻs not just a joke — it has to become a valid description. And Obama has been fact-checking Romney, quoting the candidateʻs conflicting promises right and left.

Heʻs using Romnesia in the ways it was first created a year or so ago, as a description of inauthentic self-representation to fit the desires of the voters he wanted to gain. But I also love Monbiotʻs take on Romnesia, that Romney is invoking the myth of the self-made millionaire while not acknowledging the foundation of his inherited wealth and privilege.

Whichever one we choose, itʻs a great label — more powerful in many ways than the claims the Republicans made about Obamaʻs inauthentic birth certificate, a powerful stimulus to xenophobic conspiracy lovers, but easily disproven. Romney has to be perfect now, consistent to the extreme, to convince people that this particular metaphor isnʻt valid.

Itʻs all about the myth and hope of authenticity, folks — who has it, who doesnʻt. Remember, authenticity is as authenticity does, so all this spin is only spin. But even spin has a power to it, as shown by the media frenzy around Obamaʻs use of the term.


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