In one of his recent -- and subsequently parodied -- attack ads on U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, Republican John McCain accused his rival of being too much of a celebrity and not enough of a political leader.
That was what I first thought of upon learning that the Obama campaign has instituted text-message alerts to inform supporters of the candidate's choice for vice presidential running mate.
So this way, if you're OMG OMG TOTALLY DESPERATE to learn whom Obama has chosen for his veep, you can sign up and learn the moment it's announced -- even before anybody Twitters it. The timing seems a little bit awkward, considering the whole Paris Hilton ad debacle. Text-message alerts for Obama's vice president assumes the sort of eager anticipation generally reserved for the second or two of Best Picture envelope-opening at the Oscars, or the naming of the Brangelina brood's latest member. You know, celebrity.
On the other hand, this could net the Obama campaign quite a few more e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers for its Rolodex of supporters. And text message initiative like this is an appeal to the Britney generation, the hordes of young supporters who have grown up drinking a highly caffeinated blend of AIM and the E! network, and who don't see the slightest problem with applying the rhetoric and strategy of celebrity infatuation to national politics. That's the crowd who made Obama into a "celebrity."
And, come to think about it, if TMZ-inspired campaigning has reinvigorated public interest in the nation's future, I don't see anything wrong with that. But I'll pass on the text message, Barack. I can wait until it shows up on Google News.
By Caroline McCarthy