Without noticing it, we are witnessing a very disturbing phenomenon.
Brand image has always (at least in my lifetime) been a factor in presidential politics. Now it has become the dominant factor.
Yesterday, in a very astute article, former Mayor of SF, Willie Brown, pointed out that this is the first election that will be determined by a vice presidential pick.
Although they are running for different offices, don't kid yourself -- the two major players in this race are Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.
To partisans on either side, the other looks unqualified for high office. To non-partisan observers, an unbiased look at their resumes, executive experience, and accomplishments, raises the question of whether either of these people is qualified to run the country.
They are two attractive and amiable lightweights. What they have is star power.
In previous elections we've had candidates with star power running against candidates without (Kennedy vs Nixon; Reagan vs Carter/Mondale.) Each time, the star has won. This is the first time we have two "star power" candidates running at once.
In the entertainment age, star power rules. Literally.
But There's Hope:
Most Americans vote on brand (Democrat vs Republican; Liberal vs Conservative.) But the ones who determine presidential elections -- the independent voters -- are usually a little more thoughtful and read the ingredients. Maybe we can count on the independents this time to be more conscientious.