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2008 Presidential Election

Things we learned from the campaign

Things we’ll never forget … and a few we wish we could

Early voting rocks. There may be a few uncertain voters across the country, but there haven’t been many in Nevada. Nearly half the state’s registered voters turned up to cast their ballots in the weeks before the election, including us. And it was truly an experience to remember—a “palooza” without the live music and mind-altering drugs, if you will. It wasn’t at all unusual to mistake polling places for street fairs, with some precincts holding walks in support of their candidates, holding mini-carnivals and hosting T-shirt hawkers galore. One Weekly voter relayed a humbling experience—standing in line for more than an hour behind a 13-year-old who, even though he couldn’t vote, wanted to be going through the line with his mother just to be part of the experience.

YouTube is election central. What’s that? Obama made McCain apoplectic during a debate? Sarah Palin winked how many times at the camera? Someone said “bullshit” under their breath? And you missed it all? No problemo. Access is just a “politics” in the search window away. And you never have to sit through the whole thing—someone’s already compiled a “greatest hits” collection. A massive political landscape is now available in easy-to-digest bites, and suddenly knowing Obama’s stance on taxes is “cool.” What put this indispensable site over the top are the user comments below each video, about as far from CNN analyst babble as you can get, and far more entertaining.

Photoshop isn’t funny anymore. Things are already too convoluted, distorted and hard to follow without trying to figure out if the weird but perhaps plausible image someone just forwarded is real.

Now even words can be Photoshopped. If JFK were alive today, his famous speech about what you can do for your country would have been truncated by his opponent’s ad gurus so that he’d just be saying, “Ask not!” And the attack ads would claim, “The candidate who doesn’t want you to ask questions—he just wants you to shut the hell up!” Here’s an idea for campaign organizers: Next time, put Paul Harvey on the payroll.

Maybe vicious attack ads don’t work (sometimes). In North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole’s “godless” campaign against Kay Hagan blew up in her face. Sarah Palin’s “palling around with terrorists” remarks seemed to only increase donations to Obama’s campaign. McCain’s butchering of Obama’s and Biden’s words was immediately exposed for the sham it was. Obama went on TV for a half-hour and never once mentioned his opponent or the incumbent president and won by one of the largest margins of victory in history. Could it be that a message has finally been sent to all those scribes poisoning their pens in future campaign war rooms? You’ll know in 2010.

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