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A Little "PR" Advice For Senator Obama

A Little "PR" Advice For Senator Obama

By Sherwood Ross

If Senator Obama spends his time between now and the Pennsylvania primary April 22 attacking Senator Clinton he will have focused on the wrong target. Public Enemy No. 1 in America today is George Bush, not Hillary Clinton. When there's a Mafioso in the White House you don't spend your time attacking a legislator he's got in his pocket that voted his way. You go after the capo de regime.

There's enough material on Bush's crimes for Obama to come up with a new "J'Accuse" white paper every day---unless, of course, he prefers to go on quibbling with Hillary over health plans. Health care, after all, is perceived as Hillary's strong suit and the one radio spot she ran for Wyoming focused on it.

Obama, of course, is right not to respond in kind to Hillary's smears. As Bob Herbert pointed out in the March 8, New York Times, when asked if she believed Obama was a Muslim, Ms. Clinton replied, "there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know." Got that? So maybe Obama is a Muslim after all, Hillary hints.

"While still calibrating how to challenge Mrs. Clinton, advisers to Mr. Obama seemed to settle on an approach by seizing on her delay in releasing her income tax returns and the slow pace at which papers from the Clinton White House are being made public," The Times reported March 8th. Well, aren't those exciting issues? Snore!

How much better off Obama would be to turn the media spotlight on a detested president! He's got a fantastic educational opportunity if he exploits it. For example, he might issue a new white paper on Bush wrongdoing each day for the rest of the campaign. Here are a few suggested press conference topics Obama might consider the first week:

Monday: Present a detailed white paper about the scores of horrific violations of the U.S. Constitution of which Bush is guilty. Why should judges be strict constructionists while the president is allowed to run amok?

Tuesday: Disclose the financial ties to the oil majors of top Republican politicos such as Condoleezza Rice. Explain how they cashed in and later urged a war that has doubled the price of a gallon of gas from $1.60 to $3.20.

Wednesday: expose the illegalities of extraordinary rendition, the dragnet arrests across the Middle East, and how thousands are being held without due process.

Thursday: lay out a blueprint for national educational uplift, from Head Start to Pell grants, from job training and retraining to community college expansion, to vocational training and a national living wage.

Friday: Call for indictments of those responsible for the torture scandal that has shocked the conscience of the world. Scores of high Bush officials are culpable. Start with Bush and Vice President Cheney and name 'em all.

Saturday: present the true cost of the war, as a trillion bucks is just a preliminary estimate. And who needs $1.5-trillion in Pentagon research outlays for Death Star-type attack platforms, biological warfare and atomic weapons? Clearly, the runaway military industrial complex President Eisenhower warned of needs to be stopped.

Sunday: Call for an "American Marshall Plan" to overcome years of neglect. Offer plans to rebuild our neglected infrastructure, inner cities and, particularly, New Orleans.

Continue this informational process, day in, day out, a new topic daily.

Acknowledging our own suffering is slight compared to Iraqis' ordeal, the honorable candidate will say, "Our first obligation is to restore Iraq. President Bush, you can't lay waste to a country and walk away." Iraq's need is URGENT.

Recall Bush promised to make Iraq's infrastructure "the best in the region." That, of course, is the kind of shabby lie Americans have come to expect of him. One authority described his actual record as "one of the greatest colonial rip offs in history." So let's hear the Democrats articulate a true rehab plan now.

And since he's supported the war from day one, may we hear Senator McCain's plan for rebuilding Iraq's war-shattered housing, roads, electric plants, water-works', oil pipelines, schools, stores, hospitals, public buildings, ad infinitum? Obama needs to remind Senators Clinton and McCain of the adage: "You broke it; you own it."

Overall, though, attacking Bush and ignoring Clinton may be Obama's best strategy.


(The author has worked as a reporter for major dailies and wire services, as a civil rights executive, radio talk show host and public relations consultant to more than 100 entrepreneurial firms, corporations, non-profits, municipal governments, national magazines, and universities. Reach him at

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