Klossner: What's in store for Election '08?
There has been much talk about the need for a president/administration that understands the role of technology and can implement sound information technology government policy. The lack of an official federal CIO leaves many people thinking the administration has not realized the full potential of IT governmentwide.
Some observers are encouraged by both candidates' use of the Internet in the current campaign. They have used the Web to deal directly with misinformation, publicity and fundraising, among other issues. That got me wondering: What might we learn about the candidates' IT philosophy by perusing the stores on their campaign Web sites?
The Web sites used for this research are barackobama.com and johnmccain.com.
The first thing I noticed, when entering Barack Obama's site, was that visitors are asked to register, providing their name and e-mail address, so that they can be added to the campaign's electronic mailing list. Is this a sign of bureaucracy to come? McCain's site offers this sign-up as an option, not as a gate.
Once in the stores, I decided I would start by looking for golf balls. I wanted to know if there was a difference in each campaign's brand preference, since golf balls are something that candidates can always move to their business supporters.
For the record, Barack Obama's store offers three Top Flite XL balls for $15.
The McCain site doesn't offer golf balls, but it does offer a combination key chain/ball marker/divot repairer, so it's not as if they're insensitive to the needs of the golfer. McCain, who must figure that his supporters have enough golf balls, clearly could spin this as another populist attempt by Obama to flood the golf courses of America with new golfers.
I was surprised to discover that neither site offered flag lapel pins for sale, considering the heightened interest in this accessory during recent months of the campaign. I would have guessed that both campaigns would have avoided the appearance of unpatriotic-ness.
But other lapel pins are available. Obama offers four lapel pins -- three with various campaign slogans, and one available in the shape of any state and emblazoned with "Obama '08." All pins cost $10 each.
McCain's site offers six lapel pins, including two state-shaped pins, one with "McCain '08" and one with the good senator's photo on the shape of your state. (I didn't check to see if that was a problem for the Hawaiian pin.) The state pins go for $15.00 each. McCain's site also offered a "Sportsmen for McCain" pin for $25.00, (no sign of a "Golfers for McCain" pin, so the jury is still out on his support amongst golfers), two varieties of McCain campaign pins for $150 each (although they did offer two for $100.00 each), and what was described as a nautical pin, featuring something being said in flag signals (which I don't read, maybe it's the secret URL for golf balls), for $200.00.
McCain's store offers 21 varieties of buttons. These include three varieties of St. Patrick or "Irish for McCain" buttons. The buttons on McCain's site range from $5-$7 each, with a $10.00 button available to those who want one with their name printed on it. Obama's site offers 19 buttons, with the majority priced at $3.00 each or two for $5.00, with one, featuring the senator's face, priced at $4.00. Obama also offers a "Republicans for Obama" and "Independents for Obama" button.
McCain has no "Democrats for McCain" button.
Luck o' the candidate
The Irish theme is interesting. McCain's site store offers three buttons, four short-sleeved t-shirts, one hat and a coffee travel mug with Irish or St. Patrick themes. (Note to fact-checker: Isn't McCain a Scottish name?) McCain also has an entire category called "Go Green." True, it's a list of environmentally-friendly products, but readers understandably might be confused.
Obama offers one short-sleeved St Patrick's t-shirt, listed under something called "gear for less" -- the online remainders' bin.
Wait a minute: Under the "Parents for McCain" link, I stumbled on an item called the "Father's Day McCain Golf Pack!" There is no description for this item, which sells for $50, but the photo shows two bags of some sort -- or is that one bag and a Shriner's hat? -- with McCain's name embroidered on them, the divot fixer/ball marker/key chain ensemble and four BALLS! I guess the McCain camp counts on their golfers to be dads, as there is no "Mother's Day McCain Golf Pack."
Senator Obama's site offers two styles of hat for $15 each. No visors.
Senator McCain's site offers 19 styles of hat and visor, with hats going for $25.00 each and visors $15.00. Does this show a greater sensitivity to global warming issues on McCain's part?
Obama's site offers merchandise for the following groups:
Artists for Obama
Women for Obama
Students for Obama
Republicans for Obama
Independents for Obama
Veterans for Obama
Latinos for Obama
African-Americans for Obama
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Obama
>Your state here< for Obama
GLBT for Obama (candidates still are squeemish to say "gay-lesbian-
McCain's site offers merchandise for the following groups:
Veterans for McCain
Sportsmen for McCain
Irish for McCain
>Your state here< for McCain
Women for McCain
>Your name here< for McCain
Mom for McCain
Dad for McCain
Air Force Veteran for McCain
Army veteran for McCain
Marine Veteran for McCain
Navy Veteran for McCain
Air National Guard Veteran for McCain
Army National Guard Veteran for McCain
Coast Guard Veteran for McCain
African Americans for McCain
Arab Americans for McCain
Asian and Pacific Americans for McCain
Hispanics for McCain
Jewish Americans for McCain
Americans With Disabilities for McCain
Business Leaders for McCain
First Responders for McCain
Future Leaders for McCain
Note: Neither candidate offers merchandise for "Golfers for XXXX."
Something for the kids
McCain offers two varieties of baby onesies, each priced at $15.
Obama offers one style of onesie for $18.
"All about me"
Obama's site lists four DVDs, including a collection of speeches, a history of his campaign and a copy of his speech on race, priced at $12.00 each or five for $50.00. No mention of his books anywhere. Is this a show of sympathy to online book retailers by not cutting into their business? I didn't see any "Online Retailers for Obama" merchandise anywhere.
McCain's site carries a two DVDs. One, Faith of my Fathers, is based on the autobiography he wrote with Mark Salter and sells for $50.00. The other, McCain Courageous Service which is described as a "detailed biography of John McCain," sells for $8.00. (Let me get this straight: A "detailed biography" goes for 8 bucks and the movie based on the autobiography goes for 50. Is this a case of the Hollywood elite getting their sticky fingers in on the action?)
None of the other books he did with Salter appear on this Web site.
There seems to be a united effort by the candidates not to lose the Amazon.com vote.
Odds and ends
Obama offers an umbrella for $45.00 and a windshield shade for $18.00. This could be seen as playing the environmental issues both ways. Either that, or living with Chicago weather.
McCain offers a filtered water bottle for $10 and the previously mentioned "Go Green" product section. Taken with the array of hats, it could be argued that the senator's years in Arizona have prepared him to address the global warming needs for the rest of us.
Posted by John Klossner on Jul 09, 2008 at 12:18 PM