The O Controversy

Posted July 02, 2009, at 7:34 p.m.

Imitation, as the famous quotation goes, is the sincerest form of flattery. Apparently not in politics, where coattail riding, it seems, is not a time for bipartisanship.

Possible Republican candidate for governor Les Otten’s campaign logo — a mostly red, white and blue O with a green leaf — looks a lot like the O used by Barack Obama in his historic campaign; so much so that the state’s Democratic Party issued a press release to point this out. If the battle of the O signals the level of political discourse we’ll have to endure, it will be a very long campaign.

Aside from the fact that it should fall to President Obama to defend his logo, not the Maine Democratic Party, this is the typical style of shallow campaigning that has turned off so many voters.

What do voters learn from such spats? That campaign consultants have too much time to spend on what they consider clever visuals — their candidate’s or the other guy’s — and who is copying whom rather than solutions to problems that Mainers and Americans care about.

Two hours after the Democratic Party sent out a press release accusing Mr. Otten, who is considering a run for governor as a Republican, of plagiarizing then-candidate Barack Obama’s logo and Web site, Mr. Otten’s exploratory committee says their Web site was built “from scratch” by INsyt of Farmington. They helpfully noted that the Web site is built around the letter O because their candidate’s name begins with that letter. The color scheme? American with a green leaf representing “the renewal of Maine as a leader in energy independence, job creation and real tax reform.”

In case anyone was confused about why this was a big deal, Arden Manning, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party offered this:

“The truth is, Barack Obama was not elected President because he had a snazzy graphic and well-designed Web site. Barack Obama was elected president because the majority of Americans identify with his policy positions and values, and support his leadership of our nation.”

Bingo. Mainers will not vote for Mr. Otten, who may or may not enter the race, because his name starts with O, which lends itself to a snazzy logo. They will make up their minds based on the candidates’ stances on taxes, school funding, government spending, environmental protection and other issues they deem important.

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