Friday, March 21, 2008

Everyday Obama

“Barack Obama is to Hillary Clinton what the iPod is to the CD player,” we said last month. Now, you can add another everyday companion article to the semiotic arsenal of the Obama campaign.

One enterprising soul in the Out There of the American Internet took it on himself to create a lineup of baseball shirts emblazoned with the candidate’s name designed after the logos of several professional teams in the major leagues.

Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco — they were all there, and more besides, in a brilliant ad hoc strategy that places Obama in the subtext of personal wardrobe and the great national pastime, facets of everyday American life.

Not to be totally left out, Clinton got her name on shirts, but apparently only two, done in the logo styles of the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs, said to be her two favorite teams.

As you might expect, the league was none too impressed with this grassroots appropriation of its team brands, and a legal complaint ensued. The Smoking reported March 18 that a cease and desist letter had been sent by Major League baseball to entrepreneur Morris Levin, ordering him to stop the $20 shirts or face prosecution for trademark infringement. Levin has since closed his operation.

A statement on the Web site reads:

“ObamaOfDreams is closed and offline. We are no longer selling any t-shirts. We can be reached with any questions at

“We are currently working to resolve all outstanding orders. We are not taking any more orders. All outstanding orders will be addressed and we appreciate your understanding and patience as we work through this.”

“Levin, an MBA candidate at the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School, has said that he was ‘inspired by Obama's message’ and sought to show his support ‘with cool t-shirts,’ “ the Smoking Gun reported.

With Major League Baseball's heavy legal hammer in play you may or may not still find them available — outside of going to eBay, of course — but the point’s been smartly made. Apparently without spending a dime of campaign money, the Obama forces have largely outflanked Clinton on another kind of inevitability, the inevitability of a baseball shirt in the first throes of spring.

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There’s another image that brings home the epic battle going on between Clinton and Obama. On the Boughetto News Web site, we discovered an artfully-rendered photo-illustration of Hillary and Bill Clinton (Photoshopped into the bodies of Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi) facing off against Obama, his back to the camera, a figure shrouded in black. John McCain, either the Darth Vader or the Emperor Palpatine of this contest, snarls in the distance. This episode of “Pol Wars” is winding down. The sequel opens, and ends, in November.

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