LYNN NEARY, host:
So I dozed off while watching TV one night this week and woke up to "The David Letterman Show." Caught in that netherworld between sleeping and waking, too groggy to get up from the couch and go to bed for real, I stared dopily at the screen. All of a sudden Senator John McCain walked onto the set. His appearance didn't wake me up altogether, but it did get my attention.
McCain, I thought, what's he doing on Letterman? Next thing I know, John McCain is announcing that he is running for president. That did wake me up, though my brain was kind of foggy.
Wait a second, I wondered. Did he just say he's a candidate for president? Wait, I thought he already was running for president? No, I guess he hasn't really announced yet. But is this the announcement? Did he just declare his candidacy to David Letterman? Why would he do that?
Pretty soon Senator McCain cleared things up for me. Yes, this was his announcement. But no, it wasn't his official announcement. That's coming in April. Right about then I started thinking, this is going to be a really long presidential campaign, and with that I fell back to sleep.
It wasn't until the next morning when I saw the news on the front page of the paper that I really believed what I had seen. Now, I know it's not the first time a politician has announced his candidacy on a late-night talk show. Arnold Schwarzenegger told the world of his decision to run for California governor on Jay Leno.
And certainly as far back as Bill Clinton and his saxophone, candidates of all stripes have been mixing it up on TV entertainment shows. So I suppose it's just plain old-fashioned of me to think that McCain's announcement the other night was kind of surreal.
And to add to that feeling was the news that YouTube, the sometimes entertaining, often merely time-wasting video sharing site, is putting all official campaign videos on one page called YouChoose '08. That will make it easier for anyone to watch and react to the image the campaign wants the public to see, which should make the campaigns happy. Except YouTube, like so much of the Web, exists to let people express themselves.
So there's a pretty good chance that people might just use their video skills to edit those officials images to their own liking. Maybe someday the campaigns would just give up their constant quests to create and control the candidate's image.
Whether it be John McCain showing his fun side on David Letterman, or Hillary Clinton using a real living room as the backdrop for her announcement to prove she has a domestic side, or Barack Obama returning to middle America to announce his candidacy.
Most people are too media savvy these days to take anything they see on TV or the Web at face value. And those of us who are not so media savvy, well, they need to get us when we're not half asleep.
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