Barack Obama is working overtime to convince voters that he's just like them.
Pssst. Did you hear? Barack Obama is normal. Why, he's just like you and me.
He loves his glamorous wife. His kids are peachy-cute adorable. What an all-American family they are!
Sure, he may look and sound different and has, even Michelle Obama said, "a funny name," and was born in the exotic confines of Hawaii. But underneath it all he's sooooo normal and sooooo American in his values.
Get it? You'd have to be dead not to.
Welcome to the "Repair Barack Obama's Image" convention. That so much repair work is needed speaks to the campaign's concern about the sagging poll numbers and the fear that Obama, for all his soaring success, still has not connected with the working-class voters who will decide the election. Images of Jeremiah Wright's anti-American rants have to be eliminated from the collective memory bank if Obama is to win.
It's a real problem, and Team Obama is wise to confront it, even if the parade of ordinary people making mundane points yesterday was a little, well, underwhelming.
And even if Obama's own late-night video appearance, dripping with better-kept-in-private family talk, was just a tad creepy. There was an element of pleading for acceptance that was almost sad.
Still, there was no missing the political point behind the made-for-TV show. Not after speaker after speaker filled in minor pieces of the portrait of a good old-fashioned, red-blooded American who shares your values, values, values.
That so many of those speakers were white underscored the depth of concern and the campaign's target. One beefy Amtrak machinist took to the stage, and over the din of the distracted crowd in the convention center, told of the time Obama came to his home and put his elbows on the kitchen table and listened.
Another union man said with revelatory conviction that Obama "believes that hard work should be rewarded."
A woman said that, "Just like me, Barack Obama lost his mother to cancer too young."
Part of fixing Barack's image involves fixing Michelle Obama's image, too, a task assigned to her brother, who told how normal their upbringing was.
Then it was her turn to try to erase the doubts that she is sufficiently patriotic, doubts caused largely by some of her own statements.
She was very good, she looked fabulous, and despite some understandable nerves, did her job well.
"Isn't that the great American story," she said at one point after a plain-vanilla anecdote, and waited for the audience applause, which came a bit late and less than roaring.
It's hard to know what Obama himself makes of this. After winning the nomination over 19 grueling months and dispatching Hillary Clinton, he now must prove he's not that special at all.
He must be wondering why he bothered getting those Ivy League degrees from Columbia and Harvard Law and being who he is if everybody now has to pretend he's just an average Joe.
It certainly left me wondering about what it is we want in a President. Don't we want a leader, someone smart enough and bold enough and good enough to guide us through these dangerous and difficult times?
We do, but apparently only if we first make sure he's just like us. Strange.