The brainy brand

And so the Obama post-election brand is now becoming clearer. As the impressed David Brooks notes, it's the brainy brand -- the senior Obama administration being made up, for the most part, of Harvard and Yale Law School graduates and Ivy League PhDs:

This truly will be an administration that looks like America, or atleast that slice of America that got double 800s on their SATs. Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes. If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.

As the author of an outrageously elitist booky-wooky which assaults our democratic cult of mass ignorance, I'm unabashedly thrilled by Obama's respect for the achievement of America's meritocratic intellectual aristocracy. His will be a truly anti-Palinesque presidency and, while it's not entirely clear whether he'll rule from the right or the left, what is clear is that the Harvard Law School graduate will rule from above rather than from below. But this does create a problem. That's because his pre-election brand was as much focused on YOU as on Obama himself. As Oxford University's Paul Temporal argues about the brilliantly successful pre-election Obama brand:

Obama reached out to all his target audiences with a single powerful message embracing vision, values and competitive positioning: "Yes we can! And yes you can!" In addition, his brand communications strategy cleverly exploited the fact that no consumer can resist an approach that talks about them and helps them feel they are in control. Obama would say things like "This election is not about me – it’s about you" and ‘I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington......I’m asking you to believe in yours."

But, of course, Obama isn't a brand like a soap powder or a fizzy drink that exists simply to be bought, consumed and then forgotten until our next trip to the supermarket.  His pre-election brand have all been about making the voter as if they were in control. But now, with Geithner at Treasury, Summers at the White House, the Hillary show rolling into State and the rest of his Harvard-Yale dream team taking up their positions, Obama's post-election rule-from-above brand doesn't quite gel with the pre-election rule-from-below brand. So there needs to be a recalibration of the message. To rule effectively from above, Obama must explain that politics is a profession rather than a moral calling and that he's assembled the intellectually best and the brightest amongst us to fix America. In contrast with the plebeian populism of the Joe-the-Plumber crowd, Barack the President needs not only to rebuild America's infrastructure but also to rebuild the value of the skilled policy-maker as the heart and soul of the political process.