IL: The Obama Clock
By Elizabeth Williamson
What does it say about Illinois's favorite son when nobody is tending the Obama Clock?
The Obama Clock was a graphic gimmick created by a Chicago Sun-Times editor, Tom McNamee, and his deputy design director, Craig Newman, to portray the Illinois senator's one-step-forward, two-steps-back presidential candidacy.
Modeled on the University of Chicago's iconic Doomsday Clock, on which midnight stands figuratively for nuclear holocaust, the far more cheerful Obama Clock strikes midnight when he's elected president -- and 11:30 if he goes down to defeat.
The Doomsday Clock appears on the masthead of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Obama Clock appeared in the Sun-Times's Controversy section.
When Obama announced his candidacy in January 2007, the clock stood at 11:50. In May, its creators announced, "We're kicking it back to 11:48. The Sun-Times revealed that a top Obama patron, Tony Rezko, is a slumlord. Then Obama fails to impress in the first debate. Then he was forced to accept Secret Service protection because of threats from anonymous racists. On the upside (at least in Chicago), we learned last week that our man has got some serious Irish ancestry."
That's about where the clock stood until the week before the Christmas holiday. And then, as Obama surged from home-state hopeful to national phenomenon, the Sun-Times killed its Controversy section to save money on newsprint -- with the Obama Clock inside.
"The Obama Clock is broken... We forgot to wind it," Newman said.
"What a drag that was," McNamee recalls.
But today, McNamee was named chief of the paper's editorial page. "You know, I think we should revive it," he said. "Why not? It's my page."
So what would the clock read?
"I wouldn't want to tell you today. He's in a tough fight," McNamee said. "If he doesn't do well, I'd look like an idiot."
And of course, if Obama wins that fight, he may have to worry about the actual Doomsday Clock, which now reads 11:55.
Washington Post editors
February 5, 2008; 5:56 PM ET
Categories: A_Blog , Barack Obama , Midwest , Primaries , The Democrats
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