While you're watching (or not watching) the Great Roadblocked Obama Show over on those other networks -- framed by a "World News" interview, a "Daily Show" appearance, and other entertainment known informally as Late Night with Bill and Barack -- pause to consider the plight of Team McCain six days out.
No cash to respond in kind. No loyalties to enforce kindnesses. No kind of consistent message to refocus the race.
Yet something may shift yet in this campaign -- and that still-softish middle is Sen. Barack Obama's audience for his unique infomercial Wednesday night.
Maybe this is a silly waste of money and time (and at $3 million and 30 minutes, it a lot of both). Maybe Malia Obama isn't the only American who wants her programming lineup intact. Maybe this is just too weird, or too boring, or too Ross Perot (one "deep voodoo" reference, and we click), for an electorate to swallow.
(And maybe this is an odd time for Obama to be attacking Gov. Sarah Palin so directly in a TV ad -- wink and all.)
But Wednesday's primetime buy can be Obama's most valuable type of forum -- the kind where he gets to look like a president. It's a fireside-chat moment, in front of that most sacred of American boxes -- Obama's last best opportunity to appear presidential before he actually might get a chance to be president.
"At times he will speak directly into the camera about his 20-month campaign, at others he will highlight everyday voters, their everyday troubles, and his plans to address them," writes The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg, who got to see a one-minute trailer of the 30-minute address.
Rutenberg: "The trailer is heavy in strings, flags, presidential imagery and some Americana filmed by Davis Guggenheim, whose father was the campaign documentarian of Robert F. Kennedy. As the screen flashes scenes of suburban lawns, a freight train and Mr. Obama seated at a kitchen table with a group of white, apparently working-class voters, Mr. Obama says: 'We've seen over the last eight years how decisions by a president can have a profound effect on the course of history and on American lives; much that's wrong with our country goes back even farther than that.' "
Obama continues, "We've been talking about the same problems for decades and nothing is ever done to solve them. For the past 20 months, I've traveled the length of this country, and Michelle and I have met so many Americans who are looking for real and lasting change that makes a difference in their lives."
"This is going to be more like a television show, rather than a speech, top Obama campaign officials tell ABC News," per ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "We're going to see a 'lively half-hour of television,' one Obama aide told ABC News, speaking only half tongue-in-cheek." http://blogs.abcnews.com/george/2008/10/obamas-prime-ti.html
Per ABC's Jake Tapper, in a taped portion of the special at the beginning, Obama will be sitting around a white kitchen table with people and families chosen to illustrate particular economic challenges. He will share the oft-told story of his mom dying of ovarian cancer, arguing with her insurance company that had denied her coverage on the claim that her cancer was a pre-existing condition.
"The Obama ad has heavy dollops of presidential and American imagery," Tapper reported on "Good Morning America" Wednesday. "Other prominent Americans will appear to validate Obama -- like, a Colin Powell, for instance."