Sunday, April 9, 2006

Mmm ... Spring
What a damn beautiful day today. Spring is finally here in New England. Soon, the black flies will be out. But for now, things are getting warmer and greener and it looks like winter is over.

Nukes against Iran?: The big news of the weekend has been this ... Sy Hersh busts open another one: ["US considers use of nuclear weapons against Iran"]. Shocking. Simply shocking.

Consultants: This column by Joe Klein about political consultants ["Pssst! Who's behind the decline of politics? [Consultants.]"] reminded me about a course I took at Harvard Extension School about political consulting.
In the class, the late author Murray Levin, talked about how a handful of consultants were basically running the process into the ground and pointed to a slew of incidents and interviews he had performed over the years with consultants. He also brought in a bunch of different guests, folks like Charlie Cook, to talk about campaigns and political consulting. It was a pretty interesting course and gave me a good overview of a process I was already kinda familiar with [That's probably why I got an A. That, and the hip radio spots I recorded].
Anyhow, in the article, Klein talks about the losing Gore and Kerry campaigns and notes that the consultants working for both candidates found out too late what the voters wanted:
"We're going to meet the voters where they are," Shrum had told me early in the Kerry campaign, which sounded innocent enough—but what he really meant was, We're going to follow our polling numbers and focus groups. We're going to emphasize the things that voters think are important. In fact, Shrum had it completely wrong. Presidential campaigns are not about "meeting the voters where they are." They are about leadership and character. Mark Mellman, Kerry's lead pollster, figured that out too late. "If you asked people what they were most interested in, they would say jobs, education and health care," he later said. "But they thought the President should be interested in national security."
However, the larger point is this: Gore and Kerry lost because they really didn't know who they were as people, never mind candidates. No political candidate in their right mind should be listening to a consultant, especially when it comes to public policy. The whole point of having an opinion is to have one; the whole point to being involved in politics is to move and effect public policy. This should be a fiber-in-the-being kinda thing with politicians. Essentially silencing Gore during the 2000 campaign about environmental issues took the one thing away from him that he had passion for; the one thing which made him human.
These consultants, especially ones who run presidential campaigns, also need to remember that the nation is pretty much divided down the middle. As pathetic as John Kerry was as a candidate, he only lost by 34 Electoral College votes or 118,000 votes in Ohio. It wasn't a blow out like Reagan beating Mondale in 1984 or Bush beating Dukakis in 1988. Had polling machines not been kept out of strong Democratic counties by the Republican Secretary of State in that state and had the provisional ballots been counted [were they ever counted?], Kerry probably would have won the election.
Also, as noted by the Cook Political Report here: ["Cook Electoral Rating"] right before the election, Bush had 218 Electoral College votes; Kerry had 207, with another 109 toss-ups. Wisconsin was surprisingly close but in hindsight, Minnesota wasn't. The election was a toss-up. It could go either way. And voters were going to make decisions on visceral, gut reactions to the candidates or to ideas, not to anything of any substance.

Kerry's mistake: On "Meet the Press" today, it was interesting to see that Kerry said that spending limits were the main reason he lost the election: ["Kerry: Taking Federal Money a Mistake"].
"I think the biggest mistake was probably not going outside the federal financing so we could have controlled our own message," the Massachusetts senator said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Eh, yikes. Kerry still doesn't get it. But, I guess, it isn't really a big deal since it has only been 16 months. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime to learn those kinds of lessons. Thankfully, I'm hearing from the trail here in New Hampshire that Democratic activists are thinking, Been there, done that with Kerry.

Interesting piece here: ["And Now the News... Or Is It an Ad?"]. I have always wondered about some of the things I see on TV news these days. Where does a staff of six or seven get all that footage? Well, now we know!

1 comment:

Wicked Words said...

Glad to see Politizine back, Tony! Greetings from Japan!