Humor, Politics

Palin Does Have a Sense of Humor

10.19.08 | Permalink | 1 Comment

I’ve given her plenty of grief here for her inconsistencies, her beliefs, and her approach. But last night in a Saturday Night Live segment, Governor Palin did show she has a sense of humor and is a good sport. Take it away Caribou Barbie!

Bonus material from Weekend Update….

Humor, Politics

Faux Debate

10.18.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Faux Debate

Here’s a little tidbit from earlier this week, it’s pretty funny…Enjoy!

Media, Politics

Media & Politics

10.18.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Media & Politics
Local beat reporter on the make for a story

During the debate this week, John McCain used Joe the Plumber as an example of how Obama’s tax policy would hurt the little guy. Joe, a hardworking, god-fearing man who has worked as a plumber in Ohio 10-12 hours a day. Joe is poised to buy his employer’s business after many years of hard work. He questions Senator Obama about tax policy and wants to know how he would fair under the Obama tax plan. McCain holds up Joe as a guy pursuing the American dream, a dream denied by Obama’s tax policy that would take Joe’s wealth and spread it to those in need.

Poor Joe. I don’t think he asked to be used as the example and he certainly wasn’t prepared for the scrutiny that would result in being used as an example.

Here’s the disaster for McCain that was Joe the Plumber. Reporters, doing what reporters do, started looking for the story:

  • His name is not Joe, it’s Sam.
  • Sam isn’t a plumber, he doesn’t have a license. Sam works for a plumber.
  • Despite McCain’s claim to the contrary, Sam is in no position to “buy” the plumbing business.
  • Sam is bad at math. He makes less than $40,000/year and is worried about an Obama tax hike when all independent assessments agree he would benefit most from Obama’s tax plan.
  • Joe, I mean Sam, owes $1,200 in back taxes.
  • Sam is something of a neo-con-nut job in world view and belief.
  • In the last 48 hours, Sam has given more interviews than Sarah Palin has since being nominated. (Which is why we know he’s a neo-con-nut job.)
  • Sam does live in Ohio, at least that much is true.

Recently I completed a course on how to interact effectively with the media, it was interesting and is required for my present job (even though I have been interacting with media for years…) But, I’m happy to report that I really got something out of the course and that an unexpected outcome was that it has changed the way the political campaigns and candidates come across to me. There was always a pattern there, but I couldn’t discern it clearly, now after media training techniques, it’s crystal clear.

The main thing to remember when interacting with the media is that their objective is to get a story. In order to do that successfully, they’ll want an “angle” – something that grabs and holds attention. Usually it’s some sort of distinction or novel aspect to a topic people are interested in knowing more about. In order to uncover the story, the media seeks information through direct questioning, research, and often direct experience. Professional media will seek both sides of an issue and will view any claim with skepticism.

The media trainer compared journalists to single cell organisms, they do one thing, they do it all the time, and they do it well: collect and disseminate information.

There are a few simple rules for effectively interacting with the media:

  • Tell the Truth – Fundamentally, if you say something to the media that is untrue, it is dangerous because there is a high likelihood that the truth will not only be discovered, but that you will be discredited for asserting the lie.
  • Have a Message – The reporter wants the story, you have a message. You’d better present that message in story format and repeat it early and often.
  • Use Keywords – In every question there are words, select an important word that allows you to link back to your message and repeat it early in your response. This signals the questioner that you heard the question, understood it, and are responding.
  • Use Evidence – When responding, use evidence. The best evidence is factual that can be proven/disproven. The most highly prized evidence is in the form of specific examples (again that can be proven/disproven.)
  • Know When to Shut-up – One of the worst things to do with a journalist is to ramble on. Answer the question in a structured manner: assertion, evidence/example, conclusion, shut-up.

Suffice to say there is more to it than that, but the points above hit the major aspects of effective media interaction. Now, watch your favorite public figure, how well do they employ the simple rules above?

Coming back to Joe for the moment, examples frequently do have trouble, but Joe the Plumber was a fiasco and it was a fiasco that could have been prevented with a little forethought and preparation. Shame on the McCain campaign for not doing the basic leg work to ensure that Joe the Plumber was a good example to use. Do some background work on the guy, determine if there is anything at first blush that might embarrass you later.

Does this guy really represent the voters you’re trying to sway? Is the example factual? I submit Joe, I mean Sam, fails on every single dimension. Even if you still want to use the guy, don’t identify the him by name, use him as a general example that can’t be traced. The McCain campaign should seriously reassess their judgment and PR advice (assuming they didn’t go against the advice given to them by the pros on this subject.)

One thing that has struck me during the campaign is that the Obama message has been sharpened, but has fundamentally stayed the same. I’ll bet that somewhere in Obama central there is a message written down that looks something like this: The Nation is on the wrong course, we require change. That change has to benefit the middle class and the major places to change are tax, healthcare, energy, and education policies.

In contrast, the McCain message is a little muddled. The campaign seemed to have a pretty clear message coming out of the RNC a few weeks ago focused on reform of government spending, drilling for oil, and winning in Iraq. As the polls showed the McCain campaign flagging, the campaign seized on the economic crisis and changed the message to “country first” having the candidate suspend his campaign until the crisis was solved as McCain’s leadership was needed in Washington. The crisis still rages, McCain continues to campaign. The polls show further degradation and the message changed to who is this so called Barack Obama? He’s got a funny name, his skin is dark, and he’s got highly questionable character. If you don’t know (and we don’t) then how you trust him? This message did get sharpened by bringing in the Ayers affiliation as evidence of Obama’s character flaws. Again, either the professional public relations advice has been bad or ignored.

It’s easy to see this in retrospect, and it’s striking the difference in tone between the campaigns. Well, that’s it. I’m sure there is much more to say, but I’ve got things to do today…

Humor, Politics

Roseanne Cash for Vice President

10.16.08 | Permalink | 3 Comments
Roseanne Cash for Vice President

Who knew Roseanne Cash could write? I didn’t know she had this particular talent. Thanks Matt for sending this over, it was a great breakfast read. Not only can she write, she continually displays a combination of self-deprecation with rapier wit to make her points. All I can say is well done! It’s worth your time to read the entire piece, here’s the thesis statement:

I’d like to formally submit myself to replace Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket. I feel confident that John McCain will see that the very attributes he desired in his VP choice can be met, and even exceeded in some areas, by me. For your consideration, my big, fat résumé:

Read more…


The Plumbing Gambit Fails

10.16.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on The Plumbing Gambit Fails
Joe the Plumber from Ohio, star of presidential debate and failed McCain gambit

Well, the last debate played out yesterday and according to the polls, Obama won this one too. That makes it a sweep, congratulations President Obama. Really, the only questions left to answer are margin of victory (I predict 5-5.5% in popular vote margin and landslide in electoral vote) and what the composition of the Senate will be, most polling pundits put it between 55-60 seats to the Democrats (depending on who the independents caucus with.) And the other interesting question is, how will Joe the Plumber cash in on his new found fame?

Like the prior debates, I experienced the first portion of the debate via radio which is a distinctly different medium than television. During the first 20 minutes or so, I thought Senator McCain was having a fine debate on the radio. He was less cranky, angry, and fluffy. He had some substance and details in his responses, he was assertive, but not aggressive. Overall, he started out strong. But, as in many things in life, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. And there’s the rub.

Senator McCain could not carry the same intensity and focus through the whole 90 minutes of debate. Senator Obama did and in the end has presented himself consistently to the American people as a calm, reasoned, and mature leader, someone who seems presidential. It’s much more apparent in video form than in pure audio.

One item both candidates should be taken to task over is their respective tax policy. It is irresponsible to be pitching revenue cuts in advance of balancing the budget and creating a surplus from which such cuts can be funded. Ultimately, the line by line review of the budget must be undertaken and the Feds need to remove at least one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) in spending as job 1. And yes, they should start with those 0.5% pork barrel items and the 0.5% in subsidies for insurance companies, that still leaves 99% of the problem to solve.

People remember how things end and Senator McCain’s ending was not good. He had a slip where he called Obama Senator Government, where he said “avoid healthcare”, and where he stumbled repeatedly over his humility portion of his closing. He ignored facts and didn’t engage in a dialogue, not once did he reference anything Obama said in a positive light. I thought Obama’s use of agreement on some principles and disagreement on others was particularly effective in last night’s debate.

I’m happy the debates are over and am anxious for the election to be over so we can get on with the difficult business of rebuilding America. It’s well past time.

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