Provocative comments; take those gloves off!
by bobswern, Mon Aug 11, 2008 at 08:26:04 PM EDT
I've been doing this Democratic political "media" thing--along with the advertising and p.r. and corp. communications "thing"--for a long time.
So, in this diary, I rant a little...no links...no quotes...just me..."just sayin'...."
We're up against some very shrewd, very experienced scumbags this cycle. They know what they're doing. As far as knowing what we're doing is concerned, it's a little bit of a mixed bag. Organizationally, Plouffe's brilliant. He may be the best campaign manager working in our party at the moment--maybe the most brilliant campaign manager in Democratic Party history, IMHO. Media and communications'-wise, as far as Axelrod's concerned, not so much. (This is my "introductory" provocative comment...more follow.)
Provocative comment #1: While the Rethugs have an A-team as far as media's concerned; the truth is the folks running Obama's media have never done a national race until this year (to the best of my knowledge; correct me if I'm wrong, please).
Provocative comment #2: I respect David Plouffe a LOT, professionally. He does have national experience. He knows what type of mofo's we're up against; he has experience working against these guys, specifically. Axelrod, IMHO on the other hand, is overrated. (See #1, above.) I realize this is a little bit of a sacred cow around here. Apparently, it is an (unspoken) inconvenient truth.
The folks at places like 538 are, at least as far as I know, number crunchers; they're not media guys. They understand measurements; they don't know all that much about what it takes to actually move the numbers, however.
So, when I hear someone quoting a polling group or person telling us the Rethugs are in trouble (especially at this early point in the calendar), I cringe. And, to some extent, right now I'm seeing something quite contrary playing out...at least for the moment.
Provocative comment #3: There's some obvious and basic strategy at work at the moment, on both sides. You can almost reverse engineer what kind of polling data the two sides are reading simply by seeing how those results are manifesting themselves in the media content and ad buys currently being aired/run by the two respective campaigns.
Provocative comment #4: (Again, many of the comments I'm making here are probably unpopular. But, they are true.) If the quality of Axelrod's work between now and Election Day is going to be similar to the work he produced during the primaries, between Super Tuesday and June 3rd, we're in trouble, at least more than many here would acknowledge. Face it folks, our side did little more than a respectable job of "hold-the-ball" (i.e.: "beat the clock") from the second week of February on through to the first week of June.
Provocative comment #5: McCain's actually--to some extent--won "the media wars" over the past three or four weeks. There's been a slight "creep" in public sentiment towards him and away from Obama. Most polls that have been published recently either confirm this, or they indicate negligible shift in general opinion. Either way, it is fairly apparent that sentiment has not been shifting, significantly, to Obama in the past month. Hold the ball. Beat the clock. Again. (And, yes, I understand there's a large chunk of new voters that are not necessarily being considered as "likely voters" this cycle; but, there is significant qualitative speculation behind that sentiment, without any doubt.)
Provocative comment #6: Everything I'm saying above indicates to me that:
a.) polling done by the Rethugs indicates that a good portion of the public is still learning the basics about Obama; and they're working (somewhat successfully) on raising his negative recognition factor (with early negative ads); this isn't exactly a new concept in political media; it's tried and true; some Obama supporters are blaming this on Hillary (since she did the same thing); but, running negative advertising IS standard operating procedure/response when you see certain types of polling results; it's what you do to win campaigns;
b.) for the same reasons (polling results driving media content from both campaigns) that McCain's running negative content early, that's why we're seeing pro-Obama ads now, too--the public is still getting to know Obama (McCain's been around, and in the public eye, for a much longer time).
Provocative comment #7: the McCain campaign is doing a much better job of playing offense than Obama (at least right now); the concept that somehow the public's going to get a clue here is really just wishful thinking (think: Swiftboating), and it has no bearing on the reality that most voters form their opinions based upon what they see on the news and what they take away from the paid media; if a lie's repeated often enough, a substantial portion of the population will believe it; and these Rethug scumsuckers are world class liars and propagandists.
Provocative comment #8: it seems clear to me that the Rethugs are doing what they can now, pre-convention, to keep from letting the story get away from them, post-convention. (i.e.: a post-convention bounce--of say 6-8 points--on top of a 1, 2 or 3 pt. lead going into the convention is "manageable;" a post-convention bounce of 6-8 points, on top of a 6 or 8 pt. lead going into the convention is a much bigger problem for the GOP'ers, however.)
Provocative comment #9: post-convention polling bounces are quite overrated; what goes up quickly comes back down.
In short, it troubles me deeply everytime I read too much smug crap here or over at DKos; only to turn on CNN or Fox and see that their audience--which is many hundreds of times larger--tells a very different story. Essentially, all of this progressive backslapping and "smuggery" bothers me deeply.
Backslapping and smugness causes me great heartache when I read it at times like this in liberal/progressive blogs. Complacency scares me more than anything else.
The voting public has a civics I.Q. on par with your typical houseplant. And, the typical American voter will not undergo a brain transplant between now and Election Day. There will be no mass epiphanies. The Republican Party understands this. Some Democrats do not.
How else can one explain where the polls are today, given 7-1/2 years of the must fucked-up management this country's seen...perhaps ever? There was a time, not too long ago, when the realities of the day would be spelling a Democratic landslide for November, already. But, that's certainly not what we're seeing within the consensus of polling data now; and that is what's feeding the media content and buys currently being aired, too.
Yes, in a country where barely 20% of the voting population knows the name of their current Congressman, you damn well better believe that John Q. Public is still just becoming familiar with brand Obama. The Republicans know this; and the Dems do, too. Obama is the devil they don't know. McCain--supported by an incumbent administration that is doing everything they can to postpone or delay the mountain of ongoing bad news about our economy that still awaits us--is the devil they know.
How else can one explain Bush's re-election in '04?
This year's presidential race is just like the races of the past few decades...it's ALL personality analysis, little more. And, that's the media's fault. Because they know that when it comes to issues-related news--as most issues require rather intensive analysis--the attention span of most Americans is roughly two minutes...maybe three or four if you're real lucky. Just enough time to read the latest bullshit lies and distortions about the economy being spewed forth by the powers that be; and/or just enough time to watch a McCain negative ad on Obama, followed-up by a 501(c)4 spot, totally railroading the Dems, too. Repeat that often enough and you've got a problem; because when it comes to the Rethugs, they never let a little thing like a lie (or two, or three, or four) get in the way of their media content.
People would much rather read about a cat fight concerning personalities than about real issues! It holds the public's attention. The media gives them what they want; and that's also why MyDD and Kos, and all the other players in the progressive blogosphere, have served up their respective blogging-world versions of Jerry Springer, sans the flying chairs, this year, as well. It makes them money, because it's what the people want to read!
To the Rethugs, it's not how you play the game, it is whether you win or lose.
I don't know about everyone else here, but I think it's really, really important that we win this year...whatever it takes...too much is at stake.
IMHO, this year it is whether we win or lose.
The gloves must come off. Now.