Friday, September 12, 2008

I was up a lot last night, AGAIN. Really, I am so overwhelmed and upset about this election, I can’t sleep. But I wanted to quickly point to a blogger on the Huffington Post that I stumbled upon at 3:00 a.m. that I felt was finally speaking honestly about what was going on and what Obama and Biden had to do to win. His name is Joseph Romm and he is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and also oversees this blog: I spent two hours reading everything I could but there are two posts he has that I think are really, really good. I just hope someone at the Obama/Biden campaign headquarters is reading it too.

At read Joseph Romm’s “Can Obama Win With Only Half A Message And Half A Ticket?” and another great one is “Obama and Biden Go Back To A Losing Message” written on September 8.

One thing that really struck me in the first blog was that he said a classic Democratic mistake is not realizing and accepting that the mainstream media is not going to police truth in any meaningful fashion. Their next mistake is thinking that the voters who matter now are ones that actually pay attention to traditional media. Basically Romm’s saying, the voters that need to be galvanized right now are not people who watch “Meet The Press.”

He goes on to explain how Obama and Biden have to come up with names for McCain and Palin that reveal the truth of their deceit and are easy to remember. He suggests Me-Too McCain or the Made Up Maverick, and Slick Palin.

I really became a fan of this guy Romm between 3 and 5 this morning. I went to his and read a lot of his stuff there too. Why did this make me feel better? I mean, he shouldn't be making me feel better because he’s saying really scary things, not only about climate but about how psychology works and who wins with what message and why. I think I felt better because he makes so much sense and he has a strategy that I think could work. He's about accepting the truth and winning and not wishing the whole game were different than what it is. When I take his ideas and play them out in my mind on the dumbest people I know, it seems like it might work!

I’m really tired of complaining about how unfair the media is handling the coverage of the candidates. I am tired of talking to people who feel just like I do. I only want to monitor things that actually might mean something in the end. And this guy is talking about accepting the media for what it is and what it does. But also about how, even on this totally unfair playing field, Democrats can win. Obama and Biden have to stop taking the high road. That doesn’t mean they should take the low road – it just means that they have to take a savvier, smarter road to the White House. They have to take McCain’s “Maverick” moniker and turn it back on him. “Me-too Maverick” is great! And it’s accurate. McCain has changed his positions on so many issues. “Slick Palin” is great too – and it’s true!

I want to stop giving all my outrage and energy to being angry about how uninformed the general public is about politics. That someone like Sarah Palin can even be popular indicates a seriously ignorant populace. But I am not complaining about that anymore, or I’m going to TRY TRY not to. It’s such a waste of time. So – the facts. People in America do not want complicated politics and they want easy to understand politicians who seem like they aren’t any smarter than they are. Okay. That sucks, but OKAY. I accept that. I am going to try to stop bitching about it. I want Obama and Biden to get more aggressive and more slogan-y, as much as it makes me cringe, they have to do it.

Oh, also - if anyone out there is not reading this already, I point to George Lakoff's article here.


Christian Walters said...

RE: Press Coverage

I think the GOP is better at picking their battles AND burying their skeletons. The Democrats get plenty of traction when staunch "family values" righties get caught for soliciting gay sex in public restrooms or from SMS messages to interns. But those guys are never big enough targets to do more than make jokes easier for The Daily Show writers (then, six years later, Jay Leno's writers).

As I see it so far, Palin's got two Achilles heels:

1) Inexperience. But this is being minimized by the GOP playing up Obama's inexperience, not to mention that what expereince she does have is executive, which no one else in the election has. That's not gonna fly.

2) Her pregnant daughter. While I agree with Obama that attacking her family should be out of bounds (for a change -- the Bush girls and Chelsea Clinton never got that consideration), her kid's teen pregnancy does potentially raise eyebrows and questions about Palin's own views/values/parenting skills.

Neither of those are going to hurt her much. If she comes off as shrill or hateful or off-message, that will probably do it. Or if it turns out she had an abortion in high school or an extramarital affair or something, that might do the trick.

But these issues the Democrats are talking about: not going to make any traction either with the public or the press. You do not sway hearts and minds by pointing out appropriations bills -- nor do you sell newspapers or collect web hits with budget shortfalls.

Look back at the last few times the press has really gone into a story:

- Clinton/Lewinsky: Scandalous. Sex-oriented. Salacious. All the makings of a cheap romance novel. The public ate it up as fast as the media could serve it.

- Plame: Complex. Not salacious. Involved obscure rules about espionage and journalistic integrity. No one gave a crap.

- Obama's Religious Views: Is he a Muslim? WTF is up with Rev. Wright? Scandalous. Threatening. Potential attacks on white patriotism and faith. Spoke to incipient racism. Quoth the public, "give me more." (Obama is lucky the Wright thing came and went no later than it did. If it broke now, he could have some problems.)

McCain has yet to be involved in a sex scandal or something similarly salacious. Ditto Palin, except for the off-limits daughter. That could change, though. If a recording surfaces showing Palin to be antisemitic or something, it's done.

Given that, how interesting will the general public find spending bills on bridges or firing chefs? BO-ring. And screamingthat PALIN IS LYING LYING LYING won't get you anywhere, because everyone believes all politicians lie all the time. They lie, they equivocate, they flip-flop -- every one of them from President to Interim School Board Member for Iowa's District 3, all the way back to Caesar.

It's too late for that. At this point, it's salesmanship. Which team can sell their product better? I don't know, but my guess is it'll be the team who actually talks about their product instead of bitching that the other guys aren't playing fair.

Documenting all of Palin's lies, dodges, pecadillos, inconsistencies, and whatever else won't help anyone, and it's going to get your blood pressure up. Forget Palin -- if you think Obama/Biden will be better for the country, start talking about what they will do to make the country better. (Hint: Don't lead that off with "Unlike Bush..." -- salesmanship is better when being positive. Forget Bush -- talk Obama.) Don't go after your opponent unless something big enough to pique our interest comes along.

We have, what, about 7 more weeks of this? May the flying spaghetti monster grant me strength through her noodly appendage.

Leena said...

People "want easy to understand politicians who seem like they aren’t any smarter than they are" - it's one of the saddest truths EVER. There are a lot of dumb people around.

Just wondering if you happened to read Dwindling in Unbelief today, they posted "Victoria Jackson: Thank you God for giving us John McCain and Sarah Palin". Heartbreaking, really.

Shelley Jaffe said...

What I find fascinating, from the top of my igloo in Canada, is how as the end of election approaches, all of the bloggers I follow, political or not, are freaking out.

There is such a groundswell of grassroots support for O'Biden, yet I keep hearing how McCain/Fey are going to sew this thing up.

It galls me to think that such chicanery must be now start to be employed to win, but I keep reading that y'all are now at a "by whatever means necessary" crossroads.

Maybe Mr. Romm needs some more blogosphere time.

Or to start sleeping with Britney Spears.

On YouTube.

Overboard said...

I hear ya, girl. I'm frustrated too and not even American!
McCain will win because uh, makes me sick to even write about the 'because'.

twistedspinner said...

A couple of us on Plurk feel that you have Ms. Palin's voice, spot on. Think about it!
BTW "Letting Go of God" - a masterpiece!

Sheldon said...

Unfortunately, your statement about people in America wanting simple messages and easy politics doesn't just apply to Americans. It's true of humans overall.

The stereotype is that Americans are lazy, simpleminded, etc., but that's just as untrue as the stereotype of the rude French or the drunk Irish. The only difference is, unlike the French and the Irish, Americans are all too eager to help spread the myth.

If psychology has taught us nothing else, it's that humans like cognitively efficient answers. That strategy worked when we were just trying to get through a day with enough to eat, and without getting eaten (e.g., most of human history). Sitting and pondering the costs and benefits of every step you take will get you nowhere in the wild world of early man. Now, here we sit with practically the same physical organ between our ears, being asked to fight against the urge make the same kinds of quick decisions that got us this far.

I'm certainly not ADVOCATING that approach; but I do think it helps to recognize that there's an evolutionary psychological history to why people fall prey to slogans, simple messages, and all the other political strategies that seem to work against reason.

The Europeans can thumb their noses at us all they want, but a close examination of their leadership today provides ample evidence that they are no better at avoiding the traps their politicians set for them.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're blogging again, Julia. Welcome back. I missed you and needed to hear your voice on the subject of Mrs. Beauty Queen McMoose Shooter.

American voters have been successfully dumbed down enough to make abominations like Caribou Barbie and W possible. (I feel I have the right to call them abominations since my people are officially put in that category.)

I haven't read the articles you linked to yet, but I think the corporate mainstream media really has a huge interest in re-electing Republicans. (bandwidth auctions, FCC, immunity from criminal spying.) The MSM is not an objective observer, and they should never sponsor and conduct the debates. We the people should conduct the debates and have them covered by the media. Remember the ABC debate that turned into a debacle.

Obama! Please join the slime slinging. It's the only way to win.

Martin said...

"Why Sarah Palin Incites Near-Violent Rage In Normally Reasonable Women"

Red State Religious Righter said...

Julia, I wouldn't be too worried. Okay, okay so your side is going to lose the election. At the end of the day, your narcissistic feelings of superior intelligence and cultural elitism will be reinforced, and isn't that what really matters?

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People "want easy to understand politicians who seem like they aren’t any smarter than they are" - it's one of the saddest truths EVER. There are a lot of dumb people around.

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