In the extremely complicated game of politics, few things are for certain in the subject of strategy, especially the outcome of an already press-plagued presidential race for history — from every standpoint. And when the fact that the race has had arguably the most strings and skeletons attached then ever before is thrown in to the equation, the expression: “Its politics — anything can happen” truly goes literal. 

But in the same sense, the presidential debates have been what many would call the most uneventful part of the campaign, when many bloggers (including me), strategists and the press alike stressed that the debates would do the opposite: setting off major gaffes and swinging the polls. 

And as contradicting as this may sound, I am staying with my prior claim with one event in mind — the final presidential debate. This is because (in a nutshell) McCain must successfully make debate waves or he will lose. 

 Why? The final debate is essentially McCain’s last public  stand against his opponent before the election, and both  campaigns know that McCain does not want to enter an  election with the poll deficit that he has today. 

 And because of this, McCain will have to look for holes to  punch at more now than ever.

Am I suggesting he will attempt to pull off a: Lloyd Bentsen? No, but Bentsen’s “You are no Jack Kennedy” debate stab makes a good strategic point — if McCain intends to win the debate with some sort of effect carried out in the polls, he must not attack Obama in the way that he has but rather all in — with one soundbite. 

If I can refer to one of my famous analogies, McCain’s theoretical sling shot has endless ammuntion and is relatively cheap, but won’t win him anything in the long run, as opposed to an expensive one shot Bazooka — A.K.A a knockout soundbite. 

But does this exist? In my opinion, no. 

If Obama uses the same common sense debate strategy he has been using so far, he will essentially know the above points. And if he does, he will simply prepare for the debate like the previous two — calmly presenting his policies and safely pointing out contradictions and points by McCain. With this strategy, Obama simply saves himself from politically falling on his face.

But also, in doing this, Obama also presents the best defense to the only offense that McCain can throw at him. What do I mean? In short, while McCain is searching for a throw his soundbite through the crowd, Obama has the ability to see McCain’s strategy before it starts — and possibly intercepting the soundbite when it comes. 

So I’ll open this up to the commenters: “Is McCain going to try this, and what would the outcome be?”

As an American, I have recently been surrounded at all angles by the financial crisis, both presidential and vice-presidential debates, and already interestingly enough, the ongoing saga of Sarah Palin. 

So as I tuned in to CNN, passing through images of Wall Street, abandoned houses and OJ Simpson’s Trial, I knew it was only a matter of seconds before I saw Sarah Palin. And when that did in fact become reality, I was completely dumbfounded — not only did I see her, but rather I heard her. 

What do I mean? CNN’s routine coverage of a McCain campaign stop in Carson, California showed Palin addressing the public, but not like I was used to. I’ll get to the point — she wasn’t delivering a stump speech. 

Yes, a non-stump speech wouldn’t have been such a spectacle at any other campaign event in recent history, but the truth is recent history has never seen Sarah Palin. Although today I will lay off the long saga of Palin herself, I must point out something like this has not only been a rarity in the past few months, but to me shows a turning point in the McCain campaign. 

 Although I believe that Joe Biden won the Vice Presidential  debate, I also will point out that Palin didn’t lose it. She  fought, but was taken captive by Biden’s foreign policy  credentials and successful soundbite gambles. 

 But what I think Palin accomplished in the debate gave her  more long term firepower than any single thing she has  done as running mate for John McCain (and sorry for the  bluntness) — she is now no longer a joke.

 If you asked strategists from both the right an the left on  the morning of the VP debate, there would be no disputing  from them across the board that Sarah Palin has been in the public’s eye a PR ploy. Whether that is what the McCain campaign intended to accomplish is another analysis in itself, but my blunt point here is that the Vice Presidential debate simply changed the way people thought of Palin. 

She didn’t have any coupe-de-grace moments, she didn’t gaffe, and she certainly didn’t win, but Palin kept up. And in doing that she passed a certain point of public status — from more of a joke and PR stunt to a vice presidential candidate. This will admittedly not change opinions on her policies, especially mine, but as pointed out in a rather comic tone by one of my friends, “Palin achieved the expectations of stringing together multiple coherent and complete sentences.” 

Although that comment wasn’t exactly correct, it was essentially in the right direction. Palin’s expectations were in fact incredibly low, and because she exceeded them in such a national stage, my guess is that Palin became a valid political figure to many people. 

So what does that have to do with Palin not delivering a stump speech? In truth, a lot.

In more of a bold statement, because of Palin’s renewed status, she has essentially set herself into the position to carefully open herself up to the MSM and public alike. My point here is that because of her partial success in the debate, Palin was either herself motivated or given the green light by the McCain campaign to open herself up to the press.

And this of course temps the question: what would have happened if Palin had gaffed and knocked herself out of the debate?

In my opinion the McCain campaign would be very hard pressed to do virtually anything in that situation. They would face a press fire if they didn’t bring Palin to an event, but would also face a brutal media wall if they let her speak.  

So I’ll let the commentators have a say at this.

It would be put well quoting that tonight’s debate “almost wasn’t,” far exceeding my expectations of a full out brawl.

But before I start, in a nutshell, what really occurred the most to me is that there never really was a knockout punch, a home-run swing — a bold statement or attack that either tore off the roof or declared a real winner. There were really more or less small policy jabs, and in that respect I think that Barack Obama came out on top strategically. 

 A conservative CNN guest commentator put it extremely  well, pointing out that in a social sense, there were truly  two different people debating — a confident foreign policy  candidate who will accuse, accuse, and accuse, and then an  intellectual candidate who very acknowledges his opponents  rights and points out his wrongs, playing out the debate on  the defensive. 

 Although I am not sure that I agree with the statement on  offense and defense, I think that the man raises a very good  point — that Obama will win a debate through his policies,  not his soundbites.  

And this is really where Obama came right off the bat strong, starting by discussing the economic crisis. His first message was ripe and straight to the point, first throwing out the problem and what he will do to fix it, then proclaiming in a more subdued way that his opponent will take a different and less successful path more towards our president. And I also think that he brought out the point of: “Do you want the next four years under a president similar to ours, who is by the way the same person who you give approval ratings below freezing to?” 

And I think that the general audience thought a second about that, liberal, moderate or conservative, and make their own decision. 

And I think at the same time, McCain felt his grasp slipping. CNN provided a audience reaction poll (it obviously debatable if it is accurate) which showed a huge advantage out of the gate to Obama. 

And this was a very decisive moment in the debate. 

When the topic switched to foreign policy, I noticed a McCain taking chances. The pinnacle of this was a very bold statement from McCain about Russian President Vladimir Putin, quoting:

“I looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin, and I saw three letters — a K, a G, and a B.”

And although the strongly conservative crowd went nothing less than “ga-ga” about that comment, I think that in the long term that really lost the debate for McCain. But it essentially wasn’t the point itself, rather a small turning point in the debate showing the larger and larger chances that McCain was taking to make his points. And in the end, I think that people will think about the debate in a whole and move towards the conclusion that Barack Obama was more in control, not jumpy, and factual. But most of all, he wasn’t trying to start a World War Three inside that Mississippi auditorium, rather pointing out what is wrong and right. 
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The Need For A Debate

September 25, 2008

*** After a non-partisan post on the strategic side of John McCain’s campaign “suspension” as well as some comments questioning my views on it, this is my partisan take on this issue: ***

Although the economy is in desperate need of help one way or another, I think that the American people desperately need a debate. Both candidates have different plans to fix the economy crisis, and both won’t release something for the press without mentioning that President Bush’s plan has major flaws in it. And to say it in a warm way, our president is “retiring” in a matter of days, and if elected, both candidates, mostly Barack Obama, will lead our country in a different matter. 

 And this is precisely why I am personally disgusted to see  John McCain suspend his campaign to chime into  Washington’s bailout plan, because when he knows that if  elected, he will chose to (at the least) push congress to  tweak what is being discussed right now. 

 And in a more broad sense, I am surprised to see both  Barack Obama and John McCain with president Bush and  bailout officials at a high profile White House meeting. In  my opinion, as far as taking action with a bailout, both  candidates are still senators. This contradicts the fact that  these two “senators” are seemingly of a higher authority then anyone else in this issue. 

But the main point that I would like to make is the need for a direct debate. For years now we have had to make our own media points based on attack ads and press statements shot to and from campaign headquarters. I, as well as the rest of the american people, deserve a straight-faced talk between both candidates, and see what they stand for as opposed to what they campaigns release to the press.

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I was recently asked by a friend of mine about my stance on the elections. And although I try to keep non-partisan in my posts for the sake of the blog as well as my reputation, I will admit that I am an Obama supporter. And as a thirteen year old seventh-grader, I would like to point out that I don’t think he is something of a Messia or persuasive cult leader, as the frankly true stereotype for political teens would suggest. 

I support him. My job here on this blog is to follow both parties’ political moves and strategies, and this has also opened me up to his policies, which I do believe can send America in the right way.

But I don’t, however, think that John McCain is any sort of enemy. He isn’t running for president because he is a communist intent on dissolving our government, he is running for office because he wants to change the direction that we are headed in. I just believe in my opinion that he will not change America in the way that we want him to, and that his health is a serious risk. 

Which takes me to Palin. 

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I would call myself a strategic commentator as far as my preferred topics, and I will say without doubt that McCain’s choosing of Sarah Palin was pure genius. It took the media by storm and was prepared long in advance (I’ll get to it). The story of a extremely-far right woman governor as the Vice President of the United States with a chance to become the leader of the free world had added a new chapter to politics, getting five-paragraph opinion pieces out of food bloggers and leading to complete chaos inside the media. It got everyone’s voice out, and that is exactly what it intended.

And meanwhile, it let Sarah Palin prep for the debates. Setting a fire inside the press as well as the blogosphere, the pick not only let the media go opinion-galore in arguments and editorials, but it let Palin go out of the MSM and prepare for what is to come — mandatory debates that she must complete without falling flat. 

But it was a PR stunt. 

Politically, it placed a rocket under the Republican party, but what people fail to understand in my opinion is the permanent placement here is the fact that one must think of a vice presidential pick as a vice president, not a burst of nitrous on a racecar. A CNN news commentator put in extremely well: 

As a Democrat and political strategist, I am excited [with the pick of Sarah Palin], but as an American I am scared out of my mind.

I completely share this man’s point. I am both scared and offended that in a time needing drastic change, a campaign would choose someone to not only place the second highest office in the most powerful country in the world, but pick with such strategic care and literately no thought of the future. Obama told the media after the Sarah Palin frenzy that he choose his running mate Joe Biden because he wanted to change America and he thought that Biden was the best person for that cause. 

And this is precisely why I both pushed far away from supporting the McCain campaign and now have a fascination towards Sarah Palin and what she will do next. As a non-voting 13 year old who (by definition) shouldn’t be talking about this stuff — rather playing outside in the sprinklers), is also a political commentator, I am terrified of the McCain campaign because this seems like their plans for America, and completely amazed with the strategic marvel of Sarah Palin. 

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When the first concepts of blogging were tested, no one could have imagined its impact on national press and its credibility. But furthermore, blogging was not imagined (and certainly not intended) to not only effect the way we look at the political center-stage, but slant it all together. 

But how has blogging done this? The answer is simple and obvious, but otherwise a genius long-term formula that has overblown its projected stardom. Blogging is everywhere, in politics, sports, health, cooking, business, schools and education. But more importantly, its everyone

And this essentially has two meanings. Anyone who wants a say in their interests has a blog, and if they are credible and truthful, people in higher places will recognize that by quoting and linking them, thus sending the blogger up the ranks. And because blogging has this concept of rising through the ranks, every person who has an interest in something can try it, while being anonymous or not. And this has not only created great bloggers, but famous bloggers. Hence bloggers like Matt Yglesias, who have risen through the ranks based on their credibility and their ability to pump out interesting posts. Then there are also strike-it-rich bloggers like Perez Hilton, but then again this post is about politics.

The second meaning of this would be the necessity for all high-up people and corporations to have blogs. For example, although blogging is truly headed towards the destruction of credible news, Rupert Murdoch is forced to have his own blog. Why? Blogging is not just a trend, it is truly the future of media, and everyone is grabbing their share of stock. And furthermore, hence online webzines and newspapers like The Huffington Post and numerous other smaller magazines, created and run by bloggers. 

But above all of this, the effect blogging puts on politics is not only fascinating, but a serious factor in the 2008 Election.

Before blogging, political press would take their time publishing articles about what they wanted to point out, and now the web has completely changed this habit into a thing of the past. 

An example would be the simple gaffe of the McCain campaign’s economic adviser Carly Fiorina, who pointed out that both McCain and Palin wouldn’t be fit to be the head of a major corporation. The gaffe, routinely covered by think tank Think Progress, was literately handed to bloggers by the press. And the bloggers didn’t leave any mercy — the liberals blasting McCain on how he can’t even pick a loyal campaign advisor and the conservatives lashing back with anything they can find. 

What blogging really can accomplish is unlimited, and this is what has created a new dimension in politics. Both parties know that they can’t get away with anything blatant, and they have to play the press as well as the bloggers.

This is comparable to playing table tennis with a backwind — it can both help and hurt you, depending on if you fight the wind or let it play your shots. And in a sense, all you need to do is let the bloggers bite on something juicy and you have hit a genius spin shot carried to the other side of the table by the wind. 

Hence the vice presidential pick of Sarah Palin, which has created so much noise in the press and blogs that every blogger has featured their own “credible” opinions on, dividing lines in both parties and more importantly creating story after story, claims after claims, and rumors after rumors from everyone on the web. And meanwhile, the McCain campaign, sitting back in their Arizona headquarters had the press and blogs outdoing themselves head over heals, while all they did was simply make a pick and dream up three stump speeches. 

So what’s my point? Blogging, whether you like it or not, is the new media, and the political world knows that they can’t fight it. They need to run with blogging if they want any victory.

One might conclude that political ads and PR is one of a contending campaign’s biggest assets to the public — and the obvious fuel to this fire is money. 

And as we continue to notice the numerous left or right attack ads in what seems like every commercial break we run across, the press can’t help but link this back to their big story, Obama’s 66 million dollars in August. And this is perfectly on the spot — you essentially can’t go anywhere to the left or right (online or on your feet) without being swarmed with donation and fundraising opportunities and events. Recently attending an Obama fundraiser, I was amazed with the amount of excess opportunities to buy and donate to the Obama/Biden camp, especially considering the amount of money it cost to get in the actual venue. 

But when looking at the outcome of all this money steadily flowing into the Democrat’s hands, it begs a comment which has been screaming in my head for the last few days: “Is this what all this money is part of? Negative campaigning?” 

As a PR-focused political commenter, I understand that attack ads are merely defense from the latest opposing attacks, but as Karl Rove pointed out, the ads are really going to far. And although Rove may not be the brightest of politicians, his point is made clear. 

But in my view, the most essential thing here is the fact that the ads are virtually an input-output machine, with the input money, and the output a decline in the polls. 

I always look at a campaign in three stages, the first a reception, the second dinner, and the third a drunken bar fight. In more clarity — the candidates spend the beginning of their campaign introducing themselves, the second sitting down and watching the effects throughout the primaries, and the third picking fights and running negative attack ads. And although this has proven to work in the past, a change in politics is in my view essential to winning the campaign. 

So why, then, it is that as Obama keeps listing the lies of McCain’s attacks, the left slips in the polls? America doesn’t like disputes, they like answers. And so this back and fourth attack — defense media battle thus acts as an eclipse to regular politics, and further lets the conservatives ride on Sarah Palin’s media wave, perhaps right into the White House.

This is also comparable to a basketball game where one team is winning by 5 points. The other team may score, but the leading squad (in this case the McCain camp) will always return with another two points. And although the first team keeps scoring, they will always be down by five points, and in the end, losing the game. 

My point? Although Obama may speak the truth in his attacks, he must sacrifice a good reputation if he wants the White House next Spring. 

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In a race unlike any other, politics have mixed with mainstream media, PR stunts and campaign tactics cannot be deciphered, and candidates are currently in a full-fledged ad war. First ladies have turned into public enemies, and lines have been drawn inside of political parties.

But the single, most plain asset in this political chaos that we call the 2008 presidential race is most certainly the element of surprise.

Partisan or non-partisan, liberal or conservative, we can all agree on one thing – Sarah Palin was a surprise. The little-known one term Alaskan governor has set political media to a standstill, hitting nerves on everyone, liberal, conservative, or independent. She has changed politics as we know it, stirring so many feelings that can’t all be represented by just one writing. 

So how can we take all of this in? The truth is, we can’t. Which ever party you support, which every race and creed you are, you simply can’t take in Palin without emotion.

And this is exactly what John McCain wanted.

He wanted this news frenzy. He wanted the blogging world, liberal and conservative to explode into opinion. He wanted chaos to erupt in the media world, (i.e. the OK! Magazine bias). He wanted people like me and you to think long and hard about this media bonanza — he wanted a diversion.

Understanding the importance of his vice presidential pick, McCain couldn’t simply choose anyone. He needed to go out of the ordinary, not into the realm of his contenders, middle-aged white males who would be perceived just like they have for two-hundred years.

And no matter how unreliable, local or politically ripe Sarah Palin was, he knew she would create the second big bang. He knew that she would occupy every political blog, think tank, magazine, and newspaper. And finally, he knew that she would provide a wall between both parties, blacking out media solely focused on the Democrats.

Palin’s experience is an issue, but McCain knew he could exploit this to the fullest, initiating a media strategy that could literately absorb any attack from the left.

And in a sense, this has succeeded, with help from Sarah Palin herself.

Her choosing for running mate has acted as a literal smoke bomb, creating only a small explosion, but then spreading over the entire mainstream media, sparking a spreading cloud of mist. Palin, acting as bait, has done all she has needed to do, unleashing attack speeches when needed and sparking controversy with her “troopergate” scandal as well as he pregnant daughter. The media then proceeded to take the bait, igniting a fire within itself and not running a story without the world “Palin” in it.

Meanwhile, Palin actually has stayed away from the media, ignoring any invitations for interviews on sit-down shows and political debate television as well.

Why? She doesn’t need too.

Palin’s one weakness is the one trait that you would assume a running mate would use to his/her advantage – politics. McCain knows that if Palin explodes back into the media, accepting interviews and arguing head-on with the liberal press, she will be beaten to her knees, and a coupe-de-grace will be imminent during her mandatory debate with opposing running mate Joe Biden.

And because of this, the future is more of an enemy to the conservatives than Barack Obama, and if the Democrats plan to exploit this, they must understand that for now, they have lost the battle of the present.

Today on Friday, August 29, 2008, the world knows the true meaning of political chaos.

Just the previous night, Barack Obama completed a historic speech for the record books to close a remarkable in itself Democratic National Convention, only to be greeted early this morning to a previous rumor made reality, the choosing of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin for John McCain’s Vice President. Throw that in with a newly-named Katrina #2 headed for American land — in the wake of the newly-hyped Republican National Convention — and you have a story: not to mention some busy bloggers. 

So how does all this fit into place in the world of politics? Its really a two way outcome that comes down to what it has always — a floor brawl between the two political powerhouses — Obama and McCain. Obama — fresh off his brilliant speech in Denver, is short pressed to respond to Sarah Palin’s nomination — preferably for him in the form of a official press statement. McCain, on the other hand, is in a bittersweet position that in my opinion could be politically suicidal if mishandled. 

Currently sitting on the momentum throne, Senator McCain has many options, but none as daunting as his long term decision with Sarah Palin. He knows that from a political standpoint that the next week is not just vital to his campaign, but it could make or break it. By choosing Palin as his running mate, he has made Obama look (in contrast) as familiar to America as Britney Spears, and that is something he needs to change very soon. 

So what better time to do so than the convention? And now that the previous focus for the conservatives (trying to top the party-like atmosphere the democrats featured) is out of the question, McCain must use his media attention wisely in introducing Sarah Palin to the world — and more importantly — his future voters. 

And then there’s Obama. 

A recent powerhouse in the media, Obama’s “Messiah” stature in media reportings and stories has just been snatched away from him, replaced with news that he knows he can use for his advantage. CNN journalist Soledad O’Brien put up a good question by asking if the McCain camp has put “firepower in the democrat’s hands” with their veep pick, but that question actually divides into a strategic answer that is more complicated that one might think.

The line between weakness and political retaliation has been very slim this election, but it is one that Obama has mastered, as I wrote in another post about political ads. And now that Obama has been given the ball next to the hoop practically unguarded, he must choose to simply lay it in or attempt a demoralizing dunk. What I mean by this is that Obama has been given a situation that he can take advantage with, but if he goes to far with it — he could come out as weak rather than powerful. What he must do, what he will do, and what he can do are totally different approaches that will lead him in totally different directions.

What he should do (in my opinion) is take advantage of the fact that McCain, a hard hitter on the “ready to lead” diss for Obama, has chosen a less experienced, younger running mate. Questioning her political stance (i.e. her foreign policy weakness) is very risky and would be something he probably would like to use as ammunition for one of the many debates he will have with McCain and Palin. 

Enter the storm.

Politics will soon take a turn to the scientific as tropical storm Gustav takes a turn for the bad, projected to make landfall near major city New Orleans, which we can’t forget was the victim of deadly hurricane Katrina. Gustav will probably win the conservative “best timing awards,” as it is expected to hit the city right when the Republican Convention opens up, concerning many convention executives, as it will drive the the president himself away from the convention, where he may make a political difference. 

This news, if timed right, can take away from the election, and not only for the Republicans. The delay of the convention will give the Democrats time to get to their senses and stitch together an effective ad towards McCain regarding anything from his convention to his running mate. 

And as politics continues, one might wonder how and why anyone could keep up with the recent chaos, rumors, press stunts, announcements, ads, and conventions. The truth is — you can’t.

pacer521, author of Culture Decoded this post is also featured here

The internet is alive with breaking news of John McCain’s running mate choice of Sarah Palin, which greatly surprises myself as well as pleasantly surprised many democratic bloggers. In their opinion, Palin is probably the best choice to pound on in a political way.

First off, Palin is the exact opposite of what McCain’s strengths are. She is a 44 year old Governor with barely any foreign policy experience, prides herself on being a reformer, and her main strengths are really managing. So with this, one might think of her to be a secretary or treasurer rather than a vice president. 

This also shocks me in a huge way. Palin’s rumored chances as running mate were rendered by me (as well as many others) as either a joke or a public stunt. McCain loves to tell Obama he isn’t ready to lead, but what if he was elected and — God forbid — anything happened to him because of his old age? Is Sarah Palin ready to lead?

In my opinion, no. I couldn’t imagine Palin leading, obviously not because she is a woman, but because she truly doesn’t have even close to enough experience. I am too worried that if something happens to an elected McCain, Palin wouldn’t be able to keep the country stable, and you can forget bringing the country back from its economic crisis. There is no doubt that she is an impressive person politically and socially, but I can’t help but be against her leading our country in these times.

So as McCain’s huge pep rally (where he appears with Palin for the first time ever) nears to a start in about 15 minutes, one might need to shake the man to his senses a bit, for his running mate is not only his opposite, but she is certainly not a future vice president, and NOT the commander in chief. 

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