Recently returned from South America, I checked up on a local news source that I visited in Argentina (I’d link but its all in Spanish), only to alarm myself with the news of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his threat to America via expelling our ambassador and threatening to shut off oil supply. As an average American, I took it seriously, but was very appalled by the fact that it was not even noticeable in the New York Times or on CNN. In my opinion, this is serious news that should put a halt to the elections, for at least a few hours if not for the day.

Well, here’s my biased view of the day, so be warned.

Joe Biden made a comment at a campaign spot in Columbia, Missouri, supposively geared towards Sarah Palin and her five-year old daughter, reading: “I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy … and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect…Well, guess what, folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem cell research?”

This was followed harshly in a McCain statement: “Barack Obama’s running mate sunk to a new low today, launching an offensive debate over who cares more about special needs children. Playing politics with this issue is disturbing and indicative of a desperate campaign.”

To me, this is completely ridiculous on McCain’s part, mostly in releasing this kind of statement, but also in reacting in this kind of harsh way towards anything (supposedly) thrown at Palin. Calling Biden’s comments “disturbing” is very incorrect, whether his comments were about Palin or not. And although I am not an expert on stem cell research, nevertheless this kind of response to what seems like a very light attack on Palin — if an attack at all –is totally uncalled for.

Plus, the last time I checked, candidates can question each-other’s policies.

This also raises a greater point — it seems that the Republicans are sending running mate Sarah Palin into the press and at the Democrats in the form of an attack “Pitt Bull” who can throw out harsh attacks and lies, in such a relentless fashion. And now that she may have been attacked back, in a fraction of what Palin has thrown at the Democrats, the McCain campaign reacts in the form of: “What are you doing? This isn’t allowed!”

It doesn’t work like that. First off, Palin has made many skeptical remarks, changed her stance on many things including the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” remark, and most of all, attacked the Democrats’ policies as well as character in a very harsh way, and she must realize that just like she would do, the Democrats will make their case on why she is wrong. And because of this, she can’t react like she just found proof that Obama is a Muslim every time the left tries to tell the world that she may be wrong.

Secondly, you can’t just jump off the grid, already starting a press wildfire inside itself, and fire back this harshly whenever any form of point or questioning is geared towards you. It’s as simple as that.

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You know chaos is imminent when a major celebrity media giant pulls a hit and run on politics’ hottest story.

US weekly recently took it too far — the rumor-first celebrity gossip magazine stumbled into the political ring, taking with then millions of loyal subscribers into a media they had never before ventured in. The magazine put up a clearly biased cover story of Sarah Palin, getting hammered by everyone from base-bloggers to the heavy hitters.                                                  (picture and caption not created by author)

What does this really show? And why did US Weekly decide to pull this off? In my opinion, the magazine forgot how much of an influence they were and got carried away, setting off bias and sexism accusations and even an official boycott.

But although Palin may be politically incorrect and in a PR sway at the moment, a clear bias like this not just hits hard on deep based Palin supporters, but struck a nerve on most everyone who has a computer or a television. And this is why US really got slammed — they made a simple miscalculation, guessing that Palin would be “done and over with” a week after the article was written (when the actual magazine hit the shelves).

So because of this, US Weekly’s “miscalculation” as catapulted into a nightmare, and the rest of the world will decide if they want to throw in the coupe-de-grace.

After releasing his latest ad: “No Change“, many are questioning candidate Barack Obama’s lack of criticism toward opposing vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, who (let’s not forget) has posed as a giant target for almost every American democrat lately. 

But is this really true? I disagree.

In dissent, Sarah Palin is truly a tough target to hit in many ways, no matter how large of a dart-board she looks right to your average political commentator. This problem, in a primitive sense, is similar to ‘telling on’ a teacher’s pet, no matter how guilty they may be. The liberal press (or the press at all) can report all they want on Palin’s troopergate scandal, but if Obama takes a shot at it, it will most likely backfire as a sign of weakness or rage, similar to Hillary Clinton’s “Change You Can Xerox” remarks, ending in harsh boos. 

And who is the teacher — blocking all of these would be Obama talking points, you may ask. 

Its actually a hybrid of John McCain, the army of conservative bloggers and youtuber’s, and to stir it all up, Hurricane Gustav and its effect on the GOP convention. This three headed press monster strikes in more places than one, and is designed specifically to rebound any Democratic attacks.

First, John McCain, who chose Palin as his running mate, has chosen a move thought to be defensive to many liberals but in truth very effective, in his act of “taking off his party hat” and undressing the festivities of the GOP convention in the wake of hurricane Gustav. But by doing this, McCain has also created an Obama trap. 

If the liberals try to take any kind of shot at the Republicans, the Right Wing will be able to not only defend themselves in a political way, but then question their relentless attacks in a time of crisis (referring to hurricane Gustav). 

So while nothing official can happen between both parties for now, the McCain camp will have this week’s victory, both letting the press flood away any news stories about Obama’s speech with news of the hurricane and sending some sort of political point out of his convention.

Meanwhile, the third and last head of the press monster (behind McCain and hurricane Gustav) is the conservative “www” army, flooding blogs everywhere and taking up mostly all youtube comment sections under Obama videos. Although this kind of attack, below, is not official to the McCain camp, it poses a huge scary reminder to the democratic senator of how many devout McCain supports are willing to relentlessly attack everywhere on the public web, no matter how badly they would fair in a debate with each other. Although Obama may know more about the web than his opponent, with campaign accounts everywhere filled with conservative spam messages and attacks, he just may have to admit loss in this category.

So as Sarah Palin keeps letting out attack points, from her Troopergate scandal to her 17 year old daughter’s pregnancy, she is merely bait for McCain’s press monster to trap Obama in a whirlwind of backfiring remarks.

My advice for Obama? Stay out of the spotlight for a week, and then, when the storm comes to a close, make up for lost time with more than one attack ad.

After a long string of politics, I took cover by way of the local AMC, but in the end, I couldn’t escape what continues to surround me as well as everyone else — politics. 

No, this time it wasn’t Wolf Blitzer or a fiery Fox anchor, but a dose of something rare – an American citizen who just let it slip. It was actually the most exciting part of the movie, (Traitor), and the film hadn’t started yet.

After a quite loud tribute to the soldiers overseas wearing the red, white, and blue via song by Kid Rock (somehow with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. thrown into it) a sole man seated across from me booed. 

It wasn’t a scream, but it had meaning to it. Received almost exactly to the contrary by a enraged man in the row behind, the disagreement turned into a full-fledged political debate — all we needed now was Ralph Nater to show up.

And then there was me. From the outer shell, the innocent thirteen year old sitting with a friend for the sole purpose of enjoying a movie. But then here I was — the partisan, sometimes non partisan political blogger who is regularly mistaken for someone decades older. And that person, the late twenties or early thirties political mojo would almost certainly jump in, maybe even throw in a little dose of Anderson Cooper while they were at it. But no, of course not. I’m a kid. So I sat down. 

Eventually the two men were calmed down by some security and the whole thing was over with, but the buzz in the movie theater was still alive. The previews rolled on and the movie started, which was conveniently centered around terrorism, hardly a theme that suited the previous argument. 

So I didn’t move a muscle. Why? Certainly a highly opinionated and politically immersed person like me would have a voice, and this was definitely a time to show it. But in the end, until I grow over 5’10, lose my braces and higher-pitched voice, I would look like your average kid, associated with anything your average stereotypical annoying thirteen-year old would be connected with. But connect me with a pen and paper, and its a different world.

Another reason by blogging is the new media.

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

Of the many political bullets a successful politician can dodge, cameras and press aren’t one of them.

After catching wind of Obama admitting he has made his choice for Vice President, one might fall victim of the far-well too known knack of the media to ride the ‘this just in’ wave, confusing the hailed politician with an entertainment star. It seems like Newsweek and Hello magazine are recently starting to integrate with Obama-like news, which could ultimately make one of his worst fears come true — becoming a celebrity. Many, including the republican nominee John McCain, have accused the senator of soaking up the celebrity life, comparing Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. And as this realization becomes closer and closer to Obama, there is really only one thing to do…deal with it. 

As Obama travels the globe, he will be swarmed by a mix of the media’s camera flashes and smiling fans, and he simply can’t get rid of only one. Both will follow him around like a loyal pet, and showing any frustration to this can and will backfire at him, which will send the right wing press (including McCain) into a full-fledged field day. So accepting this recent stardom may be a hard thing to do, but it will be the best choice for the senator long-term. 

So how exactly can this be carried out without ending in disaster? After arousing enough news sources with his vice president cliffhanger, Obama will have to try to sole this frenzy by delivering an “end — all” speech with his running mate this Saturday. Hopefully for the senator, after this chapter in his campaign finishes, the media can switch their attention to John McCain’s vice president fiasco. I’m sure the public (and the democrats) would like some more wind about Sarah Palin’s bid…

Genius marketing mixed in with perfect tactics and fan support have made senator Obama’s new ads as effective as ever. After McCain’s celebrity attack ads geared towards Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as well as the Illinois senator, a response ad was imminent — and hyped. 

And did it come, in Obama’s first attack ad: “Embrace”, which turned the tables on the popular political ‘celebrity’ topic and focused on the popular web video of McCain hugging current President George Bush — who has now become public enemy #1 for the Democrats. More notably though, “Embrace” was truly the first full-fledged attack on McCain, and in my opinion it came at the best time. 

Although he has been steadily gaining on Obama’s lead in the polls, McCain’s PR has been on the decline recently, starting with his Iraq-Pakistan border gaffe and continuing with his recent attack commercials that seem to have little thought and research thrown into them. And because of this they have been ripped to pieces publicly by Obama staff and then discussed in numerous liberal blogs and forums.

On the flipside, Obama’s ads have been technically defensive responses with savvy quotes and researched facts, which have strangely been untouched by the right wing so far. His second ad, “Economy” was a simple but genius approach which has not been yet done before, but startled viewers. Starring McCain’s economic gaffs and disagreeing American citizens, on air the ad was very convincing — although it is very, very possible the people in the ad were the ones who agreed with Obama. But what not many people realize is that the Americans in the ad were from some of Obama’s weakest states, including Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky — where the average Joe would probably a McCain guy. This may have gone unnoticed by many, but it was a great idea for the campaign to exploit that weakness in a public way.

But not only is Obama winning in the advertising category, he’s orchestrating McCain attacks every day — most without him knowing. Obama’s fans have played a huge role in his campaign, and they have continued to on the web, where “first door on the left” type of blogs are sending out disses and attacks to the republican side with appeal to everything from McCain’s secret service to remixes of his gaffs and views being ridiculed by “experts”. 

So as Obama continues on with his hyped running mate decision and television ads, he knows one thing for sure — he won’t be alone. Far from it.

 

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Lets face it — America loves the comeback kid. Simply, we love to read about the guy who was once bad and now is good. If they reconstructed their life, they have a story. And in a sense — that’s what makes us great — we give second chances, and people who accept that have another chance. But this is something that goes beyond the television, beyond the newspapers — behind the scenes. This is what saves the day for the rich and famous, celebrity and nutty. And finally, this is what gives the genius PR guy his well-earned week’s pay.

Growing in the new age of media, I can spot a PR stunt when I see one. It can be flawlessly pulled off, and it can be failed. In theory, to pull of a public relations job really just needs to fit a common narrative. If its viable to the American public, then it can be done. PR guys can really save the reputations of anyone on the public map. A common example of a PR stunt on the political side would be the tell-tail story of Jenna Bush. The daughter of the president of the US, a tipsy, parting Jenna was busted for underage drinking and was completely demolished by the press. 

Then she disappears. 

Barely any information comes up about her in months. But no one wonders where she went. The media always has other things to report, and they carried on with that. During that time, Bush slowly created an instant resume, re-building her reputation off the air. Then she suddenly comes back into the press, and come back with a bang. She is suddenly a new person — cleaned up and engaged. She took trips overseas to Africa, came back with humanitarian street ‘cred, had a stint teaching unprivileged inner city children, wrote a book about HIV AIDS with a first run of 500,000 copies, and goes on a book tour. During that time she stayed completely out of clubs and the media, denouncing herself from a household name to a lesser status. Then she came back with a bang, made herself a hit in the media , and set up a very press-worty future — a book tour that the NY times correctly identified as a media blitz. 

What was pulled off here was not only a true PR stunt, but a successful one as well. Why? It covered all a stunt like this should have. What a true PR genius must do before starting his plan is a recognition of the hurdles he must tackle. Whoever constructed this plot obviously knew that the public would not forget the underage drinking if it wasn’t taken care of. So he/she took this into consideration when constructing Jenna’s new life. And because of this, the book that Jenna wrote not only cleaned up her resume, but it really was the coupe-de-grace of the whole stunt. 

Another great example of a PR stunt on the entertainment side is celebrity Paris Hilton. Hilton was really a victim of her own choices, and that dug her deep into a hole that was very tough to escape. After a sting of events that all ended up all of the internet, and sometimes backfiring at her — the media had a field day slamming her down. She: (in just some of her faults) released a horrific album that bombed the charts, got arrested and convicted for DUI, had a great deal of crying that happened all be on national TV, got any last bit of self esteem snatched from her a the VMA’s by Sarah Silverman, went to jail, got that famous mugshot, and then as a coming out party, had a disaster of a Larry King interview. By that time, she was in trouble. Another blow would be a definite KO for her, and she knew it. 

Enter the dragon, or as I would call him — the PR guy. With his/her aid, Paris took the tactics of many before her and took months off, both rebuilding and letting the press forget about her. And in a sense, they did. 

Then, after John McCain took a swipe at Obama as well as her with his campaign ad — she pounced, fully charged and ready. She struck back with her response commercial, and at the same time took a decisive step back into the fiery realm of the media. Her commercial was both funny and accurate, but most of all it was genius. She knew she couldn’t win pretending she was just an American citizen, so she in a sense admitted her stardom and called herself a celebrity, which would have never happened before. This time, though, it worked. The press fell for it, and Hilton was back where she was always meant to be — a rich, dumb blonde fashion model who doubles as a celebrity by night. That may not win a nobel prize, but it is where she is meant to be.

PR stunts are really that last spark of hope in politics and entertainment that has saved the careers of many. There have been many of these acts before and there are many in process right now (an example would be Britney Spears). And although they work unnoticed, behind the scenes, the real geniuses behind all of these acts are the PR guys. And that’s how it will stay. 

In politics, anything can happen, but it relies on the press to take it as far as they want it. John Edwards has certainly caused a national stir after admitting an affair to filmmaker Rielle Hunter, 42, but is it really in our hands to decide his political fate?  The press was certainly responsible for other downfalls of presidential hopefuls, including presidents themselves, and this is no exception. So what is going to happen?

In my opinion a blow like this could send him either to Kansas or Washington DC. If Barack Obama has any brains in his head, he’ll think long and hard about the possibility of giving Edwards a campaign spot. Not that he wouldn’t make good decisions, but it could be political suicide — especially during the aftermath of the Reverent Wright bonanza. The press could eat both of them up, and unless Obama has some sort of master escape route, then this could be a decision that won’t favor Edwards. So I say that his role in this presidential outing is looking pretty grim. 

But then again, things could make turn for the better. The press seems not to remember that John McCain, after spending years in captivity during the Vietnam War, blew off his old wife (who by the way was waiting the entire time for him) so he could run off with Cindy McCain, his current one. At that time he wasn’t campaigning, so it was the perfect time for him to do something like that. And now that “the first door on the right” media seems to adore McCain, they just regard it officially as old news. This was a dodged bullet for McCain and he hasn’t been pestered by it ever since. 

So could Edwards pull off a McCain and get by it? Sadly, I don’t think so. Although the left wing did like him, he still has this chip on his shoulder that no one can ignore. So there are two things he could do. First, he could wait it out, staying away from the media but when forced to comment on his affair, apologizing for it as he has done. This way he can get off the grid, and look at his chances furthermore. And anything can happen during that time. The luckiest he could get would be if the conservatives got some huge dirt on Obama and leaked. That way he could try to hitch a ride on Hillary’s back, where he has more chances. 

The best thing to do for him, in my opinion would be to try to pull a Bill Clinton. No, I’m not calling for him to deny the whole thing but to hold periodic press conferences and apologize profusely, doing everything from bringing in his wife to publicly slapping the girl he cheated on. The press would love it, and if everyone falls for it, he could bounce back. 

The one thing he shouldn’t do would be pointing out what McCain did back in Vietnam. It would first give the press an outlet to shove this whole thing back in his face, saying he’s desperate and doesn’t want to apologize like a third grader after stealing someone’s toys. Although what McCain did was worse, this would be like signing his will and walking the plank. So that’s what I think about this whole thing, hope you guys have some other ideas as well as opinions of you own.

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