The Expectation Of Change

November 23, 2008

Driving throughout the largely liberal Los Angeles area, everything from Barack Obama bumper stickers to tee-shirts suggest what has rarely been suggested before in such a large volume: mass change –accompanied by a single date: January 20th. 

Of the many emotions this provokes from me as a self-proclaimed liberal and Obama supporter, satisfaction and rejoice are overshadowed by disappointment in the form of political rhetoric and greed. To me Barack Obama is a new kind of politician – eloquent and prolific in the limelight — but as shown in his campaign, strategically and politically brilliant. He has somehow transformed and captured the majority of the United States and brought it to one voice and one meaning, hope. 

But within this word, a sanctuary of hope that delivered to millions of Americans an image of the “American dream,” a utopia of economic prosperity and governmental perfection, only a handful of Obama supporters see hope in the practical sense, only they see hope attached to patience. 

Obama Campaigns I, myself too young to lay my respective punch-hole in the ballot box for another two elections, acknowledge that in fact I have not been captivated by Barack Obama because of his mantra of hope, nor have seen him as the leader that millions of Americans do.

But I support him in the way that I have never supported one single idea or campaign in my life. He, in my humble opinion, was the best candidate running for President — carrying the necessary policies to help the United States of America prosper and thrive. 

But in no way do I link the date January 20, 2009 to economic wealth and political prosper. Obama is simply a liberal politician who is in fact the right leader for this country that beckons political guidence and leadership. 

But in the same way the better life that seems so close away from all Americans will not be handed over by Obama on January 21. And in the end, America will see a political disappointment that this nation perhaps have never seen before. They will have to be patient and forgiving to a president Barack Obama, while they let him politically dig out the country from the deep hole it has been forced into.

On the morning of August 20, Barack Obama and John McCain were in a virtual dead heat for the White House.

Obama was five days away from the Democratic Nation Convention, where his campaign hoped to put in a press swing that would ride him through the GOP’s Convention. He was also riding up attention for his extremely anticipated Vice Presidential decision, as his anxious base and the country alike stood at a standstill. 

But as the infamous truth holds, none of this essentially played out — Sarah Palin was standing in the way.

Blanketing world news, Palin’s entrance to the global stage both wiped clean any and all publicity from Obama’s historic convention and in doing so started a “press wildfire,” exploding into the media for weeks, then months.

But now, as we look back on late August, the daunting shadow in our minds looms between McCain, the press, and the oval office — the polls. Gone from a dead heat to a widening eight point Obama lead, McCain’s promising late August media swing has seemed to backfire.

And as early ballots begin storming in, the McCain campaign finds themselves in a run against the media, the independents, and finally, against Sarah Palin.

Politics is an extremely fragile game in itself. Taunting some and seeming vague to others, political moves are to be perceived by opinion — the Sarah Palin pick being no different. 

As a thirteen year old not effected by voting week or polls, it is more or less clearer to see the strategic effect rather than the emotional toll, and in that respect I believe that the choice of Palin as running mate has essentially the snowball that has turned into an avalanche.

Palin’s political entrance in the McCain campaign put an extremely positive effect onto the conservative base, but in doing so moved the McCain campaign significantly to the right. 

In addition to strategically abandoning liberal Republican voters and the center, Palin opened the McCain campaign up for examination from almost every political side of the isle, detailing that Palin was the female form of President Bush — far right in many of her individual policies.

But what interests me is that the McCain campaign didn’t solely defend Palin, but set off an array of attack ads to the left, sending off the first signs of agitation from his campaign.

And as Obama simply defended them with response press statements and ads himself, the media simply caught on, causing many have accused the media of — bias. The Obama press endorsements kept racking up, backing the McCain campaign closer and closer to the wall. 

The press had caught the strategic unstableness of the McCain campaign, and simply reported it. McCain, in a deeper and deeper hole, executed the response that ultimately will keep him out of the oval office — more attack.

Strategic failure and a political gamble have brought the McCain campaign to their knees — and this is why, as the Fall leaves are raked off the street and world politics comes to a standstill on November 4th, we will see a President Obama elected.

In the final stretches of the now slightly Obama leaning presidential campaign, the trailing McCain/Palin camp has truly let loose their steam, and people have noticed it. CNN just recently released information from a McCain aide among other things, quoting that “Palin is going rouge.”

And some of the loudest voices on the internet as well as the media have questioned: Is the McCain Campaign Imploding?

And this in fact raises a very good question. 

It is not disputed from either party that regardless of the current attacks, since both parties entered the political spotlight and are now close to ending the election, we have seen two very different strategic McCain campaigns.

So a question like this can in fact be raised. The answer? Not entirely.

This essentially boils down to the circumstance of the situation McCain has been in, as well as the fact that their original strategic goals have not fallen through.

And this in a sense involves Sarah Palin and also doesn’t. As detailed in my other work, the Palin strategy has not been a long term success, at first creating a press frenzy but lately failing to deliver enough positive media attention toward the McCain campaign. 

And in part, because of this McCain has lost ground. 

But regardless of the past, I believe that the McCain campaign is trapped in a position they truly can’t dig themselves out of any other way than what they are doing strategically right now. 

But what is interesting is that the strategy they are using in a fact has put forth the sense that McCain has been negative enough to look like it is imploding, as reports of both McCain and Palin coming are off as desperate.

And this is nothing short of true — but my main point here (in plain words) is that the only thing the McCain campaign can do is desperately attack via the press and public statements – the reason being the political position they are in. 

But in the same sense, the Obama campaign is doing the most strategically sound thing to do — point this out. The highlight of this backfire tactic has been this quote recently hammered in by a seemingly fired up Joe Biden:

Barack Obama has a backbone of steel — he can take 8 more days of attacks. But the American people can’t take 8 more years old George Bush in the form of John McCain.

So to the commenters: is the McCain campaign imploding, and what strategies are both campaigns using?

As a bit of an off-topic post: Today I heard something that I had heard in different contexts all my life, but never really brought out in a political light. In a Yom Kippur sermon, a rabbi pointed out to me something the all of us have (or are going to learn) the hard way — it is the human instinct to always be right. 

I know that we have all heard this before, but bare with me. The speech was mostly about the science of insisting on being correct to reduce sadness and stress, but as a political junkie rather than a health enthusiast, one point of the sermon clung on to me. 

The Rabbi pointed out this (not a direct quote):

This human knack is also translated in many ways than one….into politics. If you remember the famous Nixon/Kennedy debate, and visited a predominately Nixon-favoring apartment, the people living there would say: “look at this whooping we are giving Kennedy!” But if you went to a Kennedy supporting apartment, they would most likely say the opposite: “Look at this pounding we are handing Nixon!”

And although this would certainly not be rare in the present as well, the rabbi’s point was brought out completely in his last quote:

But the interesting thing here was is if you were in the far-right apartment building and Nixon [in the debate] stared straight at the camera and said, “I am a crook. I am not nearly qualified enough to become president compared to my opponent — and frankly, this was a stupid idea to run in the first place.” then the Nixon supporters in the apartment would most definitely roar in approval, saying: “Now there is an honest man fit for the job as commander and chief.”

 What the rabbi was getting at in my opinion was the fact  that all over the political spectrum there are people who  very intensely support their candidate.

 And although this is certainly not bad, (I wrote a while back  on this) some of these people are (this is just my opinion)  fixated on destroying the other candidate via the internet  and media. And this, in my opinion, can really derail them  as voters, and more importantly Americans.

 To support a candidate in this day and age is to support  someone that you truly believe can make an America that you want, not a congressman, senator, or frankly — another candidate’s America. But when a person rises above a certain passion for a candidate, many will instead turn to attacking the opposing party’s candidate.

And in doing this the really lose touch of their pick for president and become engrossed in a negative mindset of convincing other people that a candidate is not fit as president.

No, I am not having some sort of crisis or am trying out to be a guru, but my main point here is that these people, instead of using this incredible amount of energy on their candidate, choose to use it to attempt to persuade others into something that is truly their own choice.

If you want to get very deep into the subject, this can be traced to many other things involving religion, racism, and cults, but my meaning here is that equally, on both sides of the political spectrum, there is a very radical but still functional mental factor that continues to persuade large numbers of voters.

Today Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin presented her second speech in as many days on the topic of opponent Barack Obama’s political involvement with past leader of radical group Weather Underground — a subject repeatedly punched by the McCain campaign. Palin’s words were responded with boos and shouting alike from the McCain supporting crowd, a harsh way of showing they wanted more. 

But has this been the response from the general public, especially neutral undecideds? 

The popular trend has been no, but past and present pollster stats have had a history of contradicting this claim. But in contrast, Barack Obama’s recent climb in the polls have been widely linked with the fact that his campaign has been running a lower percentage of attack ads. 

But in truth it really comes down to the campaign making their attacks carefully and with strategy. Although incredibly dated, my case in point is knockout campaign ad “daisy” by then-presidential candidate Lyndon Johnson. The ad (click here) was truly a textbook attack that although was in fact a PR gamble, paid off handsomely for the Johnson campaign, and is even credited at times in part for his presidency win.

Why? Though a gamble alone because of its topic, the ad was in fact very well played. The Johnson campaign found a large stumble by opponent Barry Goldwater where he stated that nuclear bombing Vietnam was a possibility. 

For those as young as me, to put this into prospect: the political importance of capitalizing on the uncertainty and fear of a nuclear war in 1964 was by all means not the equivalent but rather of the same concept as a candidate in this race falling on a political pot of gold. In other words, finding something (most useful would be a quote) coming out of the opposing campaign that involved the prospect of funding the people who are suspected to have started the financial crisis.  

 But once something like this has been discovered, the  campaign must in fact use their information carefully. 

 What is my point? There are essentially three steps a  campaign must take to orchestrate a successful ad — a juicy  and controversial topic (in Daisy’s case a nuclear war), a  somewhat truthful piece of information from the opponent  (the more untruthful it is the more skilled the director must  be), and finally a non-generic: “and this is why you should  vote John ’64″ quote. 

 And “daisy” not only hit straight on all of those topics, but  also found time to put fourth an intense start (the young girl counting roses that turns in to a T-Minus countdown for an nuclear bomb) that has made people think and argue for decades.

And what does this have to do with the 2008 presidential race? In a strategic sense, almost everything.

In my opinion, Obama’s lead has come from two things — his policies and the topic of this post — McCain campaigning. 

But not as you might suspect — I am not discrediting McCain for his negativing campaigning itself, but rather the fact that it has not successfully followed all the points to make a successful PR ploy. This is simply because he has thrown out way too many talking points as ads, and hasn’t followed what has worked in the past and will continue to — a central arguement.

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 seems like the press is now convinced on two topics — the economic bailout that has cost us one trillion in a day — and everything about Sarah Palin. Because I am no economics professional and am too young to have a bank account, I have become more or less obsessed with Palin and her press craze. 

Very early this month, I found a small blog offering that John McCain’s campaign should ask Palin to step down as running mate, in what seemed like a drunken tone, which I had very little interest for mostly because the blog’s credibility and links were nothing less than bogus. 

I then started seeing more and more blogs pop up with this topic, along with the occasional webzine posting a opinion piece with similar views to the original blog. But I was extremely surprised to see the story go all the way to CNN’s Jack Cafferty File, a very prestigious, and to me, credible opinion blog. So as I sifted through the hundreds of comments, some (let us say) “interesting” points came up. This is one that I will center my analysis around — written by “erica”:

If he [John McCain] has half a brain he will – but I think we know how much brain he has, based on the fact he chose her in the first place.

I originally noticed this comment because it was so overly partisan that it triggered dozens of follow up arguments, but after staring at it for quite a long time, I saw something different in it — it was completely true…without the “brain” comments. 

 In truth, McCain made a smart decision, but a very  important one in his acquisition of Palin. And many can  agree that it has not paid off. 

 In my perspective, Palin was chosen in the most part for a  nation-wide press boost and to collect outer right  conservatives who otherwise wouldn’t support McCain. It is  widely disputed if they intended to also herd in former  Hillary Clinton supporters, but that is completely off topic. 

 In short, for whatever reason John McCain choose Sarah  Palin, he cannot avoid the fact that he has chosen her. He  also cannot avoid the fact that he has backed her up and  called her “the best running mate I could have chosen”  multiple times. So this now brings me to a revised version  of the comment I saw. 

John McCain is now feeling his Sarah Palin press fire burn out in the midst of the economic crisis, and although he and his staff know that Palin does not have a good chance of coming out of the debate (or really any public appearance) with an increase in the polls, he has chosen her. He cannot replace her. 

He simply can’t. Sending Palin into a debate that now seems impossible to win and hard to stay alive would prompt any political writer, commentator, strategist, blogger — anyone to think that it would be a good campaign move to replace her. But he can’t.

Palin, in her VP beginnings, was a literal press flame although she barely ever choose to enter the media. And I, as well as many liberal and conservatives alike thought it she could carry that media flame all the way to the White House. As a Democrat and teenage citizen of the US, I was terrified by her, but as a political strategist I strongly thought that she could eventually carry her stardom all the way. But I forgot one thing — she had to debate. I stand corrected. 

The McCain campaign has found themselves in a trap. Their favorite baseball was hit as a home run, but instead of clearing their fence to their friendly neighbor’s yard, it was hit too hard, landing in the haunted house that Joe Biden lives in. 

In more simple words, Palin was a genius idea that worked, perhaps too well. The conservatives just didn’t look far ahead enough politically and tested all available traps to see that this could happen. Palin started off brilliantly, but then she made some mistakes and the press as well as many others have exploited them. Hence her “Bridge To Nowhere” claim that everyone from Bono to Keith Olberman have capitalized on. Her two failed interviews that are now legendary on youtube, being smashed to pieces by comedian Tina Fey. But most of all, it is the few information that has been given out, most of it called lies. 

So as Palin limps into the debates, there is a very low chance she will make it out. And there is literately nothing John McCain can do about it.

On A Lighter Note…

September 29, 2008

I thought I’d take a small break tonight from the debates and put up a hilarious video made when Hillary Clinton was thought to win president (back when…) I did not make the video and yes, I do know that the author of the youtube mix is an Obama supporter and partisan. 

Enjoy: Mission Bosnia: Click Here 

On another note — I wrote a guest movie review on Involuntary Fury’s blog of “Eagle Eye” here.

Analysis: Sarah Palin is a force, from whichever prospective you may enter from. But the underlying question is how she has become one in the form of something completely different than what the political world has ever seen. 

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 Shortly after her “homecoming” speech in Fairbanks, Alaska, Sarah Palin opened up, making her first fresh address since her repetitive “stump” speeches after her GOP acceptance, provoking the first thought from me that explains her marvel. How has Sarah Palin accumulated this much press in such a short amount of time?

What me must first understand is the fact that this has been done before, by the person who has been hit most by Palin — Barack Obama. Long ago in political time, Hillary Clinton was once the king of the hill, and a sure-shot to at least make to the general election. And then Obama came, literately out of thin air, and getting more press and hype than Clinton has ever had — eventually overtaking her. 

And although on a bigger stage, this process has essentially repeated itself with Sarah Palin. And because of this, the Obama camp must understand how they took down Clinton could end up being the end of them — defensive rage. Clinton, down in the polls, switched from talking about her policies to using brute force, taking swipes at Obama from a defensive standpoint, something the public recognized as weak.

So what Obama must do is exploit Palin’s weaknesses without letting go of his strengths — discussing himself and what his plans are if elected. 

As I have explained in a different post, Sarah Palin has two big weaknesses — the press, and hand to hand combat. 

The first weakness is due to Palin instant celebrity status. She has fallen victim to what many politicians have feared — a press craze. One of the prices Palin has paid since entering the political stage out of nowhere is that every political or celebrity magazine must have her on the front cover. And because of this, most magazines or press outlets has attempted to discover dirt, hidden, or unexploited information about Palin so their article could be different. And this is what really brought out Palin’s family, greatly including her now infamous daughters, one with down syndrome and the other 17 and pregnant. This has exploded, and later sparking so-called attacks from the opposing party.

The first weakness is due to Palin instant celebrity status. She has fallen victim to what many politicians have feared — a press craze. One of the prices Palin has paid since entering the political stage out of nowhere is that every political or celebrity magazine must have her on the front cover. And because of this, most magazines or press outlets has attempted to discover dirt, hidden, or unexploited information about Palin so their article could be different. And this is what really brought out Palin’s family, greatly including her now infamous daughters, one with down syndrome and the other 17 and pregnant. This has exploded, and later sparking so-called attacks from the opposing party.

The second weakness of Sarah Palin, which could potentially make or break her, is hand to hand political combat. Palin has (and will have) success in what I would call mortar fire, attacking the opposition by way of press statements and campaign ads, which continue to play huge roles in the public, each one accumulating tons of traffic on the viral web and ending up as stories on news outlets such as CNN. 

But If you ask any political commentator of any party the main reason why Sarah Palin has become such a dartboard, they would say her politics. And this is mostly true — Palin is short on the offensive-defensive game of a sit down debate, and because of this, she will most likely not fare well in any sort of think-on-your-toes situation, which has resulted in this very visible tactic: stay away from any interviews or debates unless they are mandatory. 

This tactic, recognized by the McCain camp, has let Palin literately control American press in her direction without making it. More simply put, because she has already created an amazing amount of press and PR from bursting on the political scene and accepting her nomination, Palin doesn’t need to create any press in the form of an un-necessary interview or debate. And instead, she has created the occasional new story far back in her campaign headquarters with statements and ads reacting or criticizing to Obama and Biden. But this stay-back-and-shoot strategy hasn’t been publicly reported or written on, however, mostly due to the overwhelming news on her family, which has now been proved to act as a media shield.  

If Obama plans to take a vital advantage in the media, he must not only focus on his strengths, but exploit Palin’s tactical  weaknesses, which provides a gaping hole in her public image.

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Although they are only separated by a river, Buenos Aires and Montevideo are like New York and South Africa. Compared to Montevideo, Buenos Aires is much larger and more modern, with a very European feel to it. There are a lot more English speaking people and directions, so that is always a good sign. But even though the city is huge and spacious — and cluttered with gigantic skyscrapers — it still has a very Spanish feel to it. My point? If you took a picture of one of the streets here and gave it to anyone, they would guess it was somewhere in Spain.

We are staying at the Alvear hotel, and I think it means posh in Spanish. I would conclude that this hotel is like the Four Seasons, with diamond studs falling off of it. My room has a bright red floor, two bathrooms (thats intense), posh couches, three high-definition televisions (one above the bathtub), and the most comfortable bed in the universe (besides mine at home). And don’t think we just picked the coolest hotel we could find — on the drive from the airport, I didn’t see one hotel on the way that wasn’t a skyscraper. 

We are staying in Buenos Aires for about five days, and we have plenty to do here. My mom (the master scheduler) has set up a lot of cool things to do. These include some tennis for me (I am a tournament player that hasn’t played since I left) on the famous Argentine red clay, a sports event (probably a soccer game) and a few museums, which I can live with if I can bring my computer. 

Although I must admit I am most looking forward to Chile because of my love for the Mountains, you could say I am not getting the full Argentine experience because we aren’t exploring outside of Buenos Aires, which is basically on the Eastern edge of Argentina. I will almost be back here when I ski in Portillo, Chile in a week, (it is almost on the border) but besides that I will be missing the “Argentina Andes” experience. I bet the rest of Argentina is awesome and much different that this Barcelona-like city, but I guess you can’t cover South America entirely in two weeks, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

I’m excited to be here in Buenos Aires and I’ll keep posting as long as interesting stuff keeps happening (which it has a habit to do).

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