November 1, 2008
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.
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.
October 26, 2008
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.
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?
October 20, 2008
CNN analyst Gloria Borger recently raised an interesting question: in the increasingly close reality of a McCain loss, who will be to blame?
As I detailed in another post, I used a quote stating a common fact: the Republican party is not currently popular. This can be brought out in many different ways, but recently the common scapegoat for McCain eventually falling short of the presidency would be because of the party he is running in.
Many people would also point out that Sarah Palin ultimately will hand the McCain campaign a loss, mostly because of the clear cut political line she placed between McCain and Barack Obama, and the fact that her social conservative standing has moved the McCain too far right than they want to be strategically.
And then there are many people who say that the reason McCain choose Palin wasn’t exactly strategic — she was rather chosen from the commands of the far right base, which is contradicting to another recent post and what I will bring up here.
My opinion here is that the nomination of Palin for running mate may have been a factor the far right wanting Palin’s politics, but in the end I believe that the main reason for McCain to go with Palin was nothing more than strategy.
As I have pointed out a large number of times, the acquisition of Palin was in fact well orchestrated, providing a media diversion from the Obama campaign and redirecting it to McCain for the good part of two months.
But what I failed to point out is this: Palin was not the best strategic choice for McCain — Joe Lieberman was.
Why? Lieberman would have moved John McCain’s campaign to the the left, not necessarily where the conservative base would have enjoyed it being, but precisely where the votes that will ultimately be the nail in McCain’s political coffin lie — moderates.
Because of Lieberman’s political standing, he would do the opposite that Palin has done — move McCain farther left. And because of this, Lieberman would increased McCain’s overall popularity, and fetched more votes rather than excited a handful of extremely right conservatives.
But the possibility of choosing Lieberman also answers the overall question of this post — will McCain’s loss be credited to the Republican party.
And the answer to that question is no. If McCain (who some consider to the most liberal Republican who ran) chose Lieberman instead of Sarah Palin, he would be in a significantly better place strategically by turning his campaign arguably the most liberal the Republican party has ever seen.
In short, McCain is on track to lose the election in part because of his unpopular party and demanding base, but he had the chance to dodge both of those obstacles with the acquisition of Joe Lieberman.
To open this up to the commenters, is has McCain’s party been a factor if he falls short of the oval office, and what would have happened if Lieberman was chosen?
October 7, 2008
In what many would call a fascinating debate intellectually as well as strategically, I will say that I am completely shocked by the lack of political and strategic performance that John McCain put forward.
In my opinion, this debate for John McCain held a huge importance — McCain was in need of a breakthrough, and he as well as I knew that it would need to come with negative attacks.
But McCain simply didn’t pick the right fights — he picked all of them. In almost every question and issue, McCain choose to attack his opponent. And this simply did not (and is proven to have not) provoke a positive reaction from the audience.
And this is essentially what part of the outcome is for McCain’s slip in the polls — he has chosen a proven strategy, in this case negative campaigning, and has abused it — both in this debate and in his campaigning in total.
“You don’t want to hear politicians pointing fingers, you want to know how my or senator McCain’s policies will affect you.”
This quote was both the closest point to a knockout punch that this relatively motionless debate held, but also a show that McCain was not pointing his finger correctly at Obama. As a democrat and Obama supporter myself, I will say (and you can quote me on this) the Obama won the debate from a policy standpoint. But as a thirteen-year old American and political blogger, I will also say that McCain lost a debate on the strategic side that he very well could have won if he simply stopped attacking.
And this is essentially because although McCain had very little momentum coming into tonight, the debate’s town hall-style favored him — he purposely holds his campaign events as town-halls because he knows that it is his strength.
But despite this, McCain, instead of capitalizing on the town-hall format by directly answering the questions asked, seemed anxious to put fourth a knock out punch question after question in the form of a political attack towards Obama.
And because of this, McCain left Obama the momentum door a jar and Obama exploited it, using his strengths to please the crowd with his policies, ignoring the sometimes off-topic McCain points. His ratings instantly increased and as an effect, the normally non-commenting people I watched the debate with pointed out that Obama clearly had a strategic and political edge.
And in the end, McCain never got his chance for a knockout punch. Why? Obama never gave him another chance — using his earned momentum to both answer McCain and present his point in the way he wanted to.
And so I think that McCain fared as more anxious in his portion of the debate than Obama, and that is why he clearly lost.
October 6, 2008
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.
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.
September 30, 2008
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.
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.