Monday, February 18, 2008

Be Careful Crossing That Road...

Do you not love the concept of an Obamacan. The visual image I get is a little stuffed elephant wearing a red, white, and blue, Obama t-shirt. Sweet, huh? It’s not like being a Neocon or a Democrat-for-Reagan. Neither of those names had much appeal, while this is almost endearing. Someone will find a way to corrupt it and play politics as usual. But in the meantime, there are some Republicans and Independents who have made the commitment to Obama. Yesterday, when I was 3feet deep in newspapers and surfing from station to station on TV, I came across C-Span, where a man who called in on the Republican line asked Democrats to cease and desist—stop calling in as Republicans – he demanded, because they obviously had to be Obama Democrats, saying they were Republicans. Are you tracking with me. This guy absolutely could not believe that any Republican would support Obama – and yet they are out there. I know this because some of my best friends are Republicans – I think, unless they were just calling in on the wrong line.

What’s going to happen to the Obama campaign if they win the next two primaries. I think to some degree it’s already happened. The security tightens, we can all feel good about that. But the traveling staff don’t want to make mistakes, so they make decisions about the press and public that they think make sense but aren’t well thought out. Until recently, (I hear from press friends) it was nice to travel with the Obama campaign. The staff was courteous and accommodating. But suddenly there is that nervous tentativeness that always comes when you want to do the right thing, but you’re not exactly sure what that is. Requests are denied because “We don’t do that”. Rather than, “We’ll see what we can do.” They did not read my campaign press 101 guidebook – first rule; If you’re nice to the press, they are more likely to be nice to you – especially when you need them to be.

Gary Hart, in the best of the campaign days, was difficult with the press. He was not comfortable talking to them and he certainly didn’t want to hang out in a bar with them. Although he did get used to the small contingency of press who traveled with him, he never liked having to deal with them in large numbers. They sensed this and throughout the 1984 campaign they looked for a way to ‘get’ him – and I mean this in the nicest possible way. Then when he traveled to L.A. for a fundraiser (he was spending most of his time in New Jersey, while his wife campaigning in California), he thought he would be cute and in front of the press—it was not a conference or press opportunity, he was just walking along – he said something like, “Lee got lucky and she’s in LA, but I got stuck in N.J.” Had he been a different kind of guy we probably could have asked the reporter not to print it. It was an off-handed supposed to be funny remark. But he was arrogant and smug, where they were concerned, and no one was going to give him a break.

I think Bill Clinton is another example of this. He was not nice to the press as the candidate or as a novice President in 1992, but the public was so enthusiastic, that the media had no choice but to bide their time. And then they were almost gleeful when there was any screw up (you should pardon the pun) like all the ‘...gates’. He was wonderful as the ex-President, and they were revisiting history to give it a positive spin. But then the other Clinton campaign was disdainful of them – so they couldn’t wait for anything that looked like a mistake. And I don’t mean the talking heads—I mean the traveling or White House press corps. Whether it was the female or male Clinton they were/are looking for an opportunity to take a shot. A little payback for the not niceness.
This is why you should always listen to your mother and have good manners as well as wear clean underwear.

And I’m not sure but there seems to be a disconnect between what the “road show” is doing in the Clinton campaign and what they are doing in the Washington headquarters. It seems to me (just as a curios bystander) that the headquarters says one thing but the road show demonstrates something else. The people in DC say that Bill Clinton is under control and laying back. But he pointed that Lewinsky finger and shouted at protesters in Ohio. What happened to making fun of protesters and laughing them out of the event? Both campaigns (road and HQ) need to get on the same page—not just share the same script about why Senator Clinton should be President. We’re just sayin...Iris

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