Monday, February 04, 2008

No Joy in Beantown

The Patriots lost. I am heartsick. And I am in New York so the horns are blowing and the drunks are throwing up—but they are happy. My kids are suicidal – they live in Boston. My grandson spent the day dressed in his NFL sweat pants and his Bruschi
T-shirt. These are personal important issues that momentarily distract me from politics, but only momentarily.

I had lunch the other day with a wonderful old friend from USIA- that was the public diplomacy Agency that was reorganized into the State Department-- virtually rendering the United States without a public diplomacy effort. Why, you may ask yourself does that matter? Because public diplomacy is all about people talking to people (all the organizations, educational institutions, press, public affairs) rather than political (the governments) diplomacy. So these were the people who spoke the language, did the press work, and handled all the exchanges of ideas and information. In other words, they actually knew what was going on. Once the State Department took it over it was relegated (stupidly) to nonexistent. Anyway, my friend, who would rather be water boarded than be involved in politics said “So who do you think should be the Republican choice for VP?” I said “the governor of Florida or maybe Lindsay Graham” He said, “that was not thinking strategically.” He went on. “What about J.C. Watts.”

What about J.C. Watts. Black, handsome, articulate, conservative, rich, astutely political. Brilliant. I wish the idea had been mine. If any of the Republican candidates determined that J.C. Watts was their choice for VP. It renders the Democratic firsts, (female, black), immaterial—or at least, not so unique in terms of 'change’. Oh my. What to do?

The candidates are all over the place, they may even be in two places at once. David (crack photojournalist) is with McCain, oops Clinton, no, Obama. This means David is in two places at once. For the candidates, this National Primary is very much like the last day of the general election. You wake up in one place and for the next 24 hours you do skitter across the country with quick stops in as many places as you can. And, because of the dynamics of campaigning, things change (there’s that word again), all the time—including the schedules. Right now, in all the political strategy sessions, the powers that be are still making decisions about where to go for the next two days. You can be sure the field directors in every one of the primary states is screaming that they absolutely have to have the candidate in their state, or they are screaming not to send the candidate because they don’t want to be distracted by having to deal with candidate events—they just want to concentrate on get out the vote. And the way these decisions are made is critical. Where do you take the plane/candidate. During the Hart campaign, as an old example, there came a time when the people on the plane didn’t even bother to call the strategists—they just took the plane to wherever and hoped there would be people in those places who could organize and attend the events. It was a little disconcerting not to know where the candidate was, and there came a time when we just hoped he was someplace.

And almost as important, who do you send out as surrogates when the ‘principal’ can’t be there. Look at what’s happened with surrogates and at the message the presence of each surrogates sends. Yesterday, Oprah, Caroline Kennedy and yes, Maria Shriver appeared at a single event in California. Strong women who have strong voices with strong opinions. At the same time, Bill Clinton was across town trying to mend fences with Black preachers. It had the appearance of a little desperation. Kind of like, “I screwed up big time so I better try to make it better or my wife will really be pissed off.” It’s a difficult time for the Clinton’s because they never expected to have to deal with this kind of a challenge. It would be interesting to see, based on all the polling information, how the schedule has changed over the last couple of days based on each new concern. My guess is that the McCain schedule has remained fairly constant, Romney is staying in the west. Huckabee is only making appearances in southern states and Obama and Clinton have remained in flux. Which most importantly means David is fluxing and we have no idea where he is. Where in the world is David Burnett. [Editor’s note: Im riding on a bus leaving New Haven, headed to Boston] I guess we’ll find him after Tuesday, but who knows.

Anyway, there is no joy in bean town today. And probably there won’t be joy tomorrow, or until the season begins next August. That being said, I don’t think February 5th will determine who the Democratic candidate will be. But I do know that whoever it is, someone else will be as unhappy as the Patriots are today. We’re just sayin...Iris


Anonymous said...

We're heartsick...actually, just plain SICK. But we still love our team.
Hats off to the G-Men. They played a hell of a game.

Anonymous said...

Why do I keep thinking John McCain will ask Joe Lieberman to run again for Vice President?