Tuesday, April 29, 2008

C'mon, Bubba. You're better than this.

NBC's Chuck Todd details how Bill Clinton completely underestimated the 21st century media. I know Clinton hasn't run a campaign since 1996, but he should be well aware of the internet's influence on the political scene. Lest he forget, it was was an internet "gadfly," Matt Drudge, which broke the Lewinsky scandal in 1998.

Todd outlines a series of events in the 2008 campaign that Bill could have easily avoided if he had an understanding of the new media. The one most striking to me is when Bill brought up Hillary's sniper fire comment weeks after it had mostly died in the media. This "YouTube moment" shows a critical feature of 21st century media: The news cycle has shortened considerably. At the point of Bill's speech in Indiana, Hillary had made an appropriate response and the media was already talking about "bitter" and Carter meeting with Hamas. Hillary's trip to Bosnia was still in the mind of voters, but it was fading with the lessened media coverage. (Bill also didn't help the cause by numerous factual errors in the speech). When the news cycle has passed. let sleeping dogs lie.

C'mon, Bubba. You led this country through its largest economic growth since WWII and you are the best public speaker this country has seen in decades. Please, learn from your mistakes and don't let yourself be dragged down by the same medium that tried to take you down in 98.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Top 5 Moments of this Campaign, thus far

Since this page is in some part an homage to one of the most gangster political moments of all time, I figure I should give it up for the most gangster moments of the 2008 campaign so far. I'm sure there's more to come with two pretty gangster candidates and cameras watching them at all times.

From the home office in Eugene, Oregon:

5. Mitt Romney letting the dogs out
Ok...so this was probably the least gangster moment, the most Brooks Brotherest candidate awkwardly using out of date "urban" references to connect with the heart of Duvall County (on MLK day). It had to make the list regardless. My favorite part is when he compliments the baby's "bling bling."

4. Bob Bauer ambushing Howard Wolfson
Obama's top lawyer, Bauer, got onto Clinton's conference call to get them to stop "attacking the caucus process." (The Clinton campaign had illegitimate lawsuits ready to discount every caucus.) Wolfson, Clinton's spokesman, was like a deer in headlights. Do yourself a favor and listen to the audio; it is hilarious. Bauer is my hero, not Jack.

3. Colbert Huckabee '08
Colbert could have all five of these spots. He has done more to discredit the right in the two years he's been on the air than the Democrats have been able to do in 30 years. Anyway, the "Colbert Bump" is real and Huckabee proved it. Huckabee was behind Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thomason, and Tom Tancredo before he went on Colbert. I would have voted for Huckabee just to see to see Colbert get at least a cabinet level position. It would have happened.

2. Carville calling Richardson "Judas"
James Carville, the Ragin Cajun, is one of my personal idols. He is a political genius. He loves college football. His marriage with Mary Matalin is proof enough that a Bipartisan agenda can be reached. Not to mention his distinguished acting career, Old School, People v. Larry Flint, The Assassination of Jesse James... I digress. What I admire most is his candor. He told the media exactly how he felt about Richardson's endorsement of Obama. Not only that, but he never backed down all while Samantha Power and Gerarldine Ferraro were back tracking worse than Mark Foley in the page changing room. Powerful lesson, don't say something if you're not willing to live with the consequences. Carville = Gangster

1. Barack Obama getting the dirt off his shoulders
Easily the most gangster moment of the campaign. Why has it taken so long for a candidate to quote the CEO of the ROC? Obama did. And I think this isn't the last song he quotes. Jigga already wrote his speech for when he locks up the nomination, "99 Prombems."


The struggles of China to quell the public relations disaster that is the Olympic Torch relay are snowballing out of control. Public Relations Rogue explains how China made some critical mistakes in understanding the 21st century media machine. This is expected from a nation that never really had to do public relations. The Chinese government controls the media in a way that the Bush Administration can only dream. Internationally, China's public relations has been "no comment" for the past 5000 years. I agree with the Public Relations Rogue in that the Chinese have no idea what they're getting themselves into with the Olympics.

After the pro-Tibet demonstrations during the Paris leg of the relay (they attacked a woman in a wheelchair, see photo), there has been anti-French protests, which the Chinese have tried to claim as radical, but as with 90 percent of stories from China, you can only take them at face value. They've been controlling the domestic media to think that the world is against them and the Chinese people believe it. Good luck welcoming people to your country with open arms in August.

Therein lies the problem. How does a nation (or any organization) gain credibility when it's been so grossly incredible for literally thousands of years?

PS: The top photo is a billboard from Reporters without Border's phenomenal anti-Olympics campaign. The imagery is great. Kudos to that marketing team. Those billboards were all over France.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Ultimate October Surprise

Jeremy Meyer has an intriguing piece on October surprises and specifically one involving an American getting arrested abroad for war crimes. In this hypothetical scenario, an American CIA agent (Not Agent Zero) on vacation in Europe is arrested for torture, a war crime under the Rome Treaty to establish the International Criminal Court. Sounds like something out of a spy movie, but the premise is not far fetched at all. Meyer points out that courts in Italy and Germany have already issued warrants for over 30 CIA agents.

Now, if this scenario unravels during the heat of the campaign it becomes a pivotal issue, if not the pivotal issue. The Bush Administration is most likely going to come out guns blazing. This is the primary reason they initially opposed the ICC. They did not want Americans being tried by a court they feel is a threat to national sovereignty.

With the Administration rallying Americans behind saving American agents from this foreign court, what would the candidates do?

IMHO, Obama could use this as a perfect example of how the Republicans have used this detained agent as a pawn and scapegoat to justify the torture authorized by the administration and supported by Republicans in Congress. Guantanamo Bay and the authorized use of torture have done more to degrade our standing in the world than any other foreign policy.

McCain has a unique position in this equation. He could toe the Bush line and rally support for this agent or, IMHO, he should use this as critical place to separate himself from the failed policies of the Bush administration. He could use his past experiences to highlight his vehement opposition to this torture policy which would triangulate the position a la Dick Morris.

Tell me your thoughts. This is a great example of how these campaigns must have clear and definite contingency plans for all "October surprises." So they can roll out with a clear,but nuanced position immediately. What other scenarios should they be planning for?

FYI: Here is a great article describing all the candidates positions on a grossly underreported issue, the ICC.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.

Welcome to my blog. My name is Nigel and I'm a senior at the University of Oregon. I've studied public relations and political science for the past four years. My interest in politics and specifically political communication has taken me many places. I canvassed all over Oregon with LCV in 2004. I worked on L St. in a environmental lobbying firm (They won't give the enviros a spot on K St.). Recently, I've started interning at a local firm that specializes in nonprofits and public policy.

With this blog, I would like to look at both national and local politics through the eyes of a public relations specialist. What are the candidates doing well or poorly? What issues are being discussed by the media and why? How is blogging and social media affecting the campaigns and politics in general? I'll also be discussing the transition from college to the workforce and the challenges my peers and I face.

Please explore, send me a comment, or start a competing blog.

BTW: If you're curious on the title, it's one of the greatest moments in political history. O.G. Lloyd Bentsen shutting down Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice presidential debate.