A Keen Insight Into Both Campaigns

Senator Barack Obama has often said that running his campaign has given him executive experience to be President. However, this account from inside both campaigns gives reason to pause and consider what his management style is really like:

Obama’s campaign schedule is fuller, more hectic and seemingly improvisational. The Obama aides who deal with the national reporters on the campaign plane are often overwhelmed, overworked and un-informed about where, when, why or how the candidate is moving about. Baggage calls are preposterously early with the explanation that it’s all for security reasons.
If so, I would love to have someone from Obama’s campaign explain why the entire press corps, the Secret Service, and the local police idled for two hours in a Miami hotel parking lot recently because there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was not an isolated case.
The national headquarters in Chicago airily dismisses complaints from journalists wondering why a schedule cannot be printed up or at least e-mailed in time to make coverage plans. Nor is there much sympathy for those of us who report for a newscast that airs in the early evening hours. Our shows place a premium on live reporting from the scene of campaign events. But this campaign can often be found in the air and flying around at the time the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric” is broadcast. I suspect there is a feeling within the Obama campaign that the broadcast networks are less influential in the age of the internet and thus needn’t be accomodated as in the days of yore. Even if it’s true, they are only hurting themselves by dissing audiences that run in the tens of millions every night.

Keep in mind this is from a mainstream media reporter and they are, by all accounts, in the tank for the Democratic senator. But check out what he has to say next about Senator McCain’s campaign:

The McCain folks are more helpful and generally friendly. The schedules are printed on actual books you can hold in your hand, read, and then plan accordingly. The press aides are more knowledgeable and useful to us in the news media. The events are designed with a better eye, and for the simple needs of the press corps. When he is available, John McCain is friendly and loquacious. Obama holds news conferences, but seldom banters with the reporters who’ve been following him for thousands of miles around the country. Go figure.
The McCain campaign plane is better than Obama’s, which is cramped, uncomfortable and smells terrible most of the time. Somehow the McCain folks
manage to keep their charter clean, even where the press is seated.
The other day in Albuquerque, N.M., the reporters were given almost no time to file their reports after McCain spoke. It was an important, aggressive speech, lambasting Obama’s past associations. When we asked for more time to write up his remarks and prepare our reports, the campaign readily agreed to it. They understood.

Senator McCain has plenty of reason to not be very friendly towards reports given the reprehensible treatment he and his running mate have received from some media outlets. Yet his staff is far more courteous and attentive to reporters’ needs.
Little details like this can make a huge impression. Successful organizations understand the importance of making sure everything works well. How these two men choose to treat the press speaks volumes about what kind of executives each of these men will be.
As the Bible says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)

The Veep Debate

For ninety minutes tonight, Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden will square off in the one and only vice-presidential debate of this campaign season. While there’s been lots of hangwringing over how Governor Palin will do in the debate, I think the worry is unnecessary. In fact, the debate may actually work in Governor Palin’s (and ultimately Senator John McCain’s) favor.
Here’s how I got there: the debate will allow the voters to see both candidates completely unfiltered. There’s no spin, no helpful media covering up one candidate’s gaffes, no exploitative media blowing the other candidate’s gaffes way out of proportion. People will get to see them both as they really are and be able to make up their minds about which one they like better.
In the end, I don’t think that who wins the debate will matter all that much. As Rich Galen points out, Dan Quayle had a horrible debate in 1988 and it didn’t stop George H. W. Bush from being elected.
Just as an aside, I think his over-under of three and a half is on the low side.
Back to my original point: voters will get to see the candidates as they really are without the influence of any media spin (positive or negative). That’s the real value in having a debate.
Governor Palin, when she is relaxed, comes across as very real. For many voters that’s incredibly appealing.
Senator Biden, while being very intelligent and experienced, has one major flaw: he talks too much.
Governor Palin has to have the same kind of performance she did during her acceptance speech at the Republican convention.
Senator Biden has to tread carefully so that he doesn’t (a) say something really stupid and ultimately damaging to the campaign and (b) doesn’t come across as condescending towards Governor Palin.
On balance, I think Senator Biden is the one who is under more pressure going into this debate.
There’s also the issue of moderator Gwen Ifill. I don’t watch PBS as a rule so I can’t speak with any confidence as to how well she’s going to do. The consensus of opinion I have heard is that she will do a fine job.
But I don’t think she should have ever accepted the job in the first place. Her book deal has what lawyers like to refer to as the “appearance of impropriety”. It’s not that you can say with certainty that it’s wrong for her to moderate the debate but it certainly looks bad. Her credibility will no doubt be damaged. However, this little controversy is likely to drive up ratings for the debate even further as viewers will be curious to see how she handles the questioning of the two candidates.
Regardless of the actual outcome of the debate, the media will declare Joe Biden the winner as they are making no secret of the fact they are in the tank for Senator Barack Obama. They did their best to declare Senator Obama the winner of the first debate even though it was clear to just about anyone who watched the entire thing that Senator McCain had the better night.
While I don’t expect the debate tonight to make that much of a difference in the outcome of the election the two candidates’ performance will say something about the men who selected them as their running mates. As it should.

The First Debate

Now that the first presidential debate is over, the question that everyone is asking is who won?
Each side will, of course, claim victory. But pundits (and probably voters, too) go into these things looking for a clear victor.
One of the cardinal rules of debates is to not say anything that will come back as a sound bite that can be used against you later. While there weren’t any major verbal gaffes, the McCain campaign didn’t waste any time making an ad from one of Senator Obama’s minor gaffes. The speed with which that ad appeared is just further testimony of how media saavy McCain’s campaign really is.
My impression is that Senator Obama started strong when the questions were more focused on the economy and gradually got weaker as the shift moved to foreign affairs. Senaor McCain, on the other hand, started out weaker and got better as the night wore on.
Although the pre-debate coverage indicated that Senator Obama would try to get under Senator McCain’s skin it seemed to me (especially when they went to split screen – I was watching it on Fox News) that Obama seemed more irritated, interrupted Senator McCain frequently, and would often try to get the last word in. These are all minor issues overall but seemed to make Senator Obama seem smaller and consequently less presidential.
There’s no question these two candidates are extremely intelligent and both performed well under pressure. No major mistakes were made. But at the end of the day I think Senator McCain still has an edge in terms of having the character and experience necessary to be President. It remains to be seen whether voters will draw the same conclusion.

Unforced Errors

If Barack Obama loses the election this November (and at this point it’s impossible to say whether he will – it’s too close to call) it will be because of a series of unforced errors. They are missteps in the campaign that when taken individually don’t seem like a huge issue but when combined have the effect of totally derailing what would have otherwise been a hugely successful campaign.

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Feminists and McCain

One of the big questions in this election is what was going to be the combined effect of Senator Barack Obama’s snub of Hillary Clinton (18 million plus votes, remember?) and Senator John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be on female voters who, incidentally, make up a majority of registered voters. Based on this article by Tammy Bruce, it appears that there may be a huge swing of voters that previously would have voted for the Democratic ticket to the Republican ticket:

In the shadow of the blatant and truly stunning sexism launched against the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign, and as a pro-choice feminist, I wasn’t the only one thrilled to hear Republican John McCain announce Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. For the GOP, she bridges for conservatives and independents what I term “the enthusiasm gap” for the ticket. For Democrats, she offers something even more compelling – a chance to vote for a someone who is her own woman, and who represents a party that, while we don’t agree on all the issues, at least respects women enough to take them seriously.

Whether we have a D, R or an “i for independent” after our names, women share a different life experience from men, and we bring that difference to the choices we make and the decisions we come to. Having a woman in the White House, and not as The Spouse, is a change whose time has come, despite the fact that some Democratic Party leaders have decided otherwise. But with the Palin nomination, maybe they’ll realize it’s not up to them any longer.
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The Appeal of Sarah Palin

As I was watching Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accept the Republican vice-presidential nomination last night, I kept asking myself what it is about her that makes her so appealing? Yes, she’s attractive. But there is more to it than that.
She’s authentic.
She tells you exactly what she thinks and you don’t have to guess.
You don’t have to read and re-read her speeches to try to figure out the meaning of her words.
Even if you disagree with her politically, you can’t help but like her. I mean, really like her.
She’s the kind of person that many people will be able to identify with. Her family has many of the same ups and downs that the average family experiences.
The Left, with an assist from their enablers in the mainstream media have done everything they can in the days leading up to this speech to try to demonize her.
Sarah Palin showed last night why those attacks won’t work on her.
Democrats are afraid this morning. They should be.
John McCain took a huge risk in selecting Sarah Palin. Last night, Sarah Palin showed America exactly why she was selected and demonstrated he made the right choice.
If the Republicans go on to win the election this November, it will be because it was won last night with Governor Palin’s speech.

McCain’s Masterful Stroke In Selecting Palin

Senator John McCain not only hit a home run but a grand slam with his surprise selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential nominee. With his brilliant move, Senator McCain changed the dynamic of the presidential race. Rather than the press focusing on Senator Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, all the talk today on the cable networks will be on McCain’s decision.
Looking at both campaigns it’s clear that McCain’s campaign has Obama’s campaign beat when it comes to competence. Obama’s announcement was poorly handled. McCain’s was a masterpiece.
But I was also reminded that McCain was once a Navy fighter pilot and that much of the strategy surrounding the pick reflects his military experience.
One of the keys to winning a war is to keep your enemy guessing what you’re going to do next. In other words, misdirection and misinformation are among your best weapons. McCain pulled off one of the greatest media headfakes in recent political history. Even up until the announcement speculation was that either Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota or former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would be the pick. Either would have been okay but not able to create the firestorm of support that Palin’s selection has created. McCain also did a terrific job of keeping a lid on the choice until the news of the pick would have the maximum possible effect. McCain understands the saying “loose lips sink ships” applies to politics as well as the military.
Another key to winning a war is to exploit your opponent’s weaknesses. Barack Obama’s biggest weakness is among women. By not picking Hillary Clinton as his VP, he snubbed the 18 million plus voters that cast ballots for her. Many of her supporters are women, These voters are ripe to be picked off by McCain. By nominating a woman, McCain has put those voters in play.
Finally, to win a war you have to be willing to take risks. Governor Palin is largely unknown outside Alaska where she enjoys an 80% approval rating. The McCain campaign will have to work to get her story out to the public. However, the timing of the announcement right before the start of the Republican convention allows McCain to control the narrative and allow the focus to be on his running mate for the next few days and blunts any bounce Senator Obama will have been able to gain from his convention.
Senator McCain has shown himself capable of leading this country. He’s willing to take risks and do what is right. With this decision, he has changed the course of the entire campagin.