accountabilitybloke (old blog)

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Huh? You have got to be kidding….

From a cousin in NYC:

“I just came back from voting. We have really antiquated machines with levers, relics of the 1940s. The poll workers for an adjacent election district have 2 machines for their district. The poll worker repeatedly announced, “If you are voting Republican, you need to tell us when you get to the table so we can be sure you use the correct machine.” She went on to explain that one of the machines is broken and Republican votes will not register on that machine.  She was absolutely serious! This sounds like something out of a SNL skit, but she truly meant it.”

November 4th, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments

Anticipating the video….

For someone who makes a living thinking about politics, I have to admit in having a sense of awe regarding the way the Obama campaign has been managed. While I have relatively strong partisan political views, my respect for strategically savvy political campaigning is not subject to any strong bias — despite very negative feelings about what Karl Rove accomplished, I remain awestruck by what he accomplished in 2004 through his narrowly targeted mobilization of the “base” (especially in Ohio) and 2000 (in strategic decisions that created Florida opportunity for Bush to steal the election).

But from all we know at the moment (and that is not as much as we hope to know in the future), the Obama campaign is likely to be seen as a perfect case study of how to win the presidency in this day and age.

Perhaps the icing on the cake will be the much-anticipated Wednesday night broadcast — no one seems to know what they have in store for us, but it is doubtful we are going to witness merely a talking head presentation. What is hinted at is a well-crafted presentation by a professional production staff, and there have been some examples — snippets, really –from time to time in the amazingly well done video streams coming from the campaign site.

Perhaps a good hint is a recent — and amazingly effective — 11-12 minute video the campaign put out aimed at the now infamous Florida Jewish vote. This was a tough nut to crack, but surveys seem to indicate that Obama’s support nationally among Jewish voters exceeds the numbers for Kerry in 2004. You have to understand just how deeply suspicious the pre-boomer Jewish community has been toward the African-American community to grasp the significance of this accomplishment — and the video gives some idea of how it is being done.

But more to the point, if the half-hour presentation on Wednesday night is half as effective, we might actually see that landslide that no one really wants to predict at the moment….

October 28th, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments

Unleashing the Know Nothings…

One of the first things you do in an election when running a campaign is mobilize and secure your “base” — those voters who, by custom or inclination or even “reason” should be voting for you on election day. Ignoring that base — or assuming its turnout for you (or your candidate) — can be fatal. Thomas Dewey learned that the hard way in the 1948 presidential election…. Karl Rove and the Bush campaign understood and used that truism more than once, and applied it in the conduct of the Bush Administration’s business as well as in the elections.

The problem is that a candidate’s “electoral base”, like all other things, is a political construction — it needs to be “imagined” into existence and sometimes “shaped” (or re-shaped) before it can be targeted for mobilization. Certainly the raw material of disenchanted or indifferent potential voters must be out there, but the key task is giving them definition and cultivating a self-awareness. Not an easy task when talking about an imagined collective. The talent of folks like Rove is that of the sculptor confronting a huge ball of clay — they can see its potential and work their skills into an artistic form.

The problem is that often the more relevant metaphor is that of Dr Frankenstein who seeks to give life to a corpse with a brain transplant. Risky business that….

John McCain confronted his Frankenstein yesterday in front of live camera at a very public town meeting, and you go the distinct impression that it scared the hell out of him.

October 11th, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | no comments

Groupthink and reality checks in the Clinton camp…

This presidential election just gets more interesting each day — and too great a draw of my attention (what an excuse for professional procrastinating! — just sit in front of the TV and watch the pundits go crazy!!!)

Most interesting yesterday and today is the dance now taking place between the Obama and Clinton camps regarding the VP spot. Clinton’s problem of late has been the campaign version of “groupthink” as those closest to her began to believe their own press hyping that all was not yet lost. The most visible and vocal of the that group — McAuliffe, Ickes, Tubbs-Jones — have become comic figures (McAuliffe especially — his appearances over the past weeks seemed more like staged Saturday Night Live skits rather than even half-way serious spinning).

Viewed from the outside, the last minute hyping looked like just another bit of campaigning and perhaps face-saving theatrics, and one assumed that the pros in the Clinton campaign were more realistic in their private contemplations.

But by Tuesday night it was evident that those folks had actually convinced themselves that although they had lost the nomination battle for the presidency, they had won the right to DEMAND the VP spot. The outward show of political arrogance by Hillary Clinton and her campaign folks indicated that they had convinced themselves of such — a position that flies in the face of historical tradition about how the nomination game is played. The groupthink factor — that is their closing ranks and the resulting failure to listen to someone with a greater grasp of political reality — was aggravated by a negative and disrespectful attitude toward the Obama campaign which the Clinton pros still seem to regard as amateurish and lucky. (The Clinton pros were acting like the British military leadership after the Siege of Yorktown who found it very difficult to surrender to Washington-led revolutionaries. For them it was not a defeat but rather bad circumstances that led to surrender — if only those pesky French had not blocked their access to the sea; if only the reinforcements from New York (led by General Clinton, as it happens) would have arrived; if only the weather had cooperated in efforts to break the siege; if only….)

By Wednesday noon, however, the Clinton campaign groupthink was shattered by a number of former supporters and “neutral” party leaders who made it clear that the game was over. Period. As important, folks like Walter Mondale sent the Clinton camp a message that any halfway informed political observer could have delivered — if you want the VP spot, then dismantle and disband your campaign, stop the rhetorical face-saving flourishes and openly embrace your defeat by endorsing Obama. The message clearly got through, and we are seeing a complete turnabout over the last 24 hours that bodes well for an Obama-Clinton ticket.

The question is whether that is a wise move for Obama to take….

June 5th, 2008 Posted by | accountabilitybloke | one comment