Archive for March, 2007

clinton : a well-oiled machine . . . maybe

March 29, 2007

I go to my local library to, among other things, get free copies of discarded magazines such as Time. Last week, I found a mid-January edition of Time and, in it, Joe Klein discussed how Bill Clinton can help Hillary. Of the three ways Bill can help, the one that caught my attention was how the former President understands “the dramatic arc” of campaigns like no other.

Put simply, Bill Clinton has great timing. He knows what presidential candidates must do, when they must do it, who they need to connect with, and how to go about doing things.

An example of the Clinton Team’s great timing revealed itself yesterday. In addition to discussing an endorsement by a prominent feminist organization, an AP article mentioned that Billie Jean King and Geraldine Ferraro also recently endorsed Hillary. So, it’s not enough to get the press to announce N.O.W.’s endorsement; Team Clinton follows up with feminist titans of the 70’s (BJK) and 80’s (Ferraro).

Wave after wave after wave of reinforcing messages linking Hillary with women’s struggle for equality.

And . . . all this is perfectly timed to counter the white-hot (and positive) media focus on John and Elizabeth Edwards, to mute whatever chord Elizabeth struck with women across America.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

That’s why Clinton’s campaign is so far ahead of the game. Love her or hate her, no one has a machinery as sophisticated as Hillary’s for framing, timing, and rapidly responding to issues and perceived threats (to paraphrase Klein).

Time will tell if the other campaigns will be able to quickly put together similar machines — and don’t forget that there is plenty of time to go! Having said all this, I think there is a chink in the armor and, while I’m not going to elaborate since it’s been three weeks since I last saw the data, it has to do with standard deviation, a low-level statistical tool. I will follow-up later.

(ps: I know rummaging through the discard bin is pretty . . . uh . . . frugal. But, whatever. . . . Speaking of frugal, my s.o. and I went to Spenger’s in Berkeley last Sunday [now part of the McCormick and Schmick chain] with a $25 coupon [expires: March 31 : you also have to place a reservation on-line]! Twenty-five bucks off at a decent restaurant; check to see if there is one near you. Yeah, yeah: it’s not Chez Panisse — but it’s still good and 25 bucks is 25 bucks.)

A++ for clinton

March 22, 2007

The identity of the person behind the infamous “1984” video against Hillary Clinton has been a mystery since the Youtube ad first came out in February. Until now, that is.

Huffingtonpost put out an all-points bulletin recently and succeeded in fingering the perp. Judging by high-fives on that and other blogs, as well as east coast-to-west coast media coverage, Parkridge47 (aka Phil De Vellis) has earned his place in the political advertising hall of fame for producing “1984”, putting him in the company of the famous (Daisy) and the infamous (Willie Horton).

Yet, Parkridge47 won’t be alone as he takes his well-earned victory lap around the figurative track of blog write-ups and interviews on morning TV and evening news: Hillary Clinton will also be taking a well-deserved victory lap right next to Parkridge47.

Time will show that what started out as an innovative (and admittedly humorous) attempt at demonizing Clinton as a gross Big Brother caricature, ultimately backfired. Instead of going ballistic, Clinton and her team kept calm, even showing an ability to genuinely laugh at themselves about this and Youtube generally.

About “1984”, ABC News Jake Tapper quotes Clinton as saying, “I’m pleased that it seems to be taking attention away from what used to be on YouTube and getting a lot of hits, namely me singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ Everybody in the world now knows I can’t carry a tune.”

Through it all, Clinton showed class and, as important, Character. And it is this that the vast majority of Democrats will remember come primary season 2008.

“youtube good for democracy” – edwards

March 14, 2007

dem’s and health care : a youtube virtual debate

March 12, 2007

Democratic presidential candidates are seeking to connect with middle class families squeezed by rising medical costs with promises of universal health care. Health care consumes over 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and as costs continue to soar, businesses that provide coverage are requiring workers to share a greater burden of health care costs, if not eliminating it altogether.

At 45 million Americans, 16 percent of the nation is uninsured, and, of these, many are employed by small businesses unable to provide coverage. An important challenge in reforming the health care system is doing so in a fiscally sound manner that does not sacrifice quality, and in varying degrees, the Democratic hopefuls below offer plans to relieve the middle class from the burdens of rising cost of health care.

This blog will post and summarize candidates’ videos (particularly ones in which candidates are speaking extemporaneously) on healthcare and other issues as they become available. For a TV newscast that discusses Joe Biden’s healthcare approach, along with other issues, click here.

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Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich spars with George Stephanopolous who, at a Nevada forum, framed the universal health care debate as “raising more taxes on the American people.” Kucinich came out of his corner fighting, calling Stephanopolous’ equation “one of the biggest frauds that’s been put on the American people.”

If elected, the Ohio candidate would pay for universal health care by reducing health care administrative costs, resulting in a savings that according to Kucinich could finance universal care. The Congressman touts a plan that eliminates for-profit health insurance industry altogether, a line that received strong audience applause.

Dennis Kucinich (03:39)

Hillary Clinton
In front of a large Iowa gathering, Hillary Clinton re-affirmed her commitment to universal health care. Indirectly, the Senator underscored the point that while other candidates can speak eloquently about this or that aspect of policy, she led previous efforts; she has been in the trenches and understands that reforming what amounts to 15 percent of the national economy requires intellectual depth, political acumen, and a inner resolve laced with a dose of outward humility. Such is the meaning of Clinton’s comment, “I remember all too well back in 1993 and 1994. . . and I understand how hard it is.”

Hillary Clinton: (03:04)

In her talk, the New York Senator exhibits a Bill Clinton-like ability to articulate policy minutiae in clear easy-to-follow terms. According to Clinton, many insurers are “penny-wise” and “pound foolish” by refusing to cover preventive medicine for treatable diseases such as diabetes, which alone represents 20 percent of Medicaid spending. Instead, insurers provide coverage on an after-the-fact basis, which is more expensive than preventive care. Yet, insurers remain whole as they simply transfer cost increases to consumers in the form of high deductibles, co-pays and premiums, suggests Clinton.

John Edwards
John Edwards outlines key elements to his detailed plan in a talk to Iowa residents. If elected, he will require employers to cover workers, or pay into a fund. There will be government-operated “health care markets” throughout the country in which consumers will have choices in a system the overall costs of which are lowered as a result of better use of technology and lower administrative costs. These “health care markets” will compete with private insurers. He draws inspiration and a sense of urgency from the experience of his wife, who recently survived breast cancer. “What would it be like for the millions of women who’ve gone through what Elizabeth did . . what if you had no health care coverage?”

John Edwards (04:09)

Barak Obama
In a rally in Southern California, Illinois Senator Barak Obama takes a populist aspect in discussing the underlying causes to the crisis in health care, seeking to light a fire under the feet of his followers. Like Clinton, Obama speaks about diabetes and how the system favors more expensive after-the-fact procedures over less-expensive preventive solutions. “We know in terms of diabetics, if we got a case worker and paid him $150 to make sure they got [early] treatment, we wouldn’t have to spend that $30,000 on an amputation.”

Barak Obama (02:32)

ouch . . . .

March 7, 2007

I hope Hillary’s team keeps their wit and don’t lose their cool over this or any other video anonymously posted on Youtube. Likewise for the other candidates who, sooner or later, will get their Youtube moment. . . . Yes, the advertisement is a clever take on my generation’s big TV ad, and, taken at face value, it is humorous in a sly way. And, yes, I did notice the emblem on the shirt.

What troubles me about this is the ease with which we can dehumanize someone and, in so doing, replace thoughtful discourse with images that appeal to our base instincts. Nothing new about that, you might say. After all, Republicans cornered this market. But we’re not them, and we don’t want to be like them. All candidates should make an impassioned statement against the kind of politics this video represents and for a kind of politics that elevates through enlightened discourse in which ideas and policies are debated in an atmosphere of tolerance, respect and fair play.

Our Party’s mantra going forward should be to agree or disagree without being disagreeable, because, come November 2008 after all the primaries and caucuses are done, we’re going to need each other.

Postscript: A number of people have posted the above video on Youtube but, judging by the number of viewers of “Parkridge47’s” version of the file, I’m guessing this person might have originally posted the video. I read several books about Hillary (“Rebels with White Gloves” is a great book), so “Park Ridge” sounded vaguely familiar. A quick Google search confirmed my hunch; Park Ridge is Hillary’s Illinois hometown. I’m guessing she was born in 1947. I wonder if Parkridge47 is officially affiliated with any campaign.

edwards swings and misses

March 6, 2007

Presidential candidate John Edwards missed a chance to deliver a stinging rebuke of right-wing conservative commentator Anne Coulter and, by extention, the Republican Party. Instead, he offered what came across as a tepid response to an epithet hurled by Coulter. In a press conference in Berkeley, California, Edwards said, “I think it’s important that we not reward . . . . umh . . . . hateful . . . . uhh . . . . selfish . . . . childish behavior.” Edwards looked and sounded tired.

While the tepid response in no way injures his candidacy, nonetheless, under the glare of a number of TV news cameras, Edwards displayed little “pep” in defending himself and, as bad, missed an opportunity to “frame” this incident in a way that moves uncommitted Democrats toward his camp. Edwards also missed a chance to steal the spotlight from Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, whose dueling Civil Rights commemorations that same day in Selma, Alabama was closely followed by the national media. Coulda-shoulda-woulda! . . . There’s always next time.

(For perceptive analyses of Coulter’s comments, see write-ups in Daily Kos and Salon.com. In addition, Robert Scheer’s weekly syndicated column in the SF Chronicle touches on how this helps Edwards.)