Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Looking Stupid 

It is a tenet of political campaigning to tailor messages for audience segments. A candidate was usually safe in saying things to one group that the candidate might not wish to have heard by another. The internet put an end to that some time ago. Now, anything a candidate says can be used against that candidate on YouTube or in a blog. Here are a couple of examples just from the past week. This is from an e-mail in which the Edwards campaign misspelled the names of famous Americans. This is an appeal from Rudy Giuliani to conservative Jewish voters. There will be more such discoveries before the campaign season is over.

The internet has enforced a degree of transparency in campaigning that had not been there before. That's good and bad. Candidates cannot afford slip-ups now. Someone from the opposition will pounce. That means they need to be conservative about what they say to discrete audiences. On the other hand, it also means candidates are now so pre-packaged one can rarely get a real insight into who they are. The result is that candidates appear to be phony when their intent is to protect themselves from themselves.

It is a rare candidate who can make multiple slip-ups and not lose momentum. Obama recently did it with erroneous statements he acknowledged were wrong. But, it was early and few voters were listening. Later, it will deadly.

Part of the trial of campaigning is to catch candidates in off-the-cuff moments where voters can get a sense of individuals beneath their shells. But, transparency oddly has made the shell thicker. With obsessively controlled communications, we know less about candidates than before. In that sense, transparency is not always a benefit.

Couldn't agree more; a candidate afraid of saying the wrong thing will never really say anything.

Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?