From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
April 22, 2006 2:22 AM
Finished the Klein book. Very good. His basic point is quite simple... politicians just aren't real with us any more.
He pays only passing mention to Ross Perot. I was a teenager then, and he was my political awakening. I remember vividly how excited I was for the prime time straight talk session with Perot on television.... with all the charts. Crazy guy, but that was really him.
Why doesn't anyone do that any more? Just talk to us, straight up. Write it yourself, tell us what you think. We'll go to your website, give you feedback, and tell all our friends to watch this amazing guy (or gal) on the television Wednesday night.
It just seems so.... simple.
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Read the 5 comments.
Talking straight isn't the problem. The Democratic Party needs a Newt Gingrich. A guy who teaches the party how to market itself, tells everyone what words to use in which situations, etc.
Incidentally, Amy Sullivan says that the Democrats are "Not As Lame as You Think":
Sat Apr 22 2006 3:19 AM
A major part of Gingrich's legacy as a politican has been in achieving the effective use of language and the news media to further political goals.
Gingrich took the chair of the Republican political action committee GOPAC in 1986 and transformed it into an effective vehicle for electing conservative candidates to office. This was accomplished in significant part by establishing and promoting a consistent language and theme for use by Republicans at all electoral levels. This theme, in Gingrich's own words, was that of "a conservative opportunity society replacing the liberal welfare state", emphasizing "workfare over welfare" and promoting the idea that "we are the majority". GOPAC training tapes containing advice on "Newtspeak" were sent out to rising GOP political candidates throughout the country.
Similarly, GOPAC distributed a memo to freshman Republican House members. Entitled "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control," it listed a number of "optimistic positive governing words" that candidates could use when campaigning in order to "speak like Newt," (movement, opportunity, passionate, e.g.) and a parallel list of contrasting words, such as "bureaucracy, cheat, coercion, etc.," which it advised the candidate to apply to their "opponent, their record, proposals and their party."
At the start of the Republican Revolution, Gingrich and GOPAC's efforts had succeeded in dictating the theme of national political debate at the time.
Sat Apr 22 2006 3:27 AM
Why don't more politicians act like Ross Perot? Well, cause he didn't win, that's why... ;-)
Although that may be too simple an answer....
Sat Apr 22 2006 9:58 AM
Well, 90% of the reason he lost is because he pulled out. Not because he wasn't doing so well, but because he just wasn't sure he actually wanted the job (a big problem). Then he got back into the race... yadda yadda.
To not learn a lesson from the tactics used by the most successful third party presidential campaign in forever just because the candidate was a little nuts is kinda stupid. Hell, the nuts factor is probably a good reason *to* use them.
Paul- You should read Klein's book.
Sat Apr 22 2006 12:52 PM
I seriously believe that aside from anything else most politicians can't talk like Perot because most politicians don't understand political issues and the public as well as he did. Howard Dean occasionally tries to do straight talk, and he sounds like an idiot, then he goes into spin mode because he realizes it.
People on the inside treated Perot as some type of populist ignoramus but he really understood what he was talking about, and worked with government many times (locally in Texas and nationally) even though he never held elected office.
--I also disagree that Perot was nuts. Of course, me like everyone else found some of Perots comments and Perots reason for dropping out very strange at the time. I didn't let that change my support for him, because when he talked on political issues, he was much more rational than the other candidates--so why look at him as a nut. The funny thing is, that in 1996 someone who worked in the 92 Bush campaign came out and admitted that he was telling Perot's campaign that there were plans to smear his daughter. This was in mainstream newspapers, such as the NY Times and LA Times, but only in about a paragraph on page A18 or so, so very few people read it. Still you could say for Perot to take it seriously was a little paranoid. But if I was a private citizen running for President--and knowing how dirty politics was--I would be paranoid enough to believe it.
During the whole 1996 campaign, after the two major party conventions, where Perot's numbers dropped from 12% to 5% the media just stopped paying attention to him almost completely ignoring him. I remember though reading an AP article about a speech he made to the VFW, and people in attendance who were impressed, made comments like "he was much more sane than I thought he was". Late in the race, Perot announced that he was going to have a major press conference, and because Dole had been pushing him to drop out, every network covered him live (for the first time that campaign). Instead he just made a standard stump speech. The next day his poll numbers went up from 5% to 11%.
People have this media created image of Perot, based on real things that happened, but which is exaggerated. They think of Perot as the SNL character with a high speeched squeaky voice (he actually has a deep Texas drawl). A lot of BS was written about Perot that reinforced the stereotype of him being eccentric, but which were not true. Gerald Posner wrote in his book that in his debate with Al Gore, Perot said he suspected Gore had an earpiece. Perot was in fact joking, knowing that people thought of him as paranoid. Posner and Micah Sifry--who ran a smear website on Perot (really nothing but an anti-Perot site which published any gossip that could hurt him)--were taken by the press to be "Perot experts". When Perot is out of the spotlight his favorability goes down, and whenever the media covers him his favorability goes up.
By the way--and this is something Perot was fond of mentioning--CNN exit polls in 1992 asked the question to voters who they would have picked for president if they thought Perot had a chance of winning. According to that, Perot would have won with 33%.
I don't agree with Perot on everything he's done, but generally I think he is a man of very strong character, intelligence--and sanity---and really look back at how he was treated by insiders as being disgraceful, and an example of how cruel politics can be.
Bill Krystol, a Republican, whenever Perot is mentioned, misses no opportunity to call Perot nuts. But at the same time he diplomatically defends Al Gore and Howard Dean at their worst. The fact is that there has been no representation for third parties in the press. We are stuck with formats like Crossfire and Hannity & Colmes, and whenever a third party candidate is brought up nobody feels a need to defend them because there is nobody in their circle they have to be sensitive and diplomatic to about it. And those insiders who are snobs will always hate Perot for being a populist.
Tue Apr 25 2006 1:51 AM