Friday, April 04, 2008

Embracing new media: Obama v Clinton

Although I've been turning off the TV a lot lately, I still can't avoid seeing some of the coverage of the Democratic Presidential primary: Obama v Clinton.

I've heard a number of arguments about why one is up or why one is down, etc. But there's still one storyline that I've yet to hear any of the TV pundits even consider as a significant factor in the surprising rise of Obama: transparency and openness.

What do I mean?

In a nutshell, Barack has left me with the feeling that he's fairly candid and open. Hillary has left me with the sense that her campaign, and particularly her message, is entirely controlled. (Although that may be changing based on what I heard mentioned on the news today.)

What's the significance of a candid, open, free-flowing message vs. a controlled message?

Simple. In today's day and age... from YouTube to Google, from blogs to wikis... there is a higher expectation for information... for open government.

Of course, your classic pols want to have 100% control of their "message." But as George Allen, and Joe Lieberman to a lesser extent, learned... controlling the message is no longer possible. Politicians, such as Obama, who embrace (or at least accept) new media... and take hold of Web 2.0... will, on balance, do well compared to those who fight it.

What's an example of how new media is embraced by Barack and shunned by Hillary?

Again, simple. Barack admitted his drug use in his book. Hillary created a story about snipers when she arrived in Bosnia. And while neither story began in new media... both stories were "information" and new media allowed millions to consume the information. So while Obama seems to have been honest and open with his past... Clinton's Bosnia arrival has nearly two millions hits on YouTube and certainly hasn't helped her campaign. Though if she had been honest and open... she never would've taken the bruises she got for her Bosnia comments.

My point?

Pols should stop trying to create and control the message.

Anyway, while I haven't seen this discussed as a factor in the Dem's Primary... I do think that it's a major factor in Obama's rise and HRCs inability to run away with the nomination (though I'm still far from counting her out!)

And FWIW... I wish more pols would be more honest and open. IMO, when a politician tries to control things... it gets ugly more often than not... because new media enables people to shine a light on the lies, misrepresentations, half truths and contradictions that so many pols are prone to make.

Last, but not least, I actually thought of this post a month or so ago... and while I haven't watched much TV since then... I'm thinking that the dynamic in the Dem primary may be changing. I've heard HRC is picking up steam with a renewed emphasis on real, uncanned, open town hall meetings. Nonetheless... this post is more about new media than about the primary.

Tim White


adb said...

Well I would say we have 3 imperfect candidates and campaigns. I am just disappointed in the choices we have. However as a republican, I am terribly disappointed with McCain. he has turned out to be less forthright, less honest and less informed than I had thought. At this point, I would say, it is likely I would vote for Obama. I just dont think McCain has the mental capacity at this point to handle the troubles we are facing

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Tim, you are confusing style with substance.

Obama looks more authentic because he is a slick media savvy guy. He reminds me of a guy who should be hosting Good Morning America. Was he forthright at all about his relationship with Rev. Wright? or with the usual flotsam of Cook County political fixer?

Besides, Obama is getting only softballs from the press, all of whom are sipping the same kool aid. There's a real Barack Obama out there somewhere, and we will have to find him ourselves

Hillary is a painfully authentically inauthentic person. She is a tough power driven woman and just can't find it. She could only do the crying jag once.

McCain is pretty good at the unscripted stuff. Maybe he's little rough for our touchy feely society these days, but after spending years at the Hanoi Hilton he is not going to gush over everyone out there whining about a hangnail and demanding federally funded therapy

tim white said...

8:39 I mentioned that the idea for this post was about a month old. And that was partly because of some commentary from NPRs Juan Williams who really tattooed Obama on his relationship with his Rev. I hadn't thought of it in Williams' terms, but he made a compelling argument that flies in the face of my thoughts here. Again though, this post was supposed to be about openness vs. control... I just thought the Obama/Clinton race was a good example... to some extent... even if that reason is losing steam.

Anonymous said...


"he's little rough for our touchy feely society"

trying to paint a picture, eh? here's one: he's an out-of-touch relic who spent the last several years as a sycophant for the neocons

"Hanoi Hilton"

His supporters throw a mention of that into every post. However, they rarely mention what actually happened during that time. Vets against McCain -

"not going to gush over everyone out there whining about a hangnail "

didn't he just whine about an obama supporter calling him a warmonger?

It can't possibly do anyone any good to pretend mccain is something he is not. you don't have to promote him just because he's the republican pick. don't give him a free ride you know he doesn't deserve.

Anonymous said...

Well, obviously the Chris Murohy approach has gone national..act all contrite and above board, hide your ideology like Eliot Spitzer hid receipts from the Emperor's Club, and then let anonymous third parties launch bogus charges against your opponent...and just like Murphy, throw in a fair dollop of ageism as well.

I suspect we will get a whispering campaign next accusing McCain of having Alzheimers', since they tried that one around here two years ago

Anonymous said...

"sycophant for the neocons"

Translation: He likes Jews and supports Israel

Yep, let's throw in a little veiled anti-semitism while we're shilling for Mr. B.H. Obama

Anonymous said...

by Dick Morris, former political adviser to President Bill Clinton

If you happen to see the Bill Clinton five minute TV ad for Hillary in which he introduces the commercial by saying that he wants to share some things we may not know about Hillary's background . . .beware . . .

As I was there for most of their presidency and know them better
than just about anyone, I offer a few corrections;

Bill says: "In law school Hillary worked on legal services for the poor."

The facts are: Hillary's main extra-curricular activity in law school was helping the Black Panthers, on trial in Connecticut for torturing and killing a federal agent. She went to court every day as part of a law student monitoring committee trying to spot civil rights violations and develop grounds for appeal.

Bill says: "Hillary spent a year after graduation working on a
children's rights project for poor kids."

The facts are: Hillary interned with Bob Truehaft, the head of the
California Communist Party. She met Bob when he represented the
Panthers and traveled all the way to San Francisco to take an internship with him.

Bill says: "Hillary could have written her own job ticket, but she
turned down all the lucrative job offers."

The facts are: She flunked the DC bar exam, yes, flunked, it is a
matter of record, and only passed the Arkansas bar. She had no job
offers in Arkansas, none, and only got hired by the University of
Arkansas Law School at Fayetteville because Bill was already teaching there. She did not join the prestigious Rose Law Firm until Bill became Arkansas Attorney General and was made a partner only after he was elected Arkansas Governor.

Bill says: "President Carter appointed Hillary to the Legal
Services Board of Directors and she became its chairman."

The facts are: The appointment was in exchange for Bill's support
for Carter in his 1980 primary against Ted Kennedy. Hillary then
became chairman in a coup in which she won a majority away from
Carter's choice to be chairman.

Bill says: "She served on the board of the Arkansas Children's Hospital."

The facts are: Yes she did. But her main board activity, not
mentioned by Bill, was to sit on the Wal-Mart board of directors, for a substantial fee. She was silent about their labor and health care practices.

Bill says: "Hillary didn't succeed at getting health care for all Americans in 1994 but she kept working at it and helped to create the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that provides five million children with health insurance."

The facts are: Hillary had nothing to do with creating CHIP. It was included in the budget deal between Clinton and Republican
Majority Leader Senator Trent Lott. I know; I helped to negotiate the
deal. The money came half from the budget deal and half from the Attorney Generals' tobacco settlement. Hillary had nothing to do with either source of funds.

Bill says: "Hillary was the face of America all over the world."

The facts are: Her visits were part of a program to get her out of
town so that Bill would not appear weak by feeding stories that Hillary was running the White House. Her visits abroad were entirely touristic and symbolic and there was no substantive diplomacy on any of them.

Bill says: "Hillary was an excellent Senator who kept fighting for children's and women's issues."

The facts are: Other than totally meaningless legislation like changing the names on courthouses and post offices, she has passed only four substantive pieces of legislation. One set up a national park in Puerto Rico. A second provided respite care for family members helping their relatives through Alzheimer's or other conditions. And two were routine bills to aid 911 victims and responders which were sponsored by the entire NY delegation.
Presently she is trying to have the US memorialize the Woodstock fiasco of 40 years ago.

Here is what bothers me more than anything else about Hillary Clinton. She has done everything possible to weaken the President and our country (that's you and me!) when it comes to the war on terror.
1. She wants to close GITMO and move the combatants to the USA where they would have access to our legal system.
2. She wants to eliminate the monitoring of suspected Al Qaeda phone calls to/from the USA.
3. She wants to grant constitutional rights to enemy combatants captured on the battlefield.
4. She wants to eliminate the monitoring of money transfers between suspected Al Qaeda cells and supporters in the USA.
5. She wants to eliminate the type of interrogation tactics used by
the military & CIA where coercion might be used when questioning known terrorists even though such tactics might save American lives.

One cannot think of a single bill Hillary has introduced or a single
comment she has made that would tend to strengthen our country in the War on Terror. But, one can think of a lot of comments she has made that weaken our country and makes it a more dangerous situation for all of us.

Bottom line: She goes hand in hand with the ACLU on far too many
issues where common sense is abandoned.

This is not my opinion; these are the words of Dick Morris, President Clinton's closest adviser. You may asked why Dick is coming out with this right now. My opinion is he knew as much as Ron Brown did but decided smartly not to go on that plane trip which took Ron, staff and crew into a tragic crash. Accident..maybe, maybe not!
Mike Rocci