McChange?

Senator McCain has no choice really. When the current Administration is the most unpopular in recent history, you have to try to run on change.

But if Senator McCain successfully sells the McChange pitch he made in last night’s speech, it will go down as one of the greatest feats of PR smoke and mirrors in American history.

To secure the Republican nomination, McCain hitched his policy wagon to Bush’s. Senator McCain supports the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the centerpiece of Bushonomics. From the beginning he supported the Iraq War, and is even more firm about remaining in Iraq long term than Bush. He promises he will appoint the same kinds of social conservative Supreme Court justices as Bush. And McCain voted 90% of the time with Bush.

With all that true, how do you convince the voters that you represent the best opportunity to reverse the Bush years?

The only way McCain wins on a change agenda is 1) the news media doesn’t report on the contradictions between Senator McCain’s rhetoric and record and/or 2) Obama loses focus and ineffectively exposes the Bushness of the McCain record and agenda.

And either thing could easily happen.

– Loveland

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Blues’ Clues

It looks as if the security perimeter around next week’s Republican National Convention (RNC) is going to make St. Paul’s Excel Energy Center about as publicly accessible as China’s Forbidden City during the Ming Dynasty.

So how are blue bywatchers to know when the Red Man Group arrives in our fair city? A few clues:

Festive Bush and Cheney figurines replace Snoopy and Charlie Brown on streets.
• Airport men’s room sounds like rehearsal for Riverdance.
• McCain offshore drilling proposal expanded to include 10,000 lakes.
• Stretch helicopters brought in to ferry delegates over Pawlenty’s unfunded bridges.
• Electric Fetus targeted for Operation Rescue protest.
• “Mission Accomplished” banner hoisted outside Deja Vu.
• Mickey’s adds foie gras to menu.
• Rove holds press conference to deny leaking location of Winter Carnival medallion.
• Pawlenty actually stays in Minnesota for a couple days.

If one or more of those things happen, there’s a good chance our conservative comrades have arrived.

– Loveland
(Assist from Austin)

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Why Didn’t McClellan Speak Up?

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s description of his role in the Bush Administration is illustrative of a fundamental fault line in the larger PR world.

One one side of the fault line, some PR practitioners and clients view PR people as serving a very passive, tactical role. They view PR people almost like transcriptionists, who dutifully record their bosses’ thoughts as is, adding only a dose of grammar and non-substantive word-smithing to make their thoughts sound a bit better before pulling all the tactical levers necessary to convey the bosses’ viewpoints to the world. These PR people are executive mouthpieces, not executive partners.

On the other side of the fault line, some PR practitioners and clients view PR people as playing a more active, strategic role. These strategic PR counselors don’t just put lipstick on the pig. They stand up and say, “Hey wait a minute, this is a pig and we need to change that because lipstick won’t hide its pigness.” And they say it in real time, not at memoir time. And they walk away if they are routinely ignored.

Scott McClellan apparently didn’t view himself as a strategic counselor to President Bush, or the Bush team didn’t grant him enough access to allow him to do play that role. For instance, from what I’ve heard in recent McClellan interviews, it doesn’t appear McClellan ever said anything like: “Mr. President, you need to be on the ground in New Orleans now, or you will look aloof and disengaged, and you deserve better.”

In fact, from what White House uber-puppeteer Karl Rove said yesterday, McClellan didn’t offer such advice because he wasn’t even in the critical decisionmaking meetings on the issue. In short, McClellan apparently was a mighty high priced transcriptionist, who only turned into a strategic counselor years later when he sat down to peck out his memoir.

– Loveland

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