The Same Rowdy Crowd

Ruminations and Fulminations on Communication



Surprise: Technology and campaigning will be different than 4 years ago

Is anyone surprised that presidential campaigning, particularly online communication, is going to look and feel different in 2012 than it did in 2008? My god, even the simple act of reading news online is wildly different now than it was then. From the Star Tribune:

The 2012 campaign wars will be waged in ways that were unimaginable in the last presidential race. From the rise of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to the use of “geo-targeting” through mobile phones and search engines, 2012 presidential candidates have powerful tools to track down supporters and keep them engaged.

“It’s easy to forget that when the 2008 presidential was getting started, Facebook and Twitter were barely a factor,” said Mindy Finn, Pawlenty’s new media adviser. “The big shift that’s occurred since then is the growth of participation on social networking sites … half of Americans are on Facebook.”

Search and social networking websites like Google have responded by staffing politics teams in Washington. Facebook recently hired a second person for the 2012 campaign.

But online campaigning isn’t all fun and games. Relying on social networks like Facebook and Twitter cedes some control of the message, as commenters have free rein to attack and criticize. And technical snafus can become a public embarrassment, as Bachmann found out last month when a Facebook town hall event suffered technical difficulties.

Wait, wait, wait. “Cedes some control”?! That’s been the naysayers’ go-to criticism of online communication since the invention of the discussion forum, and it’s as short-sighted today as it was then. Especially in the world of politics, which is such a cacophonous environment anyway — there’s no shortage of other voices and other forums in which people can criticize or support a candidate’s message.

Look at it this way: Critics are everywhere. By establishing, say, a Facebook page for your campaign, you’re not giving commenters “free rein to attack and criticize” (they already have that). You’re building a community of people who will help debate — and sometimes simply shout down — those attacking commenters.

Still, the last two presidential elections have each pushed the bar higher for online campaigning. In 2004 it was Howard Dean’s online fundraising; in 2008 Obama’s online organizing and use of text messages.

The Pawlenty campaign hopes it can make its mark on 2012.

And the story closes with a graf that likely appeared word for word in a similar story nearly a decade ago (save for the Pawlenty-for-president reference):

He still has to do the traditional things to win supporters: speeches, shaking hands, television appearances. But now Pawlenty and other upstart candidates can ask for money or get a message out across the country with the click of a mouse button — and at a fraction of the cost of buying TV time. Said Finn: “The value of engaging online is not proportional to the amount of money spent on it.”

Tim Pawlenty: Seeking Sweet Schadenfreude.


– The Mgmt.


Is Pawlenty Wrong for the Right?


Bureaucratic Branding


Media Misses Health Trend Story Behind Rating

We’re number six! We’re number six!

It’s not exactly the cheer proud Minnesotans are accustomed to when it comes to health. After all, for four years in a row we were the number one healthiest state in the nation, according to the United Health Foundation. Health has always been one of the centerpieces of our vaunted Minnesota quality of life, but this is the third straight year we’ve been trending downward.

If we stopped dropping at number six, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But unfortunately, the future may not look so great either. The Minnesota news media reported on Minnesota’s sixth place rating, but none of them connected the policy dots to describe where Minnesota appears to be headed in coming years. As the liberal policy think tank Minnesota 20-20 points out:

The Governor’s cuts to GAMC (General Assistance Medical Care, a state-funded program for low-income adults who have no dependent children and who do not qualify for federally funded health care programs) will increase our number of uninsured come March 1, since not all GAMC recipients are qualified for the automatic transfer to MinnesotaCare. After the six month grace period is over, it is likely that many GAMC recipients will be unable to maintain their coverage through MinnesotaCare due to the procedural requirements and cost. The discontinuation of GAMC is part of a larger $1 billion cut to Health and Human Services and it remains to be seen just how these cuts will affect other programs.
Most of what Minnesota does well (in the United Health Foundation ratings measurements): low premature death rate, a low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease, low infant mortality comes from the fact that we have a low rate of uninsured people in the state, but if this changes with the end to GAMC and overall cuts to the Department of Human Services, it is a good chance that there will be negative consequences to our low premature death rate, low cardiovascular deaths, and low infant mortality.

The once proud number one healthiest state is now envious of states in the top five. Will we soon be envious of states in the top ten or fifteen? We get a lot of news stories about the political gamesmanship aspects of unallotment. How about more stories about the quality-of-life impacts of the Governor’s unilateral cutting?

– Lovelandsba nice

The End of Unallot?

Five months ago, we ruminated about “Unallot,” the magical fiscal fiefdom created by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

    “Don’t let it be forgot
    That once there was a spot,
    For one brief, shining moment
    That was known as Unallot.”

In the magical kingdom of Unallot, a Governor who feigns surprise about huge deficits that have been forecasted and publicly discussed for months can effectively dub himself a King who is free to unilaterally dictate budgets without involving the co-equal branch of government that is constitutionally authorized to appropriate funds.

Well, today, the Minnesota House voted along party lines to support a lawsuit that would unallow Unallot, setting up a consitutional showdown that now has national political implications. The lawsuit also impacts thousands of vulnerable Minnesotans. Finally, I’d argue, the lawsuit will also affect future Repubican legislators who could be be flattened by future DFL Governors taking up residence in Unallot.

    “Unallot! Unallot!
    I know it gives a person pause,
    But in Unallot, Unallot
    Are those really the legal laws?”

In short, the third co-equal branch of government, the judiciary, will soon decide whether the gubernatorial kingdom of Unallot is real, or make believe.

– Loveland

internet marketing specialist nice

Pawlenty’s Secret Weapon in Iowa

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has been busy preening Presidential in Iowa, which raises an interesting question: Where will his breakthrough political moment come in the Hawkeye State?

Will Governor Pawlenty’s breakthrough come during a spellbinding address to the Muscatine County Republican Women’s Club meeting? Will it come with a well-timed anti-evolution zinger at the all-important Dallas County Republican Steak Fry and Pie Auction? Will it come the old fashioned way, by promising the most special interest tax loopholes at the first joint appearance of all the Repbulican candidates?

Or will T-Paw’s big breakthrough happen during a less conventional event at the Iowa State Fair?

It’s no secret that Pawlenty’s napeline yo-yos with the political winds. So come Iowa State Fair time, if you see Pawlenty put the breaks on barbering out back, you might want to book your hotel room for the Inaugural.

– Loveland
irs debt relief nice

(Political) Climate Change

TPaw Beware:  Presidential primaries not kind to flippers.
TPaw Beware: Presidential primaries not kind to flippers.
Governor Pawlenty formed the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group to find solutions to address the “profound impact of global warming.” Presidential candidate Pawlenty has ignored the group’s recommendations.

Governor Pawlenty launched the Midwest Governor’s Climate Change initiative. Presidential candidate Pawlenty has come out against the initiative.

Governor Pawlenty had been an aggressive advocate for a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gases. Presidential candidate Pawlenty wrote to Congress bashing cap-and-trade.

To be sure, the Executive Mullet is hardly the only thing about Pawlenty that is evolving. These are just a few of the cooling patterns documented in an excellent Minnesota Public Radio analysis of Governor Pawlenty’s positions on issues related to climate change.

I understand Pawlenty’s political dilemma. As Governor, his political fortunes rose and fell based on whether he could win over moderate suburban swing voters. But as presidential candidate, Pawlenty’s political fortues will rise and fall based on whether he can win over national Republican party activists, a breed that is much more conservative than the average Minnesota swing voter.

When the Presidential primary season heats up and rivals start pointing out Governor Pawlenty’s changes in positions on a whole range of issues, Pawlenty may run into the same problem former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Massachusets) did, where he had been on so many sides of so many issues that few felt they could trust him.

– Loveland

No Peace. No Prosperity. No Pawlenty.

Snake oil dr. vesuviusMany political scientists maintain that peace and prosperity are among the most reliable predictors of presidential electoral success.

At this stage, America in the Obama era has neither. It has the highest unemployment in a quarter century and is embroiled in two bloody, complex and unpopular foreign wars. Bad news, Barack.

So with all of Obama’s current woes, why is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty — a supremely talented politician — trailing Obama by 11 points in his home state?

It’s way too early for presidential polls to be predictive of anything. They are merely a snapshot of the moment, and circumstances will change in a thousand different ways before the next presidential campaign. But at this particular moment, many Minnesotans who know plenty about Pawlenty are pretty grim about Tim.

What do the Minnesota masses know that the national Republican kingmakers don’t? I submit that over the last seven years, many Minnesotans have learned to translate Pawlentese. They now know that Pawlenty’s “no new taxes” pledge translates roughly into “yes new fees,” “yes higher local taxes,” and “yes higher long-term costs.”

Governor Pawlenty makes a darn good first impression. But the Pawlenty era has taught Minnesotans that too often when the initial sales pitch sounds too good to be true, it is.

– Joe Loveland (guest post)

Satirical Seer

politeness-bookYesterday, Governor Pawlenty said “thanks but no thanks” to that bridge to economic recovery.

Our state and national economies are in deep doo-doo. The private sector is not stimulating the economy with private investment and consumption, because of lack of consumer confidence and credit. At the same time, state governments aren’t able to spend enough to stimulate the economy, because of huge deficits and statutory budget balancing requirements. No stimulus, no recovery.

Fortunately, Franklin Roosevelt taught us that the federal government, with its ability to deficit spend during national emergencies, can jolt an arresting economy back to life. That’s why both conservative and liberal economists are urging the federal government to pass a stimulus package that includes lots of federal spending, much of it flowing through cash strapped states.

But Goveror Pawlenty is having none of it. Yesterday, the Governor of the state with a deficit reportedly in excess of $4 billion was biting the federal hands trying to feed him.

Maybe Pawlenty’s stand is borne of conservative conviction. Maybe. It should be noted, however, that the good Governor is neither saying he will return Obama bucks, nor the billions the state annually receives from the federal government.

Then again, maybe the Onion was prophetic almost four years ago…

State Of Minnesota Too Polite To Ask For Federal Funding

ST. PAUL, MN—Although many of its highways and bridges are in severe disrepair, the traditionally undemanding state of Minnesota isn’t comfortable asking for more interstate funding, sources reported Monday.

“Oh, we wouldn’t want to bother the U.S. government—they’ve got more than enough on their plate as it is,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said. “Most of the potholes on I-90 are less than four feet wide. We get by just fine. I wouldn’t want anyone all the way over there in Washington to be worrying about little ol’ us.”

According to U.S. Department of Transportation records, Minnesota has not requested an increase in highway funds for 10 years, in spite of the fact that the majority of their roads are plagued by rutted or uneven surfaces, cracked pavement, potholes, and other deterioration.

“If it were a life or death situation, you can bet your bippy we’d ask for it, but since it isn’t…” Pawlenty said. “Well, we can make do with the transportation-department budget they decided to give us back in 1995. That was more than generous.”

Continue reading “Satirical Seer”

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)

marketing strategy fine

Pawlenty Ambitious, “But Is He Ready To Lead?”

Senator McCain’s last several ads have asked a singular question, “Barack Obama may be The One, but is he ready to lead?”

As Governor Tim Pawlenty prepares to be anointed The One McCain chooses as his Vice Presidential running mate, it is only fair that Senator McCain and the press corps ask the same question about Governor Pawlenty.

• Number of years serving in the national government each would lead? Obama, three and a half years (U.S. Senate). Pawlenty, zero years.

• Number of months being vetted as a national candidate by the national press corps and American public: Obama, 18 months. Pawlenty, zero months.

• Number of years working on foreign relations issues? Obama, three and a half years (Senate Foreign Relations Committee). Pawlenty, zero years.

Senator McCain would be the oldest President in history, already only two years away from his life expectancy. So, there’s a very good chance that Minnesota’s Ribboncutter-in-Chief could become the Leader of the Free World, perhaps overnight.

Which brings us back to the question Senator McCain is repeating ad nauseum in his ads: “He may be The One, but is he ready to lead?”

– Loveland

small business start up fine

Republicans Seize Educable Moment

The Minnesota Republican Party was savvy to immediately launch a television ad blistering the transportation tax increase passed by a bipartisan super-majority in the Legislature.

It’s not a particularly good ad. It looks like a thousand other doomsday political attack ads, and its glum tone is so over-the-top that many will tune out. The Governor appears so upset with the limpness of his Taxpayer Protection Pen that his mullet is standing positively on-end, which surely will impress his suitor Senator McCain.

But as Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” And this ad is successful mostly because it shows up at the right time. The ad launch got Republicans a boatload of free news media coverage. They may get as much advantage out of the news coverage of the ad as out of the ad placement itself. (Curiously, political reporters seem to not understand or care that they are being used as pawns in this way.)

Moreover, the key message repetition that paid media delivers will cement this framing in voters’ minds during this “educable moment,” when the issue is still fresh in Minnesotans’ mind. Political parties typically dump all their TV ads on the air in the final weeks before an election when there is so much message clutter that everyone is tuning out. The Republicans are wise to frame the issue now, when the stage is less crowded.

The Republican’s preference for taxing the next generation (through bonding), rather than the current generation (through gas user taxes) is shameful. But this communications tactic serves their electoral interests well.

– Loveland

tax refund kind

More Barriers Crashing Down

The atmosphere over Minnesota’s own Governor Tim Pawlenty becoming Senator John McCain’s running mate is absolutely electric.


And why not? Imagine at long last breaking through America’s highest and hardest glass ceiling by making Pawlenty the first mullted American in the White House!

– Loveland

investment services kind

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