Friday, April 18, 2008


Fig. 1. Artist's depiction of the relationship between the media and the GOP spin machine.

There's something almost Escheresque or Borgesian about the way this Politico story from yesterday works -- it is what it describes:

For reasons of financial necessity, personal preference and plain politics, John McCain is gearing up to run one of the least traditional presidential campaigns in recent history....

McCain will lean heavily on the well-funded Republican National Committee. He will merge key functions of his campaign hierarchy with the RNC while also relying on an unconventional structure of 10 regional campaign mangers.

And finally -- and perhaps most importantly -- McCain will rely on free media to an unprecedented degree to get out his message in a fashion that aims to not only minimize his financial disadvantage but also drive a triangulated contrast among himself, the Democratic nominee and President Bush.

Emphasis mine -- and, in fact, the process of both describing and participating in McCain's campaign strategy is seen in that very sentence, in which the Politico helpfully tells us just what the McCain camp wants us to hear: "McCain isn't like Bush! Really! There's a notable contrast!"

The participation in the McCain strategy gets more explicit as the article continues:

...aides ... argue that by facing tough questions from reporters on his bus each day and potentially even tougher ones from audience members at frequent town hall meetings, McCain will demonstrate how he's different from two politicians who are far less accessible.

...Mark Salter, [a] top aide to McCain, says Obama is running "one buttoned-up, conventional campaign."

"Is new politics just stadium-sized crowds and lots of money?" he asks.

...McCain aides also want to paint their guy as different from an unpopular administration that prefers secrecy to transparency and friendly crowds to unpredictable ones.

"Sen. McCain believes every American should participate in the arena, and that includes people that don't agree with him," Schmidt says, taking care to note that such unscripted exchanges have waned "in the last decade."

...Differences between Bush and McCain will be "discussed at great length," promises one aide.

"He'll be direct about it. He's never gratuitous, never disrespectful, but there are going to be policy breaks where it couldn’t be clearer." Two areas of difference McCain will highlight: global warming and spending....

So it's one-stop shopping -- you get to learn how McCain will count on the press to relay his message for him at no charge ... and then you get to see the press do it!

Don't you just love the efficiency and convenience of modern media life?

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