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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
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Sometimes the Bush White House seems so intent on not seeming political that it just seems inept. A couple weeks ago the President schedules a press conference on the same day that AG Ashcroft is set to testify before the 9-11 Commission. Surely the White House knew that the AG was going to drop the bombs on Jamie Gorelick's head the way he did; and they also had to know that a Presidential press conference would dominate the news cycle. So why didn't they put the presser off for a day so that the headlines could have been "Ashcroft Points Out Gorelick's Role in Building Wall" instead of "Bush Speaks to the Press; Faces Tough Questions and Calls For Apologies". Yeah, sure, the Ashcroft thing was in the papers--on page six. That, however, could have been an important public relations moment that just got blown.
The same thought occurred to me today. I'm not sure exactly how much flexibility the SecDef had in scheduling his testimony on the Hill, but on a day in which the headlines should read "Recovery No Longer Jobless--288,000 New Jobs In April; Over 1 Million New Jobs This Year" the headlines will, of course, be all about Rumsfeld before Congress.
Hugh Hewitt wrote this week of the Pentagon's need to streamline its message manufacturing abilities. I would argue that that is a need throughout the administration--from the White House to the Pentagon to the State Dept and throughout.
I have always preached to my teams and groups that in a large setting, the voices of dissent will always be there--the trick is for the voices of assent to be louder. Right now the voices of dissent in this country, amplified by the mainstream media, are virtually uncontested, while the voices of assent are bumbling and slow. And as effective as the blogoshpere and talk radio are, they generally work best preaching to the choir. The undecideds have to hear both sides of the debate articulated well, and I'm not sure that that's the case right now. Face it--most of the news on just about every front lately has been very positive. But because that message is not being shouted out, we get treated to a five day feeding frenzy over Abu Graib.
This President is a strong leader with some remarkable men and women in his team around him, and they are accomplishing amazing things in the world. But they are not controlling the debate right now. And as encouraging as the polls are, given those circumstances, the undecideds will turn away from the President if his team can't get its act together. They can't rely on John Kerry being a complete boob for the rest of the year--if they do, November 2 could be a long night.