The Death of the Town Hall Meeting

Post-debate reaction – neither candidate did anything to “win” tonights face off in St. Louis. Like two rams attacking one another on a hilltop, Kerry and Bush proved that neither would waver from their positions. Both seemed presidential, both had a command of the facts (although it could be argued that they “fudged” each others record somewhat). As for the big question – did tonights debate move anyone still undecided or compel a voter to switch their vote? The answer is no. I believe we’re right where we were 90 minutes ago.

I do think we saw something happen tonight. We saw that the town hall meeting, which was created and mastered by Bill Clinton, was completely ineffective for Bush or Kerry. The key to meeting in a hall with real voters posing real questions is to connect. Bill Clinton knew how to use this environment to show empathy. He knew how to relate to a voter directly in a way that helped that voter see him as one would see a next door neighbor. Now, I didn’t agree with most of the policies of the Clinton era, but I do think that the town hall meeting was made for him. Since then, presidential campaigns have kept up the tradition, hoping that their candidate would pull out the same emotions and connect with the undecided voter the way Clinton did. It’s my opinion that no one has done that effectively since Bill’s last debate in 1996.

I think the town hall meeting is effective for few presidential candidates. Town hall meetings are designed for undecideds. I think that tonight, we witnessed a debate which didn’t benefit at all from this setup. With the United States as polarized as it is today, a town hall meeting debate cannot accurately represent a real audience of undecideds. The electorate of 2004 won’t benefit from tonights encounter. As long as we stay equally divided, the town hall meeting debate will sway no one. Future campaigns would be smart to look at this style of debating and be honest with themselves. Will it work with their candidate? Will it really be effective in changing electorate decisions? 

I think tonight, we saw the death of the town hall meeting format.

NYT Under New Ownership?

I don’t know how it happened, but the New York Times actually gave editorial space to Paul Bremer today so he could opine that his earlier statement on Iraq has been used erroneously by the MSM. He goes as far as to say that the press and critics of the war have seized on his remarks in an effort to undermine President Bush’s Iraq policy. Read his Op-Ed here (registration required).

Democracy

I wonder how many people really understand the lengths to which the insurgents will go in order to thwart democracy. Take Afghanistan for example. In a few hours, that country will hold free elections. This week, there have been a number of attempts to prevent the right for the will of the people to be exercised. Just today, our security forces prevented a potential catastrophe, one which could have killed hundreds of people. Thank God we are there.

The vote will happen, and the Democratic party will attempt to diminish it’s success for fear that it will reflect positively on the Bush administration. The main stream media will fall in line, and stop short of accurately describing this amazing historical event. That’s a shame, especially for the Afghan people, who have struggled for years under the rule of the Taliban.

Is it Election Day Already?

Nader concedes, calls Edwards a sniveling coward. Nice.

Pre-Debate Advice for Bush

Take Kerry to the mat over the Oil For Food scandal. Review Gertz, and brush up on the whole issue by visiting with the Friends of Saddam. UNSCAM blows Kerry’s foreign policy plans to smithereens. Remind him, and the electorate, every chance you get.

Idiots On Parade (How to Screw a Perfectly Good Business Model)

It’s really easy – make records filled with good music, and people will love you. They’ll want to watch you perform. They’ll make you RICH because they want to buy anything an everything you produce. Sounds like a pretty good business plan to me. No reason to screw with that model right?

Wrong – we see it time and time again (U2, Moby, and most recently, the Dixie Chicks). These people whose music I enjoy so much, turn around and give me the finger with their political positions and posturing. It drives me crazy, this stuff. Raging egos, all of ’em. And when you hear them talk, most end up sounding like they all successfully completed the 8th grade, and then decided they’d had enough. Do they honestly think that the fans who come to watch their concerts give a wit about the pablum they puke on stage? Hell no, they want to hear the music. In fact, they pay HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS to hear it. Now, they may applaud unconsciously when Bono tells them to feed the hungry, but do they rush right out after the event and run to the quickie mart to buy a bag of groceries for the local food shelter. Again, hell no. It’s in one ear and out the other. A waste of time is what it is.

Bruce, John, Michael, Bonnie, Eddie, and Jackson – stop, please for the love of pete, STOP with this social consciousness crap. Just make your freakin records (eh hem, GOOD freakin records) and we’ll keep buying them. It’s a simple business model that shouldn’t be tinkered with.

UPDATE: There’s hope.

Bigley Gone…

According to Reuters, British hostage Ken Bigley has been killed by that SOB nutso murderer Zarqawi and his lemmings. We’ve got to catch these thugs, and when we do, we need to set up a Sony Handicam and behead each one of them separately while the others watch. We should be sure that Zarqawi is the last one killed so he can witness it all.

The Stern Effect

This week, Howard Stern announced that he’ll move to satellite radio once his current contract with Infinity runs out (2006). Now this was no surprise to the fans who worship Howard. In fact, when you listen to his radio show, 80% of the content consists of Stern rants – complaints against Infinity Broadcasting, Clear Channel, the FCC and its head Michael Powell, and most of all George W. Bush (whom he practically calls “Satan”). Ironically, in the days and months following the 9/11 attacks, Howard couldn’t say enough about his LOVE for Bush. He praised the man for his leadership and often times mentioned that the presidents election was the best thing to ever happen to America. But, that was then.

And this is now. Howard thinks Bush (via the FCC) has been targeting him directly and is trying to take away his right to free speech. Obscenity violations aren’t new to Stern. He’s often been held up as the poster boy of indecency. He has always bucked the system. Fans love him for it. And he usually didn’t get too fired up over the battles he waged against people whom he considered enemies. For the past year though, Howards words have become more venomous. He’s asked his listeners to do whatever it takes to kick Bush out of office. Stern was heard to say that if Bush continued as president, he would eventually be fired from radio. “Silenced”, “Axed”, “Killed off”, “Waxed”, etc. At first he was a little tepid in his endorsement of Kerry, but now Stern has become a full fledged supporter. In fact, Howard has even gone to promoting Michael Moore as a patriot who is finally exposing the lies of the Bush administration. I can’t help but think that Howards hate has lowered his IQ. Frankly, it’s difficult to listen to him today. You get the feeling that his more educated listeners (if they exist anymore) would like to shake him by his shoulders and yell, “Howard, come out of it, get a grip man!”.

But, one can’t discount Sterns reach. He talks to MILLIONS of people every day. Fans are amazingly devoted to the talker, and if Howard says “Don’t vote for Bush”, they’ll follow instructions. They won’t remember any of the important issues, the stakes that are “on the line” this election, etc. They’ll go to the poll with one voice ringing in their head – “Howard said, kick Bush out of office…kick Bush out of office.”

Now that Stern is moving to Sirius, one of two major satellite radio providers, the threat of him losing his current radio job is greatly diminished. Sterns employer, Infinity Broadcasting, wouldn’t dare fire him now. Contrary to reports, they know all too well that the gravy train is about to stop flowing. They need to collect every bit of revenue Howard can produce. Given this reality, Sterns siren calls to “fire Bush or I’ll be fired” suddenly ring hollow. They mean nothing now. In fact, it has been reported that Sterns talks with Sirius started back in February of this year. It’s likely that he began contract negotiations with the company in the spring. All the while, he’s still been threatening his audience. Striking fear in them. Reminding them that at any moment, he could be done in. Constantly saying that “he’s finished.” And he says George W. Bush misled us? Stern has been the one misleading his fans. Talk about being duped!

How many of Sterns fans will now realize the showboating that has gone on in front of their eyes (or ears)? Will any of them wake up and realize the deception? Will any of them vote for Bush now that they’ve been bamboozled by Howard? (Not to mention that soon they’ll all have to fork over hundreds of dollars a year to listen to him on satellite.) Not likely.

I already know what’s going to happen. Sterns zombies will forget to vote in the election (neutralizing Sterns call to arms), they’ll continue to buy products he endorses, they’ll make gobs of money for Infinity (while it lasts) and they’ll make Sirius the biggest company in the world.

And what a world it is.

10/11 UPDATE: Roeper chimes in with his own commentary on the Stern move.

All Kerry, All The Time

If you haven’t checked out the Kerry Spot, you should. Take a close look at the “Kerry Waffles” section on the right sidebar. Great stuff. 

I'm SHOCKED! (not!)

Saddam actually paid off French leaders to have sanctions removed and U.S. policies opposed. How much? $1.78 billion – with a “B”. And they’re allies of the United States? Reprehensible.