Mar 14

And Gettysburg citizens should be proud of their contributions to the oil and gas sector

Like the late, great Wall Street firm, Merrill Lynch, Tea Party candidates are a breed apart. They provide a steady stream of malaprops, mangled grammar and misinformation that make me laugh, cry and sigh.

The latest Tea Partier to demonstrate an utter lack of knowledge about U.S. history is Michele Bachmann.

Speaking before a group of supporters in Concord, New Hampshire, Ms. Bachmann praised them for living on the hallowed ground where the fabled “shot heard 'round the world” was fired. There was only one thing wrong with her comment. Bachmann was in the wrong state. The opening salvos that touched off the American Revolution were fired in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, not New Hampshire. Oh well, who cares about a minor thing like historical accuracy when one is a high-profile, elected official advocating for the  dismemberment of, among other things, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which provides American citizens with the type of daily information necessary to learn such tidbits as where this country of ours  began.)?

But, far be it from Tea Party types such as Bachmann, Christine O'Donnell and Alaska's momma grizzly to let things like facts and figures get in their way. Since they believe they're re-writing history, why should they need to learn it in the first place? And, why stop with things like misunderstanding the First Amendment (O'Donnell), or, being unable to name one newspaper she'd recently read or Ms. Bachman's geographic blunder?

Even though they're consistently wrong in their facts, street smart Tea Party candidates know two key facts about their public gaffes:

A) They create news and
B) They really don't matter much since their adoring fans know less about history and geography than they do.

In analyzing the 'gaffe potential' of the various primary states, I'm pleased to report the upside potential is literally limitless. Among other  opportunities, Tea Party candidates can:

– Congratulate J.P. Getty for saving the Union in 1863 when he defeated
 Robert E. Lee on a battlefield subsequently named him.
– Visit Christ's birthplace in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
– Tour the site of the actual witch trials while campaigning in Salem,

America hasn't experienced a more inept, more out-of-touch political party since the 1850s when Nativists did their very best to prevent further immigration by Irish Catholics.

Knowing the average Tea Party candidate, though, she'd probably embrace the “Know Nothing” moniker as a badge of courage: “I may know nothing about history or geography, but I do know how to undo collective bargaining for unions, strip funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and accuse an entire religion of fostering terrorism. With accomplishments like those, who needs to know where the shot heard 'round the world was fired?'

Jan 13

The differences couldn’t be more striking

Officialportrait 20091122013824!Sarah_Palin_official_portrait I'm becoming more convinced with each passing day that Barack Obama will win re-election in 2012.

For one thing, he's finally awakened and is now followed Bill Clinton's proven 'centrist' strategy.  More importantly, though, his statesmanlike words and actions in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting spree stand in stark contrast to those of his number one contender in 2012.

Last night, Obama called for a new era of civility (and, good luck with that, Mr. President.) Meanwhile, the erstwhile Alaskan governor and slayer of moose, elk and god knows what else chose, instead, to stir the hate talk with even more hate talk. Palin accused TV commentators and journalists of “blood libel” in their rush to blame Palin-inspired, Tea Party-generated hate speak for the murders.

In the process, Palin somehow managed to make a bad situation even worse by outraging Democratic lawmakers, fellow Republicans and Jewish groups with her use of the expression “blood libel”. According to a New York Times, the term was originally coined by anti-Semites in the Middle Ages who blamed Jews for killing their Christian children. Palin, who is positively clueless about history, American or otherwise, obviously had no idea of the term's historic and demeaning origins.

The Republican Party needs to start distancing itself from their momma grizzly and find a centrist candidate who has some grip on reality, a sense of history and an ability to project statesmanlike leadership in a time of crisis. What they don't need is someone like Palin, who seems limited to vitriolic, malaprop-laden, mumbo-jumbo.

As someone who studies image and reputation, I think the aftermath of the Tucson shootings reveals the stark differences between the two leaders.

One is calm, measured and able to seize the opportunity to redirect a nation that is slowly splitting apart at the seams. The other reverts to form, hunkers down in her Wasilla bunker and stirs up a new, news cycle with her unfortunate anti-Semitic remarks.

The differences couldn't be more striking.

Oct 12

Christine O’Donnell is SO not me

I’ve never seen a crazier mix of ill-suited and ill-qualified candidates running for government than Christine-o-donnell-witchcraft the representatives of the class of 2010. We’re stuck with uncooperative Republicans, ossified Democrats and totally bizarre Tea Party candidates. And, the Queen of Hearts of Tea Party candidates (to mix a couple of Lewis Carroll metaphors) has to be Delaware’s Republican Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell.

I won’t waste any time repeating the litany of things she’s done wrong in the past, but I did want to share my POV on her latest campaign commercial.

I see the commercial as a text book example of what not to do. In one fell swoop, O.D. simultaneously sends the wrong message and alienates undecided.

Instead of deflecting (or better yet, ignoring) the videotaped comments she’d made a decade ago about dabbling in witchcraft, this Tea Party temptress instead tackles the issue head-on by announcing, “I am not a witch.”

Sadly, most voters (and, indeed, most Americans) have no institutional knowledge whatsoever. So, when I tell you O’Donnell’s comments evoked a Pavlovian response by echoing similar comments made by another politician 35 years ago, you’ll probably pause and mumble, “Say what?”

It’s true, though. In the midst of the Watergate controversy that would destroy his presidency and force him to resign, Richard Nixon appeared on national television and said, “I am not a crook.” As various journalism, political science and communications academics, pundits and PR types alike have since noted, “The message Nixon sent was not the message voters received.” Instead, by reinforcing the negative, Nixon instantly undermined his credibility. His ill-conceived comments alienated his core constituents, reinforced his opponents’ beliefs and, critically, planted a seed of doubt in the key, undecided voters’ minds.

O’Donnell has done the same thing with her terrible TV spot. First, she tells me she’s not a witch. Thanks for reminding me of that negative, Christine. Second, and even worse, she tells me, “I’m you.”

Here’s the problem with telling me “I’m you.” This clueless candidate doesn’t know who I am. Nor has she taken the time to get to know me. I can tell Ms. O’Donnell that she won’t find me practicing satanic worship in the middle of the woods at midnight. That’s not me. So there’s one immediate disconnect.
In addition to repeating Nixon’s mistake, O’Donnell is committing the same gaffe major advertisers such as Yahoo make when they place ads proclaiming, ‘It’s all about me.” Just like O’Donnell, Yahoo has absolutely no clue who I am. They’re blissfully ignorant of my likes, dislikes and hobbies. So, don’t insult my intelligence by telling me otherwise.

I believe that O’Donnell and her Tea Party cohorts are a one-time aberration, created by eight years of W’s rack and ruin followed two years of The One’s remote and inaccessible leadership. American voters are angry, so they’re listening to unqualified whack jobs like O’Donnell. I won’t conjecture on whether she’ll win or lose because, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. Washington is at a standstill, and more divisiveness will only increase the gridlock.

That said, there are two very important image and reputation lessons to be learned from O’Donnell:
    1.)  Never, ever, repeat a negative. O’Donnell shouldn’t begin her TV spots by reminding us she once practiced witchcraft.
    2.)  Never, ever, tell me you understand me, or are just like me, when you haven’t taken the time to get to know me first.

If the Tea Party is to have a lifespan longer than a May Fly, it needs to recruit candidates who understand fundamental communications strategies. And, speaking of flies, I wouldn’t trust Christine O’Donnell to manage a media training session with the fruit stand guy outside 470 Park Avenue South.

Tip o' RepMan's bike helmet to Catharine Cody for suggesting this post.

Sep 05

Mick Cody’s Mad as Hell and Not Going to Take it Anymore

Mick Cody is one angry dog. The five-year-old pit bull is incensed over Governor Sarah Palin’s recent comments at the Republican National Convention: "You know what they say the difference is between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."

Cody, who is co-founder and managing partner of the National Pit Bull Awareness Association (NPAA), says Palin’s negative remarks perpetuate misleading stereotypes. "We’ve worked tirelessly to change people’s misconceptions about pit bulls. If treated decently, we’re warm, compassionate and caring creatures, unlike a certain Alaskan politician."

Mick was reached for comment in Ohio, where he’d been addressing a local NPAA chapter. "The major parties and media are totally overlooking a powerful (and, I do mean powerful) voting block. Palin’s comments not only antagonize pit bulls, but they anger the 50 million dogs currently residing in America. And, critically, many of my fellow canines are of voting age (editor’s note: that would be three years old or older)."

Cody says the NPAA has offered speaking opportunities to both parties, but has been turned down cold: "Not so much as a whimper from either camp," he snarled.

As a result, Mick says he’s taking matters into his own paws and, along with his new eight-week-old little brother, Rooney, making a run for the presidency. "It’s time canines had a chance to run things. Sure, our life expectancies may not enable us to last for a full two terms, but we’d do a better job than the current occupants," he howled.

When questioned about his youthful running mate’s qualifications for the VP slot, Mick snapped: "Rooney’s been around for three months. That’s almost a full year in human terms. How much more experience does the hockey mom have?" Mick added that the only thing Rooney hasn’t mastered yet is field dressing a moose. "But, give the little guy some time," he chuckled.

The Mick/Rooney ticket hopes to hold a quick convention in the Cody backyard ("Our mom’s promised to clean it up first with a pooper scooper," noted Rooney.). They’ve also developed a campaign theme they say "….runs rings" around the others: "Paws for a change."

Mick says the double entendre will resonate with humans, canines and the all-important undecided Feline vote.

"Pit Bulls specifically, and dogs in general, are mad as hell with negative stereotypes. It’s time to muzzle Palin and her breed once and for all," concluded Cody.

May 09

Ridiculous quote of the week

"Of course, we intended for Cocaine energy drink to be a legal alternative the same way that celibacy is Cocaine_2an alternative to premarital sex."

— Clegg Ivey, partner in Redux Beverages, makers of an energy drink called Cocaine, which is being withdrawn from stores because of concerns about its name. Ivey went on to justify the name by saying it fit the company’s "….tongue-in-cheek" approach. The company says it will rename and re-distribute the product in a few weeks.

Here’s my new name suggestion: Methadone. I’d love to hear your naming thoughts…