(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – With the possible exception of the Daytona 500, there is no competition I enjoy more than a good election season.
This will be my 14th Presidential election cycle since I became conscious of our system of government (I’m excluding 1956 because I’m pretty sure that Dwight Eisenhower beat Adlai Stevenson without my 4-year-old knowledge).
There have been lots of changes in how we elect a President but the most annoying change is the talking point talking heads.
Funny, but I don’t seem to remember the rough equivalent of Debbie Schultz (or Wasserman as the case may be) in 1960 demanding that Richard Nixon release his tax returns. Or that Henry Cabot Lodge detail the secrets he learned as the interpreter and aide to the Sixth Army Commander during surrender negotiations with the German forces in western Austria.
One of Harry Reid’s predecessors, Lyndon Johnson, was the Democratic VP candidate and I’m pretty sure he never went to the floor of the Senate to tell flat out lies about either Nixon or Lodge.
Of course I was only eight years old, but I read, watched and listened to everything I could.
In fairness, I could also point to some very annoying Republican talking point talking heads, too.
When people of my generation—the trailing edge baby boomers—asked our teachers how it was possible that an Adolf Hitler could come to power, they explained the big lie to us. These days we assume that, given today’s mass media and our communications capability, that could never happen again. After all, Hitler didn’t have to put up with YouTube, smartphones, satellites and Fox News Channel.
He could tell his lies virtually unimpeded.
Harry Reid, on the other hand, comes off as just another talking point talking head.
As the mass media has assumed a greater and greater importance (much of it self-assigned) to the process, political consultants seem to want to focus on getting people like Ms. Schultz to parrot some inane talking points in cable and broadcast appearances.
There’s only one problem.
People vote their checkbooks and their feelings of well being which are closely connected to their checkbooks. If the economy were roaring along right now, The Republicans could start planning for 2016 because the White House and the Senate would not even be close to in play.
Because that is not the case, Barack Obama’s got problems.
The strategy of sending out campaign surrogates to signal a campaign’s direction is well established.
Vice President Spiro Agnew in Des Moines, as an example, calling the three television networks “nattering nabobs of negativism” in the Nixon Administration signaled that the administration would take on the media—something, it turned out, that it was ill equipped to do.
But Debbie Wasserman? Harry Reid?
What’s worse is that the cable news cycle produces an endless opening for even less educated (if that’s possible) talking point talking heads.
Something tells me that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are perfectly capable of doing their own talking.
If they truly want to elevate the political discourse—like they both say they do—they should do more debates and rely less on people who have memorized some nonsensical lines to fill out a three minute segment on Fox News or MSNBC.