Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Republican Timing

While there are clearly some questions regarding the ability/competency of Republican Vetters (See yesterdays post), there can be no question of the ability of the republicans to use the news cycle to hide certain information while promoting other information in fine form. To start with, the announcement of Palin occurred a mere 12 hours after Obama's big speech. The result of this was that all headlines and top stories shifted from the historic nature of Obama's speech, the size of the audience both physically there as well as via TV, and the subjects covered to McCain's announcement of Palin as his VP. In most cases, any mention of the Obama speech on online news media was shifted down to the fourth to fifth slots on top news. There is no question that this announcement could not have been timed better. Not only did it move Obama and the democrats out of the top stories, but it also attempted to take a little wind out of the week long momentum that the democrats had been building. While we can debate the actual choice of Palin, the timing of the announcement was perfect.

In somewhat related news, I have been hearing of an interesting new theory regarding the release of information by the McCain campaign that Palin's 17 year old daughter is pregnant. The theory is essentially as follows. The McCain campaign knew that her daughter was pregnant and knew that the story would come out. They also felt that they wanted to story to be forced out by the democrats for two reasons that could not be achieved if they released the story themselves from the start. First, they were hoping Obama would take the bait and attack Palin and her family. In doing so, he would be attacking Palin personally which might create backlash among his female supporters. Second, most of the McCain campaign believed (probably correctly) that her daughter being pregnant would have a positive effect with the conservative base because she kept the child. So, they were not afraid of releasing the information, but wanted to do so in a format that would garner sympathy and perhaps trap Obama into a bad move.

Personally, I find this theory hard to believe. While I agree that the second part is probably true, it seems to be convoluted. Most things in politics are relatively simple. Clearly, if the daughter is five months pregnant, there is no way this information would have stay quite (she would be showing clearly at seven months which is during the election). Second, I believe the key to keeping control of a story (as the Bush administration has shown) is to be the first to release it in an attempt to control and frame the story. So, what I believe happened is that the bloggers forced the McCain campaign to respond with something because of the wild rumors that Palin's newest baby was actually her daughters. However, as some readers of this blog have pointed out, this could have been easily accomplished with hospital records. So why the release that her daughter was pregnant now? I think it was simply because at the moment the media is focused on hurricanes and the Republicans decided that if the story was given now it would get lost in the media cycle for a large majority of Americans and the party activists she is supposed to bring the ticket would hear it and support her since her daughter didn't have an abortion. Whether this happens or not, we shall see. Regardless, it is clear that the Republicans are still masters in the timing of the release of information.

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