Tag Archive: Silly Season


Ich bin ein Berliner.” – President John F. Kennedy address beside the Brandenburg Gate in 1963

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” – President Ronald Reagan address in the shadow of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987

Berlin is the testicles of the West. Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze Berlin.” – Soviet leader Nikita KhrushchevJFKberlin1

There is no place on earth that is more emblematic of the Cold War than the Brandenburg Gate in the geographic center of Berlin. For almost 30 years, absolutely no one could walk through its arches because of the ugly scar of the Berlin Wall (Die Mauer).

The author of Almost DailyBrett travelled to Germany’s capital nearly 20 years ago to walk through the Brandenburg Gate and to secure his piece of the wall (mein Stück der Mauer). Those mature enough remember exactly where they were when the magic word spread in 1989 that the Wall had come down and East Germany’s (a.k.a. German Democratic Republic) repressed citizens were now free and the end of the Cold War was near.brandenburggate

One of those citizens was the daughter of a Lutheran minister and a Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Angela Merkel. Today, she is the third-longest serving Chancellor of Germany and Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” The periodical described her as the “Chancellor of the Free World.”

As the most visible leader of not only Europe’s largest economy, Germany, and the European Union, even Merkel cannot avoid consternation.

One such controversy involved a young American Senator by the name of Barack Obama, running for president in the summer of 2008. His aides suggested a Kennedyesque/Reaganesque campaign speech beside the Brandenburg Gate.

Her response was nein. True to form of American politics, not everyone remembers the dispute that way.

A Little Bid “Odd”?

When Barack heard about this plan, he was incredulous. ‘You think we’re setting expectations a little high? Let’s find another spot.’” – Campaign manager David Axelrod recalling Barack Obama’s reaction to a proposed presidential campaign speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in his book, Believer

(German Chancellor Angela) Merkel has “little sympathy for the Brandenburg Gate being used for electioneering and has expressed her doubts about the idea.” – Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg in 2008.

Hmmm … the two above quotes contradict each other.

Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover story makes direct reference to Merkel’s government turning down the request of the Obama campaign to burnish the senator’s foreign policy credentials at the Brandenburg Gate on June 24, 2008. Die Kanzerlin believed the gate should be reserved for heads of state (e.g., Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, Kohl …). Sitting members of Congress did not rise to that level.

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time's Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time’s Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

The German magazine, Der Spiegel, understood the reason why the Obama campaign wanted the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop. Very few places project the healing of the East-West divide and speaking at das Brandenburger Tor would project foreign policy gravitas for the young senator. Alas, Merkel’s office found the Obama campaign request to be a tad, “odd.”

Despite this decision, Time concluded the relationship between Obama and Merkel has improved since that time. Having said that, Time’s revisiting this issue brings into question Axelrod’s contention that it was Obama … not Merkel … who made the decision to move the speech two kilometers west of the Brandenburg Gate to the other side of the Tiergarten where the Victory Column (Siegessäule) is located.

A legitimate question posed by Almost DailyBrett is why does this case of faulty memories or worse, revisionist history, matter nearly eight years later? The answer is we are heading into a presidential election year and with it comes the pressures to exaggerate, to amplify and to engage in revisionist history.

Age of Pinocchios

The Washington Post awards Pinocchios for those in public life who utter as Winston Churchill would say, “terminological inexactitudes.” Using that standard, Axelrod (Believer, page 292) may be accorded at least one Pinocchio for this description of how Obama … not Merkel … decided against a campaign speech at the Brandenburg Gate.obamaberlin

As those enthrusted to build and enhance brands, guard reputations and be ready to prevent and respond crisis communications situations, public relations professionals must be on guard for terminological inexactitudes (an euphemism for a direct lie).

Sometimes they start as small, little fibs. Let the young senator in your own mind choose the Victory Column instead of the Brandenburg Gate.

But what happens when fibs escalate into bold unsubstantiated claims of Mexico flooding this country with murderers and rapists? Where’s the beef?

What happens when one candidate charges that ISIS is using another candidate’s speeches for recruitment videos? Where are the videos? They exist of they do not exist.

As we move from the presidential campaign Silly Season, defined by subjective judgments by the political class, to the Serious Season when real voters with real results get into the mix, the pressure will be on to push the envelope in terms of personal credentials or worse, the opposition’s perceived missteps.

A little terminological inexactitude here and a little terminological inexactitude there, pretty soon you are talking about whole boat load of Pinocchios.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/brandenburg-gate-controversy-obama-reacts-to-debate-in-berlin-a-565080.html

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Brandenburg-Gate

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/terminological-inexactitude

 

 

 

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” – attributed to Harry S. Truman

“Politics is a contact sport.” – GOP campaign consultant, Marry Matalinclintonbuddy

Almost DailyBrett cannot accurately forecast, who will become the 45th president of the United States. Can you?

Wasn’t the general election contest supposed to quickly boil down to Hillary and Jeb, representing two of America’s political royal families?

In some respects, it is easier to foretell who will not be president (i.e., Martin O’Malley, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum … ).

What is more certain in this volatile Silly Season is the undeniable fact the Serious Season will be upon us in about three weeks. The presents will soon be unwrapped, turkey and stuffing will be consumed, and bowl games will be played. It will then be time for serious presidential politics.

The days of subjective media/pundit scoring (e.g., colluding media tweeting each other to determine the conventional wisdom of who is winning and who is losing) will be replaced by actual electoral results from caucuses and primaries. Figure skating and boxing are both plagued by judges. Football, hockey and other sports have actual scoreboards. It will soon be time for voter verdicts, particularly how candidates fare compared with “expectations.”

Quantitative research samples are taken far more seriously in the Serious Season, particularly trends as they edge closer to-and-after actual caucuses and primaries. Debates mean more, much more … and a particularly ill-time gaffe (there is never a good time for foot-in-mouth disease) could be electorally fatal. GOTV(Get Out The Vote) means more than ever as – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina – are organization-intensive retail states than mass media in nature.

What does this all mean? The beginning of the Serious Season translates into meeting workers at factory gates, kibitzing at bowling allies, visiting lunch counters, attending PTA meetings, conducting town halls, when its frigid, icy and snowy outside (e.g., Iowa and New Hampshire).townhall

The caucus-goers (Iowa and Nevada) and primary voters (New Hampshire and South Carolina) are notoriously fickle, unpredictable and independent. How will they respond to Donald Trump and his billions and Hillary Clinton and her “inevitability”?

Here’s a hint: They are more inclined to root for David rather than Goliath.

Mother’s Milk Runs Dry?

“Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics” – former California Speaker Jesse Unruh

The author of Almost DailyBrett remembers serving as a California gubernatorial campaign press director way back in the legacy media Stone Age of 1982. The goal was to win the news cycle, simply defined as one news cycle per day.

Today, the news cycle can be 24-in-one-day or literally one per hour in this legacy/digital native media age. What that means is that you have to win the majority of news cycles, develop a sense of momentum on an hourly basis and repeatedly demonstrate your “Big Mo.”

Way back in the previous century, you could gather momentum and ride it to the governor’s office as we did in the last three weeks of both the primary and general elections 43 years ago. Today, a campaign public relations team can be pushed from offense to defense or vice-versa in the same one-hour news cycle. Instead of getting a dog when the going get’s tough, political PR pros should think in terms of acquiring alligators.

The media has transformed itself from mostly left-of-center big three networks, major pubs (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal) and two wire services into a smorgasbord of legacy media, cable networks (e.g., MSNBC on the left, Fox News on the right) and an expanding array of news aggregators (e.g., Real Clear Politics, POLITICO, Daily Kos, Red State, Huffington Post). Interspersing themselves into the mix are the independent committees that will flood the airwaves and cyberspace with ads, some with dubious claims of accuracy.

It was once said that Great Britain maintained an empire in which the sun never set. For today’s political media pros, they never sleep. And if your candidate does not meet expectations in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, the mother’s milk of politics will stop lactating.

How can a campaign finance integrated marketing communication programs (e.g., earned, paid and owned media) for eight caucuses and primaries at the end of February/March, if you can’t win in the beginning of February? Americans love winners and they want to jump onto band wagons. Using another metaphor, if a ship starts to sink (e.g., Jeb Bush’s campaign to date), high propensity voters and donors will quickly look for alternatives.

Who wants to throw good money after bad money? No one. If a candidate can’t win in Iowa and/or New Hampshire, can that same candidate win in Nevada and/or South Carolina, let alone the myriad of states that follow in quick succession?

After losing Iowa in 2004, former Governor Howard Dean delivered the infamous, “I have a scream” speech:howarddean

Not only are we going to New Hampshire, (Senator) Tom Harkin we’re going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we’re going to California and Texas and New York…. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!”

Let’s give Governor Dean credit. He did go on to capture his home state of Vermont. Nonetheless, Jesse Unruh’s Law about the Mother’s Milk of Politics rang true. The lesson of the Serious Season is to skillfully manage expectations, win early and win often, otherwise someone else … maybe someone we don’t expect … will win the two respective party nominations.

Ready the ground (GOTV) and air wars (campaign ads). Light up the digital scoreboards. The Serious Season will soon be with us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6i-gYRAwM0

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_presidential_primaries,_2016

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/debates/schedule/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-face-of-criticism-trump-surges-to-his-biggest-lead-over-the-gop-field/2015/12/14/b9555e30-a29c-11e5-9c4e-be37f66848bb_story.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-rise-and-fall-of-howard-dean-18-02-2004/

 

 

 

 

 

“For some ten years I have kept a journal more or less regularly as a vehicle for adjusting my own perspective. I’ve found it a convenient way of stepping back occasionally to see what forms and shades my sometimes hectic activities were leaving on the canvas of my life.” – Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (1932-2015)cuomo

Seems so simple, and for more than just a few … terrifying.

Just write every day for 15 minutes a day, every day.

That was the advice to post-graduate students by University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Professor Carol Stabile.

Good advice from my former across the cul-de-sac neighbor.stabile

Sorry to say, we are not talking about cumulative texting every day for four hours or more … With all due respect from the author of Almost DailyBrett that is not writing. LOL, SOL, BTW, BRB, JK, FOMO and the timeless WTF do not and will never constitute written expression or even coming close to contributing to the canvas of life.

Instead, we are discussing the practice of actually sitting down each and every day and writing for 15 minutes or longer.

Why would we want to do that? How about to improve our writing and thinking abilities?

Here’s the key question: What should you write about?

If you are asking that particular question, it may point to another issue: You may not be reading enough.

Yes in order to write; you need to read and read and read …

Canvas of Life

“An astrologist sent me a horoscope that said I was going to die on election day. I don’t know if she meant literally or figuratively. Just in case she means it literally, I think I’ll vote early.” – Cuomo diary on 1982 general election eve

Cuomo’s diaries of his difficult 1982 Democratic primary against NYC mayor Edward Koch and general election campaign for the governorship of New York were a hit in the mid-1980s.

Considering that my boss (e.g., Governor George Deukmejian) went through a similar process in the same year, just from the other side of the aisle, and across the country in California drew me to Cuomo’s diaries.

Cuomo wrote in the pre-dawn hours before heading out for a full-and-frantic day of politicking. Guess there are some not requiring the standard eight-hours of sleep that mumsy recommended.

The former New York governor used the old-fashioned pen and journal for his diaries, reflecting the historical fact the IBM PC had just been invented. Today, we will most likely opt for a lap top or tablet to write … even though pen and paper still works in this digital age. Heck Moses used his own tablets thousands of years ago.

There is so much happening in the world to write about, more good than bad. Yep, your author has been accused of being a Pollyanna.unicorn

The Economist just this week wrote about “Unicorns.” Yep, those highly capitalized and inventive, privately held companies with valuations exceeding $1 billion that are in no hurry to take their shares public … Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX, Pinterest, Dropbox, Snapchat …

Some lament the gyrations of Wall Street; sometimes the market is overbought and sometimes it is oversold … the choppy trend line is upward to the right.

Almost DailyBrett wrote about the Silly Season of politics, essentially recommending not getting one’s knickers in a twist about the bloviations of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Believe it or not, the political process has a way of moderating itself.

Summer is upon us (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) and it is a magical time of Urlaub that wundervolle Zeit for vacationing, exploring and sampling yummy wines and refreshing microbrews. Ahh … Gemütlichkeit … Le Dolce Vida.

Soon the days will grow shorter, the air will become cooler and the leaves will start to change colors, it will be that magical time: college football season. There is something about the pageantry of the fall spectacle that serves as a rebirth and pleasant thoughts of another New Year’s Day In Pasadena.

Please excuse my bout of positive vibrations. Yes Almost DailyBrett recognizes there is and will always be the cup half-empty portion of the world. This blog is indeed pragmatic and recognizes it is much more difficult to be always positive, than the latter.

Go away Gloomy Gus and Negative Nancy.

The point is this: The Canvas of Life has so much to read about and more importantly to write about.

Sit down for your 15 minutes and write to your heart’s content. And if you are brave enough, publish your journal. The digital ones-and-zeroes of binary code will enable your self-publishing.

It only takes 15 minutes each day, every day.

http://wgs.uoregon.edu/profile/cstabile/

https://cstabile.wordpress.com/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/01/us/mario-cuomo-dies-new-york-governor/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/nyregion/mario-cuomo-new-york-governor-and-liberal-beacon-dies-at-82.html?_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21659745-silicon-valley-should-be-celebrated-its-insularity-risks-backlash-empire-geeks

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: