March 31, 2003

Horses cross first finish line…

Why bother calling them candidates?

Nope, they’re horses in a race. This metaphor makes it easy for the press to focus on the easy stuff (such as counting money) and easy to avoid the difficult stuff (such as explaining policy). And horse Howard Dean, despite meeting expectations, is behind the pack. Here’s the spin:

Tony Coelho, who helped manage Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, said he was impressed by how much Dean raised in a short time. Meeting expectations and showing momentum are as important – and maybe more important – than having the highest total right now, he said.

“It’s not only what you have in the bank, it’s what can you do next,” Coelho said. “The issue is do you have an organization to raise money and do you have the credibility to go longer.”

Nice try.

In case you’re interested in something Howard Dean might have said recently, I have posted my analysis of his speech to the California State Democratic Convention on Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2004.

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  1. Rebecca 

    Re: Howard Dean’s speech. That you actually read this stuff and LIKE it is in itself amazing! You are either a masochist or a very strange man! 😉 I really enjoyed the part of his speech where he wants to know why Congress voted for the “No Child Left Behind” bill—well DUH Howard, it was essentially written by uber-liberal Teddy Kennedy! It’s gonna be a long, mind-numbing campaign! (Especially for me, since I live on the cusp of Iowa!)

  2. acline 

    I like lots of stuff. 🙂

    As for the “Child” thing—I think he’s upset that funds are apparently being held. And while it may have been written by Teddy, Bush was a big backer…even appearing in public with ol’ Ted being all buddy-buddy. Those were the “I’m a uniter not a divider” days. Hmmmmm…

  3. Rebecca 

    Snarkiness aside (you know I don’t mean it!) how much of these speeches do you think actually reflect the candidate, and how much of the speech is due the the speechwriter’s skill? As for Howard Dean, I have to admit, I like what the media has shown of him so far, but I could never vote for someone so blase about national security. So he is the reverse of GWB – I like him (Dean), but not his policies!!

  4. acline 

    Your question about speechwriters is one I get from students all the time. Here’s what I’ve posted on TRN (regarding the President):

    “I am particularly interested in the office of the President of the United States. I say “office” because the presidency is more than one person; it is many voices that speak through one person in an attempt to create a unified political agent we call the president. President George W. Bush speaks as the president, but his words are crafted for him by speech writers and edited for style and political content by political aides. The voice we come to know as that of George W. Bush is actually a complex amalgam, although Bush is ultimately politically responsible for these words and this voice.”

    I’d say the same goes for any politician that uses a speechwriter. Once spoken, the politician takes responsibility for those words.

    Dean is an interesting case because he’s prone to speaking extemporaneously…and he’s not too bad at it (certainly not in Alan Keyes’ league). Check out my analysis of his farewell address, which he delivered on the fly.

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