Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Slogan? Or Smokescreen?

On the September 7, 2008 episode of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Chris interviewed Obama’s campaign manager, David Axelrod. After showing a short clip from the Republican National Convention in which Sarah Palin attacks Obama’s claim to be a fighter, Chris asks:

David, how are you going to counter Sarah Palin?

And the answer looks like this:

Well look, this ultimately isn’t a race between uh, uh, us and Sarah Palin, it’s a race between Barack Obama and John McCain, they are the candidates for president, and the real issue in this race is who’s going to bring the change the country needs.

If Obama’s campaign doesn’t soon realize they are in a race against Sarah Palin, then I truly believe the next four years will be a period of reform and progress under the McCain administration. But that’s another story for a later time. What I’m concerned with is Axelrod’s eager use of the term “change”.

Every time I hear Obama’s campaign use the word “change,” I find myself experiencing the same feeling as when I stub my little toe on the coffee table in the dark. It’s the rising of an internal fierceness, evoking my best attempts at restraining from cursing. Even the dialogue is similar: “Arrggh!! Grrrr… DANG IT!!!! HOW MANY TIMES WILL THAT HAPPEN!?!?!?”

As far as I remember, “Change We Can Believe In” started as a slogan. In an attempt to sound smart, I looked up slogan at dictionary.com. It states that a slogan is a phrase expressing the aims or nature of an enterprise, organization, or candidate.

Hmmm…it doesn't say anything about using a slogan to avoid poignant questioning. Which seems to be the only strength the Obama campaign brings to the table. In a 13-minute interview between Axelrod and the host, the word “change” is used ten times.

The military uses a similar strategy during tactical movements to refocus attention elsewhere and to avoid detection. They call it a smokescreen. (Its really not surprising that Obama’s campaign is so familiar with such a tactic; he is known as the “stealth socialist”)

Historically, politicians have always promised change, because the American people have largely (with few periods of temporary reprieve) felt unheard and unimportant. So for Obama to promise change really isn’t refreshing. It’s just more of the same.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Animal of Public Sentiment

At the beginning of this month the major market indices took a hit, with a little relief occurring immediately before the closing bell. Analysts stated much of this is due to the chronic poor performance of stocks in the month of September. They further described how managers of mutual and hedge funds sold large blocks of stock in an effort to spare their customers (and their necks) in anticipation of the monthly market mudslide.

It seems to me that by selling their stocks, they created the mudslide. Herein lies the problem with public sentiment. Even when inaccurate, it is still much louder than a solo voice of truth. Had every fund manger chosen to hold stocks, the market wouldn't have experienced such a correction. If one manager decides to not give in to public sentiment, and therefore keep his/her money in the game, that person would still be punished by the fear of all the others. It takes a unanimous decision by the managers to roll the dice in September, and possibly break the trend associated with the month.

It is easy to see the same thing played out in the race for the White House. Public sentiment, true or false, must be affirmed to win the presidency. If a million people believe we are in a recession (though we technically are not), then a presidential candidate cannot say otherwise without being ridiculed. A poor leader is controlled by the ignorance of his/her constituents. It takes a wise leader to gently realign public sentiment to face true north.