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August 2008

Blond Ambition

Way back when the Clintons were still technically in the race, they tried to turn Hillary's lack of big crowds into some kind of positive. She openly mocked Obama for giving great speeches and having lots of people show up to hear them.

Even those that like McCain describe ads like this as "Childish."

The McCain campaign needs to somehow convince independent voters only vaguely paying attention that they should vote for a guy. How are they going to do that with an ad that spends about 20 seconds of a 30-second spot showing the other guy in flattering pictures with crowds chanting his name? To those just kinda-sorta paying attention, it's going to look a lot like an Obama ad.

Left Turn

Maybe Obama should just edit that ad a little and use it. It would be better than the ads he is running.

The question in this post hit me like a brick: "Close your eyes, jog your memory, and try to recall a single Obama ad from the campaign thus far. Can you do it? I can’t."

Now, before you say something about that "Yes we can" video or the "1984" spot, remember that those were not from the campaign.

Agree with Obama or not, any professional politician will tell you that Obama has run an amazing campaign, executing flawlessly on difficult operational issues like the Iowa caucus system, fundraising or the delegate rules. The advertising, however has, been a flop. All that money he's collecting is largely going to put boring, ineffective ads on the tee-vee. 

Obama is a big-government guy. I have to hope that he demands more in efficacy from government programs than he does from his advertising!

Do you know knols?


I wrote about the new effort by Google to create a Wikipedia killer when I first heard about it late last year.

At the time I compared the effort to the National Enquirer. Most major media refuse to pay for actual news, but the Enquirer does. 

The difference between Google's new thing "Knol" and Wikipedia is that it pays for content. As I wrote then, I don't see anything wrong with that. If someone wants to write something and get paid for writing it, then I know why they are writing it. If they spend a bunch of time on a Wiki article, well, are they just doing it for their 15 minutes of fame, or what?

Well, Google has been working on this for at least six months, and it just came out.

First impressions? It's amazing how few articles they have, and how much they pay attention to health. Is the doctor business really so bad that they can write articles to go on the Internet in hopes of making 10 bucks for some clickthrus?

That said, where most journalists, even really good ones, are predicting that the best way to make money in Knol is to write articles about popular topics, say Obama and McCain. That's what TechCrunch wrote. But I would actually predict that the field that will get flooded first is the articles about health, especially those conditions that can either be treated with a fancy pharmaceutical or that some lawyer can sue someone for. I read once that "mesothelioma" is the highest possible Cost-per-click word you could use because people type that looking for lawyers to sue in the junk science cases against asbestos manufacturers.

In spite of the people out there willing to sell their vote on ebay, I don't think a lot of people are following a lot of text ads for candidates. They do follow links for stuff they think will make them healthy or rich without having to work. I'll try to check back in another six months and see if my prediction comes true.

George W. Bush, I think, probably agrees with most people on this...


The polls are clear that President Bush has very low approval ratings, down around 30 percent or something. 

To me what's important to remember there is that there are still 30 percent who support him. That is, if you go into a restaurant, just look around; if there are 100 people in the restaurant, 30 of them would tell you that they support George W. Bush.

However, if you asked those 30 people if they think he should be able to have a third term, I think then the numbers go way down.

In fact, if George W. Bush was one of those people, he himself would say that he's really ready for some time off. He'd probably like to go back to Texas, where he can wipe his nose with his hand and say, "Yo, Harper, you ever meet..." without the "Harper" being the leader of a country, and without video of that gesture making it on the news around the world.

Can't say as I blame him.


It's easy, here in the summer, to make mountains out of dung heaps. There's just not enough news in the land, so when one general makes a boneheaded remark about John McCain, it can seem like a really big deal.

Future trivia answer Wes Clark should not have said what he said about McCain's being a decorated veteran as not qualifying him to be president. His worst error, I think, was that he said it with such a tin ear.

The gold standard, by the way, for talking about military service comes from John F. Kennedy. He's the one who made a point similar to what Clark was trying to say so badly. A student asked him how he became a war hero. "It was absolutely involuntary" Kennedy replied, "they sank my boat."

Luckily McCain responded in the way that honorable men reply, by saying essentially that Clark in essence was correct, that his service should not automatically make him qualified to be president. Elections are about the future, McCain knows that, which is why after the requisite needling of Clark, he tried to drag the conversation back to what people care about. Good for him.