Friday, August 27, 2010

Campaign of the future?

Much is being made about Rick Perry's refusal to debate Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Bill White and his decision to stonewall newspaper editorial boards in the run-up to the November 2010 election. The question is: Will there be any fallout from this decision?

My guess is no.

Here's why.

The "Rick Perry is a Coward" ads are riling up the InterLeft and Perry's refusal to speak to Editorial boards all but assures that each and every one of them endorse Bill White. None of those people (or people who pay attention to their writings) are very likely to cast a vote for Rick Perry regardless. They're already 100% in the tank for Bill White. Unless the man is caught praying in a secret room to a statue of W while playing footsie with Sarah Palin as Karl Rove provides play-by-play they're solid "D" votes. Even IF something like this happened most of them would either skip the election or cast a vote for the Green Candidate.

Then there are the issues with the debates and editorials themselves:

- For the most part, debates suck. They're boring, the questions are terrible, and the moderators are people who shouldn't be moderating a Jr. High dispute in the lunch line, much less a debate between individuals seeking the highest elected office in the State. There was a time when debates contained shocking content, stem-winding speeches and material of consequence. Now it's just an excuse for lazy reporters to invent "gotcha" moments and for both sides to release press releases declaring "victory" that were written before-hand by the campaign staffer who drew the short straw. Debates are space-filler for news organizations who have spent the last decade or so cutting the reporting budget to make room for "features" content.

- Typically, viewership is low. 2006 being the obvious exception. But 2006 was a special case. That race had two independents, Perry and the political punching bag to hold viewers interest. This one promises to have Perry's hair and the smartest guy in the room explaining why he really, really does understand the mechanisms and purposes behind a blind trust.

- Closed-door editorial meetings suck. From groups who constantly scream "open government", Newspapers are amazingly backwards in their position on meetings between the editorial staff and public figures. Now, were that those interviews be live-streamed, or broadcast after the fact in their raw form, THAT would be something worth seeing. What we get now is some journo school, bottom-of-the-class graduate telling us what to think about (some) of what the candidate might have said. If I want that kind of editing I'll read a press release thank you very much.

One downside to Perry's decision is this: He's pretty much assured himself of nothing but negative press coverage as the State's dwindling capitol corps knocks themselves out trying to prove to the public that their roles are still relevant. It will be "gotcha" journalism in it's lowest form. Between that and the sudden surge of "fact checking" sites it's a pretty safe bet that good, solid, Woodward & Bernstein-style investigative, watchdog journalism finds itself in our state's rear view mirror.

From the major players that is. You can still find quality journalism of that type, online.

Ironically that seems to be where Perry is directing many of his campaign resources.



Sad, whiny stuff from the Apple Dumpling Gang. (Case in point, what does Perry {or any political candidate for that matter} have to gain by talking with this group?)

Note: edited to clean up prose.

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