First came the primaries and now the presidential elections are around the corner. With all of the excitement voters are stepping up and putting their best foot forward. Their favorite candidate not only inspires them to vote but also to create art. The candidates have inspired a band to reunite and entrepreneurs to make money.

 

The Grateful Dead reunited for a benefit concert and updated their “Steal Your Face” logo to incorporate Obama’s presidential campaign logo. Now this is a double doozy with both artwork and music inspired by a candidate. Obama got in on the fun by recording a message especially for the concert, which sold out in mere minutes.

If you check out Youtube you can find some musical tributes to Obama. There’s everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Anyone with the time can hear the Oscar Meyer Weiner song sung with Obama lyrics. For those with a more discerning ear there’s a reggae salute to him by Coco Tea.


Musicians aren’t the only ones getting into the spirit. Entrepreneurs are using the election to make a quick buck on ebay. You can find true works of art and some homemade masterpieces. If you’ve got the money, a whole gallery of Obama art can be yours. You can also find some McCain art but it’s not as flattering.

So, where can you go to get some voter created content about McCain? Techrepublican came up with a solution. Since the graphics for John McCain and the rest of the republican party were just not up to snuff a website was created to solve the problem. Graphic artists are encouraged to share their designs to be used free of charge by those not as talented. The site is called Keepthatfaith.com after a phrase that McCain once used. Not only can you use what’s on the site but if you don’t find what you’re looking for just request it. The hope is that someone will hear your call and create the content that you’re looking for.

 

Long live donations and free enterprise!

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I couldn’t resist another iPhone story. I still want one. I still don’t have one but now, there’s another reason to love it, GPS. I have an awful sense of direction and could really use a nice handheld GPS device. That way when I visit New York City I’ll always be able to get where I need to go.

 

Enough about me though, this is about politics, so let’s get to it. Techrepublican discusses some possible campaign uses for the new iPhone 2.0 that’s coming out in July. Canvassing has long been a part of political campaigns. If the volunteers had these new GPS capable iPhones they would be able to pin point where they needed to go to spread the word. Once there they would be able to access information about the household that they were visiting. They could then enter in the answers to surveys or add a new email to the campaign’s database instantaneously. Homes that were visited could be checked off. This could make the process more effective and help assure that no home was missed.

 

Now, would campaigns buy iPhones for all of their volunteers? This is not very likely. How then to utilize the technology? Well, how about using Meetup? Groups could be formed for iPhone users with an interest in politics. These groups could meet and discuss a canvassing plan. They could then coordinate with the campaign that they’re interested in and start working.

 

The other interesting concept for the new iPhones is the ability for users to create their own private applications. Only phones with authorization can use these applications. In this way campaigns can create their own ways to utilize this new technology. Volunteers that are included in the circle created by these applications will feel a larger part of the campaign. This in turn would encourage their continued participation. What’s not to love?   

In Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope Michael Silberman describes Howard Dean’s effective use of Meetup.com. The Dean campaign, in essence, let the people speak while the campaign listened. The wisdom of the crowds was put into play. Even though the campaign staff included many knowledgeable staff members, fresh ideas were also welcome. Brainstorming between group members was encouraged to figure out new ways to get the message out. In this way volunteers, who didn’t have any preconceived notions about how it has always been done, could figure other ways to get it done.

 

Of course, some guidance was welcome. Group leaders were given sample agendas so that they could have a jumping off point for their meetings. The Meetups were also given supplies by the Dean office so that they could help in ongoing letter writing campaigns. Everything was provided to willing hands. The members only needed to know how they could be most helpful and they proceeded to dig in.

 

 

With more people involved in the campaign the potential was there to exponentially grow support for Dean. If each member could bring in a few new members and then each of them brought in a few more, well, you can see where this is going. It could spread like a chain letter, with the volunteers going to your candidate. This is all well and good but the larger question is how to keep this group of free laborers content?

 

This is where the true genius of the campaign is brought in. The group leaders were given a personal touch. They spoke with real people on the phone and were able to ask questions. They were treated with dignity and responded by being an integral part of the Dean campaign. They became such an important part of the campaign because they were treated as such. When you have people, essentially working for free, you’d better give them some support. It’s amazing how far a pat on the back can go. These grassroots organizers were encouraged and welcomed with open arms and their numbers grew to more than 600,000. Now that’s a lot of arms.

Web Wars

June 12, 2008

It’s the battle of the websites, MeetBarackObama.com vs. Fightthesmears.com. Now, at first glance, it may seem that both are Democratic sites but that is the furthest thing from the truth. MeetBarackObama.com is actually a Republican site designed to chip away at Obama.

MeetBarackObama, according to Mark Ambinder, features a clock showing how long it’s been since Obama has been to Iraq. You can even download it as a widget. This is, of course, a major focus of the McCain campaign. The general message is that what McCain may lack in technology he makes up for in battle. It also features an album of Obama pictures showing no white hair on his head. This emphasizes Obama’s youth as opposed to McCain’s age. Obama is portrayed as an impetuous youth. McCain, therefore would be, a distinguished older gentleman. Obama’s resume is also mocked. Describing him as a “street organizer” plays down his time in Chicago as an activist. Considering what the Republican sites looked liked until their current revamp it looks pretty good. They seem to have lifted the graphics directly off of an Obama campaign page so this might have something to do with it.

Fightthesmears.com, on the other hand, is a Democratic site. The Fix and Techpresident discussed it in their blogs. This site is pretty self-explanatory but I’ll explain it anyway. It is designed to confront rumors about Obama as well as smear campaigns. What rumors might you ask? Well, the tape of Michelle Obama saying not so nice things for one. Obama not being born in the United States for another. It seems that in every election there are emails that sneak into our mailboxes telling us to be wary of a candidate. I personally remember getting one during the Dean campaign saying that he didn’t like Jewish people so bewares. These can have a detrimental affect on the candidate so debunking them is always a good idea. As we discussed last semester if a company, or in this case a candidate, doesn’t address these issues they tend to grow out of control. The best thing to do is address it quickly and often so that voters know that there is nothing to hide.

So, it’s that time. The comparison is about to come to an end. What have I learned? The first lesson is that I shouldn’t pick two blogs to compare based on their names. I liked the name Instapundit so I picked it as the Republican blog that I would follow. The main problem here is that a majority of the postings were not political. This made the comparison harder since it seemed to be apples and oranges most of the time. There didn’t seem to be many strong opinions for the posts that were political. If the posting was discussing something that might be detrimental to a Republican it was very short and trite.

As for The Daily Kos it was very political. Every story was about politics. If something might put a Democrat in a bad light the posting was long and gave counter arguements. It was very heavy handed when it came to Republican mistakes. This is an opinionated blog and proud of it.

What I really learned is that the two blogs, leaning different ways, discussed different stories. Very rarely did the two mirror any stories at all. In this way a completely different view of current events is portrayed. Unless you read both you’d miss a lot of news. Each glosses over what the other found important. These blogs might be nice supplements to other news sources but I wouldn’t recommend either one as a main source of information. Too much would slip through the cracks and opinions.

Today in politics with The Daily Kos. Obama’s campaign will have staffers in all 50 states. This isn’t very far fetched since, as was mentioned in class, the prolonged democratic primaries took both candidates to every state. They just left their staffers there in preparation for the elections. Speaking of democratic primaries, Hillary supporters who are thinking of switching to McCain are mocked. Bush is tweaked because of his surprise at rising gas prices three months ago. Obama being labeled the most liberal senator by Boren is discussed and debunked. McCain is accused of not caring if troops are brought home. Finally Kucinich’s push for Bush’s impeachment is discussed.

 

In Instapundit today Obama is mocked as an economic flip flopper. Webb is described as a poor potential running mate. Finally though we have some convergence as far as story topics go. Kucinish calling for Bush’s impeachment is mocked in a very short post. Obama being labeled liberal by Boren is briefly mentioned but no real time is spent on the post. Aside from that, the importance of vitamin D is discussed. Rounding out today’s conversation we look into whether Asian’s, as a minority, are held to a higher standard than other groups when it comes to college admissions. Until we meet again tomorrow for right vs. left.

Today The Daily Kos was discussing campaign funding, as in how much each of the candidates have. Obama has more and McCain has less than Bush did at this time last cycle. McCain’s connection to lobbyists was also examined. Keith Oberman was mentioned twice and a move to get Bush impeached was also discussed.

 

As for Instapundit, the stories are completely different. Today it seems that most of the posts aren’t very political. A little reminder about drinking water in the heat is thrown in with thoughts of global warming. Some strange animal attacked someones dog. Obama was mentioned in that he made a poor choice when he chose Johnson to vet his VP candidate hopefuls. They also mentioned that Aids is now not an epidemic for heterosexual people. Hmmm, can’t wait to see what I learn tomorrow.

So, tonight I begin my journey into left vs. right. The two blogs that I’m comparing are The Daily Kos and Instapundit. Let’s start with the left. Tonight the Daily Kos is discussing the economy and how McCain is following in Bush’s footsteps while Obama discusses his new economic plan. McCain is described as whining. We find out that McClellan is going to testify before a house committee about the Valerie Plame leak and Bush might have been more cosy with Abramoff than first thought. Torture at Gitmo and destroying notes taken during these sessions is another topic. Basically, it’s all about the current administration’s cover ups and mess ups. 

 

Now for Instapundit. We start with a little Michelle Obama. A rumor about a tape in which she makes racist statements. They allege that this rumor was started by Hillary Clinton’s people as sour grapes for her leaving the race. This post kills two birds with one stone. Both Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton as put in a bad light. Next we find out that free trade is good for immigrants so we should make sure that we have it. Finally, it’s discussed how Katrina victims are using FEMA. They are complaining that it’s too hot outside and they’re not motivated to work until they are forced to. So, basically the administration is right and democrats are infighting is the message. 

 

What’s interesting is that, for tonight at least, none of the blogs are about the same topics. The information is completely different on both blogs. Until we meet again tomorrow.

Is McCain too old to run for president? Of course he isn’t. You’re only as old as you feel after all. How about his health? He may have had skin cancer but is monitoring it and doing fine. Just check out his medical report for yourself.

 

How about Obama? Well, he used to smoke but he’s quit numerous times. He’s currently using nicotine gum to dull the cravings. Aside from that he’s very fit. Don’t believe me? He’s got a doctor’s note to prove it.

 

Yes, it’s the battle of the medical reports and everyone is talking about it –Marc Ambinder, The Huffington Post, The Fix, and now Blogging it in. I guess I’m in pretty good company.

 

What about Hillary? How’s she doing? Sorry folks, she’s keeping it under wraps. I guess that means she’s out of the race. It’s interesting how trends start in politics. Candidates will do what they have to in order to win the nomination and then the race.

 

As many Americans have little or no medical insurance the candidates are flashing their records. Maybe they should instead work a little harder on getting medical records for all. If McCain didn’t have health insurance he wouldn’t be able to monitor his skin. A clean bill of health wouldn’t be available to potential voters to wade through.

 

In the end, the only thing that the battling medical records really does, is bring more attention to the health care problems in the U.S. I’m sure people with no insurance aren’t saying, “thank goodness a potential presidential candidate is feeling fit and fiddle.” I’m sure instead they are wondering if their family will be as lucky.

 

Who’s going to be a better president? Age, not so important. Policies, now that can make a difference. So keep your medical records and give us substance instead.

Trailing the President

May 30, 2008

What’s interesting about The Last Campaign and The Boys on the Bus is that they both follow presidential races that include incumbents. You’d think that this would make the 1948 race and the 1972 race very similar. You’d be wrong.

 

In 1948, as reporters followed Harry Truman around on a train, they were sure that he was the loser. Technology can be wonderful but can also be a bit dangerous if relied upon too heavily. Lord knows I can’t spell because of spell check on my computer. In 1948 polling was just warming up and they said that Truman was a loser. Polling might be more of a science than a technology, come to think of it, but for now humor me. The latest and greatest of prediction tools was front and center and the reporters ate it up.

 

Thinking that Truman had already lost they blindly watched as the president campaigned his heart out. Since they knew that he couldn’t win they lost some of their motivation. He was a nice guy but wasn’t the next president.

 

Truman on the other hand campaigned like he had nothing to lose. Since he was already the underdog he decided to do whatever it took to prove the naysayer wrong. Instead of relying on radio, the latest technology, he met with potential voters face to face. He catered every speech to the individuals that he was speaking to instead of to the greater population. As technology began to change this wouldn’t be possible because every citizen would hear every word uttered by the candidates. In the end his homey, down to earth style won the hearts and votes of Americans.

 

In 1972 reporters were working with a president that just didn’t like them. Since Richard Nixon was in office he made it very hard for the press to reach him. His press secretary instead of being helpful was the watchdog of information. Since most of the press was afraid to make a misstep they all huddled together and filed very similar reports. They were expected to have the same headlines, as the AP reporters so there was little incentive to dig any deeper. Don’t rock the boat seemed to be the motto.

 

Nixon on the other hand could care less. He had no qualms with shutting out reporters who didn’t conform to what he wanted. He was the president and used that to his advantage. Instead of campaigning like Truman, with nothing to lose, Nixon instead campaigned more cautiously like a winner. The election was his to lose but he didn’t. In the background the Watergate scandal loomed over him but the political reporters didn’t touch it. In fact it took two metro reporters to dig in there and come up with the dirt. If the White House reporters had sunk their teeth into this story the results might have been different.