Sunday, June 29, 2008

Immigration Sound Bite Score: Obama 1, McCain 0

After thinking more about my post on Obama's cheap shot at the NALEO, and how television and print media played it up without checking their facts, I realized that we have several things at work here:

1. The media, as usual, are easily manipulated.

Obama played their collective ADHD perfectly with his soundbite about McCain walking away from his own legislation. While not true, it made for great "bang-bang" for those with limited attention spans and no concept of context and fact-checking.

2. Obama's got some damn good sound-bite writers. And good strategists. His refusal to buy into any sort of town-hall meeting, means that Obama can fire off a juicy soundbite knowing that, regardless of substance, the media will pick it up and McCain will have no chance to challenge him face-to-face.

3. McCain's got no sound-bite writers to speak of. That's why his responses to Obama's soundbites never get the same prominence.

I've been thr0ugh a lot of previous McCain speeches and most of his press releases. They are boring, boring, BORING! Even when the releases try to go on the attack --like the one responding to the cheap shot -- they are political Ambien. And they are so predictable in style and wording.

In other words, they offer nothing for the newshounds to quote. That reflects nothing less than the dismal failure to hire someone who understands what the media want to quote.

You can argue substance over style all you want, but one of the mandatory traits of a leader is to inspire.

Even more importantly, the lack of anything inspirational -- including tasty sound-bites to chum the media sharks with -- reflects a failure of leadership. McCain, no matter how much he wants to stay within a low-key comfort zone, must realize the importance of being quotable. The lack of quotability means the inability to reach the electorate.

So what we have here is a failure to communicate. That won't get McCain elected. And if, by some quirk he surmounts that hurdle, he will be unable to lead because he'll never be able to get his message out to the American people.

4. A political campaign is a Darwinian process. It is a test of how well a candidate can create an effective organization and lead it. All of the greatest policy wonks and position-paper strategists mean nothing without the ability to communicate.

Effective communication creates inspiration, gathers votes and helps fundraising. McCain will clearly trail Obama as long as his communications effort sucks this badly.

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