In an op-ed for The New York Times that is being ridiculed for its daffiness yet should be accorded points for its underlying honesty, a top Democrat communications strategist has come up with her ideal recipe for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. It can best be summed up in two words: package and protect.
“If Joe Biden plays his cards right, the death of the traditional presidential campaign will turn out to be a blessing in disguise,” Lis Smith, who served as a senior advisor for Buttigieg’s 2020 run, wrote on May 7. “The 77-year-old Mr. Biden, whom the president derisively calls ‘Sleepy Joe,’ can become the hottest bad boy and disrupter in the media game.”
Looking beyond the hilariously inane notion of Bad Boy Biden becoming a cultural sensation, Smith’s piece does well to capture the essence of ruling class electoral dreams. There’s got to be a way to win the votes of regular Americans without, you know, actually having to interact with them in person. If only they can pull that off.
The problem becomes especially acute in the case of Biden, whose gaffes and odd behavior are greatly magnified whenever he goes “live.” The former vice president’s controllers can’t have him look citizens in the eye when they never know if that will inspire him to inappropriately paw at them or heatedly berate them for asking questions he doesn’t like. Recall how he treated a factory worker wearing a hardhat in Detroit and that unfortunate young woman he called a “lying dog-faced pony soldier,” much to his handlers’ chagrin.
Encasing the Candidate in Plastic
A filter is most definitely needed. Though her op-ed may indeed seem loopy, Smith is gamely trying to spin the disastrous hand Dems are holding into a positive. “It seems likely that social distancing will force the presidential campaign to be played out entirely on our screens,” a clearly pining Smith wrote. “That will free Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, of the burden of running a grueling, expensive campaign involving incessant travel. Instead, he can be digitally omnipresent — at a small fraction of the cost and physical toll — and create a new paradigm for how presidential campaigns communicate in the press for years to come.”
This “new paradigm” would have Democrat presidential campaigns communicating exclusively through the safety nets of staged productions and friendly media programming. The latter comes with the built-in security of knowing that the journalists involved can be counted on to lob softball questions and provide smooth cover for the ever-stumbling Biden if he shows the least signs of struggle. Which of course he will.
“It starts with a heavy focus on America’s most trusted media source, local news,” Smith writes. What she neglects to mention is that local news is the “most trusted media source” today in large part because national news outlets have so disgraced themselves with their over-the-top bias that public regard for them has withered to all-time lows. By having Biden make the rounds of local media, Smith is urging that these outlets mimic the disreputable standards that have cost national organs their credibility.
Left unsaid by Smith is that local news reporters are not more trusted due to the way they cover government and politics. An October 2019 study from the dominant media-aligned Knight Foundation and Gallup found that “[l]ess than half of Democrats, independents or Republicans say local news does a good job holding leaders accountable for their actions.”
This naturally would be perfect for a Biden campaign, since the last thing it wants is for its candidate to be made to answer tough questions about his policies and actions. But there is no reason to believe such a tour will help him garner more votes in November. “The data suggest that moving into more aggressive coverage of social and political issues could further polarize views — and possibly lead to an erosion of trust,” the Knight Foundation study found. Moving the dirt of inherent bias off of a filthy national media plate and onto a cleaner local one is not going to get Americans to fall in love with Joe Biden.
Bells and Whistles
Smith also calls for the creation of a full-on Democrat Variety Show to help drag Biden over the finishing line. “While Mr. Biden is his own most effective messenger, he alone cannot carry out a winning media strategy,” she writes, fully aware that Biden is in fact the worst possible spokesman for his own cause. “The campaign should lean on its vast network of supporters — elected officials, community leaders, celebrities — who are chomping at the bit to make their voice heard in this election.”
This further accentuates how tight a bubble Democrats live in. Blue voters have indeed shown an affinity for artificially manufactured campaigns of the sort Smith is proposing here. The Russia election meddling, impeachment of President Trump, and Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination circuses would not have become national wildfires without the implementation of the powerful mediums of television and the press and the active and eager participation of “celebrity” voices who helped turn these boondoggles into happenings.
So why not elect a president this way? Well, for one thing, all three of those notorious affairs ultimately failed to convince the American people of their worthiness. At the end of the day, there has to be some substance. What Democrats fail to understand is that all the hype and careful tailoring in the world can’t turn a dud into a firecracker. Joe Biden is a dud. Having that nice Kathy Big Smile on the local TV news tell voters he is the hottest bad boy on the scene today is not going to make him crackle and explode.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.
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