Whatever Happened To Clinton Fatigue?

During a discussion on This Week this morning about the , ABC News reporter cited showing that 66% of Americans were happy with the job President did, that a majority thought Hillary would chart a different course than her husband, and that was okay, and they felt comfortable with Bill back in the White House.

"Everyone was talking about Clinton Fatigue," Shipman said.

No. You were talking about Clinton Fatigue. You, and all of your Beltway journalism colleagues.

This is one of my absolute biggest annoyances with national political reporting: The herd mentality. It was clear to me from the start that when I kept hearing these DC political pundits saying that the country has got Clinton Fatigue, what they were really saying was that they had Clinton Fatigue.

So the national press ran with it; it was an assertion that was bandied about as if it were fact but unsupported by any facts.

There are plenty of national political reporters who do a fine job but they are all creatures of their own environment and therefore susceptible to it. The fact that Clinton Fatigue was a major theme in the reporting of the presidential race for quite some time, illustrates just how insular the DC press has become.

Who, after all, do the national political correspondents talk to all day? Themselves and their inside-the-beltway sources. They live in a rhetorical echo chamber that is often far removed from the sentiment of the rest of the country.

Turns out, according to these recent poll numbers, there is no Clinton Fatigue. It never existed. Except in the collective mind of our national press corps.

David Strom Does Outkast’s Hey Ya

David Strom

Okay, this is not actually playing a surprisingly good acoustic version of one of my favorite hip hop songs, ‘s , but it sure looks like him. And, by the way, Strom’s last name is particularly appropriate for this video.

For those of you who are not Minnesotans or are Minnesotans who don’t pay attention to our state’s public affairs or politics, David Strom is the spokesman and president of the conservative, no-new-taxes- .

Strom can often be seen on television on public affairs program and on program.

Strom blogs at his . Anyway, as I said, this is not David Strom. It is actually Mat Weddle of Arizona band . But the thought that immediately popped into my head when I first saw the video was of Strom. Judge for yourself:

And, for comparison, the original Hey Ya music video:

The Book Every Democratic Consultant Must Read

I was delighted to read the New York Times article about psychology professor Drew Westen‘s new book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.

In a nutshell, Westen’s argument is that Democrats lose elections because they make the fatal mistake of trying to appeal to the electorate’s reason, rather than their emotions. Democrats present their case with facts and logic while Republicans say that something just feels wrong or right.

The contrast between the two approaches is evident in their candidates. For the past two presidential elections, the Democrats ran two wooden candidates  with little emotional appeal in Al Gore and John Kerry who both nevertheless nearly won (and a lot of people believe they did win).

Both Gore and Kerry should have crushed George W. Bush, but they failed because they failed to push the electorate’s emotional buttons. The Bush camp, on the other hand, presented their candidate as an ordinary guy with whom you’d like to share a beer. The Bush camp succeeded in putting a dress on Kerry and portraying him as an effeminate wimp, eliciting an negative emotional reaction from a public scarred by 9/11. And the Bush camp pushed the emotional fear button every chance they got by raising the terrorist threat level every chance they got.

It is telling that the last Democratic president fully understood this. President Bill Clinton famously said, "I feel your pain." President Clinton, then and now, frames issues in emotional and moral terms; Republican proposals and ideas "are just plain wrong."

At the end of the day, Republicans simply understand marketing far better than do Democrats. Any student who’s taken Marketing 101 should be able to explain to you that at the end of the day, people make purchase decisions based more on emotion than on facts or logic.

It’s a point I’ve been shouting for years to any Democrat who would listen. The Democratic Party needs to seriously recruit marketers into their campaign infrastructure.

Running Against Senator Norm Coleman

is running a tough ad targeting Senator as Congress approaches another debate on funding the Iraq war.

If I was running against Coleman, I’d create a line graph that tracks Coleman’s public statements, Bush‘s approval ratings, and the casualties of US soldiers in Iraq. I’d be willing to bet that Coleman’s positions change as the other two lines change.

Here’s the ad:

Dick Cheney & Prince – Prima Donnas

The Smoking Gun , stipulating his requirements for staying at a given hotel. The temperature in the room has to be 68 degrees. Four bottles of water. Four cans of diet, caffeine-free Sprite. The decaf coffee must be hot before he arrives and it must be served in a carafe. The television must be tuned to Fox News. Of course. (The Smoking Gun in the case where is being sued by his LA landlord, forward , for painting the place purple.)

Prima donnas.

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The Gamer Vote

The is trying to convince gamers to set aside their controllers long enough to mobilize against legislation in various states and nationally that would put restrictions on the sale of video games and/or fine retailers who contravened those laws.

They’ve created the as the vehicle to activate gamers. It’s not a bad idea but count me as skeptical because those who are most likely to be most offended by such laws–hard-core gamers–are the hardest to reach because, you guessed it!, they’re playing games.

, the average gamer is 30 years old (just the age  when people tend to become more politically active) and the vast majority of game buyers are over 18 years of age; six in ten gamers are men; and most expect to be playing as much or more video games than they do now. That tells me they’ve got a vested interest in easy access to their pasttime.

I don’t think games should be treated any differently than books or movies or music. I do think they are a legitmate form of artistic expression that deserves every bit as much constitutional protection of any other form of artistic or political expression. And I most emphatically do not believe that there is a causal link between video game violence and it’s real life counterpart.

Video games are an easy target for politicians looking to bolster their "family values" credentials. As a Democrat, it pains me to admit that these politicians are largely from my own party. Chief among them are , , and . All three are sponsoring the so-called "," and all three have or have had presidential ambitions.

There was a study recently that demonstrated heightened levels of agressiveness in people just after they’d played certain video games. I’ve no doubt that’s true. But the implication that that violence carries over into everyday life does not follow.

A game like is crime and fighting game; it requires agressiveness. That doesn’t mean I am more likely to go out and put a cap someone’s ass or run someone over because I just did it in the game.

But if it’s discovered that some school shooter played Grand Theft Auto, then it must be the game that caused the violence. It’s certainly an easy explanation, however flawed.

A more realistic explanation–yet harder to fit into a news segment–is that the violence is a result of a whole host of reasons, many of which may be specific solely to that individual. I just find it an incredible stretch to believe that playing video games will cause an otherwise normal and healthy kid to commit violence in real life.

That’s not to say that kids should be able to play any type of video game they want. I don’t. My sixteen year old nephew was visiting some time ago, grabbed Grand Theft Auto from the shelf, and said let’s play this.

I do not for a second believe that playing the game would do him any harm and I think he’s mature enough to responsibly handle the game’s content. But it wasn’t my call. Until he’s 18 years old, that’s his parent’s decision. I’ve no doubt he’s played it before, but at least I was sending him the message that even his cool uncle thinks the game is not yet appropriate for him.

Had I let him play it, the "Family Entertainment Protection Act" would not have prevented him from playing the game and I guess it would have made me a criminal if not in fact, then in spirit.

The fact is that families already have the tools to "protect" themselves from entertainment (which is a rather absurdly hilarious thought, when you think about it). Their called .

The missing ingredient here seems to be the parents themselves. The parents need to read the ratings before buying the games for their kids. The parents need to be involved enough in their childrens’ lives to know when they’re consuming something that is inappropriate. My sister, for example, locks up the controllers so her kids can only play video games when she approves. She knows what games they play. That’s a fine solution.

What is intensely annoying about things like the "Family Entertainment Protection Act" is that I do not want to live in a locked-down child-safe world.

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Kirby Puckett Park?

I wrote this for today’s issue of the Email newsletter:

proposed calling any new stadium Kirby Puckett Park. It’s not a bad idea.

An even better idea would be to finally, and at long last, solve our stadium problems. This session.

I know it’s an election year but I swear, every time I read another stadium story, lines from ‘s "" play in my head:

Lord, I am sooooo tired
How long can this go on?

We’ve been debating this issue for what, nearly a decade now? It’s long past time to deal with it and, in fact, time is quickly running out.

If the sad and tragically untimely death of and the subsequent outpouring of love for the man from Minnesotans far and wide demonstrate anything, it highlights the immense amount of joy that professional sports can provide a community. And for my money that, in itself, is a damn good investment.

Let’s face it, the , in trying to be all things to all people, fails in all respects. It’s a horrible place to watch sports–the sightlines are equally bad for baseball and football. Even in the 14th  row on the 50 yard line, the fans are too far removed from the action. Plus, the suites are truly horrible.

As a revenue-generating stadium–well, it’s not. That’s the reason we’re having this discussion. While most professional teams have modern, revenue-generating stadiums, the and the Twins struggle to compete as small-market teams.

The Twins and Hennepin County have an eminently reasonable plan on the table and the Twins are on a year-to-year lease with the Metrodome. Not getting a deal done now is practically begging Major League Baseball to revisit contraction.

The Vikings and Anoka County have an equally reasonable plan on the table as well. This is no Texas snake-oil. It’s a vast, jobs-creating sports/entertainment/retail real estate development project proposed by a man who has made a mint in real estate development. The economic benefits to the northern suburbs could be enormous, turning Blaine into similar to the .

The primary issue holding up the talks between the owners and the players is that the large-market and small-market owners . Revenue-sharing is the brilliant vehicle by which every NFL team has a reasonable chance for on-field success every year. The NFL has avoided ‘s problem where large-market teams like the and can essentially buy themselves championships.

If the owners can’t agree on revenue sharing and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players Association isn’t extended, the Vikings could win big in free agency. They could field a caliber team but you’d better hope they win the big one because in 2007, without the benefit of a modern, revenue-generating stadium, they will not be able to afford the exorbitant salaries that a salary cap-less environment promises.

The Vikings need a new stadium.

But while we’re dealing with stadiums, let’s deal with all the stadiums, so let’s get the ‘ problems solved as well.  I really don’t understand why they can’t use the Metrodome, why they must have an on-campus stadium. Are students somehow incapable of using shuttles? The Dome is, after all, practically right next door to campus. Regardless, let’s solve their problem, too.

The bottom line is this: The Twins and the Vikings will get their stadiums.  The only question is whether or not they get them in Minnesota. And if they leave, we will be a "cold Omaha." We will build new stadiums to attract new teams and it will cost us far more then than if we solve this problem now.

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