I don’t think my liberal friends ever took this lesson to heart, and they keep getting burned by it time and time again.
For instance, John Kerry in the last election thought his status as a war hero meant that he could leave questions about his conduct as an antiwar protester unaddressed. He thought he had insulation he most assuredly did not have.
Cindy Sheehan found it out as well, when she went from major political player to marginal leftist figure in a matter of months all because of some statements far outside of the mainstream of American political thought.
Republicans occasionally fall into this trap, such as when they ran contentless campaigns against Bill Clinton and expected character issues to win the day. But lately, such as in the examples above, liberals are making this mistake, and making it to such an extent that they will often seek “perfect” spokespeople for their causes with such scrubbed personal histories or characteristics that they are somehow unimpeachable. The aforementioned Mrs. Sheehan was an example of this.
A good policy is a good policy regardless of who advocates it; the same is true of a bad one. The messenger matters far less than the message in such matters.
This is absolutely correct, and I expect, from now on, you will be first to disregard the background of the speaker, and focus solely on the content of their message. It won’t matter if someone is a raging liberal from San Francisco; you will be happy to give equal thought to everyone’s ideas. And of course, as in the statements you cited above, personal experience and sacrifice really don’t count for anything. It’s not as if military experience actually counts in military matters. That’s why no one was upset about the fact that Bill Clinton didn’t serve. It simply wasn’t relevant, and the conservatives in this country understood that. Oh, if only the liberals could be so high minded and non-judgemental.
What’s wrong with having been an antiwar protester during Vietnam?
Personally, I think Kerry’s biggest problem was that he was a bad messenger; he had a tendency to avoid short, concise, memorable messages. Also, he failed to neutralize the message of his attackers by embracing it; he shoulda said “Hey, I’m a swift boat veteran. I like truth. Obviously I should join this worthwhile organization.”
Clinton, by contrast, could get right to the point, and do it well.
As for Sheehan, I’m willing to grant that she had no political background so she didn’t know how best to hang onto her slipping fame, prompting nutty statements and nutty photo-ops, leaving her as a punchline.
Who, exactly, is doing this selecting? Who is seeking out these ‘perfect’ spokespersons?
I’d say it’s more the Rahm Emmanuel wing of the party that’s trying to do this. The netroots want people who will take on the GOP, head-on, and don’t worry too much about appearances. In 2006, Rahm tried to find candidates like Tammy Duckworth (Iraq vet, lost both legs there) who had the right ‘image’ but weren’t that great in conveying a strong message.
Only if everyone agrees that’s so. Whether a policy is any good or not obviously doesn’t change depending on who advocates it, but the person can have an effect on how people see the message. You’re saying we should try and abandon that bias, and that’s a good idea, but it would mean we’d ignore that bias in people who don’t abandon it.
Imagine that a bipartisan group of smart politicians* come together and form an excellent policy. They then give that policy to Ann Coulter or Michael Moore to bring to the nation. Since the messenger has no effect on the message, it doesn’t matter who they choose, right? Of course it does, because the messenger does speak to our biases. There’s no objective effect on the policy, but there is a subjective one from the messenger. As much as it would be nice to eliminate that bias, I doubt it’ll happen any time soon. So the messenger does, indeed, matter to a considerable extent.
Don’t really have a comment on the topic of the thread - just sticking my nose in to welcome Mr. Moto back as an active poster (and by doing a quick search on his profile, I see he’s been very active in the past few days). I’ve missed your incisive commentary.
Nice way to start off with a little poisoned well…
First, there’s nothing wrong with having been an anti-war protester in the 1970s. Most Americans did and do consider that war to be a mistake. Secondly, what questions did he leave unaddressed except maybe the spurious ones made by the SwiftBoat types?
Can we have a list of Democratic politicians who have endorsed her?
The only (federal) politician I’ve ever seen at one of here rallies was (IIRC) Maxine Waters. Draw your own conclusions. Virtually no one pays attention to her except the press, and even they don’t do so like they did that one summer in Crawford when they were bored to tears.
Here’s where I’m going to disagree with the OP a bit. Marketing is important. Given two people with the same message, the messenger does matter. If one person is a screaming nutcase, and the other is rational, thoughtful speaker, who are you going to pick to deliver the message?
The Dems have James Webb to give the response to Bush SotU speech next week. I think he’s a much better choice than either Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. He’s a much better speaker, and he’s got street cred with the Republicans. Reid just comes across like a little old bookworm school teacher even when he’s got a good message to deliver. So, why not pick a young, dynamic speaker rather a tired old looking one to deliver the message?
I still want to know who Mr. Moto is thinking about here. Who “keep[s] getting burned by it time and time again”? Who “will often seek “perfect” spokespeople for their causes with such scrubbed personal histories or characteristics that they are somehow unimpeachable”?
That would be a really sad day for our country if a war hero lost an election because he protested that war upon his return. I’m relieved to say that I don’t think that that many Americans are opposed to free speech.
Welcome back, Mr. Moto!
When the message is a lie or extremely misleading, someone must be held accountable.
It seems to me that damn near every presidential election since the invention of television has come down to who was the better messenger. Maybe your hypothesis would hold water if the average person had a crystal ball, and could tell how “good” a message is, but that’s not the case. Furthermore, you can have as good a message as you want, but with a shitty messenger, you won’t be able to put your plan into action.