Thursday, April 24, 2008

You're not going to be president, but at least you got a book deal!

Sen. Mike Huckabee will not be the Republican candidate, but that's ok - there's always a book deal.

Are we seriously in a world where anyone with 15 minutes of fame gets to write a book about it?

Huckabee's book, not yet titled, will be available on November 18.  11 days after the new president will be decided.  It will chronical his insights on running for office and how he thinks the conservative movement should be remodeled.  

Despite the fact that he barely gained 300 delegates, he lead a solid campaign but at no time did he pose a threat to Sen. McCain who locked up the nomination fairly soon.

Why does the Penguin Group (who is publishing the book) care about his insights on the conservative movement?  I think that the publishers are hoping that Huckabee will become McCain's running mate and that will boost sales of the book should they win.  

Huckabee's 1998 book "Kids Who Kill" was highly scrutinized as people said that he was cashing in on the Columbine shootings.

Huckabee has published two other books as well:  "From Hope to Higher Ground" about his policy views ranging from taxes to education, and "Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork" offering dieting tips that helped him loose a 100 lbs.

One must wonder how will this book reflect the views of certain lobbyists in Washington.  Will he remain true to the "untold stories of the campaign trail" or will it turn into a puff piece that will cater to the ideals of the people who contributed money toward the campaign.  

Hilary Clinton was in a similar position a few years ago when she accepted an $8 million advance to write her book.  But in the Senate Ethics Manual it said that senators could not receive any payments in advance.  The Ethics Committee, however, ended up approving the advance even though it came from a company owned by Viacom.  Viacom has many issues that are likely to come up before Congress.

The Penguin Group is a company that I do not believe would ask for any favors from Huckabee, but I am a firm believer in the saying, "If you want to know a man's priorities, look at who gives him money."


"I remember landing under sniper fire."

Ms. Clinton, your foreign experience amazes me. Oh, wait, you were just kidding?

"There were reports of snipers in the hills and they were forced to cut short an event on the tarmac. That is what she wrote in her book, that is what she has said many, many times. And on one occasion she misspoke, but it’s--the record is clear in terms what she has said before on this topic."--Howard Wolfson

To validate the Clinton camp's story of danger in Tulza, Comedian Sinbad--who accompanied Ms. Clinton on the Bosnia visit--had this to say: "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here or at the next place.'"

Hm... Let me be the last to claim moral authority, but it seems to me that the term "misspoke" translates to "lied." Unless, on technicality, misspoke falls under the same category as the word "is" or the definition of sex vs. oral sex, but I digress.

My current intention is not to question the (un)ethical nature of the Clinton campaign (or the integrity of a woman who will say anything to win the Presidency), but rather to applaud the media for playing its role of watch dog--and correctly, for once, I might add. The media, as it exists today, often plays to the entertainment of its consumers, fabricating or blowing up stories otherwise unimportant (i.e. Britney Spears's latest car crash). However, by exposing the Clinton lie regarding her time in Bosnia was a refreshing lead in an otherwise cluttered channel of communications.

Perhaps this was simply more pro-Obama bias? Or perhaps the media was just pointing out trust issues the nation has--and should have--with the Clinton camp. P.S. We'd still love to see those financial statements. However, to be fair--or, in the spirit of Fox News, to create a "No Spin Zone"--in defense of Ms. Clinton, below I have included footage to sway you in her favor.

Thank goodness for the bravery of our former First Lady.

P.S. On conclusion of the PA primary (that did little to change the political position of either candidate), I'd just like to say that despite Clinton's 10 point lead, Obama still holds the support of thousands across the state (including the many, such as myself, who switched parties to total the Democrat count at a record-breaking 4 million for the state). Yes, we can!

[Posted by Jaclyn]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Resign To Run

As the political race to the White House heats up, the top candidates are spending more and more time on the campaign trail.  Fine by me, but what about all of the bills that are being discussed in Congress?  They are missing out on votes that are coming across the floor.

John McCain has missed 58% of all of the votes in the 110th Congress.  (Nine more than Sen. Tim Johnson who suffered a brain hemorrhage and missed several months recovering).

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have each missed 40% and 30% respectively.  Almost half of McCain.

We elect these people into positions of public office because we believe in what they can do for us, and what do they do in return?  Use it as a stepping-stone.  That is why I believe that there should be a federal "Resign to Run" law, much like what is in place in Hawai'i and Georgia.

Resign to run simply says that if an elected official desires to run for a higher office, he or she must resign from their current position during their campaign.  I think that this would significantly lower the number of absent voters when important bills come up for a vote on the Senate floor.  

In fact, McCain has only voted on ONE bill since March 13.  Last year McCain missed 4 of 14 important votes that were directly related to the war in Iraq.  Sens. Obama and Clinton did not miss any and have each seemed to planned their travels around such high profile votes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was not happy saying, "Sen. McCain has spent considerable time defending the president on Iraq and catering to the Republican base, but has only managed to show up to four of the last 14 Iraq votes

Ethically, I don't think candidates should abuse the power that the American voters have given them.  If a person has been chosen for a job, they should hold that responsibility over all else.

A resign to run law would alleviate this issue, and allow another respected figure the opportunity to represent their constituents in Washington.

[Thursday edit]

McCain skipped the vote today that would assist women in suing employers for pay discrimination...shocker.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Go Big or Go Home

Today was the last day Democratic Presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had to persuade “Keystone state” voters to support them. What has seemed like months of personal attacks, the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary will finally take place tomorrow and will put an end to this bitter saga, at least in this state. Speaking of bitter, what has been the deal with the backlash Obama has received from rivals Clinton and McCain? In my opinion, his remarks have been extremely overblown and demonstrate the type of desperation one candidate is facing. After watching the ABC debate last week and keeping up with media monitoring, the sport of politics has certainly brought out the worst of Senator Clinton.

First, let me address the issue of Obama’s bitter remarks. The comments that the Illinois Senator made, which he himself has admitted may not have been the best choice of words, certainly echoes what many Americans feel across the country. Obama’s statement, like it or not, did represent what many people are feeling right now. Jobs continue to be outsourced, the economy is in shambles, gas prices are at an all time high and politicians continue to make empty promises to change the face of politics. Is it any wonder that many Americans are simply fed up with this system? They are of course bitter and they have a good right to be.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain classified Obama’s comment as being “elitist” and “out of touch with reality.” I find this statement particularly interesting considering that Hillary and Bill have earned roughly $109 million since leaving the oval office. McCain, whose wife is the heiress to a large brewery, is speculated to be worth over $100 million. And Obama, who made just a little over $4 million last year, continues to be cited as an elitist…I just don’t get it.

Another argument from the Clinton campaign has been that Obama is inexperienced and not ready to handle the challenges of the presidency, such as resolving issues such as a potential economic recession. Today, I read a story on CNN that stated that Hillary’s campaign was roughly $10 million in debt. What kind of fiscal responsibility is this? How can we expect a Senator to reinvigorate the economy if she cannot even balance her own campaign? And in response to this story, Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson stated “The money continues to come in strongly. We had a very good month last month of fundraising…we are continuing to have a good month this month." Well of course the money has come in strongly, what do you expect when Elton John hosts a concert to benefit the campaign and raises $2.5 million? Is that her economic stimulus plan? Have upper class Americans, or middle class families who can’t afford it, purchase Elton John tickets? I sure hope Clinton’s previous track record, which ironically she has prided herself on, isn’t an indicator of how she plans to boost our economy.

Clinton also released a new ad in Pennsylvania today which depicts images of Pearl Harbor, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Osama Bin Laden. The narrator in this ad states that:

"You need to be ready for anything – especially now, with two wars, oil prices skyrocketing, and an economy in crisis…Harry Truman said it best – if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Who do you think has what it takes?"

Isn’t this a Republican tactic? Scare people into supporting a war, or in this case a campaign? I just don’t understand how someone can exercise this type of desperation and yet call themselves the strongest candidate for office.

Well, I’m certainly looking forward to tomorrow’s Democratic primary results. Let’s just hope that Obama pulls out a decisive win. It will serve as another reminder that Hillary simply does not have the support for office. Although based on her previous actions, I doubt she’ll pay much attention to it.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Obama’s Speech Good PR, But Doesn’t Answer Questions

Obama’s Speech Good PR, But Doesn’t Answer Questions
I thought Barack Obama’s speech on race last month in the original aftermath of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy was intelligent, honest, and dignified. Helped by the fact that he is both white and black, Obama spoke more frankly and eloquently on race relations in the United States that any mainstream politician in U.S. could, and deservedly received high praise. In addition to being a great speech on race, it was also a masterstroke of public relations. The speech distracted the media and voters from the viciously anti-American lies spewed by the most powerful spiritual influence in Obama’s life and re-focused the campaign on the “chill up my leg” (thank you for that image Chris Matthews) inducing public rhetoric skills of Obama. However, this brilliant PR move will only create a temporary honeymoon from the Rev. Wright issue.
While Obama’s speech may please Obama’s left wing base and overwhelming support amongst the national media, it failed to answer the questions about Rev. Wright and his influence. For many, particularly swing voters and blue-collar Democrats in battleground states, the Wright controversy is not about race at all but rather how much the Reverend’s blatant disdain for the U.S. government has shaped the ideology of Obama. Should we trust a man with the most powerful job in the world if he calls Wright a trusted advisor and tremendous influence? Should the American people trust Barack Obama if the man who has taught him Christianity and married him to his wife believes that 9/11 was essentially America’s own doing? Should Obama be President if such a good friend and profound influence believes the U.S. created the AIDS virus to eliminate blacks from its population? Those are the questions that have not been answered and will haunt Obama in the general election if he continues to not fully address them. This issue will make it difficult for Obama to win back many of Hillary Clinton’s voters and prevent them from for voting for McCain, particularly her more moderate, pro-defense, and patriotic blue-collar supporters (the so-called “Reagan Democrats”).
Clearly, Barack Obama’s March 18th speech on race relations was a tremendous short-term PR move because it distracted Democratic primary voters from the real issues raised by the Rev. Wright controversy. While right-wing evangelists such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson have said similarly disdainful things, they do not have the relationship with President Bush and Senator McCain that Wright has with Obama. Certainly, it is going to take an even more clever use of public relations to if Senator Obama is going to ultimately answer the true issues behind the Rev. Wright controversy and win the Presidency.

-Gregg Tobin

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"It's silly season."

Over the past several weeks, Hillary Clinton has repeatedly commented on the media's unfair coverage of her. During the Democratic debate in Cleveland, Ohio, Clinton digressed from the topic at hand to state the following:

"Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time. And I don't mind. I--you know, I'll be happy to field them, but I do find it curious, and if anybody saw 'Saturday Night Live' [see video below], you know, maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow. I just find it kind of curious that I keep getting the first question on all of these issues. But I'm happy to answer it."

A second "Saturday Night Live" skit by Tina Fey portrayed Clinton in a positive light, marginalizing arguments about Clinton's gender and personality by stating that "bitch is the new black."

However, rather than perceive these skits as positive coverage, Clinton uses them as "proof" (since "Saturday Night Live" is a legitimate source) that there is bias in the media's portrayal of her.

Is there truth in her claim? The anwer from this blogger (who finds her complaints against answering the first question curious since she says she's so happy to do so) is no. Her entire platform is built on experience, the ability to better withstand Republican attacks (though she can barely withstand those from a "biased media"), and being more tested than Barack Obama. The media has thus adjusted its questions and coverage accordingly. Her top advisors were recently asked, "What foreign policy moment would you point us to in Hillary's career where she's been tested by a crisis?" Their response:

Is that media bias? An unjustifiably tough question? And what about the media's oversight in demanding Clinton to release her tax returns? Is the media being overly tough in allowing her to wait until she clinches the nomination to become transparent in her financial dealings? If anything, she's been given an easy pass on an important issue. In the meantime, Obama is currently under fire for his connections with supporter and indicted fundraiser Tony Rezko as well as his communications with Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper regarding his recent crticisms of NAFTA (that are claimed to be only political doublespeak), a situation that many have claimed hurt his primary and caucus runs in Ohio and Texas last night.

It will be interesting to follow the Clinton campaign in the next several weeks now that many in the media have stated that last night transformed her underdog status into one of born again contender. Will she still claim media bias? Or is this simply her last resort tactic when delegate and poll numbers fail her?

[Posted by Jaclyn]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Despite Tightness in Democratic Race, Clinton Still holds on to Family Values

Whenever you are running for a political office it’s not uncommon to face attacks and criticisms, particularly ones that are very personal and strike against your character or actions. These attacks, which in any other scenario would probably be viewed as vile and downright wrong, are in fact simply viewed as common practice and possibly acceptable in a political arena. Perhaps it’s one of those unwritten rules about politics. That the ethics and morality in a profession are somehow trivialized when it’s two politicians going against each other. But when these attacks come from so-called neutral sources such as a news outlet, then, somehow the issue of ethics and morality are now relevant and someone must step in to draw that so-called “line in the sand.”

This is exactly what happened to Hillary Clinton last week as an MSNBC reporter criticized the presidential candidate, claiming that by using her daughter to contact superdelegates to build up support for the Senator, that she was “pimping out” her daughter. Despite all the backlash and personal attacks that have been going on between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, this 3+ minute clip (which can be viewed on youTube)

has erupted into something that has definitely wound up hurting this reporter’s image and may very well end up hurting MSNBC. In response to this comment, the Clinton campaign has pretty much vilified the network, claiming that the news station has had a history of making coarse remarks against the Senator and her campaign and that Clinton may even boycott the MSNBC Democratic debate scheduled for February 26th.

As a result of the MSNBC comment as well as the reaction by the Clinton campaign, the question then comes down to whether or not Senator Clinton overreacted and took this comment out of context. Just the term, “pimping out” derives more connotations than its actual meaning and for me, I see images of the popular MTV show Pimp My Ride, screenshots of the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto and scenes from the movie Hustle & Flow. Is this the kind of company I would want to see my daughter in? Probably not. However, I do have to believe that any normal person who views this clip would think that the reporter was simply referring to the Clinton’s using their daughter and star power to stir up support and votes. I cannot see how anyone could think that, literally, Senator Clinton was “pimping out” her daughter in a sexual way, especially since the background clips show Chelsea fully clothed and without any intimation of sex or prostitution.

Now that we have addressed what exactly was said, we have to think about the context in which it was used. Would this comment be as offensive if the reporter stated that the Clinton campaign was not “pimping out” but “using” their daughter? Obviously not. However, this comment was aired on a cable newstation. Moreover, this bit aired on a talk show where controversy is always built into the schedule. There was a guest from either “side” as to prevent a one-sided news coverage and in all seriousness, networks love creating controversy. They love it because they know that the public loves it. And if the public loves it that means ratings go up, as well as advertisements. The comment that aired on MSNBC, although perhaps tasteless, was never meant to offend anyone. And the threat that Clinton made towards MSNBC that she may back out of the debate, may highlight that she still does value her family. However, given that she is running for President and that Barack Obama is hot on her heels, perhaps her reaction was meant to spark some energy into her dwindling campaign.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

McCain’s Balancing Act: Conservatives and Ethics

No matter what John McCain promises from now until the Republican National Convention in September, he will never fully convince the firm, hard-line conservatives of his party that he is one of them. Nevertheless in order to win in November, McCain needs to convince the talk-radio legions of the GOP to at least vote and mobilize in similar fashion to when they helped elect George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. In order to accomplish this arduous task, McCain needs to swallow his considerable pride and make some compromises with the conservatives. While some may see this as unethical appeasement, political observers must recognize that the party nomination process is very much about give and take. The GOP is giving a lifetime maverick the chance to have the full weight of a powerful political machine behind him as he seeks the highest office in the land, while McCain is giving the party a legitimate chance to win an election in which all the odds are stacked against them. In order for McCain to undergo this issue haggling and maintain his political soul, he needs to decide which issues he can modify and which ones he cannot.

One way to touch the heart of any true conservative is judges. Some of the main concerns of conservatives- guns, abortion, marriage, and affirmative action- are decided in the courts, and McCain can promise conservatives he will nominate similar judges to those of President Bush without compromising his own values (He has been a consistent pro-life and 2nd Amendment voter in the Senate). Perhaps McCain could also tone down his global warming rhetoric, particularly his advocacy of a cap and trade program on carbon emissions, which makes even moderate Republicans want to pull their hair out. However there are some positions, particularly campaign finance reform and amnesty, where McCain would look silly and dishonest if he backed off. On immigration, McCain can focus on fixing the Mexican border first, but to drop amnesty (a very unpopular idea amongst the GOP faithful) would seem absurd given his co-authoring of McCain-Kennedy. Backtracking on McCain-Feingold, the comprehensive campaign finance reform bill that is the bane of existence of conservative fundraisers and first amendment supporters, would also be unethical.

Despite their history, conservatives will realize that John McCain has a lot of positions-see Iraq, the war on terror, spending- that match their core values. As long as he makes an attempt to reach out to them, they should come out in droves to support him in order to prevent a Clinton or Obama presidency. However, it should be up to McCain’s own core of ethics-not his desire for electoral victory-to determine how far he’ll go to appease them.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Let's Blog!!!

Hello Everyone,

My name is Brett and I’m a student at Syracuse University. This semester, my public relations ethics class has been given the very exciting task of starting a blog. Working in groups, each team will be responsible for posting commentary revolving around current event issues. Ideally, we would like to select topics that pose ethical and/or moral challenges. My group has been assigned the very exciting topic of government. With the highly competitive presidential race going on it shouldn’t be that difficult to find something to discuss. However, although the presidential race is a large topic, we cannot forget about the other issues our government is involved in such as President Bush’s recent tax rebate proposal, the war in Iraq, education, immigration and healthcare. As our semester rolls on I look forward to presenting very interesting material that hopefully does not cause controversy, but sparks discussion.