Tin Foil Hats and Paper Money

November 16, 2007

Tonight’s little “get together”  at UNLV was the 347th 2008 Democratic Presidential debate, I think. I did not attend. I decided that I didn’t need to even watch on television because there were pressing things on my schedule for the evening – The cat gets very angry if I don’t play the game where I flash the reflection from my wristwatch on the living room wall and move it up and down so that she can try to grab it. I’m sure you understand.

According to my inside sources, who read the coverage on AOL, it was a bit contentious and  focused on the “big three”. Since I’m from New England, that phrase has a distinct meaning and I couldn’t figure out why Presidential contenders would be talking about Pierce, Garnett and Allen. I guess that I’m slow like that.

Joe Biden spoke, for the first time, 15 minutes into the tri-match between Obama, Edwards, and the “Clinton of the moment”.  All that and he’s a credible candidate, unlike Mike Gravel; who didn’t get to speak at all. Actually, security wouldn’t have let him in if he had a ticket for the grandstands. The reasoning: He doesn’t have a million bucks in his bank account. It has nothing to do with the fact that he’s one step away from throwing on the tin foil hat so that the aliens don’t hear his thoughts.

I can speak to this from personal experience. Credibility, in these political times, has become increasingly about how much cash you have in the bank. Money, as they say, is the mother’s milk of politics and you have no credibility without it. This phenomena is why the citizenry has no connection with their system. Ned Lamont can throw millions from his personal accounts into his campaign’s accounts and he has instant credibility, before he even opens his mouth,  yet the local dry cleaner struggles to pay his employees, his insurance, and his rent and can’t even contemplate becoming part of the process. It’s wrong and it is bringing down our form of government.

Make no mistake about it. Gravel was shut out because he’s wacky. Truth be told, I enjoy his participation. The excuse, though, was the money and every time we let the insiders use the money as a marker for credibility, whether excusory or not, we all lose. The media has anointed the “big three” and the media stands to gain by their raising and spending money. See, the dirty little secret is that the very entity that bestows credibility, also benefits from high dollar expenditure. The number one expense of any campaign is bought media: commercials, ads, etc.. Networks do not benefit from Mike Gravel because he does not buy time. Hillary does.

The second dirty little secret is that, although negative advertising brings down voter turnout, the media loves it. Why encourage candidates to buy a 1000 point media package in order to broadcast a positive issue ad when you could cover the negatives and force them into buying 1000 point negative ad about their opponent… who will then buy 1000 points of rebuttle time and add 1000 points of their own counter negative piece? The buy amounts go up exponentially and the only ones benefiting are the TV execs.

Its time to stop giving Network Presidents what they want and time to start giving the people what they want. Voters, overwhelmingly, want to hear the positive plans that a candidate has. They want to know that there are better days ahead and that the candidate who garners their vote, in the end,  has a roadmap to get us there. They don’t want to hear about the other guy’s misdeeds in college. They want to hear candidates speak to them. It’s just more entertaining if one of the candidates is wearing a tin foil hat.