TV With The Sound Off
Perlstein writes a withering review of the new Democratic logo and slogan for the NY Daily News. He reminds us that the Obama administration was once the envy of Madison Avenue for their innovative marketing and branding (and wonders where all that creativity went.)
But he also points out the way the Bush administration used to stage manage the presidency itself, something I don't the Democrats have ever done very well. Here's an article from the NY Times during the Bush administration:
First among equals is Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer who was hired by the Bush campaign in Austin, Tex., and who now works for Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director. Mr. Sforza created the White House ''message of the day'' backdrops and helped design the $250,000 set at the United States Central Command forward headquarters in Doha, Qatar, during the Iraq war.
Mr. Sforza works closely with Bob DeServi, a former NBC cameraman whom the Bush White House hired after seeing his work in the 2000 campaign. Mr. DeServi, whose title is associate director of communications for production, is considered a master at lighting. ''You want it, I'll heat it up and make a picture,'' he said early this week. Mr. DeServi helped produce one of Mr. Bush's largest events, a speech to a crowd in Revolution Square in Bucharest last November.
To stage the event, Mr. DeServi went so far as to rent Musco lights in Britain, which were then shipped across the English Channel and driven across Europe to Romania, where they lighted Mr. Bush and the giant stage across from the country's former Communist headquarters.
A third crucial player is Greg Jenkins, a former Fox News television producer in Washington who is now the director of presidential advance. Mr. Jenkins manages the small army of staff members and volunteers who move days ahead of Mr. Bush and his entourage to set up the staging of all White House events.
''We pay particular attention to not only what the president says but what the American people see,'' Mr. Bartlett said. ''Americans are leading busy lives, and sometimes they don't have the opportunity to read a story or listen to an entire broadcast. But if they can have an instant understanding of what the president is talking about by seeing 60 seconds of television, you accomplish your goals as communicators. So we take it seriously.''
Karl Rove always said that politics was TV with the sound turned off and the Republicans put that into action in every way possible. It didn't fool people forever, but it went a long way to making the president appear to be a larger than life figure who people could trust long after it was obvious that he wasn't.
Obama has done much better with this sort of thing than the Democratic congress. But I don't think either of them have done it as well as they could have. Then again, it's possible that in times like this --- a sort of grinding discontent rather than a dramatic period of war and international leadership --- this sort of thing wouldn't work anyway. But it couldn't hurt to think about it. I don't know what people are seeing with the sound turned o0ff, but considering the polls, I'm guessing it isn't all that good.