Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | July 18, 2003

Some rules of the road

By Steve Gilliard

I know that we, not just here at Daily Kos, but on other spots of the blogtopia, there is a lot of political and journalism shorthand which may be missed by some people.

So I'll explain some concepts and how they relate to recent stories commented on here.

Raising money:

Recently, it was noted that Joe Lieberman's fundraising was in some trouble and people had wondered why this because an issue. Lieberman leads in polling, so why is this an issue?

Because raising money is about far more than keeping score. What Howard Dean did with his internet fundraising was far more than just get money. He created a way to raise cash while limiting the cost and time needed to host events. That's more time Dean and his team can spend in New Hampshire, getting in the national media, and getting noticed. Raising money is a distraction in terms of both time and effort. The more events Dean can do without raising cash and without having to devote staff resources to, the more he can save money and get in the free media. Which means more paid staff and more ads when it counts.

Problems with money in campaigns is a bad sign, just like it would be in a business. Candidates usually hire their closest associates to be in charge of fund raising. It is critical that fundraising go well for a campaign to work.
So Lieberman's change in finance staff was a red flag to insiders that he was having orgainzational problems.

Reporters sources:

The problem for the BBC in being asked to reveal their sources is akin to a lawyer being asked to reveal what his client has mentioned while preparing his defense. No news organization could be expected to cover government if they had to reveal their sources. A source has an absolute right to confidentiality, if promised. People have gone to jail and would go to jail to protect a source.

It is absolutely unfair to demand a news organization reveal a confidential source, regardless of the circumstance. Confidentiality is a core concept of how the press does their job and monitors government.

Unit cohesion:

The real concern about Anita Blount's letter is not that the soldiers are unhappy, but that there are signs that unit cohesion is breaking down. Unit cohesion is the concept that holds a fighting force together in combat, a willingness to not only obey orders but to perform their mission.

The real fear is that a unit so unhappy may stop performing their jobs. While there is no evidence of this happening, yet, but with so many soldiers willing to risk their careers by complaining about their superiors, it may be a sign that the soliders will eventually abandon the mission for self-preservation. Which is a fatal spiral. Soldiers who become reluctant to patrol become targets for more aggressive enemy action.

Polling numbers:

Incumbent candidates should poll over 50 percent if they expect to be reelected. When they don't, it's a real sign of trouble. A handy rule I use is that if someone is running for office and they don't clear 50 percent, even if they are leading their opponent, they can lose the election.

Why? If less than half the public is willing to vote your after years in office, they are looking for a reason to replace you. They may not find it, but they are looking.

Posted July 18, 2003 02:02 PM


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