The Note: The Way to Lose, Part IV

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25

NEWS SUMMARY

The striped-panted diplomat Karen Hughes has accused The Note of dangerously reinforcing the political conventional wisdom of the moment.

We have never succeeded in convincing her that The Note exists to parody the CW and to push our colleagues in political journalism (and the few other readers we have) to be open to considering the unconventional -- particularly when it comes to being willing to think anew about presidents and the men and woman who want their jobs.

The problem we have -- actually the problem that these men and woman have -- is that once the CW gets set, it is difficult to change it. Of course, the politicians usually bring all this on themselves by losing control of their public images, thus putting the CW in place.

Few who lose control over their images -- or the storylines in which they are starring (or, alas, co-starring) -- have the political skill and strength to win them back. When Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have staged comebacks in their political careers, it has been based on confronting head-on their problems by simultaneously taking back control of their public images and pushing mud on their opponents (from bimbo erupting and draft dodging to "last dog" dying pledges; from "this boy" taking a thumpin' in the New Hampshire primary to a town-meetin' reformer-with-results against the Powerful Chairman of the Powerful Commerce Committee).

The foolish politicians, though, don't focus on regaining control of their images, but divert resources to minor problems, or try to pursue their "positive" agenda with their heads in the sand. This is silly, because until they regain control, the political-media Freak Show will just pound and pound on their piñata and block out everything else.

For examples of how to do this the wrong way, see the chapters on John Kerry and Al Gore in "The Way to Win." LINK

And on this day in history, consider the occifying CWs that threaten to imprison and impale:

George W. Bush: that his presidency is over in every dimension but the temporal. (See Bob Novak's must-read column, especially the kicker graph quote from "a ranking House committee member," who says, "The president and his aides are irrelevant and out of touch, removed from realizing what happened in an election." LINK)

VilsackRichardsonDoddBidenetc: that they can't win, so don't give them money. (See Dick Morris' and Eileen McGann's emphatic endorsement of the Big Three -- ClintonEdwardsObama -- premise. LINK)

Joe Biden: that his inability to control his mouth bespeaks a larger problem -- and not just for those on Foreign Relations or his staff conference calls. (See today's must-read column by the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, miraculously coming out of his month-long slump with a boffo Sketch of the Senator As an Older Man. LINK)

Barack Obama: that he for some reason somehow has to choose if he is going to be an African-American candidate or a white one. (The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher is only the latest to raise the "dilemma"; we leave it to the Onion to write a parody of this piece about a white candidate. LINK)

John Kerry: that the Boston Globe only has to love and respect him after he surrenders. (See today's full wall-to-wall Globe coverage, which David Thorne and Jim Jordan will use to line their bird cages.)

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