Rock Em Sock Em PR Battle Down to Wire

Rock em sock em robotsHarry Reid says the Republicans are trying to put lipstick on the the filibuster. Pow! Boehner says only Obama can get us out of this  financial cul de sac. Bam! Chris Coons, the new Democratic senator from Delaware, noted that there would be a “bouquet of blame” for everyone if Congress and the White House allowed the country to “Titanic” (thanks Maureen Dowd). Zingo!

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he is now “now fully engaged” in the debt talks (he wasn’t before?). Thud! Someone (who?) is looking for a skylight to the debt ceiling talks – good luck with that.

Don’t these people believe in a summer vacation? I feel for Boehner. A coach of a football team has a clear and unyielding objective. His players line up, follow him, and go out to defeat the opponent. Boehner has half his team running in the other direction, while the Democrats are scattered all over the field trying to tackle them. This should be an interesting Sunday.

Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give…

When an irresistible force such as you
Meets and old immovable object like me
You can bet as sure as you live
Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give,
Something’s gotta give.

- song by Johnny Mercer, sung impeccably by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, John Boehner, Barack Obama, and many others

Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots by WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot via Flickr

PR Cliche Train Wreck Ahead

PR Train WreckThe last train is leaving the station, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Train wreck ahead. Let’s not reinvent the wheel at the 11th hour and wave the white flag, says Sarah Palin. Republicans have been bending over backwards. Harry Reid’s door is always open. Our back is against the wall because there is no tomorrow. It’s do or die. Beohner has stuck his neck out a mile – what more can he do? He tried his level best. Compromise is a dirty word to the Republicans, says Obama. Nobody wants to say yes in this town, says Boehner. This is a poker game we all can lose, says Obama.

I don’t know about you but when push comes to shove and it’s time to man up, I’d rather have a discussion that involves adult dialogue rather than goo goo gaa sound bites because mama didn’t raise no fool and I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.


PR Doesn’t Kill the Sun – Yet

SunriseThe sun rose this morning. Perhaps the sun didn’t rise on John Boehner but there in the east, through the clouds, that big ball of heat and life seemed to come up like it did yesterday, and will tomorrow. Armageddon has not befallen us, yet.

The news is gloomy. Short term credit markets are tanking. The GDP is sluggish. A few days ago I sold my stocks. Politicians, economists, market strategists and news commentators may focus on numbers and economic indicators, I’m operating on feelings. And the feeling I get is disaster ahead. Posturing, threatening, haranguing, arm-twisting, ultimatums – is this any way to run a country.

It is should be no shock that politicians engage in politics, or that politics is essentially a high-stakes PR game with the singular objective of acquiring and maintaining power.

The Republicans, initially the protagonists and aggressors, today are on the defensive, flopping around like a fish on a boat deck. Obama, left at the altar twice as he put it, came before the cameras for six minutes this morning and sounded supremely Presidential and optimistic. Of course he has the luxury of diminutive Harry Reid, the Demo Senate leader, wielding the big stick.

The Republicans are in a awful position. They can’t find the votes to pass a bill that will surely go nowhere, and they are split into factions that seem intent on consuming each other. The Demos are in no better shape but their grousing has not had the opportunity to be fully vented. Obama is intent on getting a deal – but he can’t do it at the expense of Republican pride.

This makes for an interesting weekend of posturing and threatening, when such tactics are losing their ability to impress. Politics is drama. We are heading for Act III of this tragedy.

Daredevil PR Battle Heads Over Cliff

Buffalo Jumping Off the CliffWe’re heading for the cliff. We’re running on fumes. Disaster ahead. Catastrophe. Our standing in the world will be severely diminished and the economy will crumble. We’re playing Russian roulette with the economy.  We’re kicking the can down the road. Irresponsible. Inexcusable.  An abdication of responsibility. A short term band-aid. The Cliches are flying.

These are some of the Armageddon-like predictions emanating from politicians. newscasters, economists and others who are in the middle of or on the sidelines of this debt crisis of our own making.

This is not an act of God, it’s an act of Congress. It would be amusing to watch grownups play this schoolyard game of chicken, if it were not so serious and pathetic. Then there are those who say that it is all a big bluff and we can go on, la-di-da, and deal with the debt ceiling in another week.  Sure, why make a decision now, if we can put if off a while, or drag it out until the holidays.

What’s the fallout from the craziness?

Are Republicans Rogue Elephants?

Rogue ElephantA New York Times Op-Ed piece today by DavidP. Barash suggests that we look to the behavior of rogue elephants to understand the posturing of Republican zealots intent on getting their way against all logic. The debt ceiling and budget debate is a high-wire public relations drama where an irresistible force meets an immovable object – somehow, someway, sometime something has to give.

It’s also a very public example of getting locked into a position that you can’t back out of. In his last address to the nation, Obama tried to throw Boehner a bone by stressing the importance of compromise and urging voters to call their congressional reps and telling them to cut a deal and be done with it.

No such luck.  Positions have hardened as we get ready to go over the cliff. Good PR is about finding opportunity in adversity, taking the heat when you’re wrong, and finding the positive in even the most troubling situations. We’re attracted to rebels, but not when they can do us real harm.

If this goes on much longer the rating agencies might deduce that we’re an irreparably dysfunctional government that can’t be relied on to pay its bills. Once we’re downgraded we all lose and we have a deeper hole to dig out of. That’s the logical deduction. But this is not a logical fight.

Obama’s ace in the hole is that he can invoke the 14th amendment and raise the debt ceiling on his own. Bill Clinton has said that is something he would do without hesitation “and force the courts to stop me.” That would be a rogue move – maybe the only option given this scenario.

 …. given the Republicans’ continued insistence on an unobtainable wish list of spending cuts and constitutional amendments, it’s fair to conclude that Mr. Obama is facing the political equivalent of an elephant in must — a player who simply won’t play the game. – David P. Barash