Larry Craig, the irrational member who goes on forever with no solution.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Oct. 5 2007 3:08 PM

Word Problem

Larry Craig, the irrational member who goes on forever with no solution.

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Craig may have a tough time measuring up. His mug shot is unlikely to replace Sacagawea's face on the dollar coin. When Chief Joseph surrendered to authorities, he said, "I will fight no more forever." Craig handed them his Senate business card and said, "What do you think of that?"

The Idaho pantheon already has two real Hall of Famers—Harmon Killebrew, a slugger for the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins, and Jerry Kramer, an offensive lineman who's in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame with a different Larry Craig. The list includes William Borah and Frank Church, who used to be the most famous senators from Idaho; Ezra Taft Benson, the late head of the Mormon Church; J.R. Simplot, the billionaire who invented frozen tater tots and French fries; teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan; Olympic medalist Picabo Street; and Academy Award nominee Lana Turner, whose Wikipedia biography quotes her saying, "I liked the boys, and the boys liked me."

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Notwithstanding Craig's entry, self-destructive tendencies alone are not enough to ensure induction. Ernest Hemingway shot himself to death in Ketchum, but isn't in the Hall. Fame is no guarantee, either: Napoleon Dynamite may be the best-known figure in Idaho history, but his induction ceremony will have to wait.

As it turns out, Craig is not even the first conservative with a rap sheet to make the list. Ezra Pound, who left Idaho to become a famous poet and Nazi sympathizer, was later charged with treason and sentenced to 12 years at St. Elizabeth's. Pound didn't take as good a mug shot. But if Craig gets another chance, he might want to consider the poet's plea—not guilty by reason of insanity. ... 10:27 A.M. ( link)

Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007

Bring Your Own Dip: With more than 110,000 views, "Way!" may be the most watched Jumpcut video ever without sex or tortilla chips. Maybe next time!

On Friday, CBS announced an initiative called Eyelab to let viewers cut and paste their own CBS promos. A CBS executive tells Ad Week, "The Internet is the world's best laboratory." The producer of CSI – now merely the world's second-, third-, and fourth-best laboratories – predicts that viewer-generated mashups will "no doubt, inspire us with their creativity."

As Chris Albrecht observes over at NewTeeVee.com:

Mashups are now a go-to device when media companies want to connect with the youth. When they want to seem cool. But how cool can mashups be when presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a mashup contest to create his next ad?

He's right: Team Mitt isn't a campaign; it's a media company. They've even branded their own channel, MittTV. Conservatives, beware: If CBS is the new mashup, that makes Mitt Romney the new CBS.

"The problem with corporate mashups is that they can never be as good as independently-produced ones," Albrecht explains. "All the best mashups come from outside of the corporate system." He says "Romney learned that first-hand" when his contest "winner" got trounced by the "popular favorite. … a less-than-flattering video from Slate.com."

As Albrecht notes, "This puts the Romney camp in the awkward position of ignoring the popular vote to side with the safe bet."

The choice is simple: You can buck the corporate establishment and be "Way!" cool. Or you can toe the corporate line and watch a fall season of Creepy Guy on CSI: Salt Lake. ... 12:12 P.M. (link)

Friday, Sept. 28, 2007

Truth, Justice, and the American "Way!": Like Al Gore, I don't want to wake up every morning obsessed with the injustice of a system that let someone else claim victory when I won the popular vote. But since you asked, "Way!" is still the one true democratically elected winner of the Romney ad contest, and is about to cross the 100,000-vote mark on its way to Jumpcut's all-time Top 10 list.

Team Mitt can't count, but most Americans can. The Washington Post pointed out that "Way!" cleaned the Romney campaign's clock online.  Time paired the real winner with the impostor. The headline in Wired said it all: "Romney Campaign Announces Jumpcut Results, but Audience Prefers an Alternative."

At a Politico seminar this week, Romney's director of e-strategy promised, "The winner will be whoever gets the most votes." No wonder voters are cynical. But let me say to all the young people out there who wanted to believe in democracy: Keep the faith. America may have lost Bush v. Gore. But America hasn't seen the last of Reed v. Romney. ... 1:43 P.M. (link)

Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007

And the Runner-Up Is...: With "Way!" running up an FDR-size landslide, Romney ad finalists have been running a Create Your Own Also Ran contest for the role of Alf Landon. This afternoon, the Politburo announced its choice: an ad called "Ready for Action," which was only losing to "Way!" by 61,000 votes.

The campaign press release says the candidate will introduce the ad at a rally tomorrow. The ad will run once a day for a week in five Iowa and New Hampshire markets—which means the Romney campaign will spend about as much to air the ad as it did to produce it.

"Ready for Action" is a disappointing choice, and not just because it collected a paltry 20,000 votes to the 80,000+ votes for "Way!"A more apt title for it would be "Above the Fruited Plain." Stock video clips of flags, mountains, and the Golden Gate Bridge rush to keep up with Romney's favorite political clichés. The words strength, innovation, and experience appear in subliminal blips, then give way to the tag line, "Strong. New. Leadership."

Team Mitt no doubt liked the ad because it so closely resembles the ads from Romney's consultants. "Ready for Action" says nothing about what Romney would do as president. One viewer complained that it doesn't even mention that Romney's running for president:

Remember that the average person seeing the add on network television will have no clue who he is or that there is even an election going on. Network television is targeted to the lowest common denominator which when you look at what they show on network tv these days doesn't say much for the aptitude of our country.

Tagg Romney has yet to acknowledge the true winner of the ad contest. But proving that he has exactly half a sense of humor, today he did graciously thank Slate V for its "Five Brothers" spoof, which he says "is about as close as we are going to get to our own mini-series."

In the very next sentence, he writes, "I loved 'Band of Brothers' and I'm looking forward to [the] Pacific version that's being planned." The boy can't help himself: Only Tagg could watch the Slate video about the Romney brothers' failure to serve, and say it reminded him of how much he likes war movies. ...  5:45 P.M. (link)

Lose Early and Often: Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Romney insiders have dubbed their campaign strategy "win early and often." The strategy for the "Create Your Own Ad!" contest must be just the opposite, because Team Mitt's loss keeps getting bigger every day.

The campaign e-mailed reporters yesterday to say the polls would close at 11:59 p.m. last night, but this morning the lead item on the Romney Web site was an urgent get-out-the-vote plea. Next time, they might want to beg voters to stay home. As so often happens in a change election, the late-breaking undecideds overwhelmingly went the challenger's "Way!".

With all the absentee votes counted and every precinct from Utah to Planet Romney reporting, "Way!" has built a 60,000-vote lead:

"Way!" – 76,500

Ready for Action – 17,800

Mitt's Misspelled Resume – 9,000

The Man, the Mitt, the Legend – 3,600

Romney Girl – 3,500

I Believe – 3,100

Creepy Guy from Salt Lake – 2,900

Romney Innovation – 2,900

The Change America Needs – 2,900

The Right Course – 2,100

Yesterday, it was bad enough that "Way!" had more votes than the Little Romney Nine combined. But what has to worry Mitt strategists most now is that the more voters find out, the worse it gets. The Romney campaign lost late deciders by more than 3-1. In the last 24 hours, "Way!" picked up more than 35,000 votes. The nine Romney finalists gained about 10,000 votes altogether.

In fact, voters are so desperate for an alternative to the handpicked Mittista slate that "Way!" is now one of the 20 most-watched, most-loved videos in Jumpcut history. Every other most-loved video there is left over from last year's "Revenge of the Nerds" contest, so Mitt and I feel right at home.

We're still waiting for the star of the winning ad, Tagg Romney, to step forward and take a bow. In a blog post yesterday, however, he did hint that he considers Ann and the Five Brothers to be the best hope for the campaign's advertising. Under the heading, "Mom and Chevy ads," he runs a deliciously self-serving MSNBC excerpt:

Pat Buchanan: "Everything I've seen of him and his family, I think this is the most extraordinary asset Mitt Romney has. It almost frankly looks almost too picture perfect, an American family. One of those things they used in Chevrolet ads in the 1950s or something."

Those were the days, when Madison Avenue could sell anything Detroit could make, and GM could get even the son of the CEO of American Motors to buy a Chevy wagon, so long as it would hold a caged dog on the roof.

Tagg, we hear your cry for help. If your dad's overpriced consultants won't put you in the campaign ads, all of us here at Way! Productions are ready to keep proving that you're the one voters want to see.

In a painful symbol of the Romney campaign's struggles, Tagg just wrote another post announcing yet another contest:

I've been grounded for a few weeks from a minor mishap I had in New Hampshire. Both of my legs are a little beat up but I should be back on the road soon. I really miss being able to be out there campaigning for my Dad. My brothers will tell you I'm a total klutz so I'm embarrassed to admit how it happened. I will send out a Romney hat to the person who submits the best story on how it all happened. My only hint is that I have a big gash across my right shin and a deep hematoma on my left femur and it involved jumping.

It's clear what happened: Tagg must have inherited the same Romney penchant for self-mutilation that produced the "Create Your Own Ad!" contest. But we're happy to play along and help our star out in the first online contest to Create Your Own Cover Story.

It may look like Tagg Romney tried to end it all by hang gliding off the Mitt Mobile. But there's no way Tagg jumped. He was pushed. ... 1:05 P.M.(link)

Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007

Block the Vote: Despite a desperate poll-line stand by the Romney campaign, "Way!" has built a commanding, 23,000-vote lead over its nearest challenger. Team Mitt spent the past 24 hours fending off questions from reporters wanting to know how Romney could possibly win an election when his campaign doesn't even know how to run one.

The total page views at 9 a.m. EST Wednesday for "Way!" and the Romney nine:

Way! – 39,500

Ready for Action – 16,400

Mitt's (Misspelled) Resume – 3,800

The Man, the Mitt, the Legend – 3,000

Romney Girl – 2,800

I Believe – 2,600

Innovation – 2,500

Creepy Guy From Salt Lake – 2,500

The Change America Needs – 2,300

The Right Course – 1,700

A quick, Harvard Business School analysis of the data reveals that "Way!" has more views than all nine official finalists put together.

Team Mitt might want to revise the talking points it gave the Globe yesterday: "This contest demonstrates Romney for President's commitment to using cutting-edge technology to engage voters online and harness the extraordinary enthusiasm of its grassroots supporters." Translation: The Romney campaign hopes to harness more supporters like the Creepy Guy From Salt Lake.

National Journal suggests the "Reed vs. Romney" smackdown—complete with dueling, dorky head shots—has practically wiped the Petraeus-MoveOn controversy off the back pages:

In August, the Boston Globe characterized the contest as 'the latest example of how the 2008 presidential candidates are using the Internet to engage supporters in unprecedented ways.' But it looks like it's also turning out to be the latest example of campaigns not recognizing how little control they have over their own Web efforts.

The Wall Street Journal has more on the vote-blocking scandal, along with a rave review. It calls "Way!" and Slate's own "Five Brothers" "notable" and "snarky."

As the Journal points out, Team Mitt won't let you vote in its ad contest unless you give the campaign your name, address, and e-mail. First they handpicked the candidates and imposed Soviet-style elections. Now they want to destroy the secret ballot. Don't take the bait—it's a trap! They'll use your email address to bilk you for all you're worth, and then they won't count your vote, anyway.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post asked three unaffiliated GOP strategists what they thought of the Romney campaign's new slogan, "Change Begins With Us." One was blown away by its brilliance. The second said the slogan was hard to assess because it didn't mean anything. The third said it was the perfect slogan for an anti-Romney flip-flop ad. That's Mitt Romney's message in a nutshell—all things to all consultants.

In the ad contest, "The Change America Needs" is next to last, right behind the Creepy Guy From Salt Lake. The voters say loud and clear they prefer the "Way!" tag line: "He'll set America straight." But if Team Mitt won't listen, they can always go with the slogan, "Creepy Begins With Us." ... 9:40 A.M. (link)

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