Absence of Presence Is a Presence All Its Own

Or, uh, something like that. Over at the PJM home page, Steve Caulk has a nice piece on Colorado Democrats like Governor Hickenlooper and Senator Udall snubbing the President when he visited Denver last week. The key bit is here:


The question is whether this strategy of disassociation is really so obvious, and how effective it might be in the long run. There also has to be the question of how tolerant and understanding the president might be. His press office did not respond immediately with an answer to that question. But Ciruli felt free to speculate:

“My prediction is we won’t see the president again in this election cycle in the state of Colorado,” he said.

Which might come as a relief to Udall and his gang. If Udall had second thoughts about his strategy, his press office was not offering any insight.

“It (strategy) may be too smart,” Ciruli said. “It has become so transparent, the act itself is subject to a host of criticism.”

I’m less certain. I’m reminded of a story I might have told here once or twice, of 60 Minutes, Ronald Reagan, and (I think) Mike Deaver. 60 Minutes did a hit piece on Reagan, reported IIRC by Mike Wallace. The White House knew it was coming, but was nevertheless generous enough to give CBS video crews access to the President as he vacationed on his California ranch. The hit piece ran on Sunday night, complete with B-roll footage of Reagan in his cowboy hat, riding his horse, chopping wood, clearing scrub brush, etc.


The next day, Deaver called up 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt to thank him for running the piece. Deaver — and this is the dumb part; he should have kept his mouth shut — explained that the only thing people were going to remember from yet another hit piece on Reagan was the visuals of the President. And sure enough, polls showed Americans responded positively to seeing the President working and relaxing on his ranch. The report was pretty much ignored.

Here in Colorado we have a “dog that didn’t bark” case of the visuals that didn’t happen — there’s no video of Hickenlooper warmly welcoming the President to yet another fundraiser, or of Obama praising Udall for all his support in the Senate. Without the visuals, did the story ever happen?

People like us, who pay attention to these things like Jerry Seinfeld obsessing over a minor point of etiquette — we noticed. But the generic casual voter? Maybe not so much.


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