Name That Talking Point
09-15-2008
Like a lot of political junkies, I watch way too much Sunday morning political programming. One game I like to play, in order to keep my viewing fresh, is to see how quickly I can identify the key Republican and Democratic talking points for the morning’s line-up of talk shows. When Members of Congress fan out to do these interviews on behalf of one presidential ticket or the other, they can usually be counted on to hammer away at one or two predetermined themes. I picture a secretive campaign memo with the phrase of the day arriving late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning to the surrogates’ personal fax machines and email accounts.
 
This weekend, viewers were quickly treated to what was clearly the big Democratic talking point du jour, as expounded by surrogates across virtually all program options. I was able to see New York Senator Chuck Schumer on Meet the Press, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill on This Week, and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Face the Nation, all repeating the famous phrase about talking the talk and walking the walk. In this instance, the reference was to Sarah Palin talking the talk on governmental reform out on the campaign trail, but not walking the walk with her actual record in Alaska.
 
Now I know that having all of your campaign surrogates stay on message is supposed to be an important part of campaign strategy for framing the choice between candidates. And I understand that it is a way of potentially getting the upper hand in the next day’s news headlines. But there was something almost comical about watching all three of these individuals endlessly repeat (and occasionally stumble over) this obvious talking point that seemed to weaken its impact for me. The reality though is that just like with stump speeches, campaigns expect most viewers to only catch the message once or maybe twice. So, political junkies like me will have to be content with playing name that talking point.


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