Monday, April 03, 2006

Why Me?

After Capri Cafaro MTB, McKee Stewart from The Boring Made Dull sent me the following:

You may have effectively ended the Cafaro canidacy today. I'd like to be the
first to credit you with the kill. If CC wants to run as a policy wonk, puts out
a "cornerstone" policy, but has no clue as to the costs.... and hasn't given it
a thought....
At first I was flattered. And yes, a little hopeful. Then a disturbing thought occurred to me: Why me? Why some guy with a keyboard and an armchair interest in public policy? Why was I the first to ask her this question?

She's been talking up the SAW proposal at least since I first met her. It was the subject of the first Cafaromercial, which itself earned press attention. As McKee says, the cost question was the most obvious starting point for discussing the proposal, but as far as I can tell -- from research and from Cafaro's reaction to the question -- this was the first time it came up. We can find a story about a longshot candidate opening his headquarters, but little real examination about what these people would do if elected.

The easy answer to the question is facile MSM-bashing. They are dumb, they want to give Democrats a pass. Blah. Blah. Blah.

In fact, we have the media we, in the aggregate, want. Media outlets like The Beacon Journal rarely entertain complex policy discussions because few readers have patience for it. And the BJ does better than most. Even the self-described politics junkies on Ohio 13 play the "policy makes me sleepy" card when it comes to discussing actual issues.

All of which makes me proud to be part of the new media landscape. Here in my little corner of the political universe, I can actually talk policy arcana with the one- to two-hundred folks who care to come by every day. Maybe this will have an effect beyond a couple hundred readers, maybe not, but I've never had a better outlet for my frustrations about the pale imitation of political conversation that is the hallmark of our age.

The real trick in all this is to get some run in the mainstream media. When I look at the real successes of the blogosphere -- Rathergate, outing John Gannon as a paid shill, and recently uncovering WaPo blogger Ben Domenech's serial plagiarism -- all required cross-over to the mainstream press. Unfortunately, all those instances involved easy to understand and scandalous controveries. Getting attention for something issue-oriented is considerably trickier, though "She doesn't know how much her proposal will cost" may be basic enough to get a story.

Meanwhile, the BJ fronts an Carl Chancellor interview with Tom Sawyer. Ohio 13th Votes sees it as a preview to an inevitable Sawyer endorsement, but given the equally puffy Chancellor piece on Craig Foltin last week, it appears more to be a series on the candidates. How many of the thirteen he'll actually get to remains to be seen, but so far he's avoided either putting them on the spot or getting some input from an outside source. The series reads like the PD's Open Mike candidate blogs run through a journalistic bland-o-matic.

Meanwhile, the Gary Kucinich MTB is coming up and I won't make it as scheduled. So someone else needs to ask my questions. First, since he's another who would walk away from all of our trade agreements, I'd like to know what he would do about intellectual property protection. Second, given that his view of national security appears to track his brother's, how does he feel about the Democrats' recently unveiled Real Security plan?


redhorse said...

hehe, Pho The Campaign Torpedo!

Well, it was a legitimate question, that much is certain.

Keng said...

Congrats on your laser-focus interrogation! You'll be scary during the next mayoral contest!

It appears that Gary Kucinich is an old-fashioned populist/laborist, so I doubt that intellectual property rights will ever see the light of day during his campaign.

Out of curiosity, are we, as a nation, helped or hurt by the current standards that we have in place? As a cartographer, I have my opinions (especially regarding copyright law), but those are best left to my pages...

Anonymous said...

No offense Pho, but it seems to me you have things somewhat confused. This SAW proposal is just what it is...a proposal of ideas. It is presenting a concept through political discourse to lead the way for an actual potential policy. It is not a policy itself.

Capri did not hand the district a bill to vote on. SAW is not sitting in the Ways and Means committee in the House. SAW wasn't handed to counsel. She is saying two things: increase American made goods that we ALL buy (cars, microwaves, laundry machines, etc) and revamp our trade agreements. She placed the variables inside an extremity: If goods cost less, we make and sell get there, we need to look at A,B, and C.

This is what I am gathering from her website anyway. As a legislative aid working for a Senator for several years, I have come to know the discourse seen through campaigns and in session in the Senate. Capri is running a campaign. She is talking about ideas.

For those that are familiar with how these things operate, it is quite easy to recognize your error in making this determination, or assumption. Capri is not going to take the SAW plan as is and make it into legislation. She is not going to do a cost analysis. Congressman and Senators do not do those things until they become elected. If anything, she has gone beyond what the others have done: Push away from rhetoric and introduce alternatives.

I will say one thing, this race is not a shoe in for anyone.Each candidate has its own strengths. Whoever capitalizes on their own strengths and flexes their other political muscles they need to improve, will win. It is evident that you hate Capri to begin with. Which is your own opinion, and rightfully so. However, I wouldn't give yourself too much credit for making an erroneous discovery.
It is interesting to watch all of Ohio, particularly the Governor's race,in what will happen next month. All of our eyes will be watching...

Ryan McNichols

Pho said...


First off, thanks for putting your name in your post. I understand that setting up a Blogger identity is a pain, but I wish that more Anonymice would do it your way.

Aside from that, I disagree with pretty much everything you said. First, everything I've seen tells me that Cafaro intends the tax rebate idea to be treated as a real proposal. Between the website, the Cafaromercials and the stump, she is saying "Vote for me because I'm the candidate with a specific proposal." She's asking to be judged based on SAW. I've taken it's measure here and you see the results.

Second, Cafaro tries to sell herself as the cute policy nerd. She loves to drop biographical anecdotes of her precocious wonkery or recite policy arcana from memory. I had bought into the lovable nerd story line until I saw the specifics of the proposal. The lack of rudimentary preliminary analysis of the proposal belies the policy princess storyline.

Finally, the problems with SAW pose yet more questions about her electability. Craig Foltin or David McGrew would not say "oh, this is just a discussion she wants to have, I won't actually challenge her on it." They will say something like "Capri Cafaro has a plan that starts out costing $55 Billion just to subsidize purchases people would make anyway. The cost of the program goes up as it's more successful and she doesn't know if money will come in to keep pace. In fact, she didn't even know what the initial cost would be until she had been talking about it for months. What else doesn't she know?"

One of my rules of thumb for taking a case to trial back in the day: If the other side's argument is easier to write than yours, dump it.

Anonymous said...

Well Pho, I suppose we agree to disagree. There are other pieces of legislation sitting in committees right now that call for simliar tax credits on a number of items that appear just as loose. And even though the lack of underlying supporting research may be absent on an economic proposal, that doesn't discredit the several other issues democrats fight tirelessly for that she supports.

Cafaro IS quite the policy nerd and has some interesting knowledge. I doubt she would have been approached by some prestigious universities to teach seminars if they felt otherwise. (That is how she was brought to my attention, by an intern who attended one of her seminars last year)

I have yet to meet her, and I must say you're obviously much hotter on the campaign trail than I (I assume this is your district). But for some strange reason, I have a feeling she could actually win next month. Maybe if she does, you can work for her in some capacity and contribute to your constituency...just a thought.

R. McNichols

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a link to channel 3 or 5 running a story about some of her employees from the last campaign not getting paid??? Why would, "R. McNichols" (random Capri staffer), someone then work for her??? Sounds like a risk to me.

Anonymous said...

Last anonymous, I do not work for Ms. Cafaro. Nor do I know Ms. Cafaro. As I mentioned before, one of my interns had the pleasure of having Ms. Cafaro for coursework at her university. In this midterm year, there are certain states and races that will be interesting to watch for the political gurus with a knack for the domestic trends. This race has trickled down to my attention as a result of the Ohio Governor and Senate races, name Sharon(?) Brown and Ted Strickland. I started to look and see who would be the newcomers in this important state that need retain their presence of democrats in the 13th, and especially 6th districts. Cafaro's name was dropped at that point. No need to get all worrysome, no one is paying me, and quite frnakly, my job is suffice, no matter how old it does get...