In the Arena

Paranoid Stylings

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Jeez, maybe it’s because I’ve only covered nine presidential campaigns, but I find it difficult to make sweeping generalizations about presidential campaigns or the coverage thereof.

1. While luck and quick reflexes have a lot to do with the success of campaigns, I have covered more than a few that have been brilliant tactically or strategically, or both. Carter’s primary campaign strategy in 1976 was phenomenal. James Carville planned out a great Clinton strategy in the 1992 general election. Karl Rove created chicken salad out of…uh…Bush in 2000 and 2004. The Obama campaign, so far this year, is one of the smartest I’ve ever covered. A reporter on the John McCain campaign might get a different impression…since McCain is, famously, a guerrilla candidate who makes it up–wonderfully, at times–as he goes along.

2. This seems gratuitous:

(reporters, on the whole, detest talking to actual voters)

Some reporters, especially wire service sorts, are totally fixed on the candidate and what he or she is saying. Other reporters are lazy. Other reporters like taking photographs of airplane wings. But a great many reporters–and all the good ones–enjoy meeting and having long talks with actual civilians.

3. It is true that power outlets are more important these days than pay phones.