GaryGagliardi's blog

Presidential Commercials

As I was writing my last post about polls, I saw two presidential commercials. Both were negative. Kerry attacks Bush for tax break for American companies doing business overseas. Bush attacks Kerry for missing all the Senate intelligence meetings after 9/11 and voting to cut intelligence spending. As I said at the end of the last post, there are issue that people are upset about and want to register their unhappiness about in polls and issues that determine people's real votes because those issues affect their lives.

Battlegrounds and Trends

The mainstream media always boils competitive contests down to a single number in a poll, but strategy teaches us to think about all five factors in a strategic position rather than a single one-dimensional snapshot. This is particularly important in presidential politics because presidents are not elected by popular vote, but by winning states in fifty different winner-take-all battles. These fifty different battleground are complicated by their dynamic nature, which may indicate trends. Those trends indicate where things might be going a few months from now.

Positioning versus Fighting

The basic idea behind the strategic principles of The Art of War is that systems are created from the relative positions of the various parts of a competitive system. Success is about positioning rather than fighting. Position are defined by our relationships with others and the relationships made possible by the "terrain," that is, the competitive environment. As competitors, we are all constantly trying to adjust our positions to take advantage of the terrain and our existing position within it.

The Mainstream Media's Quest for Power

Sun Tzu saw everything in life as part of a competitive challenge. He taught that every organization is always competing with all other (and everyone within an organization is competing with each other). For this point of views, we have to recognize that the media, as the fourth estate, has always been in competition with the other three estates--religion, the government, and the people. The high point for the mainstream media (network television and the major newspapers) was the resignation of Nixon.

Party of the Press or Party of the People?

The lack of media coverage about the Vietnam Veterans for the Truth claims about Kerry's behavior during the war raises an interesting question about the current strategic positions of our two party system. Democrats have allied themselves with the political views of the urban, coastal populations. One advantage of this positioning is that it has won Democrats the overwhelming support of the national mainstream media, (non-radio), which is also bi-coastal and urban.

Strategic Positioning for Political Fools

Media pundits are saying that the presidential race is "Kerry's to lose" inferring that Kerry has some type of solid lead in the race. This is based on the political wisdom that undecided voters go to the challenger in a reelection campaign. Strategically, even if this was true, actually saying it is a terrible strategy. In a close election, this lulls your supporters into passivity while motivating your opponent's supporters.

The Media and Terror

One of the basic discoveries we make in analyzing the War on Terror using Sun Tzu's principles is that the real battleground for this war is not the physical ground in the Middle East, but the conceptual battleground of the media. According to Sun Tzu's principles, the ground is what finances the competitive organization. Acts of terror generate revenue for the terrorists only through the free advertising they generate in the media. That advertising creates donations, recruits and credibility for the terrorists.

Iraqi versus Iran

I have been concerned about the illness of Sistani, head of the Hawza Shiites, who want to separate government and religion. Long-term, the current problems with Al Sadr are relatively unimportant except as a side show . The real battle here is between Iraq and Iran, the new democracy and the mullatocracy. Al Sadr is financed by Iran and, after Al Sadr is gone, Iran will still be


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