November 7, 2008 in Links
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November 7, 2008 · Links

Outline of Newsweek's 'Secrets of the 2008 Campaign' report

If I had to give a single example of why traditional journalism won’t (shouldn’t?) disappear, I’d point to the series [...]

If I had to give a single example of why traditional journalism won’t (shouldn’t?) disappear, I’d point to the series of articles that Newsweek just released about the 2008 presidential campaign. Entitled “Secrets of the 2008 Campaign,” the 7 chapter (!) report is based on extensive reporting which they had to promise not to release until after the election.

The amount of new information is staggering and it answers scores of the questions that bloggers could only speculate about before. In a lot of ways, it’s made me feel like all the pre-election rumour blog surfing was a total waste of time.

I’ve been raving about this piece like a lunatic to everyone I know and to make sure that everyone reads it, I put together this handy dandy outline (The bullets correspond to a page in each chapter).

Chapter 1 – Obama: How He Did it

  • Obama getting the attention of Democrats. Ethel Kennedy: “torch is being passed to you” but some fear and reluctance from family
  • Obama’s self awareness: “There’s a certain ambivalence in my character that I like about myself… It’s not necessarily useful in a presidential campaign.” Campaign team comes together and set the ethos: “No-Drama Obama”. Obama decides (forced?) to go to the grassroots
  • Obama gets “high and mighty”, learns from his mistake and get “Fired up! Ready to go!”
  • Hillary squanders ‘05-‘06, questions why she wants to run, and gets tangled up with their first Bill controversy
  • Clintons blow through cash, tries to work with a “team of rivals”, and get their first shock when they get their “asses kicked” in Iowa. “What!” exclaimed [Bill] Clinton, who then called out in a loud voice, “Hillary!”
  • pandemonium in campaign, Hillary tears up

Chapter 2 – McCain: Back From the Dead

  • In 2000, McCain loved the Straight Talk Express, joking with reporters, and his Luke Skywalker role. In 2006 as the front-runner, he reluctantly found himself in the middle of a slick campaign, albeit one which struggled to raise money. Feeling that the campaign was “sinking.”
  • McCain loved sparring with journalists but was “at heart a loner”, “Senator Hothead”, and “McNasty” who ducked out of key leadership decisions in his campaign.
  • Against advisers, McCain is still optimistic on Iraq. Campaign invigorated by a nothing-to-lose attitude, gang of pirates mentality and wins New Hampshire and South Carolina
  • Deals with the NYT piece about McCain’s relationship with a lobbyist and the campaign learns that the “liberal press would always turn on you”

Chapter 3 – The Long Siege

  • Bill Clinton’s righteous indignation and worry that his wife was blowing her chance; gets everyone in South Caroline riled up because of a comment about Jesse Jackson. Caroline Kennedy endorses Obama and someone realizes “Oh, my God, we’re done.”
  • Hillary gets fatter, Obama gets skinnier and Michelle makes a careless mistake about finally feeling proud of her country
  • Chaos and incompetence inside the Hillary campaign, struggling with messaging, and brief success with the 3 a.m. ad.
  • Obama worries about Pastor Wright, drops the ball by not researching his sermons, and single-handily pulls himself out of the situation with a moving speech on race.
  • Clinton dream dying but finally finds her voice. Stalemate between the campaigns
  • Obama makes a lame Star Trek joke, Obama finally wins nomination but skips celebratory beer to prepare for a morning talk

Chapter 4 – Going Into Battle

  • McCain’s speaking style frustrates aides; jokes constantly and seems to be “amused by the haphazardness of his own organization”. Salter and Schmidt becoming drinking buddies and work themselves up over Obama.
  • Schmidt takes over from Rick Davis. McCain sorely disappointed by Obama’s unwillingness to engage in a series of townhall meetings. Aides force him to avoid dealing with the press from now on.
  • Schmidt crafts the celebrity attack ad on Obama. McCain feels that Obama “lacks guts” and personally offended by Obama’s political maneuvering earlier in the Senate
  • Hillary’s team awkwardly folded into Obama’s and the campaign becomes nervous because of the impact of the celebrity ad.
  • McCain’s persuaded to go all negative while avoiding the race issue. Obama’s team taps into online social networks, gather phone numbers, and crash Red Cross’s site.

Chapter 5 – Center Stage

  • Obama’s computer systems get hacked, campaign feels like Obama’s been knocked “off stride” and nervous that the Clintons might try to steal the spotlight at the convention. Team searches for a running mate and says Obama: “I’m leaning toward Biden”
  • Obama gathers opinions about this choice, Clintons give great speeches but then the Palin pick gets announced. Biden: “Who’s Palin?” McCain wanted his “brother” Lieberman but would have trouble with the base about his pro-life stance so McCain impulsively gambles on Palin, gives her a five minute phone call.
  • McCain’s team charmed by her, gets picked in highly secretive process, and gets presented internally; some did not even know who she was
  • Palin announced and campaign picks up some steam
  • Obama camp nervous; “People went a little Kerry and Dukakis there for a couple of days” but bloggers quickly digs dirt on Palin. Then a gift: AIG burns up, McCain says “economy strong”; Obama pounces, McCain fumbles
  • McCain tries to get involved in bailout bill but “Washington didn’t want him.

Chapter 6 – The Great Debates

  • Obama realizes “McCain had stepped on a banana peel”, preps for debates as if it were a bar exam.
  • McCain doesn’t look at Obama during the first debate (“Because you told me not to! McCain retorted”), and coaches worry about what appears to be his disdain for Obama
  • McCain sees Biden on Youtube: “He looks like an angry old senator!” and staffers hope he picks up on the irony before the next debate. Campaign goes all negative and not everyone happy about this
  • Palin overhandled, made to feel uptight, and then rebels. Crowds get vicious about Obama and McCain reels about how things are going.
  • McCain’s team meet and decide not to tell McCain how bad things actually are; McCain makes sure not to play the race card but everyone worried about how supporters are changing.
  • McCain tries to land a knockout with “Joe the Plumber” but it’s sloppily executed and no background checking done

Chapter 7 – The Final Days

  • Obama’s team worries about how to handle Jay-Z and registers hundreds of thousands of new voters
  • Refuse to give out “walk around money”, instead opting for get out the vote drives
  • Obama’s campaign organization has thousands of volunteers who are empowered, responsible and putting in long hours. Axelrod and Obama communication ascends to telepathy.
  • Gloom in the McCain camp, reluctance to share bad news with him but paradoxically “The crazier things get, the calmer he becomes
  • McCain has a poorly run ground campaign with lots of mistargetted effort. “Unit cohesion” crumbling and “Wasilla Hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,
  • On election day, Obama’s emergency handling team “had the feel of a corporate office on a slow Tuesday”; McCain still cheery, running a last townhall: “best event in New Hampshire, probably ever.”
  • Palin gearing up for 2012, not cooperating with campaign, asking to speak at McCain’s concession speech. Obama wins and “as even-tempered as ever.”

This entry was written by Andrew Louis on November 7, 2008 and posted in Links. It's tagged with , .