- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2014

Politicians and political parties may be a little too preoccupied with the business of branding themselves, heeding opinion polls, micro-targeting voters and megamarketing the message. Their real appeal may be getting lost in the turmoil.

“I say we get rid of all this research and development for a while,” conservative commentator Armstrong Williams tells Inside the Beltway. “We need to get these voters to know the candidates — not the label. That way, they won’t be so shocked when their elected officials actually start to govern.”


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Yes, now wouldn’t that be something? There are greater implications, though. Transparency and fair-minded media coverage may also suffer when elected officials project an image that is more akin to entertainment than authentic leadership.

Consider that President Obama has now been labeled the “reality-show president” by Todd Krainin, a producer for Reason TV who notes that the White House has almost become a broadcast company itself, what with its official photographers, strategic selfies and tactical tweets. The observant Michael Shaw, publisher of Bagnewsnotes.com — a “visual politics” site which analyzes news images — declares that the public “has been fed a steady diet of whatever kind of president the news cycle demands.”

Miffed journalists can whine about it, to no avail. That, apparently, is political show biz. And it’s happening everywhere.

“All over the world, heads of state are producing idealized versions of their own identities on social media, a technology that empowers leaders every bit as much as the rest of us. Heads of state and politicians are increasingly free to project their own self-image directly to the public, with less accountability than ever from an independent press,” writes Mr. Krainan, who has produced a 12-minute expose of same using still photography from the White House. It’s available at Reason.com/reasontv.

A MOST TELLING POLL

Arriving Tuesday from the Family Research Council and WPA Opinion Research, a pivotal poll gauging public reaction to the contraception mandate in Obamacare that requires all health plans to provide “all FDA-approved contraceptives, including drugs that can destroy a human embryo, and sterilization services.”

The national survey of 901 likely voters found that 53 percent of the respondents oppose the mandate, compared to 43 percent who support it. The takeaway: Opposition to the mandate remains high among key demographics who support Democrats, including women (50 percent oppose), independents (53 percent) and Hispanics (50 percent).

“Democrats should be wary about being on the wrong side of this issue as voters that typically support them tend to oppose the mandate,” the poll advises.

BUMPER PATROL

“Keep your doctor, change your senator.”

— Bumper sticker spotted in Warren, Ohio.

BIG-HEARTED GOLF

Rep. Trey Gowdy — Benghazi investigation chairman. But wait. There’s also Trey Gowdy — golf aficionado extraordinaire. Indeed, the South Carolina Republican is among 11 other lawmakers described as “Washington’s most powerful golf enthusiasts” who are set to gather on Capitol Hill to herald the upcoming “NGS Golf Digest Congressional Shoot-Out” for charity.

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