Jewish World Review June 6, 2000 / 3 Sivan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- REPUBLICANS OFTEN COMPLAIN that they do not get a fair shake in the media, whose journalists vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. However, the "self-help" approach that many Republicans recommend to others is one that they might consider for themselves.
Many other people have a variety of handicaps that they have to learn to cope with and compensate for. The great heavyweight champion of the 1950s, Rocky Marciano, realized early on in his career that his short arms meant that he would have to take a lot of punches from his opponents while trying to get inside to land his own punches.
There was nothing he could do about the other heavyweights' longer arms.
What he could do was concentrate on developing his own punches so that a few of them would offset the larger number of punches that his opponents would land on him. Marciano was so successful in this strategy that he won every fight in his professional career.
Although Rocky Marciano always came out a winner, he often looked worse than the loser, as a result of all the punches he absorbed while trying to get inside to land his knockout punch. Nothing was more common than photos of a battered and bloody Marciano putting his opponent away.
Similarly, Republicans have real handicaps in the media. No Republican can expect to have the kinds of soft and gushy interviews that media journalists have given Hillary Clinton or other liberal icons.
When the media edit videotape on both sides of an issue, it is not uncommon for them to present the arguments of the Democrats and the emotional responses of the Republicans, even though both sides have had both arguments and emotions. In live debates, it is almost axiomatic that Democrats will get more time and will also disrupt the Republicans' presentations with interruptions, while the hosts look on benignly.
In short, like Rocky Marciano, Republicans have handicaps to overcome. Unlike Marciano, however, the Republicans seem to have given very little attention to what they are going to do to maximize their effectiveness when they finally manage to get a clear shot.
During their most disastrous political loss of our time -- the government shutdown of 1995 -- the Republicans used their media time to talk Beltway jargon about the budgetary process. They cited "OMB figures" versus "CBO figures" to a nationwide audience with no reason to know what those initials stood for, much less why the difference in their budget statistics mattered.
It was as if Rocky Marciano, bruised and bleeding, had finally managed to get in close to confront his opponent in a corner and, instead of throwing a punch, decided to show off some fancy footwork.
During the presidential election campaign of 1996, Bob Dole frittered away the better part of an hour, when he was solo on nationwide TV, trying to show what kind of guy he was, instead of telling the audience what he and his party had to offer the voters. It was as if Marciano had found his opponent wide open for a haymaker and decided to clinch instead.
How can the Republicans use whatever media time they do get to land some telling punches? The time to figure that out is not when they are on the air but when they are, as it were, training in the gym.
The Democrats have already mastered the art of using the same words and phrases again and again. Who can forget how many times Democrats all spoke of presidential acts which "do not rise to the level of impeachment"? How many times they have referred to "tax cuts for the rich"? How often they have referred to their own proposals as "a bold initiative" and to Republican proposals as "a risky scheme"? These phrases have obviously been well-crafted beforehand to get a lot of impact from a short punch.
Even when Republicans are trying to convey the same message, they usually go at it in very different ways, each using whatever ad hoc expressions come to mind while being interviewed. There is little indication that they have thought through the implications of having to maximize whatever media openings they get. Too often, it is as if they go into the ring without ever having gone into the gym.
Rocky Marciano's won-and-lost record was 49 and 0. The Republicans' record
has been considerably less
JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author, most recently, of The Quest for Cosmic Justice.