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During this presidential season you'll see Democrats arguing that President Obama didn't get things done in his first term because Republicans blocked him in Congress. Republicans will counter by saying that an effective leader would be able to overcome obstacles. Several of you pointed out that my presidency will have the same problem: Our hyper-partisan and corporate-owned Congress will block me at every turn. Allow me to explain how I will make Congress my bitch. (Hey, I think I just found my campaign slogan!)

President Obama is doing it all wrong. He seems to think he can convince Republicans of the wisdom of his ideas, or perhaps he thinks his speeches will get the public on his side, and that in turn will pressure Republicans. Obviously that approach doesn't work in today's polarized world. And President Obama is lucky if the press reports more than a few sentences from his speeches.

As president, I would define my role as orchestra leader for the free press. I would make it my job to publicly guide the press toward useful coverage that provides voters with context. For example, if I propose copying Finland's system of handling a particular problem, I'll give a speech asking the free press to study how well it worked in Finland. If one particular news outlet does an especially good job of showing both sides of the debate, I'll point the public in their direction. That's a huge incentive to get it right. A president can generate a lot of traffic to a website.

If a news outlet is deliberately deceptive, or lazy, I'll expose them to public ridicule. But if a news outlet's legitimate research shows that one of my ideas is worse than I thought, I'll publicly thank whoever did the good reporting and change my position. And I'll remind the public that flip-flopping is what rational people sometimes do when they get new data.

Our current model of government holds that the free press is a watchdog to the office of the President. That function needs to remain. But the free press needs accountability too, and it's not reasonable to expect an industry to police itself. Part of the president's job should be to make sure news organizations are doing a credible job of informing citizens.

The risk in my approach is that a president will be tempted to praise any news outlet that agrees with his or her position. Confirmation bias would also be a problem. To remain credible, a president would need to sometimes modify his views based on what the media learns. And during my presidency, if different wings of the media reach different conclusions, I would call the reporters in for a public debate - Judge Judy style - and let the public watch me interrogate the reporters to figure out who is more credible. At the beginning of any cycle of debate on a particular proposal, the news outlets would be encouraged to interview the President. After the news media has time to do its research, the President should grill reporters to find out what they learned and why some of them have come to different conclusions. And the process should be done publicly, probably over a number of days.

I realize the President shouldn't be in the business of promoting particular news organizations. But helping the public stay informed is a legitimate function of government. I'd try to find a balance.

This would all be part of my larger drive to make decisions based on data instead of dogma. Realistically, voters get their opinions from the news. When voters are better informed, they should form natural majorities that will influence Congress. And on issues where the facts are not sufficiently influential for voters to form a clear majority, perhaps the government should stay gridlocked. That's not always a bad thing.

 
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Jun 28, 2012
I like part of the idea, but should this really be something the President should handle? It sounds a little too easy to abuse.

You might be better off trying this as a major news reporter. Make your news articles about OTHER news stations, or make a regular news column dedicated to cross-analyzing other newspapers/channels.

As a bonus, if every news source starts adopting a similar practice of peer-evaluation, it will create a ton of jobs in journalism. And there's no shortage of desperate retail clerks and laborers who have some kind of journalism degree.

Forger making Congress your !$%*!$ make these news sources your !$%*!$%*
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 26, 2012
Argh. Can't type, and apparently can't edit either: "here" not "her"
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 26, 2012
I think there's a need her for a revolutionary new bumper sticker!


Data, not Dogma.


in simple, sans-serif, red-on-white lettering.

Can somebody with more capability than I get on that? Please? :^)

 
 
Jun 26, 2012
Scott, who are you trying to reach? Rational people? The are in the minority. Most people only pay attention to ideas that fit into their own preconceptions. And thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever for people to filter out any opposing viewpoints. How will you expose any news outlet to "public" ridicule? Most people get their news from only one source. They will never hear such ridicule from that source. People who get their news from a source that you praise will only see it as evidence that source is always right. Most people will only hear short clips of anything you say taken out of context to support the agenda of whoever is delivering them. Too many people have their head in their own box (or something else) and hear nothing outside of it.

And good luck with trying to get reporters to let you interrogate them. I can't see any of them allowing that.

I'm afraid you'll never get anywhere in politics until you stop making sense.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 26, 2012
I think you are making an assumption that modern media earn money by _reporting_ the news to inform people. In reality, they earn their pay and ratings by _making_ the news out of available events to entertain and/or misinform people.
 
 
Jun 26, 2012
"Allow me to explain how I will make Congress my !$%*!$%*!$%*!$ president, I would define my role as orchestra leader for the free press. I would make it my job to publicly guide the press toward useful coverage that provides voters with context. For example, if I propose copying Finland's system of handling a particular problem, I'll give a speech asking the free press to study how well it worked in Finland. If one particular news outlet does an especially good job of showing both sides of the debate, I'll point the public in their direction. That's a huge incentive to get it right. A president can generate a lot of traffic to a website."

"If a news outlet is deliberately deceptive, or lazy, I'll expose them to public ridicule. But if a news outlet's legitimate research shows that one of my ideas is worse than I thought, I'll publicly thank whoever did the good reporting and change my position. And I'll remind the public that flip-flopping is what rational people sometimes do when they get new data."

...where to begin...

1-do you think you'll have time to do that and do everything else a president needs to do? How many news organizations do you think you'll have to browse before you find one thats getting it right? How many times a week do you think you'll have to repeat that process? I interpret your comment about the president being an orchestrator as meaning this is something you won't delegate.

2-Apparently you don't remember the very simple and highly effective campaign commercials run during the 1988 election which killed various political careers for flip-flopping. Or maybe they didn't run in California. Or maybe you weren't paying attention. Anyway, the point is its too easy to convince the voters the guy in office did something wrong when he acts rationally.

3-Somehow I don't think you'll be able to make 535 (I'm including the senate here) very smart (in their own political way), very determined and very egotistical people your !$%*!$ Try it and they WILL find a way to screw your administration.

4-You do realize that your approach to handling the news organizations would make most of them your enemy. How long do you think your approval ratings will last after that?

5-How will you know if a particular news organization gets it right about Finland?

 
 
Jun 26, 2012
I wrote "a d j u s t"
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 26, 2012
I really like the underlying idea of your suggestion: !$%*!$%*! the incentive structure for news corporations. If news corps are rewarded for being factually correct, then they will strive for that, plain and simple.
Its easy to criticize centralizing power over the news with the president and making comparisons to say, China. But the solution to that is to just decentralize it in some way. So there's no real point in making a big fuss out of that.

The true problem with this model is that where ever power is situated, the lobbyists will sniff it out and try to buy influence, just like it has happened with the current establishment. Your proposed model is just as corruptible as the current model.
 
 
Jun 26, 2012
In regards to data... Where the hell is Ross perrot and his charts? To this day not one politician I know of has shown a chart or solid data in a debate....

And i'm curious as to why that is.

I suspect the politicians pay too much attention to the advice of political scientists... And from what I noticed from hanging around political science majors in the past, is that political scientist arnt really interested in fixing things, but only interested in the outcome of elections, or in other words just winning.

The current gridlock in the system is a good thing. Gridlock is what happens when too many irrational idiots vote in, too many irrational idiots.

Its kind of like governmental Anti virus software that shuts down the system temporary, when too much malicious data " stupid people" gets through the gates. The system shuts down so that catastrophic damage cant be done by the irrational.

Hopefully the rational components in the system can weed out the irrational components and get back to business. The shut down gives the rational components time "2 years " to weed out the system.

Of coarse if the system has to much malicious software, the whole system collapses and revolutions begin...

I don't think we are even close to that point though... We have insurances and backup systems (that irrational people want to get rid of by the way )in place to keep the people fed, and complacent....
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 26, 2012
"And President Obama is lucky if the press reports no more than a few sentences from his speeches."

There you go, I fixed that sentence for you. Scott, have you ever watched or read on of the president's speeches? It's a speech that is twice the length that it needs to be and 75% less substance.
 
 
Jun 26, 2012
LeadDreamer - go back and read my first post on this blog topic. The Democrats had a filibuster-proof Senate for the first two years of President Obama's term.

I don't blame you for not knowing this. Obviously, Scott didn't know, either.
 
 
Jun 25, 2012
cbccard;

Obama had both houses for 2 years... really? I guess we don't have the Filibuster in the Senate any more then... Oh, wait, that's right, we *do* have the Filibuster - *and* it's being used at a rate over 4x any historical rate! Compromise? Compromise to what? Obama has *already* made proposal that are *word-for-word* identical to Republican proposals - and had them rejected - *and* filibustered. I guess the Republicans don't *really* believe in "majority".

The Senate was to be the "gentlemanly" body - the house of reason. The Filibuster was *never* a part of the constitution; it was and is a rule, by the senate, put in by the senate, as the senate is permitted to do in the constitution - but those who proposed it assumed that "gentlemanly" behavior would prevail.

BTW, "Free Press"? what "Free Press"? All the press I've been able to find, with VERY few exceptions, are profit-seeking arms of profit seeking Corporations, mostly owned and guided by those with the most money, and damn-well determined that it remain that way...
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 25, 2012
president obama had a democratic house and democratic senate for 2 years. he could've done anything he wanted.

no one to blame.
 
 
Jun 25, 2012
OK, now that I've set the record straight, let me resume my role as your self-appointed presidential campaign advisor.

First, assuming you're not running as a Republican (I think there's about as much chance of that as there is of the PHB becoming a good manager), keep blaming everything on the Republicans and on Bush. When someone brings up the facts as I just did, blame the Tea Party's influence, and in the next statement say that the Tea Party is dead. People will be so confused by this that they'll accept your basic premise, that it's all the Republicans' fault, and they'll be inclined to vote for you.

Now, you need to understand that you need the mainstream press. You aren't going to get FOX News on your side, because they have a troubling tendency to try to point out errors in logic and present both sides, and that's the last thing you want. So, similar to President Obama, your position should be to downplay any media outlet that doesn't support you as a hopelessly biased den of liars.

As an aside, your intention to point to Finland as an example is fraught with danger. Here are some reasons why:

1. Finland is a tiny country. Its population, according to the "CIA World Factbook," is only about 1.5 million more citizens than the city of Los Angeles.

2. Finland has a homogenous population. 93.4 percent of the population are native Finns. Most of the rest are Swedes. That doesn't translate well to the multi-cultural USA.

3. Finland's economy isn't so hot. They're expecting a recession this year. About the only well-known Finnish company is Nokia, and they're pretty much getting the crap kicked out of them by the iPhone and Android. Finland's total GDP is only about $200 billion. The US government spends that much about every eighteen days. By way of perspective, our mutual state of California, all by itself, has an economy that is roughly ten times larger than Finland's.

4. It's cold in Finland. It's hard to relate to a country that has a two-week summer.

5. Nobody in the USA (save Finnish-Americans, of which my wife is one, so I hope she never reads this) cares much about what Finland does or doesn't do.

Overall, I'd say stay away from using other countries to point to what America should be doing. That's generally unpopular. We like to think of other countries emulating us, not the other way around.

As far as orchestrating the press goes, you've got your work cut out for you. First you need to wrestle control away from the Democrats and the New York Times, which pretty much sets the agenda for the mainstream media. You're pretty rich, so I'd suggest buying the New York Times as a first step (it's been losing money hand over fist for a long time - you should be able to get it for a steal). Barring that, though, you're pretty much s c r e w e d, unless you run as a Democrat. In that case, no worries. You'll own the press.

Getting reporters to debate each other to get a presidential imprimateur is a bad idea. Someone will win, and someone will lose. The one who wins will be looking over his/her shoulder afraid that people will perceive him/her as a partisan flack for the president, and thus become more critical of your administration to keep from appearing too biased. The one who loses will hate your guts and subtly work to undermine you. So my recommendation is, don't try to manage the press. They can turn on you in an instant.

You really have only two choices, IMHO: one option is for you to take the Reagan route, and take your ideas over the head of both the Congress and the press by going directly to the people. I think this would work well with you, assuming your ability to use hypnosis works over the TV.

The other choice is to take the Clinton route: be a weather vane, turning in the direction of public opinion. Hire a savvy, Dick Morris-type consultant to run focus groups on every major issue. Decide which lie works best in swaying the unwashed masses; failing that, find out which view is more popular with the majority of the sheeple, and go with that. That way, as with Clinton, you ensure your own continued popularity, and thus your ability to be re-elected.

And as you know, that's a lot more important than doing what's best for the country.

Well, once again it has been great working for me as your unappointed election advisor. I still think a campaign office in Pleasanton across from Stacey's would be the ideal venue. And I'll work for cheap, as long as, after your election, I become ambassador to some really great country, like Fiji or Tahiti. Maybe Thailand - I understand their night life is exceptional.

You're welcome, once again.
 
 
Jun 25, 2012
Instead of the press, why not use individual members of Congress to defend their sides of your mediated debate? Even most members of Congress are more informed than the cheerleading press, and on the occassion that one of them cannot make cogent arguments, maybe the exposure will have the added benefit of crimping their reelection chances.
 
 
Jun 25, 2012
The problem letting media members debate the issue is a lot of them have no idea what they are talking about. Some of them probably have no ability to debate. Now you could let the people who know their side of the issues debate, but there's no way of knowing if that'd be good TV. I mean my spreadsheet on some obscure subject is 10x better than Ted's, but that doesn't mean it's worth being on prime time TV.

Ted brings it down that much.

The other problem is if you advertise one network's rivals, that network isn't going to like you very much. If you mention one of them too often or another not enough, you're obviously playing favorites you fox/cnn/msnbc lapdog.


Now a cynical perspective of your presidency: you want to be the propaganda minister (not that it isn't happening anyways).


-"This would all be part of my larger drive to make decisions based on data instead of dogma."
That'll never happen in Washington. The only data that gets in there is the stuff that confrims the dogmas that washington wants to keep going. Once politics gets involved, there can be no science.

You'd literally have to fire the entire federal gov to have a chance of eliminating the beltway dogmas. Sadly, the new people you hire will all be lying weasels hoping they can fudge the evidence however they can to make the difference they want to.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 25, 2012
How to "get something through Congress" 101:
Compromise. Or propose something centrist enough to draw at least a few votes from the opposition. If all of your proposals are hard-line progressive dreams, you're unlikely to get much support form across the aisle. Rhetoric aside, what has our President proposed that wasn't partisan to begin with? And when did Pelosi or Reid offer anything that a conservative would vote for?

FOR COMPARISON:
Clinton had the Newt Gingrich GOP in both houses in Congress for six of his eight years. Did he whine about not being about to get things done? Reagan brought sweeping changes even with a Democratic House that had been in power since the Eisenhower administration. Obama, on the other hand, had super-majorities in both houses for two years, and his party still holds the Senate. No president has enjoyed such utter control since FDR tried to stack the Supreme Court. Vilifying the opposition may appeal to your base, but is not an effective way to get things done in a robust democracy.
 
 
Jun 25, 2012
I'll go on to the rest of your post in a few minutes, but I couldn't get past the first paragraph without basking in the molten lava of your incredible lack of knowledge, no offense. Here's what you said, and I quote:

"During this presidential season you'll see Democrats arguing that President Obama didn't get things done in his first term because Republicans blocked him in Congress. Republicans will counter by saying that an effective leader would be able to overcome obstacles."

Scott, I know you don't vote, but are you totally disconnected from governmental reality? You're sort of right about what Democrats will say about the President's inability to get all of his agenda passed, but for some reason you have no idea what the reality is.

Here's the reality (feel free to rejoin us here on Earth any time): The Democrats controlled not only the presidency, but both houses of Congress for the first two years of President Obama's presidency. Not only that, but the Democrats had a filibuster-proof Senate. Let me put this in simple terms: the Republicans could not have stopped ANYTHING that the president wanted to do. All the president had to do was to convince HIS OWN PARTY that his agenda was proper, and the Republicans in Congess HAD NO WAY TO STOP HIM!!!

The only reason he couldn't get what he wanted was that even his own party thought his agenda, in many cases, was just too radical and too unpopular with the American people. Even so, the things they did ultimately pass, such as Obamacare, led to one of the greatest Republican victories in decades, so unpopular was the way the Democrats tried to rule us rather than govern us.

I love you dearly, and I respect your opinions; but as I've reminded you before: you're welcome to your own opinions, but you're not welcome to your own facts.
 
 
+12 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 25, 2012
I like the idea superficially, but there are far too many flaws, most already pointed out in the first several comments, but allow me to list those that come to mind:
- A president trying to "direct" the news is problematic (and reminiscent of dictators).
- "Determining who's right" probably means agreeing with those who confirmed the hypothesis you already decided upon.
- Most presidents (you may be a beneficent exception) would end up always praising Fox if they're a Republican, and always praising Huffington Post if they're Democrat. I don't see much different from where we are now except for presidential call-outs to news sources on "their" side.
- Actually using their reporting to "uncover truths" and make decisions not only looks weak to the electorate (and foreign powers) but doesn't substitute for real vision. Can you see Lincoln or Roosevelt or Reagan following the media's recommendations?
- Criticizing a story would be immensely counter-productive. No matter how bad it is, attention is good. E.g: Anyone with discretion found Rush Limbaugh's statements about Sandra Fluke both crude and an obstacle to productive discourse on the subject. But his ratings went up. I call it the Howard Stern shock-jock business model. Presidential attention would be welcome.

Trying to make (and reserve the right to change) your decisions based on data instead of dogma is great, but I don't see a breakthrough idea here with the media. Nice try. Keep swinging.
 
 
+19 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 25, 2012
Another thing - exposing shoddy news websites for deliberately deceptive or lazy reporting is a reward, not a punishment. Their traffic would increase off the charts. Imagine, today, if Obama said, "Don't look at this Fox News story - it's deceptive and lazy." People who don't even normally read the news would be flocking to the website to read the story. And Fox news would roll out seventeen different spin offs and laugh on their way to the bank.
 
 
 
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