Catherine Forsythe

Catherine Forsythe
know a bit about computer security, dogs, horses, skiing, medicine and making risotto. My nickname in real life/online is "Noggie" - I'm on Twitter, with the @dogreader account.

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AUGUST 23, 2011 2:30PM

Political Squirming 101

Rate: 26 Flag

It will be a Tuesday. November 6th, 2012 will be a Tuesday. The next United States presidential election seems like such a long time away and already there is the perception that there is political rhetoric everywhere. There is sufficient time for political candidates of every party to say and/or to do something asinine inappropriate. Surely, there must be political science courses at universities to teach potential elected officials how to handle mistakes. If such a course exists, a working syllabus title might be "Political Squirming 101".

In the days prior to cell phone videos, mistakes were much easier to address. A simple denial was sometimes sufficient. The accuracy of a journalist's written notes could be challenged. The quality of an audio recording could be brought into question. Now, with technological improvements, such a ploy is much more difficult. Therefore, such a course must deal with more complex strategies:

misquoted:  This is still a strategy that can be used. Claim that the video was edited. That was not what was really said or meant. Supply an explanation. Surely the public will believe the explanation over their own lying eyes (and ears). 

misunderstood:  The quote was misunderstood. Offer an explanation. Wander off topic. Elaborate. Mention American values, winning and the Constitution. When asked again to clarify, be annoyed and say that ground has been covered already. The American people want to hear about more important issues.

blame the media:  Please refer to the section in the text books under: "lame stream media" and "half term governor".

become the victim:  Elicit public sympathy. Note that the media always has those "gotcha" questions to exploit a trusting and caring nature. It is not nice to be ambushed by the elitist media. Look sincere if not distraught.

attack the person asking the question: A recent example was Christine O'Donnell (of I-am-not-a-witch fame). She initially accused interviewer Piers Morgan of "being a little bit rude".  
Next Ms O'Donnell accused Mr Morgan of a "very inappropriate, creepy line of questioning". Further, to add further insult to the attack, Ms O'Donnell suggested that what was happening was "borderline sexual harassment". 

avoid answering the question completely: Blatantly avoid the question. Have a standard reply and just ignore the question. Here is an example from Michele Bachmann:  
never, never say "I was wrong": Although the general public initially might appreciate the candor, such an admission would appear endlessly on attack advertising spots. Top public relations firms would advise against such truthfulness. An admission of error is political suicide.

This last point needs to carry a coda. There may be a situation where there is irrefutable evidence of a misstep. There may be DNA evidence, sex tapes, prostitutes and other such data. In that case, the fall-back position is immediate therapy at a private, hopefully undisclosed clinic. Keep in mind to keep all receipts, as this may be a deductible future business expense.

Catherine Forsythe 

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media, scandals, politics

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CF, yes, you've hit the nail on the head. Critical thinking should ALWAYS be at the top of the list when it comes to political analysis. Good luck with the runup to the presidential election. We have a provincial one coming up here next month. Tweedledumb, Tweedledumber and Tweedledumbest. The party order depends on the personal knee-jerk.
To be misunderstood, misquoted, attacked by the media and to be a victim...ahh, to be a politician and always have a way out before owning up and tackling on the issues.

If the therapy is going to work, they have to admit there is a problem first.

Great post, you hit the nail on the head. Here's to the 2012 election. Great post, rated.
You didn't mention one, Catherine. It's rarely used but claiming to find 'true love' seems to have worked well enough for Governor Mark Sanford so he could finish his term in office.
Like Richard Pryor said, "I don't care if you saw me naked, making love with another woman, I didn't do it. Deny, Deny, Deny"!
There are so many sheep that will vote before they think it just scares me.
And don't forget the ever popular, "I've had a change of heart. I found out more about it and I think this is the right way to see it now."

It helps to complain about editors too. "I didn't really mean that, they just changed the words and I didn't catch it," although like you say, television is less forgiving.
Perfect. You should offer to teach a college level class on this; or maybe you could just offer your services to the incoming classes of House freshmen. Imagine how much more effective the new crop of Tea people could have been with the proper coaching. Shudder...
"I'm running for the Presidency of the United States. I'm running for the Presidency of the ... (Clank.) Lots of errors occurred! An error occurred, then the error handler crashed while trying to handle the error. Whoops!"
When you summarize it like this, it scares me more than a little.
I'd prefer -- "I was drunk." I think I could forgive and forget if, just once, they'd use that one!
You wacky Canadians connecting "critical thinking" and "American politics"! What's that saying about never the 'twain shall meet?
If I were a politician, and they had the goods on me,
dna, video, whatever...
i would simply apologize.
'i am sincerely sorry for this action. however..."
the however is what the masses expect.
it should be creative.
i would say,
"however, sometimes the speed of my mind
and the inherent spirituality
i hold true
make me
vulnerable to misquotation,
and also simply being, as was jesus,
whatever you may believe about his divinity,
(for me this is a private matter)

not appreciated in his own land.
i make no comparisons, of course, but...blah blah blah etc"

i would follow this up by leaking some of my intensely
devotional activity, whatever the hell
i could think of: some form of prayer
or helping unfortunates.
This sort of stuff is true in the U.S., has been true, and will be true. It's also becoming very true in just about every other democracy in the world. The U.S. has no monopoly on less than intelligent politicians, although we may have more than our share.
Thanks for this priceless post.

"I am running for the presidency of the united states"
"I am running for the presidency of the united states"
"I am running for the presidency of the united states"
"I am running for the presidency of the united states"
"I am running for the presidency of the united states"
"I am running for the presidency of the united states"
"I am running for the presidency of the united states"
"I am running for the presidency of the united states"

ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

I love that Michele Bachmann, she makes me wish I wasn't gay and/or married!! ~weeping~

~wanders off, hits rate with his tail~
Then there's the deluxe combo: "I was misquoted out of context."
I see Perry is working on weaselling out of taking responsibility for what he wrote in his book (or 'book').
Is it me or do all the Republican candidates look and sound like they belong to the KKK? R
@Thorh: It MUST be all the Rebublicans candidates, 'cause you neither look nor sound like a KKK member.
LOL@Thoth! Hehehe.

I heard an entire interview with Bachman where she hardly ever awnsered a question. And that seems to be working! Great post, congratulations on the EP!
I think you are being too hard on candidates who make careless statements. They were probably just misunderstandimated.
Here's a wonderful tool to employ and send to others, lest one never took (or can't remember) Philosophy 101: - 42 logical fallacies described.

We have a President who could sit in a church for 20 years and never hear what was being said and had nine separate identical instances of women "fainting" in the front row at his campaign rally so he could notice them and offer them a bottle of water, but still gave people "hope". Audacity? Yes... Hope? Has Santa showed up at your house recently?

I'm afraid that what they say, no matter how specious and fallacious, doesn't matter, because we have a populace that will keep waiting for Santa and has no capacity to evaluate the character of candidates by what they do, not what they say.

The WWF paradigm of working them up against the "good guy" who becomes the "bad guy" and giving them a new "good guy" is perfected. I can hardly wait to see who the next clown they go for will be.

From catering to the ultra-rich and not enforcing oversight of the largest gift to them ever, to benefiting huge insurers and infringing on civil liberties, Obama is Bush is whoever is next.
"Political Science"?!?! That's something they teach at those liberal schools right after Secular Humanism, Climate Change and Evolution. You can learn all you need to know by raising a family in Iowa or wherever....
Sigh... too true. But at least we don't have to tolerate Berlusconi.....
Recently, the Texas Tribune broadcast an interview with Rick Perry. The interviewer asked him about Texas' policy of teaching abstinence only in middle school classrooms. Texas has the third highest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation, the interviewer mentioned. Perry's response? "Abstinence works".

Right, li'l Ricky, right.

Meanwhile, Romney has apparently joined the "US Mitness Protection Program" in that he still can't get past his "corporations are people too" comment.

As for Bachmann, I think she really ought to open her eyes, stay home, cook barefoot in the kitchen and work hard at praying her husband's gay away.
You forgot, "The devil made me do it."

You have nailed this, Catherine. r.
"It will be a Tuesday. November 6th, 2012 will be a Tuesday". Oh, my head hurts~