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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Psst. They Can See You

by Jay Allbritton
Understanding how television affects the rules of politics can present opportunities to reveal things about your opponents that they do not what the people to know. One thing that Republicans probably wouldn't want the average low information voter to know about is the fact that they are using the filibuster egregiously to create the impression--and the reality--that the Democratic majority can not get anything done.

Last night night President Obama brilliantly used the structure of the State of the Union, which has evolved into the following structure: President says something, camera cuts to one party to see their reaction, then sweeps over to see the reaction of the other party. President Obama continuously put the Republicans on the record by talking about populist issues. One after another he made very reasonable, populist statements about tax credits for small businesses, ending tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs, student loan relief and keeping foreign money out of U.S. elections.

Each time, the Republican side sat there, stone faced, chuckling or scoffing (Crooks and Liars has the video). Like Nixon's sweaty debate performance against Kennedy, the simple rule that optics are everything in politics was lost on the Republicans once more. Wether this actually influences anything is highly debatable, but it could provide an opening if it's followed up on properly.

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