Indonesia will hold its first-ever direct presidential elections in July 2004. Noting that Indonesia is "a thriving democracy where public opinion matters," a partner in the Jakarta-based PR firm Maverick writes in today's Jakarta Post that "the more forward-thinking" candidates "have already appointed their image gurus." Not every candidate will clean up well, though.
Today's New York Times quotes an unnamed Republican "close to the Bush campaign" who says the timing of the State of the Union speech -- one day after the Iowa caucuses -- is no accident.
"The rise of Tony Feather from congressional intern to successful lobbyist is a story of loyalty, of good deeds rewarded -- and of Republicans taking care of their own," the Washington Post writes.
According to Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark's pollster Geoff Garin, Clark appeals less to women than men voters. Part of the campaign's effort to decrease this "gender gap" is to change Clark's wardrobe. "Gone are his navy blue suit, red tie and loafers, replaced by argyle sweaters, corduroys and duck books," reports the New York Times.
The Republican National Committee is complaining about advertisements comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler that were posted briefly on on MoveOn.org's "Bush in 30 Seconds" web site, which invites people to submit their own creative TV spots criticizing the Bush administration's performance. MoveOn has responded that the ads were submissions to their contest and that it is "deliberately and maliciously misleading" to accuse MoveOn of "sponsoring" them.
Jay Rosen thinks coverage of the 2004 presidential election is shaping up as an exercise in "Horse Race Now! Horse Race Tomorrow! Horse Race Forever!" In this time-dishonored tradition of political journalism, reporters use sports as a metaphor for reporting on politics, relying for insights on political insiders who have learned how to spin the "race" as a game of "inside baseball." The result: "An army of sentries encircles the game, guarding every situation from which a glimmer of fresh truth might be allowed to escape."
Columnist Paul Krugman is wondering if the news media will take its job seriously when reporting on the 2004 elections and offers some suggestions to reporters: "Don't talk about clothes." "Actually look at the candidates' policy proposals." "Beware of personal anecdotes." "Look at the candidates' records." "Don't fall for political histrionics." "It's not about you." Although this is all pretty basic advice, concludes, "I don't really expect my journalistic colleagues to follow these rules. ...
A Los Angeles woman who came forward during the California gubernatorial campaign to accuse Arnold Schwarzenegger of previous instances of sexual harassment has sued the former star of "True Lies" and "Conan the Barbarian," claiming that he and his campaign smeared her as a convicted felon when she made her charges.
"For a long time, Bush's poor job approval ratings on domestic issues were more than counterbalanced by his strong approval ratings on international issues. But that formula for political success is falling apart," writes Ruy Texeira. The latest polls show that only 48 percent of the public approves of his handling of foreign policy and Iraq. A majority believes the war with Iraq was not worth the cost and that the Bush administration was hiding information or lying about what it knew when it made the case for war.