PERCEPTION IS REALITY
THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN NEEDS A REALITY CHECK
By: John David Powell
The idea that perception is reality is something I tried to teach my children when
they were, well, children. If you look like youre doing something wrong, people are
going to think youre doing something wrong. Its a simple concept they picked
up all too well, which made them pretty good at looking like they were doing something
right when they were doing something wrong.
The idea that perception is reality is something I tried to teach my children when they
were, well, children. If you look like youre doing something wrong, people are going
to think youre doing something wrong. Its a simple concept they picked up all
too well, which made them pretty good at looking like they were doing something right when
they were doing something wrong.
Teenagers can figure out this concept pretty quickly; whether they put it into action
is another matter. That can be said for managers of organizations, institutions, and
businesses. They fully understand the direct relationship between perception and
reality, but many times they just blow it off out of carelessness or the teenage-belief
that they can get away with anything.
The U.S. military came up with the term perception management to describe
in two words the techniques uses to persuade foreign leaders to get behind Uncle Sam.
Public relations firms peddle their expertise in perception management in much the same
way (except for bombs and bullets) by finding the perception gap for businesses, which is
the difference between how the business perceives itself and how its stakeholders perceive
it. Whether a stakeholders perception is either good or bad depends on the
stakeholders experience with the business or organization.
And in politics, perception management is paramount to success. Lyndon
Johnsons 1964 daisy commercial made Barry Goldwater look like he would
take the world into nuclear war if elected president. The idea that George H.W. Bush was
amazed by a check-out scanner, an event that did not happen, gave the
perception that he was out of touch with Americans who work hard every day and go to the
grocery store every week, which contributed to his re-election defeat.
Well, it seems the Obama re-election campaign needs a big ol
heaping helping of political perception management.
The campaign began sputtering when the presidents re-election surrogates started
doing the one thing you cannot do in Washington politics: speak the truth. First came
Democratic rising star and Newark mayor Cory Booker
(www.corybooker.com) who was supposed to hang Bain
Capital (www.baincapital.com) like political albatross around the neck of Mitt Romney.
Instead, Booker went on NBCs Meet
the Press (www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608) and declared attacks on Bain were
nauseating to him. If you look at the totality of Bain Capitals
record . . . theyve done a lot to support business, to grow business.
Well, that set a lot of hair on fire in the White House and throughout the Democratic
Party. And Bookers subsequent attempts to clarify his remarks only dug his political
grave a little deeper.
Next, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick
(www.devalpatrick.com) went on another NBC program, this time Morning Joe
(www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036789) on MSNBC
(www.msnbc.msn.com) and declared Bain a perfectly fine company that has been
distorted in some of the public discussion.
Finally, former president Bill Clinton became the campaigns Bain Capital bane
when he told CNN (www.cnn.com) that Bain did good
work and described Romney as having a sterling career.
Then theres that whole perception campaign that rich-guy Romney is out of touch
with middle America. Not a bad strategy, but one that requires Obama to look like he feels
the pain of the 99 percent. But you dont do that by having the Prada Devil herself,
Vogue (www.vogue.com) editor Anna Wintour,
cutting a spot inviting people to enter a lottery to win a seat at a big-deal Big Apple
$40,000-a-plate dinner with herself and actress Sarah Jessica Parker, along with FLOTUS,
You can almost hear the lucky winner singing I got a golden ticket with
Wintour in the background saying let them eat Wonka Bars.
And then, in an effort to look hip, the Obama campaign tapped rocker Jon Bon Jovi (www.bonjovi.com) to headline a different
New York City campaign event for about 500 supporters, and flew him in aboard Air Force
One, with the campaign picking up the tab.
But Bon Jovi may not have been the best act to give the perception that Obama can rock
and roll even with a rocky economy rolling toward the cliff.
The trouble with Bon Jovi is that his songbook is not noted for hope and change. Take
Lost Highway with all of its meaning about starting fresh somewhere else
(I don't know where I'm going, but I know where I've been/And I'm afraid of going
Instead, Bon Jovi sang Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles, giving the
perception that even a successful American rocker has to turn to foreigners to bail out
If perception is reality, then the Obama campaign needs a reality check.
"Published originally at EtherZone.com :
republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."
John David Powell writes his Lone Star Award-winning columns
from ShadeyHill Ranch in Texas. He also hosts Gone to Texas on Blog Talk Radio. He is a
regular columnist for Ether Zone.
John David Powell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
the June 18, 2012 issue of
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