Getting to know you
Roger Simon describes what it's like to interview Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Fred Thompson. "Some people have asked me what I thought of them personally. I don't have much to say about that, since the amount of social time around these interviews would total up to about ten minutes. These men are clearly scheduled down to the second ... But back for a second to the personalities of the candidates."
I was impressed with all of them as men and politicians. They all seemed informed and, as I noted, enjoyed what they were doing, which makes it fun for the interviewer. Regarding Thompson, I am puzzled by the lack of voter support. I saw no evidence of the laziness charge and he appeared a prepared and knowledgeable candidate. Perhaps this is a media myth that has been adopted by the public.
The Thompson 'laziness'. "Perhaps this is a media myth." The media myth. One of the most interesting aspects of watching TV is that the viewer gets the impression he understands what's going on. And to some degree media coverage conveys real information. But the contrast between the actual persona and the media image is one which probably strikes anyone who has met a public figure in the flesh. We know this and are consequently curious to know what Roger Simon thinks of the candidates in person.
Why do we uncover new information when meeting someone in person? Probably because nearly all of us have developed the skill of judging people by their body language and responses. When we meet public figures they react to us and since we have become adept at interpreting those types of reactions we get new information that is unavailable from merely watching them on TV. We "ping" them. Active sonar is to meeting them in person what passive sonar is to viewing them on a screen.
Personal and unscripted encounters, even of a limited kind, allow us to interrogate the candidate in subtle ways. The information available on the personal channel and the information yielded through it may have spelled the doom of Hillary Clinton's candidacy. Her candidacy was buoyant for as long as voters had access only to the media information channel. It is sinking now. The conventional wisdom is now that "the more you see Hillary, the less you like her". What that really highlights is the information differential between the personal encounter and the media coverage channels.
Some will argue that there are varying degrees of "personal" encounters. Robert Shrum, a strategist formerly on the campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry, asserts that Hillary's problem is with the middle distance. The public hasn't seen Hillary closely enough. "Contrary to the caricatures, Hillary Clinton is a real person, often funny in private, with engaging qualities that have been well-hidden in this campaign. ... So it's a long shot, with one and only one possible road to recovery: Let Hillary be Hillary." In Shrum's view to know Hillary, to really know Hillary, is to love her. It's something to think about.