Friday, August 8, 2008

Obama Can "Bore Through" "Drill Now"

The Strategy of Chaotic Misinformation:
Manipulating Energy Problem Definitions with Contradictory Reporting

This article describes a new policy proposal made within the Obama Campaign in response to the McCain “Drill Now” attack strategy. This proposal calls for the creation of a new, Congressionally sponsored bureaucracy to independently provide and communicate reliable information to voters on current energy, environmental and economic issues. The purpose of this new entity, proposed here as a GSE, is to eliminate contradictory or motivated assessments of problem definition; to introduce a reliable source of information and research to factually define problems; and, to make policy debates center on problem solution rather than contentious views of problem definition.

(A more complete presentation of this proposal can be seen in a larger discussion titled “Managing Global Warming Solutions.” June, 2008. This blog. )

I. Capitalizing on McCain’s “Drill Now” Attack
Converting Its Negatives to an Obama Opportunity

The McCain campaign has fabricated a dominant position by extracting all details from Obama’s willingness to compromise. Absent the conditional arguments of the bipartisan energy bill, that is, when events are expressed exclusively as a change in policy on the part of Obama, McCain has insinuated a superior “trustability,” “common sense” and “experience” position with this presentation. McCain’s advantage relies on his simplistic version. His representation of only highly edited parts of the larger matter has been accepted as highly credible.

McCain Strategy:
Separate the drilling issue from the energy legislation issue.
Characterize Obama willingness to go bipartisan as flip flop.
Suppress logical details which differentiate McCain’s position from Obama’s.

It is further energized by the complicated nature of the counter argument. Obama cannot introduce a compelling explanation to limit the McCain attack without introducing complex political and “oil” technical specifics beyond the interest/reception level of the voters influenced by the McCain strategy.

The material liability to the Obama position is a reinforcement of latent mistrust. He is trapped in a manipulated policy response cycle exaggerated by the negative connotation of “flip-flop.” There is no tactical advantage possible for Obama from this position in the response cycle.

II. McCain Exploits Existing Voter Uncertainty
He Drives Home His Advantage with an Overly Simple Proposition

The public fears being exploited, misled or humiliated by some aspect of the energy crisis. Consequently, contradictory inflammatory argument structures can mobilize opinion while constantly keeping the same opinion off balance and fearful (never confidently materialized). The result is more akin to a ping pong game than an educational effort. This is the optimum environment for those seeking to advance unexamined solutions which will sustain or improve their advantage for profits and low regulation of their activities -- or establishing negatives for Obama.

McCain Strategy:
Voters have no access to reliable information countering McCain’s “drill now.”
Voters are not prepared to take chances based on their own technical information.
Intentional effort to make new technical information consistently risky, contradictory.

One important foundation of the McCain position is to deny the public access to any credible information. Every proposition regarding the “drill now” position’s validity is presented by less than credible sources in contradiction to other less than credible sources. Media presentation of factual data is sabotaged by a preconceived (implied) suggestion that it is too complicated to understand. McCain considers this a stable (logical) asset given that voter interest or confidence in opposing views is low.

McCain’s position has been simplified to present a compelling emotional confidence. To the electorate it is understandable, even if the details remain undefined. When no one can be trusted, the simplest argument may as well be adopted. McCain correctly targeted this. The voter has no immediate incentive to attempt a more complex (accurate) understanding if none of the foundational arguments introduced to support it evoke any more confidence than the one it replaces.

McCain Strategy:
Invite voters to accept oversimplified “drill now” proposal.
Expect voters to resist the effort to investigate factual strength of “drill now” proposal.

Conflicted assertions have been groomed and perfected by the administration to create this tactical opportunity. This has succeeded. McCain anticipates no possible penetration of any factual argument into the working model hosted by a majority of voters. The inertial stability of the McCain argument is, clearly, well entrenched. It was not expected to diminish on its own. It hasn’t.

III. A Shocking Proposal to Defeat the McCain Advantage
The Obama Response Strategy:

The new fact: Public information about energy topics has been so intentionally confusing and misdirected that it is difficult to see the weakness of McCain’s “drill now” argument. The new fact is not about drilling, it is about having reliable information available for voter decisions.

The first issue is to neutralize the McCain advantage gained by simplistic presentation. The strategy to accomplish this is to embrace the argument (artificial phenomenon) put forth by the McCain Campaign. Directly address the complexity and the resulting misdirection of the McCain argument’s structure. Move away from the immediate necessity of oil drilling to the conditions which made McCain’s tactic temporarily successful. The new topic will no longer be oil drilling, it will be the lack of good information about matters such as oil drilling.

Obama Strategy:
Acknowledge that the McCain argument seems reasonable.
Embrace voter uncertainty about whether or not “drill now” is a right answer.
Explain that such decisions are too important to be made without good information.
Portray McCain’s position as exploiting the information vacuum.
Propose a new system which will provide reliable information to voters.
Walk away from “drill now” toward “Let’s learn the facts.”

The drilling issue will be overwhelmed by the new issue. Obama drives it home. “We are flying blind.” There is no credible source of information concerning such topics because all present sources are willing to manipulate factual or scientific data to their own interests. For the voter it is reasonable to doubt almost any proposition concerning this issue. The possible financial benefits to those who have schemed to place themselves in positions to speak to this matter have entirely overshadowed any interest in presenting facts useful for accurate public opinions (Profit, not education, reliability or honesty.).

Obama Strategy:
The profits made possible by this deception are immense.
The deception is made possible by a constant, intentional flood of misinformation.
The U.S. consumers are being exploited by suspect information management.
Voters are not informed enough to make a choice in their own interests.

Obama’s new idea: Establish a GSE organization, removed from government or corporate influence, which is responsible to provide voters with credible research on all energy and environmental matters.

We are getting ready to spend a huge amount of American consumer money and American taxpayer money to confront this challenge. We still have no reliable source for information. In fact, the most reliable information we presently have is that the available information is not reliable. This is the situation which made McCain’s strategy success possible. McCain’s move is directly opposed to Obama’s Respect, Empower, Include principle. Obama’s idea relies on open, reliable and credible information empowering voters able to express their informed self-interest.

Obama’s Strategy:
This proposal will provide a coherent information platform for policy.
Voters agree on the facts of the challenge.
No one gets to inject spurious facts to gain an advantage.

Obama’s proposal will allow policy debates (like “drill now”) to center on active response solutions rather than on contradictory problem definitions.

Obama’s Proposal for a New GSE:
10 preliminary concepts

1. Call the GSE the Environment Institute (or something more appealing).
2. Problem definitions will be presented to the public based on scientific and economic facts.
3. Proposed solutions can be scientifically evaluated.
4. Evaluations can be communicated to the public to increase public confidence.
5. Scientific findings from energy, environmental and economic sources can be centralized.
6. Research can become coordinated and coherent, no longer motivated by:
  • desire to manipulate public opinion;
  • efforts to impose incorrect solutions;
  • opportunism, players seeking public authority or notoriety;
  • ambitions to inject unreasonable solutions based on possible profit;
  • legislation passed with dishonest motives or lack of transparency.
7. Inflammatory political tactics (like “drill now”) will become much less effective or attractive.
8. Voters will become more confident:
  • that the nature of a problem is really known; or,
  • that the problem is being scientifically studied, credibly researched.
9. The Institute may gain authority about international energy, environment and economy issues.
10. The Institute’s first responsibility will be to provide factual information to U.S. voters.

Everything about this proposal is well suited for the Obama Campaign. It provides an opportunity to expose the information manipulation the other side obviously considers valuable. It offers a material example of Obama’s alternative to the Republican strategy of extracting simplistic information to drive attack missions. It denies the Republicans the benefit of making inflammatory or fearful conclusions based on misinformation.

It is “high road” but, at the same time, it is more aggressive. Resistance or criticism to it can be immediately countered with “Do you fear public access to factual information?”

The criticism that it represents another “big government” or “Democratic party spending” proposal can be countered with a comparison of relative expense:
  • the expense of making huge policy errors concerning energy or environment issues ($)
  • vs.
  • the expense required to perform reliable research and investigation to make good decisions ($)

This policy proposal need not materialize prior to the November election. If it is proposed as an Obama Campaign “talking point,” its appeal to the voters may well prove quite advantageous and spontaneous. The voters are already suspicious that they are being manipulated by intentional management of confusing or contradictory information reaching them through the media.

It enjoys the additional value of not being in the campaign “response cycle.” It is innovative, courageous and consistent with the “change” concept.

The energy situation has been carefully steered away from issues of environmental concern. McCain’s “drill now” strategy has overshadowed the memory of the Santa Barbara spill to place policy priorities on oil production, no matter the risk. Consumer fear about gasoline has become entirely focused on supply issues. This proposal will reenergize the environmental component of Obama supporters after their issue has been by “side lined” by McCain’s inflammatory oil positions.

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