Dear Senator Obama,
This letter represents a first for me–a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.
May I describe to you my thoughts?
I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or “new-centrist” ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me “proud.”
In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don’t see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can’t train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace–that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.
When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country’s citizens as “we,” not “they”? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?
Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.
There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.
Good luck to you and to us.
News: Mike Huckabee (a pastor himself) has posted a video on GodTube — the Christian video sharing site — backing the site. He states:
Well, the reason GodTube is an important part of the election process is because this myth that Christians ought to keep to themselves in the church, and never get outside — that’s like saying, let’s never let the salt get onto things that are spoiling. Let’s never let the light actually show up in a dark places to illuminate the path.
That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. The whole point of being a Christian is to penetrate the darkness, is to preserve the things that are spoiling, and I don’t know of anything more spoiled, more decadent, than politics.
So if there’s ever a place where there ought to be a concentration of Christian activity and involvement, I’d say it’s in politics and government.
So GodTube is helping to be that bridge to get people from the world of the spiritual into the mission field of politics.”
Analysis: Smart move for Mike.
News: You can download from the link above my latest report on the use of videos on YouTube by the presidential candidates. The study was completed before the New Hampshire primary.
Analysis: Here are my 3 key findings:
(1) Republican candidate Ron Paul continues to be, by a wide margin, the most popular candidate on YouTube, in terms of the average number of views per video (105,908 views per video) and the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel (42,858). He also has the most total views (9,320,763) on YouTube for any presidential candidate (although he does not have the most viewed single video on YouTube—Mike Huckabee does).
(2) Republican candidate Mike Huckabee has experienced a dramatic growth in the popularity of his videos during November and December 2007. He jumped from close to the worst in average number of views in October 2007 to the second most views per video by January 4, 2008, with 27,818 views per video. Most impressive of all is the fact that Huckabee is the first candidate with a video that has generated over 1 million views on YouTube.
(3) Finally, as the primary season has begun, the candidates’ YouTube videos have seen a huge increase in the number of views than in previous months.
News: Has Hillary Clinton really been reduced to tears?
Analysis: I don’t think this is a good strategy for her. It looks desperate. If it was spontaneous, her people need to give her a rest from the campaigning so she can look strong and energized. If she believes in her cause, she should continue at least until February 5th, but stop trying to be who she’s not.
2003 Barack Obama
2007 Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton, “That hurts my feelings.”
Barack Obama, “You’re likable enough, Hillary.”
News: Yesterday’s presidential debates in New Hampshire brought out the wood. John McCain and Mike Huckabee took shots at Mitt Romney in the first debate, while Hillary Clinton took shots at Barack Obama and John Edwards, who in turn took shots at Clinton. If you watch the focus group graphs, the negative attacks didn’t seem to work.
Huckabee makes snide remark at Romney
McCain makes snide remark at Romney
McCain and Romney get into huge fight over immigration positions
Clinton attacks Obama health care plan and changed positions
Edwards attacks Clinton as status quo; Clinton attacks change rhetoric w/o action
Hillary Clinton gives “reality check” on Edwards, Obama records
News: I hope to have another official report on the popularity of YouTube videos of the presidential candidates soon. There’s been a lot of movement, especially by Mike Huckabee. You can view my past reports here. In the meantime, I will be posting the campaign videos of the key contenders each day until the New Hampshire primary. Here are Saturday’s videos:
“This defining moment in history.” Nearly twice as many voters showed up this year than in 2004. 56% were first time caucus-goers. If you want to watch the version shown on TV with distracting subtitles, it’s below:
News: The Des Moines Register and YouTube will be soliciting videos from people on the Iowa caucuses as things unfold. You can submit your video starting today.
News: Mke Hucakabee just posted his latest YouTube video. It’s a Christmas message. Some cable news channel indicated that there’s a subliminal cross in the background next to the tree. You be the judge.
News: 29,000 people flock to see Oprah and Barack Obama in South Carolina. 18,500 in Iowa. Over 100,000 views now on YouTube in 2 days. Is this the perfect storm for Hillary Clinton?
News: Barack Obama is now in a statistical tie with Hillary Clinton in Iowa.
Analysis: Oprah is an excellent campaigner. The Clinton camp should be hitting the panic button right now. This will be their toughest challenge for the Democratic nomination.
I used to be a political junkie in high school and a little in college. Not anymore these days. But I do think I have a modest skill in analyzing the political landscape. Several years ago, I told a friend of mine that Rudy Giuliani will be the front runner to get the Republican nomination. He said there’s no way the conservatives would back him, the guy had too much baggage and liberal leaning social policies. I said, 9/11.
Then, just several months ago, I suggested to another friend that Mike Huckabee has a chance on the Republican side. That was when the political pundits said that he had none. Well, today, Huckabee is leading the polls in Iowa. You heard that right, Huckabee is now on top in Iowa. And he’s surging in the polls nationally. Apparently, getting the endorsement of Chuck Norris helped.
Huckabee’s also surging on YouTube. His first video with Chuck Norris (see below) is, by my account, the only video on YouTube from one of the candidates, Republican or Democrat, that has received over 1 million views.
By the way, none of this post should be taken as my endorsement of any candidate.
News: The Edwards campaign is going on the offensive on YouTube, with this attack ad on Hillary Clinton, who had a shakier performance in the last debate (as shown on the video).
[DISCLAIMER: This is not an endorsement of any candidate.]
News: The Utube Blog’s second report on the presidential candidate videos on YouTube is now available. Ron Paul continues to blow by the entire field of candidates, both Democratic and Republican. Newcomer Fred Thompson had a disappointing first month on YouTube.
(1) Republican candidate Ron Paul continues to be, by a wide margin, the most popular candidate on YouTube, in terms of the average number of views per video (85,194 views per video) and the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel (29,658). He also has the most total views (4,344,904) on YouTube for any presidential candidate (although he does not have the most viewed single video on YouTube—Hillary Clinton does).
(2) Republican candidate Fred Thompson has drawn only a relatively few number of YouTube viewers in the first month of his campaign, maintaining a very low average number of views per video (3,780 views per video). He gained only 581 subscribers to his YouTube channel. His most watched video captured over 55,000 views.
(3) Overall, the videos of all the presidential candidates have drawn only a relatively modest number of views on YouTube, both in terms of the actual views per video and the average number of views per video.
News: Fox had its second debate this week for the Republican presidential candidates. The best, most substantive exchange occurred between Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.
Analysis: The debate format should allow more of these exchanges, where the candidates can engage each other in a more open debate. CNN and YouTube should take notes for their Republican debate in December. If you’re wondering, the FOX Internet poll after the debate had, you guessed it, Ron Paul winning the debate.
News: I was interviewed in an op-ed published in the Columbus Dispatch about the study I conducted on the presidential candidate videos on YouTube. As you might have guessed, the hot topic of conversation was Ron Paul.
News: For the past couple months, I’ve been collecting data on all the presidential candidates’ videos on YouTube. Today, I’m publishing my first report, “Analyzing the Presidential Candidate Videos on YouTube August 2007.”
The report reaches two basic findings for the presidential candidate videos thus far:
(1) The presidential candidates have gained only a relatively modest amount of views and subscribers to their YouTube videos; and
(2) Republican candidate Ron Paul is, by a wide margin, the most popular candidate on YouTube, in terms of the average number of views per video and the number of subscribers to his YouTube channel. He also has the most total views on YouTube for any presidential candidate.
Here’s one slice of the report:
Download the report: The Utube Blog study August 2007.doc
(Copyright permission: Please feel free to copy the report and re-use it, including the graphs, in other works, as long as attribution is given to Professor Edward Lee and The Utube Blog. Thanks.)
News: The backlash appears already in full force, as both Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney decided — for “scheduling” and “snowman” reasons — to skip the scheduled YouTube debate co-sponsored by the Republican party of Florida. (More from Wash Post) The debate, planned for September, has been scrapped for now, given the no-shows by the 2 leading Republicans. The blog world has been abuzz with how this will hurt their campaigns.
Analysis: My guess, and hope, is that it will all be worked out at a different time. If Giuliani and Romney don’t join, that will only look bad for them. If someone like Fred Thompson joined by then for a rescheduled debate, those two would have no choice but to be a part of the debate.
News: More video of Ron Paul’s visit to Google on July 13. Looks like Dr. Paul blew away the crowd. It’s still hard to believe that Ron Paul is the most exciting candidate of all the candidates so far. At least on the Internet and YouTube, Ron Paul is a rock star.
I promise to have my study of the Ron Paul YouTube phenomenon soon.
News: The first “experiment” is over. Today, we have time to reflect on what happened — and didn’t happen — in last night’s presidential debate for the Democratic candidates. As I said in my last post, I give CNN and YouTube an A for the idea of user-generated questions, but a C+ for the execution. Here’s what CNN messed up (although the Democratic Party and candidates may have been responsible for the format):
1. There was no opportunity for real debate or exchanges among candidates. The candidates had only 1 minute or 30 seconds to answer questions. No substantive question was asked of each of the candidates–meaning we never got the chance to compare all the candidates on a single question, even though many of the YouTube users posed their questions specifically to the entire group of candidates. For a 2 hour debate, that’s pretty appalling.
CNN, however, chose not to allow all the candidates a chance to answer. Sen. Dodd even expressed frustration at not having a chance to answer the important question about global warming. The only question that CNN posed to the entire group of candidates was the stupid last question in which the candidates were asked to say something they liked about the candidate on their left, and then something they didn’t like. Are we back in 1st grade?
2. Anderson Cooper played favorites with the candidates and skipped over Senator Gravel. Sen. Mike Gravel protested not getting asked many questions compared to the other candidates repeatedly during the debate. By my count, Gravel got only 9 questions (often trivial ones), while Barack Obama got 19 questions. Don’t even include the guy on stage if you are not really going to include him in the debate.
3. CNN excluded all questions from children, but then included a question from a snowman. Cooper said that he thought the parents were using their children to ask their questions. So what? The guy who used the snowman got on CNN’s debate. Remember, from the mouth of babes.
4. CNN used only 11 questions from female questioners, but 28 questions from male questioners. OK, I don’t know the relative breakdown in the pool of 3,000 questions. But the disparity in questions between male and females was very noticeable to me.
5. Having follow up with 2 of the questioners live in the audience only wasted time. This really didn’t work. Anderson Cooper asked, “Did they answer your question?” One of the guys basically said he couldn’t hear the answer because someone next to him was making noise. The other guy used his follow up to say that he wanted to have the question asked of Hillary Clinton.
6. CNN chose some pretty gimmicky questions for laughs and even wasted more time showing questions not used for more laughs. CNN wasted precious time on videos shown to generate laughs–a snowman asking a question, a guy singing and asking for a pardon on his parking ticket, two country guys asking if the talk about Al Gore running for president hurt their feelings, the last question asking each candidate to say something good and bad about the person to the left. There probably were more, but you get the picture.
7. The 30-second campaign videos were nice, but took time away from the debate. I liked the campaign videos, but just have people go to YouTube to watch them. CNN shouldn’t take away precious time from the debate.
News: After 2 hours, the debate is over. You can see all of the 39 video questions asked of the candidates here.
Analysis: I just did a BBC radio interview about the debate. I’ll try to get a link. CNN-YouTube get an A for the concept of user-generated questions. But I give them a C+ for execution. Hopefully, things will improve for the Republican debate.
The 1-minute and 30-second format for answers was far too restrictive, allowing very little interchange among the candidates, and most of the debate just looked and sounded like a conventional debate. And the parts that were unconventional were often gimmicky. YouTube’s Steve Grove, aka CitizenTube, probably could’ve done a better job than Anderson Cooper in moderating.
I don’t want to sound too negative because several of the questions from YouTubers were quite effective, particularly the ones that were just a little more personal. The questions were different and, I believe, better than standard questions from journalists. The questions were, for example, the minimum wage question from two young women, the gay marriage question from two lesbian women, the question from the pastor to John Edwards about the use of religion on the issue of gay marriage, the question from the parent who lost his son in Iraq, and the questions about health care from several people dealing with cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s.
[I'll try to follow up with a fuller write-up.]
News: Tonight at 7 p.m. on CNN is the Democratic presidential debate co-sponsored by YouTube. All of the questions will come from videos sent in by people on YouTube. Anderson Cooper will moderate. Videos will be shown on a huge screen and at each candidate’s podium. YouTube received close to 3,000 questions. You can sample them here. I’ve noted one question below: