Sunday, July 31, 2011

Strategy Memo for the Democrats

Stanley Greenberg offers a very insightful column in the Sunday Review section of today's New York Times. Greenberg, Bill Clinton's former pollster and principal of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, offers some useful suggestions for Democrats seeking to regain the faith and support of voters. 

Recent polls show that the majority of Americans support President Obama, the Senate Democrats, and their efforts to handle the debt ceiling debacle. Moreover, voters are disappointed by the sentiments of Speaker Boehner and House Republicans and their support of proposals like "Cut, Cap, and Balance." 

Unfortunately, even the voters who have a pretty good understanding of the ins and outs of the debt ceiling debate have short-term memories. By the time November 2012 rolls around, Obama and the Democrats' actions will seem like relics of the past, especially if unemployment continues to hover around 9%. 

What Democrats need to do is follow Greenberg's advice:

If they are to win trust, and votes, Democrats must show they are as determined as the Tea Party movement to change the rules of the game. In our surveys and media work for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign, we found that only if people thought a candidate was going to change government in fundamental ways — starting with welfare and reinventing government — would they give permission to spend their money.

The same is true today. In our recent Web survey of 2,000 respondents, voters respond strongly to Democratic messages on the economy only when a party leader declares, “We have to start by changing Washington. ... The middle class won’t catch a break until we confront the power of money and the lobbyists.”

In other words, according to Greenberg, it's time for Democrats to shift both their narrative and their actions to better appeal to the preferences of average middle-class, hard-working Americans. It's time to put some muscle behind the message that Democrats stand for those who reside on Main Street, not Wall Street.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Towson Towerlight article about my experience at the White House Twitter Town Hall

I'm busy working on pulling the top political comedy moments from July for my upcoming end of the month blog post over at The Baltimore Sun's Ridiculous Report. If there is something you just couldn't stop laughing at in July, send me an email with the link to the clip.

In the meantime, here's an article from The Towerlight, Towson University's student newspaper, about my experience at the White House Twitter Town Hall.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

O'Malley to push for same-sex marriage legislation next year - Hot news in Maryland

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Governor Martin O'Malley plans to push for a new state law that would  legally recognize same-sex marriage in the state of Maryland. According to The Baltimore Sun, O'Malley plans to put his full support behind the bill and has charged his top legislative aide with pushing the bill through the Senate and the House of Delegates.

O'Malley's push for same-sex marriage legislation is well-timed -- same-sex marriages begin tomorrow in New York State and the Obama administration just officially certified the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

It seems that Barack Obama isn't the only one who is evolving on the issue -- O'Malley, once just in favor of civil unions, is now a supporter of same-sex marriage.

This is hot news in Maryland -- the only hotter news is the heat wave and BGE's suspension of service yesterday for Peak Rewards customers.

O'Malley's announcement was the focus of the lead editorial in today's Sun. In closing, the editors note:

But however the politics of gay marriage may evolve, and whatever Mr. O'Malley's ambition may be, he can take comfort in the fact that he is doing the right thing. He is standing behind the proposition that everyone should be treated the same under the law, and there is little he can do in this or any year that's more important.

While the bill should pass the Senate and House of Delegates, there still is a fair amount of opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage among certain voting blocs in the state, including members of the state's large African-American religious community. 

I for one will be watching the issue closely and agree with The Sun that O'Malley's personal story of his own evolution on the issue will play an important role in the debate and be the focus of considerable media coverage.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Same-Sex Marriages to Begin in New York State this Sunday -- Media Coverage Continues Shift to Focus on Personal Aspect of Issue

This weekend, New York State will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples -- this Sunday to be precise. Many New York judges have volunteered to work on Sunday in order to expedite the issuing of marriage licenses according to a story in last week's New York Times.

An Op-Ed column by Frank Bruni in today's New York Times highlights how the new law will change the lives of one New York City family. The story about dads Jonathan Mintz and John Feinblatt and daughters Maeve and Georgia is heartwarming. The piece emphasizes the personal nature of the issue  -- an angle that proved important during the debate over the bill's passage in New York last month. 

In fact, some would argue that the framing of the same-sex marriage debate has shifted. News coverage focuses less on moral and religious objections to same-sex marriage and instead emphasizes concerns about equality and civil rights and the influence of personal and social contact on public opinion. This evolution in the framing of the same-sex marriage debate aligns with shifts in public attitudes toward the same-sex marriage issue, as a majority of Americans now say they support recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid.

In the past few days, it also seems that President Obama's position on same-sex marriage has evolved. The President recently offered his support for a Senate bill sponsored by Dianne Feinsten (D-CA) that would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. 

While it seems unlikely that the bill will gain full Congressional support, this latest legislative step and the recent New York case means that the issue of same-sex marriage will remain on the national agenda as the 2012 election cycle continues to intensify. In addition, look for states like Maryland and Maine to focus on the same-sex marriage issue in the coming months.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This Morning's Discussion of Political Comedy on WHYY's Radio Times with fellow guest Lizz Winstead

In case you missed it, here's a link to my guest appearance on WHYY's Radio Times this morning.

In the segment, I talk about political comedy with guest host Maiken Scott and comedian Lizz Winstead, co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and Air America Radio co-founder.

Listen to my commentary on today's WHYY Radio Times: Discussing Political comedy, with Lizz Winstead

I'll be on WHYY's Radio Times program (out of Philadelphia) this morning during the 11:00 hour talking about my recent research on political comedy. Lizz Winstead, co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and Air America Radio co-founder will also be on the program.

Take a listen between 11:20 - 11:40 am online or check out the Radio Times podcast in iTunes.

For more information on the show visit: Political comedy, with Lizz Winstead

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Chutzpah, Not Choot-spa: Bachmann needs a Yiddish lesson

Michele Bachmann makes another mistake -- this time as Salon and others are noting -- it's her incorrect use of Yiddish that is getting attention.

In an appearance on Fox News on July 13th, Bachmann accused President Obama of having "choot-spa." Too bad the word is actually "chutzpah" which means nerve or audacity.

Perhaps it's time for Bachmann to get in touch with Alan Dershowitz, who wrote the book entitled Chutzpah, for some Yiddish lessons.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

2012 Republican Candidates and Twitter

According to Politico, Newt Gingrich is 2012 Republican candidate to watch on Twitter

As Emily Schultheis noted yesterday, Gingrich who has been using the social media service since Februrary 2009, is leading the pack of Republican contenders. From her piece: 

"Gingrich has a whopping 1.3 million followers on the popular social media site. His three closest Twitter rivals from the 2012 GOP presidential field, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Reps. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, all hover around 60,000 followers apiece. Even Twitter enthusiast Sarah Palin, who hasn’t indicated whether she’ll run, has less than half the followers Gingrich does."

Of course, Schultheis also commends Gingrich for his willingness to be entertaining with his tweets and notes a recent online conversation between Gingrich and Rainn Wilson, or Dwight Schrute of The Office. Rainn Wilson suggested a Newt/Schrute campaign and the former Speaker of the House responded with his own comic quip.

At the same time, Gingrich has been known to get himself in trouble with his tweets -- the most notable incident was in May 2009 when he called then Supreme Court nominee Sotamayor a "racist." Gingrich later apologized for the problematic tweet.

Look for other 2012 GOP candidates to pay greater attention to their Twitter feed as the election cycle unfolds.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

13% of Americans use Twitter; Use Varies by Race and Age

My participation as a "tweep" at the White House's Twitter Town Hall last week has encouraged me to spend more time reviewing what we know about who is using the 140 character driven social media service.

According to a report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 13% of Americans now use Twitter (May 2011, up from 8% in November 2010). What's even more interesting is the demographics of who is using Twitter. As Pew reports:

Non-white internet users continue to have higher rates of Twitter use than their white counterparts; indeed, the Twitter-adoption gap between African-Americans and whites has increased over the past six months. In November 2010, there was an eight percentage point difference in Twitter use between African-American and white internet users (13% for blacks vs. 5% for whites). By May 2011, that gap was 16 percentage points -- 25% of online African Americans now use Twitter, compared with 9% of such whites. African-American and Latino internet users are each significantly more likely than whites to be Twitter adopters. Even more notable: One in ten African-American internet users now visit Twitter on a typical day -- that is double the rate for Latinos and nearly four times the rate for whites.

And moreover, Twitter is on the rise for those between the ages of 25-44 but Twitter adoption rates for 18-24 year olds remained stable between November 2010 and May 2011.

Look for Twitter usage rates to increase as we get closer to 2012.

Meeting the President at the White House Twitter Town Hall

One of the best parts of attending last week's Twitter Town Hall at the White House -- shaking the President's hand.

That's me in the black and green!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Being a Tweep at Today's #WHTweetup/Twitter Town Hall

Today I was one of about 30 "tweeps" in the audience at President Barack Obama's Twitter Town Hall held in the East Room of The White House. For those of you who don't know, the "tweeps" were asked to attend and chronicle the event on Twitter.

The session was moderated by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and featured questions from average Americans, politicians, and journalists alike -- all that were submitted on Twitter using the #askobama hashtag. My fellow tweeps represented a diverse group -- from PR professionals to public school teachers to bloggers to academics to college students.

For my detailed impressions of the event, please check out my live tweets from the session.

And for some news on the event itself, here's a summary from Politico.

One of the coolest parts (besides shaking the President's hand) was being a part of the audience to watch as Obama sent the first "presidential tweet." Here's a video of this historic occasion.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My questions for #askObama

While audience members won't be able to ask questions at tomorrow's Townhall/Tweet-Up, I did take the time to post some questions about the economy and jobs on Twitter using the #askObama hashtag.

While I have questions about other issues besides the economy and jobs (same-sex marriage, politics of science, foreign policy, etc.), I'm trying to stay on topic. Here are my questions.

It's actually a fun exercise. Try posting your own on Twitter. Just don't forget to add #askObama.

 Amy Bree Becker 
 Amy Bree Becker 
 Amy Bree Becker 
 Amy Bree Becker 
 Amy Bree Becker 

Live Tweeting from Obama's Twitter @TownHall at the White House tomorrow.

President Obama (@BarackObama) will be hosting the first ever Twitter "Town Hall" at the White House tomorrow. I'll be there as part of the small audience of @WhiteHouse followers for the corresponding Tweet-Up and will be live posting about the afternoon's events in 140 characters or less. You can follow me here: @amybree

Jack Dorsey, Twitter's CEO will moderate the conversation. More details from Twitter are available here. The event can be watched live on the Internet starting at 2pm at http// or .

In the meantime, don't forget to tweet your questions about the economy and jobs using the #AskObama hash tag on Twitter and follow news about the event via @TownHall.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Maryland and the same-sex marriage debate

Now that New York has shown its support for same-sex marriage, many are questioning which state(s) will take up the issue next. So far, Maine, North Carolina, Maryland, and a handful of other states have been suggested as the next places to watch.

This weekend, The Baltimore Sun outlined their view on what it will take to pass a same-sex marriage bill in Maryland. Three ingredients for success: (1) leadership on the issue by Governor O'Malley, (2) the involvement of state Republicans, and (3) inclusion of strong language allowing exemptions for objecting religious organizations.

Is this enough? What will it take for Maryland to pass same-sex marriage legislation during the next session of the state legislature?