Tag Archives: Des Moines Register

The Steve King I Know…

I noted with interest an online article from today’s Des Moines Register regarding Congressman Steve King and his impending decision regarding a race for the US Senate.

Much of my political career has been to help position candidates so that in the hustle and bustle of a campaign, voters can get to know the real essence of who they are as people. Behind the sound bites, behind the policy pronouncements…who are these people? Are they candidates that reflect well on us and whom we can trust to make sometimes momentous decisions on our behalf?

Today’s article on Congressman King by my friend Bill Petroski does just that. Bill is a great writer, experienced and quick on the draw. He can get to the nerve center of an issue quickly and he did so in this article.

Congressman King shows that he is weighing this seriously. He’s a man who built his construction business with the strength of his hands, the sweat of his brow and sheer will. He uses a construction analogy to show exactly how methodically he’s going about his assessment. Regardless of his ultimate decision, his methodology speaks very well of his character and his decision making.

The public perception of candidates often varies greatly with their private side. I’ve seen this over and over and it’s the fundamental challenge presented to communication and media assistants.

There is a wide gap between how Congressman King is portrayed by many partisans and members of the media, and the man I’ve gotten to know.

I’ve had the good fortune to work with Congressman King in the Iowa Senate and on his congressional campaigns. He’s a man of deep convictions, big ideas and an unbridled source of pride in all things Iowa. He is a son of Iowa, a man who knows all good things come from the land and the people of Iowa.

I’ve also had even more fun with Congressman King in other settings, like his annual pheasant hunt. There is perhaps no better place to get to know a man than standing shoulder to shoulder in a hunting stand for several hours. Far from the trappings of office and with your boots planted firmly in Iowa’s abundant soil, you can measure each other pretty quickly. I held my own in those stands, but I will always take a back seat to Congressman King’s quick eye and more accurate aim.

Congressman King will make his decision in due time, after weighing all the facts presented to him. No matter what he decides, he’ll be putting his constituents, his issues and his state first. He’s been a great Congressman, he would be an outstanding US Senator and I’ll be following his decision closely.

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Filed under Media Bias, Paid Media, Public Affaris

The Constitutional Conundrum

I’ve been writing, rewriting, and rewriting this post for weeks. It deals with my perspectives on the gun control debate raging across America in the wake of the tragic events in Newtown, Conn.

There have been many voices on this subject over the past few weeks. And one of my favorite writers, Charles Krauthammer, synthesized much of what I planned to write in an article that appeared in Sunday’s Des Moines Register. And of course, Mr. Krauthammer’s article was much better than any of my previous drafts. There’s a reason he’s a nationally syndicated writer, and I’m not.

My premise in this debate is rather simple: We need to focus not only on Second Amendment rights. We also need to focus on free speech rights of the First Amendment; due process rights of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments; and equal protection rights of the 14th Amendment. The ultimate solution, if people are serious about finding one, will involve concessions from all corners of the Constitution and from all interested.

As Mr. Krauthammer stated,

That’s a lot of impingement, a lot of amendments. But there’s no free lunch. Increasing public safety almost always means restricting liberties.

We made that trade after 9/11. We make it every time the Transportation Security Administration invades your body at an airport. How much are we prepared to trade away after Newtown?

Those who are serious about getting to the bottom of this issue will speak clearly to that point. They will take the time to discuss infringement of all rights before focusing on the infringement of any rights.

Those who are only interested in demagoguery will only address selected rights.

We will know immediately that they are not serious about solving this problem or protecting public safety. They will be interested only in scoring cheap political points.  On this subject, we’ve had far too much of that already.

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Filed under Legislative Affairs, Public Affaris

Real Problems at the Root of Fake Scenario

The movie “Janeane from Des Moines” has created a lot of headlines recently. Everyone from the New York Times to Iowa’s home-grown newspaper, The Des Moines Register, has mentioned the issues brought up in this mockumentary.

With our state’s “first in the nation” status, Iowans have the coveted role of meeting political candidates in-person, asking them tough questions and sharing our vision with the rest of the country. We welcomed these candidates into our homes, we introduced them to our friends and we established a bond with them that goes well beyond Election Day. We put our trust and hopes in these candidates to lead us, to make our country a better place to live and work.

One only has to look back over the past few months, with the almost unprecedented presence of President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan to see the impact Iowa can have on any given national election. Just last night in his final campaign stop for the 2012 election, President Obama praised Iowa voters for their intellect, their passion and their commitment to the process, Regardless of your political party, those were compliments that should make all Iowans quite proud.

We know the candidates aren’t perfect — they are human after all. But, we do rely on them to have some responses and solutions to the problems weighing voters down. So, when we saw first-hand evidence that candidates struggled with how to respond to voters’ very personal appeals for help, it really shook our beliefs in the people and in the system.

That’s why “Janeane from Des Moines” has really created waves. It pointed out those flaws, and it made those of us working to improve the political process feel like dupes, unable to help. These are real problems our family, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens are facing. We should have been able to provide voters with more than just a campaign’s taglines or talking points.

When I met “Janeane from Des Moines,” I didn’t know it was a fake scenario. I was truly upset at this woman’s obvious distress in not being able to get the answers she so desperately needed. Even after realizing it was a set-up, I was still sympathetic to the issues the actress and the film bring up. Voters in this election cycle — like so many others before it — have real problems they want solved, and it is in the hands of our elected officials to help them.

That said, I have to admit the movie, and my unsuspecting role in it, did bother me. My real beef with Janeane’s (or should I say Jane Edith’s) stunt is this: In Iowa, we depended on the interaction with the candidates to be relevant as an early test ground. It was our opportunity to listen to what they have to say and measure their characters. We took this role very seriously, and so did the candidates. If future candidates come to think Iowa voters are part of some stunt for a movie, or conspiracy to trap them in situations that make them look bad — not real people with real problems — they may choose to stop taking questions and possibly even feel like they can’t be honest with us.

To let this happen would completely undercut the entire premise of Iowa and our status of first in the nation. The lesson learned from this situation is this: It is the voters’ job to be just as honest and as forthcoming as we expect our political candidates and elected officials to be. In return, candidates and elected officials need to continue to do a better job of relating to voters’ problems and give them more than just a campaign-approved sound bite in response.

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Filed under Media Bias, Public Affaris, Reputation Management