Long Tail Sells Clinton Candidacy; Divides Market, Constituency, and Country


copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

The Long Tail theory is a novel economic concept for some.  For others, it is the notion that enables them to be “strong.”  The premise of the Long Tail philosophy is, there is an audience for any product, or Presidential hopeful.  Senator Clinton correctly claims there is interest in her campaign.  People want her to be the next Commander-In-Chief.  Tis true.  People will always desire what they can have, not all the people, but quite a few.  There is a market for those given a forum.  Any press is good.  The media, with its subtle and significant messages, mantras repeated on airwaves, and pronouncements presented in print move the masses.  Consumers or constituencies will always purchase whatever is available.

If a name appears on a ballot, or on an index of products, people will procure whatever it is they feel an affinity for. In the Pennsylvania primary, Republican candidate Ron Paul received sixteen percent [16%] of the vote.   Months after the Texas Congressman officially removed himself from the race, Doctor Paul realized attention.  Regardless of the lack of coverage in April 2008, voters came out in support of the man who now has 21 pledged delegates.  

In the same April 22, Keystone State primary, Mike Huckabee, who also distanced himself from  consideration early in March, was granted eleven [11%] of the Republican tally.  In Mississippi, the Governor from Arkansas saw that thirteen percent preferred his candidacy.  The Long Tail philosophy tells us if a candidate or a commodity is made available to the public, the population will buy the person or a piece of equipment.

An item will sell if people have access to it.  The more attention given to “goods,” even those of questionable quality, the more marketable the article will be.  After all, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  

When a person seeks a partner, he or she may state a preference for blondes.  Others yearn for brunettes.  Redheads are favored by a few.  Perchance, if people were more familiar with those whose tops are carrot-colored, more would wish for people bequeathed that luscious lovely mane.  Humans are attracted to the tall, the thin, the petite, or the proud.  Power is, for some an aphrodisiac.  Money melts several hearts.  Food may be the way to a man’s or a woman’s stomach.  

Diners delight when presented with steak, fish, chicken, or vegetable.  Some like it hot.  Several think raw is really great.  By choice, people purchase science fiction stories, or romance novels. Other individuals crave a factual content.  Imaginary tales fill the shelves of those who wish to be entertained by text.  As Chris Anderson, Editor-In-Chief of Wired Magazine discovered, someone will always want something, or someone.

In 1988, a British mountain climber named Joe Simpson wrote a book called Touching the Void, a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews but, only a modest success, it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade later, a strange thing happened. Jon Krakauer wrote Into Thin Air, another book about a mountain-climbing tragedy, which became a publishing sensation. Suddenly Touching the Void started to sell again.

Random House rushed out a new edition to keep up with demand. Booksellers began to promote it next to their Into Thin Air displays, and sales rose further. A revised paperback edition, which came out in January, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That same month, IFC Films released a docudrama of the story to critical acclaim. Now Touching the Void outsells Into Thin Air more than two to one.

What happened? In short, Amazon.com recommendations. The online bookseller’s software noted patterns in buying behavior and suggested that readers who liked Into Thin Air would also like Touching the Void. People took the suggestion, agreed wholeheartedly, wrote rhapsodic reviews. More sales, more algorithm-fueled recommendations, and the positive feedback loop kicked in.

Particularly notable is that when Krakauer’s book hit shelves, Simpson’s was nearly out of print. A few years ago, readers of Krakauer would never even have learned about Simpson’s book – and if they had, they wouldn’t have been able to find it. Amazon changed that. It created the Touching the Void phenomenon by combining infinite shelf space with real-time information about buying trends and public opinion. The result: rising demand for an obscure book.

This is not just a virtue of online booksellers; it is an example of an entirely new economic model for the media and entertainment industries, one that is just beginning to show its power.

The strength seen in sales is also evident on the campaign trail.  A popular book may be no better than a poor tome. Nevertheless, if an audience can be created, hype will help sell a sensation.  

A candidate can capitalize on this truth.  They can choose to promote the pronouncement, they personally support, or they may just accept the principles they espouse are important.  The arguments differ.  A Presidential aspirant can acknowledge the strength of union, and avow the need for the country to work as a whole.  A philosophical leader can endeavor to establish justice for all, or an individual may assert that they are the people’s choice, and indeed, create a market for them.  The latter may use endorsements to split the electorate, and perhaps the nation.

A Presidential hopeful may posture that his or her intent is honorable.  However, voters might inquire are individual wants served, or is the priority the people, as one, united.

The former First Lady has concluded, “Obama supporters want me to lose.” Senator Clinton told America, for her, this campaign is “personal.”  Perchance, if the nation is to be united, if we, the people are to vote for the principles that will give rise to accord, citizens must accept what a candidate will not.  This election is not about a candidate and people’s right to vote for a person.  The economy, while often-considered issue number one, will not grow if we work on the sales strategy for a sole campaigner.  Yes, Hillary Clinton, if you are on the ballot, if you build a campaign, people will come to you.  Possibly, if we as a country are to survive, it would be best if we built a coalition.  Imagine, the Long Tail theory could give birth to freedom and democracy for all, not for the few, or for one woman and her feverish followers.

The Long Tail Wags . . .

Election ’08: Whatever happened to Iraq?

To view the original art, please travel to Election ’08: Whatever happened to Iraq?

copyright © 2007.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

[Posted 02/06/08]

Super Tuesday lived up to its hype, giving us political-junkie types plenty to digest.

On the Democratic side, voters continue to be torn between two historic contenders: The first woman, a wonkish machine of a candidate who brings back memories of a better time; and the first black, an inspirational orator, a bit light on substance, who promises a brighter tomorrow. Yesterday’s split decision means this thing could go on all the way until the convention in August. Barak Obama looks to have an edge in almost all of the remaining February contests (including my home state of Washington, which caucuses Saturday), and maintains a major fundraising advantage. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, maintains double-digit leads in the three remaining big states: Ohio and Texas (both March 4), and Pennsylvania (April 22).

Because of the winner-take-all nature of several of the Republican primaries, Super Tuesday all but anointed John McCain as their nominee. The exit polls reveal serious weakness in support from the conservative base of the party, but who else can the GOP rally around? Few seem impressed by the clone-meat artificiality of Mitt Romney, while Mike Huckabee seems stuck in the South. The rank and file appear ready to hold their noses and move on.

Finally, the thing that really stood out to me yesterday is how far Iraq has fallen off the map as a campaign issue. Except for Obama’s occasional poke at Hillary’s authorization vote, the Dems have lost their way on this issue. Where’s the outrage over McCain’s talk of staying in Iraq for 100 years? It appears the war is “The Forgotten Issue” of this election year – and the topic of this week’s cartoon.

Benazir Bhutto Rests In Peace. Will We?

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Millions of Americans awoke to the news; Benazir Bhutto was killed in an attack.  The daughter of a former Prime Minister, and twice Prime Minister herself, Bhutto, months ago returned to her homeland, after a self-imposed eight  year exile.

The Harvard graduate ventured forth with a hope and a dream that she might unite her mother country.  The scion and scholar arrived in Pakistan amidst much fanfare and furor.

Benazir Bhutto was a deeply controversial figure.

Western-educated and charismatic, she presented herself as a moderate, democratic force. As such she was widely courted in the West. The United States hoped she could restore popular legitimacy to President Musharraf’s failing war against Islamist militants.

But she was widely seen as having misused her office for her own financial gain and faced a number of court cases, both inside Pakistan and outside the country. Islamist militants hated her for her pro-American views.

Earlier this year, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf had been working on a power-sharing agreement. The talks failed, leaving Ms Bhutto as the biggest political threat to President Musharraf, rather than an ally.

Therein lies the question many citizens of the United States ask.  Who, among the leaders in Pakistan is a friend to America and who is the foe.  Benazir Bhutto was our lover, devotee, and we her enthusiast.  Yet, for years the White House has happily courted the current President of Pakistan.

Despite talk of terrorist encampments and anti-American sentiment within Pakistan, the Bush Administration spoke of General Musharraf as a friend of the States.  Oh, the President of the United States and President, General Pervez Musharraf had their differences.  There was a time when the leaders aired their angst aloud.  However, ultimately, the two kissed and made-up as couples often do.  The world powers then walked off into the sunset, hand-in-hand.  Each, revels in the joint venture to fight against Islamic insurgents.

Granted, there were other rifts.  Commander-In-Chief, the American military commandant demanded that the General take off his uniform.  After Pakistani President, General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law and suspended that nation’s Constitution, there was fear within the White House.  Federal officials stated our ally had gone too far. His decision to wear military garb exacerbated the situation.  An elected official cannot be considered militaristic.  During a telephone conference with the Middle Eastern Head of State, President and Commander George W. Bush expressed his distress with the man who supported the United States in its endeavor to spread democracy.

“You can’t be the president and the head of the military at the same time,” Bush said. “I had a very frank discussion with him.” . . .

“My message was that we believe strongly in elections, and that you ought to have elections soon, and you need to take off your uniform,” Bush said.

Perhaps this derision was the last straw.  It was time to move on, move forward, or stay the course with a new face at the helm.  Certainly, there is no need to imagine; were Benazir Bhutto Prime Minister of Pakistan, she too would have joined US in combat against “terrorists.”

The U.S. has long supported a return to power by Bhutto, who was perceived to be a moderate willing to work with Washington on the war on terror. She was also seen as a democratic leader who would serve as a counter to the plummeting popularity of Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 military coup. It was thought that a power-sharing deal between the two, in which Musharraf stayed on as president while Bhutto lead as prime minister, would promote stability in this nuclear armed nation of 165 million. But from the day of her arrival in Pakistan after eight years in exile, Bhutto’s return has been marred by violence.

We can only surmise that the hostile environment did not worry the Americans, the Bush Administration much.  After all, aggression is the way of this White House.  It matters not who leads or lends a hand as we go into battle.  As long as the war continues, a surge strategy is maintained, and fear is sustained.  Then, the hawks win.  All must inquire; is that not the most important aspect of this New World Strategy.

We can peruse the Pakistani papers.  We can read the rhetoric of the Right and the Left in America.  Candidates can recount their experience of Benazir Bhutto.  Still, there is reason to believe we know nothing of what really happened and why.  The common folk are not even certain they understand how to care for a tragic event that has now become a campaign battle cry.  Americans listen to the words of woe, and the warnings.  Again we are told, in the name of democracy, we are at war . . . and do not forget it!

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” Bush said. “Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.” . . .

With the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses just a week away, U.S. presidential candidates also swiftly condemned the killing and stressed the need to fight terrorism.

The assassins who killed Bhutto “must be brought to justice,” Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Thursday.

“Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred and violence,” said Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is trailing fellow Democrats Clinton and Barack Obama in polls, said a leader has died in Pakistan “but democracy must live.”

“It is in the interests of the U.S. that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists,” Richardson said in a statement.

Campaigning in Florida, current Iowa-caucus Republican frontrunner Mike Huckabee said he is “deeply troubled” by the news of Bhutto’s killing. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, said the U.S. must stand with moderate forces across the Islamic world “and together face the defining challenge of our generation — the struggle against violent, radical jihadists.”

“For those who think Iraq is the sole front in the war on terror, one must look no further than what has happened today,” said Romney, a Republican. . . .

Giuliani, who was mayor of New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack that brought down the World Trade Center, said Bhutto’s death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere “is an enemy of freedom.”

“We must redouble our efforts to win the terrorists’ war on us,” Giuliani said in a statement.

“This is devastating news for the people of Pakistan, and my prayers go out to them as we follow developments regarding this dire situation,” Huckabee said in a statement.

Once again, Americans must acknowledge that purposely, we are not fully informed.  As long as war remains in the wind, we cannot and will not speak of peace.  In an era where faux-Progressives stress the need for global tranquility, as they plan to wage war for at least another term, we must remember that when conflict is the cause of strife, it will also be the effect.

Americans and citizen worldwide can only hope that we, as  a world will decide not to focus on assignations and the aggressive demeanors that lead to these.  We might dream of the impossible, harmony, and create it.  

Together let us take a moment and rest in peace.  Perchance, we might listen to the words of the one Presidential hopeful from either nation, Pakistan or the United states, who wishes only for serenity planet-wide.  The aspirant that believes we can achieve the impossible, what same think absurd offers his words of wisdom.

U.S. Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) issued the following statement after learning of the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, Pakistan in a suicide attack following a campaign rally.

“This is a very dangerous moment for the world,” Kucinich said. . . .

“The United States must change its policy direction in the region. It must stop adding fuel to the fire.”

If we truly wish to establish world unity, Americans and Pakistanis alike cannot condone combat, in any form, on foreign or domestic shores.  If we are to authentically invite and work for peace, we, as a nation, as individual people must live  our lives in harmony.  We must be calm when in the company of our neighbors, strangers and genuinely care for our selves.

Peace, Pax. Hasiti. Amniat.

Source of Serenity or Strife . . .