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Hamas Reeling?

Sunday, January 4, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The Jerusalem Post reports damage to the Hamas command-and-control structure.

But the Belmont Club notes that Hamas has a high probability of survival unless the Israelis find some way to compromise the Hamas internal security structure.

Does the lame duck Israeli government have the strength of will to take as long as necessary to cripple Hamas? Will the Obama Adminstration stand by Israel if Israel does attempt to crush the terrorist organization?

As John Hinderaker points out, the Islamist radical fringe is already blaming the president-elect for Israel’s offensive. It is hard to imagine that the new president or his secretary of state would begin their time in office by pressuring Israel to end its battle against Hamas, but the silence from the transition office is worrying.

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On Messaging

Sunday, January 4, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

E-mail from my favorite ad exec, “Bear in the Woods”:

While contemplating the New Year — resolutions, economy and all — and wondering what adjustments will ultimately be made to the tone and technique of conservative communications, I found myself feeling cautiously optimistic about the Right’s opportunity to oppose, for a couple of reasons. Both reasons, of course, warrant explanation, so here goes:[# More #]
The first reason is simplest, and is grounded in past experience. The GOP has, historically, been more successful as a challenger. We only tend to blow it once we get power. Lesson learned. Again.
But the second reason goes to the general nature of creating emotionally compelling communications. The fact is, it’s far easier, from a creative standpoint, to be against something than it is to be for something. While that may sound simplistic, a survey of historical advertising campaigns that have left lasting impressions, especially public service campaigns, will bear the statement out. It’s easier, and thus potentially more emotionally powerful, to be against smoking than it is to be for the health benefits of living smoke free. It’s easier, creatively, to be against drunk driving than it is to be for responsible consumption. It’s even easier to get people enthused about wiping out dandruff than it is to sell a clean scalp. Any given campaign can sell the benefits of the product alone, or can show how the product solves a (real or perceived) problem. Both techniques are used frequently. The latter is far more compelling to consumers.
Take a look at the lingering bumper stickers from the Democrats’ campaign. I see a good bit of HOPE, but I see far, far more CHANGE. Hope was the word that sold the “benefits” of the product. But Change was what resonated more — because it was the word that positioned the product as a solution to the perceived problem. “Change” said, “We’re against what is.” I won’t go into all the hashed and re-hashed dissections of “Change,” because I’m just looking at it technically, as a piece of creative. It positioned the product well, whether there was a drop of truth (or relevance) to it or not.
Recently there has been a good bit of commentary about the fact that Obama will be the first pop-culture president since JFK. While I personally think there’s some argument to be made for President Reagan, I agree. Let’s remember, though — pop culture doesn’t just happen. It’s created, purposefully, by Hollywood, or the recording industry, or Madison Avenue, or some combination of all three. To hit the proverbial home run, all the elements have to be there — product, message, positioning, verbiage, imagery, experience, interactivity — each and all executed in a manner that resonates emotionally. Positioning the product as the solution to a problem — being against the bad, and vanquishing it with the hero product — is but one aspect of the complete strategy, but it’s a powerful part. How much does 60′s pop culture owe to simply being against the “Establishment?”
The danger, of course, in embracing the role of the opposition, is the temptation to oppose every little thing in an attempt to manufacture a bogeyman where there is no credible one. The result is a mish-mash of messages, and a whiny voice. How many conservative columnists have, over the past eight years, used the phrase, “liberal crybabies?” Another lesson we can learn — only this time, a lesson in what not to do.
The right must identify a single emotionally compelling sweet spot — a problem wholly owned by the other side, and at the same time, recognized and relevant to a broad range of people, before any communications craft can be seriously applied to it. While that sounds both obvious and daunting, it’s done every single day for everything from shampoo to auto parts. And the other side has proven it can be done very well for presidential candidates and political positions. Identify that spot, and we’ve taken the first baby step toward crafting a compelling message for 2012. a tiny step, yes — but at least it’s in the right direction.

“Defeat Hamas To Defeat Iran”

Sunday, January 4, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren write in today’s Los Angeles Times on Israel’s “unique chance to deal a strategic blow to Iranian expansionsim.” Key graphs:

If Israel successfully overthrows Hamas in Gaza, it would strengthen anti-Iranian forces throughout the Mideast and signal the region that Iranian momentum can be reversed. The Israeli military operation could begin the process that topples a terrorist regime that seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007 and has fired thousands of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli neighborhoods.

And whether or not Hamas is ultimately overthrown, Israel can achieve substantial goals. The first is an absolute cease-fire. Previous cease-fires allowed Hamas to launch two or three rockets a week into Israel and to smuggle weapons into Gaza through tunnels. To obtain a cease-fire now, the international community should recognize Israel’s right to respond to any aggression over its international border and monitor the closure of Hamas’ weapons-smuggling tunnels.

Above all, the goal is to ensure that Hamas is unable to proclaim victory and thereby enhance Iranian prestige in the Arab world.

Removing Iran’s influence from Gaza would allow genuine negotiations between Israel and the PLA to proceed, and for Gaza to be reincorporated within the Palestinian polity. Hamas will never agree to a lasting peace with Israel, no matter the terms. Any commentary that does not proceed from that understanding is worthless. There’s no guarantee that the PLA can reform itself into a responsible partner with Israel in establishing a long-term solution for the region, but there is no practical probability that Hamas ever will.

Yellowstone Rumblings: An Inconvenient National Park

Sunday, January 4, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Fresh Bilge has the details.

The Times of London takes them mainstream.

My posts on “An Inconvenient National Park” are linked here.

The Yellowstone-Teton Epicenter site is here.

For the best read on the subject, grab Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything.

If my suggestion to make Bryson’s wonderful walk through science the standard 9th grade text in the U.S. had been adopted, hundreds of thousands of young Americans would be much better informed about Yellowstone –and nearly everything else involving science.

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