In the interest of bi-partisanship, today we turn our attention to the big plans to re-cast Nancy Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House. Recognizing the inherent news surrounding Rep. Pelosi’s historic ascendancy, her PR consiglieres have structured a series of media “events” to milk the media for what it’s worth, and in so doing, change the Republican-crafted perception of this California legislator.
Now Rep. Pelosi’s planned efforts aren’t as insidious as they sound. For years, she was portrayed by her adversaries as that San Francisco liberal. Her advisors hope to use the spot news window to set the record straight. They have thus smartly and deliberately selected photo opportunities they hope will re-calibrate the faux public perception of her.
“This is important strategic repositioning,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who teaches political communication and rhetoric at the University of Pennsylvania. “Essentially, she’s trying to embody the Democratic Party that she would like to offer the nation in 2008.”
And who’s to blame her? If there ever was an opportunity to have her re-cast in a more accurate light, this is it.
“‘San Francisco liberal’ is a construct used very effectively for a long time by Republicans,” Jamieson said. “It’s a little like ‘Taxachusetts.’ It’s telegraphic and very powerful. They haven’t been able to get her identified with it because, to this point, a lot of people didn’t know who she was. She’s trying to position a counterimage before she gets well known.”
Again, would this be considered “spinning?” Sure. Some of it’s over the top, e.g., Carole King and Wyclef Jean performing, and let’s not forget Barbara Walters’ love fest, but all in all I think Pelosi has been misportrayed. Here’s what her press rep had to say:
After running through a long list of planned events designed to highlight different phases of 66-year-old Pelosi’s life, her spokesman Brendan Daly said, “Overall this is who Nancy Pelosi is. And this is a chance for people to meet Nancy Pelosi and see who she is.”
NY PR man Ken Sunshine even weighed in:
“If she’s going to Mass, right on,” Sunshine said. “Going to Baltimore, right on. This is really where she’s from. She wasn’t born in an elite setting. Here’s a wife, mother, grandmother, and in her spare time, she becomes speaker of the House. I don’t know if this is a new brand, but it’s true about her. Why should the Republicans have a lock on those qualities?”