Tuesday, July 09, 1996

Yeltsin and the Wilsonites

I've just read the piece in this week's Time magazine about how American advisers helped Yeltsin run a "modern" election campaign. One problem with it is that the consultants clearly did a much better job conning Time into exaggerating their importance than they did conning the Russian people. Still, it's an amusing piece. Yeltsin's people saying, why can't we just tell the factory owners to order their workers to vote for us? and the Americans saying, no no, you have to have focus groups and go negative negative negative, show pictures of Soviet breadlines, and never promise anything because no one believes a word Yeltsin says. The clash of two totally different forms of complete and utter political cynicism.

All of the American consultants, none of whom spoke Russian and who spent the whole time hiding out in a hotel room so that no one would know Americans were trying to run the Yeltsin campaign, were former aides and campaign managers of our own Pete Wilson. Thus the negative strategy.
And again, Wilson was hated almost as much in California as Yeltsin was in Russia but they both got (re)elected. The parentheses in the previous sentence indicate my understanding that Yeltsin was not reelected since he was holding an office, president of a sovereign country, to which he was never elected in the first place--the last presidential election took place when there was still a Soviet Union responsible for foreign policy, the military and so on, all run by Micky "Mr. 0.5%" Gorbachev.

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