Political Inoculation

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Aug 19 20:00:52 UTC 1999


    This is from the NEW YORK PRESS, August 18-24, 1999, pg. 11, by John Ellis:

     In the political trade, Hillary Rodham Clinton's interview with _Talk_ magazine is called "inoculation."  Although the metaphor is inexact, the idea is straightforward.  A candidate has a political vulnerability that needs to be addressed.  The candidate addresses said vulernability in a favorable venue on his or her own terms at a time when few, if any, voters are paying attention.  Once the vulnerability has been addressed and the press has had its fill, it's on to the next thing and never look back.  The candidate and the campaign apparatus declare all further mention of the subject verboten.

     "Inoculation" isn't an entry in William Safire's NEW POLITICAL DICTIONARY (1993).  A good article is the WASHINGTON POST, 26 April 1988, pg. A5:

_"Inoculation" Politics: Candidates Try to Get In the First Shot_
(...)  In what has become known as "inoculation politics," candidates who know they are vulnerable on a potentially lethal issue like Social Security raise it early to immunize themselves from an attack that comes too late for recovery.

     FORTUNE, 25 April 1988, pg. 341, described New York Times columnist Hedrick Smith's book, THE POWER GAME:

     There's the preemptive leak, which settles an internal debate over whether to make information public by simply leaking it; the inoculation leak, used to break forthcoming bad news--for example, by announcing that interest rates seem likely to rise in a few months; the shortcut leak, which forces immediate presidential attention to a problem by getting it in the press; and the brag leak, which makes someone look good by revealing a brilliant inside maneuver.

     The SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 17 June 1986, pg. A3:  "Cranston's strategists freely admit they are engaing in political 'inoculation'--that is, presenting the lesse-known Zschau's record to the voters on their terms rather than his."

HOT DOG (continued, of course)

    This is from the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE (the _second_ torching of my work this summer--"Show Me" was never corrected), 12 August 1999, pg. G3:

     If it weren't for a newspaper cartoonist, vendors at Pirate games might still be barking, "Get you red hot dachshund sausages!"
     "Hot dogs" were still something of a novelty in 1906 America, and they went by a variety of names: frankfurters, franks, wieners, red hots, and dachshund sausages.  But during a New York Giants game that year, Hearst newspaper cartoonist Tad Dorgan was so inspired by a vendor yelling, "Get you red hot dachshund sausages," that he decided to sketch a dachshund smeared with mustard encased in a bun.  It is believed Dorgan couldn't spell the word dachshund so he settled on dog--the caption read "Come get your hot dogs."

    A Dow Jones check shows that the History Channel not only got things wrong with their documentary HISTORY ON A BUN and with their MILLENNIUM MINUTE, but in _another_ documentary as well.  This is from the LOS ANGELES TIMES, 19 July 1999, pg. D2:

What:  "Modern Marvels: Baseball Parks"
Where:  The History Channel, tonight, 7 and 11
     (...) Before each commercial break of the one-hour program, interesting facts are shown about ball parks.  For instance: In 1905, red hot dachshunds on a roll were popular items at ball parks.  The name was eventually shortened to hot dogs after a newspaper columnist complained he couldn't spell dachshund.

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