Thursday, June 23, 2005

SCOTUS Watch: The PR Battle

In today's Christian Science Monitor, writers Linda Feldmann and Warren Richey have an excellent look at how liberal and conservative interest groups have already begun their public relations campaigns should a Supreme Court vacancy occur this month. They make pretty clear exactly what the first few days after a retirement announcement are going to look like: unbridled ideological warfare, probabbly unprecedented even in the current hyped-up climate. One thing's for sure - it's not gonna be pretty.

6 Comments:

At 1:08 AM, Blogger Iara Celeste said...

hey ive got a question to ask you since you are a pol scientist. in a situation where reforms are being undertaken in a country's economy what are the chances that best policies are implemented given that there are permanent institutions and factions, some of course are morepowerful than the others. whose will will prevail? that of the majority, the powerful, or the marginalized? I am an econ undergrad whose writing about this topic as part of my SOP to grad school. just post your comment on my site http://affairchiara.blogspot.com/ pls and disregard whatever is written there. its an idea for a novel! or if you want to skip that just email me at walruswheedchick@yahoo.com

 
At 3:01 AM, Blogger "A Brown" said...

Cher S., there is no “right” answer to this question; the nature of the reforms, public opinion, history, economic conditions, social systems and institutions, and political institutions will all matter. I will assume that the country in question is a modern liberal democracy, otherwise this question is relatively moot. New institutional analysis may help. New institutionalism rests upon three premises: individuals have preferences that they wish to maximize, institutions affect the actions of individuals, and the history of previous actions will influence future actions i.e. people like to win, the rules of the game matter, and don’t forget about history. When making decisions individuals have preferences, but the external environment around them shapes those preferences. Players will change their strategies depending upon the rules of the game. Additionally, the decision making process for the individual will be further altered by the behavior or previous actions; players will adapt their playing strategies in response to the other players. When assessing the viability of the reforms, you would need to look at the preferences of policy makers. In a liberal democracy this would likely mean the preferences of elected officials and how they contrast and overlap. One thing to remember, is that votes are the coin of the realm for elected officials, so the opinion of the electorate would matter greatly. If there was sufficient public support the reforms could overcome the opposition of entrenched interest groups but it would be difficult and rare. The tax reform of 1986 is (often literally) the textbook example of how public opinion can overcome the power of entrenched interest groups. Showdown at Gucci Gulch by Alan Murray and Jeffrey Birnbaum provides an excellent journalistic account of the reform. The long fight over campaign finance reform would be a more modern example. Again, there is no correct answer to your question. The answer will be highly dependent upon many factors, such as the nature of the political system (for example does it favor the change of or the status quo), formal institutional barriers, informal intuitional barriers (for example history and culture or hostile lobbying groups), and the germaneness of the reforms. New institutionalism can be a good starting point: 1) who are the players? 2) what are their preferences?, 3) what are the relevant formal and informal institutions and how do they shape preferences/behavior?, 4) how do competing preferences overlap?, and 5) what does history tell us?

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger JBD said...

Cher S.; I agree with A's response to your question; it's impossible to answer a hypothetical 'who will win' question, because there are so many variables all acting together. That's what makes politics such a fascinating/frustrating thing.

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the obvious stumbled over frequently here?

 
At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Simon said...

It's going to be even more ugly than the Bork nomination - and that was ugly on an epic scale.

SCOTUSblog is running a sister blog on possible nominees, find it here:

http://www.sctnomination.com

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger JBD said...

Thanks for that Simon, I've added a link above. Well caught.

 

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