Shutdown, Tragedy, Looming Default: Welcome to Washington

 Shutdown, Tragedy, Looming Default: Welcome to Washington

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the United States government.

The fictional town of Sunnydale was the site of the Hellmouth in the popular TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but it’s starting to feel like the true location of the portal to Hades is Washington, DC. Look at the events of the past week alone. First, the government shut down. A few days later, a delusional woman went on an automotive rampage near the Capitol and was shot and killed by Capitol police – who were receiving no pay at the time due to the shutdown. Earlier this week, a man self-immolated on the Washington Mall, motives unknown. And next week, should Congress fail to come to terms, America will hit its debt ceiling and go into default. End times, or what?

The game of high-stakes poker between Congress and President Obama saw much sweat on the Republican side and no blinking from the Oval Office. As of yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner said “I’m not drawing any lines in the sand” about budget issues – a far softer message than was broadcast merely one day ago.

Meanwhile, Congress and the government in general are coming under increasing pressure to get past this problem. Citizens are shouting at their representatives. Petitions to put Congressional paychecks on the same freeze as those of government workers are gaining signatures. And the stock market is flattening as a result of the impending default. How deeply will Washington peer into this abyss?

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for the United States government. They would have earned an “F,” but we’re saving that for next week.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Remember who you’re fighting for. While Democrats say they’re trying to give Americans affordable health care, and Republicans are saying Americans don’t want it, both sides are receiving substantial paychecks, unlike some of their constituents. The longer the standoff, the more Americans become united – in their increasing ire at their own elected officials. Seems likely that, come voting time, Congresspeople will have hell to pay.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners and Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) TO John McAfee. The billionaire computer programmer played a monthlong game of “Catch me if you can” with authorities in Belize, who said they merely wanted to talk to McAfee about the death of his neighbor. McAfee then went on the run and into hiding – rather publicly, as he bragged to reporters about his disguises and blogged about his escapes. Authorities tried to portray McAfee as crazy; maybe crazy like a fox. Whether he’s delusional, addicted to attention, or he truly believes he’s in danger of being held for murder, McAffee is milking his “wanted man” adventure for all it’s worth. The public shakes its collective head…and keeps right on watching. We might be witnessing a myth in the making.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO Anne Hathaway. So, what was the reaction to the release of the multimillion dollar film version of the hit play Les Miserables? Any chance of immediate reviews was over before Hathaway even climbed out of her limo at the Paris premiere. She opted to go commando under her designer gown, which afforded her far less coverage than the paparazzi gave. “We’ve seen a lot of you lately,” chortled Today Show host Matt Lauer during the actress’s morning show appearance. To her credit, Hathaway drew a parallel between the unfortunate incident and her prostitute character in Les Miz, but the clever soundbite was all but lost; alas, one revealing picture is worth a thousand well-planned words. The PR machine on this one was well and truly blindsided.

 

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO: Fiscal cliff “negotiators.” The ongoing eleventh-hour skirmish over federal tax increases and spending cuts is set for January 1, 2013. Americans are deeply weary of partisan gridlock in Washington, and perpetuating it continues to further tarnish the reputations of both political parties. With President Obama’s decisive win just six weeks old, Republicans might be well-advised to agree to tax hikes on the wealthy in exchange for a few key areas on which they can loudly claim victory with the majority of their constituents. This is a PR battle where being the hold-out is no longer the winning strategy. Since the election, the game has changed; the first side to make a decisive move  will give the country some much-needed peace (and quiet) this holiday season.