PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Dems fan flames over 'girlie man' slam

Let's say a great big muscley governor calls you and your political buddies "girlie men" in front of a small crowd.

Let's say a great big muscley governor calls you and your political buddies "girlie men" in front of a small crowd.

Would you: (a) do everything in your power to make sure the whole country hears about it, (b) declare your working relationship indefinitely suspended, even though everyone knows you have just five days to pass a budget and get to Boston in time for your party's national kegger, or (c) hang an "out of order" sign on your espresso machine and, in a pretty high-profile hissy fit, swear never again to bring the big bully his steamed milk? Luckily for Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's Democrats did all three for him last week, walking right into the Governator's trap and handing him the leverage he sought in the state budget negotiations. Schwarzenegger, frustrated by the Dem's unwillingness to pass his budget - and particularly, er, steamed over their refusal to consider repealing a law that stopped public schools from hiring private firms - threw the classic Saturday Night Live insult at them over the weekend, playing off a caricature that originally played off him. Instead of proving him wrong by being the manlier men about it and letting the quip die, the Democrats fanned the flames of righteousness, completely missing the fact that no one who supports "Ahnuld" wants him to be PC, genteel, or even particularly nice. But it was the Democrats racing the clock. With the convention just around the corner, they could ill afford the three days wasted on outrage. So by Wednesday, they were all back at the table - as was Schwarzenegger's school-law repeal.
  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's Washington, DC, bureau chief. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

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