As the summer political season approaches, we can expect to be bombarded from both sides of the pond with statements, postures and photo opportunities, all designed to gain some kind of political advantage.
In the US the mid-term elections are being held in November; in May next year the General Election beckons and one of the key players in the British election is looking stateside for as much help as he can get. Ed Miliband has already employed David Axelrod. Axelrod, who helped President Obama to two victories, will join Labour’s general election campaign team as a senior strategic adviser.
I am sure that Axelrod will be pulling as many strings as he can get a grip on, in an attempt to get some form of backing (real or implied) from Obama. Indeed on Radio 4 a week ago it appeared that Miliband believes that a photograph with the President will help him appear far more capable of holding the top job in the UK.
He may be right. His recent and much-publicized bacon sandwich experience shows just how much damage a bad photo can make. If he is able to get a statesmanlike photo with the President, maybe it could go some way towards redressing the balance. As far as the President is concerned, the cost of providing such a photo opportunity is negligible - indeed, it might even help his own cause. You would not think so, mind you, based on the apparent difficulty his office is having in setting it up.
Perhaps the President’s office has spotted a negotiating truth - namely that just because it is costing them very little to concede does not mean that they should value it that way. All negotiations require a degree of trading and the best trades are the ones where there is a difference in the value of the variables. A great photo of Miliband with Obama would have huge value to the Labour leader; perhaps the President has recognized this and is ensuring that he gets a significant return.
The fact that it costs him very little is just a bonus.
The next time you are asked for something, don’t think just about how much it costs to give, think about what it’s worth to them.