Saturday, August 02, 2008

you know things are bad if you're a repubbblican and even howard kurtz disses you

john mcmuffin's latest ad campaign (comparing barack "to the future" obama w/paris & britney) has drawn the ire of most dems and progressives.

but worse for mcmuffin, the usually-gop-brown-nosed howard kurtz thinks it's dumb:

at the same time, analysts questioned what message mccain was sending by interspersing footage of his democratic opponent before a huge crowd in berlin with that of two socialites famous for their irresponsible antics.

"i don't get it," said ken goldstein, a professor of political science at the university of wisconsin at madison. "is it valid to go after barack obama on inexperience, being a bit glib, perhaps even a bit arrogant for doing the european tour? absolutely. but you just sound dopey when you put paris hilton in an ad."

shanto iyengar, a professor of political science and communications at stanford university, said mccain needs "to come up with a more affirmative narrative for his candidacy -- why is he running? what does he stand for? -- before going after barack obama." but he added: "mccain has lost the free media contest over the past couple of weeks; he's desperate to make the news, and controversial attacks are more newsworthy than boilerplate positive ads."

we have to agree. and, apparently, so do independent voters, the bloc that mcmuffin needs the most. joe gandelman at the moderate voice:

john avalon, who is perhaps the most prominent independent political book writer, columnist and speaker in the u.s. today, has told cnn that republican party presumptive nominee sen. john mccain’s negative ads against rival democratic sen. barack obama could cost him the support of independent voters.

independent voters need to read this story in full, but here’s a meaty excerpt with a few comments from yours truly (who was described in a recent book on california arnold schwarzenegger as a quintessential california independent voter):

q: how does the negative campaigning play with independent voters?

avlon: independent voters are very sensitive to when politics takes a negative turn. and you know it’s august, and the heat’s turning up on the campaign trail, and so is the rhetoric.

but candidates need to be very careful, because hypocrisy is the unforgivable sin in politics. both john mccain and barack obama have campaigned as being a break from the politics of personal destruction we’ve seen in the past. so, whenever the campaign takes a negative turn, independent voters notice, and they’ll punish the candidate that takes it too far.
gandelman's co-blogger elrod also thinks mcmuffin is "setting his own trap" w/the celebrity gambit.

the catch, however, is that barack obama is an extremely intelligent man. and in october, american voters are going to see that in three debates. there is no way you can watch him in a sit-down interview, or a one-on-one debate and conclude that he is a ditz over his head. you might disagree with his positions. and he might squirm if cornered on a few ambush questions. but you’ll never get the feeling that he’s unable to think through complex political issues on his feet. so, mccain is actually lowering the bar for obama in the debates.

in fact, this whole gambit is reminiscent of jimmy carter’s 1980 campaign against ronald reagan. carter regularly mocked reagan as a b-list hollywood actor with no brains. for much of the summer the charge worked. the polls were tied, even in the height of the iran hostage crisis and economic problems. but then came the debate. and reagan showed himself in command of the issues, poised under fire, and reasonable. reagan pulled away the last week and won by 10 points.
and the kurtz piece mentions:

even some mccain allies have winced at the paris/britney spot. republican strategist dan schnur, a former mccain adviser, said that "most voters won't see the parallels between a presidential candidate and two party girls. so a legitimate point about inexperience gets lost in the appearance of name-calling."

still, mccain has succeeded in using meager ad buys to generate free news coverage.

evan tracey of the campaign media analysis group said the ad on the canceled troops visit, which dominated cable news for days, has aired just nine times.

"if you're running against a rock star and have a huge disadvantage in money, you do the oldest trick in the book," goldstein said.
well, we thought prostitution was the oldest trick in the book. oh wait, this is politics after all.


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