Friday, September 12, 2008
Let's Define The Word "Aggressive"
In WaPo, Chris Cillizza asks the question "Will Obama's Aggressive New Tone Work?":
Barack Obama's campaign is seeking to retake the offensive in the contest against John McCain today with a renewed focus on the economy. The tactical shift comes as national polls that show a dead heat in the presidential race and in response to criticism from many in Democratic circles who think Obama is letting the race slip away.Well, I'm surprised they aren't calling McCain "President Naptime", but that would be problematic as well, because I think they already used that meme for President Reagan. He gave naps a good name.
The strategy, which was previewed in a story in the New York Times today, rolled out this morning in three parts: two new television ads -- one of which bashes McCain for his computer illiteracy , a memo from campaign manager David Plouffe entitled "Heading into the Final Stretch," and a conference call with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel.
The answer to Chris Cillizza's question is no, not if the new "tone" is schoolyard jeering aggression, as in the TV ad linked. That one mocks McCain for not being able to use a keyboard or send an email. But there is a very good reason for that - McCain's hands and arms and spine were very seriously damaged during interrogations while he was a POW. He can't use them very well. Aw, heck, McCain's injuries were to just about every limb in his body, plus his spine. The guy fought an unbelievable battle to get back in working order, and like so many people who have had severe injuries, what he achieved was normal function at the cost of some significant discomfort. That discomfort is ongoing, so don't expect this guy to spend hours cruising the internet giggling at those funny vids on YouTube.
This is going to offend a huge number of people - everyone from disabled people to military families.
If Obama wants to be "aggressive", it needs to be aggression presented as toughness and willingness to grapple with difficult policy issues. Mocking people is not "aggressive" in a way that will speak to American voters.
The person responsible for the TV ad linked above should be fired from the Obama campaign, and Obama is going to have to apologize. You don't mock people for the results of injuries received during the course of service to their country. This came up earlier in Republican primaries in the 2000 campaign, and rebounded fiercely on the opposition. Here is a link to a Boston Globe article back then:
McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. Friends marvel at McCain's encyclopedic knowledge of sports. He's an avid fan - Ted Williams is his hero - but he can't raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a baseball.This is self-destructive to the Obama campaign and to Obama. Obama himself has slid into sneering mode several times since Palin's selection. It's not going to work - you can't sneer at a person as tough as McCain.
This is not an "aggressive tone". It's stupidity and timidity and anger combined. This is one major gaffe and they better recant quickly, taking the issue off the table while we're all worried about Hurricane Ike instead of Hurricane John. Much more of this childish, stupid crap, and Hurricane John will eliminate Dem control of Congress in his triumphal march to the White House.
YOU DON'T BRING A SNIGGER TO A GUNFIGHT, STUPIDS. YOU DON'T MOCK A VETERAN FOR THE RESULT OF WAR INJURIES. THESE ARE THINGS YOU MUST NOT DO WHEN RUNNING FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.
Update: Jimmie from Sundries Shack is just as amazed as I am:
Either way, Barack Obama’s first hard-hitting ad on an issue that matters to families is one that makes fun of a war hero’s crippling injuries.Frankly, at this point I suspect Obama's campaign needs a suicide counselor more than any additional staffers.
And he did that after a whole week where his unleashed hounds savaged Sarah Palin’s pregnant teenaged daughter and her Down’s Syndrome son.
Awesome job there, Obamessiah!
Is there anyone on Obama’s staff who got there because they were competent, or did the interview consist solely of finding out who could salaam the lowest when he walked by?
Further update: QandO has a post up on the issue, observing that learning to Google might be a good strategy for the O Team. They found the Slate article from 2000 on McCain's web-savvy campaign:
Six months ago, no one would have pegged McCain as the most cybersavvy of this year's crop of candidates. At 63, he is the oldest of the bunch and because of his war injuries, he is limited in his ability to wield a keyboard. But McCain's job as chairman of the Senate commerce committee forced him to learn about the Internet early on, and young Web entrepreneurs such as Jerry Yang and Jeff Bezos fascinate him. Well before he announced his exploratory committee, McCain had assimilated the notion that the Web could be vital to the kind of insurgent, anti-establishment campaign he wanted to run.There are other links, too. Read the post.
"I see the Internet as revolutionizing politics," McCain declared, endorsing the eventual prospect of Internet voting and explaining that he thought the Web would lead to a better-informed electorate as well as better-informed elected officials.
I'm wondering if Obama hired a few of those PLO types he's rumored to be fond of to run his campaign? You know the type. "We will blow ourselves up to prove the power of our passion!"
What is this? The Palestinian campaign strategy? We're gonna blow ourselves up to really terrify you and prove how DETERMINED we are?
Rob - yeah. Adolescents. Sniggering adolescents. If we recall our worst teen moments, it seems as if the Obama campaign is locked in them. The damage over the last ten days is self-inflicted.
Mind you, this from a man who described his executive experience for the office as consisting of running a successful campaign for the office is exquisitely ironic.
Bringing a snigger to a gunfight is an excelent tactic: you get the support of all the snigger community and you can kill all the women you want and get away with it despite any DNA evidence if you are being judged by a jury your peers (sniggers).
Plus, you can pull the race-card if anyone calls you on your snigger antics.
Normal rules of civility, discourse and truth do not apply to Obama and he knows this.
One of the candidates talks only in broad rhetoric, the other is actually not interested in economics at all - what an appealing choice to lead the country in these troubled times.
Anon - I don't like the slate, admittedly. I keep waiting for the candidates to talk about the issues. Instead, we have a catfight orchestrated by "trained journalists".
The danger here is that many people are not enthralled by either candidate, so launching a campaign designed to prove that you are the most unlikeable and least mature will swing voters to your opponent. I'm frustrated with this election cycle, and it appears that I am doomed to become even more so.
Maybe Obama really doesn't want to win this election. I don't know.
Why no comments about the blatant lies in the McCain ads? Those have been far more outside the pale than anything done yet by Obama.
I understand your affinity for Palin, but she has distinct weaknesses as well. But here, too, nothing but blind support in spite of some obvious lies and distortions by her.
Actually, Palin is refreshing because she understands how the real world works, and she really did reform things in Alaska. But she would not have been my pick for a Veep slot, although she is better qualified than Obama for president, by any objective measure.
I don't want to vote for either McCain or Obama, so I'm not a happy voter this election cycle. I believe neither are up to the task.
I do want a real debate about the country's problems, and it's beginning to dawn on me that I'm not going to get it.
Obama would have done well to read this little essay.
Links to this post: