I have never been involved in a political campaign other than my successful run for National Junior Honor Society President and my unsuccessful shot at National Honor Society President.
Inside the Campaign?
I imagine it cannot be far from living in the eye of a hurricane 24/7, the unpredictability of embarrassing revelations or gaffes, the threat of darkening skies always looming off the horizon and the ethereal moments of clarified victory when poll numbers are favorable. The tantalizing possibilities behind voter psychology, the sea of wadded paper full of unrealized brainstorm sketches, unending analysis of electoral demographics, passionate debates, cultish ideology, coffee and Redbull, pizza and deli sandwiches, and the numbers – always the numbers. I saw War Room. I know what’s up.
Having a government degree, I’m sure I romanticize the goings on in a campaign headquarters and have considered applying my efforts to local organizations. Being in Texas, however, I’ve never quite found that candidate I could wholly support and the thought of working at a phone bank does not hit me in the sweet spot. Furthermore, I’m probably one of the least diplomatic people I know and would have a hard time maintaining that vaseline-required smile when speaking with dissenters.
So, I maintain my safe, self-indulged distance while I write commentary and opinion and shout at the television when necessary – which is a lot under the current circumstances. And I’m convinced, that an outsider’s opinion (including other outsiders, not just moi) could be a valuable asset were campaign strategists inclined to listen. The whole forest for the trees argument is applicable.
I wanted to rip somebody’s arm off in 2004 when nary a Democratic ad used footage of Bush’s 2000 campaign promises – the majority of which the man reneged on, becoming the disastrous tragedy we now have before us. Need I remind anyone of the 1992 stroke of genius when Democratic strategists replayed “No New Taxes” over and over again? If speech writers comb through the archeology of presidential oratory for inspiration, why didn’t the 2004 strategists use the triumphant advertising maneuvers of yesteryear? I still believe W. could have been a one-termer had his broken campaign promises been used against him.
Now Obama must turn his focus to McCain. This should be an easy one, though no one on the inside can take anything for granted, lest they find themselves confetti-free November 5. I hate negative advertising, which normally doesn’t work on educated voters, so McCain is the gift that keeps on giving because the man has already produced a library of gaffes this primary season and there’s no end in sight. Now, I’m not sure where the boundaries are, but I think ads that simply use the candidate’s words (albeit, against him) are not necessarily negative enough to turn off voters.
Here’s a recount of a few verbal missteps of McCain:
- He asserted May 29 that American troop levels in Iraq had been reduced to pre-surge levels.
- Last month, he insisted to Joe Klein that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the leader of Iran.
- McCain claimed last year there were parts of neighborhoods in Baghdad where “you and I” could go for a walk – even though his walk was guarded by 100 soldiers, 3 Blackhawks and 2 Apache gunships.
- Humorously, on June 2, McCain said he will win in January, kinda forgetting the election and, thus, potential victory, occurs in November. The 5th, to be exact.
- He’s forever mistaking Sunni/Shiite and Iran/Al Qaeda.
His gaffes, while funny and likely effective should they be played on a loop closer to the election, do not compare in seriousness to his policy flip-flops, which are also quite numerous:
- Tax Cuts
- Talking w/ Hamas
- Religious Right
- English as the Official Language
- U.S. troops in Iraq 100 years
- Warrantless Wiretapping
- Social Security
- Foreclosure Crisis
- Ethics Reform
Now, I’m not good at math, but I think – I think that’s more flip-flops than I can count on two hands. McCain makes Romney look like a party-line loyalist.
It’s quite possible that Obama’s camp is allowing the blogging, online and YouTube universe to attack McCain for him and biding time until polls dictate the right moment to release the marketing big guns. Needless to say, McCain’s own words can easily cost him the election and should be used against him relentlessly.
McCain’s folks are already taking note of the hard times these flip-flops will bring. I haven’t heard his campaign use the term “Straight Talk Express” in a while, but that’s most likely because it’s being used against him:
- Double Talk Express
- McCain Straight Talk Express Loses Some Wheels
- Straight Talk Express Derailed?
- Straight Talk Express Stalls
- Not-So Straight Talk Express
- Straight Talk Express Takes Scenic Route to the Truth (Ann Coulter, by the way)
- Less-Than-Straight Talk Express
- “McCain’s ‘Green Straight Talk Express’ is actually the ‘Black Energy Twisted Action Delay Machine'” (personal fave)
- Straight Talk Express Veers into Mud
- McCain’s Straight Talk Express Takes Every Fork In The Road?
- No Free Rides on the Straight Talk Express
- Straight Talk Express blows a tire in Baton Rouge
- McCain’s Straight Talk Express Hits the Gravy Train
- Detours on the ‘Straight Talk Express’
Wow. The longer this blog goes on, the more I think, Obama – you sit this one out, we’ll take care of McCain.
I’m not saying this campaign is in the bag. Not at all. Crazy things happen in an election cycle and Obama has to be vigilant (ahem, guns-and-religion) while presenting a sincere and honest resume to the American people.
Yes, the Willie Horton ads are coming. In fact, the strategist behind the Swift Boat ads, Chris Lacivita, has already indicated he’s out for blood, saying, “We will attack Obama viciously on all fair issues, whether they are national security, whether they are taxes or the economy.”
But the Obama camp has to keep in mind: 1. The Rush Limbaugh zombies and the evangelical vote McCain is losing could cancel out any underlying racists and the bitter Hillary voters Obama could lose, 2. Democrats turned out in droves during the primaries to vote and will do so even more in the general, 3. The incumbent party has not won in recent history when the economy is in a recession, 4. Bush is an anathema across the country and McCain differs from him by about .0045 degrees.
When countering McCain, Obama should stick to the issues. Despite McCain’s questionable personal history (there’s a lot of meat there), do not launch personal attacks. Do not issue advertisements with some deep-throated, long-time smoker narrator hurling accusations at McCain and making me want to take a two-hour shower after each viewing. His camp ran an ad here in Texas with a guitar riff that was just amazing. I certainly didn’t mind seeing it over and over and over would suggest replaying it during the general. I can’t find it on Youtube, though, which really bites.
If Obama can stay positive, stay on message and build his credibility with voters by delivering specific solutions (specific being the operative word here), McCain’s words alone will do him in and the Obama camp should allow them to do so. Never has one candidate in history had so much video of his many 180’s, reneges, retreats, reversals and turnabouts. It’s a campaign goldmine.
Democrats, there should really be no excuse for a loss this year. Unless a freak, unpredictable political meteorite of untold proportions manages to sabotage this election, Obama should take this thing home handily. If it even looks questionable or like it’s slipping away, an unleashing of McCain flip-flop videos in torrential volumes will at least encourage Republicans to stay home rather than vote for a dishonorable liar. That’s right. I said it.
There’s a lot at stake here. This is the most significant election in modern history and it is of the utmost import that McCain not win. Luckily, he’s been helping us make the case against him – which I, at least, will continue to do. I will be on the lookout for the next gaffe, the next flip-flop and continue to update this post each time I spot one.
It’s our time people. With the primaries over, it’s time to get focused and get smart and get organized. We have to take our hijacked government back. This is still a representative democracy and it’s time to represent!!
Latest Flip-flop: Offshore Oil Drilling
UPDATE 0723: Politico chronicles many of McCain’s gaffes (Czechoslovakia, Iraq/Pakistan Border, Sunni “Awakening” occurring after the surge) and comments on them here.