Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama criticises 'ugly' tactics.

Obama has stepped back onto the campaign trail to denounce McCain for fighting a dirty campaign.

Mr Obama, appearing in Nevada, said the "ugly phone calls, the misleading mail and TV ads, the careless, outrageous comments" were preventing "change".

"In the final days of campaigns, the say-anything, do-anything politics too often takes over..." he said in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"The American people don't want to hear politicians attack each other - you want to hear about how we're going to attack the challenges facing middle-class families each and every day."

The polls show that the American public agree with Obama, that they don't want the kind of campaign which McCain, Shmidt and Davis have been offering, but, as this recent New York Times article explains, the McCain team have never actually been able to run on their policies - which I have always argued were toxic - and have instead been forced to brand and re brand and brand again McCain.

“For better or for worse, our campaign has been fought from tactic to tactic,” one senior adviser glumly acknowledged to me in early October, just after Schmidt received authorization from McCain to unleash a new wave of ads attacking Obama’s character. “So this is the new tactic.”

“We had a narrative problem,” Matt McDonald recalls. “Obama had a story line: ‘Bush is the problem. I’m not going to be Bush, and McCain will be.’ Our story line, I argued, had to be that it’s not about Bush — it’s Congress, it’s Washington. And Obama would be more about partisanship, while John McCain would buck the party line and bring people together.”

The others could see McDonald’s line of reasoning — and above all, the need to separate McCain from Bush. But the message seemed antiseptic, impersonal. That was when the keeper of McCain’s biography, Mark Salter, took the floor. There’s a reason McCain bucks his party, McDonald remembers Salter arguing. It’s because he puts his country ahead of party. Then the speechwriter, who is not known for his dispassion, began to yell: “We’re talking about someone who was willing to die before losing his honor! He would die!”

Salter stalked out of the meeting to have a cigarette and didn’t return. But he had said enough. The metanarrative of Heroic Fighter was now joined with one that evoked postpartisan statesmanship. The new narrative needed a label. The first version was “A Love for America.” Then “America First.” And finally, the one that stuck: “Country First.”
So we had McCain the man of experience, give way to McCain the Maverick, after we had endured McCain the war hero.

The problem for the McCain team is that they have never had a consistent theme. Indeed, the only consistency was their willingness to go negative and to repeat lies long after they had been established as lies.

The problem for McCain has been the fact that he lost to Bush in 2000 due to a series of disgraceful dirty tricks.
In such moments, the man who renounced negative ads during the 2000 campaign because he wanted (as he told his aghast advisers back then) “to run a campaign my daughter can be proud of” has been thoroughly recognizable.

But that John McCain had lost. Of the noble but perhaps na├»ve decision in 2000 to unilaterally take down his attack ads, Rick Davis would vow: “That’s not gonna happen a second time. I mean, the old dog can learn a few new tricks.” And yet on this landscape of new tricks — calling your opponent a liar; allowing your running mate to imply that the opponent might prefer terrorists over Americans — McCain sometimes seemed to be running against not only Barack Obama but an earlier version of himself.
The dirty tricks which Obama is condemning here simply is the McCain campaign. They now literally have nothing left to offer and Obama is preparing the public for the final 10 days of filthy assault and framing it as an example of McCain's weakness rather than something which the public should concern themselves with.

He's outplayed McCain on every front and, even here, he is removing the bullets from McCain's guns as they enter into the final stretch, portraying his attacks as examples of McCain's failings rather than as something to be feared.

Click title for full article.

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