September 13, 2008
The Cold, Hard Truth About Why Campaigns Get Ugly

Sometimes fortune shines on a candidate, and events conspire to allow them to run a campaign of their choosing, which has a generally upbeat tone and allows them to promulgate their message in a desired way (see Rossi, Dino).

Reality, however, often intrudes. Jonathan Martin on the McCain campaign:

The McCain campaign doesn't really defend their strategy, but this quote from fromer McCain aide Dan Schnur gets at what current McCain advisers have said and what McCain himself has hinted at: "He had a poverty tour and nobody covered it. He had a national service tour, and everybody made fun of it. He proposed these joint town halls" with Obama, "and nothing come of it. Through the spring and early summer, that approach didn't work. You can't blame him for taking a step back and reassessing."

In short: We wanted to run a different kind of campaign, but the press was enthralled with Obama so we had to savage him to get any attention. It worked, so we're going to keep it up and hope there is more upside in the meta message than downside in the cynical means used to drive that message.

Political campaigns are all about cold, hard realism once you get past the sometimes fluffy exteriors. When assorted clutter and competing narratives - like the Messiah - are crowding out your campaign, you have to throw some elbows to rise above it.

It doesn't help that the media rarely pays attention to the candidate who runs an idealistic campaign with kid gloves - unless they screw-up (see McGavick, Mike). Idealism can make for a pleasant news story and a pat on the back from pundits, but it rarely leads to victory at the polls.

Posted by Eric Earling at September 13, 2008 09:56 AM | Email This
1. Exactly correct. I was worried that McCain was going to run an 'honorable' but losing campaign right up to election day.

I've never been more happy to be wrong!

Posted by: Kato on September 13, 2008 09:59 AM
2. Winning at all costs is better than losing with honor?

Duly noted.

Posted by: Ryan on September 13, 2008 10:24 AM
3. Winning at all costs is better than losing with honor

Slavery Party National Slogan. See ACORN, Chicago/Daley, et al.

McCain's been quite gentle with the Obamassiah. When was the last time you saw a national ad pointing out Obama's CLOSE, 20 year ties to confessed-and-unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, for example?

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on September 13, 2008 10:42 AM
4. Considering that the broadcast of the Palin interview left out some of her best answers due to editing says a lot for ABC's complicity in the media's 'love affair' with NObama.

Posted by: Silkworm on September 13, 2008 10:58 AM
5. Yesterday The One let it be known that he was coming out swinging from now on. Yahoo had a story on the first round, from what I read it looks like he hits like a girl.

Posted by: JDH on September 13, 2008 11:07 AM
6. So, Ryan... I never knew you were a GOP'er. After all, any leftist would sell out his own mother and lie thru their tooth to win, so you CAN'T be one of THOSE.

Posted by: hinton on September 13, 2008 11:07 AM
7. Silkworm, thanks for the link. There should be a lot of discussion on the editing done by ABC!

Posted by: Bill H on September 13, 2008 11:43 AM
8. Isn't this the 4th time BHO is going to "take the gloves off"? Given the pathetic results when he does that, one would hope that a POTUS candidate would be smart enough to realize that he only pokes himself in the eye when he "takes the gloves off".

Still, no matter how much Obambi self-destructs, one has to remember the legions of worshippers in the MSM doing everything they can to avoid reporting negatively on Obambi and misquoting/mischaracterizing McCain. Lots of inertia to overcome there.

Posted by: iconoclast on September 13, 2008 01:15 PM
9. Well see, at least Obama isn't willing to lie (and continue to lie) like McCain and Caribou Barbie. Win at all costs? Maybe that's how McCain thinks he'll "win" in Iraq (and there's a debate question for him - Define victory in Iraq). By the way, if the gates of hell lead to Pakistan, will he be going there, too? By my count there's Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia - how many conflicts can we possibly take on?

Posted by: westello on September 13, 2008 02:46 PM
10. I wrote to KOMO... you should too

I stopped watching network programming years ago, including local channels and local programs. At the time of that decision I was fed up with vacuous programming that was family unfriendly at best and fringe agenda promoting at its worst.

I tuned in to Charlie Gibson because I was interested in hearing Governor Palin. I HAD believed Charlie Gibson to be more honest than most network news people. I now find out that the interview I watched was a lie: a lie of omission, a lie of editing, a lie with a clear and biased agenda.

The hubris of the networks, which trickles down to their local affiliates, is that you think your viewers are stupid. The hubris is that you forget - or simply ignore - the fact that we have many venues to get FACTS and opinions and that we know the difference. The hubris is that you think you can continue as the main source of information because once you were the only source. The hubris is that you don't realize your business model is obsolete and that rather than make yourselves better, you make yourselves more extreme: more noise to garner some/any attention.

The death knoll for the mainstream media has long been rumored. Now it has sounded. Shame on Gibson. Shame on you for allowing the piece to run without comment regarding the deceitful editing.

I am thoroughly disgusted. I have contacted every single person I have in my address book with the Newsbusters proof about this duplicitous, agenda driven hit piece. I will comment regarding this on the local and national blogs, where it is already picked up steam, and I will forward all those to everyone I know. Internet and blog savvy folks are angry now, but as you well know, for everyone of us there are dozens who don't delve deeply into the net, who don't know the truth that always lurks behind your stories. We will get the message out to them on an individual and personal level.

Gibson has discredited himself, his profession, his network and their affiliates. The lesson we all learn from it is that you folks simply can not be trusted.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on September 13, 2008 02:50 PM
11. OK, West-goodbye,

What lies? Care to name one? And when you have tried to come up with anything, maybe you can define how your Obamassiah can maintain a straight face about saying he never really listened to Rev. Wright's sermons. Or didn't know William Ayers. Or didn't know Tony Rezko. Or never voted for post-birth "abortion". Or never voted to teach sex ed to kindergarteners.

Need I go on?

The Left is the Party of Lies. Starting with your absolute refusal to own up to your history of Slavery, and the modern Chains of Economic Enslavement you and your marxist, fascist comrades wish to place around every free person.

Posted by: Shanghai Dan on September 13, 2008 03:25 PM
12. In the interest of full disclosure, I posted this moment ago under an older thread:

Westello give it up. You are trying to make a slik purse out of a sows ear.

The "book banning" nonsense is just that and has been debunked ad infinitem here and everywhere else. As has just about everything you lefties threw out there to smear her. Today's lastest outrage is your drunken pal Randi Rhodes intimating that Governor Palin molests teen boys.

I'm amazed that with your virulent mouth you don't have the courage to simply say you just hate the woman; that she strikes fear in your heart because deep down you are not all that convinced of veracity your own beliefs... if you actually know what they are.

You might do well to read ...and understand... what another liberal woman has to say on Governor Palin and American women.

No Laughing Matter

No, it wasn't funny, my morning with the hockey and the soccer moms, the homeschooling moms and the book club moms, the joyful moms who brought their children to see history in the making and spun them on the lawn, dancing, when music played. It was sobering. It was serious. It was an education. "Palin Power" isn't just about making hockey moms feel important. It's not just about giving abortion rights opponents their due. It's also, in obscure ways, about making yearnings come true -- deep, inchoate desires about respect and service, hierarchy and family that have somehow been successfully projected onto the figure of this unlikely woman and have stuck.
Read the rest, then come back after you throw up over the knowledge that how very wrong you are is being exposed from one end of this country to the other.

Furthermore, before you use the word LIES in the same sentence as bHo. you might consider HIS concerning the economy as it is now, as it relates to how (badly) he'll affect it and especially in regards to how he manages (fails to manage) HIS personally.

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on September 13, 2008 03:40 PM
13. westy, I appreciate you stopping by... you provide high order comedy relief that other fringe nutters simply can't.

That you would continue to spread that crap about book banning shows that OhDrama doesn't NEED to lie when he's got simple morons like you around to do it for him.

Posted by: Hinton on September 13, 2008 04:09 PM
14. NObama should also quit beating the drum on his 'community organizer' experience. There are good ones - our Founding Fathers. And bad ones - the worst in the last century being Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. We know how those two worked out. NObama aligns his policies with the latter. SCARY!

Posted by: Silkworm on September 13, 2008 04:59 PM
15. Ragnar @ 12 Be careful about the 'silk purse' reference. I wouldn't want to have to start wearing lipstick. lol!

Really, keep up the great posts. You do us all a service by giving us the facts to buffet the hurricane of hate from the lefty liars.

"He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers." -Charles Peguy

Thx! Rags

Posted by: Silkworm on September 13, 2008 05:14 PM
16. I was hoping someone would get the reference/pun!

Posted by: Ragnar Danneskjold on September 13, 2008 05:33 PM
17. Isn't it funny that the Dems have put out this ridiculous talking point about Jesus being a community organizer and Pontius Pilate being a governor! It's just a cover for the fact that Obama's role model and hero is really Saul Alinsky. And who did he site as the model, original community organizer? Not Jesus, but Lucifer! He dedicated his book "Rules for Radicals" to him.

Posted by: Bill H on September 13, 2008 05:48 PM
18. Think about this:

Barack Hussein Obama must withdraw from the Presidential race and forfeit the election because of his ongoing conspiracies and attempts to overthrow, and counseling, aiding and abetting others to overthrow, the government of United States of America by acts of subversion, infiltration, and insurgency in or about Chicago, Illinois, while acting as a covert Marxist propagandist, agitator and indoctrinator, under the cover of community organizer. His acts are "high crimes and misdemeanors," within their Constitutional meaning, and disqualify him from the office of President. His acts, and those of his co-conspirators, are also actionable under criminal law.

Posted by: The Pirate on September 13, 2008 05:49 PM
19. Bill H and all: Re the dem talking point about Jesus & Pontius Pilate--are they saying that Bill Clinton shouldn't have become president because he was a governor??
And how weird it is to hear the democrats talking about Jesus in some non-negative way instead of laughing at him, which is what they would usually do. It's strange how they're acting/talking now that they know they need the hated "christian vote". It's like they don't really understand who the christian vote really is, but they're trying to get it anyway.

Posted by: Michele on September 13, 2008 08:53 PM
20. Michele, they are now referring to Jesus because they view Obama as the Second Coming--the new Messiah! It's a pretty juvenile talking point:

Obama = Jesus
Palin = Pontius Pilate


Posted by: Bill H on September 14, 2008 10:15 AM
21. @18: I'm assuming that you're completely ignoring the fact that Palin has rubbed shoulders with an ACTUAL secessionist group to be completely irrelevant?

Again... the sad fact is that Republicans are never afraid to lie to win. McCain is simply a coward, and we'll have to pay the price for his cowardice for years to come.

@20: On the order of "juvenile" talking points, I'd place that well above "drill baby drill" or the "Obamessiah".

I dread even the notion that Republicans could gain power again. They truly are pathetic creatures that care nothing except for themselves, and will not stop until the entire world is a blasted cesspool.

Posted by: demo kid on September 14, 2008 11:57 AM
22. I was worried that McCain was going to run an 'honorable' but losing campaign right up to election day.

I've never been more happy to be wrong!

Exactly right. I've been afraid by this since the day it became clear that Giuliani wasn't going anywhere, and Romney was going to lose too (and would have been a disaster anyway). I liked McCain, but I didn't know if he had the guts to win the campaign in the face of what was obviously going to be a duplicitous "New Politics" backed up by underhanded attacks by Obama. I worried that McCain would play by Obama's rules (i.e. you can't talk about my inexperience, past voting history, associations, or lack of accomplishments without me going ballistic and screaming "Racism" and "Smear Campaign," and thus lose.

Ends up I was wrong.

Frankly, it makes me even more enthusiastic about him as President. He's obviously not going to be fooled when double standards like this are set up by his opponents.

Posted by: Cliff on September 14, 2008 05:41 PM
23. I dread even the notion that Republicans could gain power again.

I know! That's what makes it fun!

Posted by: Cliff on September 14, 2008 05:43 PM
24. dumbo, if you're REALLY looking for "cowards," you need go no farther then the next mirror.

We all know that life sucks just now for fringe-left whack jobs like you... and the evening of Nov. 4, we expect your head to explode along with every other Kos whacker.

Maybe next time you morons pick someone to run for president, you'll get someone worth a popcorn fart instead of that anti-American racist bigot you're so enamored of.

Posted by: hinton on September 14, 2008 09:52 PM
25. Obama has had the luxury of "seeming" to be clean of all the "dirty politics" because of his lap dogs in the press willingness to go after Palin with teeth bared and claws out. All the while Obama sits there saying "our campaign doens't condone this...bla bla bla".
The Obama campaign doesn't have to condone it. The attacks make their mark one way or the other. Lucky for McCain/Palin, voters have rejected it and they DO blame Obama for it - because they know the press is in his hip pocket. So all this indignant finger pointing is all just for show. Obama could call off the press dogs with a snap of the fingers, but he hasn't. Voters aren't stupid.
The irony of it all is that McCain TRIED to run the "honerable" campaign early on, so the press has only itself to blame for the current direction of the campaigns. Voters didn't like the media telling them what and how to think about Palin before she even opened her mouth. Voters said "Just the news please." "No", says Mr. Olberman! Ok then, we'll take our votes and go with McCain.

Posted by: scott on September 14, 2008 10:37 PM
26. Jesus, don't you people have children? Do you have no desire to salvage what is not already completely destroyed in our economy? How on earth could you consider voting again for the imbeciles who allowed the strongest economy in world history to blow itself to smithereens for the benefit of a few thousand investment bankers? It boggles the mind.

And if you go all 'evidence, please,' I say open any newspaper to page one for the next, oh, ten years. If you can afford one.

Posted by: Bill Chav on September 14, 2008 11:57 PM
27. One aspect of this:

Obama = Jesus
Palin = Pontius Pilate

that I haven't seen brought up yet, is that Pontius Pilate had Jesus crucified.

Does the left really want to continue making that comparison?

Posted by: Ken on September 15, 2008 08:29 AM
28. Demo Kid said "On the order of "juvenile" talking points, I'd place that well above "drill baby drill" or the "Obamessiah"."

But the point is that this Jesus/Pontius Pilate reference that the Dems are making PLAYS RIGHT INTO the Obamessiah reference. If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging. This talking point just strengthens the claim on the right that the Dems view Obama as the Messiah. Not very smart...

Posted by: Bill H on September 15, 2008 09:37 AM
29. Bill Chav,
Nice try to attempt to blame this on Republicans, but it is the Republicans--including people like, oh, President Bush and oh, Senator Sununu (R-NH), ust to site two examples--that attempted to fix the mess with Fannie and Freddie, but Democrats like Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) kept thwarting them.

Fannie and Freddie knew who their protectors were--the top 5 recipients of their contributions were all Democrats (according to CNN). Dodd has gotten the most $$ over the last 20 years, followed by John Kerry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The top five were rounded off by Representative Paul Kanjorski (D-PA).

That odor you smell, is your own BO blowing back in your face...

Posted by: Bill H on September 15, 2008 09:50 AM
30. McCain savaged Mitt in the primaries, misrepresenting his stance on the Iraq War among other things. I was a huge Mitt supporter, but honestly, we need a fighter. Reagan was a fighter. So is McCain.

If Obama thought he was going to get kid treatment from McCain, he was wrong. He should've been taking notes from the master campaigner.

Posted by: Jonathan Gardner on September 15, 2008 01:28 PM
31. Not only are the top 5 recipients of Fanny Freddy money Democrats, most of the employees are too, by about a 3 to 1 margin. These are the people in the cubicles making the deals. So who's fault is it? It appears management and employees are mostly Democrats. I notice Pelosi is trying hard to finger Republicans on this. If the GOP are smart, they'll point out their efforts to fix this before it happened, and the Democrats who blocked them.

Posted by: scott on September 16, 2008 04:19 PM
32. Regarding the original post, I agree, agree, uh-gree with the notion that the press ignores alomost anything that is not an attack or a gaffe. This is perhaps the biggest media bias. The only rival is the bias in favor of alleging hypocrisy or pointing out flip-flops. The press was unable, unwilling or uninterested in discussing John Edwards' anti-poverty agenda but they sure loved talking about the $400 haircuts. If not for the haircuts or the catchy "two Americas" slogan, it would not have been discussed at all. In some respects McCain is lucky that his poverty tour came long before the "seven houses" story. Otherwise the story would have been "another hypocritical rich guy thinks he's going to cure poverty." OTOH, at least his efforts would have been covered [sigh.]

Posted by: Quincy on September 16, 2008 10:18 PM
33. One aspect of this:

Obama = Jesus
Palin = Pontius Pilate

that I haven't seen brought up yet, is that Pontius Pilate had Jesus crucified.

Does the left really want to continue making that comparison?

I've been wondering for a long time what they'll say if he loses. That America crucified it's savior?

Under normal circumstances, I'd expect an article like that...from The Onion. But we might get a serious one at this rate.

Posted by: Cliff on September 16, 2008 11:47 PM
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