Friday, March 21, 2008

Wingers unite while Democrats fight

By Libby

The GOP faithful have their man. They don't like him much, but they've figured out the best course of action to get what they want in November. Patrick Ruffini gives away their game plan.
I'm not going to argue that Soren was right in posting the link. But I do agree with Matt Lewis that there was some overreaction here. If they go further with this civility routine, they risk alienating conservatives in talk radio and the blogosphere who are doing the necessary work of defining Obama and rendering him just as radioactive with the base as Hillary.

A month ago, McCain-Obama looked like a bad matchup for us: a Republican nominee who didn't do much to galvanize the base against a Democrat who didn't either.

The New York Times kerfuffle and now the Wright story is slowly changing that. With an assist from Hillary Clinton's overtures to the right-wing of the Democratic Party, Obama is now a more polarizing figure in key swing states than she is. It is now clear that conservative media will do to Obama what they did to Kerry, Gore, and Clinton. This can be an unalloyed boon to the McCain campaign, as it pretty much takes care of his conservative problem and frees him to go after swing voters.

This is not about "Barack Hussein Obama" or Muslim smear emails, which need to be repudiated. It is about a Presidential candidate's literary muse going all Susan Sontag on us on the Sunday after 9/11. It is connecting the dots on the post-patriotic milieu that surrounds Obama seemingly everywhere he goes. These are legitimate issues for public discussion, if not by McCain himself, then certainly by talk radio and the blogs. If McCain doesn't want to be part of that, that's understandable. But he should get out of the way and let talk radio do its thing.

Of course, this is not at legitimate issue for public discussion. It's typical GOP hatemongering. The right wing slime machine is hoping to hoping to pull the same trick they used so successfully in the past. Ruffini helpfully describes the preferred tactics for us.
The challenge in modern Presidential campaign is not simply to paint your opponent as wrong on the issues, and to prevail in a civil debate. It is to render the opponent unacceptable to 48% of the electorate, and merely less preferable to 3%. Despite McCain's troubles with the base, conservative media (and Hillary) are doing the heavy lifting on the unacceptable part. McCain should get out of the way, and jump in ONLY when someone crosses an overtly racial and/or religious line.
I think Ruffini is being too clever by half in chiding McCain. Firing the staffer allows McCain to disown the clumsily rendered hatemongering, while effectively giving the video more exposure. I think the best way to counter that is to make more and better videos targeting McCain. I don't have the skills or the equipment to do it myself, but I hope some of the infinitely more creative liberals on our side will do so, quickly and repeatedly.

Surely we can beat them at this game. All they have is hate. We have facts on our side. The trick is to render them visually into easily digested soundbites that can morph into viral emails that help our candidate.

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