Watching the Democrats yet again get spanked in the PR department of what is the 2008 Presidential Campgain, I got to thinking, just what would the landscape look like if it was McCain who was the Democratic Candidate for president. What would the GOP attack dogs be doing?
Well, before we get to that, we have to first acknowledge that the GOP is much better at "working the refs" (the refs being the media) - and so whatever they would do, they would get away with far more than the Democrats would. Witness Matthews and Olbermann being demoted from campaign coverage after a concerted whining campaign by the GOP. Also witness that FOX News continues with no changes.
Now, to the quesiton at hand. First, if McCain were a Democrat, we could expect a whispering campaign, aided by the media giving anonymous sources free publicity, with just two words: "Manchurian Candidate." You'd hear it repeated over and over and over. When any high GOP official was asked about it, they'd deny responsibility for it, and when directly asked about it, if McCain was brainwashed in captivity and can't be trusted, they'd reply with a weasely, "Well, I wasn't there, so I can't say for sure what transformation McCain may have had." This story would stay alive for the entire campaign. The underlying theme - you can't trust McCain - he's the Manchurian Candidate.
Related to that, you'd hear repeated over and over that "getting shot down doesn't qualify you to be president," with perhaps an added, "it might qualify you for being in the Libyan air force" (or pick some other perjorative). There would also be veterans all questioning his story - maybe he cowardly bailed out rather than face fire from the ground. Maybe he broke immediately in captivity and then tried to cover for it with lies later.
Then his honor would be more directly attacked. First, a "non-partisan" (really partisan) study would come out about every single lie the McCain campaign has told. Each time any falsehood is repeated (by anyone) it counts as two. Each time a commercial is aired (be it for money or free media talking about the commercial) is also counted. Then this is put into a commercial asking - "McCain - Man of Honor??" "McCain tells 12,000 lies just since the beginning of 2008 alone in this campaign. Is this really the sort of character we can have for the white house? Restore honor to the White House. And so on. The number can keep increasing, perhaps even during the commercial itself.
Then the icing on the cake - just this week, McCain put out an ad about how Obama is bad for supporting a program that "teaches sex education to 5 year olds." Only it does no such thing. It actually was about teaching 5 year olds how to spot and protect themselves against pedophiles. Of course, Obama will put up the usual ineffectual denials or try to explain. This is the wrong approach. The GOP approach works much better. That approach is to put out an ad that does not try to explain anything. Instead, the ad should point out that "McCain is against a program to protect our children from Pedophiles. McCain protects pedophiles. What is McCain hiding?" Those last words should be illustrated with pictures of McCain with children, preferably with McCain smiling and the children looking less than thrilled. The money shot would be if the children had tears in their eyes. But then, that's nothing that photoshop couldn't fix. Anytime this ad is complained about, the GOP approach would then be to just turn it around and hammer home again and again "McCain is trying to protect pedophiles. Why is McCain protecting pedophiles?" Any attempt to discuss it rationally should just have that mantra repeated, calmly talking over any attempts to explain. That's the kind of politics the GOP plays. Until the Democratic party plays that way, too, the GOP will have a huge advantage. It is time to play cut-throat. Talking about issues doesn't work, not even when everyone agrees with you on the issues.
Note also that in all of that, there is no mention of Palin. All of the above gets McCain talked about in the news cycle. Palin then just disappears off of the radar - that is, unless she does something stupid. That would be the smart thing to do. Attack attack attack McCain. Ignore Palin as if she is a non-entity. That would neuatralize the GOP strategy now of Palin 24/7 (as a way to avoid talking or even thinking about McCain).
Of course, the Democrats would get reamed by the GOP and the media if they did this - the GOP is the only party that gets a free pass. But then to do it, you have to ignore that and just push hard. Message discpline, repeated messages, and media saturation with all of that cash does the rest.
The smart voters will see that Obama is doing this because the GOP plays dirty and so he has to too.
So repeat after me. "Manchurian candidate," "John McCain - liar with no honor, who will say anything to get elected," and "John McCain - Protector of Pedophiles." Because the election is never about the issues. What, you thought that issues and rational voting was what democracy was about? As long as Democrats continue to think that, they'll continue to lose elections they should otherwise win handily. (That is also part of GOP strategy - dire warnings of "backlash" if the Democrats ever start to use any of the extremely effective smear tactics of the GOP - that works so well, too - the Dems back off, the GOP goes for the throat).
4 years ago