The perils of having no record to run on

Via the Stinging Nettle blog, I found this piece in Politics magazine by Marty Ryall, who managed Senator Elizabeth Dole's unsuccessful campaign last year. Ryall's main subject is the grotesque "Godless" ad that Dole ran against Kay Hagan in late October. He contends that contrary to widespread opinion, backlash against the ad did not cost Dole the election. Rather, the ad was "our Hail Mary pass" that ran only because they felt they had no other chance to win.

As you'd expect from an operative who worked on a failed campaign, Ryall goes out of his way to explain why Dole's campaign was already in trouble before he came on in May 2008, and why she lost the election mostly for reasons out of his control. (For instance, Barack Obama targeted North Carolina and registered hundreds of thousands of new voters.) Ryall also claims that he and others intervened to make the final version of the "Godless" ad more fair to Hagan than the first cut. Whatever.

I was more interested in why Dole would have to resort to that kind of desperate attack. Ryall doesn't explicitly address that point, but this passage in his piece suggests Dole simply had nothing else to say:

We knew we had three weaknesses. A report by Congress.org had ranked Dole 93rd out of 100 senators in effectiveness. She voted with President Bush more than 90 percent of the time. And during the two-year period when she was chairman of the NRSC, she only traveled to North Carolina a handful of times.

No doubt external conditions helped sink Dole. But if she had built up a solid record during her six years in the Senate, Dole would have had a better chance of withstanding the Democratic wave. At the very least she would have had a better final-week message for voters than, "Atheists held a fundraiser for my opponent."

Democrats control the executive and legislative branches in Washington and many states. Current economic trends suggest that they may face a challenging political environment in 2010. I hope they will draw the right lessons from Dole's disgrace. Don't blindly follow failed policies and do something substantial for your constituents.

Having a record to run on is no guarantee of victory if the prevailing winds are against you. My very effective 18-term Congressman Neal Smith (IA-04) lost in the 1994 landslide. But it helps to be able to remind voters of some big achievements. In the worst-case scenario you'll lose with more dignity than Dole.

There's more...

Liars! (w/poll)

There's been a lot of speculation about what Obama will do post-Palin.  People are writing about attacking, not attacking, dealing with Palin, ignoring Palin, etc.  I think an interesting strategy for Obama would be to search the internet and find what is catching heat and then hit there and hit HARD.

If he does that, I think what he'll find is most striking is the "liar" criticism.  The media is still too timid to say it, but people are getting fired up.  Over at CNN.com, there is a new report on McCain's latest lying ad.  CNN doesn't call it a lie.  They say the ad is "calle" a 'lie' (they really put quotations around it).  But the thread is full of people - dems and independants, hardcore Obama supporters and jaded political spectators alike, and they are all going after Palin and McCain on lying.  

There's been a lot of speculation about what Obama will do post-Palin.  People are writing about attacking, not attacking, dealing with Palin, ignoring Palin, etc.  I think an interesting strategy for Obama would be to search the internet and find what is catching heat and then hit there and hit HARD.

If he does that, I think what he'll find is most striking is the "liar" criticism.  The media is still too timid to say it, but people are getting fired up.  Over at CNN.com, there is a new report on McCain's latest lying ad.  CNN doesn't call it a lie.  They say the ad is "calle" a 'lie' (they really put quotations around it).  But the thread is full of people - dems and independants, hardcore Obama supporters and jaded political spectators alike, and they are all going after Palin and McCain on lying.  

More after the fold

There's more...

Obama's HQs closed day after momentous speech?

My roommates and I (except for the one lifelong republican) watched Obama's speech last night, and loved it. One of my roommates, Neil, liked it so much was genuinely inspired. The lines about how Republicans have made these last three elections about small issues that don't matter got him, and Clinton's line about power through good example, rather than making an example of our power stirred him too. So much that last night he was proposing constructing an Obama sign on our prime real-estate (intersection of 3 major highways in Birmingham, Alabama) and asking how he could volunteer.

I told him to go down to the Obama campaign headquarters in downtown Birmingham today. He did, and it was closed for Labor Day. He said as he was standing outside the building, calling the number listed in the window, 3 other people approached and looked puzzled as the why the HQ was closed. He said they looked up at the marquee, and then down at the locked door again, wondering why the HQ wouldn't be open to capitalize on the inspiration from last night's speech.

It seems a silly move, to me, to have that place closed. I didn't know what to tell Neil, other than "wait five days and we'll go down there together", but still it sucked. Just thought I'd pass along my frustrations.

-Madison

There's more...

Confronting Your Opponent (A Lesson From Elizabeth Edwards)

One thing that a number of us have been upset at the Obama campaign about has been an inability or unwillingness to go negative when the situation would merit it. But the truth is, Obama's camp HAS gone negative on a number of occasions. Including multiple times when it was very satisfying. And yet it never seems to last. For whatever reason, the strategy of the Obama campaign has rang hollow for most of us.

And I might know why. Obama needs to follow the example of Elizabeth Edwards and confront the liars directly.

There's more...

Obama's Impasse

This post by Anna Shane is the most illuminating effort I have yet read on Obama's campaign strategy. She goes right to the heart of his campaign and exposes the tissue and arteries. And finally I understand why doing nothing for this candidate is a plus. Her clarity on what motivates the Obama campaign deserves to be read far and wide.

crossposted from http://securingamerica.com/ccn/node/1513 8 and recommended by Gabrielle Droz

Obama's Theoretical Impasse: by Anna Shane

My argument is that Mr. Barack Obama is following a plan to become president that is both clear and consistent, which makes it possible to understand why he's done what he's done, as well as to predict what he'll do next. If his plan to win the nomination succeeds, however, his plan to `transform' America must fail, unless he makes a mid-course correction and runs on his theory and gives up trying to paint Hillary as a "monster," and bully her out of the race.

Mr. Obama started out with his `hope' message, his own political theory, essentially that an unusually likeable candidate can get elected president when Americans are widely dissatisfied with their current government, which will `heal' divisions and allow Americans to feel good about themselves. By virtue of his popularity he can then direct legislation to those areas he believes in. He compares himself to Ronald Reagan, seeing himself as attractive to all sides. He thinks that by staying likeable, he'll win a mandate. He nurtures his likeability by never taking sides with one group over another. That's why he can stand next to homophobes, can compliment Bush and Rumsfeld, Kennedy and Kerry, can have a bigoted pastor, and can associate with criminal slumlords. He doesn't have to `agree' with his friends, he likes everybody.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads