Flop sweat smells like fear:
Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama’s character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat’s judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.
With just a month to go until Election Day, McCain’s team has decided that its emphasis on the senator’s biography as a war hero, experienced lawmaker and straight-talking maverick is insufficient to close a growing gap with Obama. The Arizonan’s campaign is also eager to move the conversation away from the economy, an issue that strongly favors Obama and has helped him to a lead in many recent polls.
“We’re going to get a little tougher,” a senior Republican operative said, indicating that a fresh batch of television ads is coming. “We’ve got to question this guy’s associations. Very soon. There’s no question that we have to change the subject here,” said the operative, who was not authorized to discuss strategy and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In other words, they are going to behave like Republicans in October. No one could have ever predicted this would happen. That could explain this pointless piece in the NY Times today about William Ayers (long story short- there really is no relationship there), and could explain why the wingnuttosphere was whipping themselves into a froth about the FBI’s raiding the office of Larry Walsh, when it turns out they did nothing of the sort.
The thing about this is that while it will no doubt infuriate folks like me, the good news is that we know some stuff about negative advertising- yes, it works, but it also drags down the negatives of the people launching it. Additionally, we know that there are ways to combat negative campaigning, and that the Obama campaign is aware of this and knows what they are doing- on many of the things that will be brought up, the country has already dealt with them and moved on. Another factor is the enthusiasm factor- most of the Obama supporters I know would crawl over glass to vote for him in November. And finally, for those of you who are Michael Pfau fans, we know that elections usually end badly for folks who never get out of the negative campaigning phase of the election cycle.
In other words, bring it on. McCain will continue to trash his brand as a straight-talking bi-partisan maverick, the media will be repulsed, and it really is too little too late. I really am surprised that they thought they could run a substance free biography based campaign during a two-front war and an economic crisis, but by now I should never be surprised by Republican stupidity.
*** Update ***
The roll-out of the new product line is apparently already underway:
In remarks to GOP donors in Englewood, Colo., on Saturday, Palin said Obama seems to see the U.S. as being so imperfect that, in her words, “he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.”
Obama served on a charity board with Ayers in Chicago and has denounced his past activities.
Wonder who wrote that line for her? I hope there is video to see if she recited it from memory or read it from a card.