Friday, September 12, 2008

Bringing spitballs to a gunfight

Are they even trying to win anymore? Let's check out the Obama ad team's latest handiwork:

Are you kidding me? McCain lies about your tax plans, basically calls you a pedophile and envious liar in his ads, and you respond with a snarky ad poking fun of his inability to e-mail? What. The. Fuck. This is the "hard-hitting" new campaign that the Chicago team is promising? If this is the kind of swift counterattack Plouffe and Axelrod envision, please refund my donations and take me off the damn mailing list.

Here's a partial list of items to hit McCain on:
*putting out a smear ad that is tantamount to McCain defending child molestation
*McCain/Palin's despicable record on rape victims (voting against violence against women for him; making rape victims pay hundreds of dollars for "rape kit" testing)
* McCain taxing health care benefits
* the new Department of Interior coke and sex scandal, illustrating the GOP's addiction to Big Oil;
* McCain selling out his honor in order to LIE, LIE, and LIE to win an election
* McCain's 26 years of votes - time to start trotting out some bad votes;
* Generic scary ad on economic downturn and Bush/McCain policies
* GOP trying to use foreclosure lists to prevent votes ("As Americans are working harder for less, and losing their homes, the Republicans have a plan: stop Americans from voting.")
* McCain as craps player gambling on Social Security
* McCain as camera hog who makes terrible predictions on TV.

I'm not even touching on McCain's temper tantrums, Palin's three hundred problems, etc. You can find this list of McCain weaknesses at any time of the day in any major liberal blog.

This is the most pathetic kind of attack ad: an obvious personal attack that doesn't land a blow. McCain's old. Voters know this. If you want to reinforce the issue, use a picture that makes him really old in ads that actually hit him, not mock him for not being able to use e-mail. What demographic is he aiming for here, Wire Magazine subscribers? Apple Genius Bar employees?

My god. Being a Democrat is like being a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. Your team loses every year, so to shake things up, your new GM decides to trade for Matt Morris.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dem messaging blows (as usual)

Political psychologist Drew Westen, who is as frustrated as I am with the Obama campaign's message operation (and has written a whole book ripping into feeble Democratic political messaging), lists ten things the campaign needs to work on to get it back on track. His post is pretty much dead-on. Sample passage:

They were similarly aware of the argument--it was published right here a little over a week ago--that allowing Palin to define herself would make it difficult to change public opinion if she delivered a strong, emotionally compelling acceptance speech, because once people have formed a positive impression, they will fend off data inconsistent with it. Precisely how and why this happens in the brain is not a secret. Once again they chose to ignore the relevant science.

This is how Republicans govern. They ignore science and rely on faith and intuition. Unfortunately, it's how Democrats campaign. No one should be involved in messaging or strategy in a Democratic campaign who isn't intimately familiar with the 60 years of research in social psychology on persuasion--on what works and what doesn't. This isn't optional reading. No one aware of that research would have made the strategic error the Obama campaign just made on the Palin nomination.

I see the Obama team doing the same thing Democrats always do: poll test some issue-based messages, get positive responses, and then the campaign runs with it. For eons now, the Democrats have relied on some model of ultra-rational political behavior completely divorced from how swing voters actually think and behave. It might work in statewide elections, but you give up a ton in national elections, when low-info voters turn out. Meanwhile, the Republicans aim their appeal straight at the brain's reptillian core and win, in spite having dumbass candidates and terrible policies.

Westen also talks about the campaign taking some tips from the Daily Show. I'd go further: Obama should fire his message operation and just hire the staff of the Daily Show. It's kind of embarrassing how much more effective the Daily Show has been than the Obama campaign in its anti-GOP messaging.

Why haven't we seen an animatronic Marlon Brando yet from Obama?