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Here's The Smartest Thing I've Read Today

| 31 Comments

...and it was linked by Sully, of all people! He had a moment of lucidity...is there hope? Go over to Ted's Place, and read this.

I believe if the Presidential election were held today that the Republican ticket would win. THAT is stunning. How could that be you ask? How could the Democratic ticket have snatched defeat from the jaws of apparent victory?

I think the Democrats have done very poor marketing and positioning of late of their ticket. They had better change before it is too late if they want to win. Think of this take as purely an exercise in marketing not as my personal political agenda as I do not have one here.

The media and the Democratic marketing machine have positioned Obama as the "establishment"; as the clear winner; and as a "media darling." The Democratic Convention - I believe - backfired as it was more a coronation than a political rally and convention. Obama is coming off as a defender of the Presidential position and McCain as the attacker and agent of change. Wow. Think of that dipsy-doodle move? I believe America embraces underdogs and outsiders. Overreacting to Obama’s lack of experience and trying to make him the "new establishment" was a bad move. Consumers sniff out inauthenticity a mile away. They liked and respected the old Obama. They don't recognize the new and improved Obama and he is being packaged as just another politician. The angrier he gets, the worse he does in the polls. Obama should use niceness as his competitive weapon.

That's in close concert with what I wrote below (probably why I think it's so smart):

He needs to stop with the public knifefighting. While I don't doubt that he's good in a room, the public collapse of his "hope" rhetoric onto his "lipstick" rhetoric is something he won't be able to survive.

Look. Startups are always valued on hope. Established companies are always valued on history. As soon as Barack acts like an established politician and talks like an established politician, he's going to get valued like an established politician, and he's not going to like that.

Ted goes on:

Obama should NOT attack. He shouldn't respond daily to every tit for tat. He should soar above the noise. He should create a manifesto of change and communicate it at every opportunity. He should belittle the conversation not the people talking. He should focus on what he means by his change and he should get himself repositioned as a national healer, as a centrist and as someone who can reach across the aisle and create a national mandate to make the country great again. He needs to be a man with a plan and not be seen as a man who is being handled by experts and a political party.

He should NOT be seen as bedfellows with the national media. It is truly stunning to me as an observer to watch how the Democrats have shot themselves in the foot since the European tour for Obama. I don't think the campaign has hit on its "Change: I am an outsider and not your normal politician" theme since that trip which made him look like he was already the President and was running for re-election. As he became the "incumbent" with the media, McCain became the outsider and the agent of change and our country wants change. McCain’s choice of Palin on the ticket was brilliant and the media thought it was dumb. The mainstream media is out of touch with America. It is mostly always wrong.

This turnaround in the polls is stunning. This election could become a case history in just bad positioning and marketing by a major political party.

Hard for me to say it any better...go read the whole thing.

31 Comments

AL,

I hate to be the one to tell you this but if Sully has finally had a lucid moment, in order for balance in the blogosphere to be maintained, another of your former favorites, Paul Hackett, just went off of the deep end. Here’s his advice for how Democrats should try to win in Ohio:

"Sarah Palin? Can't keep her solemn oath of devotion to her husband and had sex with his employee. Sarah Palin? Accidentally got pregnant at age 43 and the tax payers of Alaska have to pay for the care of her disabled child. Sarah Palin? Unable to teach her 16 year old daughter right from wrong and now another teenager is pregnant. Sarah Palin? Can you trust Sarah Palin and her values with America's future?”

To their credit, the comments by the Kossacks seem to overwhelmingly reject Hackett’s proposed strategy. Click on my name for Hackett’s diary.

Allow me to retort.

Obama's clearest weakness is that he doesn't care about anything or anyone enough to fight for it. The one exception is his wife (and good for him!). He fights for her whenever she's attacked, even if the attack is fully justified on substance: but that's his job, as husband. He's not there to be fair between me and his wife. He's there to be his wife's partner and ally.

That's the President's job too: to be the chief advocate and fighter for the interests of the United States of America.

Those interests may sometimes mean giving up our short-term interests for some greater long-term goal. Sometimes we reward allies, or best aid our friends, by stepping aside in the short term to encourage or develop another nation. It's not always "America First": but it should always be "America, in the Final Analysis."

I don't need to provide you with a list of the people and issues Obama has already thrown under the bus in the interest of his candidacy. It's a running joke: "Today in Bus & Driver..."

What I do need to see from him is that he has principles he'll fight for. I mean, more than the issue of whether or not I agree with those principles, I care about the issue of whether he has principles. Not just "things that are nice, as long as it's fairly easy," but "things I will insist on at any cost."

This isn't just me talking here. When you find Richard Cohen at the Washington Post saying it, and me saying it, and Maureen Dowd at the New York Times calling Obama "a weak sister," you've got a problem.

He needs to fight, to attack. He has no credibility at all if he won't.

What he's doing wrong is not fighting on principle. He attacked McCain for not being able to use a computer -- only to discover that the reason is that he was so badly brutalized as a POW in America's military service that he can't type. That's picking a pointless fight, and then getting your head handed to you in it.

If he's got any principles, let's hear him defend them. Let's hear him fight for them. Let him swear to what he really believes, and stand by it, win or lose.

There are values candidates, issues candidates, and image candidates, and the country prefers them generally in that order.

Obama is an image candidate. Not a bad image candidate - better than Gary Hart. How much better, we'll see.

only to discover that the reason is that he was so badly brutalized as a POW in America's military service that he can't type.

Is that a fact? Please substantiate this claim beyond any recent comments from McCain campaign spokepersons.

I'd hate to question the man's patriotism or service or suffering, but a claim is a claim and after all this is a presidential election where truthfulness does matter, despite the efforts of a small but vocal cohort of citizens who are arguing otherwise.

So please provide the links.

Both Forbes Magazine and the Boston Globe reported it in 2000.

Oh, Vista, you deride and we provide. Will you accept the Boston Globe from 2000?

From the March 4, 2000 issue of the Boston Globe:

McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. Friends marvel at McCain's encyclopedic knowledge of sports. He's an avid fan - Ted Williams is his hero - but he can't raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a baseball.

Click on my name for the link.

And by the way, I don't believe for an eyeblink that you would hate to question any negative thing about McCain, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.

OK, thanks. The links show that he has been making this claim for some time now.

You will however surely understand my skepticism of everything and anything that is coming out of this man's mouth at the moment, right?

No, Jeff, I did not say that I would hate to question anything negative about the man, just those delicate issues that can set him and his supporters off on a rant about "not respecting a POW" which tends to...derail rational discussion. You understand.

After all, sometimes I actually want to have a reasonable discussion with people who disagree with me. It all comes down to knowing where the buttons are I guess and only pushing them when you want to.

Vista
You will however surely understand my skepticism of everything and anything that is coming out of this man's mouth at the moment, right?
Compared to ∅bama?

I understand that the Obama campaign has made it their mission in the last week to question McCain's "honor," and that their proxies on the left have followed suit. So in that sense, it is understandable that you would question anything he says: it is the thing to do, just now.

"To honor" means to show reverence for a thing, a person or a principle by sacrificing something of yourself or something of your own for it. "Honor" is the quality of a man who does that: who gives of himself, at cost, for something he believes to be greater.

By that standard, John McCain -- who has many flaws, as I do, as we all do -- is the most honorable man to stand for the Presidency in many years. There are few with the standing to challenge his honor, and certainly not those of the ilk that has undertaken to do it.

Grim, other than his captivity, there is nothing about McCain that is any better or different than other men whose grew up in a privileged environment with politically influential parents and who happened to marry his hugely wealthy mistress who provided the seed funding for his political ambitions.

That he had the misfortune of being shot down and had the good combination of luck and pluck to survive it is admirable, but is by no means the sole or even key qualification for being POTUS.

Aside from the prison camp, he is kith and kin with GWB in more ways than most people realize.

And the idea that he can still be considered an "honorable" man or that his Viet Nam experience buys him lifelong immunity from having his honesty or convictions questioned, or that this gives him a free pass to do so with impunity as he is currently doing, is not an argument at all but an attempt at election through canonization.

I wouldn't object to your questioning his facts, his convictions, his principles, or his ideas. If you disagree with his interpretation of the facts, question whether he is right; question whether he grasps or understand the truth. If I were the Obama campaign, however, I would stay far away from questioning his honor.

Honor isn't a synonym for "honesty," nor is it a synonym for "being unquestionably right in how you interpret the facts." Honor is sacrifice.

Vista, do you know anything about recent political history? About McCain's role in the Senate in the last decade? About the discussion the Democrats had with him about switching teams?

Try judging him on that record...for better or worse. But ignore it your peril.

A.L.

Obama probably would have inflicted less damage on himself if instead of spending untold tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on a television ad mocking his opponent’s war injuries, he had just paid someone to hit him repeatedly in the crotch with a sledge hammer.

Right now he might even find a few Democratic congressional candidates who would be willing to do it for free.

I do not like John McCain, though I certainly respect his personal honor. I think he's been a poor Senator and has an abominable record on Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. I have said since McCain became the presumptive nominee that, were Hillary nominated, I would vote for her instead. Yet I was strongly considering voting for McCain. While Obama is an excellent speaker, and obviously intelligent, he has no bottom — no place in his character that says, "This I will not do; it is not right." That alone is enough to get me to not vote for him. In combination with his policies, that is devastating. Yet were I not in a swing state, I would not have voted for McCain even so. But his choice of Sarah Palin changed that; rather than holding my nose and voting for McCain, I will be able to do so with a reasonably clear conscience, even though I know going in that he will be flawed in much the same way that George Bush is, and strong in much the same way George Bush is.

But while I could vote for McCain with a clear conscience, it would still have been something I would have had regrets over. But seeing the way that Obama and his supporters have reacted to both McCain and Palin since the conventions has changed even that, and now I am strongly considering donating time to the McCain campaign (with my understanding being that his commitment to public financing means he cannot accept money). Character is what you do when no one can see you, and Obama and many of his supporters have shown by what they do in the light of day that they lack that.

So no, Vista, you did not say that you would hate to question anything negative about McCain, but you have surely shown that you would happily push any negative meme about him.

That doesn't mean that we can't have an intelligent debate about any issues, just that I will take your bias into account for any claims you make, as I assume you would take mine into account.

Honor:

1) High respect, esteem.

2) Adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct.

3) A privilege.

4) A person or thing that brings credit.

5) An exalted position.

What I am wondering is whether you are trying to blur the distinct uses of this word as they apply to McCain, or once again suggest that his past honorable activities mean that he can never act dishonorably afterwards.

In my view, he is running a dishonorable campaign which suggests that he will not bring honor to the presidency should he be elected.

Obama's clearest weakness is he doesn't care about anything or anyone enough to fight for it.

Not so sure 's exactly it. I'm considering the case for Obama as empathy. The analogies of professor, teacher, analyst come close, but didn't satisfy. I think what really what seems to set him apart is empathy for the other. Not phony like Clinton, but posibbly real.

His childhood as an outsider, the sense of not having his father, of missing something - I know a little bit about this. He may have very sensitive radar that essentially forces him to see the other point of view and try to somehow integrate it into a reconciliation. A need to attach, to knit together.

This is probably not the best profile for a CinC.

Paul Starobin, in National Journal, contrasts McCain where honor may be a blinder with Obama where empathy may be a blinder. An intriguing read.

but you have surely shown that you would happily push any negative meme about him.

Of course I have not "shown" that, Jeff, I've only commented on a few issues regarding McCain, which I am not "pushing" but rather stating.

There are a lot of negative memes that I have not addressed, like whether he is too old to be president, for example, or whether his past adultery should be more of an issue, or whether his full medical records should be released or not, or whether he had a child out of wedlock like Bush argued in 2000.

Granted: a person having once acted honorably can dishonor himself later. Case in point: Benedict Arnold, hero turned traitor.

I do not see where John McCain has dishonored himself in this campaign, and I am wondering what you see that he has done that is dishonorable. I can see where you might disagree with him on issues, be annoyed by his side's instances of the normal campaign silliness (the lipstick kerfuffle, for example), or be taken aback by his strategic choices (including that of his running mate). I can see where you can honestly differ on issues, substance and style. I cannot see anything that McCain has done that can be described as dishonorable.

That "McCain can't use a computer" ad is the biggest blow-up-in-your-own-face blunder since ... well, since last week. The Weather Underground would admire his ability to damage himself.

Haven't heard a lot lately about how smart the Obama campaign is. Used to hear about that a lot.

Vista:

A long time ago, we used to do koans here at Winds of Change. Honor might be a koan for you; but that's good. It's a chance to expand your mind and conception of the world.

In his study of the subject of honor, historian Kenneth Greenberg recounts the tale of a famous and honorable gentleman from the South who had invited a neighbor for dinner. The man arrived, the invitation having been forgotten entirely by his prospective host and no dinner being prepared.

The man went out onto his porch, greeted his guest, and apologized for being unable to receive him "because I am not at home." The guest bowed, and withdrew without question.

The facts were entirely against the man. The guest could plainly see that he was at home: he was the very man asserting that he was not at home.

Why, then, might he accept the claim?

I understand that the Obama campaign has made it their mission in the last week to question McCain's "honor," and that their proxies on the left have followed suit.

Really? Vista's harping seems to support the statement, but really? Holy Mother of Auto-Defenestration, what an on-the-face-of-it stupid tactic. There's enough stock photography of McCain from before, during, and after his captivity ordeal to swamp the media with simple adds that just end with "John McCain always has and always will put country first" in a voiceover (possibly done by Fred Thompson, or even Sarah Palin).

And then of course there's his record of actually standing by his guns on quite a few unpopular issues (*cough* SURGE cough) that might be effective in countering the attack without ever mentioning the attack itself. Savage counter-attacks that involves no mud whatsoever.

Does Obama really want to be President?

One question: other than not being Bush, what "Change" does Obama actually put on the table? Al Gore's "Reinventing Government" notions were far more innovative than any idea Obama has had. Obama should call his program "Rediscovering FDR". Clearly, Obama has no imagining that there's anything amiss with how government organizes itself and attempts to deliver services.

One thing that a few innovative Dems have mentioned from time to time, and that Bush tried - without success - is to move government services away from big centralized bureaucracies run by don't-rock-the-boat pension-seeking careerists. I don't trust any entity that can't fail, and such government constructs are essentially immune to failure - in fact, if they fail, they often get more money! At best, when they fail, they're shoved aside in favor of a new bureaucratic attempt to "solve the problem".

I want them run more like (real) businesses, where if they fail, they die, and the people running them have to go do something else just like everyone else.

Oddly, one aspect of the Chinese government that I actually do like is they try to hire smart people and move them around within the bureaucracy, not letting them get too comfortable in one place. They end up with fairly innovative, well-rounded, and even rather risk-taking - if corrupt as heck - people at the top of their bureaucracy.

This is why I like Jindal a lot, and wish Romney had done better. The US seriously needs a bureaucratic innovator (and no, that isn't an oxymoron) as President.

Will you accept the Boston Globe from 2000?

The various links - this has changed somewhat. He uses a blackberry , which is not a leap from hunting and pecking from a pure manipulation standpoint. And, he also said he was going to his daughter's blog and learning to go online - so it's reasonable he can move the mouse around. It's probably not the easiest thing, but it's far from the incapability in 2000.
Also in 2000 he said it was laborious (not impossible) though painful - which is pretty much what my parents and granparents said when they were learning. If you've tried to type with a rotator cuff injury, it gets much easier with the keyboard in your lap, or standing.
I would say the elevation of most desks and keyboard placement can't help that much.

Interesting link.

#24:

I thought it was astonishing when I saw this quote earlier this week; but since then I've seen the phrases "honor" or "dishonor" or some near term from the usual subjects that AL and Mickey Kaus call 'the Klein Klub.' So, it appears to be a strategy of some sort.

I say "of some sort," since as you mention, it's a remarkably foolish one.

This is not the first year that Democrats have claimed that with a change in marketing, they would win or would have won. I am a former Democrat who left the party because in the last 3 plus decades they have been wrong much more than they have been right on foreign policy. Get it through your heads, Democrats. It ain't marketing.

I am sick to death of a campaign that has to talk about honor, values, etc. Get the heck to the issues please! The point is, John McCain is the nominee of the Republican Party, has 7 lobbyists on his campaign management team, voted with Bush 90 per cent of the time, and now wants us to believe he is going to change Washington - with his cute, devious, and dishonest running mate.

If you want to talk about honor, however, consider this:

1. After his honor as a POW, he came home to cheat on his debilitated, disfigured wife, having an affair with his new "trophy," and marrying her a month after his divorce was final.

2. He has "approved" television ads which clearly lie - yes, lie, and I am not afraid to use the word as the media clearly is.

But, as I stated, I am sick of talk of anything but the issues. With the current situation on Wall Street, and McCain's continued votes in the Senate to block regulation, tougher bankruptcy laws for corporations (which Biden and Obama supported, by the way), I would think the American public is ready for the straight talk that we are not getting from the McCain campaign.

Thanks for bringing us back to the important issues Shirley. You win the 'hilariously unself-aware' award for the day.

Shirley, when you quote things like campaign memos here it's best to offset them with a 'blockquote' tag or quotation marks...

A.L.

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