Thursday, July 31, 2008

It turns out Obama would have been pilloried if he HAD visited those wounded troops in Germany. In 2008 do you HAVE to lie to be a Republican?


"Steve Schmidt . . . is playing the Rovian playbook that says that it doesn’t matter if it’s true as long as your target audience (non-college educated white working class voters) won’t bother to find out the actual truth, and believe that it 'sounds like it might be a true.'”
-- Business Week Senior Correspondent David Kiley,
on the magazine's website Monday

by Ken

We've all heard and seen more than enough, I think, of the McCranky "campaign" (still have to use those quotes around "campaign") ad that smeared Barack Obama for not visiting wounded U.S. troops in Germany -- all concocted from utter lies fabricated by the "campaign"'s team of liars. The team appears to include a cohort of morons as well, since the ad, which made the idiotic claim that Senator Obama was too busy to visit the troops but wasn't too busy to go to the gym, used for the "gym" video of the senator, not in Germany but in Kuwait, shooting hoops with U.S. troops.

Really, at that level of dishonesty and stupidity, you need to exercise your Second Amendment right and take a gun to your head and just keep shooting till you start feeling less dishonest.

But wait, it turns out that that wasn't the full level of dishonesty at play here.

On Monday, on Brand New Day, Business Week's "advertising, marketing and media" blog, Senior Correspondent David Kiley tore the anti-Obama ad -- produced by "McCain’s new ad/communications honcho Steve Schmidt" -- to smithereens. Citing the "blatant lie" about Obama's scheduling, he opined:
Steve Schmidt, a disciple of Karl Rove’s who worked on George W. Bush’s 2004 ad/communications effort, though, is playing the Rovian playbook that says that it doesn’t matter if it’s true as long as your target audience (non-college educated white working class voters) won’t bother to find out the actual truth, and believe that it “sounds like it might be a true.”

However, correspondent Kiley had a bit of news -- or perhaps a bombshell (I incline to bombshell) -- to add:
What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was...wait for it...using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that’s political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents -- a lie.

This is interesting, no? But let's not stop here. Kiley has some interesting things to say on the subject:
This is what some people are calling the Hannity strategy. Right wing nut-muffin Sean Hannity employs a slick strategy of repeating canards very quickly over and over, day in and day out, which aren’t challenged by his TV co-host Alan Colmes or by any of his radio listeners. By relentlessly repeating falsehoods day after day, the theory goes, it becomes embedded in the media. There is truth in this. In 2004, the Bush campaign ran an ad and daily repeated that John Kerry was a flip flopper, running a Kerry clip with the Democratic candidate saying he voted for an $87 billion military appropriation before he voted against it. It sounded bad when ripped out of context. Kerry voted for it in committee, and then voted against in on a floor vote when the bill included giveaways to Halliburton he didn’t support.

The distortion took on a life of its own, parroted by mainstream media including Chris Matthews, and even the Tom Brokaw and the late Tim Russert. It is a case study in how effective advertising can work when it is done relentlessly and consistently…even if its untrue. Hannity enployed the same strategy conflating a passing acquaintance between Obama and former unconvicted Weather Underground activist William Ayers with "an association" with Obama...for months. He talked it up every day. He finally goaded ABC's George Stephanopoulus to ask Obama about it in a televised debate. It didn't matter that Obama has nothing that could be construed by a thinking person like "an association" with Ayers. He raised the question just by repeating it daily.

Welcome to the new McCain cum Schmidt cum Rove campaign.

I've written good things about McCain's ads in the past, and I expect I will again if they ever return to a level of at least being for grown-ups.

Oh, and one more thing -- this parting shot Kiley takes at the insufferable Sean Hannity:
By the way, lest Hannity try and pretend that he isn’t a tool of virtually any GOP campaign, it’s worth noting that he echoed almost point for point the actual daily McCain campaign talking points on Obama's trip last Friday night, including his “takeaway from the Obama trip” that he had time to work out in a gym but not visit the troops in the hospital. Hannity went into the tank again the same night that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that the White House does, in fact, provide Hannity and other Fox News and on-air talent their daily and weekly policy “talking points.” We knew that, but it’s nice to hear someone admit it who was in on the transaction.

Just a while ago I found myself responding to a commenter who wanted us to believe that the subpoena and congressional contempt action against Karl Rove is merely a partisan "fishing expedition." Of course that's the talking point the Judiciary Committee Republicans were spewing after the committee vote on contempt, and it's so self-evidently drivel that I meant to mention it myself in my post on the subject: Those GOP-ers may not be Einsteins, but they're not that stupid. You have to assume they're just lying, right?

And in replying to that comment, I found myself wondering whether we've really reached the point here at the dawn of the 21st century where to be a Republican you have to be either a moron or a pathological liar. As anyone who reads DWT at all knows, we have our problems with an awful lot of Democrats, but in the year 2008 Republicans are something else again.


In a weird and largely incoherent MSNBC interview today with Andrea Mitchell, McCranky "campaign" manager Rick Davis denied the report that the "campaign" had an alternate ad ready for the troops visit. It's not entirely clear to me, though, that Davis would have known, or that he would tell us the truth if he did.

Here's the exchange in the transcript that reached me:

MITCHELL: Were you ready with an advertisement as some has suggested, in case he had visited the troops, to criticize him for doing it while on a political trip?

DAVIS: No. I mean, frankly, we learned about the trip from the media. We, like many people in the media, weren't very well informed in what details of Barack Obama's trip was going to be. But, when we learned about it, you know, it was disappointing to us. Because I am very confident that the soldiers at Landstuhl would have enjoyed a trip and a visit by Barack Obama. So, from our perspective, you know, look, we think he made a mistake in judgment. We think those are the kinds of things that people are evaluating.

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At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course republicans have to lie. If they told the truth, no one would ever vote for them. Ever.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Like, even on Sunday? Halloween? April Fool's Day? They must tell the truth sometimes, no?

Or not.



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