« Ground Game | Main | Best Ad Ever »

January 24, 2008

Comments

I actually think the kind of Rovian atctics which shhe has deployed will backfire onn her in the general elelction.
She is playinng righht into the stereotype of her as Psycho Bitch. She acting as badly as many of her detractors said she would.

Not a smart tactic. It is possible to be tough without stooping to acting like a Republican politician.

Thanks, Hilzoy, for speaking up about this! I've found the whole argument that we need to choose a Democratic candidate who can play the smear game to beat the Republicans at a smear game deeply troubling. I've also been irritated by the line, "If Obama can't take the heat from the Clintons, how will he ever take the heat from the Republicans." This assumes that the Clintons are softer than the Republicans when it comes to campaigning, which they are not. Who invented the constant campaign afterall? If HRC is the Democratic nominee, I will vote for her in the general but with little enthusiasm. She has succeeded in dividing the party.

"Fighting fire with fire."

I have always been puzzled by that expression. Just on its face it's a strategy for burning everything to the ground. Not very effective if you're trying to put out a fire.

Even if you read "fire" as in gunfire, it's still a recipe for a lot of bloodshed. It may be required but it shouldn't be a first choice.

Maybe I'm just too literal-minded.

ral: That's partly why I used it for the headline. I mean, I suppose it might refer to using firebreaks, but it would be a limited use at best.

tobie: I've also been irritated by the line, "If Obama can't take the heat from the Clintons, how will he ever take the heat from the Republicans." This assumes that the Clintons are softer than the Republicans when it comes to campaigning, which they are not.

It also assumes that if Obama calls the Clintons out on their lies, this means he's somehow being weak.

Ah, firebreaks, of course. Thanks. Yes, a limited use and best in conjunction with other means.

Every word Hilzoy writes here is true.

But what happens if the Republican Party uses chemical weapons?

Personally, I think Obama and Clinton will find some sort of good cop-bad cop routine to use this Fall.

Maybe they send Bill Clinton out to draw fire and then they execute a flanking strategy.

Edwards could probably chew some ankles.

I'm not sure I'm even in the mood any longer to win fair and square.

I'm mostly kidding, unless mostly kidding loses the election.

I would like nothing more than an inspired rhetoric to emerge (Obama's part way there) accompanied by an angry, fed-up-to-here, but honest fire in the belly to go all tag team against the Republican candidate.

The dirty quid-pro-quos should be saved for the Limbaugh-FOX-Hewitt-Swiftboater axis of low-class cheap shots.

Those folks are fair game for whatever works.

I've also been irritated by the line, "If Obama can't take the heat from the Clintons, how will he ever take the heat from the Republicans."

I'm not so bothered by that. If Obama wins the nomination, he will need to be able to stand up to smears, so it's not unreasonable to want to see how he stands up to smears before the primary. In some ways it's good for him to be tested.

On the other hand, that certainly doesn't mean that I think the campaign doing the smearing isn't scum, and the lies are greatly extending the necessary period of recovery I'll have to go through in the event of a Clinton win before I can start supporting her, even while holding my nose.

pace greg sargent, i actually think obama's been losing the spin war in recent days. there's an undercurrent in the media that he's a weenie b/c republicans will do this and he'll need to be ready.

what bothers me (and this relates to the post) is how people just accept that the gop campaign will be smears and lies. "oh, that's just that wacky gop again." it's really irritating

But what happens if the Republican Party uses chemical weapons?

I agree completely. It's clear that we must invade and occupy the RNC immediately to counter the imminent thread of WMDs; we simply cannot risk the lives of the American people based on the word of the GOP that they have disarmed.

My point was that the Clintons are probably as good as the Republicans in gutter politics, as good as Rove. So coming up against them now isn't a mere warm-up to the tougher fight but is the tougher fight already -- one that I fear will continue through to the general election in November. The Democratic primary has wandered so far from issues and policy matters since Iowa. I lay the blame for that, however inevitable it may be, at the Clintons' feet.

I agree with the above and also note that what I would like to see from Obama is exactly what I did see today: an add that suggests the other side will say anything to get elected and do nothing. He started blasting with that, Clinton backed off her lies and then he could scale back his response ad.

The way to fight lies is to point out how ludicrous it is to want to vote for someone because you know they are a liar.

“I believe that free American people are the key to this race.” -Romney

In my mind, I put myself in Romney’s place when MSNBC tried to make the personal contributions to his campaign a liability. I would have become defensive. Romney is a smarter man than I am, which is probably why he’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He would be a very capable President and the best hope to keep the Republic in its current form together for another twenty years.

One can only speculate why he’s spending his own tens of millions in order to take a pay cut and put himself in a position for personal failure in the history books. I attribute it to a winner’s competitive nature and patriotism, maybe faith and a realization of what could come next.

But my vote will be for the Democratic nominee. The US will go bankrupt, and the future will be less dark if the First American Republic goes out with a socialist at the helm.

Fighting Fire With Fire, a wonderful blog post in which hilzoy explains her longstanding and quite vocal support for Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.

Come on.

If Obama wins the nomination, he will need to be able to stand up to smears, so it's not unreasonable to want to see how he stands up to smears before the primary. In some ways it's good for him to be tested.

If Obama wins the nomination, the Republicans won't need to smear him themselves, because the Clintons have already done it for them.

is how people just accept that the gop campaign will be smears and lies.

A lot of it depends on who the Republican nominee is. Rove was as dirty as they come, but in '96 Clinton ran a dirtier campaign than Dole did.

"A lot of it depends on who the Republican nominee is. Rove was as dirty as they come, but in '96 Clinton ran a dirtier campaign than Dole did."

Do you have any pointers to details of the sort of dirt you have in mind?

Do you have any pointers to details of the sort of dirt you have in mind?

Well, the misleading ads accusing Dole of planning to cut Medicare benefits, for one. Granted, it's tame stuff compared to the Swiftboats or the stealth Muslim crap - '96 seems to on the whole have been a pretty clean race overall.

There is actually a very strong liberal case to be made for SDI. Which I will now proceed to make, videlicet:

1. The Argument of Displaced Bloodthirstiness. Assume that there is a certain number of mad bloodthirsty weapons designers. It is incumbent on the republic to minimise the damage they can do. SDI would not have worked, and the Soviets knew this. Putting all the MBWDs to work on it was therefore a form of disarmament; they were effectively being put beyond use, just like a decommissioned missile submarine.

2. (Related to 1) By spending large amounts of defence money on SDI (which, as noted above, was known not to work) the republic sent the following message to the USSR: our population, who are bloodthirsty, desire us to spend money on arms. We, the rulers, are peaceloving; we therefore appease our population by spending their money on things that seem to be arms but are, in fact, mere pretences.

3. SDI required a great deal of investment in basic physics (X-ray lasers, etc) which would not have been required by other spending, for example on building more tanks. SDI was therefore pro-knowledge, pro-university and pro-science, rather than just pro-military-industrial complex.

4. Spending money on more Marine Expeditionary Units would simply have created an incentive to use them to invade more Caribbean nations. But, because SDI didn't work, spending money on it didn't create incentives to do anything aggressive.

Gary: Do you have any pointers to details of the sort of dirt you have in mind?

I hesitate to post this as I know how you feel about anecdotal evidence, and I haven’t looked to see if this is independently verified. Still, it caught my eye the other day:

One of our favorite Bill Clinton anecdotes involves a confrontation he had with Bob Dole in the Oval Office after the 1996 election. Mr. Dole protested Mr. Clinton's attack ads claiming the Republican wanted to harm Medicare, but the President merely smiled that Bubba grin and said, "You gotta do what you gotta do."

gotta say, i'm a little surprised to see people here so upset to see politics being played rough and ugly. it's not like we don't have the entire history of the world to look back on for examples of people lying and cheating (or worse) to gain political power. why should 2008 be any different from any other year in all of recorded history ?

Cleek, are you saying you believe that all political campaigns lie about their opponents to the same degree? Or that we can't deplore any campaign tactic at all, because they've all been used before some time? Or what?

Besides, I'm not surprised. Disappointed, maybe. Disgusted, certainly. Not surprised.

If Obama wins the nomination, the Republicans won't need to smear him themselves, because the Clintons have already done it for them.

I don't think the Republicans will be wanting to smear Obama as a Reagan fan and a closet abortion opponent.

Sorry, forget that last paragraph, cleek. I see I got things garbled and you're the one who's surprised. But that just makes it stranger. Should we not be upset about anything that's been around for a long time?

I don't think the Republicans will be wanting to smear Obama as a Reagan fan and a closet abortion opponent.

Yeah, they'd paint him as a tax-and-spend liberal shuckin' and jivin' madrassa educated Muslim crack dealer named Hussein instead.

I suppose it might refer to using firebreaks, but it would be a limited use at best.

I always thought it was a Talking Heads reference...

Should we not be upset about anything that's been around for a long time?

well, it's a waste of energy. maybe it's a fun waste, but it's not going to change anything.

lying in politics has been around a long time because it's part of human nature. we like to think we're logical, rational, truth-seeking, and maybe we can play that role if we put our minds to it. but we're also tribal, emotional and inattentive. i'm not sure which aspect is dominant, but i know which is easiest to indulge, and i know which aspect responds quickest.

i think it'd be great if political lies were punished (i initially left off the 'political' qualifier, but then realized how utterly impossible it would be to get through life if we had to punish every lie we encountered - there'd be no time left to do anything else). but politicians lie because lies work. on the whole, people don't mind them so much.

yeah, i'm feeling cynical.

It's not the lies; it's people in the Democratic party who realize they're lies being indifferent to them, & Democratic voters rewarding them. Of all the major groups in politics--the press, GOP politicians, Democratic politicians, Democratic voters, GOP voters--the only ones I trust at all are Democratic voters. And the presidential primary is our best shot to try to change things for the better. And we always blow it.

And the presidential primary is our best shot to try to change things for the better. And we always blow it.

Maybe you shouldn't trust Democratic voters either, then?

No, screw that. So much of this crappiness is a result of self-fulfilling prophecies of doom.

Obama is getting lied about, but while his speeches are inspiring, and his policy plans are very good, and his grassroots organizations are a joy to behold, his media strategy is mediocre at best. (You are running in a DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, as a big underdog. Act like it!!!! Why don't you go after her from the left with honest policy attacks? He is starting to act like it but he took much too long; if he hadn't, he might be winning.)

I have no idea why it never occurs to politicians: maybe fighting using HONEST rhetoric about substantive issues is okay, but fighting using DISHONEST rhetoric & personal attacks isn't.

(I see where the strategy comes from--he was fighting the last war: convince voters of your electability in November, win Iowa, & ride the wave. But the Democratic electorate is more angry & less fearful in 2008.)

I suspect that as far as swing voters go, Republicans couldn't get away with the racial attacks that Clinton's campaign has been playing.

And as for the Muslim smear, it should be much easier for Republicans to use it if Democrats have been engaging in the actual whispering campaign for 9 months ahead of time.

Essentially, rather than innoculate Obama from certain types of attacks, Democrats are making the situation worse.

Obama's decision to call Clinton a liar is exactly the righht way to attack back against Rove tactics. It's the tactic that will work agaisnt Republicans thhat use Rove tactics, too. What doesnn't work is to defend oneself with reasoned arguments.

Part of the problem is that in a general election, a very large proportion of the country & a sig. minority of the press is going to be actively defending Obama from this sort of crap. In a primary, it doesn't happen. This matters a lot for racial stuff: if a bunch of whites who aren't members of the Obama campaign say "that's racist bullsh*t" it plays very differently than if only Obama campaign members, African-Americans, & his young supporters say so.

Obama's decision to call Clinton a liar is exactly the righht way to attack back against Rove tactics.

I agree. Hopefully the waters don't get sufficiently muddied that the media (and more importantly, the voters) are conned into thinking it's a "he said, she said" dispute. Because Clinton really is lying about Obama's record, statements, etc. whereas him saying that she's a liar is, well, you know, true. I have a suspicion, though, that the Clintons are counting on exactly that dynamic to kick in.

Sebastian: Essentially, rather than innoculate Obama from certain types of attacks, Democrats are making the situation worse.

I think that's not necessarily true.

To carry the "firebreak" analogy further, the reason it works is that you ignite the fuel in a controlled way so that when the out of control fire hits it there's nothing left to burn.

So I guess it depends on how well the controlled burn is handled. If it becomes "oh, that's old news and besides it wasn't even true" the issue is defused. If on the other hand it's "oh yeah, I heard that before" that's failure.

Yes, dismissing stories as "old news", even when they haven't been explained or disproven, has worked remarkably effectively for Republican scandals. I have my doubts about whether the media will apply the same logic to stories about a Democrat, but we can hope.

"To carry the "firebreak" analogy further, the reason it works is that you ignite the fuel in a controlled way so that when the out of control fire hits it there's nothing left to burn.

So I guess it depends on how well the controlled burn is handled. If it becomes "oh, that's old news and besides it wasn't even true" the issue is defused. If on the other hand it's "oh yeah, I heard that before" that's failure."

I'm 99% sure that the "he's a dirty Muslim" whispering campaign and the drug dealing smears work more like the "oh yeah, I heard that" than "that's old news".

"...if true: it would mean that once one side begins to lie, the other faces a choice between losing and lying back. That's not a conclusion we should accept without a lot of argument."

I'd say eight years of George Bush and six years of Republican misrule strongly suggest that it is in fact true. More to the point historically, as far as I can tell, this holds true in actual democracies.

How else do you explain the way in which the conservative movement amasses and uses power? Its not like either the movement or the party is being honest about public policy the positions they take (environment, taxes, reproductive freedom, etc).

Now it is true that both conservatives and the Republican party are unpopular. But that's because their lies and obfuscations weren't good enough to hide the debacle that the Iraq war became.

Just because some lies don't work sometime doesn't mean lies don't work. And in fact politics shows that's the exception to the rule. This is primarily because we have a democracy full of citizens that lack a basic understanding of political issues and has no desire to learn about them.

Joseph, the fact that lies work for Republicans doesn't mean that they'll work for Democrats. A political atmosphere in which all campaigns lie and are as dirty as possible contributes to the "all politicians are crooks" theme that's part of the Republican message. Having the campaign be about smears rather than policy could also help Republicans. And the media won't necessarily treat Republican smears and Democratic smears equally, whether because the left hasn't learned to work the media's "Shape of the Earth: View Differ" game as effectively or because the media paying field is slanted by the pervasive influence of the megacorporations.

"The overarching theme of Waldman's column -- that Clinton is "running like a Republican" -- almost pushes me to her side on the issue. The winner of the Democratic primary, after all, will have to run against a Republican."

NO! Ezra, No!

If you think and behave like a Republican you won't beat the Republicans - you will BECOME ONE!!!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad