Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

We’re Not the Only Ones Who Worry

This morning’s Washington Post has a revealing article about how so many Democratic strategists worry that Obama’s camp hasn’t been hitting McCain hard enough:

“Democrats are worried,” said Tad Devine, a top strategist for Kerry who thinks Obama must stay on the high road. “We’ve been through two very tough elections at the national level, and it’s very easy to lose confidence.”

Obama’s latest ad may be his toughest yet, using words and images to link McCain to President Bush and concluding: “The original maverick? Or just more of the same?”

But Democratic strategists said that it is nothing like the character attacks by McCain, and that the response could be far nastier, perhaps raising McCain’s ethical scrape in the Keating Five savings and loan scandal, mocking his family wealth and designer shoes, or highlighting his age. After McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm suggested that the United States has become “a nation of whiners,” Democratic strategists said Obama should have immediately started an ad blitz. (emphasis mine)

While I’m not sure if the Obama camp itself should be going after his past ethical scrapes, it’s hard to disagree with the last part regarding Gramm’s comments – a gift from the gods that the Obama campaign has essentially ignored.  And given that the McCain campaign hit Obama with a release referring to his “arugula eating ways,” we certainly could have done with a press release highlighting McCain’s not one, not two, but eight homes.

The Obama camp response?

“We are not going to base our campaign on the concerns of so-called campaign strategists on cable TV,” spokesman Bill Burton said.

Obama spokesman Burton said the campaign sees no reason to shift strategy.

“This is a classic Washington story, anonymous quotes from armchair quarterbacks with no sense of our strategy, data or plan,” he said.

You know what else is a classic Washington story?

A campaign strategist whose strategy is publicly questioned by almost everyone and who responds by saying, “Oh, this is a classic Washington story, just armchair quarterbacking.”

It reminds me of when Bush in 2000, during a debate, attacked Al Gore for using a “old high-school debate technique.”  Which, of course, is in and of itself, an old high-school debate technique.

So who’s right?  The Obama camp?  Or the strategists?  If you’ve read my posts, you know where my opinion lies.  Only time will tell who is right.


August 7, 2008 - Posted by | Media Strategy, Uncategorized | ,


  1. If they expect Obama to get involved in down and dirty personal attacks,I don’t think many of those strategists have been listening to the message Obama has been preaching the last year and a half.

    While last week was an off week, I think he has done a great job of hitting back hard this week.

    Comment by smashartist | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  2. I still think that Bill Burton needs to be changed out of his job. His press releases have been terrible.

    Comment by slinkerwink | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. Smash, one of the interesting points of the article is that strategists acknowledge Obama shouldn’t get down and dirty, but that third party groups (which he essentially shut down) would have served that role well.

    Either way, someone’s going to have to change the frame, and that doesn’t require being dirty. I requires being tough.

    And regardless of what Obama was preaching this past year, he still has to win.

    Comment by dansac | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  4. Well, look at the bright side – this article puts it out there, so we know the Obama camp is hearing it.

    Comment by dansac | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  5. I was going to comment on this, but then decided my response was long enough to merit a full post.

    Comment by gdh1 | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  6. Not only is he not hitting back hard enough, someone needs to give the clintons a news flash they lost. I think the Clintons are trying to undermine Barack, they’re hurting the party. not so much Hilary, but Bill really needs to get over it.

    Comment by wil | August 7, 2008 | Reply

  7. McCain thought he got it covered because of Mr. Rove, Bush’s former strategist of tricks.

    Comment by Jacksonville Florida | August 9, 2008 | Reply

  8. McCain knows he can not survive in the presidential election race except the election is stolen. Thou shall not steal. McCain must repent to have a new and qualifying place under Obama, the Commandant in Chief.

    Comment by Jacksonville Florida | August 9, 2008 | Reply

  9. McCain and Bush are closed in the same 50 pounds shoes like minded tween. How can John McCain’s strategists say, “Whashington is broken and Bush does not exist”? It is a lie. Thou shall not lie to the American people.

    Comment by Jacksonville Florida | August 9, 2008 | Reply

  10. Obama just needs to maintain the pressure on the main sticking points. McCain’s campaign will implode by itself in the closing moments of the race.

    Comment by chlai88 | October 25, 2008 | Reply

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