Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

Richard Cohen Fillets John McCain

This column may come up for discussion tomorrow. When the title of the article is “The Ugly New McCain” and the author is a self-professed McCain flak, you’ve got problems. The money shot:

The precise moment of McCain’s abasement came, would you believe, not at some news conference or on one of the Sunday shows but on “The View,” the daytime TV show created by Barbara Walters. Last week, one of the co-hosts, Joy Behar, took McCain to task for some of the ads his campaign has been running. One deliberately mischaracterized what Barack Obama had said about putting lipstick on a pig — an Americanism that McCain himself has used. The other asserted that Obama supported teaching sex education to kindergartners.

“We know that those two ads are untrue,” Behar said. “They are lies.”

Freeze. Close in on McCain. This was the moment. He has largely been avoiding the press. The Straight Talk Express is now just a brand, an ad slogan like “Home Cooking” or “We Will Not Be Undersold.” Until then, it was possible for McCain to say that he had not really known about the ads, that the formulation “I approve this message” was just boilerplate. But he didn’t.

“Actually, they are not lies,” he said.

Actually, they are.

McCain has turned ugly. His dishonesty would be unacceptable in any politician, but McCain has always set his own bar higher than most.

A stunning indictment from one of Washington’s most prominent villagers.


September 16, 2008 - Posted by | Media Strategy | , , ,


  1. Is this Richard “John McCain was a POW which means he’s great” Cohen?

    Comment by dansac | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. There are a LOT of things going on, and McCain has at least a 1/3 chance of passing away during the first term of his presidency. The Palin pick is unbelievably irresponsible. Yet, so-called “angry white women” are flocking to the ticket. We may pay dearly for this.

    At any rate, check out this article:

    Is there any way to get a small-donors campaign for the legislative branch?

    Comment by Suzie Q (not the blogger) | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. off topic, but I just listened to a portion of Obama’s speech at the Mining Institute and I heard him link these economic times to the 1980s “greed” era and I feel like a word was missing…..that word was “Keating.”

    Just the word in a sentence that says something like “these times are not unlike the 1980s when greed took over Wall STreet, when people like Charles Keating were prosecuted in relation to the Savings and Loan meltdown.”

    No accusations against McCain, no linking to McCain. Just the word and relevant context.

    What’s the argument against saying it? I’m willing to be talked down. But sometimes I feel like Obama’s lacking the steel to attack.

    Comment by ksh01 | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  4. I’m glad someone’s calling him on that in the media. I was shocked at his continuation of these blatant lies as well. As of now, I believe he is capable of anything because the road into scumbaggery is practically complete.

    Comment by dragonmage06 | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  5. That was a GREAT speech. He mentioned/blamed Phil Graham and linked him with McCain. You can’t throw everything at once or it will get lost. He will mention it in due time. He’s just prepping it.

    By the way, he’s closing the polls. This idea of “framing” the debates is a great. I hope he maintains righteous anger from now until November.

    Comment by Suzie Q (not the blogger) | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  6. Suzie…one word, a world of connection and target. It’s not throwing everything, it’s planting the seed. If it were a concept, I’d agree. but we’re talking one word and letting people make their own connections.

    Comment by ksh01 | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  7. I have to disagree with the commenters on DailyKos that want to remove the alternate reality aspect and change it into a “What if?” type ad.

    For me, that’s the most appealing part and it speaks to the one trouble that Obama’s ads have had going up against McCain’s. And that’s the fact they – generally – they’re not very bold.

    I think the original point of this ad was to be bold in a way that Obama’s haven’t been, and removing the alternate reality bait and switch also removes that boldness. In this modern media environment, ads don’t persuade voters and aren’t being used as such anymore. Instead, their purpose is to change the narrative. And they only do that when they are bold (re: Paris and Britney). So be bold, change the narrative and use ads to push the narrative where you want to go.

    Comment by opensourcepundits | September 16, 2008 | Reply

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