Monday, September 15, 2008

What's the Difference between a Journalist & a Watchdog? RABIES!i

The NYT begins the quadrennial bugle call to signal retreat. [h/t: Taranto at WSJ]. Here's the lede that is so stupid that they should throw in the towel now & spare the country a lot of money & bs:
Mr. Obama and his campaign have seemed flummoxed in trying to figure out how to deal with [Sarah Palin]. His aides said they were looking to the news media to debunk the image of her as a blue-collar reformer.

A colossal open-zipper revelation that Obama is a scaredy-cat of strong females---as if we already didn't know that!!!

Mickey Kaus has the nut flush draw on the river:
Mark Halperin's three pieces of advice for Obama seem sound. (They are 1. Ignore Palin; 2. Get in McCain's head the way McCain's getting in Obama's; and 3. Refocus on the economy in an accessible way.) ... To which I'd add:
4. It's a good week for point 3!

5. The current lib blog-MSM-campaign tack--getting outraged by McCain's "lies"--is a total loser strategy. Why?
a) MSM outrage doesn't sway voters anymore. It didn't even back in 1988, when the press tried to make a stink about George H.W. Bush's use of "flag factories," etc. After this year's failed MSM Palin assault, it certainly won't work;
b) When Dems get outraged at unfairness they look weak. How can they stand up to Putin if they start whining when confronted with Steve Schmidt? McCain's camp can fake umbrage all it wants--the latest is that an Atlantic photographer took some nasty photos that the mag didn't run!--and nobody will accuse MCain of being weak. That's so unfair. A double standard. Dems can learn to live with it or complain about the unfairness for another 4 years. Their choice.
c) It's almost always impossible to prove that a Republican attack is a 100% lie. Either there's a germ of truth (Kerry did hype his wartime heroism at least a bit) or the truth is indeterminate (i.e., there's no way of knowing what Obama meant by "lipstick"--just because he and McCain used the word earlier doesn't mean he didn't think using it now, after Palin's speech, didn't add a witty resonance).
d) Lecturing the public on what's 'true" and what's a "lie" (when the truth isn't 100% clear) plays into some of the worst stereotypes about liberals--that they are preachy know-it-alls hiding their political motives behind a veneer of objectivity and respectability.
e) Inevitably the people being outraged on Obama's behalf will phrase their arguments in ways well-designed to appeal to their friends--and turn off the unconverted. ('This is just what they did to John Kerry and Michael Dukakis!' As if the public yearns for the lost Kerry and Dukakis Presidencies. 'Today's kindergarteners need some sex education. Just because Republicans are old fashioned ...' etc. Or 'These are Karl Rove tactics,' which signifies little to non-Dem voters except a partisan rancor they'd like to put behind them.)

Lots of people like bad Disney movies, and don't like the kind of people who sneer at bad Disney movies. [Hollyweird weasels, please note[/sarc]

6. There must be some way to disillusion the conservative base with McCain, at least a bit. I know the CW--Palin has locked in the base, freeing McCain to move left. But jeez, McCain isn't moving to the left just on immigration, and he isn't moving subtly. Listen to this new radio ad, which might as well be titled "Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research, Stem Cell Research." That's how often the phrase is repeated. How much more Screw-You-I'm-Taking-You-for-Granted can McCain get? Are conservatives complete suckers?

7. McCain's made great progress with independents by going against his party. Obama can do the same thing. Obvious areas of potential anti-Dem apostasy: Charter schools, firing incompetent teachers, class-based affirmative action, welfare. At least express some doubts about liberal legalism or the headlong rush to immigrant semi-amnesty. Last Tuesday Obama may have tried to make waves by talking about "schools filled with poor teachers"--a Dem no-no if there ever was one. It got buried by the lipstick pig. So don't complain. Say it again! ...

And Kaus is an Obama supporter, albeit a sane one.

Commentary's Jennifer Rubin expatiates:
They are preparing their excuses for defeat. No matter how foolhardy the Democratic primary voters in selecting a high risk candidate, no matter how bizarre the policy choices of that candidate, no matter how outlandishly wrong the conventional press wisdom and no matter how inept the campaign operation there is a cure-all excuse: McCain lied, our hopes died.

I am not saying Barack Obama is going to lose; I am saying the Obama Gang of Three (i.e. the mind-melded bloggers/MSM/campaign operation) now thinks that is a distinct possibility. So how to explain how they all messed up? When in doubt, revive the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove/Gore v. Bush/Swiftboat rationale which is “It is never our fault.”

The problem, of course, is that doesn’t work if the aim is to win elections. In fact the opposite occurs: the cures (e.g. violent partisan counterpunches, media whining) usually turn off key Independent voters. But if the aim is to save face with your peer groups (e.g. fellow journalists, campaign donors, political operatives) who want to know what the heck went wrong, it works as well as anything.

Finally, Tarantohas the last word too:
Can it really be true that the Democrats and the media are concentrating on assigning blame for a defeat that hasn't even happened yet?

Come to think of it, that was the approach they took to the Iraq war.
[my emphasis: H/T: Harry Reid]

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