Friday, August 1, 2008

FW: JULY 31, 2008

Date: Thu, 31 Jul 2008 12:07:12 -0400
Subject: JULY 31, 2008

     If the McCain campaign were an elevator, the operator would be saying, 'Going down!'
     Not down in flames or down in defeat, but down in character, in tone, seeking sleaze and sludge and slime.  The proof is a new TV ad comparing Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, a media concoction, a celebrity unqualified to be president.  You can argue, of course, over who's cuter--wouldn't most women vote for Obama--but the point of the ad is to demean Obama, make fun of him, depict him as effete, elitist, unprepared.   'He's the biggest celebrity in the world,' the announcer says, 'but is he ready to lead?'
    This tacky attack--and others which are bound to follow--is not an accident.  It's come about because a number of the people who ran George W. Bush's very negative campaign against John Kerry four years ago are now working for Bush and using the same negative tactics.  Hey, it worked last time, why not this time too?
     That's always been the rationale for negative ads, of course.  And they often do work.  If you're old enough, you remember a negative ad from Lyndon Johnson's 1964 campaign against Barry Goldwater--little girl plucking petals from a flower, voice counting down, and then a nuclear bomb explodes.  Only ran once, but it sure had an impact.  Or a Jesse Helms ad, during a Senate campaign against Harvey Gantt, a black--workworn white hand, with a wedding ring, crumpling a rejection letter, with voiceover something like, 'You wanted that job.  You were qualified for it, but they had to give it to a minority.'  Oh yes, negative works.
     And I think it's true that voters vote more on what they think of the candidate's character than on his positions on specific issues.  So negative works.  But negative stinks too, devalues the campaigns it's part of, cheapens our democracy.
     It's probably foolish to think we'll avoid the slime pit this time.  But you have to hope.  The John McCain I covered in 2000 was, whether you agreed with him on issues or not, a thoroughly honorable, decent man.  So, a plea:  come on, Senator, get out of the mud box.  Play this one clean. 

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