Thursday, August 28, 2008

NEGATIVE Campaign ads . . . good, bad, or?

By l.t. Dravis

DENVER, COLORADO – Wednesday, August 27, 2008 – So, Obama’s in the house . . . Hillary did the right thing, Bill did the right thing . . . and things are looking good for the demos in ‘08!

And, no one, not even Joe, can deny that Biden is the guy!

The Democratic convention appears to be more united than anyone ever thought possible.

Even the talking heads . . . Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, et al . . . were impressed.

So why are so many Democrats nervous about Obama’s prospects against John McCain in the fall campaign?

Negative campaigning.

Republicans are experts at it.

Democrats are not.

So, the question that begs to be asked and answered is, why does negative campaign advertising work?

Why, for example, would any intelligent adult make a decision to not vote for Barack Obama because John McCain runs an ad that says Obama’s nothing but a celebrity . . . like Paris Hilton?

What does Paris Hilton’s celebrity status have to do with Obama’s qualifications to be President?

Anyone with half a brain who knows anything about Paris Hilton’s accomplishments, life, and reputation, knows that she has absolutely nothing in common with a man who worked his way through law school, became the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, became an Illinois State Senator, became a United States Senator, and made history by becoming first African-America nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America.

Nevertheless, polls indicated that McCain’s campaign benefited from making that tenuous if not fraudulent connection between Paris and Barack.


Because negative political advertising appeals to voters’ preconceived notions.

If voters already think Barack Obama lacks the experience necessary to be an effective President and the McCain campaign comes up with an attack ad, right, wrong, or somewhere in between, that points out Obama’s relative inexperience, the ad reinforces the preconception that justifies not voting for the ‘inexperienced’ candidate.

Yet, if we think about it, it’s obvious that negative campaign ads have absolutely nothing to do with a candidate’s capabilities, integrity, motives or lack thereof.

Negative campaign ads are created and delivered by people whose lack of character allows them to consciously decide to feed voter cynicism; these are people who believe it is okay to polarize voters; and, these are people who don’t mind ruining the reputations of innocent people if they can improve their chances to win.

The next time you see or hear a negative campaign ad, consider the source and then ask a simple question: “Does this ad reflect the quality of character I want in the person I elect to run my country?”

John McCain made the mistake of beating George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary by a margin of 48% - 30%.

After the defeat, George W. Bush was running scared because he knew if he lost the South Carolina primary, his campaign could run out of steam.

So, what did Bush do?

Did he put forth better ideas to win more votes? Did he create more meaningful domestic and foreign policies to attract more voters to his campaign? Or, did he reach out to the cares, concerns, and needs of the American people to inspire voters to support his candidacy?


Not at all.

George W. Bush turned to his top dog campaign strategist, Karl Rove, and asked him to find a sure way to beat McCain in South Carolina.

Karl Rove, no slouch when it comes to sleazy politics, knew exactly what to do; he kicked off a whisper campaign that suggested without fact or validation that when John McCain was a Prisoner of War, he committed treason.

Rove soon realized the treason thing wasn’t catching on with potential voters, so he instructed Bush campaign operatives to call prospective voters across South Carolina to tell them that Senator McCain had fathered a child with a black prostitute.

The lie about the child with the black prostitute generated some encouraging results, but Rove, known to be thorough and effective at everything he does, wasn’t quite done with McCain. Rove created three more lies to tell the voters of South Carolina: 1. That John McCain cheated on his first wife; 2. That Cindy, his second wife, was a drug addict, and, 3. That McCain was a homosexual.

And it worked: Bush beat McCain in the South Carolina primary by 53% to 42%, went on to ‘win’ the 2000 general election, somehow got himself reelected in 2004, and is now slated to leave office January 20, 2009 as arguably the worst President ever in the history of this nation.

Yup . . . Rove’s negative campaign advertising worked exceedingly well.

And, eight years later, after lies about the need to go to war in Iraq, the ‘get-even’ with Ambassador Joe Wilson that neutralized Valerie Plame, the payments to columnists to promote Bush policies, the manipulation of U.S. Attorneys for political purposes, Dick Cheney’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ energy policy created with oil companies, and on and on, ad infinitum, is anyone surprised?

What would you say if I said we get what we deserve when we elect candidates who rely on negative campaign ads to win elections?

Would you agree?


Or . . . ?

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – Tuesday, September 2, 2008 . . . The McCain campaign is getting a little testy these days . . . sort of like the old man who yells at neighbor kids to get off his lawn.

Don’t believe it?

Well, believe this . . . John McCain pulled out of an interview with Larry King because he didn’t like the way CNN’s Campbell Brown interviewed a McCain campaign spokesman by the name of Tucker Bounds.

When you look at Tucker Bounds, you’d think you’re seeing a fairly youthful fellow with a reasonably bright mind who appears to be capable of handling a CNN television interview without the McCain campaign wigging out . . . but you’d be wrong.

So how did Campbell Brown’s interview cause the McCain bunch to take their Larry King marbles and go home?

Brown had been interviewing Bounds about Sarah Palin when she asked, “Tucker, foreign policy experience has been a huge issue in this campaign because you guys made it a big issue, pointing out John McCain has far more experience than Barack Obama and nothing in your view is more important than the campaign. I don’t have to tell you there’s a feeling out there by some that you’re not holding your VP pick to your own standard, the standard you define. So explain to us why you think Governor Palin is ready to be commander in chief?”

Bounds attempted to sidestep the question with, “Governor Palin has the good fortune of being on the ticket with John McCain who there is no question is the most experienced and shown proven judgment on the international state. He understands foreign affairs.”

Campbell Brown is much too smart to let Bounds hide behind John McCain so she went said, “We know all about John McCain, Tucker. I asked you about her. We all know the role of the VP as John McCain defined it is to be able to step into the job of the presidency on day one. I’m asking you about her foreign policy experience.”

Bounds evidently didn’t want to talk about Sarah Palin because he answered, “Yeah, Campbell, there are a number of people supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy and feel he’s experienced enough to take on the oval office. Our feeling is . . . “

Campbell refused to let Bounds slip and slide away. “You’re not answering my question . . . “

But Bounds wasn’t getting it. “Just as much experience as Barack Obama.”

Campbell, ever the professional, kept going for a meaningful answer. “Okay. So does she . . . you . . . what I’m saying is that you set a different standard by arguing how important it was with John McCain. No one’s arguing with you he has much more experience than Barack Obama, so I’m trying to get someone from the campaign to explain to me what foreign policy experience or qualification she has that would allow her to be ready to be commander in chief if something should happen to Senator McCain.”

“Well, Campbell, let me be clear,” Bounds said, proceeding to not be clear. “I don’t think there should be a problem explaining her experience. She has executive state level experience. She’s been in public office reforming Washington. She’s been in executive office longer and in a more effective sense than Barack Obama’s been in the United States Senate. She’s been the commander of the National Guard of the Alaska National Guard that’s been deployed overseas. That’s foreign policy experience.”

Campbell Brown, clearly tired of Bounds’ shameless political spin, said, “If I can interrupt for one second because I’ve heard you guys say this a lot. Can you tell me one decision that she made as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. Just one?”

Tucker Bounds proved he could dodge a question as good as anyone in the McCain campaign when he said, “Yeah. She’s made . . . any decision she has made as the commander of the National Guard that’s deployed overseas is more of a decision Barack Obama’s been making as he’s been running for the president for the last two years.”

Campbell Brown wasn’t about to join Bounds on his detour so she pressed on with, “So tell me. Tell me. Give me an example of one of those decisions. I’m curious, just one decision she made in her capacity as commander in chief of the National Guard.”

Campbell,” he said indignantly, “certainly you don’t mean to belittle every experience, every judgment she makes as commander . . . “

“I’m belittling nothing,” Campbell said, obviously surprised he’d taken that tack. “I want to know one judgment or one decision. I want to know what one decision was. I’m not belittling anything. I am curious.”

Bounds came up with, “As she makes a decision how to equip or how to command the National Guard in Alaska, that is more . . .”

“But Tucker,” Campbell interrupted calmly, “those are the Pentagon’s decisions. That’s General Petraeus. That’s the White House.”

Tucker Bounds was lost. “Pardon me?”

Brown attempted to bring him back on track with, “No governor make decisions how to equip or deploy the National Guard. When they go to Iraq, those are decisions made by the pentagon.”

But Tucker Bounds wasn’t interested in coming back on track; he saw an opportunity to distract her and he went for it. “Campbell, on a factual basis, they certainly do. In Alaska, if I have an emergency in your state, the National Guard is under the command of the governor. That is more of a command role than Barack Obama has ever had. I would argue that John McCain and Governor Palin between the two of them have far more command experience in military than either of the candidates on the democratic side.

“I do want to argue this is about the top of the ticket. Ultimately when people go into the ballot box and decided between Barack Obama and John McCain, they will decide between John McCain’s record of reforming Washington and Barack Obama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, doesn’t have a lot of experience, certainly no command or military experience which both our candidates have. That’s an important distinction I think voters will make the call in November.”

Campbell Brown, clearly recognizing that Tucker Bounds would never give her a straight answer, surrendered with a gorgeous smile. “All right, Tucker. I’m just going to give it to you, baby. We’ll end it there.”

Bounds sighed with relief and simply said, “Appreciate it.”

“I appreciate you coming on and taking time to have this debate,” Campbell said sincerely. “I think it’s important. People don’t know a lot about her. They want to understand her qualifications as much as possible. We’re not beating you up here. We’re not trying to. We’re just trying to educate ourselves and educate our viewers. So I really do appreciate your time and thank you for your time coming on . . . “

That’s the interview that caused the McCain campaign to pull out of the Larry King interview.

Can you believe it?

Here’s how McCain spokesperson Maria Comella characterized the interview. “After a relentless refusal by certain on-air reporters to come to terms with John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s sitting governor as our party’s nominee for vice president, we decided John McCain’s time would be better served elsewhere.”


Come on, Senator McCain, you’re not really going to tell us to get off your lawn now, are you?

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Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.


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