Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Smear Campaign Has Begun

Charles Krauthammer might be the worst, in that he has distorted and ignored so much of what was spoken that he is by this point living in his own reality, but many news organizations were at fault as well yesterday. Obama did his best to dispel the rumors as clearly as his could, but the damage has already been done: major news organizations decided Obama had flip-flopped on Iraq, and are now presenting that as fact.

Like many of the "gotcha" quotes from the primary season, nobody can quite seem to remember the offending words--but everybody knows that Obama flip-flopped somehow. That's how the news works these days: ten thousand little voices that parrot each other. Some may try to argue that Obama set himself up for this charge when he made a surprise shift on faith-based initiatives, which left some of us to anticipate further policy shifts. But I doubt that made any difference here. The Republicans and conservative mass-media found their narrative and they are sticking to it.

Now we will see what Obama has learned from the campaign trail. Can he fight off this smear campaign? Obama needs to go after this false rumor with everything in his arsenal. The truth is that the only flip-floppers here are the bought-and-paid-for pundits, who will say anything or do anything to grab media attention.


Raised By Republicans said...

I would wonder how much influence people like Krauthammer will have in the current environment. He will come off as yet another shrill neo-con voice from Fox News.

Fox's ratings rise when there is a war just starting and decline when people are sick of wars.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. S.,

Back in the primaries you made the argument that Hillary's high negatives were not an issue because they were only a result of negative campaigns by Republicans and that ANY Democrat would be subjected to the same and so would rapidaly have similar negatives to Hillary Clinton. Now you are pointing to negative attacks against Obama no doubt with that argument in mind.

At that time I made an arugment that might apply here. Attack ad do not have a constant effect that derives only from their existence. A number of other factors matter: the wide perceptions of the target candidate, the wide perceptions of the source, and the content of the ad as it relates to both of those.

For example, if Ralph Nader says John McCain is a Communist over and over again, it probably wouldn't do anything to McCain's negative approval numbers. But if Joe Lieberman suddenly says John McCain is soft on the War on Terror, it could well be devastating.

What we have now is a well known neo-con who is on record as a staunch supporter for the war in Iraq (a position only shared by about a third of the voters) accusing Obama of being a flip flopper on the Iraq War issue.

Frankly, I would expect the attacks directed against Obama by the Clintons (his fellow Democrats) back in the primaries to be far more dangerous for him.

But of course, the attacks will continue and get worse. McCain recently shook up his campaign staff for the second time in a year. This time he put a group of Karl Rove associates and proteges in charge. This will likely mean a massive mudslinging campaign. But it plays into the Democrats' hands in that it underscores the ties between McCain and Bush. This is a risky move by McCain. It could backfire just as easily as it could help him.

Dr. Strangelove said...

"What we have now is a well known neo-con who is on record as a staunch supporter for the war in Iraq (a position only shared by about a third of the voters) accusing Obama of being a flip flopper on the Iraq War issue."

We have more than that, and that was my point, RbR. While Krauthammer's column was the most egregious piece of punditry, the real problem is the news: The headline "Obama changes Iraq policy" (or some variant thereof) was on the front page of the LA Times, NY Times, and WA Post--and surely others I did not see.

Raised By Republicans said...

I've been away on vacation the last couple of days and have not seen these headlines you talk about.

They are worrying but more because of what they say about the quality (or lack of it) in American journalism than anything else.

Obama has already come out with a response to the content. I imagine we'll see him make a higher profile event designed to counter any negative effects.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I'm sure you've seen the headlines by now, RbR. Every news outlet is speaking--as though it were fact--that Obama has "moved to the center" in terms of Iraq and a host of other issues. They say he has specifically "refined" or "changed" his position on Iraq.

Obama denies all this and says people are not listening to him, but the punditocracy drones on regardless.