Thursday, July 31, 2008

The McCain Campaign--A Typical Scooby Villain

As the father of a typical American "tween," I've watched more episodes of Scooby Doo than any one person should be allowed to see. I've been with Scooby Doo in Egypt, Scooby Doo in cyber-space, Scooby Doo on mystery cruises, and Scooby Doo at Ghoul School. I've viewed so much Scooby Doo that I find myself craving Scooby Snacks at the weirdest times. I see the Scooby gang more often than I see my own brothers and sisters. Scooby Doo is a friend of mine and "Senator McCain, you're no Scooby Doo."

Oops, mixing metaphors there.

Anyway, I know better than most people that the monsters chasing Scooby and the gang almost always turn out to be all-too-human villains in "monster suits."

That's what I see in the John McCain campaign right now--a typical Scooby villain.

Over the last two weeks, McCain has unveiled not one, not two, not three, but four--count 'em, four--attack lines on Obama. McCain himself launched the idea that Obama was willing to "lose the war in order to win the election." The McCain campaign also came out with video ads about Obama supposedly canceling a visit with wounded American troops in order to "play basketball," and being a "celebrity" like Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. Just as they put out the "celebrity" ad, the McCain campaign also sent out surrogates yesterday to talk about Obama's "presumptuousness."

All of this is supposed to come out of the "very scary" Karl Rove playbook of attacking opponents at their strongest point. In this case, the strongest points are Obama's charismatic presence and his opposition to the unpopular war. By going "negative" in this way, the McCain campaign is trying to "define" Barack Obama as someone who is too unprincipled, too strange, and too popular to be president. He hopes to drive up Obama's negatives and prevent Obama from getting above 50%.

And if the McCain campaign really were a scary monster, all of this would be working. But Shaggy is the only one who looks scared and Shaggy's always scared.

In the final analysis, McCain's campaign manager and Rove protege Steve Schmidt is much more of a "guy in monster suit" than a "scary monster." The McCain campaign is splattering attacks right and left, but every time they take up a new line of attack, they undercut their previous attacks. How can any of these attack lines have much impact if they're only pursued exclusively for two or three days at most and McCain is cluttering up the airwaves with other kinds of attacks? The assault on Obama's presumptuousness on the same day they released the "celebrity" ad was dumb in the extreme. I'm not sure the McCain people even knew which line of attack they wanted the media to feature?

Harvard sociologist and TPM blogger Theda Skocpol suggests that Obama create ads of ordinary people sitting at a table talking about the weaknesses of McCain's proposals on cutting corporate taxes, social security, contraception, and other domestic issues.

That's a great idea and much of the reason why it's a great idea is because it would provide such a strong contrast to the ineffectiveness of McCain's bumbling attempts to be a scary attack monster.


Tim said...

hey, Doc, OT, but you should the happenings at Goldstein's place lately. Simply put, he put in his resignation (again) so he could do family time and write a book and then took umbrage in the comments when commenters claimed that they enjoyed other things about the site other than him. Obviously, the obligatory jerk dropped in and then it was two people making offensive comments, which caused Goldstein to end the retirement so he could track down the offending weirdos and beat them up.

This resulted, as binges often do, in another round of self-pity and self-hatred projected on to his friends no less, and finally into a second retirement.

I love comedy and this is the most hilarious display of uncomfortable, can't you see the truth comedies I have seen since Napoleon Dynamite. If it were a novel, it would have been written by Joseph Heller. Just amazing.

Ric Caric said...

Having dealt with minor league blog stalkers myself, I have some sympathy for Goldstein's issues with harassment. But Jeff does seem to keep a lot of drama going. Maybe he should start referring to himself as "the Brett Favre of bloggers."

Tim said...

Except Favre was exceptionally good at one point!

I understand the sympathy, but he rally got around to mis-treating his co-bloggers and commenters in later posts when they were not sufficiently deferential. he's an odd sort.

Did you see this article

Now, you have the doctorate in this sort of thing, but as an amateur historian cum law student, it made me feel much better. Obama will win Ohio and Pennsylvania and should win Florida. When you add the percentage of Americans without land line phones (like my wife and me), you have two-three points unaccounted in even these polls.

Ric Caric said...

I do have sympathy for Goldstein's situation. He does have a real talent for blogging, but he's also too literary for the right-wing mainstream which means that he's never going to be a hugely popular blogger. Consequently, he must wonder why he's spending so much time blogging.

I basically have the same problem except that my blog's a lot less popular than Protein Wisdom. So, I have even more reason to wonder why I'm spending so much time with it.

And sometimes I do.

But you're right about Goldstein being a prima donna about the whole thing.

I didn't see the article and my Ph.D. is in interpreting social theory rather than polls. But I think you're right about the polls not having a good grasp on likely turnout for the fall election. It's been obvious that the pollsters haven't had a good grasp on things since the New Hampshire primary.