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Just trying to be helpful

negative campaigning flow chart

Every four years, sure as shit, the media yammers about whether the Dems should “go negative” because the Republicans always “go negative” and even though people say they don’t like it when politicians “go negative” it really does work. So sure enough the Dems “go negative” and it doesn’t work and the Republicans “go negative” and it does work and the talking heads declare that Democrats are just too doggone nice to pull off the whole “go negative” gambit.

You know, for the smartypants egghead academic party, y’all sure can be pinheads.

Lean closer; I will to tell you the secret. Shhhhh. Look at this simple two-stage flow chart. Us red state peasants pour rumors into it. If they fall out the bottom, we ignore them. If the come flying out the right side, we run with it. Simple as that.

And we apply it equally to our friends and our enemies. Most of us, for example, were persuaded that Larry Craig was tapdancing for anonymous sex in the D.C. airport bathroom (step one) and that, yes, on the whole this was unspeakably creepy and ick (step two). He flunked the flowchart; I don’t know anyone who sticks up for Larry “Widestance” Craig.

On the other hand, it’s obvious the Dems aren’t applying the same decision matrix. Take the whole Swiftboat thing. What do they say? That Kerry didn’t knock the charges down early enough, or that he didn’t knock them down hard enough — when the problem is that at least some of the accusations were factually and provably true…and materially important. How do you knock something like that down? (C’mon…you don’t have to be a student of naval history to know that three purple hearts in four months without needing a day in the infirmary can’t be right (step one) and for someone running as the Military Guy, this matters (step two).)

Or Rathergate. Dan Rather pissed his whole career down his leg trying to get to first base proving that Bush had an easier time of it in the National Guard because he was the son of a political bigshot. Dude. Duuude. Even if he had gotten past step one, this would fail step two. Of course the son of a bigshot is going to have an easier time of it; bureaucracies instinctively cover their butts that way — whether the bigshot’s son wants them to or not. (Al Gore got a journalist’s gig and, rumor has it, a full-time minder. I’m not shocked. Nor, honestly, all that disapproving).

Oh, I’m not saying every wild-ass rumor that ‘wingers latch onto is a winner. And left and right have fundamental disagreements about what passes step two. But you can bet your ass any issue that catches fire this Fall, John Q. Sixpack is going to believe it survived this flow chart first.

Exit question: if you spend a lot of your time hammering the prediction that your opponent will go negative and avoid the issues, isn’t that going negative and avoiding the issues?

Incoming! Thanks for the link, Gabe. Oh! And SarahW at the Protein Wisdom Pub (which, if you haven’t been paying attention, is where all those PW posters who are not JeffG went).

August 21, 2008 — 12:09 pm
Comments: 58