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Defining Insanity = McCain

Huffington Post

Defining Insanity

Mike Lux and Erica Payne

If, as they say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result, it may be time to sign us Democrats up for the funny farm.

Which of our candidates can beat McCain? Both of them. Which one will beat McCain? Possibly neither of them — unless we trade in our straightjackets for some straight talk of our own.

Successful campaigns hinge on effectively defining the opposition. It’s not about who the candidates are — it’s about who says who the candidates are. If you define your opponent, you win. If your opponent defines you, they win. Just ask Al Gore and John Kerry.

The Bush campaign spent $70 million in April of 2004 to define John Kerry as a flip flopper, weak on defense, and weird. Those ads — “Doublespeak”, “Weapons”, and “Wacky” — played April 21, April 26 and May 30 respectively. They set the stage for the caricature that followed. That buy laid the groundwork for the swift boating to come (incidentally, the swift boat series hit the airwaves in August — a month when, according to conventional wisdom, nothing really happens).

2004 was no anomaly. In 2000, Bush and company defined Gore so well that according to Rolling Stone, “a review conducted by two nonpartisan groups, Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Research Center, found that a stunning 67 percent of the Gore campaign coverage in early 2000 centered around two negative themes: that he lies and exaggerates, and that he’s tarred by scandal.” Mark Fabiani, Gore’s communication director, said it best, “If you let people’s pre-existing notions prevail, you deserve what you get.”

If Democrats want to win, we have to start defining McCain now. Not in a few months, not after a few more superdelegates have made their choices, and absolutely not after the convention. We have to tell people who John McCain is now — before he has a chance to tell them himself.

The best news is we don’t have to rely on Bush-like unethical push polls and rumors about illegitimate babies to do it. McCain has plenty to work with all on his own. There’s the underreported temper for one thing. And for the record, its not one of those “yeah, he gets a little hot around the collar” kind of tempers but more like a “he curses at his wife in public” kind of tempers. Unlikely to go over real well with the soccer moms. And do the American people really want someone that off-kilter picking up the 3 am phone call — having his finger on the proverbial button? We seriously doubt it. If only they knew about it.

Then there’s the whole Keating Five thing — what was that about again? Oh yeah, financial institutions that padded the pockets of executives while regular Americans got hosed. A meltdown of responsibility that cost taxpayers billions of dollars — sound familiar? Most people have probably forgotten the whole thing. It’s about time to remind them.   Link to full Huffington Post article >>>

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