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1st August 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:30 pm

Obama’s Next Commercial: Political Jujistsu


If I were Barack Obama, here’s what I would say in my next commercial.

Hi, I’m Barack Obama.

You’ve seen a lot of commercials from Senator John McCain, lately.  Without exception, they’ve been attacks on my character, not my positions.  I was disappointed that John chose this tack, especially given his repeated promise to run a positive, issues-based campaign.

If my opponent chooses to run nothing but negative ads, avoiding real debate on what matters to Americans, that is his prerogative.  It would be easy for me to respond with similar attacks.  But doing so not only would run counter to my principles, it also would continue the divisiveness and distrust that have dominated our political discourse for far too long.

This does not mean I will not continue to challenge his misstatements and distortions. I will not let stand his attempts to disparage my character or question my love for this country.  But I will not make similar attacks against him.  Like John, I promised to focus on issues rather than personalities.  Unlike John, I will keep that pledge.

Earlier this year, John challenged me to join him in a series of town hall meetings held all around this great country.  We were not able to make that happen, in large part because our campaign staffs focused on petty details rather the big picture.  I accept my share of the responsibility for that mistake.  I hope that my opponent will recognize his role as well.

Today, I accept his proposition:  ten town hall meetings, to be conducted after the conventions, without moderation of any kind.  I hope that we can hold a real debate on the things that matter to this country:  the state of our economy; the worsening situation in Afghanistan; energy security; global warming; and yes, how best to disengage from Iraq.

I place only one condition on my participation:  that Senator McCain stop his deliberately misleading attack ads.  Then, and only then can we stop playing games and start focusing on what really matters: returning this country to greatness and its people to prosperity.

My name is Barack Obama.  I hope that you will support me this November.  I approved this commercial.

I think this would put McCain on the defensive.  I think the frame would become McCain’s attacks rather than the content of those attacks.  And I think that ultimately McCain would refuse because he knows he can’t win on the issues.  And that would make future attacks less credible.

Perhaps more importantly, it would allow McCain a credible way to reclaim his soul from the Rovian vampires now running his campaign.  Of course, that’s assuming he wants that.

I recognize that there are risks for Obama here:  some commentators will suggest that he’s avoiding the charges that McCain has leveled.  But with his new website and ad, he’s already tried that, and it’s done little other than encourage the McCain team to keep attacking.

Obama has an opportunity to demonstrate that old-style attack politics don’t work anymore. Yes, some people won’t get it, and some will criticize a change in tactics no matter what he does.  But the upside to this bit of political jujitsu is so great that it’s worth that risk.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 1st, 2008 at 6:30 pm and is filed under foreign policy, politics, world at home. It is tagged under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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