The “Belittling” Strategy

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on August 2, 2008

At first we thought what is presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain doing, using Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and the O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma chant in his commercials?  But it has finally come to us what McCain may be doing.  Taunting Obama as celebrity and a great speaker only not even close to being ready to lead the mighty United States of America.  The taunts, the comparisonto Hollywood oversexed starlets and being an “inpressive” megaphone for hope and change but not bringing any experience to race may be McCain’s way of shrinking Obama and his growing stature.

McCain it seems is trying to ridicule, trivialize and at times disrespect Obama, while dissmissing him as a lightweight media phenomenon who isn’t ready for the White House.  Hence the latest McCain ad that equates Obama to Moses, as played by Charleston Heston, ready to part the waters but not ready move America ahead.  The latest ad entitled  “The One” mocks Obama’s speeches, supporters and vision and seems to be part of the McCain strategy to make this campaign about Obama and not ideas.  On a day when it was announced that 51,000 more people lost their jobs in July and we have the highest unemployment rate in the last four years the McCain campaign releases this commercial and not a statement on the horrible job numbers. 

To McCain’s credit the “belittling” strategy could be working as Obama’s national lead has shrunk and McCain seems to have some momentum while Obama seems off message.   So the question has to be how long will America tolerate this strategy that embraces a lack of policy discussions or is the “belittling” strategy the “swiftboating” of 2008? 

While America sorts that out, the question for Obama is how do deal with this strategy.  He has tried humor, which the McCain camp called playing the race card.  He has tried “direct” appeals to keep the discussions and the campaign on the issues but the hits keep coming and he has tried disgust calling the McCain actions “sad and juvinile.”   However, none of those has worked so far. 

It is ironic on the day McCain’s “The One” ad comes out McCain spoke before the National Urban League annual convention.  Only in America can you belittle the first African American nominee for president, insinuate racial stereotypes in a national campaign and mock his speeches, ideas, faith and popularity and then go before one of the nation’s preeminent civil right’s organizations and tell them what you’re going do for black folks… and they think Obama is arrogant.     

With the Olympics coming up next week and lasting two weeks, the Obama campaign will have time to readjust, refocus and we think recommitment to the message that got them here, change and hope.  The response to the “belittling” strategy should be to ignore McCain like you ignore petulant children or grumpy old men.  Brush off the haters and talk about the economy, the economy and don’t forget the economy.  The attacks on Obama are not on issues, but on Obamaand responding to them puts you right in mud with them.  The Obama response ad, “Low Road,” to the “Celeb” ad was perfect.  It had third party validators and laid out Obama’s positions in tightly scripted 30 seconds.  That coupled with the speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa  delivered that day was right on the mark.  Obama said “given the seriousness of the issues…the magnitude of the issues…you’d think we’d be having a serious debate but so far we’ve only heard about Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears..”

That response was the grown up response and that is the road Obama should take. Be the grown up, be the leader.  Ignore the specifics of the attacks, point out the silliness of the attacks and immediately speak on the issues wrapped in your trademark change and hope message. 

It will be hard to do but someone has to be the grown up since the winner of this race will occupy the Oval Office and have lead the nation.


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