Friday, August 1, 2008

Being Defined

In a court of law the defense attorney gives many possibile scenarios as to who might have committed the crime his client is being charged with and under what circumstances without ever pointing to any one scenario in particular. It could be this or that. The objective is to produce doubt, hoping that something will stick. This is the tacitic Senator McCain's campaign seems to be using in seeking to define Senator Obama as guilty as charged. But charged of what?

What must be done? Senator Obama needs to continue to define himself, but he must also continue to define Senator McCain's lock step policies with the current unpopular administration. The defining by Senator McCain seems to be a means of not defining himself. The best offense many believe is a great defense. If the focus remains on who Barack is with the continued barage of negative ads, McCain and his party will get a free ride.

It seems that if Senator Obama does not define himself, while playing a bit of hardball with Senator McCain (politics is a game), closely aliging him with the policies of the current president and administration, he is doomed to the fate of Dukakis and Kerry. Playing softball does not knock the ball out of the diamond. Does it? But is it possible for candidates to define themselves in the game of politics and hit their opponent hard without appearing negative? Politics seems to be all at times more about appearances rather than policy.

Defining oneself, not being defined by others, seems paramount to getting to policy in politics.


neetzy said...

I love Obama and he has a presence that is genuine and admirable. He appears to be a statesman, a rare phenomenom in US politics. Most people I know are behind Obama but the Republican hate machine is very strong and devious.

judith ellis said...

neetzy...Nothing surprises me in politics every since the Willie Horton ad of 1988 that had such a hateful divisive tone.

Many believed that this ad won the election for the Republican candidate that year. But then again, the 3:00am Clinton ad was rejected. And, many believe that this ad could have been taken straight from the Karl Rove playbook.

In many cases negative ads seem to work. I am just hoping that we have moved beyond such divisive politics and that the great American people will see them for what they are and vote their conscious and not their fears.

I'm happy you popped in. Do come again.

- A - C - said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
- A - C - said...

US and the world need the new attitude proposed by Obama. The sad thing is that McCain isn't a real alternative. He is a past vision wanting to survive, and since it knows it cannot do something new, it is left with a handful of mud to throw to the world.
Fear and deviousness won't win again. not this time.

judith ellis said...

I smile, -a-c-. Thank you.

John O'Leary said...

The interesting thing about negative advertising is that it's a judgment call. Anytime my candidate is attacked, it's negative, but when my candidate criticizes the opponent, my candidate is just setting the facts straight. That said, I do think McCain is going more negative than Obama - and of course I'm just being objective. :-)

judith ellis said...

So true, John. And, you are always objective :-) I'm not for whinning about any ad. I am, however, for action and open debate. McCain's ads may not have reached the openly negative-race-baiting-fearmongering level of past ads. But we'll see. We've only just begun.

While I agree with your thoughts here, there is a difference to me between criticism and unfair attacks and subliminal fearmongering messages. Perhaps it is the craftiness of the image makers and speech writers that is central, not the candidates.

I my be biased here, but Obama seems to be different, perhaps not jaded yet as the junior senator. Maybe senators should stay juniors and retire as was intended by the founding fathers. After a while there just seems to be more postering and grandstanding by many in the House than action.

But back to campaigns: are they more about appearances than substance? Perhaps we empower speech writers, spokespersons, and pundits-the creators of public images. What would politics be without these? Perhaps a bit better? More honest? I dunno.

John O'Leary said...

"There is a difference to me between criticism and unfair attacks and subliminal fearmongering messages." True enough. What was done to Harold Ford in his 2006 campaign for Tennessee Senator was a text book example of that. Details, for those unaware of it, are at:,_Jr.

judith ellis said...

Yes, John. I most certainly remember one such ad in particular. Mr. Ford is most certainly an astute intelligent public servant. I hope we have not heard the last of him.