Sunday, August 31, 2008


Barone's Sound Advise Not Taken

In a stunningly good piece by a knowledgeable good guy, Michael Barone, who often gets boring going too deep into detail, he points out the perpetual mistake some politicians make--inability to admit a past mistake. His examples are all Democrats, but the lesson should well be remembered by Republicans. Money quotes:

...the Democrats’ charge that Republicans make illegitimate attacks on their candidates, attacks that imply that they are far out of the American mainstream. The two examples they cite are the “Willie Horton” ads against Michael Dukakis in 1988 and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads against John Kerry in 2004.

I used to be a Democratic campaign consultant. In that capacity, I would have advised the Dukakis campaign to admit early on that the furlough policy was a mistake. I would have advised the Kerry campaign to go before a veterans’ group early on and apologize for the Foreign Relations testimony. Voters understand that candidates sometimes make mistakes and that young men say outrageous things that in time they come to regret.

On Ayers, the Obama campaign has tried to suppress discussion. But it will likely fail. The emergence of new media and the First Amendment mean that is like stopping the Mississippi River from flowing to the sea. If I were advising Obama, I would tell him to confess error, as he arguably has on Wright, on both Ayers and the Born Alive Protection Act, lest they cause his campaign as much damage as the furlough ads caused Michael Dukakis and the Swift Boat ads caused John Kerry.


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