May 26, 2004

Dirty Tricks

Interesting piece on opposition research in political campaigns called "Playing Dirty", by Joshua Green in The Atlantic. As you might expect with the left-leaning Green, Republicans are cast as the biggest heavies of the piece, but the Democrats are shown to be adept at eating their own young, as when Wesley Clark's campaign team virtually destroyed the Dean campaign by manipulating the press by "seeding" negative Dean stories.

Green's big scoop is that the way the Bush "oppo" men are now framing the case against John Kerry, is the same tactic used by the RNC team "whose job it was to discredit and destroy Al Gore." It seems not to occur to Green that the reason Kerry and Gore might be engaged politically in much the same way is that they have so many of the same weaknesses as candidates. Or even that they themselves might have had a bit to do with the negative ways that they are perceived by American voters.

The are both products of elite Eastern liberalism, and have shared nearly lifelong ambitions to win the White House. They have careers as Senators with voting records to defend that are politically well to the left of much of mainstream America. They are both men of great wealth and elite upbringing who seem to struggle to relate to the common man. They both lack personal warmth and I think come across as arrogant and condescending. They share the inability to arouse much passion in voters. They are perceived by many Americans to be panderers and flip-floppers on many issues, and to have certain issues with "truth-telling", not so much because of effective RNC opposition research, but because people have eyes and ears and gut instincts, and long memories.

Green is a little short on accounts of the October 2000 Surprise Bush DUI story and other great moments in Democratic Party "oppo". Attempted "destructions" of Speaker Livingston, Clarence Thomas, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney among others don't find their way into the piece. Check it out anyway.

Posted by dan at May 26, 2004 1:33 AM