Monday, May 05, 2008


The Politico's Jonathan Martin reads articles about unsavory associates of John McCain (Gordon Liddy and John Hagee) and -- good concern troll that he is -- warns Democrats that they really, really shouldn't go there:

Steve Chapman in the Trib and Frank Rich in the Times today seek to balance the scale and find a political radical and radical preacher, respectively, to tie around McCain.

... the lesson from the '04 campaign seems to be to outswift the Swift boaters.

But such an offensive ignores what has made Obama so uniquely susceptible to the Wright-induced damage: He's a virtual unknown to the country. McCain, by contrast, is something approaching a household name. Voters may not know much beyond the basic sketches of his biography, but that is the point -- his personal identity is established.

And McCain wants to run on character. Given his life story and brand, it makes perfect politcal sense.

Yeah, kids, really -- don't even try to confuse voters with the facts. The brand is what matters. Facts are just facts, but the brand is reality.

Martin continues:

But there is another reason Republicans would welcome a chance to make this race about John Hagee vs. Jeremiah Wright: It diverts the focus from an incumbent president and party that have approval ratings south of the Mendoza line.

If Democrats, spurred by the emotion of the moment and fury at Wright, bite at the forbidden fruit of a character race instead of focusing on Bush, Cheney, a looming recession, an unpopular war, mortgage insecurity and $4-per-gallon gas, you'll have a good sense of why they have lost seven of the last 10 presidential races.

Right -- because no one ever won a presidential election by pursuing two lines of attack at once. Why, can you imagine if the Republicans had attacked John Kerry as a flip-flopper and as a traitor during the Vietnam War? Or if they'd attacked Dukakis on Willie Horton and the Pledge of Allegiance? That would never have worked! Wisely, they pulled some of their punches. And that's what Democrats should do -- and Martin is really sincere when he says that.

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