Thursday, October 07, 2010


Many of us were baffled by Christine O'Donnell's "I'm not a witch" ad; even some allies thought it was appallingly bad. But now I understand that it was probably part of a two-step strategy -- and here, I think, comes Part II:

O'Donnell complains of 'character assassination'

Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell is asking voters to give her a second look. At a candidate forum sponsored by a group of local Republicans, O'Donnell blamed her campaign's recent troubles on unfair coverage in the "liberal media."

"I've put my name on the line. And I've taken a lot of hits ... a lot of character assassination," O'Donnell said....

This is O'Donnell's attempt to run a textbook campaign:

"... it's fairly traditional strategy to start with positive ads about yourself, bio pieces, and then run negative ads against your opponent."

That's a Rutgers poli sci professor talking about a long-forgotten race, but he's just articulating a general principle -- one that O'Donnell seems to be trying to follow.

Which means two things: (1) She's probably going to drop the pearls and the nice-girl outreach now and go 100% nastily (and whiningly) negative soon, especially in her ads; and (2) she really, really messed up Part I. If the positive ad was just supposed to be pro forma, a table-setter for the negativity to follow, then why put anything in it that wasn't incredibly bland? Why the risky "I'm not a witch" (or even "I'm you")? Why not just make the ad dull as dishwater?

I don't know -- but I do know that she and the hacks she hired blew it. If they had a really bland positive ad on the air, eventually they could start framing her as extremely normal and framing us critics as "elitists" who criticize her only because we hate normal Americans. And who knows? They might even get it to work, no matter how many clips Bill Maher releases. They'd certainly get at least one or two pundits to ask whether we sneerers are very much out of step. (Hell, even Glenn Greenwald and Frank Rich tried to link her money woes to the woes of ordinary Americans in the poor economy, ignoring the fact that very few ordinary Americans undermine their own earnings potential by running three U.S. Senate campaigns in five years.)

But now, watch for the negative ads. They're the next logical step.

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