Atrios has a post showing Hillary's new attack ad, which chastises Obama for not wanting a debate in Wisconsin; and it just reeks of desperation. I don't know how many debates we've seen so far, but I fail to see how any more could help; beyond helping Hillary get free publicity to make up for the fact that she's broke.
And as I suggested at Atrios', her theory is just mistaken. Sure, she might debate better than he does, something I don't necessarily agree with, but that's beside the point. Because she was the name-recognition default candidate and her biggest advantage was that people knew who she was and would be sympathetic. So his biggest goal was to get as many people as possible to watch him, in order to put a face to that name. Any marketer can tell you that. As long as you've got a good product, the biggest challenge is getting people to experience it. That's the whole point of free samples and coupons: They feel that if you try their product, you'll continue to buy. And that's been Obama's strategy the whole time.
I mean, "Barack Obama" is a pretty weird name, and if you didn't know who he was, you might reject him by default. But once you've seen him, his name actually becomes cool. It's like Ikea. That word means nothing to you unless you've been to the store or seen the catalogue, and if someone asked you if you liked it, you wouldn't have a clue. But once you've been there, the name seems perfect. It becomes part of the cool, hip image and you're more likely to like the store than if it was called The Furniture Place or Walmart. Hell, Apple has made a fortune inventing words like iMac and iPod. And a name that once would have sounded silly is now the coolest thing around. It's all about having the right name with the right product; and Obama has it.
And so by debating Hillary, Obama wins, even if she "beats" him. Because she's lending her name recognition to get people to watch him. It'd be like if Coke decided to do a national taste test against No-Name Soda. People might not even try No-Name on their own, but if Coke is being challenged by it...there must be something to it. It doesn't matter if people like Coke better, unless the product sucks, No-Name's sales will go up. And so while she might win the debate, he wins the war.
Beyond that, going negative on this kind of issue was just silly. The ad contained a few policy jabs at Barack, but for the most part, I can't imagine voters in Wisconsin getting outraged that Obama won't debate there. If anything, they won't care. And most likely, they'll dislike Hillary more for the attack ad. A good attack ad is a hard thing to get right, especially against a someone in your own party, and if you're not trying to get viewers to feel outrage towards your opponent, there's no point to it and it might just backfire.
Plus, it just reeks of desperation. If she had bad things to say about him, she would. But running an attack ad that lacks an actual attack looks bad. And she wouldn't be so worried about debating him if she thought she was ahead. So I chalk this up to yet another blunder by the Clinton campaign. Their big mistake is that they waste all their time fighting each battle and continually fail to see the big picture and end up losing the war. And I don't see how this is any different. I'm not sure if it was possible for her to beat Barack, but her campaign has made it all the harder.
And as I've suggested before, this is bigger than just the campaign. This is pretty much how things went during the Clinton presidency and I really didn't expect much different the second time around. Fortunately, we have a candidate who was able to beat the Clinton machine by running an excellent campaign while focusing on the big picture. And in the election so far, it's made all the difference.