Monday, September 15, 2008

How to Surf Newscycles

I just wrote a comment at Hullabaloo that everyone seemed to like, so I guess I'll just post it here. Tristero wrote a post about how Obama isn't going far enough in attacking McCain because the polls have turned against him. Below is my comment.

Look Tristero, I see what you're getting at, but you've got to get out of the mindset that says we need to win every newscycle. That was a mistake Hillary made and Obama didn't. Look how that turned out. And the thing is, if you're playing a long-term game like Obama is, sometimes you're going to lose a few newscycles. Sometimes, your opponent will ride a big wave and make things look bad for you. But the absolute worst thing you can do is to play a short-term game that says you have to win every newscycle.

The next thing you know, you're proposing idiotic gas tax holidays, insulting experts, downing shots with "regular folks," and pumping gas into pick-up trucks that aren't owned by the guy driving it. And while that might score you a few points in the current newscycle, you'll end up embarrassing yourself in the long run. Hillary ended up losing the nomination, and even worse, the respect of many former supporters. She destroyed a reputation she had worked a lifetime to create in order to win a newscycle in March. I'm sure she'd agree that it wasn't worth it.

Look, the Palin thing will play itself out. She was the shiny new thing and her star is already beginning to dim, and will soon be a weight pulling McCain down. Meanwhile, McCain's campaign is digging itself into a deep hole, in a desperate bid to win every newscycle. I say, let him do it. As it is, the strong ad that Obama just came out with wouldn't have worked two weeks ago. Next week, if McCain continues his slimey campaign, Obama can release even stronger ads that help bury him deeper.

And the longer McCain thinks his negativity is the way to go, the better. Previous Republican nominees only had their surrogates say this crap, while the nominee stayed clean. But Republicans want Obama as crippled as possible, so they're having their chief spokesman McCain do all the smearing. This isn't helping him. Sure, he won a few newscycles, but people are going to really start rejecting the news they're hearing from him. Obama could have tried to stop this by inventing some zany PR stunt to outdo the Palin Gimmick; or he could just bide his time and give McCain more rope to hang himself with. I'm glad he went with the rope.

While it might feel good to win every newscycle and always be on top of the wave, that is impossible to sustain. A good surfer knows how to pick and choose his wave and won't try to grab everything that comes along. And I strongly believe that, while McCain has been riding a big wave since the convention, he's about to end up eating sand before he knows it. And if he plays things like he has in the past, Obama will be riding high when that happens.


zoe said...

I followed your link to come over and say thank you. Excellent post.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Thanks, Zoe. I hadn't really been planning to write much of anything as I had some work to do, but I'm glad people liked it.

Broadway Carl said...

Excellent analysis, Doctor. Obama is in it for the lang haul, not just a few days of high points.

It reminds me of the Democratic primary where the Clinton campaign had no plans past Super Tuesday in February. Compare that to the Obama camp, when someone had accidentally left behind (or perhaps it was a leak) a stategy sheet predicting the outcome of every state primary and I believe they wound up being off by one state. That's organization!