Thursday, February 21, 2008

Focus, people. "It's the credibility, stupid"

No, I’m not calling you stupid.

But there will be a lot of different permutations and lots of spin coming from this story which seems to have fallen from above and into our laps. And there will be a lot of attempts to detract from the various pieces (sex scandal, lobbyist favors, etc.) and focus on “the NY Times is lying” or other things that are not really the meat of this story.

And yes, there are already different angles here, but this is the general way that the “counter attack” will be played out. Don’t address the issue, attack the messenger. Classic ad hominem attack and was used to bury the Bush National Guard story by making it about CBS and Dan Rather instead of actually addressing the substance of the story.

Mark my words – this will be used by McCain and his camp, if it already hasn’t started. And the ONLY response is to shoot down the ad hominem attack and focus on the real story – the story of John McCain’s lack of credibility and believability.

The New York Times is not the story here. Hell, the “sex” part is even tangential to this story, but it will keep it in the media. It is John McCain and his credibility that is the story.

Mr. “straight talk” denies that his aides ever intervened in this relationship. His aides state unequivocally that they did intervene. He says that he “never did a favor for a lobbyist or a special interest”. Besides the very obvious Charles Keating, there is the curious case of Paxson Communications, which raised questions from the FCC Chairman:

The stories also allege that McCain wrote letters and pushed legislation involving television station ownership that would have benefited Iseman's clients.

In late 1999, McCain twice wrote letters to the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Florida-based Paxson Communications - which had paid Iseman as its lobbyist - urging quick consideration of a proposal to buy a television station license in Pittsburgh. At the time, Paxson's chief executive, Lowell W. "Bud" Paxson, also was a major contributor to McCain's 2000 presidential campaign.

McCain did not urge the FCC commissioners to approve the proposal, but he asked for speedy consideration of the deal, which was pending from two years earlier. In an unusual response, then-FCC Chairman William Kennard complained that McCain's request "comes at a sensitive time in the deliberative process" and "could have procedural and substantive impacts on the commission's deliberations and, thus, on the due process rights of the parties."

McCain wrote the letters after he received more than $20,000 in contributions from Paxson executives and lobbyists. Paxson also lent McCain his company's jet at least four times during 1999 for campaign travel.

I know that this is potentially a very tasty story. But in this early time in the story’s cycle, it is the time for us to set the narrative, as opposed to having the narrative set for us. We should be going on and staying on offense. This is a perfect time for keep Senator Hothead on his heels and get our “macaca moment”.

If he is portrayed as not credible and not likeable, then he is done. The “100 years in Iraq”, the Katrina birthday cake picture, the Bush bear hug picture, the “bomb bomb bomb Iran” sing along – all of that will be more support as opposed to the foundation for taking McCain down.

We made the mistake in 2004 by not being aggressive enough on the Dan Rather pushback. We can NOT afford to make the same mistake again now. This is about McCain’s character. It is about his judgment. It is about his being believable.

It is NOT about the NY Times, whether he did have an affair or not – it is about his moral values and his bad decision making. And if we push hard enough here, we may very well watch him explode and his campaign implode.

Eyes on the prize – we have been handed a colossal gift – let’s make the best use of it. This is a story that is indicative of the type of person John McCain is. It is an example of a bigger problem that is part of McCain’s core.

Let’s do everything we can to keep that as the story. Not the New York Times and not even the sex allegations.

1 comment:

Mark said...

In my opinion, none of our national political leaders have any credibility, so I don't think that attacks like this on Senator Hothead are a big deal. I don't trust any them in either party, so for me it will come down to who will take (i.e. waste) the least amount of my money.