Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Barack Obama and the GOP's Failing Attack Strategy

I had briefly mentioned this in a post on Sunday morning, but something very encouraging happened this weekend in electoral politics. It was this-
In a close race featuring millions of dollars in bruising television ads, Democrat Don Cazayoux defeated Republican Woody Jenkins on Saturday, winning another House seat for Democrats that had been long held by Republicans.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and several conservative groups poured nearly $1 million into the race in an effort to tie Cazayoux to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The ads called the state representative "too liberal" for the district, which had been held by Republicans since 1974. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and labor unions responded with their own million-dollar ad blitz bashing Jenkins, a former state representative.

Again, keep in mind that this is an overwhelmingly conservative district that went 59% for Bush in 2004, in a state that has otherwise had strong Democratic leanings by Southern standards. This is on top of the election of Bill Foster (who ran in opposition to the war and warrantless wiretapping) in March in Dennis Hastert's old district in Illinois. Sen. Obama had campaigned heavily there for Foster. Democrats remain undefeated in all congressional special elections since the 2006 midterm sweep.

The ads that the GOP ran against Cazayoux in Louisiana were of the typical substance-free, fearmongering, Republican attack variety. Here's one ad that they ran, reminding voters that Cazayoux was a liberal (eek!) with a history of supporting progressive tax policies (EEEK!).

The typical, spineless Democratic reaction to such attacks is to freak out ("I'm no liberal! I, uhh, tax cuts for everyone!") and assume they have to run as Republican-lite to win. But Cazayoux stood his ground and ran a solid campaign, and... won. How about that, huh?

And here is an even crazier ad the GOP ran against him, which doesn't even focus on Cazayoux or his politics at all, but rather uses the scary, election-losing "radical" images of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi to convince voters that this is a man who must be stopped.

Again, it didn't work.

Look, no one believes that winning this election in November will be a cakewalk (voters will greet Democrats as liberators!) or that it's mission accomplished already. The GOP's campaign against Obama this Fall will make what they did to John Kerry look like a fucking tea party. But the doom-and-gloom attitude that many Democrats and liberals head into these elections with often ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's time for Democrats to dust off their spines, and realize that voters are looking for alternatives, and that smacking down the GOP's overused election narratives isn't the impossible hurdle it's feared to be. And then we win. And the real battle actually begins.


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