Thursday, August 07, 2008

The shaming strategy

For those who say that Obama needs to hit back at McCain more strongly, i.e. start a negative ad blitz to answer McCain's attacks, recall: the same was said in Obama's campaign against Hillary. He left a lot of attack fodder on the table: the Bosnian sniper lie, the RFK assassination cite, the Clinton Library and Foundation funding. While the Clintons went negative at intervals, Obama repeatedly shamed them into restraint. And he won.

The Washington Post reports much Democratic hand-wringing as Obama keeps back the attack dogs. And frankly, it's hard not flash back to summer '04, when Kerry let the Republicans take him apart with the Swiftboat attacks and the flip-flop charges. But three things to keep in mind: 1) Obama is hitting back effectively, with ridicule; 2) the high road worked in the primaries; Obama repeatedly came off as the adult in the Clinton sandbox; and 3) while McCain takes his shallow swipes, Obama is building the biggest GOTV operation in a generation.

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