Saturday, August 14, 2004

Repository of Factual Bitchslaps

While I appreciate the warm support my previous post has generated, there are a few minor misperceptions I'd like to address.

It seems that a not-insignificant portion of readers interpreted the letter addressed to the Kerry campaign as an exhortation to go absolutely balls out, rhetorically. This was not my intention. I actually believe that sticking to the relative high ground is a very smart strategy. Bush's approval ratings on almost every subject are plummetting - something that I believe was inevitable, given his policies, but that I also believe was expected by Bush's handlers to happen several months in the future, after the election. The best route to go seems to be to hold off massive fire on Bush, and build a strong following, person to person, in the swing states. This is exactly what Kerry appears to be doing.

My main concern is that since the President is in such trouble, his allies have begun a massive smear offensive against Kerry. As many people have pointed out, building Bush up seems pretty well beyond reach; what is left is to tear Kerry down.

It seems clear to me -- and from the response my last post received, many others -- that the Kerry campaign's response to this massive bit of mud slinging has been somewhat lukewarm. This is inexcusable, and, given the stakes involved and the margin for error, very dangerous.

My suggestion, stripped of the anger/annoyance I feel justified in displaying, is rather simple and, given the resources available to the campaign, quite workable:

1. Hire a group of people to immerse themselves in the media world of the Right. Listen to Limbaugh. Listen to Hannity. Read Rightwing publications. Read Rightwing blogs - particularly InstaPundit, The Corner, and RedState. Read Rightwing forums - particularly FreeRepublic. As a very poor shorthand, I will refer to these staffers as the immersion group.

2. Give these people some kind of access to the top level of the campaign - 15 minutes a day on the phone with Kerry himself would be nice, but is most likely unfeasible. A good chunk of time with top-level media staff would probably be a decent substitute, as long as they don't minimize the importance of the immersion group.

3. As the immersion group sees themes, quotes, and lines of attack move from the fringes into the semi-mainstream (for example, once something makes the jump from Free Republic to InstaPundit), have them coordinate with press staff (actually, I'd prefer it to be with Kerry himself - this is why I'd like them to have direct access, but again, I understand that it might not be workable) to get everyone on the same page and up to speed with what the truth is, and what documentation exists to prove it. This is no time to have multiple agents floating their own personal explanations which may conflict or need to be retracted later.

4. Set up a very user-friendly website where each individual smear is decontructed at length, with as much documentation and citation as possible. Put it on either, or, if people who know better than I do think that isn't appropriate, put it on the DNC's website. This is so that it has an official quality, and cannot be dismissed as a "product of far Left fringe group." Such an accusation can still be used by Righties, of course, but the power of that charge is significantly lessoned when it is directed at an official party source.

5. Sum up each deconstruction/response in quick, snappy soundbite fashion, and forcefeed it to your spokespeople, every single day. Make sure they point to the website frequently.

This should go a long way in minimizing the impact of various smears, because it will:

1. Give your spokespeople grounds to speak with authority when refuting bogus charges, minimizing rhetorical gotchas and allowing your spokespeople to stand their ground and continue to push the message they are supposed to push that day.

2. Give allies in the media an authoritative source for refutation material, so that they aren't left floundering when someone on the other side gets backed into a corner and becomes dramatically anal about citations.

3. Give mainstream media sources an easy means of "balancing" their story if and when they decide to run wiuth a particular rumor. Spoonfeed them the definitive rebuttal, rather than hoping they quote the right part of a random spokesperson's response. If rebuttals are definitive enough, the campaign may even be able to prevent a rumor from being picked up at all. After all, the mainstream media prides itself on its important role in American public life, and even if you and I think they sometimes do a horrendous job of it, most of them won't knowingly run blatantly false information.

4. Allow anyone interested to access the rebuttal themselves. With the prevalence of blogs and other internet media, this becomes especially useful as an alternate means of rapidly distributing your information.

It is no longer useful to sit back and hope that the media is too responsible to pick up any given rumor. The Right has proved that it can inject damn near any rumor it wants into mainstream discourse by distributing it along its own media network and then having the respectable press -- pathologically adverse to being scooped -- scramble to catch up. The internet has accelerated this process to the point where something can go from faint whisper on the fringes to RNC talking point on CrossFire in a matter of days. However, because all of these sources are open to the public, they can be monitored and countered in real time, if the Kerry campaign is smart enough to use its resources to do so.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Dear Kerry '04 Campaign Staff,

I don't know what's going on in your heads, but you guys need to seriously get your shit together.

You are trying to get a man elected to the most powerful office in the world. You are running against liars and thieves who have a coordinated smear apparatus with branches throughout the national media. You have the example of the 2000 campaign, and indeed the entire Clinton presidency, to learn how this apparatus operates.

You know this. So why in God's name am I seeing interview clips that involve your spokespeople beginning sentences by stuttering, looking nonplussed, and saying things like "I believe" and "That's not entirely correct"?

I don't know, maybe you're hiring your favorite nieces or the neighbor children to be your spokespeople, but whatever it is, it ain't gonna cut it my friends. Anyone who goes in front of a camera with the imprimatur of the campaign and is blindsided by quotes, allegations, or outright lies that I have already heard needs to be fired immediately. There's a lot of dirt gonna be thrown your way in the next few months, and the time to pattycake with this bullshit is over.

Your fundraising efforts have been extremely effective and have won you accolades from various sources. Congratulations. Now tell me why the fuck you aren't paying some college kid $300 a week to do fulltime what I do for an hour or two a day? You have the unique opportunity of seeing the other side's talking points at least a day or two before they go into effect nationwide. How? Read their freakin' blogs. Hell, you'd be infinitely more prepared for this crap if you just read the goddamn InstaPundit, whose mission in life appears to be to collect as much bullshit as possible from as many questionable sources as possible and spray it hither and yon into the media winds. I believe in a Just God, and as such I know that Reynolds and his family will be punished unto the fourth generation, but for now, you can use his sin to do good. It's what Jesus would do, and you love Jesus, right?

Sure, most people who hear the various false charges, distortions, and lies about your candidate are skeptical, and realize that they are bogus. But the other side doesn't need most people. They need a small handful of undecideds to break their way in a few critical states. That's why every little smear, no matter how ridiculous, is potentially devastating.

There's only one way to deal with this: every lie, distortion, and false charge needs to be crushed, immediately and irrefutably, to the point where journalists will be mocked for repeating them.

You not only need to say that their bullshit is ridiculous, but you need to explain in detail why it is ridiculous. Not on television - I understand the need for soundbite wisdom in the ADD nightmare that is cable news. No, what your crew needs to do is set up a resource, a central repository of factual bitchslaps across the jaw of all this character assasination. Bullet point it so that your representatives can quickly get the message across on TV, but make deeper detail available online for anyone who's interested, particularly journalists. Make it part of, or have the DNC set it up and put it under their name, whichever you like. But make sure your people point to it in every interview in print, on television, and on radio.

You're good people, and despite what you say in public, God is on your side, but if you fuck this up, you will undoubtedly burn in hell forever. God is merciful, but He's getting sick of this shit. Don't let Him down.


The Mighty Reason Man

PS - Also, I advise you to hire someone to beat the living hell out of Sean Hannity, on general principles. Contact me for further advice.