Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Kerry Accuses Clinton Team of "Swiftboating" Obama

You remember John Kerry, right? Okay, since he never graced Georgia after the 2004 primary, maybe you don't. I'm thinking that Obama might want to ask Kerry to stop helping quite so much. You see, as surrogates go, he's no match for Bill Clinton. And, let me be perfectly clear-I'm an Edwards girl and have not made a choice between the other two, but today, I got this email from John Kerry that says that Obama is the victim of "Swiftboat" style anonymous attacks. He never mentions the Clintons by name, but he says, "We won't let them steal this election with lies and distortions." And, "We must be determined to never again lose any election to a lie." That comes awfully close to labeling Hillary Clinton as a "lie." Or maybe he was talking about Edwards. Okay, I don't think so.

Here's Kerry's and Obama's problem: the Clintons are MASTERS at these tactics. The only organization more Roverian than Karl himself is the Clinton machine. Kerry's direct approach won't work. It is as if the Clintons read The Political Brain and didn't just note the parts about how to best communicate your own message but also digested and implements the parts about how to tear your opponent to shreds with a single image or a single phrase in a single ad-like the now infamous "Call me, Harold" ad. Obama needs a more sophisticated approach-or he needs to remain above the fray. Else, he risks getting blown out of the water by a sophisticated, multi-level attack that is so precise and so effective that you don't realize you've been cut until you see your blood on the floor-and none on their hands. Here's the letter:

From: John Kerry [] Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 7:51 PM
Subject: Swiftboating

I support Barack Obama because he doesn't seek to perfect the politics of Swiftboating -- he seeks to end it.
This is personal for me, and for a whole lot of Americans who lived through the 2004 election.
As a veteran, it disgusts me that the Swift Boats we loved while we were in uniform on the Mekong Delta have been rendered, in Karl Rove's twisted politics, an ugly verb meaning to lie about someone's character just to win an election. But as someone who cares about winning this election and changing the country I love, I know it's not enough to complain about a past we can't change when our challenge is to win the future -- which is why we must stop the Swiftboating, stop the push-polling, stop the front groups, and stop the email chain smears.
The truth matters, but how you fight the lies matters even more. We must be determined never again to lose any election to a lie.
This year, the attacks are already starting. Some of you may have heard about the disgusting lies about Barack Obama that are being circulated by email. These attacks smear Barack's Christian faith and deep patriotism, and they distort his record of more than two decades of public service. They are nothing short of "Swiftboat" style anonymous attacks.
These are the same tactics the right has used again and again, and as we've learned, these attacks, no matter how bogus, can spread and take root if they go unchecked.
But not this time -- we're fighting back.
And when I say "we," I mean that literally. I know Barack is committed to fighting every smear every time. He'll fight hard and stand up for the truth. But he can't do it alone.
We need you to email the truth to your address books. Print it out and post it at work. Talk to your neighbors. Call your local radio station. Write a letter to the editor. If lies can be spread virally, let's prove to the cynics that the truth can be every bit as persuasive as it is powerful.
The Obama campaign has created a place where you can find the truth you'll need to push back on these smears and a way to spread the truth to all of your address book.
Take action here:
So when your inbox fills up with trash and the emails of smear and fear, find the facts, and help defeat the lies.
Barack Obama is committed to bringing our country together to meet the challenges we face, but he knows that power gives up nothing without a struggle -- and to win the chance to change America, we must first defeat the hateful tactics that have been used to tear us apart for too long.
With your help, we can turn the page on an era of small, divisive politics -- but only if next time you hear these attacks on Barack, you take action immediately:
The fight is just heating up -- we won't let them steal this election with lies and distortions.
Thank you,


Rusty said...

John Kerry should STFU. I don't know anybody, with or without a party affiliation, who is interested in hearing what he has to say at this point.

Catherine said...

Frankly, I'm quite shocked by the tone of this post, Amy. It seems to me that as a DPG Executive Committee member you should be a little more careful about how you categorize President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton. Write all you want about their masterful use of messaging and outreach, but to compare them to Karl Rove is beyond the pale.

And, obviously, Senator Kerry's email was just another way to ask for money - also a masterful use of messaging and outreach.

I like it much better when you write so eloquently about Senator Edwards and your support for him - it's much more informative, as well.

Amy Morton said...

Hi, Catherine. I can see why the comparison to Rove is shocking, but like it or not, he is one of the most effective strategists of our generation. I think Bill Clinton is one of the best politician in the country, if not THE best. So, the Clintons out-Rove Rove-they're the better strategists. It's no accident that Bill was re-elected despite significant opposition. What's ironic to me is that the point of the post is the observation that perhaps neither Kerry or Obama are up to the task of out-strategizing the Clintons. The Kerry/Obama approach is very direct, and I think, therefore, not as effective. I still think Kerry is no match for the Clinton machine. And remember, I haven't picked a favorite between those two.

Tina said...

I sure hope that our Democrats aren't getting themselves positioned for a self-defeating circular firing squad. We have three really good front-runners. I would be happy to support whichever one wins the Democratic nomination. Also, as one who watches the news a lot, I have still been unable to locate any evil racist comments made by any of the Democratic candidates. But turn on CNN and one would think the candidates were hurling epithets at each other right and left. Their reporting seems to be leaning toward tabloid-style excess. Was it Mark Twain who said "Let's you and him fight!"

Button Gwinnett said...

Actually, I think John Kerry is the right guy to give Obama a little advice here. He didn't do enough to stand up for himself in 2004, instead choosing to ignore so many of the inacurate things that were said about him. Obama's folks might want to revisit Kerry's example of inaction and how it cost him.

But as you alluded to, Obama doesn't need to play the Clintons' game. That puts him at risk of getting off message. And voters clearly like Obama's message. That's the Clintons' problem.

Vic said...

This does it, i'm immigrating to Mexico to take advantage of the soon to be skyrocketing Peso vs the US dollar, trend toward free speech without a bunch of STFUs and cheap drugs...

Tina said...

If you do move down there Vic will you send the rest of us an occasional money order ? :-)

Vic said...


No pienso el trabajo de las órdenes de dinero que viene de México a Estados Unidos sino que le daré el viejo intento del yankee.

de Vencedor