"Our Karl Rove is the blog you should be glad that Democratic strategists don't seem to listen to"
-- what they're saying on Republican blogs

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Drill, Baby, Drill

Obama Campaign,

You've made good progress drilling into people's minds that John McCain voted with President Bush over 90% of the time. This groundwork will now come in handy as we build upon it to drill the McCain campaign into the ground:

Since John McCain is a 90% investor in the Bush administration's strategies, he is to be held responsible for 90% of the problems we're experiencing today.

I understand that the more decent-minded among us might be troubled by the notion of directly linking McCain's voting record to all of the problems we have in America today. Hardly seems fair to hold a mere Senator accountable for everything, right?

Wrong. John McCain's voting record is the best indication the voters have as to how he would run his White House. McCain's votes mirror the Bush policies that got us here. President Bush's policies might have made our current national problems possible, but they've been fully supported by McCain. Some in the Obama campaign will surely not be comfortable with this kind of free-form extrapolation.

Correlating McCain's voting record to all of today's problems is solid politics that it will be revered for it's political savvy rather than be seen as dirty, nasty, politics-as-usual. At a minimum, the audacity of it all (audacious, that is, for the otherwise highbrow Obama campaign) will generate press interest, and propagate this frame.

We can message this (at a minimum) in two ways. The first approach is to touch on each of today's problems individually, and attribute them to McCain:

The "Thanks, John!" Campaign

"600,000 jobs lost and growing unemployment... Thanks, John McCain, for your hands-off approach to the economy."

Today's big-business bail-outs are using your tax dollars... Thanks, John McCain, for supporting the bailing out of Wall Street investment firms."

John McCain said 'Government should be on businesses' side, not in their way'... Thanks, John McCain, for being Big Business's Best Friend."

Companies are outsourcing jobs like yours every day... Thanks, John McCain, for voting NO on repealing tax subsidies for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore."

"Global Warming is threatening our very existence... Thanks, John McCain, for voting NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025."

"We're addicted to foreign oil, and rely on undemocratic nations for our livelihood... Thanks, John McCain, for opposing energy independence at every turn." (McCain has a 17% rating by CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence)

The second approach is to turn John McCain's voting record into a narrative -- the very same noose that the Republicans planned on hanging Hillary Clinton with:

The "His Votes Tell the Story" Campaign:
"His votes tell the story: John McCain voted for this economy, for the never-ending Iraq War, and for 90% of the problems we have today. In November, you will have a choice: vote for the candidate and his party who brought us 90% of our problems, or vote for the new, Democratic candidate. It's your choice, America."

"His votes tell the story: As someone who is 90% in agreement with the Bush administration, John McCain has told us more about his beliefs with his voting record than his words ever will."

"His votes tell the story: Want more pro-business, pro-oil-industry, pro-war, pro-debt and pro-fessional lobbyists getting in the way of progress? Good news: the Republicans have found someone who votes just like the guys leaving the White House."

"His votes tell the story: John McCain voted against penalizing companies for shipping American jobs overseas. John McCain votes against your interests, and John McCain hopes you'll vote against your best interests, too."

"His votes tell the story: John McCain voted for the Iraq War, a war that is draining us of our resources, straining our military, and didn't even help us find Osama Bin Laden."

It's time to drill, baby. Drill into the minds of all Americans that votes matter, and that McCain's voting record provides us with a view into his politics that words, speeches, and Alaskan adventures simply cannot cover up. Sure, there are plenty of reasonable McCain votes (after all, he used to be a reasonable guy), but that shouldn't stop you from focusing on the votes that paint McCain into a corner.

NOTE: All assertions made in this article are sourceable.


MtnCaddy said...

Nice to see more frequent postings from you of late. The Repugs are trying to make this campaign about experience, character, service to the nation, etc...ANYTHING but their sorry performance since 2000. Glad Obama is apparently taking off the gloves as though he realizes that sometimes ya have to lay your winning hand down on the poker table. I'd really like to think that the formerly wussy Dems have been keeping their powder dry until Hurricane Palin weakened and the MSM started digging into this poorly vetted "Hail Mary pass" V.P. Candidate. I suppose that it's too much to hope that anyone with clout in the Obama camp is reading your well considered musings.

Unknown said...

I think the attacks are great, but should be balanced by something like "Let's revive the Civilian Conservation Corps...to retrofit houses to save energy. Let's revive the WPA to rebuild our infrastructure, and create jobs cheaper than Halliburton would. With better tracks, we can run better trains, etc." There's a shortage of ideas here, and this would get Obama back on the Hope track without compromising strength.

Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...


Yes, we'd all like to think that there is a grand plan behind Team-O. My friends and I presumed this throughout the primaries because we felt the campaign deserved our trust and respect.

Now, however, I am of the opinion that the campaign is actually winging it. They are reacting to news and dynamics on a day-by-day basis and do not have a tight control of the daily-media-meme stream that does affect voter opinions.

Why does managing the daily-media-meme matter? Because feelings matter, and feelings can overwhelm facts and reason. Just because few Democrats believe it doesn't mean it isn't true.

Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...


Look, do you think any of us really want to be at war with John McCain? Of course not. Attacks are awful, aggressive and reduce vs. build.

But they also work because attacks strike the part of the brain that responds to the primal instinct of 'fear.'

Once a message touches the fear nerve, then rational thinking takes a back-seat to instinctual reactions.

The successful party wins when they can wrap their opponent with a fear-based frame.

If fear, uncertainty, and doubt cannot be effectively 'stuck' on a candidate, then the only fallback is to win on the merits. Why is this a fallback? Because merits -- like good news -- is never reported because it's not interesting.

Just like the Bush administration complains that the media only covers Iraq when things go wrong, the media only covers campaign fodder when it involves a fight.

It's just how things work, and we need to acknowledge this if we're going to give the country the quality of leadership it deserves.

Anonymous said...

McCain is CLEARLY winging it.

Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...


YES HE IS! Not just that, either. McCain is miserable. Angry. Frustrated. And not up for this challenge.

Plus (and this will be a future blog post) the Conservative Elite don't like the McCain/Palin ticket. That matters.

Jon Grip said...

Question - with the current controversy of drilling in Alaska, were you trying to make any correlation between that and 'drilling' John McCain by titling your article as such? I expected different subject matter due to the title, so I was just curious. As always, though, great observations.

- Jon -

Jon a.k.a. "Our Karl Rove" said...

Hi Jon,

If you look through the history of OKR posts, you'll see that I enjoy creating clever titles whenever possible. I find I attract readers more with honey than mud.

Part of OKR's philosophy is also jujitsu politics -- taking the energy from the right and leveraging it for the left. Drill, Baby, Drill is a hallmark of the Republican energy plan, so I intentionally lifted it go a) get attention, and b) pivot it and use it in a different context.

This will serve to dilute their 'brand' but also use its popularity to help propagate the antithesis of their plans.


Jon Grip said...

Oh, absolutely. Love it!