Technology with attitude

Could Obama Pay The Price Of A Moderate Tone?

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In an article about how Obama’s campaign plans to address attacks in the fall, I find this…

Team Obama has been a model of tight, highly efficient organization, certainly in contrast to most presidential campaigns. The few tensions that have emerged have been between those who want to stick to the high ground and those who want to fight a little dirtier. (Such debates could intensify in a hard-hitting general campaign.) The campaign has at times been a little slow to fight back.

Some of this deliberation is a measure of the candidate’s personality. Obama disdains cable-TV talk-show shoutfests as trivial sideshows, and he tends to discount the seriousness of campaign gaffes and flaps. As a result, he was slow to denounce the most recent round of tirades by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. By failing to alert Obama to the gravity of the Wright fiasco, “I don’t think we served him well,” admits his chief strategist, David Axelrod.

I don’t think it’s really that much of a stretch to guess that the worst stuff will be coming not from McCain, but the 527s and outside interest groups who will throw Wright and Hamas and Rezko and Ayers at him, question his patriotism, make it seem like he’s best buddies with terrorists, etc. Hell, even one member of my family still thinks Obama might be a Muslim because of all the stuff being passed around behind the scenes that none of us ever see. It boggles the mind.

In fact, two veteran mud slingers are chomping at the bit…

Floyd Brown, who produced the infamous “Willie Horton” commercial that used race and fear of crime to drive voters away from Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in 1988, produced an ad before the North Carolina primary accusing Obama of being soft on crime. He tells NEWSWEEK that Obama is “extremely vulnerable” to questioning about his ties to Chicago fixer Tony Rezko, who has been indicted for political corruption. (Obama is not linked to any wrongdoing.) Another target is former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, whose association with Obama will remind voters of bomb-throwing student radicals of the 1960s. “There’s plenty of stuff out there,” says Brown. “I’m kinda like in a candy store in this election.”

Then there’s David Bossie, already deep into a mudslinging campaign against Obama through a political organization called Citizens United. Bossie is planning a widespread DVD release of a documentary that will portray Obama as a “limousine, out-of-control leftist liberal … more liberal than [Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders, who is a socialist,” Bossie tells NEWSWEEK. McCain has little leverage over Bossie, who has run ads attacking McCain as too liberal in the past.

I do wonder how Obama will respond to this stuff or if he really can respond in any effective way. How do you disprove you’re “out-of-control” besides just not seeming that way? That was one of Kerry’s biggest problems, he had the look and feel of a limousine liberal. Obama definitely has more folksy, down-to-earth charm, and my guess is that’s really the only way he’ll be able to combat something as vague as “he’s an elitist” accusation…to simply not seem like one.

We shall see…