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Tilting at Windmills

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September 8, 2008

OBAMA QUESTIONS GOP 'CHANGE'.... The more the McCain/Palin ticket tries to bill itself as an agent of change, despite embracing the Bush/Cheney policy agenda in its entirety, the more Barack Obama can't seem to believe it.

At an event in Flint, Michigan, this afternoon, Obama, for the second time in three days, questioned the Republican version of bringing "change" to Washington, and publicly questioned Sarah Palin's claim to the change mantle.

"She's you know, an up and comer from Alaska," Obama said. "They're starting to run an ad now saying she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere. Well now, let's get the facts clear here. When she was mayor, she hired a Washington lobbyist to get earmarks -- pork-barrel spending. All the things that John McCain says is bad, she lobbied to get! And got a whole lot of it. When it came to the bridge to nowhere, she was for it until everybody started raising a fuss about it and she started running for governor and then suddenly she was against it.

"You remember that? For it before you were against it?" Obama added. "I mean, you can't just make stuff up. You can't just recreate yourself. You can't just reinvent yourself. The American people aren't stupid."

Obama has begun including that line in just about every speech -- "The American people aren't stupid" -- as a catch-all way to respond to Republican talking points. I think it works pretty well. It's a rather direct way of making clear the fact that the Republican campaign strategy is premised entirely on the notion that voters are fools.

Steve Benen 4:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (110)

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Comments

Yes Obama!! Keep on with the hits, except cut more to the throat!!

Posted by: Katie on September 8, 2008 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Start using the word LIAR! Create that meme and let them bluster their outrage. Thats all

Posted by: John R on September 8, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's lying, the American people are stupid.

Posted by: RollaMO on September 8, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

As soon as I lost faith in this guy, he starts coming through. I hope Biden follows through to.

Usually the VP does the hard stuff, but I think Obama has to prove that he can get tough too.

Posted by: g. powell on September 8, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

he needs to go one phrase farther - "the American people aren't stupid, like John McCain apparently believes." Turn the "liberals are condescending" meme on its head - Republicans think you're idiots - and come right out and say it.

Posted by: zeitgeist on September 8, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think you can use this train of thought to turn the whole "elitist" argument back into the repubs face. A true elitist treats most people with contempt, and doesn't believe they can put 2 + 2 together.

What they need to do is frame the equation every time they lie, and use that as an example of why the repubs think they can play the American Voter as a fool.

Posted by: bdop4 on September 8, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

"The American people aren't stupid"

I'd like to see him keep using that phrase (even if I'm not sure I believe him).

Posted by: AJB on September 8, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Wish I believed him about that.

Posted by: bcamarda on September 8, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

This would be great... except that the evidence is mounting that the American People may actually be stupid.

Posted by: short fuse on September 8, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

The only problem here is that the American electorate has proved itself to be stupid for years now. Enough voters bought the Swift Boat crap in 2004 and several million people have voted for Nadar and Perot even though those votes might have ultimately been more damaging to the very ideas they were trying to support. We are, as a nation, not terribly bright, have trouble thinking for ourselves, and have been duped by the Republican specifically and politicians more generally for too long.

Posted by: Dr. McDaniel on September 8, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

"...The American people aren't stupid."

I wish this argument were true. I fear it's not. McCain/Palin have not been deterred from making claims they have to know are abundantly false, they say things with such conviction, when their actions reflect nothing but the same. The same scandals. The same gutter politics. The same deception, manipulation and exaggeration.

Why would anyone believe that after 26 years in Washington, John McCain is now ready to change the culture. I mean, a few bitch sessions here and there don't add up to a Mavrick (yeah, I know)!

What example of change can John McCain point to? Not one!

But you hear it in the streets: Reformer, Maverick, POW.

The lack of depth is quite scary.


Posted by: TBone on September 8, 2008 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

@RollaMO: ROFL. Point taken.

@Barack: More like this, please.

Posted by: sean on September 8, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I admit that I am not neutral, but I don't think the line works thats well, at least for swing voters.

I am not sure what would work for him, but I don't think he can turn Palin into a weakness, best for him to pray that she flubs on her own (though I don't think it's likely).

Democratic candidates don't do well on attacks unless it is on issues of "corruption".

I think a good move would be to take a deep breath for a week or two, then announce some sort of major position in his administration for Hillary Clinton (who was my initial pick). It might be too late, but it's his best shot to shore up his support.

If he had picked Hillary as VP, he robbed McCain the impact of Palin and he would of cemented her base of women voters.

I think in the end, its these two decisions (Hillary and Palin) that will analyzed over and over. This is the year of women. Sort of ironic that the Republicans stole the thunder.

Posted by: rory on September 8, 2008 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

"You remember that? For it before you were against it?" Obama added. "I mean, you can't just make stuff up. You can't just recreate yourself. You can't just reinvent yourself. The American people aren't stupid."

Wrong. Lame.
As in: Preaching to the choir wrong.
As in: Preaching to the choir lame.

Low-info voters don't vote with their brains.
They vote with their emotions.

Question: Will the low-info emotional voter choose the candidate who attacks with lies or the meek candidate who plays defense with rational truths?

The game has changed Barack. You haven't.
You aren't talking to rational Dems anymore.
You have their vote. Preaching to the choir and whistling in the graveyard isn't going to get it done.

You have to show the emotional part of America that you want the job bad enough. So bad that you are willing to attack and lie.

It is all metaphor: The emotional part of America needs to know that you have the meanness necessary to be president in a time of war. Yes meanness. Yes desire. Yes ruthlessness. Yes anger. Yes lying. They won't vote for just a nice guy with a big brain...

Kerry didn't make that appeal. Do it now. Or you lose. Period.

Posted by: koreyel on September 8, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

The American people aren't stupid

One problem w/this idea: history suggests that the American people are stupid. They keep voting against their own best interests, right? And does anyone else remember the old saw about how it's impossible to underestimate the intelligence of the American public?

I want to believe that my fellow citizens aren't stupid, but history is not encouraging.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on September 8, 2008 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

we know that at least 51% of voters aren't stupid. Obama has to continue to grind it out between the tackles as they say and keep the ground game up.

You can't do that by attacking attacking attacking because they'll use up all the oxygen but they do need to punch back every now and again.

I expect Bill Clinton to come out and slam McCain Palin as a continuation of Busch/Rove Inc. by the end of the week. He'll be able to reach a very broad audience but the message has to be as sharp as a samuri sword.

Did I put enough platitudes in this stupid post?

Posted by: grinning cat on September 8, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

For 'change you deserve' vote McCain...

Change from a rich mean white warmonger to a rich mean old white warmonger!

The problem with the 'American people aren't stupid' lead is that it ignores reality. The amerikan people are largely very stupid and very ignorant!

The stupidity of the amerikan voter is what has brought us almost 8 years of the Bush Criminal Enterprise. Do not rule out the stupidity of the amerikan public electing McBush.

Posted by: SadOldVet on September 8, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Straight Talk," "Country First" - Buzz phrases that signify nothing. Here's the one McCain is walking the walk on - "Straight Up, Power First!" McCain's campaign is filled with unAmerican powermongers who merely wish to continue riding roughsod all over the rest of us law-abiding, God-fearing, red-blooded, USA chanting Americans. I pity the fool who will actually vote for McCain/Palin! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on September 8, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Obama said: "I mean, you can't just make stuff up. You can't just recreate yourself. You can't just reinvent yourself. The American people aren't stupid."

Unfortunately, two terms for CheneyBush says he is wrong.

"The American people" are not a reality-based community.

"The American people" are a reality-TV based community.

The John McCain and Sarah Palin that Obama is running against are not real people. They are TV-show characters.

The corporate-owned media's outright shilling for the Republican Party every four years -- their "deferential" enabling of Palin-McCain's sickening, brazen, preposterous lies this year -- is only the tip of the iceberg.

In between election cycles, their aggressive dumbing-down of the public discourse probably does much more to help the Republicans than their election-year shilling, not only by keeping the American people ignorant, but by actively making them stupid and eroding their ability to think.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 8, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

ah... the American people, and electorates in general, are stupid. Obama is proof of that: you Obama drones can go on denying it forever but Hillary was the better candidate - but because voters are basically idiots you end up with Obama and all his flaws. Now in Palin you have real competition for the idiot vote - and you're gonna lose because primal in the american electorate is the idea of strength - or let us say the electorate in play here - and McCain and Palin project strength much more effectively than the law professor and the motor mouth. You had your chance, morons, you should have nominated Hillary - too late now.

Posted by: auk on September 8, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

That is the Republican Party's dirty little secret. They advertise themselves as Champion of the Little Guy against all those condescending liberal snobs who look down on Middle America. Yet, the fundamental premise of Republican propaganda is that the average voter is irrational. Now, anyone who dares criticize a Republican attack ad on the absurdity of its claims is sure to face a populist counter-attack for suggesting voters could possibly be foolish enough to be taken in by such obvious flim-flam.

Posted by: Ted Frier on September 8, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

If he had picked Hillary as VP, he robbed McCain the impact of Palin and he would of cemented her base of women voters.

Can we please stop this meme? There is no evidence that women are now flocking to Palin. Working class and democratic women still support Obama. First, there are many, many republican women who would never vote for a Democrat. Millions, in fact. What the democrats are losing may be enthusiam among democratic women, but they are not losing women.

The issue is that conservative and moderate men love Palin. Conservatives have long pined for a pro-life Maggie Thatcher type, and now they think they found one.

Posted by: Shine on September 8, 2008 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

All that is needed is for our corporately owned and controlled media to continue the meme that this is a close election...

Then, our republican owned and controlled corporations (that own the electronic voting and tabulating systems) can steal another election for us.

Remember, dumbocrat fools, that republicans understand that is all about power. Owning the presidency is not about good governance - it is completely about power. Anything we do to keep the power of the presidency is completely justified as doing what is necessary to keep the power.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 8, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

All that is needed is for our corporately owned and controlled media to continue the meme that this is a close election...

Then, our republican owned and controlled corporations (that own the electronic voting and tabulating systems) can steal another election for us.

Remember, dumbocrat fools, that republicans understand that is all about power. Owning the presidency is not about good governance - it is completely about power. Anything we do to keep the power of the presidency is completely justified as doing what is necessary to keep the power.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 8, 2008 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

That is the Republican Party's dirty little secret. They advertise themselves as Champion of the Little Guy against all those condescending liberal snobs who look down on Middle America. Yet, the fundamental premise of Republican propaganda is that the average voter is irrational.

That's why I think this might end up being a useful attack. We may have firm opinions on the general idiocy of Americans but no one likes to be treated as though they're stupid.

The only problem is when the Republicans turn it back and say, "Barack Obama is saying that we think you're stupid, but he thinks you're stupid for believing what we say, so he's really the one who thinks badly of you, not us."

It's worked before, it could work again.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 8, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

rory: I admit that I am not neutral, but I don't think the line works thats well, at least for swing voters.

I agree. It doesn't work. It is atonal and ultimately insulting. To date I consider it his biggest blunder. But also: a sign that he realizes his campaign is in trouble.

He better "reinvent" himself in a hurry. This sort of Kerry-lameness is eroding away the margins. He needs to realize he has no vocal skills as an attack dog. He does HOPE and CHANGE best. He needs to run some totally vicious and heartless attack TV ads to supplement HOPE and CHANGE.

If he doesn't do that in a big hurry, say hello to President McPalin.

Posted by: koreyel on September 8, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think most Americans are stupid. But many of those who voted in 2000 and 2004 during the presidential elections were.

We are all paying the price. The latest bailout (FM2) has been oohed and aahed over by the same folks who despise welfare and socialism, and big government along with higher taxes. We got corporate welfare, social finacial psuedo-captilasticexpialadoscious!, bigger government and higher taxes just from the FM2 bailout! All from the same folks who yak about conservative fiscal responsibility blah blah.

Then there's the rest of the economy, the Iraq War, tensions with Russia, teen pregnancies. The list goes on.

So register. Encourage others to do so. Maybe we can buck this tide of stupid vote voters!

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 8, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's on the right track but what he needs to say is this: "John McCain and Sarah Palin think you're stupid."

Posted by: Moose49 on September 8, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Can you give us Americans a little credit? Bush was only elected once.

Posted by: American Citizen on September 8, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Oh fauk off auk. Had she been the better candidate, she would have won the damned primary. Jesus you people never give up.

Steve? How about some pro-Obama stuff? Please?

Outrage and condemnation just isn't going to do it this time.

Posted by: MsMuddler on September 8, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I notice that several people here question the general intelligence of the American people. While it may be true of many people, Obama's strategy can still work. If this message connects with voters...even less informed voters...then they will start thinking "hey I don't want to be lumped in with all those stupid people being duped!"

Posted by: independent thinker on September 8, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

The American people are not stupid?

They failed two pretty big intellegence tests in my recent memory.

Posted by: jason330 on September 8, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

You can tell the real progressives from the fake Hillary supporters in these threads-- because who the hell would be gloating over a possible McCain victory right now?

Actual Hillary supporters? No.
McCain supporters? Hell yes. While LYING and pretending to be Hillary supporters.

Ignore them. We have a lot of work to do and the fake Hillary supporting jerks are only trying to exploit McCain's post-convention bump to convince us it's all over and that we should give up already. They underestimate us, just as they underestimate the American people.

Posted by: zoe kentucky from pittsburgh on September 8, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Nice pick up on the new tag line "the American people aren't stupid" and "They think Americans are stupid"

I think it's a big time winner.

Back in the 90s the provincial Conservatives in Ontario ran on a hard right Neo-Con agenda calling it "The Common Sense Revolution". The thing took off like gang-busters amongst low information voters. Why? Because dumb people want to feel smart. It didn't matter if you explained to them that cutting almost a billion dollars each from secondary and post-secondary education was foolhardy, or that privatizing money making government enterprises is insane. These people would all retort "it's common sense!" That crap made me bang my head against the wall.

I've long hoped somebody on my side would do the same. I hope this sticks. I'd like to see rallies with a call and response type thing. Where Obama says things like "McCain says I want to raise your taxes, when actually I want to cut them. What do you think of that?"

"We're not stupid!"

(or something like that)

Posted by: neilt on September 8, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has begun including that line in just about every speech -- "The American people aren't stupid" -- as a catch-all way to respond to Republican talking points. I think it works pretty well

Ah, yes! But if only it were true.

Posted by: ibc on September 8, 2008 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

there's another youtube on obama's site that is a bit more hard hitting that the one that is posted here. this is part two and there is a part one.

"you can't repackage yourself as the candidate for change when you supported george bush 90% of the time"

Posted by: grinning cat on September 8, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Low-info voters don't vote with their brains.
They vote with their emotions."-koreyel

This point cannot be over emphasized.

Posted by: TNB on September 8, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

I expect McCain to start using the line "they think you're stupid" sometime in the next 48 hours.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 8, 2008 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

rory/koreyel:

Enough with the transparent concern-trolling already. Your posts read like they were written by the same person, and they probably were.

Posted by: slothrop on September 8, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

where progressives screwed up was immediately after the Civil War when they, in an effort to ensure they were not used to disenfrachise blacks, opposed poll tests. we should have focused all the energy on making sure education was fair so that blacks could pass the poll tests - but we should have left poll tests as a concept in place.

this year it would be very easy. a single question - oral, you don't even have to be able to read or write. to get a ballot in your hand, you should have to answer this:

"The type of energy that uses reactors to split atoms is called what - the answer begins with the letter N?"

Anyone who pronounces the word with two "U"s does not get a ballot. For eight years it has annoyed the hell out of me when Dumbya does it. Guess who else does it? Yep - Sarah Palin.

Posted by: literacy is gud! on September 8, 2008 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

C'mon, people; you're missing the "macro-subtlety" of the message here!

Oooohh...firing off the thesis statement in bold type always works.

Look at the core statement here---"The American People aren't stupid."

First off, this suggests that Palin/McCain "are" stupid---so it's a perfect little smackdown.

But the second subtlety; the more damaging and damning of the two, is that these five little words---that "the American People aren't stupid"---sets Palin/McCain apart from the American People. Not only is it their "intelligence" that can now be called into question, but the very issue of Palin/McCain's "Americanism" can be placed in doubt.

Party before Country.

Party before the People.

Party before all things American.

That's the only thing the Palin/McCain campaign has left to sell. All that has to happen is for someone to pull back the curtain and expose the fraud.

That someone---is us....

Posted by: Steve on September 8, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that the American people are stupid, as so many bloggers here suggest. They actually make an intelligent choice when they eschew issues for personalities. Who among us can really understand the issues a President faces? We all have day jobs. Who among us can tell truth from lies, when neutral parties in the know, like the press, remain silent? We who are liberals are acting as much on instinct and emotion as the voters for Bush did. The sad truth is, emotions are easier to trick than analytic thought.

Posted by: keith on September 8, 2008 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Obama-Biden ought to be driving home the economic illiteracy of McCain-Palin. That they are a continuation of the present regime's economic failures. Not just - if things are bad for you, vote for us - but - McCain-Palin do not have what it takes to make things better.

Posted by: MB on September 8, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

I am with Koreyel 4:36 on this one. If Obama wants the job, he has to show he wants to fight for it. His delivery is still too awe shucks. Taking the gloves off Barack it will make you feel good. Just make sure the shots are on target because you know sure as hell they'll start screaming angry black man as soon as you start connecting. If only you weren't so uppity. Good grief.

Posted by: Scott F. on September 8, 2008 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

"McCain's Lying Because He Thinks You're Stupid"

by Grand Moff Texan [Subscribe] [Edit Diary]
Wed Aug 27, 2008 at 01:08:49 PM PDT

You'd have to be stupid to vote Republican this year, assuming you're not rich enough to profit from their war on the middle class. But don't take my word for it, take John McCain's. When you look at the non-stop bullshit the McCain campaign is shoveling on Obama, you'd have to conclude that McCain think his voters are pretty stupid.

I don't mean the "secret Muslim" stuff, or the "Obama isn't a citizen" stuff, either. I'm talking about official disinformation coming from official campaign sources, including McCain himself.

This must become a national campaign issue, and it needs to come from Obama himself. In fact, it should be the climax of his acceptance speech.* It's that important.

Heh.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 8, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

rory,

If you continue to push the nonsense that women will vote for Palin merely because they share the same reproductive organs, I'll will continue to think you're a moron.

One of us is right.

Posted by: doubtful on September 8, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

If this is a referendum on whether the people are stupid or not, I am not placing any bets on the outcome.

Posted by: Algernon on September 8, 2008 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Obama is he is missing the psychological strength that idiots need.

McCain says "war hero" a thousand times and people like old white guy -- reminds them of dad.

Obama's intellect is turning into his downfall. Plenty of idiots win and too many smart people go down the shitter because they can't relate to others.

Obama has not shown he can be a tough father figure to the thumb-sucking populace. All his answers are way too long and couched in nuance. Doesn't play on TV.

Posted by: jonno on September 8, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like someone to ask the old man this question:

"Mr. McCain, what role do you see Sarah Palin playing in your administration, one like the Dick Cheney model or one more like that played by Dan Quayle?"

Is she gonna be evil or stupid in your administration?

Posted by: tazed silence on September 8, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain has nothing to offer the American people but more of the same failed and disastrous policies of George Bush.

Obama has to hammer away at that, and sell his solutions to the real crises and problems facing the nation today.

Arguing over what Palin said or did with respect to the bridge to nowhere, the ebay airplane, or banning library books is a complete distraction from where Obama's campaign needs to go.

And that is exactly where the Republicans want him. Wallowing around in irrelevant minutiae.

Posted by: hark on September 8, 2008 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

The American people are, in fact, stupid, and dangerously so.

But if Obama is finally coming off his high horse/unity pony and listening to the Clintons and Joe Biden...who have won over the stupids for years, gotten rich beyond their wildest dreams,and, collectively, done mostly good for people at my level on the food chain...

That's all to the good.


Posted by: wobbly on September 8, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why is Biden kissing Palin's ass and kissing McCain's ass instead of saying this stuff?

Still, it's good. Obama has forced the Republicans to ditch the "experience" thing and run on a phony "change" platform. Well, now Obama is guessing he is going to be able to crush them on that. And I see a lot of merit on this assumption.

I am also glad that Obama (and hopefully Biden jumps in too) has moved completely to attacking the bullshit of what they are saying. Obama is not going to dwell on Palin's inexperience, or on the little baby Trig, or on anything else. Just right to the issues. Because Obama knows if he touches that other stuff the R's have a whole toolbox of attacks on that. But they got nothing about the issues.

I hope Biden starts talking up the Cheney-esque way Palin is blocking the investigation into "Troopergate", though.

Posted by: Joshua on September 8, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Enough with the transparent concern-trolling already. Your posts read like they were written by the same person, and they probably were.

Wrong. But yeah I am concerned about the dirty S-word.

Here's why:

Barack is a former educator. I am educator. Good educators inherently know (or learn very quickly) that "stupid" is an extremely volatile word. In many ways it is the ultimate human insult. Say "stupid" in the classroom and heads snap around like you wouldn't believe. You'd better be very careful when and how you use it. As a one time attention getter? Maybe. As a recurring meme? I am not so sure...

Scott F: I am with Koreyel 4:36 on this one. If Obama wants the job, he has to show he wants to fight for it.

Thanks. I think I found a nugget with that post.

Posted by: on September 8, 2008 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

There is a definite shift today and it's awesome!
I think this will all be like a HOUSE OF CARDS that comes tumbling down...

Michelle Obama will be on Ellen Degeneres' Season Opener; Olbermann will interview Obama on-- and Rachel Maddow is debuting with her own show!

Biden is fighting back much more cogently. I heard Biden earlier today and he did not skip a beat--he had a few notes he referred to, and that was a GOOD, SMART THING--as he goes astray far too often and his points get lost.

Similarily, Chris Mathews just socked it to 'em with a concise list of concerns re: Palin and how she is a complete 180 from Hilary (aside from gender). The Republican spokesperson tried to argue that Hilary was more "culturally conservative" than Obama, but it didn't fly (because it's not true).

Posted by: on September 8, 2008 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Really, is it true that most of the oh-so-wise progressives who offer loads of incisive analysis and suggestions to the Obama campaign on how to win, through the comments section of this blog, believe that the American people are stupid?

And you call yourselves Democrats? Not a rhetorical question. If you don't believe that people are smart enough to govern themselves, then why aren't you Republicans?

You would argue with Barack Obama when he says that the American people are not stupid?

Maybe that is the reason why he has the nomination of a major party, despite being too young, too liberal and too black, and you guys, who have probably many more advantages, comment on someone else's blog as your chief political activity.

Posted by: tom in ma on September 8, 2008 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "... the Republican campaign strategy is premised entirely on the notion that voters are fools."

More precisely, the Republican campaign strategy is based entirely on the notion that enough of the voters are fools that their votes will get the Republicans close enough to steal the election.

And why wouldn't the Republicans base their campaign strategy on that? First of all, it's all they've got, and second of all, it worked for them in the last two elections.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 8, 2008 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

What we need is a campaign to get the earmark back. 'No Thanks' means you DO NOT take the money. Where is the American taxpayers money Sarah? We've got a collapsed bridge in Minnesota fixed.

I think this forces her to address the inconsistency. Accusing people of lying can get messy. Such an aggresive move usually loses moderates.

Posted by: John Henry on September 8, 2008 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK
This would be great... except that the evidence is mounting that the American People may actually be stupid.

Some people are "stupid", many more are, when it comes to public policy, ignorant and misled when there is no message to counter outright lies, but not stupid, and some are both intelligent and well-informed on policy and politics. And even the ones that are stupid don't want to do things they think are identified with being stupid.

Seems to me that Obama's rhetorical tack is effective for all three groups.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 8, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

"You can't just make stuff up!" Great line.

Now, Obama needs to tie it to the Change theme.

"You can't just make stuff up! That's what George Bush and Dick Cheney have been doing for the last eight years. That's how we got into Iraq--by making stuff up. It's time for a change!"

Posted by: Howie Kurtznot on September 8, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Really, is it true that most of the oh-so-wise progressives who offer loads of incisive analysis and suggestions to the Obama campaign on how to win, through the comments section of this blog, believe that the American people are stupid?

No.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on September 8, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

slothrop...

That's me at 5:34, in response to your sock puppet insult.

Just in case, you want to be a nice and normal non-agressive liberal and apologize for your transgression :)

Posted by: koreyel on September 8, 2008 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Obama needs to get an offense. This is a beginning but it is not enough. I agree that he needs to substitue "McCain and Palin think you're stupid" for "THEY think you're stupid." He needs to stop being reactive. Put bloody-minded McCain/Palin on the defensive. Keep throwing shit at them 24/7. God knows the Obama campaign has the money!

And I agree with everyone else who is saying can we please drop the "if Hilary had been on the ticket" meme? All that would have done would have been to make us re-fight every year of the Clinton Presidency and wait in fear for another of Bill Clinton's "bimbo eruptions." Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. HILARY CLINTON WAS NEVER A FEASIBLE CANDIDATE DUE TO WHO SHE IS MARRIED TO! It isn't fair but there it is and anyone with half a brain knows it.

Posted by: Lori on September 8, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

"McCain's Lying Because He Thinks You're Stupid"

I like it, but it needs to be more personalized:

McCain AND PALIN are lying TO YOU because they think you are stupid.

...then, go on to, "They think that you're too stupid to watch CNN, when they showed that Palin supported the bridge to nowhere..."

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Posted by: John on September 8, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

"too black" that's ripe.

chief political activity? how would you know and why would it matter?

Republicans believe people should govern themselves = material fallacy.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 8, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

If you call Palin's supporters stupid, it will backfire. Anything negative Obama says, will be greeted loudly with "How dare you!" and some pious appeal to something other than Obama. Are you all thinking two or three chess moves beyond their angry reactions? I hope so!

Attacking a lie, and saying that Palin is counting on the stupidity of Americans to believe that lie, is not saying "anyone who supports Palin is stupid". He is saying that Americans are too smart to believe Palin's bullshit. It's a pretty effective line IMO.

Posted by: Joshua on September 8, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

"The American people aren't stupid."

That's a good way to draw attention to the issue initially, but over time the negativity associated with "stupid" could counteract the positive message of the campaign and what Obama stands for (hope, change, new tone, etc.).

I would rephrase it in a positive way, e.g., "The American people are too smart to fall for more double-talk from John McCain."

Posted by: Drew P on September 8, 2008 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK
How about those poll numbers?

Last I checked, Obama was leading in states with ~300 EVs in state-by-state polling. Why?

Posted by: cmdicely on September 8, 2008 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

READ what koreyel said again:

Low-info voters don't vote with their brains. They vote with their emotions.

Question: Will the low-info emotional voter choose the candidate who attacks with lies or the meek candidate who plays defense with rational truths?

The game has changed Barack. You haven't.
You aren't talking to rational Dems anymore.
You have their vote. Preaching to the choir and whistling in the graveyard isn't going to get it done.

You have to show the emotional part of America that you want the job bad enough. So bad that you are willing to attack and lie.

It is all metaphor: The emotional part of America needs to know that you have the meanness necessary to be president in a time of war. Yes meanness. Yes desire. Yes ruthlessness. Yes anger. Yes lying. They won't vote for just a nice guy with a big brain...

Kerry didn't make that appeal. Do it now. Or you lose. Period.

Obama should take this to the bank, but can he? Nice guys, unfortunately, usually finish last.

Posted by: JoeKool on September 8, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Drew P. the word stupid is not effecitve long term as a soundbite.

Posted by: grinning cat on September 8, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Why would anybody think that any kind of negative campaigning by the Obama camp would necessarily backfire? Is there any empirical evidence of negative campaigning backfiring? It seems to me that it's pretty clear that the public consistently rewards negative campaigning. The only people who complain about any particular negative tidbit are the people defending the person being attacked.

Moreover, the only way to actually change votes is to attack the other candidate.

Obama's tack of using "Americans aren't stupid" is similar to what Bill Clinton did, and it worked for him. It's important to make the argument and point out how cynical the Republicans are. The Republicans know that they are lying. Pointing that out to the public is certainly fair.

Posted by: Whispers on September 8, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

The "The American people aren't stupid" line seems very dangerous to me. It necessarily insults anyone who hears something McCain says - if only for a moment - and believes it or simply gives McCain the benefit of the doubt. As suggested, a much better argument would be lay the blame not on the audience, but on the speaker -- McCain is lying to you, McCain is pulling the wool over your eyes. To many, this is "going negative", though I would suggest it is not, as long as the salience to issues is maintained and it does not go to personality.

Posted by: MLE on September 8, 2008 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Add footage of GW's screw-up trying to recite it, some of "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Meet the New Boss..." Lots of ways to get the message across without suggesting anyone is stupid.

Posted by: has407 on September 8, 2008 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

Got him running against a VP candidate. That won't help him any.

Posted by: Luther on September 8, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

McCain:

Same. Old. Same. Old.

Posted by: MFA on September 8, 2008 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

The term 'con artists' is appropriate and would be effective. I agree about not using the term 'stupid.' Go straight at the opponents; don't even use pejoratives in the same sentence with potential voters.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on September 8, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a meme.

McCain has a hiring problem; Palin has a firing problem. Neither one of them is qualified.

Posted by: John Lee on September 8, 2008 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

There is no evidence that women are now flocking to Palin. Working class and democratic women still support Obama. - Shine at 4:46 pm.

Uh Shine, seen the latest ABC news poll?

White women have moved from 50-42 percent in Obama's favor before the conventions to 53-41 percent for McCain now, a 20-point shift in the margin that's one of the single biggest post-convention changes in voter preferences. The other, also to McCain's advantage, is in the battleground Midwest, where he's moved from a 19-point deficit to a 7-point edge.

Posted by: optical weenie on September 8, 2008 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

They need to call Palin a liar. Not "she's lying," but "she'a a liar." They need to call McCain the biggest flip-flopper in American history and totally out of touch with regular folks. They need to say the McCain-Palin ticket is wreckless and dangerous for America and will make the past 8 years look like the good old days. They need to say this now, and they need to keep saying it through election day.

Posted by: threedog on September 8, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama has begun including that line in just about every speech"

how about someone make a clock that counts the days, hours, minutes until the media actually starts doing campaign coverage (spewing republican talking points doesn't count -- sorry) to go with the palin press countdown?

Posted by: karen marie on September 8, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

What is seriously funny regarding this blog is that the american people are saying "no" to the democratic party to the tune of 51% vs 44% of those who can vote (Gallup Poll)
Go on, keep saying we are stupid and see who takes the prize McCain/Palin in '08

Posted by: Gary on September 8, 2008 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats need to frame the economy as the republican’s framed national security in the last election. They need to scare the crap out of folks! Pussy footing around will only cost them another election.

Posted by: McOld on September 8, 2008 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

The American people aren't stupid? He can say that with a straight face after the last 8 years? Obama is letting a vast acting talent go to waste.

Posted by: Rick on September 8, 2008 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

To say that the American people aren't stupid is to say that they are stupid -- stupid enough not to know, without Obama's telling them, that McCain takes them as stupid. Fortunately, Obama is right: the American people are stupid enough to fall for McCain. Therefore, when they hear Obama tell them that they're not stupid, they'll say, "That's right, McCain can't fool us," even though McCain had fooled them.

Posted by: Henry on September 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Stay focused on those national polls Gary. Pay no attention to the state polls or the EV; as seriously funny as it might be, we wouldn't want that poor pumpkin head of yours to explode.

Posted by: has407 on September 8, 2008 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Whether American people are stupid or not, is besides the question. We can certainly postulate from the trolling posts that there actually are stupid people.

However; nobody likes to be told that they are stupid, or act as if they're stupid. Even the dumbest person thinks they have all the answers.

So...

What Obama needs to do is:

1) Repeat the phrase that McCain thinks the American voter is stupid...
and
2) In the same short sentence state what McCain lied about.
and
3) Contrast it by clarifying in a short sentence what the Obama/Biden position is.

Obama needs to remember to keep it short, because the stupid people don't have that long an attention span, and McCain knows it.

Posted by: Bruno on September 8, 2008 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

But maybe the 50% with below-average intelligence realize they are stupid !

Posted by: H-Bob on September 8, 2008 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe we should all be questioning Obama's change

If it had not been for that FISA Bill lie, than Obama wouldn't be talking about McCain right now with change being not exactly Obama strong arm either.

Posted by: Me_again on September 8, 2008 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Gary @7:07PM just proved which category he belongs to.

Hint: It's not the category with the 'smart' people in it.

Posted by: Bruno on September 8, 2008 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

You have to respect and believe in the American people to win on a change message.

Posted by: dan on September 8, 2008 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Jesus Christ.
All you "The American People are stupid" folks act like the 2006 elections never happened.
Or are you guys so stupid that you choose to buy into the downgrading that the media did on that election? That amazing Joe Klein cover on Time? The Center is the Place to Be?
Fashionably discounting George Bush's abysmal poll numbers?
On the other hand, I've seen a lot of so-called progressives still wielding anti-Obsma and anti -Hillary bludgeons, when the real enemy is smirking in the sidelines.
I think 'The American People aren't stupid" works because stupid people. more than most, don't think they're stupid, and really like being told they aren't.
Of course, I'm not talking about YOU guys. YOU aren't stupid. Not at all!

Posted by: pbg on September 8, 2008 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

mccain can now easily say, "look whos out of touch now."

Posted by: ron on September 8, 2008 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on September 8, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

The author of "Just how Stupid are we" was on some PBS show and he essentially kept saying that everytime a poliician says "the american ppl are not stupid" what they are really saying is, "Americans are really, really stupid."

Posted by: ron on September 8, 2008 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

say it enough and it may come true.

Posted by: kevin k on September 8, 2008 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

Palin's the one who may block change (the right kind, at least) the most:

Here, again, this cartoon is cute, about what I call "Bushtation":

http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/contributors/1737

Posted by: Neil B on September 8, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Koreyel, and others talking about being tough - I agree Obama has to show some meanness (he already has said things are "lies" right?) but I don't think him lying would be good - it plays into their hands and the media will use it against him. Be somewhat mean, but don't lie - be mean about their lies.

Posted by: Neil B on September 8, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

He can say the American people aren't stupid as long as he doesn't really believe it. I can't think of a more obviously losing strategy than running on a platform of trusting the intelligence of the American people.

Posted by: Gus on September 8, 2008 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

As others have pointed out, to fight the false dichotomy "are the voters stupid, or not?" - as any savvy person knows, elections hinge on turning slivers of the electorate one way or the other. There are enough dumb voters to play into the hands of those who aren't for the public interest, that's what matters. Plus, lots of people really don't have a lot of time, or are actually lazy and have a hard time navigating so much disinformation, they aren't literally "stupid."

Posted by: Neil B on September 8, 2008 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

The jury isn't out on the question of can the American voter can be tricked. The verdict was delivered long ago.

If Obama is reluctant to use terms like lies and unqualified candidate, then he should empower people such Wesley Clark to speak out. Palin is an airhead and the choices are either to say nothing and hope or be realistic and beat the hell out of her with the hard truth.

Posted by: P T Barnum on September 9, 2008 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

I do find it interesting that Obama now seems to be more focused on battling a VP candidate instead of focusing on McCain. As an earlier poster suggested, continuing to appear to be battling Palin is not a winning strategy... She's not running for President.

As far as the "Bridge to nowhere" being labeled as lying... I don't believe this will continue for more than a few more days. The Real Clear Politics blog references the FactCheck.org (generally considered a party-neutral organization)comments that it is an exaggeration, or a flip-flop, but not quite a lie.

http://time-blog.com/real_clear_politics/2008/09/is_palins_opposition_to_the_br.html

So, when Palin gets on the ABC interview next week and gets asked about it, she will deliver a well-prepared answer that viewers will suck-up without question and Obama will find that this line of attack calling her a liar will be a losing cause and takes time away from his more issue-oriented messages.

Posted by: pencarrow on September 9, 2008 at 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who pronounces the word with two "U"s does not get a ballot. For eight years it has annoyed the hell out of me when Dumbya does it. Guess who else does it? Yep - Sarah Palin

I'm beginning to think that Republican candidates are just vessels for one sick soul going from one body to another a la Being John Malkovich.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on September 9, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Would we not expect a bump in the polls for the reps after the convention? Unfortunately, I agree with some of the previous writers....personalities before principles. that is sad...and stupid. Do you really think they believe the lies? I mean, gas prices are down (will go up after election), reps have adopted the "change" slogan, even though they will never change anything...it's just so much bullshit.

Posted by: Pattywagn on September 9, 2008 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Oh great... so after an evening of reading blogs, the following snippet is spreading fast:

Obama and Biden both voted to spend federal money on the bridge rather than use the money to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

If true, this will not only totally undermine Obama's current attack lines, but will cause a backlash as to why Obama/Biden preferred to fund the Bridge-to-Nowhere versus helping Katrina victims.

[In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Katrina victim living in New Orleans].

Posted by: pencarrow on September 9, 2008 at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK

Here's an example of my comments from above...

Obama and Biden Voted for Bridge to Nowhere

By John Powers, Chicago Daily Observer
Posted in Our Columns on August 31, 2008

Now that Alaska is front and center in the news again, it is a good time to catch up on a favorite story, The Bridge to Nowhere, using the Washington Post US Congress Votes Database.

Though Gov. Palin originally supported the earmark spending on the Ketchikan bridge (“to nowhere), she eventually killed the project, chosing to spend Federal money on other infrasturcture programs.

However, Sen. Biden and Sen. Obama voted for funding the Bridge, even when given a second chance by Sen. Tom Coburn, who proposed shifting earmark funds to Katrina relief.

Sen. McCain did not vote on the Coburn Amendment, though he is on record as opposing the Ketchikan bridge earmark.

Posted by: pencarrow on September 9, 2008 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Not sure about the stupid, but the Rove-Schmidt people know that there is a huge swath of "folks" who only pay attention to politics for a few weeks every four years. All of their energy is devoted fooling them, decisively.

BTW, Steve I'll ask again. Wouldn't this site be better if the "Remember personal info?" button worked?

Posted by: Kenji on September 9, 2008 at 3:46 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with Obama's line is that the vast majority of the American people ARE stupid!

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