The Phony Campaign

2008-06-22 Update

The phony boomlet for Bob Barr collapsed this week, leaving our two major party candidates in firm control of the phony campaign:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"Barack Obama" phony220,000+1,000
"John McCain" phony197,000+1,000
"Bob Barr" phony46,000-14,000

Pun Salad would like to propose a new word to describe Senator Obama's rhetorical efforts to justify his shifting positions on a variety of issues:


It generates zero Google hits as I type ("Did you mean: Blackrobotics"). So you saw it here first, unless you didn't.

  • David Brooks delivers a column devoted to the phony thesis:
    … as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there’s Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.
    Examples follow: "present" votes in the Illinois Senate; Reverend Wright; his "new politics" meme; his public financing pledge. Brooks deserves a pundit point for avoiding the "throw under the bus" cliché here.

  • On the same day Brooks' column appeared, Obama's "Fast Eddie" persona decided to provide another data point for Brooks' thesis.
    "We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?" - Barack Obama on what he thinks the GOP strategy will be.
    He not only smears McCain and his campaign as vile racists, he does so (admittedly) before there's any actual evidence; because he "knows" what they're "going to" do. Using the Brooksian formulation: post-racial politics are now also under the truck. (The New York Times detailed back in February that a significant faction of Obama's advisors have no problem in playing the race card.)

    Many people have linked to and quoted Baldilocks' short and eloquent response:

    Most people couldn't care less about your name and your color, Senator Obama. They fear being lead by you because you have no substantive legislative record, you're a chronic liar and, after explicitly stating that you choose your friends carefully, you have repeatedly and systematically made friends with people who hate this country.

  • Another neat bit of Barackrobatics this week: after throwing NAFTA under the truck during the primaries, now it's back out. Fortune's Nina Easton reports her interview:
    In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

    "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," despite nonpartisan studies concluding that the trade zone has had a mild, positive effect on the U.S. economy.

    Hey, protectionists: have you noticed the tire marks on your back yet?

  • One more data point: the Kucinich/Shea-Porter/Hodes wing of the Democratic Party looked to Obama for help on defeating the FISA compromise, and the only thing they're hearing is the whine of fast-approaching tires:
    "I think we do a grave disservice if we try to convince people that Obama is really going to work to get amnesty [for the telecom companies that helped out with terrorist wiretapping] out of the bill. Reid is already saying it's just theater -- they know it's going to fail -- it's just a way, Reid said, to let people "express themselves." It's all designed to let Obama say, once he votes for this bill: "Well, I tried to get amnesty out." He's going to vote for amnesty -- and his statement today seals the fate of this bill. Why sugar coat that?"
    Doe-eyed innocence betrayed, is why!

  • To be fair, McCain did his best week to keep himself in the running:
    “He’s one John McCain in front of white Republicans. And he’s a different John McCain in front of Hispanics.”
    But he's just going to have to try harder to keep up with Obama.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 11:01 AM EDT