Political Theater

Americans love their reality shows.  I personally don’t see why, but that’s a different story.

Tonight we will get a good dose of political theater, the ultimate reality show, as Barack Obama and John McCain square off in a town hall setting.  There will be a lot of people watching, some because John McCain has alluded to “taking the gloves off” at this debate, as if he plans on confronting Obama, accusing him of being a terrorist or a black separatist.  That’s not going to happen, and a lot of McCain supporters are going to be upset when it doesn’t.

Why won’t it happen?  Because Obama’s potential response would be more damaging to the McCain campaign than any gain they might make by raising Bill Ayers or Jeremiah Wright.

Any political strategist worth his or her salt would try to figure out what the best response to a tactic would be for their opponent before they decide to use the tactic.  In this case, McCain loses if he accuses Obama of being a terrorist or a separatist or even a supporter of those views because it is so easily dismissed when Obama is standing right there, and there is no evidence – none – that he has ever held those kind of beliefs.

Obama would be given the chance to be indignant, to forcefully defend himself and point out the flimsy argument that McCain is making – let alone pointing out that McCain promised to forswore this kind of
attack that was used by Karl Rove against McCain in 2000.  If McCain brings this up tonight, his campaign is really over, and I think that his campaign team knows that.

The only chance that a smear campaign like this has to work is by being done as quietly as possible, allowing innuendo to make the impression as opposed to factual statements.  McCain may well continue to run commercials on Ayers, but would be far worse off if he runs with that tonight.

We’ll see.

There is a whole other discussion to be had on whether or not people actually vote differently based on the outcome of political theater.  Maybe we’ll get to talk about that tomorrow or Thursday…

— writeside