Having Your Cake

by digby

...and eating it, while talking out of both sides of your mouth.

I would look for this to be the new paradigm for dealing with independent expenditure groups on the Republican side: decry the ads but claim you can't do anything about them because of the campaign finance laws. They did it clumsily in 2004 with the swift boaters, but they tend to learn from their mistakes.

In this case McCain is saying that he is against them because he's a believer in the campaign finance laws he helped write. And he's getting lots of praise for it from the gullible press who say he's a straight shooting son-of-gun who might be hurting his (low on cash) campaign by disavowing these hagiographic ads --- which the independent expenditure group (headed by his former staffer) are defiantly vowing to keep on the air. How convenient.

There are going to be a lot of these ads on both sides this time. It's a natural outgrowth of the campaign finance laws. But, unlike this one, which apparently shows McCain as some sort of super-hero there are going to be a lot of wild cards that will potentially shape the race in ways the campaigns don't expect and can't adequately prepare for. (I would expect the Republicans to do a lot of this sort of thing, however --- they tend to get away with obvious lies, obfuscations and distortions that others can't. We'll call it the "cake" tactic.)

With the blogs and YouTube and now this new world of big money independent ads, campaigns are much less controllable than they once were, even with the Village elders controlling the news narratives. They are going to have to be nimble and flexible to roll with these random factors. (A good quality for a leader in tough times as well.) It will be very interesting to see who among the candidates handles these outside factors well.

*I can say that the one politician I've ever observed who had those qualities in spades was Bill Clinton. Hillary, on the other hand, seems to be much more methodical and orderly in her approach. Those might be good qualities for day to day governance --- there's an awful mess to clean up and it's going to take disciplined prioritizing. But campaigning and fighting the political game against the Republicans effectively is a whole other kettle of fish, requiring good reflexes and dexterity. Bill Clinton was energized by all that change and stress. It remains to be seen if Hillary Clinton is.