From The Huffingtonpost:
As a rule, Republicans appreciate the value in defining the Democratic presidential nominee, and the GOP is usually pretty good at it. In 2000, Al Gore, they said, was an “exaggerator.” This was not only effective, thanks to a quick embrace by the media, it was also part of a narrative — when Gore takes credit for some of the successes of the ’90s, don’t believe him because he exaggerates
In 2004, John Kerry, they said was a “flip-flopper.” This, too, was relatively effective, and was once again parroted by the media. The narrative here was equally clear — in the first post-9/11 election, in a time of war, we don’t want someone who’s inconsistent.
Four years later, the effort to define Barack Obama is proving to be more difficult for Republican attack dogs. The GOP keeps experimenting with new memes, but not only are they not sticking, some even contradict each other.
It’s true the GOP are great at branding. If the GOP is the Bud of marketing, then the Democrats are the Coors (the Coors founder famously didn’t believe in marketing.) I marvel at the fact that I’ve heard repeated the nonsense that somehow Barack Obama is an elitist but George Bush, John McCain and even Hillary Clinton are everyday ordinary folks. It’s powerful stuff.
What’s really interesting is that John Kerry and John McCain are virtually the same person. They are both war heroes from rich and established families and both of their second wives are rich heiresses. But you rarely hear the jabs about John McCain’s wealth that we heard about Kerry. And certainly John McCain is the biggest flip-flopper of them all.
Marketing is key to the Bush Administration. Time and time again we have heard them describe their failures as being image problems only. Rumsfeld regretted calling the war the War on Terror as if it was called anything else it would have been a success. George Bush recently said:
Bush “admitted to the Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a ‘guy really anxious for war’ in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran. Phrases such as ‘bring them on’ or ‘dead or alive’ [in reference to Osama bin Laden,] he said, ‘indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace.’
So why is the GOP having a hard time branding Obama? I have two suggestions to add to the mix. Americans are weary of the Republicans right now and almost everything they say lacks credibility. It’s a case of the boy crying wolf too much. People are suspicious of their attacks knowing that the alternative they offer is bleaker. Fear was a decider in the 2004 election. People may feel duped that they voted out of fear and got something far worse in return. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Second, the Republicans are sounding increasingly like whiners. What America desperately wants right now is a positive message to put forth and the Republicans are coming up short.
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