In 2000, it devolved into which candidate we would most like to have a beer with (or in Bush's case a Shirley Temple, I suppose). In 2004 it was framing Kerry as a French, flip-flopping windsurfer.
These tactics are highly effective in swaying American voters because in general the electorate is woefully uninformed and is trained to consume media based on an Us Weekly type personality profile format. This format has two modes: poignant, regular-person fawning and gossipy freak mongering.
So far the Republicans have been very effective at propping Sarah Palin up as a "just like us" angry small town mom and deriding Barack and Michelle Obama as sly, deceptive political insiders.
Our challenge as liberals is to forget about the issues and go for the gossip. The people who vote on issues and facts made up their minds months ago and are voting Democrat. The hardcore Republicans were never going to vote rationally anyway. It's the uninformed/undecided/independent voters that are up for grabs. These people really don't hear issues or facts. That stuff is, like, really boring. Independents liked the People Magazine profile of the Palin family with its whiskey-tango-friendly, messy baby drama. This helped Sarah Palin gain a 90% name recognition within like a week.
We can't win this election relying on Americans' sober analysis of the issues, obviously. So the challenge is, liberal bloggers, go out and find the freaky dirt about McCain and Palin and repeat it over and over.
The following have been tried and not worked:
- Cindy McCain was a drug addict
- The McCains are really rich (only Democrats aren't allowed to be rich because that makes them - gasp - hypocrits)
- Sarah Palin is a scary Jesus freak (that's a plus in the United States)
New and new-ish stories the outcome of which is unclear:
- Track Palin was a drug addict
- Bristol Palin smoked pot
- Sarah Palin used a (now hacked) personal email account to conduct state business to cirumvent public disclosure laws
But we need something really, really freaky. Did Sarah Palin have sex with her teenage daughter's baby daddy? Did John McCain, Larry Craig, and Ted Haggard have a meth and Viagra-fueled threesome? Did Cindy McCain let her dog die due to neglect?
Come on liberals, you do gossip better than anyone. Take your sights off of Britney and Mylie for a minute and set them squarely on McCain-Palin.