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Here's How Obama Should Fight Back

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Bard Schmookler     Permalink
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"One day after his worst showing in a month, Obama blamed negative attacks by the former first lady for his defeats and quickly made good on a promise to sharpen his criticism of her."(Huffington Post)

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'His campaign aides on Wednesday urged Mrs. Clinton to release her tax returns from 2006, as well as her papers from her years as first lady, which Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, described as “secreted in the Clinton library.”

“She’s made the argument that she’s thoroughly vetted, in contrast to me,” Mr. Obama said to reporters aboard his campaign plane. “I think it’s important to examine that argument.”' (NY Times)

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"If he indulges his inner Chicago pol, formed in a city where politics is conducted with crowbars, he risks taking the shine off. But his advisers say he has little choice." (NY Times)

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This sequence suggests that the Obama campaign has not yet had the necessary insight into what is needed now.

Yes, he should sharpen his attacks. But no, her income tax forms is NOT the kind of thing he should be talking about. And this matters greatly, because if he makes the wrong kind of attacks he does sacrifice his "shine," as his aides fear. But there is another and much better way of sharpening the attack that will add to the shine rather than squander it.

Here's the key point:

The attacks should be integrally connected with the primary theme of Obama's campaign: I AM OFFERING AMERICA A DIFFERENT, BETTER KIND OF POLITICS, AND HILARY CLINTON AND JOHN MCCAIN ARE THEMSELVES FULLY EMBEDDED IN AND CARRIERS OF THE OLD KIND OF POLITICS.

When Hillary attacks him with fear-mongering, as in the red telephone ad, Obama's reply shouldn't be, "No, I'm better than she is at answering that phone." Rather, it should be:
"For the past seven years, we've had leaders who have worked continually to inflame and then exploit the fears of the American people. They did that to get us into a disastrous war. They've done that to get us to surrender our precious rights as Americans.

"Americans are a proud and strong people. We are a great power. We do not need to be running scared. And we do not need leaders to frighten us for their own political purposes.

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"Any of us, as president of the world's one superpower, will have what it takes to protect the American people. That is not the issue.

"The issue, I would suggest to Senator Clinton, is whether we will continue to exploit the fears of the American people for political advantage or whether we will help Americans come from a place of hope and vision, so that we can be empowered to achieve positive goals for our society and summon forth what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.

"I invite Senator Clinton to raise her campaign up from the fear-mongering level to offering the country a positive vision of how we can realize our hopes to become a better society."


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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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