If We Don't Puncture Obama's Balloon, He Will Float Right Out of Our Hands --- McCain campaign

The polls are going back and forth, but the political pros ---- and the betting odds -- are convinced that Obama is going to win.

McCain is getting really desperate. He must not think he is going to win, if things stay as they are.

It is way too early for the heavy negative ads that have been coming from McCain's camp this week - - -usually, the nasty ads are saved for the latter part of the campaign, and the negative stuff should come from surrogates, instead of the candidate himself.

But McCain still remembers too well how Bush's negative ads destroyed him in the 2000 South Carolina Presidential Primary. The ads and rumors questioned McCain's military service and claimed he had fathered a black baby.

Which is why McCain is calling Obama a blond bimbo --- like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

Political pros know that these negative "defining" tactics are tried and true. The Dark Arts of Campaign Munchkins mandate that you take the opponent's best qualities and twist them in the opposite direction.

Rock Star like popularity has been Obama's undeniable strength. It feeds on itself, finances his campaign, and energizes the media. Images --- of 200,000 Germans screaming their lungs out in Berlin for Obama --- flash across every television screen in the world.

How do you counter that? You try and define Obama as the "Pop Prince" and link him to popular, but flawed, celebrity addicts ---- Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

See, popularity isn't good. You can be an addict and be wildly popular. Don't you need something more to be President?

In the future, when the news media shows pictures of large, adoring Obama crowds, McCain's people hope that the voters will equate mass popularity as a bad thing.

Political jujitsu at its best.

You take the opponent's biggest strength and flip it. ......When you see the force coming at you, you redirect your opponent's momentum. His best issues are heartbreakingly turned against him. It takes the wind out of a campaign.

It's kind of a weird and counter intuitive to try and define popularity as bad.... But it is one of several narratives that the Republicans are trying to develop over the next few months. The other story line --- that the Britney Spears commercial is pushing --- is that Obama is an unpatriotic, starry-eyed political novice, who won't protect Americans in troubled times.

Once a promising story line is identified, according to Craig Crawford, every day you look for something - anything, no matter how minor or misleading, that might support it -- even stretching the truth, or worse, if it fits into a narrative that voters already believe about your opponent.

In 2000 the Republicans managed to tag Al Gore as a serial exaggerator with charges that he claimed to invent the Internet. The charges fit a pattern that Republicans hammered at again and again.

In 2004 The Republicans crippled John Kerry by discrediting his strengths ---his patriotism, Catholicism, character and well-documented war hero record --- with innuendos and falsehoods --- a classic Rovian Republican tactic.

Kerry's biggest strength was that he was a genuine decorated war hero. The scurrilous Swift Boat ads and false charges managed to dent that perception, and cast doubts on Kerry's war service --- his biggest asset, against a proven slacker, Bush.

Obama's camp has the opposite task.

When McCain calls Obama arrogant and cocky, (for saying that his chances look good) you can't convince people that Obama is not arrogant. Obama has to turn that around to his advantage, i.e. he's arrogant and tough enough to deal with terrorists, and greedy banks, the oil industry and other special interests.

Strong enough not to let nasty attack ads bother him.

Make no mistake about it, before the November election there will be an October Surprise: a serious act of terrorism on American soil, the bombing of Iran, or an Israel-Iran war.

Obama is going to have to convince the independent swing voters that he is tough enough, and wise enough to protect Americans whatever happens.

write to: jfleetwood@aol.com