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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Andrew Sullivan Wants Is To Take Back The Campagin

I'm not sure this will work but it's worth a try. During the primaries, it felt as if the voters were often controlling the campaign. Especially with Obama and Ron Paul, the pampered professionals were out-messaged, out-Youtubed and out-organized by legions of amateurs. I know the general election is inevitably more concentrated and remote than the primaries, but it's sad to see this new media democratic moment pass. It's especially sad when so many of us are now forced to sit back and wait for various pros to unveil their latest negative ads and then debate them - giving them oxygen and exposure and power. I really don't want to give Steve Schmidt that kind of satisfaction, do you? I don't want to live through another lame, predictable bout of Britney-mania without some pre-emptive mockery.

So here's a thought. Couldn't we take some of that power away from the pros - especially with negative advertizing - by pre-empting and defusing them? What I'm thinking of is a Dish Youtube contest to come up with the least fair, most effective negative ads for both sides. The technology is widely available for making your own 30-second negative spots, and it's good therapy. So let's flood the zone. I know it sounds cynical, but in fact, it's the opposite. If we can put out the most damning attacks on Obama and McCain we can, it could help dilute the nasty noise from the party establishments, expose the mechanisms of smears and take the wind out of the sails of the pros.

The idea is not to produce crude and ugly smears or lies.

The content must be factually accurate (even if horribly misleading) and the images for real. And if you want to play the race or "elitist" or emasculating card against Obama or the age or temper or war-monger card against McCain, it has to be done so that there's an official "issues-based" defense of the ad, even though it's transparently a smear of sorts. By doing this, we could even help expose the way in which this cynical enterprise is constructed by the pros.

Cut and paste some video and audio and make the ad you would love to run against the candidate you oppose. Put it up on Youtube and send me the link. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll post the best ones and then we can vote on the best, or worst, if you see what I mean. Maybe one of them will be so good it will go viral and shift the debate a little. Or maybe it will be too complicated for many respondents to take art. Who knows?

What I do know is that I'm sick of sitting back and waiting for the big guns to unload. The election doesn't have to be that way any more. So let's take back the narrative by pre-empting the nasties. And we can have some fun at the same time. Deal?

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