Monday :: Dec 20, 2004
Damn You, Mary Beth Cahill
Well, here's Mary Beth Cahill's inevitable mea culpa over the Shrimp Boat fiasco. No word from Shrummy as of yet:
The campaign manager for Sen. John Kerry's failed presidential bid said Wednesday she regrets underestimating the impact of an attack advertisement that questioned Kerry's Vietnam War record.
Mary Beth Cahill, who spoke at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government with Ken Mehlman, President Bush's campaign manager, said the Massachusetts senator's campaign initially thought there would be "no reach" to the ad from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Instead, the ad, which initially aired in just three states, became a central issue of the campaign, eventually forcing Kerry to personally deny the group's allegations that he did not deserve his combat medals.
"This is the best $40,000 investment made by any political group, but it was only because of the news coverage that it got where it did," she said.
"In hindsight, maybe we should have put Senator Kerry out earlier, perhaps we could have cut it off earlier."
Yeah, hindsight is one way of putting it, especially when you consider that we were screaming about this at the time, but to no avail. But here's the part of Cahill's exercise in self-flagellation that really ticked me off:
Cahill said the Swift boat ads show the power of news coverage, particularly cable news stations, which she said amplified the ads by running them repeatedly.
She said it was frustrating that the first ad continued to eat up so much air time even after the central allegations were debunked.
"For me, this was a very big change. The fact that it was disproved and it was still shown every day as part of the (campaign) coverage," she said.
This was a very big change...Are you kidding me? Dave Johnson provides an appropriately incredulous response:
She - and the Kerry campaign -- didn't and still don't "get it." They STILL don't even have a clue what Bush and the Right are about. The "blogosphere" knew the minute that smear came out what was up, and the course it would run! We knew it would come. We knew who would spread it. We even knew what the "movement" ground troops would say to the talk-show hosts and in the forum comments, helping the momentum -- they would understand it was untrue but would also wink and nod and understand the "use" of it and pretend to believe it. We knew that the smear would have professionally-framed, carefully-worded, focus-group-tested tag-lines. We knew that it would come in phases. We knew that "new information' would overwhelm anyone trying to refute any single lie with facts and details...
Why were the people even in the Kerry campaign if they didn't understand how the Right works now, who is running it, who is funding it, their goals and their strategies and methods?
This is a question I've been asking as well, considering that most of Kerry's brain trust were "veterans" of the Dukakis presidential campaign. And let me reiterate that this isn't simply post-election Kerry bashing. Whatever stiff the GOP serves up in 2008--whether it be Frist, Pataki, or (God help us) Santorum--he'll be propped up by this $300 million apparatus that is the VRWC. The Kerry campaign, for whatever inexplicable reason(s), couldn't fathom the inevitable onslaught. This better damn well not happen again four years from now.