August 1, 2008  ·  Lessig

So I didn’t make many friends in the Obama campaign when I suggested his campaign was Self-Swiftboating Obama — acting in a way that undercut his most important character. But (as an Obama supporter), I am really pleased (if as one-time admirer of McCain, saddened) to see that McCain is out-doing Obama in this respect, big time.

Below are a brace of ads by Brave New Film (on whose board I sit) and that make the substance of the point well. Here’s the Self-Swiftboating analysis:

McCain’s strongest feature as a candidate was the perception that he was a no bullshitting, straight talking, truth speaking maverick. Though I was an admirer, I never quite saw the image as true. (I wrote about an extraordinary exchange I saw with him and Zittrain last year.) But that’s certainly what makes people like and respect him — and what distinguished him so completely from Mitt “I’m running so I need to be a Rightwinger” Romney, and Rudy “I’m running so I need to be a Rightwinger” Giuliani.

But now, McCain’s acting in a way that will turn off this base completely. The absurdity of the flip-flop on off-shore drilling, and the shameful suggestion that this is a solution to the problem of high gas prices (all after he had met with oil execs, and then received a huge influx of campaign cash from the same), and the totally baseless charge that Obama’s decision not to visit troops was motivated by the unavailability of the press coverage: Shame on you, Senator. But please, don’t stop now!

Brave New Film Ad:

McCain’s Ad: Ad:

  • Seth Finkelstein

    Regarding: “But now, McCain’s acting in a way that will turn off this base completely.”

    You make a fine political blogger, if that’s what you want to do. But I really fear for you if you’re going to spend several years sincerely trying to change Congress.

  • Kevin Donovan

    The ad is dubbed with a voice over when the guy says “take ten years…”

    What’s with that?

  • Joel Peterson

    As much as I support Obama and the efforts of his supports, the overdub in the middle of the ad is really offputting.

  • bnb

    It isn’t a flip flop to change your views as times change. When McCain was against drilling, gas was $1.99 a gallon, now it is $4.00 a gallon. If we don’t increase our supply, it will be $8.00 a gallon in the next 4 years.

    Alternative energies should be explored but it will be years or decades before they make a dent in our need for oil.

    McCain is still more of an independent/maverick than Obama, who has no experience to prove anything about what he says he will do. He has flip flopped all over from week to week. His principled stand against lobbyists, evidently didn’t include his economic team, which includes William Daley, a lobbyist.

  • Steve Baba

    Too bad your candidate shifted/flip-flopped on oil drilling hours after you posted how “shameful” McCain was for doing this – actually before I even read this post.

    But I would not call it “shameful.” It’s more typical politics.

    I guess Obama found out the hard way that being in favor of $5 gallon gasoline was not a popular position.

    Also speaking of words having no meaning, what the heck is “Super-Sized Swiftboating.” There used to be a debate rule that the first person to call the other a Nazi or Fascist lost. I suppose now with the blogs meaningless words, we now need “Super-Sized Nazi” to distinguish the real 1940 German Nazi from just the politicians one does not like.

    Also it’s “shameful” in Lessig’s words, usual politics/lawyering in my words to say suggest that since starting oil drilling today will not yield any oil for years, it can’t affect the price today – which has the assumption that today’s output is not affected by future prices/demand. OPEC has stated and it’s obvious that OPEC is worried about “demand destruction” (no one buying their oil in the future) and future non-OPEC supply.

  • Al Cornish

    “absurdity of the flip-flop on off-shore drilling”

    This is old gouge, given Sen. Obama’s more recent shift.

    Speaking of self-swiftboating: What about the upcoming ‘Invesco Field at Mile High’ spectacle. Whose idea was this? The same political professional who planned the Berlin speech?

  • Garick

    Its too late to increase supply. The price in demand driven now. Sustained small decreases in price will only increase demand in the developing world which is accustomed to the current price point and will grow demand even at current prices.

    The reason oil is particularly expensive now that can be fixed is the value of the dolar investment in US has been hurt materially by US policy. Our monitary policy is aweful. We are reaping the rewards now.

    Looking at historical Currancy exchange rates …

    From Aug 2000 to Aug 2008

    Aug 2000 $1 US | 1.08 EUR | $1.49 CAN
    Aug 2008 $1 US | 0.64 EUR | $1.03 CAN

    That mean the dollar is about 60-70% of its former value.

    $4 gas would be between $2.60 and $2.70 a gallon.


  • Terry

    Okay here we go again.
    John Kerry was on MTP twice and twice promised Tim Russert he would release ALL his military records and twice broke that promise. Although, one could argue he didn’t break promises, since he never intended to keep them, he was lying when he made the promises.
    He said he was in Cambodia on Xmas eve 1968. He wasn’t, he lied again.
    T. Boone Pickens offered $1,000,000.00 to anyone who could prove the swift boaters lied. No one has collected.
    So explain how the swift boaters lied about Kerry?

    I hope you answer this time though I am not holding my breath.