Rod Blagojevich, Barack Obama, and the Republican Attack Ad

Crank party


By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

I guess the folks over at the RNC have a lot of time on their hands. They have put together a nearly three-minute-long Web ad slamming Barack Obama for connections to disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Questions remain, the ad argues. John McCain whacked the RNC for the ad on Sunday, and Allahpundit over at Hot Air notes that while questions do remain, "I'm not sure any really important questions do." The blogger closes by asking: "Should the RNC have waited on this? No benefit of the doubt during the interregnum, at least?"

Partisan preferences aside, as a practical strategic matter, the answer is "Yes." Obama is an enormously popular politician at the moment and has said and done the right things in terms of appearing to want to move past the era of hyperpartisanship. Granted that the RNC's raison d'être is to remove Barack Obama from office, the RNC could at least be smart about it. With Obama enjoying a happy public-opinion honeymoon, the GOP would be wise to lie low and wait for something to happen (and it will) that will make the public more receptive to anti-Obama criticism.

Instead, the RNC leaps after a hint of pseudo scandal in much the same way my dog chases leaves blowing in the street—and with as little regard for oncoming traffic. Weighing in with a three-minute attack ad now might make the party's cranks happy, but it also risks marginalizing the GOP as a crank party.

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