July 08, 2008
by: jovial_cynic
I'm taking a break from politics for a while. There's so much conflict surrounding political conversations that it's becoming almost intolerable to listen or read about it. I've become weary of engaging in it. Between the democratic party in-fighting (that's actually still going on), and the cross-party battle that's sired such clever nicknames like "McSame," "No-bama," etc., etc., I can't help but think that the fiercest of political commentary comes from the most juvenile of people. I find that those who feel the need to crow the loudest have the least interesting things to say.

I do, however, still believe that Obama is the right person for this country. And while I think I'll stop posting political commentary of my own for a while, I did want to post this piece by Lawrence Lessig, a man I've come to admire for his down-to-earth, from-many-angles, big-picture worldview on the current Obama campaign.

All signs point to an Obama victory this fall. If the signs are wrong, it will be because of events last month. These events constitute a so-far-unnamed phenomenon in Presidential campaigning -- what we could call "self-Swiftboating." To understand "self-Swiftboating," you've got to first understand "Swiftboating."

Some use the term "Swiftboating" to refer to harsh, even vicious attacks on an opponent. I use the term in a more restrictive sense: "Swiftboating" is (1) attacking the strongest bits of a candidate's character, with (2) false or misleading allegations. That was what Kerry suffered -- attacking his courage as a soldier, the characteristic that distinguished him most from Bush, with misleading (at least) allegations by some who knew him when he served.

Self-Swiftboating is to Swiftboat yourself: For a campaign to do something that has the effect of undermining its own candidate's strongest characteristic, with actions that are (at best) misleading. The Obama campaign has now self-Swiftboated candidate Obama.

Read the rest at Lawrence Lessig's blog: Self Swiftboating
np category: politics


Luke said:
Probably a good idea. However Lessig's definition of swiftboating doesn't seem that correct. I think the mainstream media have used the term 'swiftboating' as if to say "these people are making things up to make this person look bad.

I think the reality of 'swiftboating' is people coming out to tell the truth about you that you're trying to cover up. Kerry was spoken out against by many men who served along side him and knew better than anybody what his record actually looked like. The tactic might have been one that some (especially on the left) didn't like, but it didn't make it not true.

That's just my opinion though

July 08, 2008

jovial_cynic said:
I believe there were people who also worked with Kerry who disagreed with the allegations. There is political motivation to make claims either way, and since I don't feel I have a good bead on Kerry's character, I'm in no position to make a judgement.

Having read Obama's first book, and watching him speak and reading his policies, I think Lessig is pretty spot-on regarding his assessment of the Obama campaign situation.

Also... swiftboating is generally understood (by way of the wikipedia article) this way: Swiftboating is American political jargon that is used as a strong pejorative description of some kind of attack that the speaker considers unfair or untrue—for example, an ad hominem attack or a smear campaign.

July 08, 2008

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