Monday, May 17, 2004

Happy Mice
Opposition research is the science of finding ways to screw your opponent in a political campaign. It has, like most things, evolved from ad-hoc and informal to highly sophisticated. Consultants who know the field are highly sought-after, and become important players in campaign organizations. The campaigns feed damning stories about opponents to news organizations, knowing the stories will contribute to the "framing" of the candidate. If done effectively, opposition research can turn the tide of a whole campaign, as Joshua Green reports in the current Atlantic. The barrage of bad-PR news stories that dogged Howard Dean in the last month of the Iowa caucus campaign came largely from the Clark campaign. Green notes that the Clark takedown of Dean actually backfired on Clark. Because Clark was not competing in Iowa, his campaign's attacks helped swing momentum to John Kerry, the candidate Clark matched up the poorest against.

Speaking of important players, I just caught up with this story today from last week in Salon: Texas journalist James C. Moore on Karen Hughes and her true-believer relationship with George W. Bush. Like Bush himself, Hughes seems impervious to persuasion even in the face of evidence. She believes what she believes, and that's that. Never mind how scary that quality is in someone who has the ear of the most powerful man in the world--it would be creepy even if she were only your friend's mom or something.

Recommended reading: My fellow guest poster on Best of the Blogs, Opus, has a great bit this morning on American athletes being warned--by American officials--not to grab the flag and wave it during medal celebrations at the Athens Olympics this summer. Bush and Company can keep insisting that all is well, but evidence keeps appearing every day that more Americans are beginning to believe that the Iraq war is unjustified, and that Bush has screwed us bigtime.

And finally--I haven't given up any love to Tom Tomorrow for a while, so he's overdue. Today, Fluffy Bunny and Happy Mouse discuss the war in Iraq.

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