I never thought I’d write that headline, because I loathe Frank Luntz for all the obvious reasons. But in a conversation with Christy this morning about Obama playing defense too much lately, I was reminded of something I’d read in Frank Luntz’s Words that Work.
On p. 89, Luntz describes about how he would’ve advised John Kerry to respond to the Swift Boat attacks (if you have an Amazon account, you can read this passage here.)
I would’ve asked Kerry to wait until he had a friendly audience in front of him (think visually) and the TV cameras behind him, and then had a reporter call out: "Senator, those people are questioning your patriotism. What do you have to say to them?" I would’ve had Kerry turn and face the accuser, with the friendly audience now as his backdrop, and I would’ve told him to deliver the following lines in a stern but controlled voice:
"Let me tell you something, I fought for this country. I’m proud of my service. You tell the people peddling this trash, and the people who support them — including the President and Vice President — to go to hell. I went to Vietnam and fought for the American flag. They didn’t."
Unless and until you say something to break the rhythm of a negative story, it will continue. A graphic profanity would have broken the rhythm…
Obama has been called everything from Britney Spears and Paris Hilton to a sexual deviant and most recently — a hungry wolf — by the McSame campaign. They’re winning the news cycle and sucking up all of the energy of the campaign by throwing nothing but lies and character attacks at him. They’re running objectively the sleaziest, most shameful campaign in recent memory — and that’s saying a lot after ’04.
Obama needs to respond more forcefully and seize the iniatitive. He needs to break the rhythm.