Obama in 2008: Not That Positive

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/7161206730/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr/White House</a>


Slate‘s Dave Weigel offers an important corrective for the amenesia about Obama’s supposedly positive 2008 campaign:

The myth that Obama ran a Different Kind of Campaign is based on a few bold bets — like rejecting an early summer gas tax holiday — that paid off. But we’re also talking about a campaign that completely fabricated an anti-NAFTA position, and a campaign that tipped off Ben Smith to the haircut that destroyed John Edwards.* We’re talking about a campaign that outspent John McCain by as much as a 3-1 ratio in the final stretch, and devoted most of that money to negative ads. The “hope and change” campaign was the happy cover on a dogged, overwhelming attack campaign. It used to benefit Democrats to obscure this; now, it benefits Republicans.

The most memorable negative ad the Obama campaign ran was the “fundamentals” ad, which mocked Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) saying “fundamentals of our economy are strong” and was apparently cut the afternoon of the day McCain said it. There are a lot of contrasts between 2008 and 2012, but a willingness to go negative isn’t one of them. Journalists hyping Obama “going negative” this time around are probably just reacting to the fact that the president faces a much closer election than he did four years ago.

Adam Serwer is filling in while Kevin is on vacation.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate