Surprise! It's our first anniversary column!
But before we get to that, I have to pass on this information, in the hopes nobody will get stung by a virus making the rounds which uses Obama's name. So we pause for the following public service announcement:
[VIRUS ALERT: Before we get to the column today, I have to post a virus alert (full details at VirtualBlight). If you get an email titled "Barack Obama sex story with a girl" from the sender "firstname.lastname@example.org" -- don't click on any links in it, delete it immediately! Clicking on links in this spam email causes a virus to be loaded on your computer which will try to get your bank information. You have been warned!]
OK, on to the celebrating!
Yes, Volume 47 of the Friday Talking Points column is actually our one-year anniversary. The very first installment of this indomitable column aired on September 14, 2007.
For those of you who can both read a calendar and do math, you'll notice that this means that I blew off six weeks of writing this column last year. Ahem.
In November, I took two weeks off while visiting Europe, but provided campaign speech transcripts of every single Democrat running for the presidential nomination while I was gone, so I really can't feel too bad about that one. In December, the very last two weeks of the year were taken up by our recurring column of our version of the "McLaughlin Awards" (our two-part series every year). In early June, I pre-empted the column to present an interview with Al Franken, and the Fourth of July I must admit I spent at a barbeque, but still managed to post a column draped in patriotism (as I define it)... as I do every year.
So it wasn't like I was totally slacking off. But for readers keeping track of time by this column, that's why there have only been 46 in our first year, and why Volume 47 is the first column of our second year.
The first FTP column was a bit crude, by today's standards. It wasn't even called Friday Talking Points yet. There were no awards given (that wouldn't happen until FTP , when we first awarded the MDDOTW, and it took until FTP  before we handed out the first MIDOTW award).
But anyway, enough patting ourselves on the back. As always, to see the full archives of the FTP column, you can always just type www.fridaytalkingpoints.com in your browser.
So, let's get on with it, before the champagne starts to take effect here at the FTP offices...
So far, we've awarded the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week 38 times (some weeks nobody even qualified). But some of these have been multiple awards, meaning there have been a total of 44 statuettes handed out. The award, for those of you who aren't familiar with it, is known as the "Golden Backbone," due to its design. While space does not permit listing single beneficiaries of this award, the list of multiple winners is short enough to highlight here: Henry Waxman won two MIDOTWs; Joe Biden claimed three; Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, and Nancy Pelosi all clocked in with four MIDOTWs; but the frontrunner (no real surprise here) is Barack Obama, with a total of six -- that's six -- MIDOTW awards.
This week the award goes to someone who doesn't even identify himself as a Democrat. He actually urged people to register to vote as "decline to state political party." But even though he presents himself as neutral, Craig Ferguson (host of The Late Late Show on CBS) gets the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week for his excellent rant on the media, on politics, on the presidential race, and on the duty of voting. For his "If you don't vote, you're a moron" polemic Wednesday night, he gets the MIDOTW award this week. Well done, Craig! I encourage everyone to read the transcript of this rant, or watch the two videos.
[Congratulate Craig Ferguson on his show's contact page to let him know you appreciate his sentiments.]
The Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award has been awarded for a total of 39 weeks last year (again, some weeks -- thankfully -- nobody qualified). But due to multiple awards (including one dark week when the Senate voted on FISA and we had to give out a record twenty-one awards), there were a total of 68 MDDOTW awards handed out last year. Multiple award winners -- to their everlasting shame -- included Barack Obama, Charles Schumer, and Patrick Leahy (an embarrassing two each); John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Dianne Feinstein (an ignoble three each); Joe Lieberman and Harry Reid (a truly disgraceful four each); and the atrocious and contemptible Jay "Rocky IV" Rockefeller, IV with an outrageous and scandalous five MDDOTW awards, for his truly dishonorable work on the FISA bill (at the beck and call of the telecommunications industry).
As for this week, it seems Congressman Charlie Rangel has some income tax problems. Sigh. Just what we don't need in the middle of an election season. Rangel is Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which sets tax policy for the entire country. For getting caught in a scandal like this at this particular point in time, Charlie Rangel gets this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.
[Contact Congressman Charles Rangel on his House Committee's contact page to let him know what you think of his actions.]
Volume 47 (9/12/08)
Barack Obama's campaign has been inundated this week with advice from all and sundry over how he should be running his campaign. The ads he is airing obviously need work. I'm just as guilty as others, having already run one article this week with an ad script suggestion for Obama. But the message doesn't seem to be getting through.
I think it's time to bury the hatchet, and hire Mark Penn. Obama loyalists recoil at the suggestion, I know, but you have to admit the man knows how to put together an attack ad. His infamous "3:00 A.M." ad most likely won Texas and Ohio for Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary season. If Obama had won these states, Clinton's campaign would likely have been over shortly thereafter. Which proves the point -- Penn knows how to go for the gut.
Which is what Obama needs right now. Someone versed in the knife-fighting style of negative political advertising.
Here are the three themes Obama should be using right now to attack John McCain:
(1) Keating Five. How hard is this one to figure out? Let's see... your opponent was caught in a scandal very early on in his political career... the media hasn't even mentioned it yet... maybe it's time to remind the public about it? WHAT THE HELL IS STOPPING YOU? Ahem. Sorry, got carried away there for a moment. But seriously, this is the first thing anyone doing opposition research on McCain would find. So why the deafening silence? One vicious ad would get the media talking about this, that's all it would take. That, and maybe hitting McCain a few times with it in Obama's stump speeches.
(2) You can't trust anything John McCain says. The man will say and do anything to be president. This needs to be hammered home in many ways, many times. MCCAIN CAN'T BE TRUSTED! Remember how Hillary Clinton got savaged for her "sniper fire" remarks? It was a trivial issue on the face of it, but it may have been the key issue in her defeat -- because she lost the trust a lot of people felt towards her with that one gaffe. And John McCain has made dozens of these types of gaffe. CALL HIM ON IT! As I said earlier this week, mine McCain's record of votes in Congress for things to attack him with. There are also dozens of these issues to be used. And yet, none of them have appeared in a single Obama ad yet.
(3) John McCain LIES. This is a stronger version of (2). Obama has already broken the "taboo" against using the "L-word" against his opponent in a television advertisement. Now is not the time to back off on this argument. Now is the time to twist the knife. The media is even helping this effort, as they have finally discovered that John McCain is not the "maverick" they used to know and love. The time is RIPE for this -- the media is already hitting the McCain camp for their outrageous lies, and this point needs to be made by Obama himself. MCCAIN LIES.
With those three things in mind, here are a few ideas for ads. Due to space, I'm not going to provide a full script for the ads, just quick summaries.
Keating Five (rinse and repeat)
Keating Five. Keating Five. Keating Five. Keating Five. Keating Five...
"John McCain accepted free trips to posh island resorts from Charles Keating. McCain's wife did some real estate deals with Keating. Then the Senate had to admonish McCain for his ethical lapses in a scandal known as the 'Keating Five.' Charles Keating went to jail as a felon, and the taxpayers had to bail out his failed savings and loan to the tune of two billion dollars. But John McCain still won't answer questions about his wife's dealings with Keating. We can't tell what happened, because McCain isn't saying. He won't release his income tax returns, or his wife's, so there's just no way to know what McCain is hiding from the American people. Just like he won't unseal his military record. How can we believe anything John McCain says, when he won't come clean with the public?"
John McCain's campaign is run by lobbyists
This one pretty much writes itself.
"John McCain says he's going to clean up all that lobbying in Washington. Oh, really, John? Then why have you hired them all to run your campaign for you? If John McCain wins, the lobbyists who tell him what to say now will wind up in White House jobs. And then the lobbyists won't be outside the government looking in, they will be running the government. That would sure 'change' Washington -- it would put the lobbyists in full control. John McCain simply isn't credible when he talks about 'taking on' lobbyists, unless he's talking about his campaign 'taking on' all the lobbyists it could hire. John McCain, wrong for America. Kick the McCain lobbyists out of Washington. Elect Barack Obama."
Get your facts straight, John
There are many flavors of this ad, since McCain says stuff like this all the time. There should be a whole series of these ads, coming out on a daily basis. To show you how easy it is, I'm going to only quote something John McCain said on this very day -- which, if the Obama campaign was on its toes, would be up as an ad within 24 hours.
"John McCain can't keep his facts straight. Just this morning on The View, he denied that his running mate was one of the biggest pork barrel politicians in the country. When asked about the hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks Sarah Palin requested as governor, McCain answered: 'Not as governor she didn't.' You're lying, John, and you know it. Palin asked for more earmarks per capita than any other governor in the country. In only two years she wanted over $450 million worth of earmarks. So why does John McCain continue to lie about her record? You just can't trust John McCain. He'll say anything to be president."
John McCain has changed -- into a party hack
Why isn't Obama slamming McCain over his numerous flip-flops? McCain is trying to ride the "maverick" label all the way to the White House, and it's so easy to refute. Perhaps with a picture of a tired old horse, with an enormous saddle on, in the background.
"John McCain may have been a maverick once. He tried to stand up to George W. Bush's disastrous tax policy, a long time ago. But then he ran for president. Now he wants to make the Bush tax policy permanent. He used to be against torture, but then he voted to allow the C.I.A. to use it on prisoners. He used to be against offshore drilling, but now he's all for it. He used to be against a border fence, now he's for it. There isn't one issue today that John McCain is more than an inch apart from George W. Bush and the Republican Party's right-wing base. Maybe McCain used to be a maverick, but this maverick has been broken and tamed by George Bush and the Republican Party. That's why McCain votes with them over 90% of the time. We need real change, not just 10% change. Elect Barack Obama for real change you can believe in."
McCain disrespects Martin Luther King, Jr.
Once again, WHY hasn't this been made into an ad?
"John McCain recently said: 'I have supported hundreds of pieces of legislation, which would help Americans obtain an equal opportunity in America. I am proud of that record, from fighting for the recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday in my state.' But John McCain actually voted against making King's birthday a holiday. And then McCain supported the governor of Arizona when he rescinded the King holiday in their state. John McCain was fighting when the King holiday was proposed -- but he was fighting against it. How dare he try to lie about this now? John McCain -- he'll say anything to get elected. Wrong for America.
The media agrees -- McCain lies his face off
The media have finally started to turn against the myth of John McCain as a likeable guy that has to be protected from his own words. After over a full year of ignoring the really stupid things McCain says at times, they are finally reporting on them with a critical eye. And the verdict is in -- McCain is a liar. This, it should be noted, is handing free ammunition to the Obama camp. SO WHY DON'T THEY USE SOME OF IT?!?
This ad can be put together with just recent headlines. If you want more, just Google "McCain" and "lie" in the news section.
"Blizzard Of Lies" (New York Times)
"Lies, Damn Lies, And Elections" (Philadelphia Daily News)
"McCain: The Old Man Is An Old Liar -- And Dangerous" (Huffington Post)
Liar, liar! (Play this game at home)
This last one I am including as a "make your own ad" talking point. I'm going to give you the visual background (which would work on pretty much any of the other ads I've suggested here). It's so easy to add your own favorite McCain lies as a script to this. Post your ideas for what this ad should say in the comments below. I call it "Liar, liar" (for obvious reasons).
[VIDEO IMAGE: A pair of pants sways slightly in the breeze, hanging off a clothesline. For a few seconds, nothing else happens. Then small patches of white appear at the bottom (the cuffs). At first, this could just be an imperfection in the film. But it gets bigger, until with a breeze, it can clearly be identified as smoke. The smoke turns grey, then black, and starts emanating from everywhere on the pants. A tiny flame bursts into life at the bottom cuff. Soon, the pair of pants is completely ablaze. In the final image, before cutting to a blank screen with the tag line of the ad, the clothesline burns through and snaps, and the blazing inferno that was a pair of pants disappears from the screen altogether.]
Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post
-- Chris Weigant