Why Right-Wing Attacks Are Becoming Effective in the Democratic Primary


Hillary Clinton is attacking Barack Obama on national security in almost exactly the same way John McCain is attacking him, and it is causing real problems for Obama:
Still, there are a few flaws in Clinton's trial-by-smear method. The first is that her attacks on Obama are not a fair proxy for what he'd endure in the general election, because attacks are harder to refute when they come from within one's own party. Indeed, Clinton is saying almost exactly the same things about Obama that McCain is: He's inexperienced, lacking in substance, unequipped to handle foreign policy. As The Washington Monthly's Christina Larson has pointed out, in recent weeks the nightly newscasts have consisted of Clinton attacking Obama, McCain attacking Obama, and then Obama trying to defend himself and still get out his own message. If Obama's the nominee, he won't have a high-profile Democrat validating McCain's message every day.

It is difficult to shake an attack when both the most prominent Republicans and many of the most prominent Democrats are saying the same thing. It does not help when, according to a recent Pew survey, the most common word that comes to mind when people think of you is "inexperienced," and the most common word people think of when they hear Hillary Clinton's name is "experienced." In fact, "inexperienced," is the only negative word among the top ten for Obama, with charismatic, intelligent, change, inspirational, young, new enthusiastic and hope rounding out the top ten. The attacks Clinton is making about 3am and the "commander in chief threshold" are effective both because they exploit the only negative on Obama that has been established in conventional wisdom, and because they are attacks where Clinton and McCain can jointly "close the triangle" on Obama in the national media. Remember what Peter Daou, a senior staff member of Hillary Clinton's campaign, wrote about the creation of conventional wisdom two years ago:

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