The Right’s To-Do List and Obama’s Central Thesis

Patrick Ruffini often writes about attempting to get the right back on track. He identifies one problem:

One of the biggest reasons for the Right’s decline in the Bush era is that we had long since completed most of the items on our to-do list. Low marginal tax rates? Check. The Soviet Union gone? Check. Welfare reform? Check.

I wonder how many conservatives agree with him that they have accomplished most of the items on their to-do list. I’ve seen similar arguments in the past from liberals that they had accomplished their major goals. If  it was really the case that both liberals and conservatives felt their goals were achieved there should be far less of a divide between right and left!

One problem which both explains part of the partisan divide and which makes it harder for conservatives to recover is that so many conservatives have totally incorrect views about the goals of liberals. In this post Ruffini claims that Obama’s central thesis is  “that government ownership and central planning can outpace returns in the private market.”

Fortunately it isn’t necesary to go any further than his own comments from many readers who point out that, not only isn’t this Obama’s central thesis, but it isn’t even something he believes. With such rational comments posted I wonder if they are coming from conservative readers who aren’t fooled by such claims from the right or if they are part of Obama’s secret army of blog commenters.

Trolls As A Campaign Tactic

Once again the right wing has found a way to cry that they are victims as Breitbart also applies a common right wing tactic of accusing liberals of doing things which the right has actually done. His paranoid rants include:

Much of Mr. Obama’s vaunted online strategy involved utilizing “Internet trolls” to invade enemy lines under false names and trying to derail discussion. In the real world, that’s called “vandalism.” But in a political movement that embraces “graffiti” as avant-garde art , that’s business as usual. It relishes the ability to destroy other people’s property in pursuit of electoral victory.

Trolls are a fact of life on blogs. I receive multiple comments from right wing hardly means that this is a strategy of any campaign (other than John McCain’s.) Anyone concerned that this will destroy their “property” simply has to use the blog’s moderation functions. Most blogs of any size on either the left or right have found it necessary to do so.

While most trolls are acting on their own, using blog comments was actually a strategy of the McCain campaign which Jonathan Martin wrote about last May:

John McCain’s campaign is using their campaign website to encourage supporters to post supportive comments on political blogs, including the most well-known liberal site in the blogosphere.   And to make things easier, they’re including talking points with which sympathizers can use to get out the McCain message.

“Select from the numerous web, blog and news sites listed here, go there, and make your opinions supporting John McCain known,” instructs the page.

McCain supporters are asked to send the details of their comment to the campaign, which in turn will verify it and then reward the supporter with “points” (assumedly to accumulate for McCain swag).

Wired wrote about it in June:

It seems that his campaign team is trying to extend that approach online. The McCain campaign in late May launched a new blogger outreach section on its website that encourages supporters to lobby for their candidate across 94 blogs that range in political bent from far left to far right.

The campaign arms the blog-raiders with one of McCain’s speeches on the need to transcend partisan politics to deal with the problems that the nation faces…

David All, a Republican Web 2.0 consultant, and co-founder of Slatecard, an online political action committee, defended the strategy. He calls it “smart” and “unique.”

“He’s got the most comprehensive blogger outreach strategy, and this is just an evolution of that,” he argues.

In recent years every campaign has had supporters who troll other blogs–and they generally do it without pay or official connections to the campaign. In 2008 this was seen predominantly from Ron Paul supporters with Hillary Clinton’s supporters coming in a distant second. Howard Dean had his share of supporters trolling other blogs in 2004 to the point where the campaign found this to be an embarrassment and urged supporters to cut it out. Sarah Palin has her share of rabid internet supporters, but, true to their candidate, they tend to be the least intelligent and many have difficulty even stringing together coherent troll comments. While Obama made extensive use of the internet to organize supporters, his campaign generally seemed to have far less interest in the blogosphere outside of their own campaign blog than most other recent campaigns.