The anti-mud party
Friday, September 10th, 2004
Jeff Jarvis and Tony Pierce are agitating for a clean campaign — no Swift boat vets or TANG whacking or faux Purple Hearts or Kitty Kelly coke. They argue that what the candidates did 10-30 years ago a) is irrelevant to current and future performance AND b) won’t impact swing voters.
Funnily enough a journalist asked me yesterday whether moderate bloggers could ever attract monster traffic like those of top Blogads sellers. I had pointed out that us/them punch-fests are much better for traffic than on-the-onehand/otherhand-wringing. The journalist suggested “perhaps the moderates could piss both sides off.” Maybe Jarvis and Pierce will spark something like that. Perhaps the restless political dialectic has finally produced a defined and angry middle, the anti-mud party, to serve as a new pole.
Me, I’m not joining the anti-mud party.
I disagree about a) and b). Neither Jarvis or Pierce are swing voters and so miss the muddy point. The electoral reality is that swing voters will swing on only two things. First, character. Learning about a man’s past and watching him weather criticism of that past — trivial or serious — tells a lot about who he is and will be. Second and more importantly, momentum. Like it or not, studies of undecided voters find that they tend to vote for “winners,” the guys who seem to be ahead on election day. Sad but true.
So the winner will the guy who muscles through the mud-slinging. To wish otherwise is noble, but a waste of key-strokes.