Saturday, March 1, 2008

Obama Turns Tables on Clinton

In a new presidential campaign ad, Senator Hillary Clinton implicitly accuses Senator Barack Obama of being too inexperienced to lead the nation during these troubling times.

In the television ad, a voiceover describes how a telephone is ringing in the White House and how "your vote" will determine whether it will be answered by "someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world." Later in the ad, Clinton is shown answering the phone while the voiceover says: "It's 3 a.m., and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?"

The Obama campaign responded with an attack the accuser strategy. Obama dismissed the ad as fear-mongering. In addition, he turned the tables on Clinton by accusing her of making poor decisions in the past, despite her “experience.”

Obama stated: "The question is not about picking up the phone. The question is, what kind of judgment will you make when you answer? We've had a red-phone moment; it was the decision to invade Iraq. And Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer."

House Republicans 'Attack the Accuser'

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has asked the Justice Department to open a grand jury investigation into President Bush's chief of staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers. In her statements, Pelosi accused Bolten and Miers of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the firings of federal prosecutors in 2006 and for failing to turn over White House documents related to the dismissals.

The White House responded with a denial—claiming executive privilege and positioning the silence of Bolten and Miers as necessary for national security.

For the most part, however, the White House and House Republicans relied an “attack the accuser” strategy—claiming that Pelosi and House Democrats were failing to keep the US safe from terrorism by focusing on the charges.

For example, White House spokesman Tony Fratto stated that "Rather than passing critical national security legislation, they continue to squander time on partisan hijinx.”

In addition, a spokesperson for House Republican John Boehner said: “The terrorist threat to our country is not going away, and this sort of pandering to the left-wing fever swamps of loony liberal activists does nothing to make America safer.”

Monday, November 5, 2007

Clinton Video Attacks the Accusers

Hillary Rodham Clinton is increasingly coming under attack by fellow Democratic candidates, who are hoping to gain ground in the coming weeks. At the October 30th debate, the criticism reached its highest point yet, as candidate after candidate targeted Clinton and her policies. The next day, the Clinton campaign answered back. Not from the podium, but instead through a cleverly edited video delivered via the Internet.

The video was placed on Clinton’s website, as well as on Set to Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” it shows rivals John Edwards, Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd directing their answers and criticism at Clinton--one after the other, in quick succession. It ends with a snip-it of Clinton stating "I seem to be the topic of great conversation and great consternation and that's for a reason." Finally, as the video fades to black, the words "The Politics of Pile-On" appear on the screen.

In terms of apologia, the Clinton video relies on new media to deliver what William Benoit refers to as a strategy of “attacking the accuser.” Such a strategy is aimed at reducing the effectiveness of a criticisms by attacking the accusers and, essentially, undermining the creditability of their claims. In this case, it is used to dismiss the criticisms raised against Clinton as mere pile-on politics, rather than valid claims worthy of consideration by voters.

This example of political apologia also emphasizes the need for future research on how new media apologiae are employed in political campaigns today.