Political quote of the day

What a cracker of a quote:

In politics attack is the best form of attack. James Carville, who got Bill Clinton elected, said it best: ”If your fist is down your opponent’s throat he can’t say bad things about you.”

The comment was made by John McTernan in an article lamenting Labor’s problem in the Australian election. He makes a good point that applies as much to New Zealand Labour as it does to the ALP. 

Parties of the centre-left can only win with a compelling vision based on future and fairness. The absence of a Coalition vision should make this contest so much easier. The best policy has edge, crunch and lift. It cuts through to the public, it is specific and it inspires.

Then he talks about my favourite topic, negative campaigning.

Which brings us to the final strand of an effective election strategy – negative campaigning.

In politics attack is the best form of attack. James Carville, who got Bill Clinton elected, said it best: ”If your fist is down your opponent’s throat he can’t say bad things about you.”

All voters always say they hate negative ads. Who wouldn’t? What they are really saying is that they are not shallow or venal enough to be moved by malice, money or misrepresentation. But their votes say something different. The right attacks – the ones that resonate – move votes.


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  • Justsayn

    Sad but true. Politics long ago ceased to be about doing the best thing for the citizens. We continually get the poor quality of debate and decision we deserve. The left are worse, but the right is not all that much better.

    Billy Connolly had two good suggestions on politics: don’t vote, it just encourages them; and the mere desire to be a politician should ban you for life from ever becoming one.

    But Billy failed to see that the politicians are only a reflection of the voters – “we” are to blame.

    I think we need a voter test to weed out some of the more stupid and gullible. If for instance you cannot pick the National Party and Labour leaders from a multi choice list, should you really be allowed to vote (let alone encouraged to do so)?

    • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

      I always thought that the value of a vote could be graded incrementally: there could be five questions about governance, the operation of the judicial, legislative, executive branches of government, knowledge of history, basic economics etc. all in a simple multi-choice format so that there’s no quibbling over a voter’s score. There could be five questions and for every question wrong, your vote is devalued by precisely one-fifth. This would essentially erode the value of the votes in places like Hamilton, South Auckland, The Maori Rotten Boroughs, Porirua and the Hutt Valley. But it would be fascinating to see what the level of decline in voter power would be amongst NZ First, Mana and Maori party voters especially. The Electoral Board could keep statistics on the downgraded votes and the media could tell us all about who the retards are voting for so we can take the piss out of them (as we already do), but we’ll also have some empirical data to back up our derision of the ignoramuses who’re fucking up this country and cancelling our votes by at least a factor of five.

  • cows4me

    Political parties should run any campaign they like and as many as adds they like as long as the taxpayer doesn’t have to front up and pay . I don’t wish to pay for communist Melon crap, if they want to bullshit the people let their supporters pay for it.

  • Patrick

    In Australia yesterday we had this perversity – Abbott announces welfare for mothers on maternity leave & we have Rudd decrying it as unaffordable – couldn’t stop laughing, bunch of socialists all of them, Abbott included. Rudd was just pissed because Abbott trumped him, he never thought the Libs would sop to the voters like that, & Rudd knows the cupboard is bare, the rent is spent. In much the same way as Cullen & Clarke fucked over NZ before they left for their cushy well paid jobs.

    • IWantToBeLikeMallardOneDay

      In Australia you get fined if you don’t vote. The irresponsible demagogy is a consequence of this ridiculous law.

  • conwaycaptain

    Go back 100 or so years. Only property owners could vote.
    That would get rid of a large number of drongoes.