The Obama campaign has outdone itself again. First the creepy tapping e-mails. Now this — Attack Watch, a site designed to “Get the facts. Fight the smears . . . and help stop the attacks on the President before they start.”
This, like most features of the Obama reelection campaign, is a less appealing version of Something That Worked in 2008. In 2008, it was called Fight the Smears. The interface was friendly and hope-colored.
This time, it’s dark and angry and Web 1.0. It looks like the guy who designs 9/11 conspiracy Web sites finally got his big break.
Nothing says, "Wow, we're feeling really good going into the election season” like “HERE IS AN ANGRY PREEMPTIVE WEBSITE WITH ATTACK IN ITS NAME.”
Who designed your page interface? George Orwell?
But seriously, 1998 sent an AOL Instant Message; it wants its page design back.
“Join Attack Wire – and help stop the attacks on the President before they start."
Before they start?
I'm fine with stopping them after they start.
Terror threats and fires and M. Night Shyamalan films, for instance, should be stopped before they start.
But this is like telling your audience not to think about elephants. “Especially do not think of voting for elephants,” Attack Watch adds.
Who thought this was a good idea?
I would just like to see the committee meeting where this happened.
“Hey,” someone said. “Remember how awkward it was when people claimed the President wasn’t born in the United States, and we had to go door to door with copies of his birth certificate patiently explaining things?”
“Yeah!” Everyone nods. “Donald Trump was especially obdurate.”
“People will probably make more scurrilous attacks! And sometimes those attacks sway people! But if people know that attacks are going to be made, we can cut them off at the pass!”
This is patently silly. The group of people most likely to sign up for Attack Wire is by far the group of people least likely to be swayed by scurrilous attacks on Barack Obama. Nothing says, “I am unlikely to believe negative things said about the president” like “I just signed up for a list where he can explain to me why any attack made on him is wrong.”
The 100,000 people who have already signed up are essentially saying that they are definitely planning on voting for Barack Obama, no matter what anyone says.
Attack Wire doesn't even need to send them any e-mails. In fact, it might be better if they didn’t.
Consider: How will this work?
Stop attacks before they start? This is like that old trick where you ask political candidates, “And how many times did you murder your wife?” We all know how this turns out. We’ve seen “Inception.”
And this time the e-mail will come from the Obama campaign.
Are Attack Watchmen really going to get a message every few weeks that says something like, “You may have heard that Barack Obama has a half-bat lovechild in a cave many miles to the south. Rest assured that this is false”? “If anyone has told you that Barack Obama is actually a homicidal robot from the future, do not believe him!” “Barack Obama is definitely not behind the nabbing of those Scarlett Johansson pictures, no matter what you’ve heard.”
Nothing spreads a rumor faster than vehemently denying it.
But I'm sure they thought it through more thoroughly than that.
Or did they?
If they put as much effort into the concept as into the site design, then we can only hope.