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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

negative political campaigning « Previous | |Next »
March 16, 2007

There has been a concerted negative campaign being launched by the Coalition against the ALP in the form of dirt attacks on Kevin Rudd: they started with Brian Burke dinner affair and have broadened to mudslinging on the Opposition Leader's Catholic faith, his family's eviction from their farm, and the circumstances of his father's tragic death.

Bill Leak

It is a campaign that bears the hallmarks of the Republican style negative personal tactics in the US--though not as nasty; a campaign based on personal attacks that shifts attention away from issues of public concern. Since politics has become 24/7, 12-months-a-year campaigns in an increasingly polarized electorate, negative campaigning is set to become more central to political campaigning in the looming 2008 elections.

Dennis Glover, writing in The Australian describes the way the character bashing works:

The methods used to generate such material and channel it to the public, known in the trade as opposition research, are also well known: focus testing to identify the opponent's strengths to undermine and weaknesses to exploit; the establishment of a dirt unit to uncover irregularities about their past, including lists of enemies willing to talk to the press; the feeding of attack points to backbenchers and friendly journalists, to ensure it is all done at arm's length from the party leadership; and push polling and whispering campaigns to conduct character assassination under the radar.

The operation is designed to place Rudd under increasing psychological pressure until he cracks and reveals an unfitness for leadership---as Latham did with his 'will you lay off my family?" press conference. The game of politics is a social Darwinian survival of the fittest.

I presume that we will see increasing use of microtargeting with new media technology like blogs, podcasts and Internet banner ads, whilst the Coalition ads are more likely to t denigrate the personal character of the opposing candidate than those of the ALP.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:33 AM | | Comments (5)


The above alludes to what was at the essence of Santoro's fall.
He wasn't donating to "charity!
He was deviously funding an organisation in tune with his political prejudices; likely to be of help in pushing acceptance of conservative fertility and sexuality policy during the electoral cycle and likely to be vocal come election time.
The great shame is that he deserved sacking for it, but the subtleties would have normally eluded the wider public.
However, his arrogance had caused him to snub other rules that also rightly apply to politicians, also on on the basis of conflict of interest, so he inadvertantly fell anyway.
But for the reason he should have fallen?

it is indeed ironic that Tony Abbott writes negative campaign columns in the SMH accusing Kevin Rudd of being "slippery" and lacking in candour around Rudd's father's death and his family's eviction from their home---it all "sounds too self-serving to be true"--when the conservative Senator Santoro was busy trading shares in 72 companies after he became a minister of Ageing and not declaring it.

As a factional powerbroker Santoro is in charge of the Queensland Liberal Party organisation:-he effectively runs the show and you've got to be one of his cronies, one of his sidekicks to get anywhere.

Goodbye and farewell, Santoro.

Doesn't one of the Ten Commandments warn "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour".
Costello, Abbott, Coonan, Ruddock and the rest of this uptight puritanic ilk believe "sin" is exclusively about sexual expression, but I think Christianity, esp. New Testament Christianity is far more a critique of the perils of self-deception, pride and vanity, meanness of spirit, self-absorption, dishonesty and premeditated teachery; action and consequence.
What do these bods do at church on Sunday Mornings- walk in with cotton-wool in their ears?

The contradictions are deep between Christian politicians and their political practices.I would guess the Liberals are starring at the possibility of losing power, given the current polling.

Hence the tactics devised by the Liberal campaign committee.

The ALP is inclined to play around with the same tactics---they called for Santo Santoro immediate sacking when he initially failed to disclose owning shares in a biotech company that could potentially conflict with his portfolio.

That was before the trading in 72 shares became known.

Interesting point in an article in the SMH, 22/3:
"In the spirit of giving donors deserve the truth",
by Emily Maguire,
that highights in an unexpected way an attitude of gaallling outright hypocrisy and raises issues of coercion and suppression by the Howard government.
Maguire observes the sad history of government persecution of the Wilderness Society, initially by Senator Abetz, then others , concerning threats to remove tax deductions from the Wilderness Society. These outstanding and rational people made laudable attempts to save Tasmanian "old growth", but were accused, through some astonishing feat of mental convolution only possible from someone like Abetz , of therefore somehow campaigning for Labor.
It is wrong to try to protect the environment from vandalism, but OK to run hysterical Miranda Devine-ish conservative propaganda about imagined threats to the nation's "morals", as defined withing the narrow parameters of sexual misconduct!