I hinted at this last night, as I knew the LA Times was calling around doing some digging. They wanted to talk to some of us who were around when the person now claiming responsibility for the Obama “Vote Different” ad was around in Ohio and mucking things up. Searching and finding patterns no doubt. Many of us were taking a big whiff of the whole thing and calling bullshit. It did smell a bit. Now today, Dan Morain at the LA Times (as well as AP earlier – ht bryan@BSB) drops the other shoe: Ad creator claimed role in Obama campaign. Whoops.

Here is why this matters. The more mucking about the more chance that something actually damaging will go down at a later date. This is why the tactics used in the Senate primary here as well as this kind of shit has to be shown for what it is: incompetence. If you are gonna run a viral web ad anonymously, bombs away! Just don’t have it blow up in your face and harm your guy. This is not that big of a deal really and probably doesn’t do much harm in the long run, but there are serious lessons to be learned. There are two different take-aways based on two different scenarios of what might have happened.

1. A Coordinated Operation. If they planned this ad based on the Lamont ad and concepted it with the knowledge of the campaign and Blue State Digital, then they screwed it up huge. The spin cycle that is going on right now and the inconsistencies in the stories lead me to believe this is a strong possibility at this point. Let’s look at the latest revelation of Phil saying he “designed the MyBarack Obama toolbox that is on the front page and all the sidebar pages”. BSD says this means he did some work on some generic tools that many campaigns are using, meanin he didn’t work expressly for Obama. Ummm…close, but not really. The tools have been around for a while and I doubt very seriously Phil was doing any work on them. He obviously meant “designed” the look of the buttons that linked to the tools. But nice try. The question to ask if you are gonna pull off something like this is how the hell to keep it internal and not have it traced back via a staffer if you wish it to be anonymous and viral. But like Arianna recently said, if something gets big enough people online will figure out who is who – even though nobody really has figured out the true identity of some of the anonymous commentors back in the Senate primary days.

2. A Lone Actor. If Phil did act alone and it went down precisely as has been stated, then you don’t hire a guy like this. He just put you in a shitstorm (no such thing as negative press??) for a week. He just tarnished your guy’s reputation as having a “new politics”. Your knight in shining armor just fell off his steed and muddied his trousers a bit. Couple this with having played the most Rovian of politics in a Dem. primary (sending links to rightie bloggers to get them all riled up against your opponent, alienating a good majority of the blogosphere in-state, etc.) and you get the picture. What were the clues that outed Phil in this? Why was he not able to remain anonymous? Did he even want to? If he shows up at camp Hillary I’ll guess we’ll know. Given what I’ve seen I wouldn’t put that past him.

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  • From the AP piece: “De Vellis said he acted like any techno-savvy, politically attuned Web surfer. He said he worked on a Sunday in his apartment, using his Mac computer and video editing software to alter an updated version of a classic Apple ad that aired during the Super Bowl in 1984.

    “But the fact remains that de Vellis was a political professional. He had worked for Democratic Rep. Sherrod Brown in his successful campaign for U.S. Senate in Ohio. And he was working for a firm with political clients, including Obama.

    “Obviously some people are going to look at this and see that I’m working in politics and they’ll think that it’s kind of disingenuous or not genuine,” de Vellis said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I still think that ordinary citizens can change politics. It could have been anyone else who could have made this ad.”

    Herein lies the problem: hubris, plain and simple. Old-fashioned arrogance, believing you can game people, believing people will be so in awe of tactics they won’t notice what you’ve stepped all over to prove something about…your self, as in selfish. Very, very selfish. Almost to the tune of Ann Coulter’s CPAC presentation. Undermines everything.

    There is nothing to admire or point to as a model.

  • Couldn’t agree with you more Jill, and Eric some excellent points.


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