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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cookie Cutter Campaigns

There's a good article by Patricia Lopez in today's strib on how the campaigns are getting the cookie cutter treatment from the national party campaign committees...

A Democratic Senate candidate accuses her Republican opponent of concealing his ties to President Bush. Republicans reply that to the Democrat, a far-left party member is a "hero."

The Democrat is "handpicked by national liberals," in some GOP eyes, while Democrats say the Republican is a tool of corporate lobbies.

It's all happening in Minnesota -- and in Missouri, Michigan, Washington, in fact, everywhere.

Political campaigns have become a coast-to-coast echo chamber, with the same lines of attack and the same indignant retorts -- a franchising of American politics that risks making political debates as interchangeable as Big Macs.

"We are seeing a very important shift in campaigns this year, with both parties sending out a uniform national strategy for candidates in the field," said Larry Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute's Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. "It's like McDonald's saying here's the special sauce to use.

"If you're a Republican you're talking about flag burning, immigration and defeatist Democrats who want to 'cut and run' in Iraq," he said.

"If you're a Democrat you're running against the corruption in Washington," Jacobs said. "Attack lines are developed in Washington, poll-tested and shipped out to candidates, like a product."

So Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar says it's "time for a change in Washington" with "solutions that work for Minnesota." Rival GOP candidate Mark Kennedy, an incumbent Sixth District representative, counters that "it's time to change Washington" with "common sense solutions that reflect our Minnesota values."

Meanwhile, in another battleground state, Missourians are being treated to the contest between Sen. Jim Talent (a Republican member of Congress since 1992), who is "Changing Washington for Missouri," and Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill, who wants to "Clean Up Washington."

For some reason this reminds me of Sir Joseph in HMS Pinafore's song "When I was a Lad":


When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to an Attorney's firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.
I polished up that handle so carefullee
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

CHORUS. -- He polished, etc.

As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clerk.
I served the writs with a smile so bland,
And I copied all the letters in a big round hand--
I copied all the letters in a hand so free,
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

CHORUS. -- He copied, etc.

In serving writs I made such a name
That an articled clerk I soon became;
I wore clean collars and a brand-new suit
For the pass examination at the Institute,
And that pass examination did so well for me,
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

CHORUS. -- And that pass examination, etc.

Of legal knowledge I acquired such a grip
That they took me into the partnership.
And that junior partnership, I ween,
Was the only ship that I ever had seen.
But that kind of ship so suited me,
That now I am the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

CHORUS. -- But that kind, etc.

I grew so rich that I was sent
By a pocket borough into Parliament.
I always voted at my party's call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
I thought so little, they rewarded me
By making me the Ruler of the Queen's Navee!

CHORUS. -- He thought so little, etc.

Now landsmen all, whoever you may be,
If you want to rise to the top of the tree,
If your soul isn't fettered to an office stool,
Be careful to be guided by this golden rule--
Stick close to your desks and never go to sea,
And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navee!