Lynn Mitchell puts it best when she quotes an old carpentry saying:
“Measure twice … cut once.” In other words, be certain before putting saw to wood because there’s no turning back.
Yesterday, Ben Tribbett of Not Larry Sabato measured once and then cut clean through his thumb, posting a picture of a Confederate flag near a Sportsmen for McDonnell booth and shouting from the hilltops that clearly, despite the rigged angle of the shot, that flag was smack dab in the middle of the McDonnell booth, displaying for all that McDonnell’s campaign is as wrapped up in southern heritage as Senator Jim Webb and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds.
Lowell Feld of Blue Virginia felt equally aghast and jumped on the bandwagon as well, going so far as to compare it to George Allen’s appearance in Gods and Generals.
Problem is, it ain’t Bob’s flag:
Hugh Crittenden, the founder and manager of the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, is backing up McDonnell.
Crittenden said he invited both campaigns to staff a booth at the show, which draws 20,000 people each year. McDonnell’s campaign decided to show, but came late, so Crittenden assigned them the only booth left open: Number 43.
It happened to be next another vendor who also signed up late, Down Home T-Shirts, which got Number 44. According to material submitted to the show, Down Home T-Shirts sells “Confederate T-shirts and more.”
He said even if McDonnell’s staffers had asked for a move, the show was so crowded that they could not have been accommodated.
“I don’t want Bob McDonnell to get a bad rap from my show. He was there trying to be there for the outdoors people and the hunters,” Crittenden said.
Not good enough for Ben Tribbett, who, according to the Washington Post, feels the McDonnell campaign should have marched right up, ripped that flag down an thrown it into the racist face that dared to display it.
Or move to another location. Which Crittenden says would not have been possible.
So what’s a campaign to do?
Well, in the case of the Deeds campaign, they allow their entire new media playbook to be blown wide freakin’ open.
Shortly after Ben Tribbett’s post goes live, Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey chews it up and then spreads his cud to the Twitterverse:
“BREAKING NEWS: MCDONNELL HAS CONFEDERATE FLAG POSTED IN HIS BOOTH AT GUN SHOW IN RICHMOND”
Suddenly this becomes big news. But not because of the flag. No, because, well, not only is the flag flap fake (alliteration can be fun!) but the Deeds campaign just got their hands dirty, ruining their message machine, at least, according to Lowell:
The story about the Confederate flag that ran on NLS (and also here at Blue Virginia) should have stayed on the blogs. In other words, the Deeds campaign shouldn’t have touched it with a 10-foot pole.
First of all, the Deeds campaign touches the Confederate flag story, a mistake on so many levels it’s hard to even know where to begin (distracts from the campaign’s real messaging, is a controversial subject that is much better off being handled by “surrogates,” etc). Then, in the Washington Post no less, we’ve got the campaign’s senior communications guy clarifying and contradicting the campaign manager. Not good at all.
The second part of this Dear Abbey letter is very true, and plays right into the hands of those defending McDonnell because, well, what the heck are you guys doing in the Deeds camp? Focusing on the issues or kinda sticking stuff up on the corkboard and letting each person throw a dart to figure out what they’re going to do today? Where are your priorities?
The first part is a gem. Lowell is saying, “Hey, Deeds camp, keep feeding us the dirt and the mud and the things we do best (you know, NOT fact checking) and we’ll do all the nasty work while you guys can just go ‘oh, we don’t care about that, we’re just focusing on the issues, lah dee dah…’ *wink*wink*”.
Thanks for sharing, Lowell.
So here we have a campaign for governor trying to gain traction with its base by ignoring the issues that matter like jobs, transportation, education and instead focusing on abortion and feeding the bloggers who call their rural efforts a “Deliverance Tour” a horrible picture in an attempt to associate the McDonnell campaign with the south.
Oh, and Deeds is down by double digits in every poll but one that only has him down by nine. Oh, and that abortion issue is one that those polled trust McDonnell on 12% more than deeds.
And we have two of the biggest Democratic bloggers in the state running crazy with a picture. Just a picture. And it’s not a picture of someone doing something inappropriate or even picking their nose. No, it’s a flag near a candidate’s booth at a gun show.
Ben Tribbett ran Bob “Cooter” Jones’s campaign against Eric Cantor. The other drafted Jim Webb, for whom the Confederacy “simply reflects Southern pride“, to run against Haris Miller. Southern heritage wasn’t much of an issue then.
And THIS is supposed to excite Deeds’s base?
This is turning into one LONG August for the Deeds camp.