Politics 101: It’s The Echo, Not The Shot

I have no candidate in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, so the advice I’m offering is free, and that’s probably exactly what it’s worth. Even worthless, though, it’s still qualitatively better advice than whoever thought it would be smart to try to tag Jon Ossoff with some semi-embarrassing video footage of him dressing up as Star Wars characters and singing. It was college, and as I have had to explain to more than a few candidates in my time of giving out political advice, “College don’t count.”

So there’s some cringeworthy footage of a shirtless college kid acting like a dork? And you want to spend $1 million boosting his name ID with it? Hey, NRCC, 2016 called and said it’s going to grab you by the p***y. How much would THAT be worth?  

The general idea here is not completely without merit -to jump out of the pack that is not Karen Handel, some currently unknown Republican candidate has to punch media darling Jon Ossoff right in the mouth. (Figuratively, of course.) Heck, it wouldn’t be a bad strategy for a Democrat to try, either, unless Ron Slotin is happy as an also-ran asterisk in the Democratic history book. Ossoff’s experience and residence are what we in the business call fair game. Does he live in the 6th district? No. And before you lecture me on the lack of any requirement that congressmen in Georgia actually reside in the districts they represent, remember that every time you say that about Jon Ossoff, you will be reminding the voters in 6th District that he does not live near them and he is not one of them. Think:

The effective political tactic is not about the accuracy or the fairness of the accusation, but about what it leaves in the public’s collective mind. It’s not the sound of the shot that lingers, but the echo.

So, you want to tag Jon Ossoff with something? He works for Al Jazeera.He produces documentaries about ISIS for Al Jazeera. What’s that you say? Al Jazeera is a legitimate news organization that broadcasts legitimate investigative journalism? Why that sounds like something that Jon Ossoff, the favorite child of every political reporter in Georgia, should be bragging about on his website. But guess what currently DOESN’T appear anywhere on ElectJon.com? That’s right, “Al Jazeera.”  

So if it’s important enough that he’s trying to hide it, do you think it might be worth mentioning to the voters of the 6th district? If he doesn’t want that information out there, there’s probably a good reason, and you’d think at least one of my fellow consultants for the dozen Republicans in that contest would know that.

Maybe there’s a good reason to make Ossoff the Democratic choice in the runoff. Maybe the rocket scientists at the NRCC WANT the media’s most-favored-candidate to make the runoff, so they can spring the Al Jazeera trap on him then. If that’s the plan, then there’s ZERO advantage in waiting. April 18 is a long way off, and let’s face it, Ossoff is preferable to at least a few of the other candidates in that race, party affiliation notwithstanding.

The Democratic operatives with bylines may be treating him like the second coming of John Kennedy, but Jon Ossoff is vulnerable to the first candidate is willing to be tough on him by using Democratic tactics. It was Lyndon Johnson who supposedly said, “I know it’s not true, I just want to hear the SOB deny it.” Well in this case, the accusation actually is true, and the political advantage will go to whoever makes Jon Ossoff explain it.

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