Attack Watch, Obama’s New Campaign Site Created to “Fight Smears,” Becomes Laughing Stock of Internet

| September 14 2011

Attack Watch, Obama’s new website paid for by Obama for America, has become the laughing stock of conservatives.

What is this site about?

Obama for America national field director Jeremy Bird told ABC Newsthat the site’s goal is to offer “resources to fight back” against attacks. Mostly, that means fact checking statements from the likes of GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and conservative commentator Glenn Beck and offering evidence to the contrary. The site is designed in bold red and black colors, and uses statements like “support the truth” and “fight the smears.”

Sadly, President Obama’s team has laid another goose egg. Almost every tweet about the site has ridiculed it. Conservative bloggers and pundits have had a field day poking fun at Obama.

Aside from the poor political strategy of creating a “snitch” site, Victor Davis Hanson points out the obvious “big brother” vibe.

Yet go onto the new (“Paid for by Obama for America”) AttackWatch.com website. It reads and looks like some sort of Stasi file (“file” is their vocabulary, not mine). It asks readers to inform them of criticism of Obama. The format is, I guess by intent, supposed to resemble a government intelligence dossier (“Attack files”), with its blaring black and red headers: “Attack” /”Attackers” (followed by names and pictures of the supposed bad guys)/”Attack Type” /(“public statements”) followed by check off boxes like  “Have your seen or heard this attack?” “Yes/No”. It reminds me of of living in 1973 dictatorial Greece, when we all kept silent about the Colonels upon entering the apartment building, lest the government-paid concierge write something down not nice in her black book.

Apparently no one in the administration learned from the spooky tone of the now defunct Journolist. That obtuseness begs the question, what is it with these extra-journalistic efforts to intimidate critics, as if the 2012 campaign will be based around deterrence: e.g., as if: “Beware: if you criticize Barack Obama, your name and picture will appear on our “Attack File”. We are watching you, so you watch out!”

So creepier still is the request to snoop around and collect evidence for what the Roman emperors and French monarchs used to call maiestas/Lèse-majesté—supposed crimes against the head of state, by circulating criticism of his authority that might lessen his proper sense of majesty. Indeed, on AttackWatch.com there is a special pop-up window that is reminiscent of Crimestoppers.com that supposedly will help form some sort of a clearing house: “Your email”/”content of attack or link”/”Attack type”, “Attach” with a link “Report” that pops up yet another window.

But back to poking fun, Ezra Dulis makes a hilarious parody video.

The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Flock paints a clearer picture of why this is a poor political strategy.

While the initiative is reminiscent of a similar online effort launched during the 2008 campaign, called Fight the Smears, the intimidating design and language of the new site seems to be what’s causing a bigger ruckus.

Fight the Smears looked and felt far less scary, quoting Obama at the top of its page in a classic hope-change statement: “What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon — that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge but enemies to demonize.”

Attack Watch, on the other hand, uses the shorter tag­line, “Get the Truth. Fight the Smears.”

It’s safe to say that in its 24 hours of existence, Attack Watch has already backfired, becoming a tool for conservatives to use against Obama 2012. A tweet by conservative author Brad Thor summed up the critics’s argument: “Wow, not only are Obama & Co. incredibly thin-skinned, they’re paranoid.”

Paranoid? You think? Already the conservative odd makers are betting when Obama’s people will pull the site.

President Obama is in emergency mode. Nevada and New York’s special elections were a GOP sweep. Particularly in New York’s 9th District, where a Republican has not held the seat since 1922 and where Democrats have previously won by 20 points. Even in Nevada, the Republican outperformed expectations and did surprisingly well. Even Nate Silver says, the 2010 Republican wave has not ended.

“In other words, the four special elections, taken as a whole, suggest that Democrats may still be locked in a 2010-type political environment. Democrats might not lose many more seats in the House if that were the case, since most of their vulnerable targets have already been picked off, but it would limit their potential for any gains. And it could produce dire results for the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, where they have twice as many seats up for re-election.”

The best exit quote of the night from NY-09’s Republican victory.

“I am a registered Democrat, I have always been a registered Democrat, I come from a family of Democrats — and I hate to say this, I voted Republican,” said Linda Goldberg, 61, after casting her ballot in Queens. “I need to send a message to the president that he’s not doing a very good job. Our economy is horrible. People are scared.”

Doom. What will a desperate President do next?

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