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The Blank Slate Effect

Halperin imagines a future GOP attack ad against Obama:

“So, what do you really know about Barack Obama? Did you know he supports meeting with the head of terrorist states? Do you know he wants to get rid of your right to own a handgun? Do you know he is calling for the repeal of the law preventing gay marriage? Do you know he is for a trillion-dollar tax increase? What do you really know about Barack Obama?”

An interesting question I haven't seen hashed out is whether it's clearly worse for Democrats to nominate someone who has a long public history that Republicans will gleefully dredge, or someone who basically offers a blank slate that Republicans can fill in however they want with unfair assertions and insinuations. Certainly the former model did not serve the party well in the cases of Al Gore and John Kerry. But the latter model poses its own risks in ways that are hard to game out because we just haven't seen it in a while.

--Michael Crowley