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November 19, 2007

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Rational voters do not accept a politician's statements of positions and promises at face value. They make a judgment about the politician's sincerity and authenticity and discount his or her professed positions accordingly.

It's been that way for at least the last fifty years (a slogan used against Nixon from 1960 was "Would you buy a used car from this man?") and no doubt long before that.

Judging politicians' authenticity is obviously a highly subjective matter, but that doesn't make it any less important for a rational voter. In fact, ordinary folks are probably better equipped to make judgments about authenticity, which they do as part of their everyday lives, than about complex policy matters.

If voters form these judgments about sincerity and authenticity, why is it invalid for political commentators to offer their own opinions on the subject?

Rove is just making a personal (Ad Hominem) attack against Hillary and encouraging other Republicans to do the same.

That's easier (and in some ways more effective) than discussing the issues she's campaigning on or her political values. It's a strategy that acts as if she doesn't have any stand on any positions.

If it gets repeated enough then journalists can report on the "authenticity issue" voters have with Hillary.

With Kerry it was "flip-flopper". With Hillary it's being "calculating" or "phony" or "deceptive" - so we should not trust her.

His little mirror story is illustrative - you can say an individual is vain or self-centered and there is no way for them to stop you. Indeed, when they try it just gets your message heard a second time. Then you can repeat the story a third time as it "proves" your basic inference was correct.

He's been campaigning against Hillary for about fifteen years. Rush Limbaugh has been campaigning against her for about fifteen years.

That's a big part of why she has 'high negatives'.

Now Rove can point to 'high negatives' and say it proves she's not likable or that people 'see through her' or whatever.

Well fine, that's "politics", but it hurts our country because people aren't talking about real issues or thinking about solving problems. Rove is just promoting partisanship.

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