Political journalism, it has been said, is showing up after the battle is over and shooting the wounded – and one of them who deserves verbal execution is Mike Murphy, who ran Meg Whitman's very expensive, very unsuccessful campaign for governor.
Murphy – much like President Barack Obama, as a matter of fact – takes nominal responsibility for losing the election but then offers up excuses implying that he shouldn't really be held accountable.
In his first post-election interview, on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Murphy had this to say: "We got beat. And, you know, I ran the campaign. I take responsibility for it. It's a very blue state, and it's getting bluer. As the red, you know, wave, kind of went one way, there was a bit of blue riptide coming the other way."
In other words, blame Mother Nature.
Billionaire Whitman spent $150 million more or less, most of it her own money, and paid Murphy a reported $90,000 a month. He failed spectacularly, with Whitman losing to the relatively cheap, but clever, campaign of Democrat Jerry Brown.
Whitman was the perfect candidate only in that she was willing to spend oodles. She was little known outside the corporate world, had a somewhat off-putting public demeanor and positions that were nothing more than glorified slogans. Although she started running in early 2009, she ran away – literally – from journalists' questions for many months and changed positions frequently.
The campaign that Murphy and company executed was pedestrian at best, saturating the airwaves with advertising that never really said anything or persuaded voters that Whitman could make their lives better. Even the negative ads on Brown were lackluster, even though his long political history was a potential gold mine.
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