Puh - lease.
Now, I expect Republicans to run with this nonsense. They've got nothing else. But as for you Democrats and Independents... Really? Are you going to fall for that?
Don't accept their nonsense. Stand up for yourself. For your ideology. For your president.
When someone asks you how Obama could possibly have the nerve to create such huge deficits in such tough times, please remind them that the historic budget surplus left by Clinton was unapologetically morphed into an ungodly deficit by G. W. Bush thanks in large part to a war based on lies and multiple tax cuts to the richest of the rich.
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Republicans will be doing everything they can to make Democrats look as ineffective as Republicans themselves have been over the last twelve years. Unfortunately for the would-be congressional monkey wrench gang, they've spent the last decade putting in place rules and procedures that make the minority party all but irrelevant. They can shout all they want, but their voices are going to sound funny coming from that deep, deep well of impotence.
Nice as it is to see the Republicans hoist on their own hubris-powered petard, we have to do more than just enjoy the irony if we want to still be laughing at Delay in 2008, 2010, 2012. We have to not only pass bills, we have to do so in a way that fundamentally changes... well, everything.
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That's not because Democrat plans for Iraq are anywhere near as ridiculous as the 'Publicans "stay in there until they get tired of killing us" plan, but because the Democratic plans too often fall into the "you're telling me too much" trap. A "just over the horizon strike force" is an admirable idea, but in emotional resonance, it's no match for "cut and run." Instead, Democrats should turn to a simple way of discussing their ideas, one that's surfaced several times, but which should be the standard response.
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But as we're appreciating the difficulty that conventional armies face in asymmetrical engagements, let's remember the quote by Mao Tse-Tung: "all politics is war." And on the political language front, Democrats are fighting a conventional war against an enemy that just won't "fight fair."
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In those frustrating days (and they were long days), there was much speculation about what it would take for people to wake up to the combination of self-assured stupidity and mindless evil that made up the Bush administration. A few even mulled the idea that Bush could take up barbequing infants on the White House lawn without giving up a majority on Gallup.
But here's the thing -- it wasn't passing unpopular laws and unpopular policies that finally brought Bush low in the polls. It was the incompetence displayed in carried out his edicts that made people doubt the emperor's sartorial splendor, not the wackiness of his proclamations.
Now, odd as it sounds, as Democrats make the run toward 2006 and beyond, they need to take a lesson from Bush. They need to sharpen up the utensils and track down a juicy baby.
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What is the Euston Manifesto? According to the authors, it's a compilation of beliefs from a group of progressives who grew tired of their party and are seeking to realign it. Sounds like an old Zell Miller speech, doesn't it? That's what I thought when I read it. In reality, it's a list of statements that pretty much everyone agrees with, mixed with strawmen and attacks against the Left (their capitalization) that sound like they came straight out of the Anti-Idiotarian playbook. To wit:
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First, the plan smacks of DLCism; the Democratic Leadership Council mistakenly thinks that the key to Democratic victories is to turn the party into "GOP-Lite" ("Great New Taste! Now with 50% less morals!").
Second, it perpetuates the Republican-manufactured notion that Democrats are weak on defense, and will be portrayed by the GOP as an attempt by Democrats to "butch-up" their image via emulating the Republican Party. I can already see Ken Mehlman saying, "Don't be fooled by imitators, vote for the real thing. GOP!"
There are better ways to counter the idiotic idea that the Democratic Party lacks defense credentials; releasing more reports like this one -- authored by House Democrats -- is a good start. Dems need to go on the offensive, attacking the GOP and exposing its hypocrisy, corruption, and ineptitude.
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Of course, more than a few of us immediately thought to ourselves, "Just our luck that, well, our luck has finally changed and we're stuck in an off year." And we know that, despite the implosion currently taking place among the Busheviki and their congressional allies, a year is forever in politics ...
So everyone has suggestions for the Democrats, most of which involve some kind of bullet plan. While I in the main agree with the idea that some sort of branding/framing (whatever you want to call it) may be necessary, I always get more than a little irritated at these calls for the Democrats to "tell people what they stand for." (Even Jon Stewart does it sometimes, which seems to me a rare case of his parroting the SCLM conventional wisdom on this.)
First of all, the Democrats do tell people what they stand for, but only C-SPAN junkies really get to hear what they say. This is partially the fault of the DNC and Democratic congressional leaders for not mastering the art of propaganda as well as the GOP has, but then again we don't have the Wurlitzer working for us like they do. I don't doubt that some better branding/framing (whatever you want to call it) for 2006 might help get the message across better, but the braying about nobody knowing what Democrats stand for seems to me a canard.
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Many people become aghast at the mere mention of voting along party lines. "How could you?" "Why don't you think for yourself!" blah, blah, blah. I encourage these people to first take a deep breath and second to think deeply about how American government works. For clarity, ask yourself this one question, "Does your view on most issues tend to (more often than not) a) follow the Democratic line b) follow the Republican line c) be evenly mixed between the Democratic and Republican line, or d) lie completely outside the Democratic or Republican lines?"
If your answer is either a) or b), then your best strategy for the long-term promotion of your positions is to always vote along party lines. This is why:
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