Are Democrats Cowards?

Josh has stirred up some dust with a couple of posts that say yes.

Earlier this evening I was exchanging emails with a longtime Republican reader. And in the course of that exchange I mentioned that while I understood the pushback against John Murtha and the announcement he made last week I didn't understand quite the ferocity of it. After all, how many non-political junkies outside of his district have ever even heard of John Murtha? As I said, I don't quite understand the full measure of ferocity behind the response.

Here's how this reader responded ..

I do, Josh.

Instant response is what you do in a modern election campaign (unless you are way, way ahead). Discrediting a critic's argument isn't enough, because it takes too much time in an environment when time is everything. Campaign politics are the primary frame of reference for politicians in Washington today. Republicans of late have practiced this trade more aggressively, though I doubt that most of them are any more insensitive to non-campaign considerations than their Democratic colleagues.

                             .  .  .

Finally and very frankly, Democratic politicians tend to be wimps. Anyone can see how easily they get pushed around by interest groups in their own party; when criticized aggressively, they tend to seek sympathy rather than hitting back. This encourages Republican political operatives to use rough tactics.

TPM Reader AR responds from the other side of the aisle ...

I must agree on at least one point that your Republican friend makes. There is a perception that Democratic politicians run when attacked that is rooted in a good bit of reality. My observations of the Kerry campaign (fairly up close) suggest that pusillanimous and risk averse consultants run campaigns. The are constantly polling the current situation and reacting. They rarely test how reframing the debate might change perceptions. You do not see ads attacking a messenger, attacking a message, using humor, using emotion and doing so on a sustained basis to build a brand.

I was not the least bit surprised by the attack on Murtha (remember how they attacked Kerry). I'll bet you a dollar that the Democratic response (if there is one) will be a) unorganized (from Biden through Dean), b) incoherent (or at least internally inconsistent), c) slow, d) measured, and e) cerebral. All the wrong things to do. What they need to do is show some blood and gore, use a couple of veterans, and ask the question -- is this worth it? If it is, why are the families of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Delay, Hastert, Rumsfeld et. al. not on the front lines? As we say in Marketing, an anecdote is worth a thousand data points.

Josh has started another thread at TPM Cafe. Here are a few of my favorite comments:

CamilleRoy answers the question

Are Dems Wimps? in the affirmative:

Yes. Dems for the most part run a show called 'Rebuttal' while the Republican show is 'Attack'. In a sound bite environment the rebuttal often doesn't even register, and our political sound stage is filled with Republican attacks. This is why the Republicans dominate at the level of rhetoric, even while poll after poll shows voters don't support their policies.

 One purpose of these ferocious attacks is to discourage Dems from uttering any strong view, to push Dems to  confine themselves to rebuttals. In calling for an Iraq pullout, Murtha was an exception to the standard Dem strategy. The pushback against Murtha is a signal to Dems to stay in their rhetorical cave.

 As a liberal, it is incredible to me how wimpy Dems are. Dems act as if vigorous assertion of views and values is something to be ashamed of. I think Dem political rhetoric actively discourages moderate support, because it sounds so whiny and apologetic. The Repubs 'sound' confident and competent, though they ruin everything they touch.

The opinion on both sides of the political divide is overwhelmingly "Yes. Democrats are cowards." By their failure to achieve a brand identity, their failure to fight back when attacked and their failure to actively oppose Bush's legislative agenda Democrats have been universally branded by the RWNM and the M$M as cowards.

Jay Ackroyd provides an accurate description of the GOPER strategy

I agree with minimatz's post below, that the issue is that the republicans are still in a politicization mode.

But what I'd ask us Americans to rally around, JC2, isn't Murtha's proposal so much as the need to have the policy discussion There's  a pent up failure to deal with this, a swelling boil  I thought Murtha might have had an opportuity to lance.  I'd said, somewhere here, I think in response to Daalder's post that his initiative could work--that Congressmen could go home for their breaks, hear from voters, understand how upset everyone is, and come back in January with a newfound commitment to finding a way out.

I was wrong. The Republicans chose instead to malign the patriotism of anyone who questions anything.

The GOPERS avoided a policy discussion they would use by attacking the patriotism of every single Democrat who opposes Bush's war.

JC2 has an excellent policy suggestion

In furtherance of JayAckroyd's post, why not rally around Murtha and the Murtha Plan?  For progressives, what is not to like with the Murtha Plan?

The Murtha Plan answers the critics who suggest the Dems do not offer a solution.  The Murtha Plan is a viable, workable plan; it should be roundly endorsed. It stops us from adding to the problem; instead the Murtha Plan allows the US to begin solving the problem.

The Murtha Plan is one that even the war hawk Dems could endorse.  Hell, get Colin Powell and other moderate Republicans on board.

For Democrats, the alternatives to the Murtha Plan are to "stay the course" or appear terrbly confused and weak.

Dan K predicted exactly what the Democratic response would be

The Republicans are relying on a tactic that has proved effective over and over again - the belief that when the political knives come out, most Democrats will act like p***ies and back down.  Still, the use of the tactic this time strikes me as a bit shrill and desperate, rather than jaunty and confident as in the past.  The Republicans are definitely reeling and on the defensive.  They have lost their swagger and sense of humor.   Unfortunately, it is not clear that many Democrats know how to go in for the kill when the opponent is on the ropes.

The Vice President stood up this week before his slavish minions, put on his customary clenched-jaw scowl, and with a show of palpable, smoldering anger virtually dared Democrats to call him a liar.

The response of many Democrats?  "Whoa there buddy.  Let's simmer down.   Nobody's calling anybody a liar."

Couldn't at least one prominent Democratic leader just say: "The Vice President is a liar, and he headed up a whole gang of liars in the lead-up to the war.  If he wants to prove otherwise, then I will be happy to debate the matter with him before a television audience.  Perhaps he will be willing to come out from under Rush Limbaugh's skirt for a few hours to give me the pleasure.  But if he is not man enough to face me, then I suggest he burrow back down into whatever hiding place it is that he has occupied for the past couple of months."

Yes, the aggressive and disrespectful tone will turn a lot of people off.  But it will turn more people on.  Frustrated Americans everywhere, who are fed up with the war and all the aqccompanying B.S, and who are looking for a leader, will think: "it's about time somebody in Washington had the guts to say the obvious." Many Democrats seem taken with a personal and political style based on attempting to please everybody - or attempting at least not  to offend anybody.  But you need to be willing to make some bitter enemies in order to secure even more loyal friends.

Guess what I just heard Bob Beckel saying on Faux News? "We need to chill out a little bit with all of the attacks on the patriotism of Democrats." And the GOPER blonde sitting across from Bob just smiled. Bob Beckel is famous for playing right into the GOP game plan.

Biden, Lieberman and Feinstein will be stepping forward very soon to parse and explain and back down from the fight. Even when they are winning, the Democrats are losers and cowards. The DLC and democratic strategists like Bob Beckel will make damned sure of that.

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Comments

17 Comments

After observing how the Dems have NOT
fought for our democratic rights I switched to the Green Party.  You can easily observe the we in the Green party didn't feel the need to pull any punches or to mince words like the Dems do constantly.  Instead of calling a spade a spade they are constantly trying to people please and suck up to the Repubs.  Come on Dems, stand up and fight for the people!  That is the way to get our support!  In the meantime accept that we Greens are your allies, not the enemy.  If we make you run harder to get votes you should thank us for giving you some healthy competition that will increase your appeal to voters instead of trying to heavy handedly supress us (as I've experienced WAY too frequently).  Or has the Democratic Party gotten so corrupt and comfy that they no longer know how to be an opposition party and can only be complicit to the NeoCon Dominionists?  You should be adopting our good ideas and running with them.  President (as in actually elected) Gore knows about alternative energy policy, wise use of our military, social justice, etc., as does President-in-exile Kerry.  Listen to these wise men!  Get off your duff and start fighting for the American people!
by JamBoi 2005-11-20 04:11AM | 0 recs
Advice
Start a revolution. Just go for it.
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-20 04:12AM | 0 recs
Revolutions are not started
Revolutions are ignited because political elites ignore strongly held beliefs and demands of a substantial majority of the population. You better believe I will be fanning the spark. If it takes off it will be because both political parties ignored too many people for too long.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-20 04:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Revolutions are not started
you fan the spark. I have this 300% higher gas bill and 500% higher heating bill that I'll drop on it. Its not printed on recycled paper, I think it'll burn quite nicely.

And if it gets going lets just hope it doesn't hit all those oil wells... hm...

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-11-20 06:17AM | 0 recs
Dems Wimps
I was just over at TPM reading the posts you mention. It had my blood boiling just thinking about ANY Democrat not speaking up forcefully to defend Murtha and to trash his critics.

Let's recap. The most junior member of the House of Representatives clearly called a former Marine with a distinguished service record a coward because he spoke his mind and because he was a Democrat.

But that's just the tip of it. In preparation for their ridiculous attempt to paint Democrats into a corner by bastardizing Murtha's call for an intelligent withdrawal, the Republican party also orchestrated a mass Murtha bash. In a press conference called specifically for painting Democrats as the party of "surrender" a group of Republicans proceeded to tell America that we (Democrats) are a bunch of wimps.

Read this from Duncan Hunter at that press conference and you'll recognize the same old distortions but with a new twist:

I think that the attack on 9/11 is something that Americans have not forgotten, and I think they understand that the aggressive operations of America's military have helped to keep the insurgents in the war against terror off balance.

"The insurgents in the war against terror"?

Excuse me? Insurgents in the war against terror? The Iraqi insurgents, which we ourselves created with our invasion, are part of the War Against Terror?

Give me a break! Iraqi insurgents aren't a threat to America. Republicans are the ones acting like cowards because they are so afraid of "terror" that they are willing to torture, kill, and trash the reputation of the United States just to feel safer. It's time we reassured those scared Republicans that we can make them safer without staying in Iraq forever.

by Curt Matlock 2005-11-20 05:14AM | 0 recs
I posted this at dKos under a similar discussion.
The High Road. The moral victory. One's character. Social norms. The Golden Rule.

All rules by which honorable people live by.
And rules by which honorable people are bound.
And rules that restrain our movements and actions.
And make easy targets of the honorable by those who's only drive is power.

Republicans understand that politics is war. And there are no rules in war.

Democrats won't cross this line, so Republicans have a safe haven to hide behind.

Democrats won't hit below the belt or stab in the back, so Republicans don't bother defending the low punch or watching their backs.

Democrats follow the well known rules of engagement, so Republicans know how to avoid the counter attack.

Republicans understand that those in power make the rules that matter in our daily lives. He who makes the law, is above the law. Democrats see the law as sacred, where as Republicans see the law as fluid, moldable, bendable to their purposes.

To fight such an force that has no rules to play by puts Democrats at a disadvantage. Do we fight fire with fire, becoming just as low as they are, or do we continue to be the smart geek who gets shoved in the locker by the playground bully?

I don't know.

I think the problem is rolling over and not kicking them when they are down. The "moral" thing to do is not to destroy your enemy, but allow him to rise to his feet. Democrats seem to do this. They have the Republicans on the ropes, then back away and allow them to recover.

Screw that. There is nothing dishonorable about smacking the hell out of your opponent when they are reeling. Take this Murtha dustup. Kick the shit out of the GOP for that one. Be outraged. Line up to speak about the outrage. Get some well spoken Democrat or decorated war hero in Congress on every talking head show tomorrow.

Just like in every Disney movie, Democrats don't have to be the one to kill the bad guy. Just let them do themselves as we avoid the blow that throws them off the cliff.

by michael in chicago 2005-11-20 05:56AM | 0 recs
My Terrible Permanent-Eyes-Crossed Malady.
It is the "John Kerry Syndrome" that has led to my terrible permanent-eyes-crossed malady. Not contest Ohio??? He is either a space alien, or a CIA disinformation agent, sowing the seeds of learned helplessness among the besieged populace. And we still have computer voting -- without the slightest whimper from the Stepford Democrats???

It's obviously all a thinly disguised national circus. I am now ready to delete all my phony "favorite" websites, and throw in my lot with:

Break For News -- Exposing The CIA Internet Fakes

How stupid do the political clowns think we really are? No wonder nobody votes anymore!

Oliver Stone For President!

by blues 2005-11-20 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: My Terrible Permanent-Eyes-Crossed Malady.
The American people are very stupid. Something link 35% of Americans still believe George Bush is honest. How stupid are those people? I'm not sure Laura Bush believes George Bush is honest. She knows he's lying about not drinking anymore.

How stupid is the M$M? Is there anyone on the face of the earth dumber than Tweety? Well, not counting the dummies at Faux News. Those boneheads are off the chart. Limbaugh doesn't count because he's probably still strung out on dope.

How stupid are DLC Democrats? The L.A. Times had a poll last week that said 67% of Democrats want our troops out of Iraq in a year. How stupid does a politician have to be to disagree with 67% of his base? And still think they can win a Democratic primary?

Are you kidding me?

by Gary Boatwright 2005-11-20 07:12AM | 0 recs
IMO Fintan Dunne (AKA BreakForNews) should
be taken with a huge grain of salt.  I've personally corresponded with Dunne and its very tough to tell exactly where he's coming from.  This Arab-Irishman seems to be saying that all these other websites listed (and there's some damn good ones on his list) have fallen prey to the CIA uber machinations but thank god he has remained pristinely untouched by their manipulations.  Yeah right.  And like the CIA is the only ones doing disinfo out there and the only ones we need to be aware of.  Yeah right.  

I have to wonder about whether he is really seeking the truth, just boosting his ego, perhaps is a disinformation artist of some other kind, or maybe is just plain wrong.  I don't know, but it seems suspicious to me.  It seems he would have all citizen researcher/journalists either beholden to his point of view or fighting among themselves.  I think he's more of what one might call a "counter-conspiracy theorist" -- trying to knock down all other conspiracy theorists -- than the conspiracy theorist he claims to be.  In otherwords its seems like his attitude is that if the idea didn't originate from him it must be wrong.  NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.

I will say this for him: his irish accent is pleasant for this Irish-American to listen to. ;-)

by JamBoi 2005-11-20 11:23PM | 0 recs
Re: IMO Fintan Dunne (AKA BreakForNews)
Maybe he's trying to be one of these tiresome "debunker" types???  I don't know. I do know its hard to tell where he's coming from and his logic and tactics are very suspicious.
by JamBoi 2005-11-21 06:17AM | 0 recs
Re: IMO Fintan Dunne (AKA BreakForNews)
Conspiracy theory is an acquired taste. Maybe the rest of us hate them because they make us seem so damn boring. I try like a rabid demon to be a snarky gadfly, but I simply cannot compete with these guys. After all, they seem to really believe their own stuff. Kinda like "W", but with nearly coherent ideals! There are always the few Great Ones. (Everyone should at the very least get their Dave McGowan fix daily.)

The
Greats!

by blues 2005-11-22 10:51AM | 0 recs
Fintan Dunne is hardly "A great"
greatly full of himself maybe.
by JamBoi 2005-11-23 05:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Democrats Cowards?
Yes.
by Tod Westlake 2005-11-20 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Are Democrats Cowards?
Yes. The Dem leaders are bluebloods who, in the worst case scenario, will suffer a tax break that will make them 33% richer than before.

They do not represent me, or my hardworking blue collar ancestors who fought for a future better than the present. There is no team leadership here.

When a renegade MIRV hits the US then we'll begin thinking through what real people have to say.

by JHGrimson 2005-11-20 05:07PM | 0 recs
Truths Of The Prophets Written On Subway Walls!
Dave McGowan / The Center for an Informed America
----- This guy is The Man! -----
http://educate-yourself.org/cn/davemcgowan52newsletter13mar04.shtml

Fintan Dunne / Break For News
----- Fintan is the only one not on a CIA retainer (except for blues, of course) -----
http://www.breakfornews.com/TheCIAInternetFakes.htm

Alex Jones / Infowars
----- A paleoconservative; George W. Bush personally had him arrested! Undeniable star quality -- Never looks back! "Mexican Troops Attack U.S., (but Pentagon looks other way as per Bilderberger's commands)."
http://www.infowars.com/
http://www.infowars.com/print/Secret_societies/in_your_face.htm

MICHAEL C. RUPPERT / From the Wilderness
An Honors graduate of UCLA in Political Science (1973), Mike is a former LAPD narcotics investigator who discovered CIA trafficking in drugs in 1977. After attempting to expose this he was forced out of LAPD in 1978 while earning the highest rating reports possible and having no pending disciplinary actions. In 1996, after 18 years of struggle, he finally achieved one of his deepest wishes in a face to face public encounter with then CIA Director John Deutch on national television. Washington sources later told Mike that Deutch's mishandling of the encounter cost him a guaranteed appointment as Secretary of Defense.
http://www.fromthewilderness.com/about.html

Victor Thorn & Lisa Guliani / Wing TV
Money, control, and fear comprise the bottom-line, and by exerting their heavy-hand over the Patriot community, they're actually keeping you in line just like the power elite want them to do. They're keeping you controlled, because the most effective method to maintain the opposition is to actually LEAD it.
http://www.wingtv.net/altmedia.html
http://www.wingtv.net/

NOW I GET IT. THESE FOLKS ARE THE REAL PRO'S!

(Not mentally homogenized sufficiently yet? Then just get your butt over to my (blues) new site! (Don't cry that I didn't warn you!)

blues (a.k.a. "rkj") / anti-grammar (dot) com
http://www.anti-grammar.com/

by blues 2005-11-21 01:01PM | 0 recs
As if Dunne wasn't one of them!
by JamBoi 2005-11-22 01:14AM | 0 recs
What makes you think Dunne isn't
on someone's payroll?  If not the CIA then perhaps a CIA rival outfit. See my previous entry re: Dunne
by JamBoi 2005-11-22 01:12AM | 0 recs

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