Are Democrats Cowards?
by Gary Boatwright, Sat Nov 19, 2005 at 09:14:58 PM EST
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 ..
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.
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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.
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
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
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
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.
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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