Josh Marshall is Right, and Was Right in 2004

In the aftermath of the Massachusetts debacle, a lot of people are wondering what the hell happened.

The talking heads inside the Beltway are sure that it's because Obama is too Librul, of course, but I think that Josh Marshall talked about the core problem in August of 2004.

He was talking about the Bush-Kerry campaign, and he characterized it as follows:

Let's call it the Republicans' Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics. It goes something like this.


Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really -- a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they're tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.


One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.


Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person's supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who's receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.


Only now, it isn't the Republicans bitch slapping anyone. It's the Democrats who bitch slap themselves.

Or as Zaid Jilani's southern ConservaDem friend says:

And can I say this? F*ck the Democrats. They couldn’t get shit done with 60 seats, why the hell would I care if they have 59? F%$# them seriously we deserve to lose Congress this year. And don’t bitch and whine about it either how much has changed since we took over in 2006? Ain’t s%$# as far as I can tell. We capitulated to Bush, then capitulated to Republicans and now are just capitulating to ourselves.

F%$# it dude, I mean Republicans get whatever the fuck they want with 50 seats and we can’t do fuck all we deserve to lose

("%$#" mine, "*" original)

Fundamentally, when we look at what is going on in DC, it looks like no one in the Senate or the White House is even trying to make substantive change. (Pelosi, at least, creates the appearance that she is trying to do something)

What's more, among the DC Dems, there has been near constant bitch slapping of the Party Base, whether it's the capitulation on the public option, the labor union insurance surtax, or the constant drum beat of how "the left" hates the Democratic Party because they want to primary DINOs (Democrat In Name Only) who have safe seats. The central campaign platform of the Republican Party is that government can't do anything.

The Democratic Party seems to try very hard to prove them right.

Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.

Tags: Martha Coakley, Election, Massachusetts, Bitch Slap Theory, Politics, Elections, Congress, legislation, philosophy, Good Writing, Healthcare (all tags)



Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped

Not sure if you caught this:

If this is what passes for a strong stand in the Obama WH, then pack it in.  We're done here.

by the mollusk 2010-01-20 02:18PM | 1 recs
RE: Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped

I have noted that when Obama joined the Senate, he got assigned Lieberman as a mentor.

I believe that he wanted Lieberman, and asked for him.

by msaroff 2010-01-20 02:25PM | 0 recs
RE: Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped

So then - pass the bill that was written specifically to please Lieberman.

If the Dems cave on this, I will not be voting in the fall.  Not even because Health Care is my top priority, but because they're just too big a bunch of pussies to bother supporting.

by the mollusk 2010-01-20 02:29PM | 1 recs
Not true

they're assigned at random.

by ND22 2010-01-20 03:08PM | 1 recs
RE: Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped
I should have figured that this would be the response to Obama's new more aggressive tone. He should just keep doing what he's doing given the support he receives from thje Blog Birch Society. If I were a Dem congressman and read some of this garbage from my so-called supporters, I'd have the same reply: "I'll grow a spine when you start to see some good in the work I'm doing." Attitudes like yours are one of the reasons that I have noting but utter cotempt for the American political system. This post will probably fail, while the hyperactive doom crying of Kent, aaron burr and all the other whining Little Old Leftis in tennis shoes will be printed with mucho recs.
by spirowasright 2010-01-20 03:44PM | 1 recs
RE: Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped

Read some of my old comments.  I've been supportive of the process all along. But this is exactly the moment when the party needs someone to say "pass the Senate bill and move on to other things".  Instead we get this hemming and hawing from Obama.  Even Andy Stern is now saying that the House should pass the Senate version.  People are turned off because the process has looked/felt basically stalled for so long.  People want the Dems to focus on jobs and the financial system.  If they do that, I think they'll be okay next fall.  If w allow themselves to be paralyzed with fear, they will lose.  And they will deserve it.

By the way, try dialing back the contempt a few notches.  It's not becoming of a proper woman like yourself.


by the mollusk 2010-01-20 04:06PM | 2 recs
RE: Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped

Sorry, I'm not a woman, and I'm afraid my contempt for the system is a little too ingrained and will be until the 380 million impatient whiners who vote in this country get stop voting with their collective heads up their rear ends.

by spirowasright 2010-01-20 04:32PM | 1 recs
RE: Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped

If you grew a spine only when you were praised and slobbered over, then you'd be a dog, not a Dem Congressman who was sent there to do the work, not wait for praise and glory be's to heaped upon you in order for you to do the work.

If that's your attitude then you and the Dem's that are currently handwringing in Congress now and previously are the reason why the contempt and displeasure are being flayed upon you with vigor.

When Obama gets a 'new more aggressive tone', either hell will freeze over or his poll numbers will go up and the possibility of saving the Republic and his  second term will come into view.  Till then those w/out spine can keep on writhing on the floor complaining and whining that the criticism is too tough.

by TxDem08 2010-01-20 06:10PM | 1 recs
RE: Apparently Obama's been bitch-slapped
Obama coululd line up the Republican Congressionalleadership after the SOTU next Wednesday, spit in their faces and then have them and the rest of the caucus beaten to within an inch of their lives--and wevery lousy liberal blogger here and on the other sites would post 100 diaries the next day calling him a wimp. NOTHING HE DOES WILL PLEASE YOU. THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP WILL NEVER BE TOUGH ENOUGH FOR YOU. And I've had a gutful of your constant complaining! Work on tyring to do with your party what the right did with the GOP. Organize and get to work on that. But you'd better learn some other response than sitting in the corner with your arms crossed holding your breath until you tunr blue and shooting dagger eyes at your people. I'm sorry, but Super Dennis will never vbe President.
by spirowasright 2010-01-21 02:09PM | 1 recs
This is Why Alan Grayson Has a Lot of Fans

Intemperate he may be at times, he's got guts.

by msaroff 2010-01-20 02:24PM | 1 recs
RE: This is Why Alan Grayson Has a Lot of Fans

Agree.  At least he's got the guts to show he's got a pair.

by TxDem08 2010-01-20 06:11PM | 1 recs
RE: This is Why Alan Grayson Has a Lot of Fans

And if Grayson ever got to be Presuident or part iof the leadership, Bartcop would have his head phto-shopped on a droopy ballerina in 10 minutes and you'd allklink it thrioughout the Blog Birch Society.

by spirowasright 2010-01-21 02:11PM | 1 recs


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