Thursday, November 04, 2004


"'Moral issues' is just crazy-ass right-wing Republican talk for bigotry"

Very very good stuff from Mark A. R. Kleiman:
Some thoughts from a moderate Republican

A reader who is a moderate Republican and whose political savvy I respect, writes:
Kerry lost for many reasons, but here are the two at the top of my list:

1) Democrats are cowards. "Moral issues" is just crazy-ass right-wing Republican talk for bigotry. Democrats need to call them on it and capture the moral high ground again. Preventing women from exercising control over their bodies and gay couples from enjoying the same basic rights as everyone else is not moral, it's wrong. Hideously wrong. Rosa Parks-level wrong. And helping poor kids get an education and basic medical care is not "big government." It's the right thing to do, especially when you live in the world's richest country.

2) Democratic strategists have only one game plan: run left and lose. Need proof? Five words: Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry. The great exception, of course, was Bill Clinton. Hmmm. The Southern democrat who balanced the budget, reformed welfare, and passed NAFTA won two elections -- impeachment, special prosecutors, thongs, and all. But in a fit of liberal amnesia, democratic gurus in 2004 brought us back to the tried and true loser strategies of elections past.

In particular, the howling Howard Dean forced Kerry to vote against the $87 billion bill for Iraq. This was not a good idea for most candidates, but it was pure disaster for Kerry, because it reinforced the two most damaging Rovian stereotypes: Kerry as flip-flopper and defense wimp. The key to winning elections is not losing them -- and that means playing against the most unappealing perceptions generated by the opposition. Dukakis's answer to the rape question in 1988 wasn't a bad answer, but it was a scream-out-loud bad answer FOR HIM, because it played right into the image Republicans had been peddling of Dukakis as an unfeeling technocrat. Kerry's primary battle against Dean made him tack left and waffle on precisely the worst possible issue: war. He could never shake it off, no matter how many times he talked about his Vietnam medals.

The Democratic party reminds me of the Michigan football team every time it gets to the Rose Bowl. Year after year, decade after decade, the strategy remains steadfast: run the ball, run the ball, run the ball....and lose.

Today, I got an email from a Democratic friend that ended with the call to work even harder for a Hillary/Obama 2008 ticket. Huh? People, did you see the red all over the election map? To win, Democrats need to get a spine, get some discipline, and get a strategy. More of the same will only result in more of the same.
Mark doesn't provide a link to whoever sent this to him, so I can't link directly to it. Sorry, and thanks to Mark.
The duty of the opposition is to oppose

Unite behind the President? Help him dig himself out?

Are you kidding?

Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser.

Show me a Democrat who's helped George W. Bush, and I'll show you someone with Karl Rove's knife in his back. And if we unite behind him, he will claim to be vindicated in his role as a uniter.

We should give our duly re-elected President the same loyalty the Republicans gave Bill Clinton.

Our goal should be to have Bush leave office with the popularity level of a Nixon (or a Truman) and be a long-term albatross around the neck of his party, as Carter and Clinton are around our necks. No lying is required to accomplish this; we just have to figure out a way of telling the truth persuasively.
I'm not sure there's anything "just" about that, since it's what we've been trying to do the past four years. Truthout and Buzzflash and Media Matters for America and Talking Points Memo and Air America Radio and The Nation and Eric Alterman and Seymour Hersh and Juan Cole and Knight-Ridder - how much more truth-telling do we need? How much more can we stand? If there were anything "just" about it, George W. Bush would be planning his retirement right now.

That said, obviously we can't give up telling the truth and trying to find new forums to tell it in and new people to help us tell it. But the American people heard the truth this year - John Kerry did a very good job telling it - and they just did not want to listen. It had nothing to do with our ability to be persuasive; they knew the truth, praise Jesus, and simply would not hear anything to the contrary.

I'm not saying we were going to lose this election no matter what we did. One could obviously find mistakes in Kerry's campaign, and we will, oh boy will we. But I don't think it had anything to do with our inability to tell the truth persuasively. I think that's one of the many things we did absolutely right in this campaign. But some people just won't be persuaded, no matter how hard you try, no matter how good a case you present.

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