Someone at the White House must be watching us, because their super spin series Setting the Record Straight--today's installment was just posted--is devoted almost entirely to Russ Feingold. Not a word about John Kerry. So...everybody smile and wave to the White House underling staffer in charge of telling Andrew Card what's for dinner on the liberal blogs! (smile...wave...)
[cross-posted from Frameshop]
I just listened to a statement from John Kerry in response to the President's speech, and then an interview with Russ Feingold.
Russ Feingold has just become the new leader of the Democratic Party.
Kerry was confusing, he was overly patrician. He was unclear. After listening to him speak for five minutes, it was not clear what his ideas were.
Feingold was the exact opposite.
Interviewed by Nora O'Donnell on MSNBC, Feingold was asked a series of questions where he was supposed to respond to the President's attacks on his position. Rather than answer those false charges, each time he reframed the debate. Each time he did this--he was fantastic. FANTASTIC!
Feingold made several points that were crystal clear.
First, he said that the President's strategy should not be "Victory in Iraq," but "Victory Against Al Qaeda." That was a very good point. He held up the President's document and said, essentially, the title of this document is wrong. Very clear. Our goal is to stop Al Qaeda.
Second, he said that just because the President made the mistake of confusing the war in Iraq with the fight against Al Qaeda, doesn't mean that we should make that mistake over and over again. We must refocus the war on the real enemy: Al Qaeda.
Third, he said that winding down the mission in 2006 would not mean that America had 'cut and run' from Iraq, thereby giving the terrorists a victory. He explained clearly that the American presence in Iraq--our military occupation of Iraq--was the single largest factor fueling the terrorists in the world, today. He said that the President was mistaken or confused in his understanding, and that key generals and Iraqis themselves had said that the most important factor that his helping Al Qaeda is the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Fourth, he used a chessboard metaphor to explain that the fight against Al Qaeda is taking place in dozens of countries around the world. Therefore, what the President is advocating, according to Feingold, is that we fight only in "one square" and not on the whole board. It was a very clear way to frame this discussion. And one that has legs, I believe.
Feingold was great and he demonstrated the importance, and the power, of his general idea that we must initiate a 'new beginning' or 'refocus' our fight for national security. This is clearly more powerful and more effective than Kerry's attempt to blame the President for Iraq.
With Kerry, we are stuck trying to out maneuver the White House on Iraq--stuck in the frame of the Iraq war as the lone key to national security.
With Feingold, we get a comprehensive vision of national security based on success and action across the board. National security is about engaging Al Qaeda everywhere and playing on our terms, not the terms that help Al Qaeda.
Feingold's frame is not perfect, but it is powerful in how distinct and clear it is. I believe we are seeing a new leader emerge in the Democratic party in Russ Feingold and we will see his frame and his positions become more refined and more articulate as he circulates more and more in the media.
Finally! A real voice of leadership emerges.
© 2005 Jeffrey Feldman