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We know that we are at the hour when there is no choice to engage fully in the battle.  The recent set of attacks intended to demonize liberals and Democrats cannot be allowed to stand.  Our strength is that on issue after issue, the public in general is inclined toward our side.  The trouble that Dems and progressives get into when they try to steer people back to issues is that it turns into a laundry list, and people tune out.  There needs to be a unifying theme and a clear target for the message to sink in.

There's a single unifying them that I suggested repeatedly back during 2004, that of course was never picked up, but it remains one that ties together the entire critique:  The irresponsibility of Dubya Bush and his right-wing cronies...

Irresponsible tax cuts that squandered our surplus into record deficits.

Irresponsible failure to act on the warnings about al-Qaeda intentions to strike America.

Irresponsible "fixing of the facts" in the rush to war in Iraq.

Irresponsible inadquate plans for reconstruction of Iraq and for an exit strategy.

Irresponsible failure to properly supply and equip our serivce people in Iraq.

Irresponsible failure to serve the needs of our veterans.

Irresponsible political diversions from serious criticism of the war in Iraq and the War on Terra.

Irresponsible scheme to turn America's Social Security over to his Wall Street buddies.

Irresponsible failure to fund their own education initiative.

Irresponsible economic policies allowing America to hemorrhage not just jobs but entire industries.

Irresponsible pandering to religious extremists in matters of science.

Irresponsible suppression of stem-cell research that could aid millions of Americans and others around the world, irresponsibly undermining American competitiveness on the leading edge of biomedical science.

Irresponsible failure of stewardhsip of our environment.

Any tactic works best if you can personalize the issue in an individual target; it is useful if the target is understood to fit the image well.  Reaction ahs worked long and hard for 35 years creating the stereotypes Rove played on.  

Every American knows at some level that Dubya is irresponsible.  Everyone knows he was an irresponsible party boy; many, even among his supporters, aren't particularly thrilled with the irresponsible way he walked off from military service.  Many know he ran his business operations into the ground by irresponsible carelessness and inattention.  Even the one business he cared about, he irresponsibly traded away Sammy Sosa.

It is a theme that works because it fits the target, is supported by the facts, and unifies the critique.   If the Democrats ever figured out that they need to fight with a disciplined message, IMO irresponsiblity is the gold mine.

Originally posted to Dancing Larry on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 12:01 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great points.... (4.00)
    I think the pro Bush mantras are beginning to wear thin. Now is the time to implement a serious campaign based on the facts you've enumerated.

    It's time to hit and keep hitting! Bushco is already teetering. We need to knock those crooked bastards back on their heels and just keep swinging until they're flat on their backs.

    Guns don't kill people...it's those damned bullets! -Jake Johanson

    by Manix on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 12:08:08 AM PDT

    •  Hitting hard (4.00)
      It's time to take the gloves off.  We are the opposition party, and the first job of the opposition is to discredit the governing party.  Keep pushing the negative and it breaks through to its positive counterside, people ask, OK, we agree Bush is irresponsible--what does responsibility look like.  
      •  What does responsibility look like ... (none)
        That's the key.  We can't just harp on what's lousy, we've got to offer something better. Puts me in mind of a line from "Paint Your Wagon."  

        If she'll agree to it, the Mormon is willing to auction off his second wife to the highest bidder. Before she can say yes, somebody warns her, "Careful, you don't know what you might get." And she says, "Well, I know what I've had."

  •  I agree (none)
    that something like this is necessary as part of a successful campaign, and I think irresponsibility or something very much like that is the perfect negative theme.

    I'd hope though that we'd also be able to offer a positive theme that unifies what Democrats see as the important problems facing the nation, and what we would do to solve them.

    We don't need to so much convince people that life sucks under GOP domination. The polls are beginning to reflect that knowledge already, although a reminder doesn't hurt. We need to convince people why life would be better and more fair under a Democratic administration and Congress.

    I hope we run the 2006 and 2008 elections being for something rather than just being not Republicans.

    We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

    by badger on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 12:13:19 AM PDT

    •  i remain convinced (4.00)
      that the reason why the nation has been in political stasis for  the past decade or so is that the republicans managed to tear down the last vestiges of the old democratic establishment, but that nobody really trusted their vision after they won, because they offer nothing compelling to anyone beyond their base.

      ever since 1994, we've been treading water as a nation, more or less, because the democratic party hasn't offered a new vision, and the american people don't really trust the republicans' vision, at least not more than a razor-thin plurality (if that; i have my hunches that a lot would bolt if given a real alternative).

      i think perhaps the way to go beyond all the issue lists and all the frames and buzzwords and slogans is to start dreaming, and telling the american people what our america would look like, a decade or so down the road. not just telling voters that we'd do better, but really lay out what a democratic america could do and be, and should do and be.

      maybe i'll try to diary it tomorrow morning, when more people are awake, but i think we could all do with some riffing off of the sentence, "i have a dream that one day, america __." we play so much defense, i wonder if we've forgotten how to dream great dreams.

      crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

      by wu ming on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 12:32:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't that what appealed to... (none)
        supporters of John Edwards? I was for Dean myself, but Edwards gave some mighty compelling speeches on what Democratic leadership could mean for our country. The guy was inspiring.
        •  i dunno about edwards supporters (none)
          but i thought his vision was a bit thin, if a step in the right direction.

          crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

          by wu ming on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 10:49:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It can be tied together (none)
      Rhetorically, you can make each item a dual statement, adding the positive counterpoint--the position people already agree with us on.  But as I said, if you roll that stuff out as a laundry list, everyone tunes out.  The first task of the opposition party is to discredit the governing party.  The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.  Well, we already have those, and we know it, but we can only bring them forward in the wake of a successful attack.
      •  Laundry list (none)
        I'm with you on that, and in the same vein I don't want us to run on the kind of detailed policy proposals that Kerry tried to run on ("I have a plan" and then actually trying to explain the plan in detail).

        But wu ming's comment just above is exactly what I want voters to know. They (at least enough to get us to 51% in most races) need to be able to visualize "morning in America" under a Dem administration. The agenda Reid was prepared to offer up in the event the nuclear option was successful was a pretty good start - I can't recall if it covered everything I'd want said, but it was certainly in the right direction.

        We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

        by badger on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 12:44:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  problem: irresponsibility (none)
    solution: reform.

    crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

    by wu ming on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 12:23:08 AM PDT

  •  Deficit George (none)
    George's entire life has been a deficit.
  •  Irresponsibility? (none)
    Yes. But at seven syllables; unweildy

    Corruption and Incompetence.

    One more syllable, and it nails it.

    Crooks and Screw-ups.

    Maybe better yet.

    Suggestions?

  •  This may sound Rovian, I know (4.00)
    But... and its only a suggestion open for interpretation and debate...
    (I respect Larry's work very much, and I don't want this interpreted as an attack on his diary at all) maybe we ought to examine a progressive mirror to brutally shine a light on the GOP where they live. To basically do what Rove does and attack the Republicans where they are precieved as being invincible.

    On Patriotism. On supporting the troops.
    On Values. On being strong on defending Terrorism.  

    Every American knows at some level that Dubya is irresponsible.  Everyone knows he was an irresponsible party boy; many, even among his supporters, aren't particularly thrilled with the irresponsible way he walked off from military service.  Many know he ran his business operations into the ground by irresponsible carelessness and inattention.  Even the one business he cared about, he irresponsibly traded away Sammy Sosa.

    This is true... yet half the country still revels in his reputation... as if being a frat boy over 40 is something to be proud of. And since he's term limited, he's gone... we are running against his legacy and we should be pouring tar on it.

    Calling them irresponsible is the truth, but its not exactly going to get people's blood boiling.
    To me, that's like saying that you shouldn't vote for the GOP, because they are naughty.

    God help us, but naughty actually sold Dubya to some people... and look what a legacy he has left us. We should punch Bill Frist in the mouth if he is the guy. Mitt Romney. Whoever.

    I've kind of reached a point where I think that maybe progressives need a brass knuckle brigade to go along with the imaginary one that exists only in the rightwing echochamber.

    Yes, I am bluntly suggesting taking off the gloves and questioning their patriotism, their commitment to supporting the troops, and their institutional moral values using their own language. On a crude, Rovian-Atwater, even basely cruel and jingoistic, level.

    Want to lose a war? Vote GOP. No plan. No Powell Doctrine. No armor. No victory.

    Republicans cut veteran's housing and benefits.... how is this supporting the troops?

    Mr. President... 2001 is now 2005... Why is Bin Ladin still out there?

    Republicans praise evangelicals... then gleefully invite porn stars to GOP fundraisers.

    I watched Mary Carey, the pro-Bush porn star, on MSNBC and I couldn't help but wonder...

    what would have happened if Bill Clinton had invited Jenna Jameson to a big Democratic event in the mid-1990's? We know what would happen... there would have been a congressional investigation and another special prosecutor, three books from Regnery, and a DC insider driven suggestion that Al Gore claimed he invented pornography.

    Sean Hannity is still going to say we are evil, Ann Coulter is still going to say we are cruel and mean, Michelle Malkin is still going to say we are traitors... how do you think the right would handle having to deal with a liberal Lee Atwater who wasn't ashamed to believe in progressive politics?  

    Somebody get Hannity his enlistment papers... its time!

    by LeftHandedMan on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 01:26:50 AM PDT

    •  Heh (none)
      Maybe irresponsibility annoys me more than it does most people--I won't rule that out.
      •  Or how about this? (none)
        Bush negotiates with Terrorists:

        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8359553/

        Simple. Frank Luntz-esque. Brutal.

        Bush negotiates with Terrorists.

        Bush, and his people, called them terrorists.
        Bush said we don't negotiate with terrorists, we kill them. Always.
        Bush said that people who talk to terrorists make America vulnerable to attack by showing weakness.

        Bush is secretly negotiating with Terrorists, he is a flip-flopper.

        I get your point Larry, I really do, and I agree with you... I guess I just want it to be brutal after all this garbage we have had to wade through.

        My personal theory is that the GOP couldn't handle what they dish out. Not even for a campaign cycle.

        Somebody get Hannity his enlistment papers... its time!

        by LeftHandedMan on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 01:36:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Rovian: Attack their strengths, not weaknesses (none)
      Rove wins by doing the counter-intuitive.  He attacks an opponent's strength, rather than exploiting a weakness.

      Look at Kerry: Honest to God volunteer War Hero vs. Bush Deserter & Shirked His Duty. Kerry: battle tested.  Bush: Drunk Driving & Drugs.

      So... Rove went after Kerry's strength.  The Swiftly Lying Boaters created doubt through incredible lies.  Rove won.

      Go after Bush's strengths.  "Tough on Terror" NOT.  "Honest, Moral values." NOT.  Etc....

      •  Amen. (none)
        And again I say, Amen.

        We should be the opposition party, on the attack.  Instead, we're the defensive party, always trying to prove that we're stronger and better than they say we are.  

        Time for us to be dropping the bombs.

  •  Expose and discuss (none)
    Expose and discuss all the Cognitive dissonances and repeated idiocies and people will either wake up or run away going LALALALALAL!!!!

    Either way an impression will be made. Even those going LALALALLA will have the thoughts in their synapses somewhere. It may sink in during a NASCAR race!!

    "Babble, Babble, Bitch, Bitch, Rebel, Rebel,Party, Party, sex, sex, sex and don't forget the violence...." Marilyn Manson " www.cafepress.com/katsideas

    by Chaoslillith on Sun Jun 26, 2005 at 01:43:17 AM PDT

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