Holy Joe has been taking a lot of flack in recent weeks for this comment:
"It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril.
Now, I believe Joe Lieberman's picture appears on the OED next to the word "douchebag." But in his charmingly awkward "Joementum" sort of way, he actually kinda-sorta-almost hit on something worthwhile there, without intending to.
As usual, Joe was trying to suck up to the President and the GOP, which I'm convinced he's a closet member of. I'm going to take the small kernel of an idea he dropped and try to nuture it into a beautiful flowering plant of electoral victory.
It's not that Democrats should not criticize Bush. Far from it. It's that they should avoid the trap of only going after Bush. With polls showing that upwards of 2/3rds of the country hates Caesar Arbusto's incompetent guts, a total focus on him will land Democrats in the trap of preaching to the choir. In short, the electorate might say: "Yeah, Bush is a bumbling tool...so what? We knew that already."
Bush is radioactive. Almost all GOP candidates from Senators to dogcatchers will be running as far from him as possible. The key for Democrats running for office is to drag them, kicking and screaming, back to the leader they've loved so well up to now, meantime defining themselves as a clear and definite alternative. In short, the basic idea here is to keep just enough pressure on Bush to ensure he remains thermonuclear to anyone who would try and embrace him, while turning the heavy artillery against the individual candidates you'll be running against.
"But Raybin!" some might wail. "How? The Democrats are increasingly being cut out of the public view by the corporate media?!"
Okay, so they've declared war. What's the classic strategy for fighting back when a smaller, ill-equipped force must cope with a large, well-organized one?
Trying to fight the GOP on their own ground right now is futile. First, they must be weakened. 2006 will be an excellent opportunity to do so.
C'mon, it's easy! Print up flyers and post them on every light pole and shove them into every mailbox. Cultivate contacts in local papers to gain favorable press coverage. I promise you, most people do not read the New York Times or the Washington Post. But they do sit down to read the "Anytown Gazette" (circulation 5,000) every evening after dinner. Hold local events on behalf of Democratic Candidate X and call the local dinky TV station. They'll show up! What else do they have to cover? Democratic Candidate X's people didn't approve? WHO CARES?! Folks, the past 6 years show conclusively that Democratic Candidate X's people SUCK. This is a citizen's Republic still! Be citizens and do your own thing!
Be funny! Take your cue from Jonathan Swift and A Modest Proposal: Sarcasm = readers = reactions. Letters to the editor intelligently needling GOP Candidate X for "flip-flopping" on his/her closeness with Bush will be printed, especially in the SmallTown Chroniclce and Advertiser. People love that kind of thing and editors know it.
The trap that the blogosphere ensares itself in every time is that it tries to go after targets too big for its guns right now. Trust me, folks, we are not going to accomplish the impeachment or Bush or Cheney or alter the tone of coverage on CNN or the reporting of Adam Nagourney or Elisabeth Bumiller. You can write all the letters or diaries you want about it; it's akin to fighting fires with squirt guns.
But it is PERFECTLY set up to work out of general sight and under the radar as a guerilla army, bedeviling the Republican War Machine wherever it turns up. Don't overthink this, though: Triangulation leads to DLCism which leads to defeat. Overthinking leads to artificality. Be spontaneous! Go do this stuff on your own as soon as the idea strikes you.
There are two basic themes all these activities should share:
1) GOP Candidate is a sucky Bush lover, Democratic Candidate is better. Refuse to back down on this point, no matter what.
2) Out of the mouths of babes comes wisdom they say, and in this situation, your two year old is a genius. What do they always ask? "Why?" That's the first question people ask and it's the most important one in life--in any situation--until one's dying day.
"Why should I vote for you?" the electorate will ask. Tell them. How? Look above. And thus we've come full circle.
So let's give Little Joey a happy retirement by not picking on his Best Friend For Life, the Preznit. Instead, let's annihilate Bush's friends and leave him standing all alone in the cold.
Bush is pressing on with whatever he wants to do, regardless of public opinion. (We're just a focus group to him, remember.) Well we're a damned sight more than a focus group to Senators and Reps. We're the ones who keep them in office or fire them. The only way to neuter Bush effectively is to leave him without any allies at all. He needs abettors; without them, he's a lost lamb.
I'm not going to disguise the ugly truth: The Democrats, by their actions the first three months of this year, are well on their way to repeating the story of 2002. No clear lines have been drawn anywhere. Alito was confirmed, the Patriot Act renewed, and Feingold left out in the cold.
Folk--mark my words--they are going to fuck this up. They are fucking it up at this very second. If you're a member of the Democratic Party or someone who wants to see them succeed, it's all up to you. You're going to have to help them win in spite of themselves.