George Allen and his campaign hit men this week chose to again attack Jim Webb and his military experiences, this time by taking passages from Webb's novels to try to suggest that the explicit war time experiences Webb writes about are demeaning and repugnant.
I like the fighting instinct but I think Jarding and Saunders miss the negative branding opportunity. James Carville does not:
[B]ook burning is not the greatest tactic in American politics in 2006. And I think it's going to draw attention to the fact that Webb is one of the most decorated veterans of the Vietnam War, and Allen sat it out.
. . . Webb has got some pretty good answers. I'm saying to the Webb people, get out in front of this. Go take every interview you can. Challenge Allen to debate your record. Challenge to debate whether or not literature should be censored. Say: You know what? When I do vote on a Supreme Court justice, I'm going vote on somebody that allows people to write about the horrors of war, without the fear of -- of censorship.
This is really a variant on the DLC mantra about "values voters." It has been a long time since then, but right after the 2004 election, the DLC was out and about attacking daily kos and MoveOn and "decadent Leftists" generally and arguing forcefully that the Democratic Party needed to emulate the GOP on national security and "values."
Such a strategy is and was problematic for me. Not just for what it says Dems should compromise on - equal rights, church/state separation, truth and honesty and wisdom on national security (Harold Ford is very much a DLC experiment) - it is also troubling because I believe it will not work.
What Democrats should be doing is taking opportunities to negatively brand the Republican Party as the extremist, anti-science, anti-knowledge, anti-facts Party it is. It is heartening to me to see that James Carville is getting it now.