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I've been deeply uncomfortable with the Democratic Presidential primary so far, and I think I'm beginning to understand why.  I think it has to do not so much with the candidates, but with the way that we discuss ideas as a party and as a movement.

Simon Rosenberg at NDN and the New Politics Institute is a brilliant guy who introduced me into politics, and I'll always be grateful to him for that.  He framed a lot of my thinking about the party, and one point he made is that Democrats have traditionally been tremendously uncomfortable with disagreement whereas Republicans have traditionally loved to argue and debate.  He was of course right, and you can tell by watching the Republican primary and the Democratic primary.  

Here's Sam Brownback challenging Mitt Romney.

Have you seen anything remotely similar to this on the Democratic side?  The Obama campaign will send a memo highlighting subtle disagreements with Clinton, and candidates will present different plans.  But when push comes to shove, there's just this, I don't know, fear of seeming different.  Obama will not even broach a disagreement with Clinton, for some weird reason.  John Edwards is putting forward the most ambitious rhetorical campaign, by far.  He's attacking the frame of the war on terror, calling it a bumper sticker slogan and genuinely going after the whole intellectual edifice of the right.  Clinton and Obama are not doing that, though Obama occasionally makes stabs in that direction.

But why is he so uncomfortable with the fact that he believes different things than Clinton?  Here's what I mean, from the South Carolina debate:

Senator Edwards, you made a high-profile apology for your vote in favor of the Iraq war resolution. You have said, quote, "We need a leader who will be open and honest, who will tell the truth when they made a mistake." Was that not a direct shot at your opponent, Senator Clinton?

Former Sen. John Edwards: No, I think that's a question for the conscience of anybody who voted for this war. I mean, Senator Clinton and anyone else who voted for this war has to search themselves and decide whether they believe they've voted the right way. If so, they can support their vote.

Why couldn't he have just said yes?  I mean, it is a direct shot at Clinton.  It's not an 'attack', but it's a disagreement.  And that's FINE.  That's democracy.  Here's what he could have said.

Yes.  Senator Clinton is a good person, but she thinks the vote to authorize the war was correct.  I don't.  As President, she has said she will keep troops in Iraq.  I think that's a bad idea.  Senator Clinton and I have different ideas about America's place in the world, and it's good for the party to have this debate.

Watch the Brownback video, where he challenges Romney on a whole range of issues.  What's wrong with disagreeing and arguing based on that disagreement?  Nothing.  And yet, I'm convinced that a fair number of base Democratic voters do not believe that disagreement within the party is ok.  Take, for instance, the notion that Democrats need courage.  Do you think that Steny Hoyer or Rahm Emanuel are cowards for voting to fund the occupation?  Perhaps they are, and perhaps their decision was cravenly political.  But what if they genuinely disagree with us on the vote.  Maybe they have different ideas about national security and executive authority, ones we don't agree with.  Or let's take the notion that the problem with Democrats has something to do with a lack of messaging capacity.  We can't say one thing clearly and simply.  Maybe that's true.  Or maybe Democrats have different ideas about stuff, and it's not actually a messaging problem so much as it is that we disagree.

I'm a partisan Democrat, and will be for the foreseeable future.  But I believe in the power of ideas more than the power of political parties, which is why I never hesitate to make criticisms of anyone based on their arguments.  It's really quite silly to pretend that we all agree on stuff, and also that it's necessary to all agree on stuff to win elections or wield power.  The way you govern is you work through your disagreements by acknowledging them openly and submitting them to scrutiny.  That's called pluralism, and it's the basis of the scientific method and political liberalism.  

It's ok to disagree.  It's ok to run primaries against people based on good faith disagreements.  When I talk about Hillary Clinton being principled about her hawkishness, I am not any less inclined to want to see her defeated in a primary.  But that's because I don't agree with her ideas, not because she's this or that as a person.  It's really remarkable how many supporters of hers read into her ideas their own liberal instincts instead of trusting what she says.  And when John Edwards refuses to acknowledge that he disagrees with Hillary Clinton, while obviously dancing in the media with a high profile apology that implies a whole lot of disagreement with a whole lot of people, he's avoiding the argument the party needs to have.  Edwards is putting forward real and different ideas about America's place in the world.  He disagrees with Clinton and Obama about a bunch of stuff.  That's fine.  There's no reason to hide it.

Seriously, watch Sam Brownback's video clip.  What he does in that Youtube clip suggests a healthy party structure.  Republican Presidential candidates are willing to fight with each other to see who comes out on top, to see who's more persuasive.  In lower and mid-tiers of the party, the GOP isn't having a debate, just as there is a real debate on the left in some areas of the party (though not really on the Presidential level).  But it's instructive to see what a party that's comfortable with disagreement looks like, and to compare that to what we have.

Originally posted to Matt Stoller on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:36 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Just seems a little early yet... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bablhous, Elise

      Why get in a free-for-all at this date?  I think they're measuring one another, measuring the staff (their own and others) and waiting to see how many will be serious contenders.  

      I just see this time as a "dance around the ring and check out the timing" period.  I suspect we'll start to see some punches thrown and positions staked out more firmly in a few months.

      "I never gave anybody hell. I just told the truth and the Republicans thought it was hell." -- Harry S. Truman

      by revsue on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:52:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  We're in a sound-byte era (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bablhous

          A lawyer doesn't lay out his/her whole argument before the trial.  There will be argument and debate, but at the right time.  Every idea they throw out will be crunched down to a misleading comment or two that can be mis-represented by the media.  

          And....since when does the debate require the candidates to lead it?

          Maybe because I come from a congregational  church denomination, where we expect ideas, debate, and representation to bubble up from the congregation as much as from the pulpit (if not more so!), I expect to see the debate taking place in places like this, and ideas to go to the candidates for response.  I think that in a democracy, we the people are responsible for pushing our candidates to address what is important.

          The debate has started on DKos, and on all the political blogs that encourage discussion.  We'll slug it out and come up with new ideas, and push them to the candidates.  THEN we'll see if they listen.  And if they know how to fight for a good idea.  

          "I never gave anybody hell. I just told the truth and the Republicans thought it was hell." -- Harry S. Truman

          by revsue on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:41:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The Substance (0+ / 0-)

          But where is the debate?

          ... will come when Al Gore joins the others this Fall.  

          His entry, I hope, will elevate the discussion level and I'm sure he'll figure out a way to inject the issue of Global Warming, our relations with other countries, and the role this country ought to play in the world economy.  Big issues that deal with the future and not so much the past.

          So far, as you suggest, the Democratic debates have been kind of vanilla.  

          And, I'm being generous.

          A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

          by JekyllnHyde on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:50:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And, Here's How (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JuliaAnn, bablhous, MO Blue

            ... as this article points out

            The prospect of a good-natured, well-intentioned, highly qualified and unintimidated presidential candidate - and, especially, president - scares the hell out of regressives.  It is both a measure of their fear, their political and policy bankruptcy, and the correctly perceived threat of a Gore candidacy that they’ve already begun hurling their cheapest pot shots at him, though the guy is nowhere near having even announced yet.

            But nowadays I think a Gore presidency would very likely be different.  I think it would be bold enough to end the war, to seriously address global warming, to create a real universal national healthcare program, to begin re-balancing the distribution of wealth in the United States, to restore the Constitution, to appoint progressives to the federal courts, to restore America’s participation in international institutions and its reputation in world opinion, to implement a full-scale alternative energy program, as well as job development, stem cell research, and a whole lot more.  I think the majority of the American public already wants all of those things, and it might be very easy to achieve them under the combined circumstances of a completely failed conservative experiment, a clearly articulated progressive vision, and a bold agenda-setting president showing aggressive and fearless leadership in pointing the way.

            Sounds good to me.

            A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

            by JekyllnHyde on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:06:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  There is no debate. (0+ / 0-)

          Democrats, IMO, want us to keep our mouths shut and let them do their thing.  Lets look at:  Obey increases funding for abstinence only programs.  Rangel negotiates secret trade deals with Bush.  Kennedy negotiates guest worker program and increases to H-1B visas.  Democrats cave on funding and continue the occupation.  As minorities, they couldn't do anything.  As a majority, they still can't do anything. Looking back, Bill gave us NAFTA, media consolidation, and the war on welfare babies while leaving corporate welfare untouched.  There is no debate because none of it matters. HRC will be the nominee, and she will do as the ruling class and their money dictates.  Having said all of this, I appreciate your writing, and your pov.  I visit mydd for you.  Thanks for stopping by.

          No justice, no peace.

          by dkmich on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 02:58:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Keep the powder dry. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        No justice, no peace.

        by dkmich on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 02:51:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's Never Too Early (0+ / 0-)

        To test ideas and build muscle.

        "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

        by koNko on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 07:14:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MBNYC, shaharazade

      "...the Edwards folks do not endorse Brittany's crotch."

      by Pager on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:55:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes yes yes (0+ / 0-)

      A thousand yeses.

      Let us debate the issues, let us fight over where the party is going in the new century. Are we going to be a bunch of triangulating folks ala Bill Clinton? Or is the party going to stand for big bold new ideas and actually try to implement them, like Edwards is trying to do.

      We can still show respect to people we disagree with.  

      When I tell you that I love you Don't test my love Accept my love, don't test my love Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

      by jbou on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:01:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I like the idea, but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, Simplify

      there is the notion that it hands the opposition ammunition, as well as playing into the traditional media accounts that Dems are divided.  Not only that, the leaders of the presidential primary only need to hold out until some of their lower end competitors are down for the count, and fight for the remaining votes.  The top candidates very likely view the idea of coming out to fully debate before the candidate attition occurs might hurt their chances by making them look less presidential.

      The reality is that the candidates are likely playing a perceptions strategy rather than a "survival of the fittest ideas" strategy - probably because they know the electorate pretty well, and understand that most voters are uninformed and make decisions based on intuition about candidates on little information rather than fully formed political knowledge (which we netrooters demand, but should not expect if candidates' strategy is to manage perception rather than debate ideas).  

      9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

      by Prof Dave on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:06:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "there is the notion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MO Blue

        that it hands the opposition ammunition, as well as playing into the traditional media accounts that Dems are divided."

        I'm sick of Democrats' letting fear drive their messages.

        Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

        by Simplify on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:32:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hey Matt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Airpower

      I still think if Ned Lamont Punched Joe Lieberman square in the mouth when he called him a liar and KNOCKED HIS ASS OUT at the New London debate he'd be our Jr. Senator right now,LOL.

      Your Dead on.Poltics ain't Beanbags and taking a few good stomach punches now amongst these candidates could help in the final 15 rounder for the CHAMPIONSHIP BELT(Presidency)

      http://dumpjoe.com/

      by ctkeith on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:20:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I hadn't thought of it that way, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, Sharon in MD

      but it makes some sense.

      Is it partly, I wonder, that because Republicans are more likely to fall into line once the primary is over, they can engage in that kind of direct disagreement during it, while Democrats are less likely to bow to authority post-primary so it's more important to avoid division?

      •  possible (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise, Sharon in MD, shaharazade

        I think it's more related to the lack of establishment institutions on the left, the lack of credible left-wing forums for intellectual debate, and the fact that our ideas are not connected to our organs of power.

        For instance, Heritage is hooked into a whole series of right-wing media outlets and associated PACs and lobbying firms.  And that's been going on since 1974.

        CAP only got started in 2003 or 2004.  It takes a long time to create a culture of ideological debate.  What is strange is how apolitical our academic experts are.

        •  Really good point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elise

          Academics who don't have thinktank funding but actually work in colleges and universities are under strong institutional pressure not to be too partisan.  And of course they don't have PR staff to push their ideas and their legitimacy in the public debate, so they're less likely to be invited out of their relatively narrow professional spheres.  So all of that is something that rightwing think tank funding buys.

    •  i don't necessarily disagree, matt (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Poika, bablhous, Elise, kaye, Sharon in MD

      but on the other hand, the traditional media has been running so long with the "united Republicans, divided Democrats" meme that it's nice, for once, to see the GOP squabbling amongst themselves while Democrats (at least on the surface) appear to be consistent with one another.

      Let's give it a few more months--i'm sure we'll start to see differences highlighted soon.  Especially after September when the Occupation issue gets cleared up one way or another.

    •  yes (0+ / 0-)

      although, I also agree with the point that it is in Hillary's political interests to not highlight these differences.  The theory being that if she blurs the differences between all the candidiates, that she will then get the nomination by default out of having the strongest background in most voter's minds.  In that second debate, she was taking every opportunity to point out that the differences between the dem candidates were small, while the differences between dem and rep were large.  That wasn't just her being a rosy-lensed peacemaker, it was very shrewd.

      Agreed that Obama in particular is going to have to start highlighting differences to catch up to her.  Edwards has a few more political options than that just because of american geography.

  •  At some point (5+ / 0-)

    Obama is going to have to articulate what policy differences he has with Hillary. I'm not seeing that yet, and I like the guy. That said, despite this liking of him, I'm supporting Edwards, because he's offered the clearest policy proposals so far.

    "All who seek to gain from liberty something other than itself are born to be slaves." - Alexis de Tocqueville

    by MBNYC on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:39:49 PM PDT

    •  Seriously (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, MBNYC

      It took until there were only two men left in the primaries for Edwards to really go after Kerry, and even then it was fairly mild.  I have to wonder how much of this is based off of so many of our candidates being Senate colleagues, present or former -- whereas Rudy and Mitt don't have those personal ties to the other candidates.

      •  dean (5+ / 0-)

        Dean went after the others... hard.

        •  He did. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elise, Sharon in MD, edgery

          He also had a larger disagreement with his field on Iraq than any pair of our candidates have on any major issue, that I can think of.  Everyone agrees on the goals -- withdrawal from Iraq; expand health care coverage; address climate change, global poverty and Darfur; etc.  It's more of a question of means and priorities --how about Edwards pressing the other candidates as to why American poverty shouldn't be atop their agendas, say?

          •  by keeping it at the top of his agenda, Edwards (0+ / 0-)

            is making it part of others -- which is what he wants I believe.  To try to force others to talk about poverty issues is likely to lead to a battle over resumes (ie, the past) instead of battling for the best solutions (ie, the future). Actually a good strategy if his underlying purpose is to attack poverty regardless of whether he wins or not.

            "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

            by edgery on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:39:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  that's a whole other article (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Elise, Simplify, Akonitum

              And Matt Bai just wrote it:  "There is a kind of meta-politics at work here, as there so often is in the modern campaign, where candidates feel compelled to telegraph their authenticity to cynical voters. Several times while we were together, Edwards pointed out to me, as he often does in interviews, that no one in politics thinks poverty is a winning campaign issue, and thus, the fact that he harps on it can’t possibly be helpful to him. He says this to underscore the fact that he is not the kind of candidate who exists to give the people what they want. But of course, as Edwards surely knows, the mere act of taking a stand on an issue that is considered a political loser makes him, in the eyes of many liberals, a candidate of uncommon courage, even though he isn’t saying anything that most Democratic primary voters don’t already agree with. So, in an odd way, building a campaign around poverty — while at the same time calling for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, which thrills liberal partisans — turns out to be a very shrewd primary strategy, after all. It’s not that Edwards doesn’t believe in what he’s saying; it’s just that he surely knows, at the end of the day, that it isn’t really a liability, either."

      •  Let's assume (0+ / 0-)

        for argument's sake, that the top candidates agree on 90% of the issues; they're all Democrats, after all, which limits the intrinsic differences they have. That leaves 10% up for discussion and positioning, as well as the intangibles flowing from a candidate's personality - how they make decisions, who their influences are, and so on.

        I don't want to see them go after each other in the way that candidates do here in New York in Democratic primaries, because these (almost) always descend into character attacks; what I want, and what would be healthy for us as a party, is a debate about those 0% of issues and the differing emphases the candidates would place on them.

        One example: unions. A President Edwards is going to strengthen the NLRB and make it an effective advocate for unionized labor. Hillary, with her preference for 'free trade', won't, and Obama, we don't know. That's a key policy difference. And I'd rather we discuss the implications of that in forming our decision than the newest hit book on Hillary, Obama's abs or Edwards' hair.

        "All who seek to gain from liberty something other than itself are born to be slaves." - Alexis de Tocqueville

        by MBNYC on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 06:26:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a little bit surprised by this analysis (0+ / 0-)

    I thought it was pretty much CW that Democrats love to nominate dark horses, whereas Republicans always go for the perceived annointed official candidate. I think this time around is pretty much the first exception to this rule - the first real race without a clear front runner and without a clear perception as to who is the candidate annointed by the party big wicks the Republicans have had since, well, actually, perhaps all the way back to 1976. If this is true, how do you reconcile that with the notion that Dems are uncomfortable with disagreement?

    Damn George Bush! Damn everyone that won't damn George Bush! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning George Bush!

    by brainwave on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:43:45 PM PDT

    •  Also, it's Republicans (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OCD, Prof Dave, Marcus Tullius

      who are rumored to adhere to Reagan's "11th Commandment" - Thou shalt not criticize a fellow Republican in public or something like that.

      Damn George Bush! Damn everyone that won't damn George Bush! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning George Bush!

      by brainwave on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:45:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's my point (6+ / 0-)

        Criticizing a Republican is NOT the same thing as criticizing an idea, but we seem to think it is.  Why is that?

        •  yes (0+ / 0-)

          Let us fight over the ideas. Let us have the battle between liberal and conservative. We see too much overlap in ideas. For example, both sides think college education is a good idea, and both sides propose pretty similar ways to help parents and people pay for college, why not come out with the idea that Deval Patrick has come up with here in Massachusetts? Community college is free, plan and simple. Edwards has proposed the first two years of college should be free, so he has gone the radical route too, and that is good to see.

          When I tell you that I love you Don't test my love Accept my love, don't test my love Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

          by jbou on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:07:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Got it (0+ / 0-)

          The first thing that occurs to me is, they're trying to downplay disagreements because they're so used to getting beaten over the head with that stupid old "Democrats are divided" meme.

          Damn George Bush! Damn everyone that won't damn George Bush! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning George Bush!

          by brainwave on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:08:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But (0+ / 0-)

          Republicans with this apparent exception, haven't been noticably criticizing each others' ideas to any extent that I have noticed - though I admit that I haven't been paying too much attention to them.  Do you really think they are breaking Reagan's 11th by going after each other to any extent regularly?  This seems more like Brownback trying to make a name for himself in violation of the 11th, not an example of standard Republican operating procedure in a primary.

          I don't really know, though, so maybe i should just be quiet..

          9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

          by Prof Dave on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:11:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Plenty of disagreement with Clinton at Dkos. n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  sure (6+ / 0-)

      But why do we disagree with her?  Is it because she's untrustworthy?  Or because she has different ideas that we disagree with?  Or both?  These distinctions are important.

      •  My biggest problem with her (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade, Chrispy67

        isn't necessarily on policy even, but on how she shapes it. She's surrounded herself with a very loyal, cliquish cadre of loyalists, and that's altogether too close to the way the Bush White House does business. There's also the factor that she and her people tend to view disagreement as disloyalty; at least, so goes the media story, and a friend of mine who worked on the Hill during Clinton I confirms that.

        It's troubling.

        "All who seek to gain from liberty something other than itself are born to be slaves." - Alexis de Tocqueville

        by MBNYC on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:57:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's exactly what Kerry did in 2004 and Gore (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade

          was guilty of it in 2000.

          The last successful Dem nominee came riding into town with his own posse (and thus, we have the Rajin Cajun, Begala & the rest of the gang), and not the DC consultancy.

          Now, they're part of the consultancy Hillary is relying on. And, the beltway tends to be a barrier between candidates and the voting public.

          New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

          by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:14:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why doesn't Clinton come here? (0+ / 0-)

        I wish she would come here to listen to Kossacks' concerns.  There are many concerns, including those that you mentioned.

      •  I do not... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade

        like Clinton's policy choices, and I do not like the fact that she hasn't led a big fight for anything in the Senate.

        When I tell you that I love you Don't test my love Accept my love, don't test my love Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

        by jbou on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:08:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  or are we afraid of her in a general election? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise

        there are so many factors contributing to the Hillary unease, IMO.

        how much will she hurt our chances downballot?

        New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

        by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:09:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  useful (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cwaltz, shaharazade, Chrispy67

          how much will she hurt our chances downballot?

          A lot.  But that's electoral focused.  Jimmy Carter won in 1976, but was it a genuine victory for progressives?  Not at all.  He screwed up the party badly, and led to Reagan.

          One question is whether Clinton will be a good President.  Are her ideas good?  We need a really good President, and can't we debate our politics in that context, instead of 'oh well so-and-so has a stronger presence on tv' or other suppositions that we really are just pulling out of our ass.

          •  the more I watch her, the less confident I am (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaharazade

            that she could make a good president. And, it appears I'm heading in a different direction than most I know, who seem to be becoming more comfortable with voting for her.

            her willingness to pull out the 9/11 card last week was too much...and then during the faith forum with Jim Wallis she absolutely failed the pro-choice movement by implying there might be a day when "safe, legal and rare" could become "safe, legal and never."

            I was stunned she walked into that trap, absolutely stunned.

            I know this comment is less about policy positions and tends more to the 'presentation' aspect of our selection process, but I'm not sure how we rescue our nomination process and elevate the debate to one focused on issues & policy.

            New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

            by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:46:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Victims of abuse (14+ / 0-)

    The Democratic party has for years acted collectively as if it is an abuse victim, cowering and placating to avoid further vicious criticism and harm from its partner in the house of politics.  Republicans have been happy to oblige, offering a few carrots and a lot of sticks in order to foster the behavior.

    I agree that the Democratic primary so far shows candidates reluctant to engage each other on the issues, and a media storyline eager to pounce on any disagreements.  This would seem to fit with the abused-party idea, as our candidates seem to be walking on eggshells in order to avoid screwing up the next presidential election.  They're afraid that criticizing each other will be seized on by Republicans to pull down the nominee.

    As if Republicans aren't perfectly capable of inventing their own attack lines ... or of being entirely unbound by fact or truth to do so.  Democrats have a lot of work to do to heal, to become more self-directed and confident, to avoid reacting to Republican actions and memes.  So far I haven't seen a leader in the primaries that offers a strong sense that that party healing is necessary.

    Just when you think they can't get any worse, you're not surprised to learn you were wrong.

    by Dallasdoc on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:49:34 PM PDT

    •  Spot on. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc
    •  What I think ails the Democratic field (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc, shaharazade

      It is dominated by senators and ex-senators. That's bad enough; history shows that members of the upper chamber are notoriously unelectable. What makes this group worse still is that they're all members of what I call the "Class of 9/11".

      Whether they did so out of fear, a misguided urge to "rally 'round the flag" in times of crisis, or awful advice from Beltway-based consultants, Democratic senators after 9/11 ceased to act as an opposition party and instead gave the store away to the administration. An administration that happened to be the the most rapacious bunch of power grabbers ever to afflict American politics.

      As a result, nearly all of the Democratic contenders are damaged goods. Some, like Barack Obama, suffered the kind of damage that a good bump shop can take care of. On the other hand, Joe Biden is so damaged that your average insurance adjuster would declare him a total loss and issue a check for the Blue Book value.

      "Those who argue that we should somehow defer to the President are wrong."--Senator Russ Feingold

      by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 04:14:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've actually been thinking about this a bit (13+ / 0-)

    this week.

    My thoughts are still a bit incomplete- maybe a bit scattered...

    I think when I watch the Republican debate I'm amused by how they rip into each other. There doesn't seem to be any mutual respect between them- they are each in it for themselves and solely in it for themselves and it seems to me like they'll say anything just about to make their opponents look bad.

    That's not a politics I like...frankly. I cringe when I watch the Republicans debate because they're so damn nasty to each other and on top of that nastiness towards one another- they can't seem to get enough of a try to one-up one another in awful categories.

    It's like a bunch of Junior High School bullies screaming, "I can be more xenophobic and homophobic and hate government more than YOU can! Nah!"

    Ugh. It's ugly.

    My feelings on the Democratic debates- I think the past debates have actually been worse (as far as what you're talking about goes). This time around I'm seeing an attempt by at least some of the candidates to differentiate themselves.

    Honestly, I think the biggest problem is that there simply isn't a lot of disagreement on our side between our candidates. I think they just agree on more issues. For instance, I don't see a whole ton of difference between Biden and Dodd (maybe on what...two issues? the vote on Iraq and the bankruptcy bill?).

    I was impressed by a few things in the debate last time-

    1. I was impressed with Obama's response about the framing of the questions they were being asked.
    1. I was impressed when Hillary said they would refuse to answer hypothetical questions. I only wish all of them would agree to this 100% and no one would give in.
    1. I thought Obama's response regarding the war was pretty spectacular. His came after Edwards' response and he basically said, "You're a few years late in being against the war..." I thought that was a pretty darn clear differentiation between Edwards and Obama and it was just a frank statement. I also see plenty of differences between Hillary and Obama.
    1. Edwards tried to sort of define clearer differences- as you noted in that quote above- but I'll be honest, I thought he came across as being a bit jerky when he said it- and I didn't like that.

    I think there are differences between the our candidates, but I think it's important not to politically harm one another in a primary. At this point we have a few frontrunners, but honestly, I could see a Richardson candidacy, and even Dodd is looking stronger these days- so I'd prefer we not mop the floor with one another. The GOP doesn't seem to care about that sort of thing...for them it's all  about them getting as far ahead as possible.

    I think in the end some of this comes back to the general philosophy of being a Democrat vs. being a Republican. Republicans are out for themselves as usual, Democrats are considering the greater good- if that means a less ugly primary...I'd prefer that frankly.

    •  playing devil's advocate here... (6+ / 0-)

      Don't you think that the 'nastiness' on the Republican side actually makes their nominee more agile and competitive in the general election?

      Also, while the rough and tumble exchange of ideas may offend our sensibilities, the American public seems not to notice, in fact they appear to enjoy it, if the shoutfests on cable news and daytime TV are any indicator.

      New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

      by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:58:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, please play devil's advocate :-) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Simplify, Marcus Tullius

        It gets me to think through it more...otherwise I just sit here by myself...lol

        I definitely think there are benefits to the Republicans and that they do come out more competitive and ready for the general election.

        I don't know about the second point. I think there's some sense of desire by the public to watch the yelling matches, but it seems to me like the media plays Dems doing that differently than they do Republicans and in the end I'm not sure it actually benefits us. I think the conservative tilt of the media is probably our biggest problem, to be honest.

        •  I concur that we have a media problem (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elise, Simplify, shaharazade

          when it comes to how Dems and Repubs disagreeing is portrayed.

          I guess my point was more along the lines that while many in the progressive camp are likely to have a more pacifist, holistic approach to conflict and, as such, we get squeamish and repulsed by the hant-to-hand combat often necessary to be successful in politics. I don't think the general public shares this revulsion.

          New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

          by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:18:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a good point. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            edgery

            I think if we had fair media coverage we could have more powerful debates and the candidates could really challenge one another more without it devolving into making Dems look bad for doing the same things Republicans do.

            I think perhaps I'm just a bit fearful of the IOKIYAR factor.

              •  It seems too like part of what you're asking for (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Chrispy67

                is a serious deconstruction of their policy plans-- a real breakdown so we can see specific differences.

                I'm not sure how the general (non-wonky) people would view that.

                I'd LOVE to see a breakdown into specifics on their health care policies, etc. but I'm not sure the majority could actually understand that debate- and then, there's the chance that they get portrayed as being nasty to one another and then there's also the chance that people watching will have zero idea what they're talking about and they won't be able to follow.

                •  i was thinking of diarying exactly on this point. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Elise

                  as a relatively new member of this community, I've been intrigued/frustrated/flabbergasted at times -

                  the diaries that talk horse race and style get a LOT of action - and we complain about the lack of substance...and when someone says, "I like candidate X because he - looks good -  - seems smart -  - will be strong in the general- " the torches come out and the discussion rapidly devolves, sometimes arriving at personal insults, unfounded accusations - and the chance of the meaningful dialogue evaporates.

                  rarely does the discussion even begin with a statement regarding policy (with the exception of Iraq)

                  It would be fantastic if there were impartial Kossacks who were experts in various policy issues who would be able to analyze the position papers/proposals on key issues and report to the broader community. It would be a much more informative and productive process, elevating the discourse and focusing on what we all claim we want.

                  New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

                  by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:06:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I would love that idea- (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Chrispy67

                    Actually I read your diary that got rescued (was that last night? I think?) and I really thought it was great.

                    I've been having these discussions about policy specifics with a few people, but mostly through instant message or email to be honest...because as you noted, it's very difficult to do through the vitriol here.

                    I'm supporting Obama (unless Gore gets in...and I'm losing hope at this point that he will)- and honestly, it's for SO many reasons- the least of which are his "looks good" and "seems strong" qualities. I really do genuinely think his health care plan is the smartest one. I really do think his plan to end Iraq is the best...etc. I've fleshed these thoughts out...but I really haven't had the opportunity to do it here.

                    •  Do you think this could be a forum if approached (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Elise, shaharazade

                      correctly?

                      I mean, I'm a pretty intelligent person - and have strong opinions about what I believe will work. But, I have to say, understanding healthcare plans and education proposals, for instance, are simply too complex and time-consuming for me to fully digest and foresee the consequences and ramifications.

                      Now, if a kossack with firsthand experience in education, healthcare, military matters were able to distill the various candidate's plans (as impartially as possible), I'd find that an invaluable resource - and it's completely what's missing in our television and celebrity-driven poltics.

                      oh, and thanks for the kind words about my posting. I'm enjoying getting back to some writing. It's been a long time

                      New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

                      by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:20:04 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I honestly don't know. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        YetiMonk, Chrispy67

                        Sometimes I think the vitriol levels are just too high, and then other times I have more faith. This week has been a crappy week here. I've literally spent half of it telling a number of people here that no, Ron Paul is actually NOT a good candidate for President- that he's a racist homophobe who wants to dismantle half of our government...and then I've had people who are literally willing to overlook those things to say, "but he's still anti-war!"

                        Ugh.

                        Next week I may have a different opinion :-)

                        I do think a lot of it would depend on how it was handled.

    •  come on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sharon in MD, shaharazade

      Seriously, we can disagree on policy, we can disagree on how things need to be done. Why not compete to see who can be the best anti-Republican? You know, who will push forward the boldest plan on health care, and call the Republican greed heads out for defending a for pofit system that screws most everyone in the country?

      The Democratic party candidates should be competing to see who will be the best at defending the kids on the playground from the bullies, and at the same time putting forward ideas that will help the kids on the playground.

      Pointing out that she won't answer a hypothetical question is fine, but I'd like to here what Hillary has to say on the issues, and how she will solve problems.

      Obama pointing out a bad question and not accepting a frame is all well and good, it is too bad his health care plan isn't bolder, and I want to hear more about his other policy ideas.

      At least Edwards has policies I agree with, who cares if he comes across as a little surly? We need some surliness right about now.  

      When I tell you that I love you Don't test my love Accept my love, don't test my love Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

      by jbou on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:24:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, I think the last thing most people want (0+ / 0-)

        is more surliness. I think that's why so many people like Obama's message of working together and being a nice guy. And...he can be a nice guy, but still present himself as someone who isn't going to take bullshit- as he exhibited in that clip where he's responding to McCain's bullshit, and that other clip where he's responding to Graham's bullshit whining.

        I think he presents a nice balance actually.

        And I DO see disagreements on policy. Real ones. Big ones in some cases (although not all). I don't have a problem with that- what I do have a problem with is the headlines from the media after a debate in which our candidates acted like theirs did- I can't see ANYTHING good come out of that honestly...

        "circular firing squad"
        "what Hillary said made Obama unelectable"

        I can only imagine the whoppers they'd come up with in the effort to help choose our candidate for us- they're already doing that to some extent.

        Obama got tough this week---and he got honest about poverty and race- the response? "Obama incites a race riot." the message? "Elect this scary black man at your own risk whitey...because he's coming after your ass when he wins the white house"- my racist mother called me after that speech and was all, "see! 'they' want to take over!"

        And she's a Democratic voter- has been her whole life.

        •  last part first... (0+ / 0-)

          Obama cannot talk about class the same way Edwards can, because the press and some folks will interpret it as just a racial thing, and that is stupid, and pathetic, but a reality of our country.

          As for the circular firing squad crap, i think we worry too much about the headlines, and not enough about the issues. I think the Democrats should stick to arguing the issues and contrasting them to the Republicans and their fellow candidates. I think they should shun the press, attack the press, and if worse comes to worse shut them totally out and use the internet and snail mail to reach voters. The press is pathetic, but we shouldn't waste our energy on them, we should use the other forms of communication that are at our disposal, kinda like Rove did when he would bypass the national press and use the local press for good local headlines.

          As for the first part, Obama's "can't we all just get along campaign" makes me want to puke. If the man fails to see that the Republicans and their right wing advocates do not want to get along, than he is a fool. Obama is not going to win over enough people with his campaign of niceness to make a difference at the voting booths.

          When I tell you that I love you Don't test my love Accept my love, don't test my love Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

          by jbou on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:46:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  See, that's what I like about Obama though... (0+ / 0-)

            He has a "can't we all just get along" attitude, but look at his voting record- he has behaved in the Senate like Feingold- he works with various Republicans on specific issues- only the issues where they agree. He votes with Dems 96% of the time- one of the best records in the entire Senate.

            In other words- he TALKS about bipartisanship and he can make that happen on occasion, but only on specific issues- but he stands his liberal ground.

            On the other hand- we have Edwards' Senate record which looks very moderate/conservative by comparison.

            Obama has done more in the Senate in his short time than Edwards did in a full Senate term. He's sponsored 152 bills and cosponsored 427. That's a lot.

            As for the press- I think it's dangerous to ignore them. I think the reason we lost in 2002 and 2004 was because we ignored them. I think we started to learn to fight back a bit in 2006, but I don't think we're there yet. We need to keep pushing them. Sure- we can use local media coverage, but this is a National race- the National press isn't going to go away and allow candidates (especially frontrunners) to frame things the way they want to.

            •  really? (0+ / 0-)

              George Dubya and Karl Rove were able to frame things the way they wanted. They were able to bypass the national press, they used mailings, they used the internet, they used door to door volunteers, they hate the press, and see that they do not need them to win an election, now after they were elected and things started spiraling out of control because they were extremely corrupt and stupid, they now needed the press to try and fix their image, but even that hasn't worked, but the lesson from that is do not lead in a stupid and corrupt way.

              Obama needs to propose some bold ideas. his record in the senate is fine, but I want to see what he has to say when the cameras are shining in his face. Is he brave enough to stand up for some bold ideas, or are we going to get some more triangulating ideas like his health care plan?

              When I tell you that I love you Don't test my love Accept my love, don't test my love Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

              by jbou on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:06:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  See, no they didn't... (0+ / 0-)

                Bush and Rove had the media under their fingers. They sent out press releases and journalists copied and pasted...from DAY ONE. They may hate the press, but they sure know how to use it to their advantage...and the media IS conservative. When I hear people refer to CNN as the "Communist News Network" and then hear Wolf Blitzer repeating neocon talking points on Iraq and Iran? People think that's "liberal" media! That means they move even further to the right of the conservative spin that's already being pushed on them.

                We have a serious media problem...I think the reason we ended up voting for funding for Iraq was due to the fact that we couldn't manipulate the media as well as Republicans could. We have a BAD track record with it- I'd hate to see us making it worse.

                As for Obama- I think his health care plan is one of the best. It takes into account all the various industries and it sets up a way to provide health care for all without destroying an entire industry and all the jobs that go with it. He works in preventative coverage, and he promotes the Federal health care plan for people.

                Obama has been bold from day one.

                •  bla (0+ / 0-)

                  Obama's plan fails to cover everyone, that is the problem I have with it.

                  I am not talking about how the press was used to sell the war. I am talking about how Rove bypassed the press in 2000, and used local press, and other forms of communication to go negative on McCain, to reach out to evangelical Christians, and to frame Bush before the national press had a chance to frame him. Gore got beat up, but Bush did too, and Rove anticipated the attacks on Bush, and used that to his advantage by bypassing the press and taking it to the people. And that tactic is an even better play in this upcoming election than it has ever been in the past.

                  As for the attacks on the media, the left has failed to go after the press the way the right wingers have. Limbaugh doesn't fact check the press the way Brock does at MediaMatters, Limbaugh beats the crap out of the press until they cower, we need some ass kicking people on our side, we have enough fact checkers.

                  When I tell you that I love you Don't test my love Accept my love, don't test my love Cause maybe I don't love you all that much

                  by jbou on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:31:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  health care plans not adequate (0+ / 0-)

                  Obama's health care plan does not "provide health care for all".  You are correct that "it takes into account all the various industries" and that is what is wrong with it.  Obama is an extremely cautious man, and that can be a good thing, especially compared to the dangerous idiots on the R side.  But his current plan is too timid to fix health care; there simply isn't a way to do it without harming the interests of those who are taking 20% off the top, and reversing the historic mistake that has mean health care the job of employers to provide (thus handing Detroit a huge competitive disadvantage against foreign car companies).

                  Edwards, though he doesn't do it in what I would consider the right way, can argue that his plan achieves universal health care (because everyone winds up with health insurance coverage, a feature that is not part of Obama's plan).  We're still stuck with the private insurance companies and an even stronger requirement on employers to keep footing the bill.
                   

                  •  Um... (0+ / 0-)

                    destroying the insurance industry, or the pharma industry, or others in order to provide health care for all doesn't help anyone. It harms the economy in pretty major ways- Obama has taken that into consideration...and I think he's incredibly smart to have done so.

                    There is no 100% perfect plan to "fix" health care by the way- that doesn't exist.

  •  It seems to me (6+ / 0-)

    that the Democrats avoid the appearance of disagreement to counter the "Dems in disarray" narrative that inevitably pops up even when their disagreements are minute.

    •  True enough (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, ActivistGuy, Potus2020

      and God alone knows that we suffer from that narrative, but I think we're strong enough, and should be, need to be, self-confident enough to overlook that possibility. This debate will help us win, I think.

      "All who seek to gain from liberty something other than itself are born to be slaves." - Alexis de Tocqueville

      by MBNYC on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:54:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  hmm (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MO Blue, Potus2020

      Democrats aren't on message on anything.  Why should they be on message in terms of beating back the Dems in disarray narrative?  

      •  It's not about being on message (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise, shaharazade

        It's just like the original Iraq vote. A large number of Democrats gave Bush the authority to invade Iraq to avoid the "Dems are weak" narrative.

        Likewise, a number of Democrats avoid criticizing each other to avoid the "Dems in disarray" narrative.

        Concerning the Iraq vote, there were obviously those (Kucinich, Obama, Gravel) who didn't buy into that notion. And the same goes with the debate - Kucinich, Edwards, Gravel are not afraid of the disarray label.

      •  Obama (6+ / 0-)

        He's not my first choice but I do have to give credit where credit is due, Obama did well taking down a question he felt was framed poorly. I think it is one of the first times I saw a Democrat fight back against the media. It even gave Hill a little backbone when it came time for her to answer a question and the media tried to get her answer in a 30 second soundbite. I love John Edwards but I think that he struggles with a passive aggressive style.

        •  right (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elise, cwaltz, SherriG, Potus2020

          I had never thought of Edwards as passive aggressive, but you're right, he is.

        •  as a fellow Southerner, I can say that Edwards' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Akonitum

          style is consistent with that upbringing - but whether I'd call it passive aggressive (which has a negative connotation) or not, not so much.

          I don't see his taking strong policy positions on everything from health care to the environment to rural poverty to national security as being passive aggressive.  I don't see his issuing almost daily statements on everything from judicial nominations to permanent bases in Iraq to the supplemental Iraq funding bill as being passive aggressive.

          So, I'd need some examples of why you see his style that way to agree, or perhaps disagree.

          "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

          by edgery on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:14:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am referring to his debating style (0+ / 0-)

            One second he is attacking the other candidates and the next he is complimenting them or pulling back on his criticisms.

            His positions are perfect. When it comes to policy specifics I couldn't ask for a better candidate. He has clearly put alot of thought into what an Edwards administration would have as priorities.

            However, his debating style is not as strong as I'd like. That said, I would imagine that some of it might be because with the large field at present it is difficult to present ideas head to head when time is so limited. I am really hoping he manages to break through though because I think when you do a head to head it becomes obvious how much thought was put into his programs( and in some cases I think we have seen Obama do a little cribbing on the idea front.)

      •  isn't that the narrative? (0+ / 0-)

        that dems don't stand for anything (aren't on message)?

        That's a ridiculous statement. Edwards has been on message about povery, Obama about the level of discourse, HRC about...uh, well maybe you've got a point on her, or maybe I just am not a fan.

        •  Edwards is my (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade

          first choice. Trust me, I'm not trying to "pick" on him. I love his positions and when it comes to specific policy HE has set the standard. That said, he's all over the map in the debates. One minute he is attacking and then the next he is saying how much he admires the other candidates(almost as if he were afraid that folks might think he is too harsh.) Everytime, I think NOW he is going to differentiate his policy positions from the others he seems to pull back.

  •  Here's the thing (8+ / 0-)

    Very often genuine legitimate disagreement gets put down as "circular firing squad".  I think that's what underlies the hesitancy of most of the Democratic candidates to engage the others.  Being openly willing to challenge the other Democrats on their ideas and policies can even cause an effort to remove the candidate that does so from the debates if it isn't a major party figure.  Check with Sen. Gravel on that.

  •  i've been wondering when Obama and Hillary (6+ / 0-)

    might take the gloves off.

    It appears to me that Edwards has been the one more willing to mix it up, but that's because as time slips on by he's going to have to knock one of the leaders off their perch. However, he seems to be falling back on the Southern sensibility  - you know, the one where it's all smiles and pleasantries - avoiding all uncomfortable topics in mixed company.

    One might argue that Hillary's gender is playing a role in this contest. Coming out harsh against Sen. Clinton is a risky maneuver.

    And, I think HRC's strategists recognize this...and are waiting to pounce on Obama or Edwards once they lay a hard punch.

    I may get torched for this one, but Hillary's approval numbers during the Clinton years always went up when Bill was up to his misdeeds. Hillary becomes more sympathetic - and I think the opposing camps appeat to be aware of this and gingerly jabbing, and holding back punches.

    New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

    by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 08:54:28 PM PDT

  •  The differences in Democrats this time (7+ / 0-)

    around are far more subtle - or rather on the big ticket items they are united in their thinking that they need to act - but the debate format we have doesn't allow them to go deeper into how those issues will be addressed.

    As for Obama, lately I've been thinking that he has declined to attack Clinton in hopes of a VP nomination because it seems as if he is almost protecting her at times.

    Edwards has attacked, but again his positions aren't radically different on the surface.  When you go deeper they are, but there never seems to be enough time allocated for anyone to offer more than a soundbite and then it is a strategic decision made on the spot about whether they talk about themselves or an opponent.

    In Edwards' case, I think that generally the campaign has decided to keep his comments focused on his agenda as much as possible because there are still a lot of people who don't know who he is or what his agenda is.

    Hillary has the luxury of waiting for the attacks at this point and only Edwards seems to have taken any real shots so far.

  •  I also tend to believe that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade

    Democrats are too timid when it comes down to staking positions. It's almost like they are afraid that they will be disliked if they take a strong stance or position(especially an unpopular one). They almost seem to be afraid of a confrontation with an opposing viewpoint. It makes them appear weak and almost pandering and lacking in strength of their convictions. I almost wonder if they made the job of the GOP in defining them THAT much easier because of their inability to argue strongly and confront different positions head on.

    •  The GOP has made an art form of aggression and (0+ / 0-)

      attacks, and with an echo chamber and compliant media, they are ever more fearless, but that has made them reckless and they are paying for that kind of lack of humility.

      Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

      by doinaheckuvanutjob on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:38:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think they are paying (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        doinaheckuvanutjob

        for aggressive behavior as much as they are paying for not being able to move the country forward or what many see as lying. The thing was for a long time they were long on rhetoric about how if they were in charge they would make government smaller and they would be able to control spending(thus cutting taxes). They argued that states should be given the ability to make decisions. Once they controlled the federal government though the only thing they accomplished was cutting taxes and the savings for most was miniscule. In addition, some of the cuts they made to federal government spending resulted in cuts to immigration, education and affected our ability to respond to disaster. Additionally, government grew in size and all of a sudden states rights were abandoned in an effort to push forward an agenda. All of a sudden Oregon was told it had no right to determine if a person with a terminal condition could be allowed to end his/her life, California had no right to decide whether or not medical marijuana be available to patients with a doctor's blessing. Meanwhile people started to realize that as long as they were going to have to pay for government it might as well work effectively(which the GOP definitely could not do).

        •  Yes, that's right. But aggression is clouding (0+ / 0-)

          their judgment.

          On Air America the other day I heard a self described dissatisfied Republican say: "The government can't expect to take a lot out of your paycheck and do nothing for us in return."

          I suspect a fair amount of Republicans feel that way, and it's still the tax complaint but with an expectation that govt. would run as it used to in America, not the 3d World dictatorial empire Bush has brought us.

          My point about the aggression and attacks was that the Rethugs have really lost their common sense. They don't care nor fear the voters all that much, they believe persuasion/p.r. will carry the day against people's wishes. And in that sense they've of course lost their humility, and just become aggressive, and it's getting them in trouble with the electorate. Of course Rethugs like Guiliani still think being an a--hole is their best card and will win him the Presidency on the macho card with GWOT fear mongering.

          Children in the U.S... detained [against] intl. & domestic standards." --Amnesty Internati

          by doinaheckuvanutjob on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 01:09:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  do we disagree on less? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise

    That may be driving this, that we agree on more than we disagree, and that we disagree with the other side (particularly the White House) more than anything else.
    Maybe it's a matter of Democrats running like it's the general in the primary, arguing against the Republicans when they should be discussing/debating ideas within the party.

    •  supplemental (5+ / 0-)

      Oh there's a lot of disagreement.  A lot.

      •  the frontrunners all voted against (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise

        Edwards tried to make this an issue at the debate when he complained about the lack of leadership, but other than Biden, they all voted against.

        Expanding a bit on my thoughts, since the tubes finally cleared up enough for me to watch the clip, I think there's also a problem for one candidate to attack another, leaving out the third. If Edwards goes after HRC, what about Obama.

        And somewhat related to a point made elsewhere about HRC prepared to hit anyone for attacking her by using her gender, I think the same issue is far greater for those who hit Obama. Ironically, being a woman or minority is an advantage in this way.

        •  but they did not lead (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MO Blue, shaharazade

          Clinton and Obama did not participate in the debate on the supplemental, and they only revealed their votes at the last minute, while Edwards was putting out daily statements and running petitions demanding that Congress just keep sending the same bill back again and again.

          Yes, Edwards voted for war in 2002 and Obama opposed it then. But recently, Obama has been way more cautious than Edwards in trying to bring the war to an end.  Perhaps it's easier for Edwards since he's not in Congress now, but Obama could be stronger.

          Clinton seems to want a permanent presence in Iraq, but I'm sure the polling showed that voting for that thing would hurt her badly.  But I'm not impressed by final votes in cases where the outcome is clear.  I look to the runup to final battle to see who's leading and who has his/her finger to the wind.

          I'm still willing to be impressed by Obama.  But I'm still waiting to see him on the Senate floor, using his considerable oratorical skills to push his colleagues to take on George Bush now.  But the guy is already trying to run his general election campaign; it's like he doesn't want to piss off any moderate Republican potential voters.

    •  i think we've got more internal disagreements (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elise, cwaltz, OffTheHill, shaharazade

      on our side, than exists over there.

      But, we are more aware of theirs, because they talk about them.

      Our candidates are afraid to differentiate themselves, resulting in:

      1. a false belief the democratic party is united
      1. a lack of clarity about what our candidates and our party stand for.

      New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

      by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:04:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what are theirs? (0+ / 0-)

        as far as I can tell, with the exception of Rudy, they all hate women (are anti-choice), hate gays, love the war and torture (except McCain) and brown people (again, except McCain, sort of).

        •  sort of (7+ / 0-)

          They are authoritarian sadistic hypocrites.  But they are willing to argue about the ideas behind what it means to be an authoritarian sadistic hypocrite, and challenge each other on those ideas.

          •  I think they are just fronting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Elise

            because their party values 'toughness' so much more. Remember how they were jumping over each other in the first debate to prove they would be the most torturesome torturer ever since Cheney (or Jack Bauer)?

            I think the dynamics of each party are totally different and because don't value authoritarianism, our candidates don't need to prove toughness/fascism and therefore focus on their proposals rather than the flaws of their opponents.

            •  by not proving their "toughness" (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OffTheHill

              the candidates reinforce the general perception of the Dems as weak and indecisive.

              If Edwards, Obama or Hillary can't stand up against one another, how can we trust them on national security issues.

              New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

              by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:22:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that buys into the frame (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                edgery, shaharazade

                that toughness=strong on security. Edwards is trying to change that with his argument that the GWOT is a bumper sticker.

                Now as to how to change the frame, I'm unsure, but "being strong" isn't the answer.

                •  i would love Edwards to be successful b/c (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  OffTheHill, edgery, shaharazade

                  he is speaking the truth.

                  Now, I'm not sure many Americans are ready for the truth.

                  Why isn't "being strong" the answer?

                  I'm defining strong as being steadfast and clear about positions. (I'm not talking Jerry Springer chair throwing tantrums, here). When someone challenges a candidate's position, being strong in one's convictions is important.

                  it begins to change the perception.

                  New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

                  by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:38:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  you've pointed them out... (0+ / 0-)

          and it's important to note that the two frontrunners have staked out positions anathema to their base. And, while it looks like they're tearing themselves apart, they're going to come together eventually. The outrage over immigration reveals that both Rudy and McCain are doomed, IMO.

          While you and I may not agree with where the GOP winds up for this election, the party WILL know what it stands for - and the American public will as well.

          Now, that might be a little less clear when the public is asked next August, "what are the democrats for?"

          New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become. Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

          by Chrispy67 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:34:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sam Brownback is not a front-runner. (8+ / 0-)

    He is a no-chance also-ran.  He polls at less than 1%.  link.  No-chance also-rans have to attack the front-runners.  Look at Gravel, he is the correct comparison to Brownback, not Edwards.

    You are not comparing apples to apples.  If you want to compare Edwards-Clinton-Obama to Republicans, it should be to Giuliani-Romney-McCain and their huge disagreements over whether to keep fighting in Iraq or to make real changes in health care.

    Or, if we look at abortion, Giuliani is nominally pro-choice.  McCain is definitely pro-life.  Romney is, I guess, pro-life.  So that's a disagreement.  

    Great.  Republican front-runners a fractured on abortion.  This is astonishing and we should be glad.

    Democratic front-runners aren't tearing into each other enough to suit.  Well, Clinton is the leader.  IT would be a mistake for her to campaign negatively.  Obama's strategy is to run as Mr. Nice.  That's his specific strategy.  So criticize that, if you want.  Edwards is criticizing plenty.

    Perhaps I missing your point.  

    "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

    by LithiumCola on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:00:45 PM PDT

    •  yup (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jbou

      Democratic front-runners aren't tearing into each other enough to suit.

      The rhetoric, 'tearing into each other', suggests uncivil violence and bad.  But why IS disagreement bad?  Why?  Why can't disagreement be a useful tool among Democrats?

      •  As I said, criticize Obama if you want. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise, OffTheHill, DemocraticLuntz

        It doesn't make sense for Clinton to run negative.  She is leading.

        Edwards is criticizing.

        The 2nd and 3rd tier candidates are criticizing.  Just like the Republicans.

        The only person here you have to criticize is Obama.  And being nice is exactly his strategy.  So your disagreement is with his specific strategy, not with a "culture of nicey-nicey" in the party.

        In other words, I see no substance to your complaint.

        "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

        by LithiumCola on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:09:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  steny hoyer, rahm emanuel (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edgery

          What about the funding bill?  We heard a lot of complaints about selling out and capitulation.  But what if these members actually believed in the bill and think Bush should get the money.  What if, in other words, they weren't craven political hacks but actually just disagree with us?

          •  too much credit (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaharazade

            they are craven political hacks.

            •  but that's my point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shaharazade

              What if they just disagree?  It's easy to dismiss them as cynical hacks.  It's not so easy to figure out what to do if they are genuinely acting out of principle, principle that is very different from our own.

              •  does it matter? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shaharazade

                Let's suppose these guys are more principled than they themselves say they are; after all, their rhetoric is more likely to say "the way to get elected is ..." than "I believe that ...", and both are very close to K Street.  

                Let's say that they sincerely believe that the best thing for the country is a healthy business climate with arrangements quietly negotiated in the back rooms among all of the major stakeholders, and that everyone to their left should be locked out of the room.

                They are still, as Sirota calls them, the Money Party, whether they play that way because they want the money or because they just believe that if they do what Money wants, the economy will grow enough to help everyone.  It is still necessary to oppose them.

          •  When did they enter the presidential race and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LithiumCola

            if they haven't, what does this have to do with your diary?

            Join the College Kossacks on Facebook, or the Republicans win.

            by DemocraticLuntz on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:14:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  If they totally disagree with us, then (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Elise

            there is disagreement in the party, which is exactly what you say you want.

            So, you're losing me, here.  What do you want?  For Presidential candidates to disagree over the funding bill . . . for some of them to agree with Rahm?

            "Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you." -- Fry, Futurama

            by LithiumCola on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:16:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You mean like a real discussion (6+ / 0-)

        like the ones that used to occur between Jefferson and Hamilton who disagreed vehemently but managed to maintain a friendship despite their differences. For what it's worth I think your diary is spot on. All of the candidates should be throwing out their ideas on immigration, on education, on health care and stressing what their differences are and why they feel their positions will be better for the country rather than just saying that they want to give us a better health care system than what we have(can it get any worse?)or that they feel strongly education is good and keeps us competitive and is an economic equalizer(I mean really haven't we established that a LOOOOOONG time ago). I think that part of the problem is the media. They have been pretty adamant that issues don't matter andf likability is where it's at. So each of our candidates instead of staking their specific policy positions are busy trying to make the electorate "like" them.

        •  good points here (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LithiumCola, cwaltz

          also, if candidates think that the media will twist an attempt at an honest discussion into a 'win or lose' type of story, then they will be more reluctant to have that discussion.

          the more voters are able to identify differences between candidates, the better able they might be to make decisions with full information.  if choices on candidates remains on the "who would you rather have a beer with" basis, better information on issues is less important.

          this is where, I would hope, places like DKos and MyDD, etc. can help break down the MSM's efforts to oversimplify or distort.  but then, I'd like a pony for Christmas too.

          "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

          by edgery on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:23:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Win or lose (0+ / 0-)

            The thing is that after the debates we are always asked who "won" anyway so why not stake out specifics regarding policy differences? The sad thing is that by not going into specifics on TV the election really does boil down to a ground game and who can get the most supporters to go out and canvas rather than people taking a close look at the ideas each candidates have presented and how those ideas if implemented would impact our country in different ways.

        •  you forget ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... that Hamilton's followers were sending mobs to beat up Jefferson's followers (including newspaper editors), in the late 1790s, and passed the Sedition Act to have them jailed.  They overreached so far as to kill Hamilton's party, the Federalists, stone dead, but it was a near thing; had Jefferson lost in 1800, democracy might not have lasted.

          •  Jefferson and Hamilton (0+ / 0-)

            themselves were close correspondents though. Despite being vehement in their disagreements but they never lost sight of the fact that disagreement did not preclude friendship and when Hamilton was killed Jefferson went after the person who did the killing. My personal feeling is that BOTH of these men's ideas are what make our country great. We are more balanced because we have a strong, central government that does things like regulate money, provides defense, or pays for infrastructure. Simultaneously, the states are given the authority to act on behalf of their citizen's in any instance where federal government has not acted and localities can act as they need to ensure their citizens wants and needs are attended to. In other words, localities need not wait for the federal government to create programs to fix problems(health care is a perfect example of a problem some states have already started addressing because of a lack of action from a federal level).

      •  long history of Dems "eating their own" during (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise, cwaltz, Akonitum

        primaries, leaving the base angry and split.  it seems the efforts lately are to avoid that -- even in Congress, the leadership is trying to give the appearance of unity even when it might not exist.

        But look what happens when one Presidential candidate does try to show differences as one Obama supporter said in a comment above:

        Edwards tried to sort of define clearer differences- as you noted in that quote above- but I'll be honest, I thought he came across as being a bit jerky when he said it- and I didn't like that.

        Is this a reflection of the commenter's views on the candidate or on disagreeing? Maybe a little of both. Here on DKos, I've noticed that differences on policy or approach often too quickly devolve into nastiness. In that case, it's less that we as Dems don't like to disagree but that we don't know how to do it and stay emotionally or personally detached.  We don't know how to fight fair, as they might say in family counseling.  So maybe that is being reflected at higher levels of the party - a fear that disagreements on positions will become personal attacks or perceived as such.

        "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

        by edgery on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:17:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh I agree (0+ / 0-)

          I think a good bulk of people see their particular candidate through rose colored glasses. I have been known to caution one or two that none of the candidates are perfect and that each are going to have their own set of obstacles to overcome.

        •  Indeed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shaharazade

          Here on DKos, I've noticed that differences on policy or approach often too quickly devolve into nastiness... We don't know how to fight fair, as they might say in family counseling.

          Yes. This handicap is shared across the political spectrum. It also is modeled in popular media and to a significant extent in our courts.

          I think it's not simply a matter of fairness, which is a word that usually cries to be unpacked. It's more that we haven't learned shared skills and attitudes that more regularly, collectively advance us farther and faster.

          1. We could treat people more kindly, and treat problems more vigorously.
          1. We could suspend judgment longer, and test our assumptions earlier.
          1. We could embrace learning both as an individual and collective goal.
          1. We could distinguish between "positions" (what we say we want) and "interests" (our underlying needs, hopes, fears, and concerns), and focus less on positions, and more on interests.

          Society would benefit greatly if we could more regularly do conflict (disagree) better.

          --
          Are Humans Smarter Than Yeast? (video clip: 8.5 min)

  •  I see it differently. I think our candidates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise

    just are not that different on the issues.  And, I think that's a good thing.  In my life time the democrats have never been as cohesive about what they stand for as they are today.  And, now, it is the Republicans without a clear message.  I think that why the debates are so boring on our side.  Everyone agrees; repeal don't ask don't tell, universal healthcare, tax fairness, end the war, use diplomacy, no fly zone in Sudan, get off oil, save the environment, yada yada yada.  No real disagreements, IMHO.  

    •  some differences (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MO Blue, shaharazade

      Edwards thinks there's no war on terror.  Obama and Clinton do.

      Richardson wants to pull all troops from Iraq, Obama and Clinton don't.

      These are huge differences.

      •  um, think you're oversimplifying Edwards' (0+ / 0-)

        stance on GWOT. but I'll leave that to another time. :-D

        "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

        by edgery on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:25:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I just really don't think there are huge (0+ / 0-)

        differences.  I mean, the differences would be huge if someone was arguing to keep up the fight, like McCain.  But, really, do you think that it impossible that Richardson, while he clearly wants to take all troops out of the area, may have to keep some troops in Iraq?  I imagine there may be at least some troops in Kurdistan given the tension between the Turks and the Kurds.  Or, maybe Obama and Clinton will find once we've reduced our force our troops are simply in too much danger to stay and move them to Kuwait.  In general, they all want to end the war, and get most of the troops out of Iraq.  None of them are as intellectually lazy as our current presiden.  So my thinking is whoever the Dem, they are likely to get most or all of our troops out of Iraq as conditions dictate in generally the same way.

        As for the war on terror, I find it to be mostly a rhetorical argument, no?  Edwards is right, the notion that we are fighting a war against a tactic is absurd, and initially democrats made this point, but the messaging "war on terror" resonated with people, and it looks like at this point at least Obama and Clinton are no fighting it.  At  the end of the day, everyone agrees that there is a decentralized al qaeda out there that plan to attack the US and it interests in the forseeable future.

        •  That's the thing (0+ / 0-)

          None of the other candidates are asking Richardson why or confronting him on why he thinks it would be better to pull all the troops out now and then discussing why they would do it differently then him? What would be the disadvantages or obstacles? How would he deal with them?

          Why isn't Edwards asking Hillary and Obama why or if they agree with the idea that we can win a war that is based on a tactic and that does not have boundaries? If they think there is a war on terror how do they propose it be won or are they willing to concede that in an everchanging world the best you can expect on a war on terror is a stalemate?

          I think that's the point of the diarist. There are differences but candidates aren't discussing them and why they feel their stance better than their opponents.

    •  they are very alike on some issues (0+ / 0-)

      they are all pro-choice, they are all for allowing gays to serve in the military, they are all for letting Bush's tax cuts expire--on a lot of issues there is no difference.

      On health care the differences are greater, because they all endorse the goal of universal health care, but only Edwards and Kucinich have specific plans that are truly universal (and Kucinich's plan could never pass Congress).

  •  I Wonder If There Is A Reluctance To Challenge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise

    Hillary too forcefully because she is a woman. It would be disastrous for a candidate to be labeled a bully and I could easily see that theme being promoted by the media in their usual fun way of assigning negative attributes to Democratic candidates.

    In 04, the Dem hopefuls had absolutely no trouble going after Dean with both barrels when he became the frontrunner. Of course he wasn't the establishment candidate, so that might have made a difference.

    No courage = No $$$ for Dems

    by MO Blue on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:18:30 PM PDT

    •  That would be ironic (0+ / 0-)

      since in the last debate Hillary looked ready and willing to take on anyone.  

      She on the other hand may not want to be the one on the attack because the media already loves to portray her as not "womanly" enough.

      "...the conscience is a vital organ, and not an extra like the tonsils or the adenoids." Martin Amis

      by maryb2004 on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:47:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Think The Reason Hillary Is Not In Any Hurry To (0+ / 0-)

        go on the attack is because she is the frontrunner and wants to  give the appearance of being presidential and above the fray. Hillary goes out of her way to depict herself as tough so I'm not sure of the "womanly enough" aspect.

        She did look a little put out when Edwards questioned her leadership on the supplemental. OTOH she came across as powerful and a leader when she took on Wolfie on the hypothetical question.  

        No courage = No $$$ for Dems

        by MO Blue on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:13:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd say she looked put out by Edwards' attack (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Andrew40

          because it was a ridiculously illogical and hypocritical one to make.

          •  Hyperbole (0+ / 0-)

            Why is it wrong for Edwards to make the distinction between himself and Hillary? Yes, he co sponsored and voted for the Iraq war. Since then he has stated that he felt that he made the wrong decision(admitted to an error of judgement). Hillary has not. How is that illogical or hypocritical?

            By the way, I'm not "hating" Hillary by making this comment. I recognize and understand that conventional wisdom was that Saddam was a threat as far back as her husband's administration and why she and Edwards may have chosen to vote the way they did even though I vehemently disagreed with their decision at the time.

          •  I Agreed With His Statement (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shaharazade, cjallen

            Just casting a vote on a critical issue is not leadership. Leadership is making your position clear and selling the your position to the public before the vote is cast.

            No courage = No $$$ for Dems

            by MO Blue on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:48:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, mostly agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade

    During the debates, I have seen almost a teaming up of the current Senators versus the others.  Hillary has the most to lose by engaging in pointed arguments with other candidates (note how she deflected Edwards' criticism by talking about "George Bush's war").

    Obama is running on "bringing people together" and also has a lot to lose by appearing negative.  Even his criticism of Edwards (late on the leadership thing) was timid in delivery.

    First of all: Disagreements on issues are not a bad thing.  I appreciate that most of them do not want to be running negative campaigns. But yeah, I have noticed a lack of a "go for it" mentality by some of them.  

    Two: it is early.  

    •  negative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, cjallen

      Negative campaigns are considered bad things.  But why?  Isn't disagreement the essence of democracy?

      •  Well (0+ / 0-)

        when I hear the phrase "negative campaign" I think mostly of attacks that are personal in nature.

        I don't think there is anything negative about disagreeing on issues.  Why some Democrats appear to, well, I don't know.

        We know the GOP isn't going to "play nice" so I hope that the Dem nominee is able to respond effectively when the time comes.

      •  Negative campaigns are about disagreeing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        turning blue, MO Blue

        they are often more about labeling or smearing.  wish I had a link to an ad Dodd did right before the supplemental vote -- he directly challenged his Senatorial colleagues to vote against it.  In doing so, he was highlighting what he saw as a difference between himself and most likely Clinton and Obama (since Biden was going to vote for the bill regardless).  But the ad wasn't negative campaigning.

        so, there's a difference between going negative and highlighting differences.  One can do the later without making the other candidate look like a nutcase or evil.  And I hope as we get closer to the critical time in this primary season the candidates take positions in the manner of Dodd's ad.

        "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

        by edgery on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 09:30:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Obama's whole campaign is based on (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elise

        bringing people together, starting a new era, speaking in a different way.

        I went to an Obama house party a couple of weeks ago. The field organizers played a bio (10 minutes or so) from a DVD about Obama's life. Then they talked about why they were supporting Obama, as did a Drake University professor who used to know Barack in Chicago.

        They weren't stressing his policies or his differences with Clinton or Edwards. They were talking about how he is the man for the time, he is the guy who can bring people together, and so on.

        One of the Obama field organizers even said that Dean tried the angry thing, and it didn't work. Americans don't want anger.

        The Obama campaign seems to be counting on voters to like a less-confrontational style, and several people at the house party seemed to appreciate this about Obama.

        So while I agree with you about disagreement being the essence of democracy, I think Obama will have to tread very carefully here, because he has been building a brand based on consensus and bringing people together.

        We bloggers love a good fight, but many voters aren't looking for that.

  •  The propencity here for people, icluding Mr. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elise, Andrew40

    Stoller, to buy into everything Edwards says and discount most or all of what Clinton or Obama say/do is just weird. I'll take Clinton's "principled" hawkishness (which I don't believe is an accurate term) or Obama's consistency over Edwards' unprincipled hawkishness (when popular) followed by doveishness (when popular) any day of the week.

  •  conflict aversion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, Airpower

    I saw it in my own personality too, before I realized it and started to change it.

    From an old comment:

    Risk aversion, conflict aversion, and static thinking -- they won't act unless they're guaranteed to win.  See the "nuclear option," the Alito non-filibuster, the Military Commissions Act non-filibuster, the retreat from the Feingold warrantless spying censure resolution and simultaneous embrace of the oh-so-pivotal Dubai Ports World scandal...  They don't seem to realize they can move public opinion.  [...]  I get the feeling their favorite move is to stave off confrontation by some clever parliamentary trick.  Harry Reid came to YearlyKos and called the Gang of Fourteen Compromise a "great victory," to a lot of raised eyebrows.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:44:48 PM PDT

  •  I have been reading (0+ / 0-)

    Al Gores book and I think it applies here. I have trouble with the Democrats because they seem to not be able articulate to or are bereft of any policies, that deviate from the crap we get from Republicans. They pussyfoot around the war, they don't offer alternatives like fair trade, no strong over all talk of restoring our government to 'the people' they enforce the insanity that is going on by not strongly opposing it.

    By not being able to formulate positions against each other how in the world can they offer the public anything more then good cop to the rights bad one. How come the only two who do offer positions which are not variations on a theme are considered nut cases? Although I did enjoy watching the front runners when Kucinch actually told the truth.  

    "And if my thought-dreams could be seen They'd probably put my head in a guillotine" Bob Dylan

    by shaharazade on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 10:47:59 PM PDT

  •  FDR once said... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade

    ...rather famously, "I am a member of no organized political party.  I am a Democrat."

    The Democratic party has always had a reputation for being fractious and "all over the place."  The GOP has  had the reputation for unity.  If the Democratic candidates disagree on details -- and they do -- they may be reluctant to show it too much for fear of not presenting a "unified front."  It's like parents who don't argue in front of the kids.  They may not wantto undermine one another.  Alternatively, they may not want to turn off voters by getting cutthroat so early in the process.

    Ironically, I think the Democrats are actually fairly unified on the essentials.  It's the Republicans who, I think, may be on the verge of a potentially very interesting civil war, pitting the old-style religious right against the more socially liberal fiscal conservatives.  It should be fun to watch, and if in the end it results in a more responsible, center-right GOP akin to the large conservative parties in Europe, so much the better.

    "We must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom." - Kodos

    by Jon Stafford on Sun Jun 10, 2007 at 11:07:39 PM PDT

  •  It's all psychological (0+ / 0-)

    This can be a very long and involved discussion.  But, basically, I suspect that the important differences between Democrats and GOPigs on this and other subjects reflect basic -- maybe even hard-wired -- psychological preferences.  

    For starters, look at the four Myers-Briggs personality metrics and the sixteen personality types.  Then note how the 16 types aggregate into four temperaments.

    Now look at personality temperaments of Presidents, here and here.  From the first link:

    There have been forty-one Presidents of the United States, half doing what was sanctioned by law, the rest doing whatever would get the job done, with or without legal authority.  Some rose nobly to the demands of the office, some merely occupied it, while a few were crushed by it.  But all of them, whether they graced or disgraced the presidency, acted according to their temperament.

    To my knowledge, no one has looked at the personality temperaments of losing candidates, nor do I know of an academic study on personality types and temperaments of either the American electorate at the time of each election to see what correlations may exist or of the people who affiliate with specific political parties.  It would also be interesting to see a study on the personality types and temperaments of legislators.   I suspect there are lot more "intuitives" and "feelers" among legislators and a lot more "thinkers" and "judgers" among presidents.  And I also suspect the American people make this distinction subconsciously when voting.  I also suspect that more Democrats are "feelers" than "thinkers" and feelers don't like disagreement or conflict, while GOPigs don't mind.

    I will try to write a diary on my thoughts on this subject if I can find the time.  

  •  The problem (0+ / 0-)

    Because Hillary is a woman,her rivals are very relucatant to go too hard on her...She's a woman and they are men, and it won't look too good to see a man beating on a woman....

    Defazio and the 2006 GOP candidate that ran against Hillary in 2000 and 2006 knows what i'm talking about...You have to be careful when you go on offense against a female politician.

    •  correct (0+ / 0-)

      it's not just that Hillary's a woman -- she's also a woman who has endured a lot already, in a very public way.

      There's a reservoir of sympathy for Hillary that comes out when she's attacked  -- (are we still picking on her?) -- in a way that's different from most politicians.

      what would joe rauh do?

      by nbutter on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 09:04:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Purity" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade

    Somewhere along the line, the democratic party changed from the party of ideas and populist politics to the party of (imaginary) idological purity and political correctness.

    It's an insidious desease.

    Politics without debate is unhealthy, and ultimately, weak, because without aguement, exchange of ideas and resaonable consensus is impossible.

    Many Democrats mistakenly believe open dissention is a sign of weakness and leads to division - quite the opposite is true. Late night arguements that lead to understanding, exchange of ideas and refinement of strategy strengthen platforms and build unity.

    Blogs are the proof of that - nothing like a good argument to clear the air and build team spirit.

    Loosen up!

    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein

    by koNko on Mon Jun 11, 2007 at 07:11:59 AM PDT

  •  EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS (0+ / 0-)

    Ezra  cross posted this the other day from the Thinkery. I think this explains a lot of the reasons democrats are so tentative on issues as compared to republicans who seem so passionate

    Here

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