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The Political Brain
The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation
By Drew Westen
Public Affairs
New York, 2007

When reason and emotion become disconnected, the result is often disaster. Sometimes that disaster may take the form of a neurology patient who, like those described by Damasio, can’t use emotion to stay out of harm’s way. Sometimes it takes the form of a psychopath, a person who experiences little or no remorse, empathy, or concern for others, who may know he is breaking laws or causing others pain, but doesn’t care.

At other times, that disaster may take the form of a Democratic political campaign.

Ouch.

In his handling of the Swift Boat affair, what Kerry effectively told the American people was what he would do if America were attacked: he would wait an inordinate amount of time until he had gathered enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, use polls and focus groups to see what kind of response Americans preferred, and then write our enemies a letter imploring them to stop their terrorist acts immediately.

Sometimes, the meta-message is the message.

Double pointed ouch.

... the left has no brand, no counterbrand, no master narrative, no counternarrative. It has no shared terms or "talking points" for its leaders to repeat until they are part of our political lexicon. Instead, every Democrat who runs for office, every Democrat who offers commentaries on television or radio, every Democrat who even talks with friends at the water cooler, has to reinvent what it means to be a Democrat, using his or her own words and concepts, as if the party had no history.

If this is how Coke marketed itself, we would all be drinking Pepsi.

Someone had to say it, obviously. And Drew Westin, a clinical psychologist and political strategist from Emory University, has stepped up to the plate in The Political Brain to give a scathing, sobering diagnosis of what ails a political party whose beliefs are in line with the majority of Americans on almost every issue and yet fails to translate that alignment into sustainable electoral success. Armed with numerous studies on how the brain operates in that crucial interplay between emotion and reason that energizes voters, Westin has succeeded in penning a manifesto on behalf of bringing the passionate back into the narrative—and actions—of the Democratic Party.

Building on neural pathway studies and what is revealed about how the brain works in complex unconscious networks, the author discusses how partisans use facts and rationality not to form opinions but rather to reinforce previously held "gut" beliefs about values and principles, Westin exhorts the current leadership and strategists of the Democratic Party to stop campaigning on laundry lists of policy issues and begin speaking in terms of passion, using narratives and bold messages to engage an often apathetic electorate.

Democrats, and particularly Democratic strategists, tend to be intellectual. They like to read and think. They thrive on policy debates, arguments, statistics, and getting the facts right.

All that is well and good, but it can be self-destructive politically when alloyed with a belief in the moral superiority of the cerebral at heart, because moral condescension registers with voters.... They do so, I believe, because of an irrational emotional commitment to rationality--one that renders them, ironically, impervious to both scientific evidence on how the political mind and brain work and to an accurate diagnosis of why their campaigns repeatedly fail.

He notes the incongruity evident when the very party that considers itself most empathetic to the plight of the suffering is the most reluctant to make use of emotion when presenting its case as the standard-bearer of heartfelt American values. "The paradox of American politics," he writes, "is that when it comes to winning hearts and minds, the party that views itself as the one with the heart (for the middle class, the poor, and the disenfranchised) continues to appeal exclusively to the mind."

This reluctance, Westin maintains, is killing Democrats who go up against a savvy Republican Party with a long track record of appealing to the emotional side of voters. Traditional Democratic advisors (and rank and file Democrats as well) for the most part view targeting voters’ emotions as ultimately manipulative and unethical, an understandable hesitation in light of the GOP’s proven ability to prey on fear, prejudice and wrath—through lies—to win elections. Yet resorting to unethical manipulation doesn’t have to be modus operandi, Westin points out. Repeatedly, in dozens of different ways, he attempts to talk progressives out of this irrational reluctance to eschew dry cerebral policy issues in favor of targeting the hearts and values of American citizens. He makes the distinction clear in this passage:

My goal in this book is not to advocate that Democrats emulate the ethics of Karl Rove. But there is no relation between the extent to which an appeal is rational or emotional and the extent to which it is ethical or unethical. Every appeal is ultimately an emotional appeal to voters’ interests—what’s good for them and their families—or their values—what matters to them morally. The question that decides elections is whether the appeal is a weak one or a strong one.

And he reiterates this stance in this passage:

The central thesis of this book—that successful campaigns compete in the marketplace of emotions and not primarily in the marketplace of ideas—may at first blush be disquieting to many Democrats. But the reality is that the best way to elicit enthusiasm in the marketplace of emotions is to tell the truth. There is nothing more compelling in politics than a candidate who is genuine. And the issues that most tempt politicians to spin and parse are precisely the ones on which they should tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Westin is fierce in his criticism of past Democratic presidential campaigns and cites many examples of the kind of dead, vague, safe language and symbolism so beloved of establishment strategists and party leaders. Overreliance on focus groups and polls have turned our candidates into cardboard caricatures who appear pandering and lifeless to any voter who manages to tune in. For this failing, he largely blames the handlers and strategists (Bob Shrum takes a lion’s share of heat):

Most importantly, their obsessive attention to facts and figures, their caution and risk aversion, their indifference or disdain toward emotion, and their conflicts around anger and aggression (which may lead them to generate rationalizations against attacking or responding to attacks), leave them misattuned to some of the most important emotional signals in electoral politics, such as whether a candidate has charisma, what nonverbal signals he or she is sending, what emotions the candidate is or is not activating in the electorate, and when it is time to capture the moment with a positive or a negative appeal. Such individuals may seem highly competent because of their capacity to read power dynamics, and at times this may lead them to make good calls. But they are fundamentally handicapped by an emotional style that runs contrary to what is required, particularly in the era of television, of someone charged with managing the emotions of the electorate.

In the case of the Kerry campaign, and subsequent public Democratic leadership positions since the 2004 loss, the author is particularly harsh in his condemnation of the unwillingness of party spokespeople to come out swinging to boldly declare the current administration’s methods and lies in violation of everything this country purports to stand for. In fact, it’s a lapse of ethics in itself not to attack passionately the reign of destruction that has ensued, asserting that "the failure to ‘go negative’ against an incumbent whose behavior is deeply immoral or destructive to America’s moral authority is itself an ethical failure."

For those who take refuge in cerebral rationality when there is much to get angry and emotional about, Westin asserts that the Republicans have consistently displayed harrowing depths of viciousness and lack of remorse. "People without conscience," he states, "respond to aggression, not to appeals to the conscience they don’t have." As such, he offers this reminder:

Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson didn’t make their case for "all men are created equal" by addressing the smokescreens put up by Southern politicians to stop black people from voting. They didn’t argue about the pros and cons of literacy in a Democratic electorate to make a case against literary tests. They didn’t argue about the utility or disutility of poll taxes in a republic. They understood that this was just the smoke, and that the real issue was the fire in the belly of those who were burning the crosses.... You don’t put out a fire by waving at the smoke. You put out the fire. And if someone keeps starting those fires, you put out the arsonist.

Throughout The Political Brain, Westin offers alternative narratives that Democrats could have offered if they’d not shivered and balked in the face of polls to use conciliatory, "safe" language on key issues. In particular, he provides sample narratives on some of the most divisive issues stirred up in the electorate—guns, abortion, gay marriage—without claiming his examples are the only possible responses. He emphasizes that these are issues on which Americans face internal conflict as beliefs in fairness, safety and privacy weigh against the GOP’s seizing of the "moral" high ground of sanctimony and the American tradition of individualism. Openly acknowledging these internal conflicts within individuals—and not just between polled demographic chunks—allows for some nuance about some truly gray areas with which a majority of conflicted citizens struggle.

Near the end of the book, the author sums up what cognitive science has learned about the interplay of reason and emotion, and what the implications are (or should be) for successful future Democratic campaigns:

Voters tend to ask four questions that determine who they will vote for, which provide a hierarchy of influences on the decisions about whether and how to vote: "How do I feel about the candidate’s party and its principles?" "How does this candidate make me feel?" "How do I feel about this candidate’s personal characteristics, particularly his or her integrity, leadership, and compassion?" and "How do I feel about he candidate’s stand on issue that matter to me?"

Candidates who focus their campaigns toward the top of this hierarchy and work their way down generally win. They drink from the wellsprings of partisan feelings. They tell emotionally compelling stories about who they are and what they believe in.... They run on who they are and what they genuinely care about, and they know their constituents well enough to know where they share their values and where they don’t.... They speak at the level of principled stands. They provide emotionally compelling examples of the ways they would govern, signature issues that illustrate their principles and foster identification.

Issues, in this view, are the outcome of unconsciously formed value presumptions. They should follow and illustrate the deeply held beliefs of the Democratic Party about justice, opportunity and equality. They are the visible and detailed roadmap of how to bring shared values into everyday life; without a clear master narrative of what Democrats stand for, issues alone are policy wonk drivel that voters learn to dismiss as irrelevant and boring. The job of Democratic leaders today is to convey clearly both their bedrock party principles and their passion to make them concrete in policy and legislation. Sometimes that means calling out the other side in the strongest terms imaginable on its extreme and undemocratic assumptions and methods.

And lest progressives fear that clear, fearless language and savvy use of today’s varied media—and that in Westin words, "negative campaigning is inherently unethical"—I leave you with this one observation from the author to ponder about this country’s most devoted practitioners of Enlightenment, our Founders:

Anyone who believes this should read the Declaration of Independence.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:22 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  He, at least, gives Dems the benefit of a doubt. (7+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Miles, Winnie, Kidspeak, Webster, drewfromct, GreyHawk, mathGuyNTulsa
    Hidden by:
    Woody

    They're aren't in cahoots with corporations just like the Republicans, Dems are just too stupid or crippled to articulate their roots.  I don't think that I buy it.  

    No justice, no peace.

    by dkmich on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:29:31 AM PDT

    •  I don't agree (20+ / 1-)

      Dems are very much in cahoots with corporations.  The difference is that Dems are in cahoots with different corporations.

      Nor are they too stupid or crippled to articulate their roots.  Doing so would threaten the funding and support they receive from corporations.  I know it is really simple-minded of me, but I can't figure any other reason.  They can't all be this stupid, it has to be because they know the funding will dry up if they address inequality in any real, effective way.

      "While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene Debs

      by matthewc on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:36:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They're not in cahoots with (6+ / 0-)

        the primary purpose of the corporation (other than pooling assets) which is to shield the individual participant from being accountable and liable for the decisions he/she makes.
        I don't think most Democrats even think about evading responsibility.
        When the corporation is touted as a vehicle for sharing risk, what it's really promoting is a way for individuals to act without risking their own assets.

        Governments, after all, are simply public corporations which are set up to share or mitigate the inevitable negatives which nature throws up for human beings.  But, governments are about dealing with negatives without destroying the individual.  The business corporation has been set up to protect the individual from his own bad decisions.  To a large extent, the effort to transfer government functions to the private corporation (privatization) is simply an effort to make public resources available to the whims of individuals without holding them accountable for their bad decisions.

        Democrats should not be blamed for failing to envision this situation.  It never occurs to them to be irresponsible.

        •  I simply do not (8+ / 0-)

          share this rosy view of government and of the Democratic Party specifically.  To suggest that it never occurs to Democrats to be irresponsible is about as ridiculous a suggestion as can be imagined.  I'm a Dem, I vote Dem, and I work and volunteer on behalf of the party's candidates, but I will never drink so much Kool-Aid that I believe them to be super-human.  

          "While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene Debs

          by matthewc on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:35:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Strategic Goal of Corporations is... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          arlene

          ...to enhance shareholder value, i.e., investor value, or stock price.

          We will have to restructure corporations to
          "enhancing stake-holder value," i.e.,
          enhancing workers' values,
          enhancing customers' values,
          enhancing civic values.

          It's not a long shot if we do it right.  

          First, reduce CEO & Exec compensation to a matrix which punishes them for bad civic behavior like pollution, failure of "green" initiative standards, export of jobs (creation of overseas jobs), or investment of money or people in like operations that damage the US or engage in use of any loopholes that contradict these initiatives.

          Second, enforce standards on employees that make it possible to live utility free by selling the power they generate to power generation companies at a price fixed at 10% over the cost of buying power from these same companies.

          If they can do these things in Germany, we can do them over here. US is still the best game on the planet for these criminals: all they neeed is a bit of counseling about laws.

          Reduce the military budget according to these same standards. The military is already doing it!!!

          Frankly, our values have already won in many ways, but money is used to game the system and corrupt it.

          In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. -George Orwell Iraq Moratorium

          by ezdidit on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:25:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Hey Woody (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dkmich, Andy Lewis

        Why the troll-rating?  What about this comment would suggest that I'm a troll?  That's fucked.

        "While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene Debs

        by matthewc on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 01:59:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Uprated to cancel out a bogus TR. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dkmich

        "You'd better get this straight. Wise up before it's too late." - Sister Sledge.

        by Andy Lewis on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 05:53:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think that some Democrats... (6+ / 0-)

      ....are more interested with making nice with big money, but there are also a number of Democrats, both moderate and liberal, who make the mistakes that Westen points out.

    •  So truly tiresome, have a donut (13+ / 0-)

      Here in this book review, a new and different way of looking at our problems is presented. But you don't want anyone to discuss that information. Instead you selfishly attempt to seize control of the thread by repeating the same tired bash-Democrats stuff that has infected dKos like one of the pandemic plagues we are warned about in other posts.

      Conspiracy theories are supposedly banned from this site. It is also supposedly a Democratic site. But your comment is damn close to being a conspiracy theory, implying that the one and only discussion-worthy explanation for our party's troubles is that some leaders have connections with some corporation. And your comment is -- no doubt about it -- as profoundly negative about the Democratic Party as any Repub poster could put up without being banned.

      But please understand that I'm not giving you the donut you so richly deserve today because I disagree with what you say. I give you the donut because you want to derail discussion of new insights in favor of repeating the tired old negativism which can already be found in overabundance in a dozen or a hundred other diaries and thousands of other comments. You are diary hijacking. I regret that I have but one donut to give you.

      And not only incidentally I'm bored --itless by your comment, because it is totally devoid of anything remotely new or not heard a thousand times before. It is boring, boring, boring, and yet offensive nonetheless. If you didn't have anything fresh to contribute, why didn't you post a comment boasting "First" and at least not leave behind a taste of poisonous hatred of the Democratic Party?

      Now don't bother to flame at me. I'm already burnt out, and I'm leaving. Maybe I can find a different site where the members try to be constructive about issues affecting the Democratic Party. If I can't, so be it. I'm not gonna waste more time here wading through the same-old, same-old day boring and negative comments after day. I'm out.

      •  Great Comment (5+ / 0-)

        I agree with everything you say. The "all politicians are bad" refrain is a hopeless, negative tune meant to end serious discussion on a subject which deserves our consideration.

      •  Excellent Woody (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MarkInSanFran, Wary

        And please don't leave. Just keep posting what you are. The comment was totally off topic but that happens often here. I don't think it was worth a troll rating but it was off topic.

        The author brings up some very important things about communication and I look forward to adding his book to my library on the subject of communication and how the brain works.

        "You Have The Power!" - Howard Dean

        by talex on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:51:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You go right ahead and think whatever makes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackGriffen, Winnie, rubine

        you happy and comofortable.  However, some of us are more realistic; and we would really like to figure out a way to have more positive influence on them.  If we don't face reality, we can't do that - can we. Selfish?  Who is selfish?   "There are none blinder than those who will not see."  As I said, each to their own.  I'm sure we are all about the same goal.

        No justice, no peace.

        by dkmich on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:56:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Woody if you find (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        talex

        a new, more constructive site to help out the Democratic Party, please let us know.

        I, for one, share your views, I am also tired of wading through the same old same old,

        Thanks for voicing what I have been thinking.

      •  What does it mean when questions are the enemy? (7+ / 0-)

        The commenter REJECTS the argument that Democrats are "too stupid/inarticulate".  He thinks Democrats are smart and clever folks.

        He says that THEREFORE we need a better explanation for why the Democrats are so beholden to corporate interests, a better explanation than is provided by the interesting argument presented in the book review.

        How could that even be controversial? Surely we do need a good explanation for that problem, don't we?    

        How do we explain the failure of the party to end the war, impeach the President and move to bring corporate America under democratic rule?  

        As the commenter says, in full support of and belief in the intelligence of Democratic leaders, "they are not stupid" so what is going on?  Is an explanation based on inarticulateness or rhetorical failure adequate to explain their patterns of speech and policy advocacy?

        Why is it that every time someone asks a reasonable question, some folks get their undies in a bunch and proclaim that this is a Democratic party site only, as if the Democratic party isn't a place that includes public discussions of the direction the Democratic party should take?  

        •  good question: (5+ / 0-)

          Why is it that every time someone asks a reasonable question, some folks get their undies in a bunch and proclaim that this is a Democratic party site only, as if the Democratic party isn't a place that includes public discussions of the direction the Democratic party should take?

        •  What comment did you read? (0+ / 0-)

          The "First!" comment on this thread goes like this, as I read it:

          [The author of the book] at least gives Dems the benefit of a doubt, [saying that] they're aren't in cahoots with corporations just like the Republicans [and offering another explanation, paraphrased. but] I don't think that I buy it.

          How is that not totally negative and designed to derail the discussion of the review and hijack the thread for the discussion that you favor along with the "First!" commenter?

          The "First!" comment very strongly implies that the ONLY expanation for the Democrats problems worth discussing is the view held by the author of the comment, and seconded by you, to wit, that the Democrats are involved in a conspiracy with the corporations. So you and dk want us to discuss how hopeless it all is, and ignore the subject of the book reviewed. Is that a closed mind on display? or a selfish one, as I suggested before? or what?

          You say

          we need a better explanation for why the Democrats are so beholden to corporate interests, a better explanation than is provided by the interesting argument presented in the book review

          So there's no point in discussing the book reviewed or its points. Fine. You are completely free to not discuss it. One click and you're outta here. And you and dk are free to post diaries that repeat the tiresomely repetitive line about how it's all the fault of the Democrats in Congress. Don't expect any praise for originality, but obviously there's a large market hereabouts for such recycled sour opinions.

          But you should not try to prevent others here from discussing the points of the book in a thread that is supposed to be about the review. You and dk seem to be the ones afraid of questions, and afraid of discussion of other ideas about our party's problems that are not the same as your predetermined explanation of corporate conspiracy.

          BTW Thanks to those who posted or rec'ed comments in my support, but don't anybody get their hopes up. I'm not coming back to read or post more comments. On reflection I decided that I can read the front page stories on dKos and even some diaries, so long as I don't go to the comments. I won't miss much that way, just the incessant whining about how the Democratic politicians have failed us due to their corrupt involvement in a conspiracy to govern the country with and for the corporations. Oh please. Anyone who believes that bull, go vote for Nader again, why dontcha. Now I have something better to do: my laundry.

          •  On the contrary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dkmich

            "So there's no point in discussing the book reviewed or its points."

            I think it's a fascinating thesis (from the book), but the first commenter makes an on topic point about the adequacy of an explanation based on rhetorical failure.

            Personally I'd say the thesis of the book seems like a good one, but I think its reasonable to ask if it is a sufficient one.  

            I'd like to read the book.  

            I never voted for Nader, nor do I think I would.

            Why arguments about corruption by the corporate political fund raising system in the U.S. sound to you like "whining" I really can't say... (on a site that is part of the internet small donor phenom, no less !)   but I don't plan to be quiet about it, and you are most welcome.

          •  Woody (0+ / 0-)

            I didn't hijack the thread.  You did.  You are the one who went totally off subject and turned the topic to me and whether or not I deserve to have an opinion that the author's premise is naive.   I did address the book.  Oppose questions.  Just what question did you ask?  All I saw was a temper tantrum that ended with you abusing your ability to troll rate because you don't like Democrats being challenged.  Too bad.  Don't want to come back?  That's up to you.  

            No justice, no peace.

            by dkmich on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:17:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I appreciate dailykos... (9+ / 0-)

        I'm a left winger, anarchist, marginalized, individual, with a past tendency to be very cynical.  In the last year I have immersed myself in law and history, particularly labor history.  I am awed by the strength, brilliance, and integrity, of many on the left who have fought hard for the rights of labor, as well as the rights of women and minorities.

        I believe it is pretty obvious that we, the citizens of the US, have a real problem with the power ($$$) imbalance between the people and the business interests, that has resulted in the profound corruption of our political process.  

        To define how a democrat should behave, or approach an issue, without addressing this imbalance seems to me to be somewhat delusional.  Sometimes the waffling on the part of democrats is simply that they represent special interests while trying to act as if they represent the people.

        DailyKos has provided me with an arena in which I have been able to think and speak through these issues, discarding much of my cynisism in the process.  There is a way to change the democrats and this country for the better by recognizing the actual reactionary forces that are arrayed against us and acting with all this in mind.

        I deeply appreciate the skepticism of DailyKos towards the demos, while still acting to support many of them.  It is a realistic and mature approach, hence, in my opinion, is the most effective.  

        Never underestimate the corrupting influence of an expensive suit and a soft chair.

        by rubine on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:53:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "Democrat" is not defined by "not" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Winnie, dkmich

      The essence of being a "Democrat" is being Democratic - believing in Democracy.

      IF we can stick to that theme, we will be impossible to beat.

      Of course it is not enough to speak the words, we have to act and vote as believers in Democracy.  That would seem to be the really hard part.

      Peace is a family value.

      by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:20:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  WTF do "corporations" have to do with (0+ / 0-)

      the topic of this thread????

      The book describes the past 20 or so years of Dem party candidates using "average numbers" from polls and focus groups in order to figure out their message, instead of speaking from their heart/gut, or speaking about their own values as a person, i.e. what they REALLY think.

      It's about Dems avoidance of making any kind of controversial statement or forming bold ideas out of fear they might lose some votes or offend someone or cause controversy.

      It's about the middle-American voters who see right through their mealy-mouthed wimpy campaign speeches and wishy washy positions and vote for the other side, not because the voter is conservative, but because the GOP candidates seem like they actually have a political philosophy behind their positions.

      It's about how Dems have failed to communicate to Americans what philosophy it is the Dems represent, not just about 'abortion' or 'Iraq' or 'the environment', but any other issue that might come up in the future.

      Americans won't vote for a candidate until they know what makes that candidate tick (or at least think they know)...

      Corporations have nothing to do with it.

      •  You believe this? (0+ / 0-)

        The book describes the past 20 or so years of Dem party candidates using "average numbers" from polls and focus groups in order to figure out their message, instead of speaking from their heart/gut, or speaking about their own values as a person, i.e. what they REALLY think.

         So your theory is that they are stupid and weak, which is not much better than greedy and self-serving.  Either way, they are losers, which is the point.  Aren't you tired of excuses and reasons, yet?  Whine, we're a minority.  Whine, we're only a little majority being held hostage by the new minority.  Enough whining and excuses.  They aren't at 14% in the polls for no reason.  

        No justice, no peace.

        by dkmich on Mon Jun 25, 2007 at 10:06:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Buhdydharma and OPOL have been saying this (32+ / 0-)

    ... for internet ages here, and have taken a lot of grief for it.

    Then there was the "Top Comment" about destructive "yippies" on Daily Kos. It named no names, but I took it as meaning passionate, emotional posters as opposed to the professional triangulators.

    The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

    by lotlizard on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:31:27 AM PDT

    •  And Kestrel, as well. (15+ / 0-)

      "War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell

      by Karmafish on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:36:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, is that what they were saying? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jxg, buhdydharma

      I never managed to make it past the photo collages.

    •  Dems Weakness Looks Like Codependency (18+ / 0-)

      Someone is abused and they grow up with a sense of anger at injustice, but the first time someone says "Boo" they fold like a house of cards.

      Worse, they internalize every criticism, repeat every criticism, try to explain every criticism. And when they are faced with a sociopath or personality disorder, they are drawn in like the abuser is a black hole. The abuser doesn't need to stalk the codependent, the codependent will practically stalk their abuser. Friends look on absolute horror as the codependent hangs on every word from the abuser and desperately tries to ingratiate themsleves.

      Unfortunately, politicians include a lot of codependents (people pleasers) and personality disorders (predators - often flabby and self deluded, but still predators). Dems tend to be people pleasers and 'pubs tend to be predators, so Democrats tend to act like the Shmoos in "L'il Abner" - they jump in the oven and baste themselves for you.

      •  [name here] (D-Valley of the Schmoon)...? :o) n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bernardpliers

        The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

        by lotlizard on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:30:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not really a big problem (12+ / 0-)

        as the discussion and book implies. If say the D's were to stand up for the Rule of Law and the constitution, that would be sufficient to take care of the visceral types and then they could reason and debate policy positions until we were blue in the face. As long as we had power.

        The problem is , we need to show we stand for something that is easy to grasp via actions , not words and those actions are off the table right now.

        So if the D's lose the election in 08 across the board, we can triangulate, debate , postulate, blame, and even throw a tantrum, but as so many people on this site have pointed out, a very simple solution was within our grasp.

        Wouldas, Shouldas and Couldas are usually the Realists lament after a large an unexpected loss of political or  economic capital occurs through lack of action as they wait for facts to develop to confirm what most people already know.

        In 1980 the Movie "Risky Business" Came out and a great philosophy was born. Sometimes ya just gotta say "What the fuck" and go for it.

        As this point, there really is nothing to lose even though some beleive that the occupation of seats of power actaully give them power. As diary after diary has pointed out, this is simply an illusion.

        So, what do the D's Stand for?  Start it off easy: D's will defend the constitution via the rule of Law.  Then don't talk about it. Do it. What the fuck do we have to lose? Power? Majority Status? Just an Illusion.

        Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

        by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:15:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh Come On! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Woody, Wary, dragoneyes

          The problem is , we need to show we stand for something that is easy to grasp via actions , not words and those actions are off the table right now.

          Like the public does not know what we stand for? Then why when polled on position issues does the public overwhelmingly choose Dems as being capable of doing the better job?

          The difference between you and the general public is they look at the bigger picture while most people here nit-pick every little thing the Dems do therefore you are never happy with them because no Dem can satisfy every individuals desire here. And I highlight 'individuals' because so many here have their pet issue. As long as people use their pet issues as the ultimate measuring stick they will never be happy. But maybe that is what some want - to never be happy with the Party.

          "You Have The Power!" - Howard Dean

          by talex on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:09:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you probably (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ravenwind, ibonewits

            misplaced the most recent polls either that or your are under the mistaken impression that D's won in 2006 instead of the R's losing.

            Even if they are out polling on any issue it's not anything to get excited about when your over-all polls show the D's in the mid to low 20s.

            That's just the point. You can have the luxury of nuance and debate and all the fine points of governance within a solid majority. But the fact is, people at some point expect action. D's have shown no leadership even on the things that they purportedly stand for through legislative accomplishments.

            But lets assume THAT didn't matter. They didn't do the one thing they were elected to do in 2006. Check the Executive branch's power. They folded like a house of cards and THAT is all people will remember as 100s and 1000s come back from Iraq dead and wounded. Being strong in the face of adversity really does matter. Debate when people's lives aren't at stake. Take Action when people are dying.

            Right now people would imagine the D's during Katrina as debating the ins and outs of various forms of relief days and weeks after the Hurricane. It's not that they don't want to provide relief. They can't come to an agreement on where they stand on how to do it.

            Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

            by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:40:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Woody, tobendaro

              I'd like to see the polls showing the Dems in the low 20's. I haven't seen those polls. And if you are talking about the congressional polls there is more that one party in congress although I assume that you give all the blame to the Dems and none to the Repubs.

              They didn't do the one thing they were elected to do in 2006. Check the Executive branch's power. They folded like a house of cards

              Typical uninformed comment here. I guess you think the Dems were elected and that in the process the Constitution and all the rules of the Senate were thrown out the window? Because that is what it would take to do what you wish. I guess you didn't think about that?

              comments like yours are pretty well worn out around here. Especially because how they are never accompanied by any realistic way to accomplish what it is you are asking. Noting but screed really.

              "You Have The Power!" - Howard Dean

              by talex on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:38:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hmmm lets see here (0+ / 0-)

                President ignores all those rules and breaks laws consistently. Lets put impeachment under the table.  Dems could have decided against any supplemental bill to sign at all or let him keep vetoing the first one. So many options besides "Oh Ok W, here's your 100 Billion with no strings and we got our minimum wage so our constituents can keep buying gas. "

                Is that what you meant when you say

                I guess you think the Dems were elected and that in the process the Constitution and all the rules of the Senate were thrown out the window? Because that is what it would take to do what you wish. I guess you didn't think about that?

                comments like yours are pretty well worn out around here. Especially because how they are never accompanied by any realistic way to accomplish what it is you are asking. Noting but screed really.

                Standing up to a Bully is just The Right thing To Do. I guess you didn't think much about that did you. Or was the idea too scary? Boo!

                Poll ratings?
                http://www.pollingreport.com/...
                I suppose you could twist that and say the R's are dragging the averages down
                So what else do we have here?
                Ok D Job Ratings at 34 but wait...damnit. The R ratings are at 36 in Congress. Imagine that? Strange then that they collective are rating 10 points lower. But you know how those polls are.

                Biased right?

                Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

                by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 03:05:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Almost forgot (0+ / 0-)

                Typical uninformed comment here.

                Indeed you are right about your comment. On that we can agree.

                Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

                by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 03:06:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  You're confusing (0+ / 0-)

            the positions people advocate according to polls with support for Democrats.  If people do not make the connection that these positions are Democratic positions, then something is clearly going astray in how Democrats campaign and present themselves to the public.

        •  Actions must follow Words (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rebecca, Dburn, ravenwind, pioneer111

          When expected actions do not follow the words, voters get confused.  Who can blame them ?

          Liberty and Justice are sacred ideals, but seemingly difficult to live up to.  Witness the Repugnants virtual abandonment of these democratic domains.

          Democracy is both simple and difficult.  It is usually the poor, downtrodden, outcaste who are the case examples of those most in need of democratic principles in action- but it takes real courage to defend these people - and there is no money in it. (witness Jose Padilla, abandon even by the ACLU).

          Most of us know what our ideals are.  But many of us are afraid to speak, let alone act upon them.  Yes, we need a simple and consistant theme.  AND we need a common committment not to drop those ideals at the hint of some cash (I advocate "shunning" those who do).  We must constantly reinforce the message that we are the Party "under the Law, for the Citizen", or we will not Win - nor deserve to.

          Peace is a family value.

          by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:18:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks- To use an old Cowboy movie analogy (0+ / 0-)

            It seems so simple to me. Who are the guys in the white hats? That's pretty much what it comes down to.

            The Polls show the Americans are on to the R's game. What they want to see happen , did they vote the right sheriff to come in and clean up or is he hiding under the table as the guys in Black hats drunk on power, shoot up the town and steal all the gold.

            If that's perceived as a single issue voter classification - right vs wrong, then we really do have the wrong people in there. Doing right encompasses so many things that D's can wrap themselves in that and be many things to many people.

            But first they have to show some backbone. That means a high profile struggle with the bully. They can't hide beneath position papers and polling results and mealy mouth excuses. Doing the Right Thing may seem like doing the Hardest thing but when it over and done with, the D's may just find it turned out to be the easiest thing.

            Then when the constitution is safe. When Our liberties are safe. Then we can argue the finer points about what it means to be a progressive and what policy positions that entails. But until the big fight happens, nothing is moving.

            Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

            by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 06:49:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  The Constitution Takes Out All The Guess Work (5+ / 0-)

          But the Democrats refuse to talk about the Constitution.

          I guess they are afrid if has too many controversial ideas.

          •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

            The road map is right there but it's hard to find your way when it's underneath the table. Putting impeachment under the table is the same as putting the constitution - the road map and guidelines down there with it.

            The hardest thing for these Pols is to admit when they are wrong. But strangely enough, the American people will think more of them especially when they follow up the admission with action to correct the problem.

            The problem here is people are making something that is really very simple waaay too complicated  as a knee jerk reaction to taking action. If something is too complicated to understand, nothing should be done until the facts are more clear.

            How many million emails destroyed can possibly make it more clear?

            Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

            by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 06:54:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  And I think... (8+ / 0-)

      ....that's why Obama doesn't get a lot of love here. Obama understands the importance of an emotional connection to a candidate. But a lot of us here are suspicious of him because we don't think his resume is long enough or that he doesn't give enough specific facts. The simple fact is that there's no question that Obama's bright enough for the job and can come up with details. And I don't believe his focus on making an emotional connection means that he can't give details.

      •  Some perhaps, for others... (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, delphine, pat208, JanL, ibonewits, offgrid

        Personally, I think Obama has plenty of experience needed to be POTUS. The reason I haven't jumped on board is because of his consistent strategy of playing it safe. When it comes to casting votes and taking the lead on national issues, he has yet to stick his neck out. I'll be much happier with him when I see his rhetoric and his actions come into alignment.

        ...you can't fight in here! This is the War Room! ---Dr. Strangelove

        by Ashami on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:07:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Obama is not an emoter.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca

        As numerous articles have described, he frequently fails to make the emotional connection and stays at a policy level when confronted with "real people/ real situations".  Details are what he can do, and does do, in a very coherent and impressive way.   But like Hillary, he's kind of people impaired.  

      •  Or, maybe he just makes the wrong emotional (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca

        connection for some people.

        I am suspicious of Obama not because of the length of his resume, or because of specific facts or lack thereof.  

        I am suspicious of Obama because of his cowtowing to religion and the supposed force of religion for social change.  Note that as distinct from "morality" of certain choices or not.

        To me, this is not what a Presidential candidate ought to be doing, at least not to the extent that some people do it.

        It's what a priest or a reverend might do, wholly legitimately, but after 6 years I'm damned tired of the spinning of the office of the President as "religious daddy of the nation" -- or even, "religious mommy".  Or even "moral" daddy/mommy of the nation.

        And yes, other people do it too, and yes, the extent to which they do it is a matter of perception.

        I have no problem with people running for office letting it be known they believe in God.  Ironically, unlike many religious people, I have no specific religious litmus test for people seeking the Presidency.

        But dad gummit, in the end I am voting for someone who I think can run the country, with justice and fairness and correct application of the law, not for someone who can tell me how bad it is that some people just don't have that old time religion down the correct way.

        Pay the protestors, save the world (-6.25, -6.92)

        by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:59:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  sometimes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Robespierrette, Wary

      OPOL beats you over the head with his message and uses harsh imagery, this appeals to people who already think like he does but does very little to sway a person who might agree with him on quite a few things but gets turned off by his hammer. What you need to think about is a story, a narrative, something that the public will nod their heads to while you are telling it, not something that makes them cringe, or turns them off.
      Sometimes OPOL pulls this off, and other times he is just too harsh.

      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 24, 2007 at 08:36:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Harsh=often a danger when passion is involved.n/t (0+ / 0-)

        The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

        by lotlizard on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:45:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wary

          But if you want to communicate with the masses and not turn them off you might want to cool your passions, it will make you more effective.

          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 24, 2007 at 08:49:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lots of room for improving the balance, true. n/t (0+ / 0-)

            The Dutch children's choir Kinderen voor Kinderen (= “children for children”) is a world cultural treasure.

            by lotlizard on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:13:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Launching any new idea or initiative (8+ / 0-)

            requires the appeal to the mythic non-linearaspect of the human mind, that is, it captuires the imagination.  Once the imagination is captured, it is easy enough to fill in the blank with facts and figures and statistics.  But rarely is the imagination captured in the first place with fact s and figures and statistics, and it is IMHO the best purpose of a place like dailykos to be the incubator of new ideas, new initiatives, not merely a rehearsal space for existing lines of argument.

          •  Cool our passions? (4+ / 0-)

            I think that the point of the book is that the democrats need to develop passion and not cool their already non-existent passions.  

            Showing anger in the face of an historic assault on our government, traditions and freedoms is a normal reaction.  The Spocklike rationality being pushed by our political leaders and some here is not a winning approach.  It's funny though how anger is, it appears, an appropriate response to the base that expects our elected officials to do more then keep their powder dry for the perfect moment in time.  

            ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

            by Rebecca on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:18:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I love the passionate (0+ / 0-)

              also, but I remember what the rethugs did to Dean when he showed the passion that he possesses. There is more to it than just passion, we need to be able to get out front of the rethugs when they attack through their media outlets.

              It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress. Mark Twain

              by rsie on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:30:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes they attacked him for getting angry (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ibonewits, offgrid, Rabid Lambert

                Of course they did.  The republicans understand the power of passion and the last thing they want is for our side to start showing an appropriate response to their attacks on our system of government.  They have shown they will attack no matter what we do so why should our side let them scare us off from effective means of communicating our message because they will attack us for it?  

                Look at John Kerry.  He was the electable candidate we were told because he had the military record the repubs couldn't refute.  Well look how well that worked out.  They attacked him and his record and he didn't fight back until much too late and with too little sign of outrage and anger.  His reputation was being attacked and where was his outrage, his anger?  People expect a certain emotional response to things.  When our politicians don't show that response they just don't seem real.  

                We need to stop allowing the republicans to control the terms of debate in this country.  We don't do that by being afraid of them and their response.

                ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

                by Rebecca on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:48:12 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Gee, when I started reading and came (8+ / 0-)

    to the part about a pyschopath I immediately thought of the current occupant of the White House, silly me.

    One bad thing was a train got crashed in New Jersey. People won't be late for work though, because the governor lady said, "I'm sending in more trains!"

    by msstaley on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:31:50 AM PDT

  •  Must read book, and thank you I mostly agree with (12+ / 0-)

    This

    the left has no brand, no counterbrand, no master narrative, no counternarrative. It has no shared terms or "talking points" for its leaders to repeat until they are part of our political lexicon. Instead, every Democrat who runs for office, every Democrat who offers commentaries on television or radio, every Democrat who even talks with friends at the water cooler, has to reinvent what it means to be a Democrat, using his or her own words and concepts, as if the party had no history

    Many here have decried this lack of "pack mentality" when it come to attacking the rightwing idiocy.

    The other point is staking out BOLD positions
    The war for instance. Defund the damn thing.
    Bushco lies: Condemn and impeach his ass. Telling me Impeachment is off the table is foolish to the extreme. Removing options off the table is mega idiocy.

    •  I Disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wary

      that we have no brand. people generally know what we stand for it is that it is just not easy to define in a few words. the Repubs on the other hand don't stand for much there fore it is easy for them to brand themselves.

      Some day when I have some more time I'd like to address the differences in personality types that affect how Dems communicate. Maybe that is covered in the book maybe not. But there is a clear distinction in personality types that draw people to either party as politicians.

      As for you comment:

      Defund the damn thing.

      Just how are you going to do that? it's not doable if you think it out.

      "You Have The Power!" - Howard Dean

      by talex on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:14:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Defund the damn thing" (0+ / 0-)

      Yeah, right, and since they can't do it, then forget the dems?

      And this one:

      Bushco lies: Condemn and impeach his ass.

      Yeah? How, just how? Ya got the votes to do it?

      I don't know about anyone else, but the so called 'pack mentality' of the Bush supporters is leaving them extremely stupid and vulnerable--it's sooo easy to attack and expose their stupid one liners for what they are, NOTHING but hollow jingoes............

      Ah, I better leave now and go somewhere I can make a difference, it's surely not here with so many wanting to be like the Republics........

      •  Obviously you miss my point but thats Ok (0+ / 0-)

        Uniformity of message, talking point 'discipline' is very helpful in 'branding'

        If Dem message is universal health care what the fuck does that mean? Dems are just knotting themselves in grandiose flowery obtuse complex languange.

        Say it loud and clear.
        :SINGLE PAYER HEALTH SYSTEM LIKE e.g MEDICARE, every one has a card and goes to whatever hosp. nO BANKURPTCY no difficult choices etc.

        Why is it that the rethug positions are very clear and equally emotive too?
        E.g
        School vouchers?
        Even a moron know what that means.
        What Dems answer? " Oh we can pull funds from public schools" But the fucking schools are failing!! So continue to fund failure?

        See what I mean?

        Dont to be too clever twice!
        You might be alone on that "island" of "Cleverness".

        As for impeachment, why NOT introduce a bill? let chimpie play some defense. He might escape so what? But to let him go scott free is an abomination.

  •  Excellent Diary (22+ / 0-)

    We seem to consistently lack the narrative hook, the personal story, that makes our passions seem vivid and real.  Bill Clinton was good at this.  Ronald Reagan was a master at this.  JFK did it.  Even loathsome Nixon did it.  I'm not sure if any of the current candidates are doing it.  Al Gore is certainly doing it -- and showed in the closing weeks of the 2000 campaign how effectively he can do it.

    Of course, one other problem is that the MSM is only interested in the right-wing, religio-fascist narrative and hoots loudly and relentlessly in derision at the narrative of the left.  

    So there are two problems...building the progressive narrative and then actually getting the story heard over the relentless drumbeat of right-wing propaganda.

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

    by mathGuyNTulsa on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:35:49 AM PDT

    •  Some of what you write confuses me (7+ / 0-)

      I don't remember anything about Gore in the closing weeks of the 2000 campaign.  It certainly wasn't very effective, whatever he did.  Not exactly something to put on your resume - "I barely beat the stupidest presidential candidate in history."

      As for Clinton, he spoke well, but his narrative masked policies that were basically the policies of moderate Republicans.  Hearing kossacks constantly praise Clinton is really depressing, as his policies, especially regarding the economy, were pretty much identical to Dole's, with some minor variation.

      You are very right about battling the right-wing propaganda.  That's a tough one - how do you press the issue of health care when Wolf, Matthews, et al, care more about your manliness or your haircut?

      "While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free." - Eugene Debs

      by matthewc on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:41:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gore (21+ / 0-)

        In the final weeks of the campaign he gave impassioned speeches -- so much so that he became hoarse. The final weeks of the campaign were quite different from what went before. And please -- he won the election by over a million votes.  It was stolen by God's Own Party's supreme court and chicanery in Florida.

        What I said about Clinton was that he was good at building a narrative people identified with -- not that he translated that narrative into progressive policies. In general he did not.  The point was that politicians who win national races -- Reagan, Clinton, Nixon and, yes Gore -- are passionate and capable of building narratives that people identify with.

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

        by mathGuyNTulsa on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:46:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed, but a question... (0+ / 0-)

          was it a million? I thought it was 500K+

          •  I think you may be right (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Rebecca, ibonewits

            The initial margin was about one million.  As I recall, God's Own Party then initiated recounts in several states that Gore won, reducing his margin (more trickery?).  No recounts were done -- including Florida! -- in the states that Bush won.  Hence the official margin of Gore's victory was reduced.  Given where the recounts were actually done, the original margin is probably closer to right.

            Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

            by mathGuyNTulsa on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:00:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I totally agree with you (7+ / 0-)

          about Al Gore.  

          But one thing he did say back then that I think he realizes was naive, was that he "trusted the American people" to see the truth and make the right choices.

          He didn't understand back then that the right choice can be staring folks in the face but the media and messaging can throw up so many smoke screens and make it so difficult for people to see and digest the truth that they end up voting for the wrong one.

          This is the thinking (the old thinking) that led Kerry to decide not to dispute the shitload of liars.  He actually thought responding would just call attention to it, as if no one would pay attention if he just let it lay.

          The first inkling of this was when Al Gore laughed off the whole "invented the internet" thing on Leno or somewhere.  He assumed no one would take it seriously - we're smarter than that, right?  

          Just a day or two later is was a horrifically destructive meme.  One that won't die.

          So while yes, he went populist and shrugged off the shrumian fools at the end, but he still at that time didn't understand what he knows well now, that it's not just having truth on your side but it's making sure people hear you.

      •  We should learn (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mathGuyNTulsa

        from our enemies. The one thing I remember from the Gore campaign was "lock box" - hardly inspirational.

        But we are "lucky" now, in a certain sense.  Many people have seen that the neocon agenda is a recipe for disaster, and they are seeing through the Repugnants' talking points that appeal to the "common man" and the religious right.  It should be easy now to capture those votes.  We are the party of the people for the people.  This is a critical juncture in our democracy, and WE are in the position to take the lead in bringing the Unitied States back into alignment with our founding principles - principles which we all agree upon!

        Easy, right?

        Peace is a family value.

        by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:37:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Identity (6+ / 0-)

        John Edwards is doing a great job putting together policies that the press won't even bother to discuss - but they'll spend hours on missing pregnant women and celebrities going to jail/rehab.

        What Edwards needs is witnesses to put on the stand to testify. The family devastated because loved ones have been repeatedly deployed - and there's not enough support for them at home. People who have lost everything they own, because a family member got sick with the wrong disease at the wrong time. People who've lost their homes and savings because their employers sold them out by dumping pension plans and heath benefits. People who've gotten sick or died because corporate profits and globalism have been used to destroy regulation that used to keep people safe. Hell - we can't even keep our cats and dogs safe! Or our children.

        You can have the greatest ideas in the world - but they'll have a lot more impact if you can find a way turn them into shoes people can see what it's like to walk in, if you get the metaphor.

         Successful politics can't avoid being personal. The Republicans have given Fear and Anger a bad name - and deservedly so. They are also powerful emotional tools for survival when used responsibly. It's time for Democrats to do so.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:28:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Edwards was the only one I thought (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miles, Desert Rose, JanL, xaxnar, mathGuyNTulsa

        of out of our current roster of candidates.

        He is very articulate, and has that fresh, healthy look about him that makes you believe his story.  If any of our people can tap into emotions--in an ethical way, based on the facts and stats we do so dearly love--I think it's going to be Edwards.

        As many have already pointed out, though, the MSM has to cover him and his issues.  That's one I can't figure out.

        "Do your best, and keep your sense of humor."--My Mom

        by mainely49 on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:48:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's an idea (3+ / 0-)

        Instead of speechifying one's campaign to death, let the people tell the story of your campaign. Right at the end of the commercial put:
        "Won't happen On My Watch"
        Edwards 2008

        Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

        by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:22:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As some confirmation (7+ / 0-)

          Look at what Votevets.org did to good ol G. Allen in VA.

          They told the story of body armor and the underlying message was George Allen Kills Soldiers.

          Some could argue it wasn't THAT nasty, but if one wanted to boil it down to it's essence, that was what it came down to...

          They were so bothered by this they tried to respond by speeches. It's damn hard to respond to that visual though. Nuance is great, but sometimes if you want to break through the right wing noise machine, ya gotta bust someone in the chops.

          Impeachment is the perfect right hook.

          Say Impeach LOUD. They need a wake up call. You can't nose-flick em. Do the next best thing

          by Dburn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:27:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  radio monopoly determines trickle-up politics (13+ / 0-)

      So there are two problems...building the progressive narrative and then actually getting the story heard over the relentless drumbeat of right-wing propaganda.

      ---if politics was like football progressives are playing without a front line. until progressives recognize the importance of the right wing talk radio machine in shaping American opinion and pass legislation to cut the monopoly they will continue strategizing and framing in a vacuum.

      talk radio is almost impossible to monitor without a professional staff producing a searchable database.  until then media critics are going to have a hard time getting the whole picture and Dem candidates will continue being lied about and swiftboated without their constituents even being aware of it. by ignoring talk radio, progressives have lost 20 years, and the dem party can't frame an outhouse.

      this is right wing talk radio America and the trickle-up effect of it's unaccountable repetition of right wing talking points has been totally ignored by those it attacks the most. while liberals listened to music and media critics read, talk radio was burning democracy under their noses.

      the uncontested repetition possible on talk radio has dumbed down and corrupted the MSM more than any medium. it creates a giant bandwagon of cheap shots lazy media whores can use, like ticks on limbaugh's ass, knowing what has already been repeated so many times already all over the country establishes a level of certainty that's hard to challenge. for the unimaginative in the media it's great to have that trickle-up media bandwagon to jump on.

      it doesn't matter much who  the GOP candidate is or who his opponent will be.  it doesn't matter what the dem candidates message or image is. gore,  kerry and the clintons, were swiftboated incessantly on talk radio, still are, and will feel it's effects for years to come. much of it was based on exaggeration and lies but talk radio repetition and geographical coverage made it a fad and acceptable. the lie that gore said he invented the internet could not have started on fox and the wash times and stuck. it had to become part of the american conservative culture through talk radio repetition. even cindy sheehan was turned into a traitor- first on talk radio, and then fox put images to it.

      talk radio is why a sociopath with a 30% approval rating still holds the keys to the white house and the soldiers in iraq are still hostages to his pride. this bush disaster, this occupation of iraq, and total innaction on global warming would not have been possible without the right wing's talk radio monopoly.
      dems may never get enough republicans to cross the line for a veto proof majority, or impeach this president, until the talk radio monopoly is broken- the GOP reps are too dependent on and too cowed by the TR groundtroops to cross bush.

      our 'democracy' can handle some media consolidation and corporate money in congress, and was doing so. the difference for the last twenty years, resulting in the rise of a new kind of Republican extreme, has been talk radio.

      until the TR monopoly is addressed everything for progressive candidates will be much harder.

      •  agree 100% (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mainely49, JanL, Stripe

        The airwaves are a public resource.  We must bring back the fairness doctrine.  "Clearchannel" has dominated the AM band, and it is a relentlessly right-wing hate-filled message.

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

        by mathGuyNTulsa on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:56:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You make some excellent points. (5+ / 0-)

        The Dems and progressives have totally discounted the phenomenon of radio.  We're way ahead on the intertubes, but everyone who owns a car has access to talk radio for long periods of time each day.

        You are right, I think, that the mantra of talking points put out by the wingers can be heard repeatedly until they become part of the voters' subconscious.  It's almost impossible to prove that someone didn't say something (re: Gore and the internet) while you're chatting at the lunch table with a co-worker.  

        We just lost AirAmerica here in Maine; it was replaced by ESPN radio.  

        The progressives really have got to get back to the radio.  As long as there are cars and commuters, there will be radio.  

        "Do your best, and keep your sense of humor."--My Mom

        by mainely49 on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:03:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Very astute. The wingers own talk radio (5+ / 0-)

        and millions of Americans listen to Rush, Laura and all those other Rethug PR parrots.  These talk show people repeat the talking points handed to them by Karl Rove and stir up those gut level feelings in an audience that has few real facts and aren't policy wonks.  
        It is very powerful.

        If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. --Mark Twain

        by Desert Rose on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:35:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In my Media Matters e-mail today: (5+ / 0-)

          And the new report by the Center for American Progress and Free Press found that "91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive." And that disparity isn't limited to small-town radio in areas that lean conservative: In the top 10 radio markets, "76 percent of the programming ... is conservative and 24 percent is progressive."

          If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. --Mark Twain

          by Desert Rose on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:12:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm still waiting to hear from our "leaders" (14+ / 0-)

    what they stand for and against.  With a few exceptions, liberals won't fight, dammit, and it drives me crazy.

    •  I'm never quite sure if this is because (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mathGuyNTulsa

      they have some plan that I am unaware of or because they just don't want to be seen as "extreme."

      I sure as shit hope it's the former, but I have no confidence that is the case.

      "War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell

      by Karmafish on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:45:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Drink Pepsi. (11+ / 0-)

    And totally agree with you, Susan.

    I think the constant thinking, strategizing and triangulation of the professional politicians are killing the government.  I'm not sure the country's founders had such people in mind.

    I'm looking for leadership into difficult issues, not folks parroting what they think is the "popular" view.  They have NO CLUE about us "regular" people, their constituents.

    They have healthcare.  They have book deals.  They have a pension.  They get free haircuts.  The rest of us are out here, paying through the nose for community services that have been cut back to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy!

    Jeez.  Sunday rants.  I hate 'em.  ;)

    Bush to The Hague in 2009!

    by InquisitiveRaven on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:41:54 AM PDT

  •  Lakoff Already Said It! (15+ / 0-)

    George Lakoff already stated this concept, but many still pooh pooh his ideas. Maybe Westin's book will reinforce a cognitive approach to Democratic campaigns.

    •  Yes, indeed! (5+ / 0-)

      The Rockridge Institute, Lakoff's think tank,  is hard at work on reclaiming the debate:

      The Rockridge Institute uses research in human cognition to help progressives make arguments that make sense to their audience.

      The Rockridge Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to strengthening our democracy by providing intellectual support to the progressive community. We partner with advocates, activists, and policy professionals to articulate the system of American values and ideas and reframe public debate.

      Our goal is to empower people to effect positive change by reframing the public debate and facilitating consensus toward progressive policy goals. We do this by applying the discipline of cognitive linguistics to reveal the underlying frames and assumptions that structure American political discourse.

      My new mantra: "Don't buy shit from China."

      by Radiowalla on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:08:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He cites Lakoff (10+ / 0-)

      And here's a footnote I couldn't manage to work in because of the length of the piece already:

      Although I suspect one could get to many of the same places with the frame concept, the language of networks has a number of advantages, including its more direct links to the way the brain works and its ability address conflicts among and within networks, conflicts and compromises among conscious and unconscious networks, nonlinguistic networks involving sounds and images, and most importantly, emotions associated through learning and experience with ideas and images encoded on networks.

      Westen takes it one step deeper in that he really examines neural networks -- which sometimes compete -- and how often voters are conflicted about issues, which needs to be considered before one assigns a frame.

    •  Geoffrey Nunburg's 'Talking Right' also... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mainely49, pdrap, BB10

      ...expands on the concept by explaining how important it is to develop a body of stories thus creating a sort of uber-frame.

      He too talks about how you must appeal first to the heart before you can rationalize with someone who has a different viewpoint. I think he also brings up a crucial but oft overlooked principal that it's not really a battle between left and right in America, but rather between the have-mores and everyone else. He shows that we all share more values in common than what the have-mores would like people to believe.

      It seems like now Drew Westen along with Lakoff and Nunburg all seem to be offering consensus on a hypothesis that should be required reading for every Democrat running for office and for those they consult with.

      We also need to this learn ourselves so that we can more effectively appeal to those who lean conservative.

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. - Upton Sinclair

      by Noodles on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:33:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  George Sorel (0+ / 0-)

      said all this a century ago.

  •  We've HAD candidates who get this. (24+ / 0-)

     Howard Dean, most notably. Barack Obama sometimes shows that he understands this -- though he pulls his punches infuriatingly often. Al Gore, in some ways. John Edwards.

     But every time a Democrat emerges who skillfully ties reason to emotion, he gets buried by the Dem establishment -- they ONLY time the Dem establishment actually gets organized to accomplish something.

     I don't know how much progress we're going to make until we flush out the old guard...

    "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

    by Buzzer on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:43:44 AM PDT

    •  DLCers appeal to emotion, unfortunately, (7+ / 0-)

      it is Republican-approved emotion.

      Nunca se deve confiar em pata de cavalo, cabeça de juiz e bunda de nenê.

      by rhubarb on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:46:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Howard Dean understands branding? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jxg, neroden

      Only since the "scream" brought his presidential campaign to a screeching halt.

      He's been much better about this as DNC leader.

      •  Yes he does (9+ / 0-)

         His message in 2003 was essentially that the Democratic Party had become completely unmoored from its base. Hence the "Democratic wing of the Democratic party" slogan.

         He was right then. And subsequent events have continued to prove him right.

          The Dem establishment took him down not because they thought he'd lose to Bush, but because they were afraid he'd BEAT Bush. And then the DLCesque way would have been permanently discredited -- of course, that should have happened after the 2002 election....

        "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

        by Buzzer on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:00:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Gore has shown he understands (9+ / 0-)

      Some of his speeches that excoriate the Bush administration are exactly in line with this diary.

      On May 26, 2004, Al Gore gave a sharply critical speech on the Iraq crisis and the Bush Administration. In the speech, Gore called for the resignations of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Director of Central Intelligence Agency George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, and Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone for encouraging policies that led to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and fanned hatred of Americans abroad.

      Gore also called the Bush administration's Iraq war plan "incompetent" and called George W. Bush the most dishonest president since Richard Nixon. Gore commented; "In Iraq, what happened at that prison, it is now clear, is not the result of random acts of a few bad apples. It was the natural consequence of the Bush Administration policy."

      That's tellin' it like it is. Why our frontrunners - or any of our runners - aren't following this approach totally escapes me. The administration is a fat, wallowing, listing-to-port dead in the water bleeding target-rich enemy of the American people and whoever has the guts to stand up and say it gets my vote.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

      by The Raven on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:19:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is why we need him in the race! (5+ / 0-)

         If he injects this kind of rhetoric into the campaign he'll immediately make certain establishment-backed candidates look like the weak, spineless jellyfish they are.

          He'll move that Overton window all by himself. That's why the media snarls at him every time it looks like he might be edging towards a run...
         

        "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

        by Buzzer on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:29:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But this is exactly the point of the book - (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven

        This is a rational appeal by Gore, not an emotional one.  The words are an appeal to reason.  Weston is saying, to use this example, that while Gore is obviously right about this administration, he is not using language that frames the issue in emotional terms.

        •  This quote is even better (9+ / 0-)

          How about this, then, from the same speech:

          How dare they blame their misdeeds on enlisted personnel from a Reserve unit in upstate New York. President Bush owes more than one apology. On the list of those he let down are the young soldiers who are themselves apparently culpable, but who were clearly put into a moral cesspool. The perpetrators as well as the victims were both placed in their relationship to one another by the policies of George W. Bush.

          How dare the incompetent and willful members of this Bush/Cheney Administration humiliate our nation and our people in the eyes of the world and in the conscience of our own people. How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace. How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison.

          I was able to remember this because it stuck in my mind the day I listened to him make the remarks. The emotional language, the appeal to virtue in the face of evil, was superb oratory. In fact, it was this very speech that awakened me to the fact that Al Gore is the kind of person who ought to be president.

          Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

          by The Raven on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:06:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  But - it's not the right wing message (0+ / 0-)

          people respond to, it's the WAY that they deliver that message; the tone of voice, the sarcasm, the snide, but often funny belittlement of "liberal" stereotypes.

          RW talk radio is mean spirited social commentary/comedy.

          That's what people without a lot of time to spend thinking about politics respond to. Sure, it's below the belt and crude, but so what? It gets instant results in the minds of its listeners. Not every American wants to endlessly debate the minutiae of policy, in a serious, earnest way, like most liberals seem to do.

          Colbert is probably the only one who can out-snide the Limpbaughs of the RW media, and we need more like him. His insulting GWB at the WH press corps function awile ago was perfect, and I think it did a lot to help the dems in 06.

          Air America never really developed the kind of "voice" that mainstream middle America responds to. Al Franken's a funny guy, but he comes off as too intellectual for most Americans who listen to talk radio.

    •  It's the only time they react with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, Andy Lewis

      genuine outrage and anger.  When they are criticized by their own base.

      ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

      by Rebecca on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:00:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Coke (11+ / 0-)

    If this is how Coke marketed itself, we would all be drinking Pepsi.

    Coke would be "off the table."

  •  We have the best populist narrative already (14+ / 0-)

    and it is why FDR's portrait hung on my grandparents' walls.  Like the ONE moment from the Dukakis campaign that I remember is the candidate banging out "Happy Days Are Here Again" on a shaky piano.

    I'm not saying time to resurrect the New Deal, but I am saying that our narrative is Robin Hood, and we need to  keep on it.  Altruism.  All the things people really believe but were told weren't so by Ronald Gecko.  I mean Gordon Reagan.  Well, you know.

    We have that great story for people!  We should not "Luntz" it, though.  My biggest objection to the whole framing craze following 2004 is that it seems so shallow.  We need to work with substance, too.

    I'm waiting for Democrats in office to figure this out.

    Nunca se deve confiar em pata de cavalo, cabeça de juiz e bunda de nenê.

    by rhubarb on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:45:06 AM PDT

    •  Another narrative... (10+ / 0-)

       PRIVACY.

       Who's against privacy?

       It ties into EVERYTHING that's evil about the Republicans -- warrantless wiretapping, interference with personal health-care decisions, telemarketer assaults, etc.

       We can say we'll enshrine a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to privacy. No need to get specific; let the Republicans argue that Americans aren't entitled to privacy.

       We'll win that one.

      "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

      by Buzzer on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:55:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They believe in privacy, only it's privacy for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PhilK

        corporations.  

        Poor dears, they have to get rid of guaranteeing privacy for our bodies, our homes and our bedrooms - it's the only chance they have of enjoying anything.

      •  Yes yes yes! (6+ / 0-)

        I have thought for years that if the Democrats would just embrace personal freedom and frame it in terms of individual rights and in opposition to intrusive government, they would completely neutralize the Republican religious right values BS issues for ever.

        Every Democrat, from candidates to the water cooler warriors, needs to repeat over and over:

        Those Republicans want the GOVERNMENT telling YOU want you can and cannot do with your life, in the privacy of your own home and in your doctor's office!!  How awful and unamerican is that???  Unlike those unamerican TRAITORS, we don't want the government CONTROLLING everybody all the time!!

        Don't demure on the language.  Call the police state loving Republicans the unamerican traitors that they are!

        It turns out that Bush IS a uniter... he united the intelligent half of the country virulently against him.

        by fizziks on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:20:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Soft on privacy (4+ / 0-)

           That's the label we need to affix on Republicans.

           Tie it to a context the regular voter can relate to -- "Republicans want telemarketers to invade your home every evening."

           I like our odds.

           
           

          "Le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge."

          by Buzzer on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:33:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Have to tie it on the Dem Governor of AZ too (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Over the Edge

            Janet Napolitano signed a law to collect DNA from anyone arrested, not convicted, arrested. Mark my words, this will become a state legislative trend.  Bush started a slippery slope with his illegal wiretapping and Americans are OK with it.  IN AZ we aren't innocent until proven guilty.  We're guilty unless we can prove we're innocent (and in AZ you're DNA will still be in the criminal database).
            Privacy rights are very important to me, but I think a majority of Americans are "Law and Order" proponents, who don't think this affects them; a very dangerous position for a people in a "free" country.

            If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. --Mark Twain

            by Desert Rose on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:52:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  How do we handle Janet Napolitano? (0+ / 0-)

              Since we are the party that seeks to protect peoples' right to personal privacy, Janet would be heading in the wrong direction - sending the wrong message in a very strong way - through her actions.  Words are not strong enough to counter this confusion.  
              Besides, she and her supporters would become defensive and may even retaliate against their critics by using the "soft on crime" slander.
              I think the only way to handle this is for respected people within the party to try to communicate with HER and explain why laws of this nature are unDemocratic - and she risks losing the support of her party.

              Peace is a family value.

              by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:55:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Best post in this thread, right here! (13+ / 0-)

      I am saying that our narrative is Robin Hood, and we need to keep on it.

      Bingo! Thank you! Look, I have six heroes in American political history, and they all understood this, and they kept repeating it, and people responded to them. They were:

      Andrew Jackson
      Huey P. Long
      John L. Lewis
      Franklin D. Roosevelt
      Martin Luther King Jr.
      Cesar Chavez

      They were all POPULISTS! Each of these men spoke to the head, the heart, and the gut, in equal measure.

      They spoke for the have-nots against the haves, the outs against the ins, everyman against the true elites -- the propertied elites -- and for communities against corporations.

      I'm not a communist or a socialist. I want capitalism to be responsible, and to serve itself by serving us first. I'm not anti-business. I am anti-"business as usual."

      They preached a message of hope, and of organizing  to seize political power. People rallied to them because they promised results and delivered them.

      They scared the shit out of their political opponents. That's the difference. They didn't "triangulate." They didn't engage in intellectual discussions of "framing" or argue about who is "progressive" and who is not.

      I'm not waiting for Democrats in office to figure this out. I'm working to defeat the Republicans at every level of government. I'm not waiting for any one "man on horseback." Our task is to create tens of millions of them, in every corner of this country.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:14:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How the Democratic Party (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca

        turned from the party of fiery populism and of the "common man" fighting against the corporate and robber baron elite into a party of wimps and losers in the minds of people would be a truly fascinating and LONG book.

        "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

        by michael1104 on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:21:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I really wish (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb, blueoasis

        they would start studying what worked for us in the past and stop listening to their political advisers who have such impressive losing records.

        ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

        by Rebecca on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:08:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Capitalism can work (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb

        but history and rational analysis have shown that Government must enforce rules that prevent companies from exploitative use of negative externalities, where the costs resulting from a business activity is borne by parties not directly involved.  Pollution and global warming are the easiest examples to give, but there are many others.

        While the Repugnats are accusing the American left of being "socialist", it is they, through their lack of understanding of the "Law of the Commons" and their pandering to the short-term interests of Big Business - it is they who are actually undermining capitalism as a successful economic model.

        Peace is a family value.

        by Thomas Twinnings on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 12:06:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Westen's book... (5+ / 0-)

      ....in my mind, is part of a tripod on which Democratic dominance will rest on. The other parts of the tripod are George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant and Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas. We need to make an emotional connection, we need to frame issues properly, and we need to regain our populist economic roots (without bashing women or gays, which should go without saying).

  •  Neurology & politics ... a big stretch (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markymarx, jfadden, buhdydharma

    Yes, emotion drives decision making, but drawing political conclusions based on what we currently know about neuroscience gives way, way too much credit to what we know about the brain, decision making, and politics.

    My warning would be -- read the book for its political content. The neuroscience may be right, too. But when he tries to jump from one to the other, feel free to laugh out loud.

    Molly Ivins wanted WHO for President? But WHY?

    by Positronicus on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:45:39 AM PDT

    •  But when you apply the overall point (7+ / 0-)

      to the history of politics it is pretty right on. Add in that the current political conversation is the 30 second ad...and appeals to emotional triggers are what works.

    •  That depends on where you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Desert Rose, Positronicus

      think the gap is.  Neuroscience alone isn't going to tell you which party to vote for and it may well give you litte about the overall narrative a party needs, but we are learning an enormous amount about the way we affect one another.

      In fact, I disagree below about the link the review says he makes between neuroscience and political effectiveness, but social and cognitive neuroscience are illuminating a great deal these days about social interactions, social effectiveness and social development.  

      "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

      by JPete on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:57:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have to jump in here (11+ / 0-)

      because there certainly is a stretch, but it is not correct to say these aren't linked.  It is not a stretch too far beyond what is currently in the literature.  For instance, see (pdf):  Woodward & Allman, 2007, Moral Intuition:  Its Neural Substrates and Normative Significance.  

      I know a lot about emotion and nonconscious processing, and while I haven't read the book, I would support the notion that these drive most voters in their political choices.

      It also implies something important:  that polls and asking rational questions of average voters only obtains conscious information, leaving out large portions of what is driving their decision-making and motivation to vote.  You can ask some things all day long, but you will not obtain the answers that drive candidate selection and voting behavior.

      9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

      by Prof Dave on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:02:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Prof Dave

        This is something I study also in my work. I haven't read Westen's book, but I know him in other contexts. I think he is correct about what the overall Democratic message has been - and still is, to a large extent.

      •  On knowing what we know & what we don't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Prof Dave

        ... there certainly is a stretch, but it is not correct to say these aren't linked.

        I agree completely. 100%. As the commenter below notes, it is inevitable: your neurons in your brain are what gives rise to emotions and decision making.

        My point is a little more subtle. Yes, it is clear that emotions effect decision making, and they should, but it is incorrect to think that we know, scientifically, from a neurological perspective, how that's done. My warning is not to deny the links between the brain, emotions, and political decision making, my warning is to be wary of overestimating how much we know about those links.

        Where are we on this? I don't follow her work closely, but I'm a very big fan of Nora Volkow, currently head of the NIH National Institute of Drug Abuse, or NIDA. Over the past decade or two, Dr. Volkow and her colleagues have done pioneering work uncovering the brain mechanisms of addiction. When someone becomes lethally addicted to one of another drug, what exactly in the brain goes wrong?

        We've made huge progress uncovering the answers to that kind of question, which clearly is at the base of neurology, emotion, and decision making. The important point is -- that's where we are. If it's all we can do to vaguely understand the neuroscience underlying gross chemical addiction, then trying to neurologize anything more subtle than that is perilous to the point of -- yes, outright laughable.

        It's an epistemological thing. I'm not saying the basic link between brain, emotion, and decisions is wrong. It is not wrong. What I'm saying is that the science is not yet far enough along to have a whole lot of confidence in what we know about the links.

        Molly Ivins wanted WHO for President? But WHY?

        by Positronicus on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:10:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  all seems pretty obvious though (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, Prof Dave, Thomas Twinnings

        Who could disagree, but here's the real question:  how did Democrats unlearn what was obvious to politicians for thousands of years?  

        Cicero didn't need neuroscience - he understood these things implictly.  Any decent politician throughout history did as well.  

        I'd like an anthropologist or historian to explain how the culture of Democratic consultants and politicians managed to become tone deaf in a short 30 years.   At least then we'll know what to avoid, and perhaps who to fire.  

        What we need is more 21st century Ciceros, Lincolns, and Martin Luther Kings.  Sounds like this book gets that 100 percent right.  

        What liberals fail to recognize is that regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. -- Thomas Friedman

        by markymarx on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:47:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Social cognition (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markymarx, dragoneyes

          is one of the most difficult "skills", and is why humans developed the huge processing centers in our brains that put us in a new league.  This largely a nonconscious process.  Thus, the "implicit" you talk about doesn't help the average Dem, unless they learn to manipulate it in others.  

          The problem becomes:  How do you train these skills when they originate in nonconscious areas of our brain?  How do you replicate the genius of Cicero for the average Democrat to take advantage?  After all, in the Roman republic, who other than Cicero do we generally remember for their political brilliance in that context?

          This book is an excellent guide pointing the way for Dems to learn how to inject the necessary passion into their politics.  Hopefully, they will bring in consultants who understand psychology and neurology better (or at least the impact of these topics), because the Republicans certainly haven't been ignorant (as Dems have been) in those areas.

          9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

          by Prof Dave on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:10:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  wrong - this is more of the same bullshit (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Positronicus

            The conceit here is that a neuroscientist would have helped a tone deaf candidate like John Kerry.  In reality John Kerry could never learn how to reach average people -- not in a million years.  

            This is all a bit like telling a singer to hire a neuroscientist to learn how to become a rock star.  A neuroscientist might know many things, but in the end they're not going to make it happen.  

            What we need is an anthropologist to understand the beltway attidude behind the performances we're seeing now from Hillary Clinton-- careful, studied, flawless, and...completely uninspiring.   The punditocracy and consulatocracy is impressed.  Everyone else is completely uninspired.  

            If the "average" democrat has no talent in this area, and doesn't "inject the necessary passion into their politics," it's hard to imagine hiring a neuroscientist will help.  More likely that it will just exacerbate the underlying problem, which is the dominance of political consultants who don't seem to get out much.  

            What liberals fail to recognize is that regime change in Iraq is not some distraction from the war on Al Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. -- Thomas Friedman

            by markymarx on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:40:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Strawman - (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              0wn

              Hiring neurobiologists is a strawman.  Part of my point was to question the possibility of learning and applying what neurscience has to say at the level of politics:  

              How do you train these skills when they originate in nonconscious areas of our brain?  How do you replicate the genius of Cicero for the average Democrat to take advantage?

              I wasn't saying to hire neurologists.  I was saying that to hire individuals who understand the impact of basic psychology would help Dems catch up, since Republicans clearly already understand the role of psychology and emotion, both of which are higher level constructs built on neurobiology.  

              Hopefully, they will bring in consultants who understand psychology and neurology better (or at least the impact of these topics), because the Republicans certainly haven't been ignorant (as Dems have been) in those areas.

              Now, on to my next useless argument...

              9/11 didn't change the Constitution!

              by Prof Dave on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 12:20:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  It's not a big stretch at (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kidspeak, Desert Rose, Positronicus
      all....your neurons in your brain are what gives rise to emotions and decision making.

      Bush's presidency is now inextricably yoked to the policies of aggression and subjugation. Mike Whitney

      by dfarrah on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:29:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Emotionalism is viewed as weakness (23+ / 0-)

    Generally speaking.

    One of the things the Republicants did with "bleeding heart liberal" was to take emotion out of our playbook by painting it as irrational and weak.

    But there is a HUGE difference between emotion and passion. And between negative emotion and positive emotion.

    Suggested Uberslogan for the Dems...

    Bring Truth and Justice back to Government.

    THAT is what people want to see.

    We stopped being great when we stopped fighting for and appealing to everyman ...or "the little guy."

  •  Egg-f*cking-zactly! (7+ / 0-)

    And our leaders' current strategy of hoping the Republicans hang themselves while we pathologically avoid bold stands--taking Impeachment off the table?  Caving in on the War?--is seriously damaging our chances in 2008, and few seem to be talking about it.

    If this were a matter of selling soap, as someone cravenly put it on another thread, there might be some excuse.

    This is literally the fate of the Republic, and the Dem leadership can't be bothered to take serious action.  It's our investigations vs. their stonewalling, trying to run out the clock.

    Act boldly in defense of law and decency.

    There's your brand.

    •  I love the quote (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca

      by Goethe:

      Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.

      I'd love to see our Democratic leadership understand this.

      The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

      by TracieLynn on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:34:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Damasio's work has been followed (6+ / 0-)

    by a lot of research in the fairly new area of social neuroscience on the varieties of breakdown between reason and emotion.  We're learning that all sorts of things we might think can be done by reason alone really do rely on emotional reactions too.  Problems can include lots of things from understanding other people to making simple practical decisions or ordinary moral choices.  The failure to respond appropriately to the damage of the current administration, which the author mentions apparently, might fall in the last category.

    Does that mean we need neuroscience to figure out that appealing to emotions gets votes?  I wouldn't have thought so; many politicians have know for a very long time that, e.g., mothers and apple pie are awfully good things to appeal to.  

    What neuroscience does seem to tell us, though, is that effective advertising does change the way people experience things in a pretty deep fashion.  For example, brain scans indicate Coke's effective advertising has changed the way Coke tastes to people who know they are drinking coke.  This is based on work by Read Montague,and it's worth looking around at his page and the links.  A lot of the work is technical, but he provides references to lots of press coverage of the material.

    "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

    by JPete on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 07:49:59 AM PDT

  •  Marketing and Politics (0+ / 0-)

    Marketing is why politicians are seen as phoney.  And Democrats savage any politician who adhere to a script not their own.

    Campaigning is a matter of what the candidate does, not what s/he says.  Can he keep his/her team, which is small compared to the US government, working together toward a goal?  Will his team tell him/her hard truths about what is going on and can s/he respond quickly and effectively (what everafter is the Swiftboating test)?  Can s/he keep the showboaters in the campaign restrained for the good of the campaign (the Mudcat Saunders test)?  How well does s/he address the issues that the voters are interested in, as opposed to the candidate's pet issues?  How broadly does the candidate appeal without pandering or sacificing key principles?  Can the candidate gather information in conversation with ordinary voters that can inform policy?  How well can the candidate hit on key themes with imaginative language that does not become cliche?  Can the candidate penetrate the press blackout on ideas outside of the owner's agendas?

    Campaigning is about communication, but only Republicans think it is about marketing.  Democrats need a communication strategy that gets a conversation with voters, not a marketing strategy that shoves an ideology down voters' throats.

    •  Tarheel Dem (0+ / 0-)

      Hi, could you please explain what you mean by the following and give one or two examples if you can.

      And Democrats savage any politician who adhere to a script not their own.

      Thank you.

      The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

      by Lords on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:23:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very simple (0+ / 0-)

        When the candidate is using a script not the candidate's own views and words, Democrats savage them quickly.  When a similar thing happens to Republicans, it's called Ronald Reagan or Fred Thompson (or the pre-2001 George Bush).

        The are a few Democrats who savage Democratic candidates for not pandering to their views, but that is not what I am talking about.

    •  go back and watch Bill Clinton (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jj32, The Raven

      Clinton sounded genuine, he weaved a tale, and hit on his policy points. The man knew how to communicate. Obama has that Clinton like ability to weave a tale, his convention speech was a classic case of weaving values with a great narrative, it was genius. Edwards has the ability to do this too, but he needs to loosen up a bit. Edwards does get bogged down in talking points and he doesn't seem to flow like B Clinton or Obama do.

      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 24, 2007 at 08:48:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clinton sounded genuine (0+ / 0-)

        Clinton sounded genuine because he was genuine.  He had a grasp of the issues and where he wanted to position himself.  He tended to write his own (sometimes longwinded) speeches.  Clinton told his consultants what he wanted (remember that they were not the famous names until after 1992).  And they worked behind the scenes.  He managed them; he acted as the chief executive of his campaign.

        Edwards is listening to his consultants too much and tolerating too much freelancing.

    •  No difference then? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, SusanG, ebohlman

      So, there's no difference between "estate tax" and "death tax" since they're talking about the same thing?

      And there's no connection between "death tax" and "party of life", because they're unrelated topics?

      I think you're not understanding something fundamental here. Marketing IS important, and someone carefully thought about both "death tax" and "party of life" and put those ideas into a larger story which voters can understand.

      When a Republican says that Democrats don't know their morality, THAT is what they are talking about.

      Check what you wrote, it's exactly what the topic of the article is about. You're referring to what the candidate says, what the candidate communicates. The topic of this journal entry is what the party communicates, and what the party says. The journal entry specifically is pointing out that every candidate has to reinvent this marketing stuff for themselves, but it should have already been done by the party.

      That's exactly what people say when they refer to "building the Democratic party". Getting a president elected doesn't help us in 8 years unless the entire party brand has progressed.

      Conservatives keep marketing from making their politicians look phony because they don't market their politicians. They market their party.

      •  But they are not talking about the same thing (0+ / 0-)

        If you think that Republicans won elections by cute phrasing, you are mistakened.  The key word in "death tax" and "estate tax" was "tax".  Repeated over and over, Republicans claimed to be against taxes, all taxes, any taxes.  And they backed it up with action.  People voted for them because not being able to control how the government was using their money, they decided to take the money away.  They reacted to actions, not words.

        Democrats talked about the common good, but will bargain away the common good for a specific benefit to their districts.  Fortunately, this is changing.

        You don't build a party by what you say, but by what you do.  You build infrastructure that reaches to the precinct level.  You field candidates for every single race.  You treat every race as winnable.  

        The candidates at the local level are who people see as the brand; think about that.  And in red states, the people at the local level have been retreating from the national candidates.  Those actions at the local level telegraph the message that "this national candidate is unacceptable locally".  Republican had no such qualms in promoting Bush in California and New York and Massachusetts.  And the begrudging support from local Democrats is why people believed the lies that the Democratic national candidate was unacceptable.

        When the candidates at the local level support an end to the war in Iraq, and actually try to persuade local people why that is correct, that is not marketing it is conversation.

        I agree that conservatives market their party.  That is what appeals to their base.  But the same approach will not work on the Democratic side.  And their candidates do look phony but voters don't care because IOKIYAR.  Self-interested Republicans are cut more slack precisely because of their ideology.

        •  Missing the point (0+ / 0-)
          I guess the phrase "New Deal" was just crappy marketing that didn't work very well then.

          I'm not sure why you keep bringing all this talk about "doing" into a discussion about marketing the party. Marketing works, on everybody. It's the reason why some bottles of water sell better than other bottles of water, even though they all do the very same thing.

          It even works on Democrats.

          If this was a company we were discussion, I talking about the kinds of ads and messages that a company should be putting on TV, and you're distracted by issues of how many packing peanuts are appropriate to use in the shipping box.

          All facts fit into frameworks. Without a framework of understanding, you can't make a coherent story about the facts. What this means for communication is that Democrats cannot get their message across without a framework for communication.

          It doesn't matter what Democrats do if there is no Democratic framing. The Republicans can use their far more effective framing to destroy our accomplishments by re-framing them. It doesn't matter at all what we Democrats actually do if we can't communicate what we do.

          All the points you brought up are good, but you're talking about the next step (integrity of the Democratic party action) while I am talking about the step after that (building a climate wherein the Democratic party action can be communicated to people without it being re-framed by Republicans.)

          It sure would be a shame to have the Democratic party do all the right things, only to have the Republicans re-frame it as stealing money from taxpayers, or being weak on defense, or hurting average (white) families.

          Building a brand is more than just doing what you say you're going to do. Building a brand is what enables communications, because people know what your product is. They are educated consumers who think in a context where they are receptive to your message.

  •  Facts and figures (5+ / 0-)

    "their obsessive attention to facts and figures" in the phrase that really stands out for me.  

    I consider myself well informed, more so that the average person, but when politicians start quoting facts and figures my eyes glaze over.  It is not that facts are not important, but  I wish they would explain how these facts affect the everyday person.  

    Recently I was talking with my financial advisor at my bank.  I got on my bandwagon re the attorney fiasco.  I was amazed to learn that he had no knowledge of it - he even asked who Karl Rove was!  

    Most people are not tuned in to what is going on in the political arena.  They are too busy with everyday life - work, school, children, etc.  But something that grabs their attention is usually something they can understand on an emotional level.  Until a person feels that he or she has a personal investment in a cause, it will probably be just background noise to them.  

  •  Sounds like a great book (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kidspeak

    The exerpts you have quoted are a large part of the reason why I support John Edwards. Although I suspect that it is Elizabeth Edwards who encouraged him to speak "from the gut", I don't doubt his passion on the issues. Only a person of passion will have the stamina to keep fighting for democracy rather than special interests. I also think it is one reason the traditional press seems so frightened by Edwards--he's authentic, and that seems to worry those whose journalistic beat includes covering the politicians.

  •  Agression, safety, and non verbal social signals (6+ / 0-)

    have been messed up in the Democratic party for a long time. The non-verbal messages the Republicans send are dominance messages. They are the alpha male, what's good for them is good for the rest of the troop, step out of line with that agenda and expect a viscous attack.

    When the rest of our society sees that and does not see an emotional response that counters the assertion of the Republican party what are they to feel/think? Each time there is not a loud effective emotional response from Democratic leaders the message they send is I'm afraid too, don't cross these guys. No one in the general population who has droughts about the intent of the Republican agenda, but doesn't feel real safe expressing that, will jump up and take a risk for a well reasoned objection to the latest research on the Laufler curve and why it is not a good justification for a flat tax. Especially when all the emotional signals sent by the opposition are not willing to push their aggression back into the face of the aggressor. I think this relates to Republican reliance on stimulating the primate Alpha male social structure and it can't be countered without using counter signaling aggression to make a safe environment and a more level social hierarchy. I wrote about that here recently.

    IMO, the days immediately following the victory of the civil rights movement, womens movement, and the end of the Vietnam war established a brief period of time when the Democrats could use the leverage of identifying with the abused underdog for power and that emotional tone has stuck with the party ever since. Sounds like a good book for my summer reading list, I'll put it in my stack.

    Our economy sucks up our environment, people, and government. Redesign it at Beyond Political Center

    by Bob Guyer on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:00:25 AM PDT

    •  Excellent comment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, ravenwind, Bob Guyer

      It's a huge problem. Maybe Pelosi and Reid don't understand that their failure to go toe-to-toe with Bush in a showdown is conveying meta-messages to the electorate.

      That is, it isn't what they say, but the level of passion and integrity and, yes, aggression they display is having an effect on the perception of the Democratic Party as a whole.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

      by The Raven on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:23:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And if they believe it's the words and poll the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Raven

        words they will never understand the effect that their non verbal stance has on the numbers. Counter aggression opens up space for wards that appeal to the interests and values of the non-elites. Have any of them had to deal with this in life? I have and I have learned that I must fight back sometimes when I am confronted by someone intent on doing me harm. First I try the nice way, if they prove malicious intent then I know I have to fight, and fight intelligently.

        Our economy sucks up our environment, people, and government. Redesign it at Beyond Political Center

        by Bob Guyer on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:00:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What Weston says may be true but to paraphrase (0+ / 0-)

    Bruce Willis: "We aint the ones who just got buttfucked in the last election."

    Pop-gun president lying with impunity, soundbyte policies and photo opportunities

    by Dave the Wave on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:00:42 AM PDT

  •  Critical Analysis Will Make Us Stronger (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kidspeak, pat208, Prof Dave

    From what I've read, Westen is an equal opportunity psychologist of the American political mind. Republicans don't come off any better. This is EXACTLY the kind of outside-looking-in science that our democracy desperately needs to avoid running this country even deeper into the abyss.

    "Follow those who seek the truth. Beware of those who find it."

    by gnolti on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:04:33 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for the hard work (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, TracieLynn, J Royce, blue vertigo

    that went into summarizing the major themes in this book.

    What he says about Democratic campaigns has been said before, but it appears that he attempts to organize those criticisms around a central theme. I'm not convinced that all of the mistakes can be traced to his dichotomy, but it never hurts to revisit those mistakes and try to learn from them.

    One of the obvious cures for the condition he describes is a Shrumectomy, whereby a surgeon excises the dead brain tissue. It has been proven repeatedly that failure to do so is terminal.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:04:42 AM PDT

  •  Sounds pretty facile to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BenGoshi, blue vertigo

    I admit I'm not looking at the book itself, but if the excerpts are representative there's a lot that it seems to leave out.

    For instance, it leaves out the politicians who do appeal to the emotions. Does the book mention Dean? Or post-2000 Gore?

    Secondly, it fails to point out that even if you're going to appeal to the emotions, you need to address issues, too. How many times have people attacked candidates here for not outlining their positions?

    Finally, it seems to ignore the fact that if you have a more cerebral approach, and you try to appeal to the emotions, then it seems you get slammed for being fake.

    •  I only have so much room ... (8+ / 0-)

      in one review. So to answer your questions:

      Yes, he cites Dean and Gore as positive examples of appealing to voters.

      Your second point: He clearly states (and I quoted above) that there is definitely a necessity for issues, but that they needed to be articulated against the background of the values they represent. Issues are the visible side of values. This dovetails into your final point: He doesn't say there's no place for cerebral approaches or policy issues. He says to rely on them alone to carry a campaign, or to lead with them instead of addressing the core values of the party in a way that appeals to the emotions is deadly.

  •  o.k. (0+ / 0-)

    ... the left has no brand, no counterbrand, no master narrative, no counternarrative. It has no shared terms or "talking points" for its leaders to repeat until they are part of our political lexicon.

    Tag! You're a Nutzi!

  •  The Stupid Message is the Stupid Medium (6+ / 0-)

    American political communication hasn't always been so purely driven exclusively by fear and greed. Ideas, not feelings, have long inspired people. The mass of hundreds of millions of us has no single brain, so doesn't itself think, though it does act in a way that looks like it feels. But most of us can think, though fewer of us do think every day.

    Because the media makes it easy to stop thinking, and so hard to think, sending nothing but messages to turn off our brains. The corporate mass media loves it some monopoly, so there are no alternatives offering venues for thinking. No food for thought starves the brain.

    Which is one reason why blogs are so popular. Regardless of what we're thinking through them, just thinking about something in a mass audience appeals to a wide desire. And as blogs evolve into interactive, grassroots video/commentary, with easy searching and replying, it will make corporate mass media like TV news look like black & white newsreels.

    The problem Westen is describing, without admitting it, is detailed in Gore's book, The Assault on Reason. Get your friends to read it, and cure the ill the doctor takes for granted will be the death of us.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:08:37 AM PDT

  •  Great diary. (4+ / 0-)

    And thank you for posting and distilling it.

    You have no idea how many books, articles etc I have read along these lines, yet nothing changes. They are almost like the diet of the month. We still have the very same consultants, who still believe the very same things they always believed, and they continue to lose, lose, lose. A few years ago, framing was hot, now this.

    I agree with every single point, the author makes, but you know, I genuinely believe that what he's talking about cannot be manufactured as it's really instinctive. In other words, a 14 year old drug dealer instinctively understands all this stuff, while no matter how much or for how long you coach a Harry Reid, or a John Kerry they'd never get it. For some reason, most Democratic politicians lack guile, or the street-smarts, the ruthlessness or the conviction of their Republican counterparts. As such we have no leader interested enough in wielding power to want to control the whole apparatus of the Democratic party.  Controlling the message, anything that goes out and reacting to any and all criticism. Only then will we be able to countervail the Republicans.

    I think we have to choose a different kind of man or woman to lead us. Someone once said: We should pick a guy who looks good on a horse, he'd know how to handle the bastards.

    The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

    by Lords on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:12:27 AM PDT

  •  Oh hell yes. (10+ / 0-)

    The Swift Boat thing killed Kerry.

    And our Congress seems to be taking the same approach to dealing with Bush's crimes, and the war in Iraq.

    It doesn't work.

    Try something different, guys.

  •  Interesting, and apt today . . . (0+ / 0-)

    Quoting from above. . .

    .

    " . . .a person who experiences little or no remorse, empathy, or concern for others, who may know [s]he is...causing others pain, but doesn’t care."

    But for the divorce, finalized this past August, today would have been my 7th Anniversary.

    BenGoshi
    ____________________________________________________

    The distinction that goes with mere office runs far ahead of the distinction that goes with actual achievement. H.L. Mencken

    by BenGoshi on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:13:54 AM PDT

  •  Atlanta Kossaks: book signing tomorrow! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kidspeak, sabershadow

    Prof. Westen will be signing his book at the local, legendary political haunt, Manuel's Tavern, on Monday June 25, at 6:30pm.

    Here's an article about him (with details of the signing) in the latest Emory Report.

    How many cars have you taken off the road this year? Join the Kos group at One Billion Bulbs

    by pat208 on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:19:00 AM PDT

  •  The republicans utilize what I call (0+ / 0-)

    Fad Politics. The American electorate grasps a new concept like a new toy but the facination only lasts so long. Yes, the GOP has effectively used "talking points" but when that cohesive and no longer fresh narrative eventually gets rejected by a disillusioned majority, it can be as destructive as it once was advantageous. Last year's playbook can be this year's naybook.

    "I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self." --Aristotle

    by java4every1 on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:19:35 AM PDT

  •  Bogus analysis of Kerry's Swift Boat response (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    soccergrandmom

    pretty much sinks the claims of the author.  

    "Kerry...would wait an inordinate amount of time until he had gathered enough evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, use polls and focus groups to see what kind of response Americans preferred, and then write our enemies a letter imploring them to stop their terrorist acts immediately."

    What a lot of make believe crap.

    Kerry's response to Swift Boat attacks was lame but it was none of the above which is a fact less analogy to a terrorist attack and then using that high dive fiction to leap to US national security.

    •  Dutchboy (6+ / 0-)

      I do not believe that Democrats understand the implications of their behavior, and how it translates to the general public. The fact that Kerry did not strike back immediately and harshly to The Swift Boaters revealed much about him personally. Republicans are eager to show a "you better not fuck with me"attitude, while Democrats seem just as eager to show restraint.  The American people want strong men/women. John Wayne  may be dead but he's alive and well in the American psyche.

      In speaking of Iran, Bush is careful to say: All options are on the table.  In dealing with Bush, Pelosi says: Impeachment is not an option.

      Rep. Rahm Emanuel says if Cheney is not part of the executive branch, he should not receive executive branch funds, so he wants to place those funds on hold. Then he says, its a stunt.  I could go on and on.

      The fact is Kerry's reaction to the Swift Boaters, revealed exactly how he would have handled a crisis.Timid and tentative.

      The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

      by Lords on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:43:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fact is author had no facts. (0+ / 0-)

        "The fact is Kerry's reaction to the Swift Boaters, revealed exactly how he would have handled a crisis.Timid and tentative."

        Fact is author got the facts on Kerry's response wrong.

        Fact is how Kerry responded to a personal attack has no (that would be ZERO) correlation to how Kerry would respond to terrorist attack on US.

        •  You may be right. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rebecca

          About this:

          Fact is how Kerry responded to a personal attack has no (that would be ZERO) correlation to how Kerry would respond to terrorist attack on US.

          Nevertheless, how he reacts to a personal attack is the info (the pattern of behavior) the voter uses to determine how he would respond to an attack on the US.  In other words, the meme would be: if he cannot protect himself, how is he going to protect us?

          Again, Americans want people who fight back.  

          Look, as silly as we may think it is, there is a reason for all this stupid talk about Fred Thompson's "manliness."

          The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

          by Lords on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:30:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The fact is (5+ / 0-)

          that doesn't matter.  You can't even begin to understand how many times when I was arguing in support of Kerry down here in the deep south I would get responses like "But he's such a wimp." and the like.

          It doesn't matter what the facts are about how Kerry would respond to a terrorist attack.  The swift boat guys and any republican basically stood in his face and called him a pussy and he took it for weeks.  And to deny the difference that made with a huge swath of voters is only proving Westin's point for him.

          Getting all wonky during the debates didn't help either.  At least 4 or 5 friends I was trying to convince to vote for Kerry mentioned him saying things about "checking my website" for more detail on policy stuff in the debates. And asking "Why can't he just tell me what he's gonna do instead of telling me to go to a website."

          Regardless of what you believe is true or absolute, it doesn't work as a reason for someone who wasn't planning on voting for Kerry as soon as won the nomination.  Many of these same people I was trying to convince said things to the effect of "I'm glad we didn't have some whimp that would fold" on sept 11th.  Does that mean that's what Kerry would have done?  Of course not.  But a whole lot of people who really were undecided got that impression from his campaign.  To deny that, is to deny those facts you seem to hold so dear.

          Experience may differ in online play...

          by OCD on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:35:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well...OK if facts don't matter author is "right" (0+ / 0-)

            but he's also meaningless since his hypothesizing isn't based on facts.  Either way author loses.  

            He got the facts of Kerry's Swift Boat response wrong and then made a totally outlandish claim that how Kerry handled a personal attack during a political campaign had any relationship to how Kerry would have handled a terrorist attack on US as president.

            Or...as you now suggest...author was not dealing in any facts at all and just saying whatever silly stream of consciousness came into his head that he might be able to peddle in a book.

            •  I didn't suggest that at all (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rebecca, paradox, AndyS In Colorado

              What I suggested is that impression that real voters got from Kerry's reaction led them to not vote for him for the exact reason he is stating.  What people perceive matters.  I could give a rats ass about Westin's deconstruction of the exact chain of events from the first swift boat add to Kerry's first response.  What matters is it wasn't the next day and it wasn't impassioned and I can show you 5 real, not theoretical, people whose vote he lost over it.

              Just because your response to how Kerry handled the situation was not the same, doesn't mean other's response didn't happen, regardless of it being seen as valid or not by you or me or Westin.

              Experience may differ in online play...

              by OCD on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:21:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  kerry swiftboating shows talk radio inevitability (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jfadden

            it started on talk radio. there was no way for kerry to reach those tens of millions and change their minds. or you. he became branded as a elite, rich, traitor and flip-flopper while being orders of magnitude more qualified than bush. and there was little he or the dems could do as long as that talk radio monopoly continued to blast him non stop all over the country for months.

            kerry the decorated war hero killer wimp against chickenhawk AWOL bush? that is the real issue and without the uncontested repetition of the talk radio monopoly to swiftboat kerry the whole issue would have looked silly on TV and the election would have been unstealable.

            the same will be done to the next dem candidate. and as long as the  unnacountable repetition enabled by the massive TR monopoly exists strategists like westin will be unhelpful on more than kerry.

    •  maybe I misunderstood that paragraph in the (6+ / 0-)

      review, but what I took it to mean was that even if rationally and logically everyone understands that no president would react in that manner, emotionally the perception was that he would react that way, and that translated into perceived potential weakness.  People responded viscerally rather than logically.  Perception trumps reality. At least I think that was what the author (of the book, not the reviewer) meant to convey. I would have to read the entire book belfore I could sign an affadavit though.

      I was a fervent Kerry supporter right up to the end and still am.

      As always Susan G conveys a clear and consice interpretation of the books she reads and offers us for our own edification. Thankyou.

      •  Nope...it was sloppy thinking by author (0+ / 0-)

        and it dooms the book to irrelevance.

        You had the author right, he was equating how Kerry would respond to a personal attack to how Kerry would respond to terrorist attack on US.

        That is totally bogus in and of itself...that the author got the basics of Kerry's Swift Boat response wrong on top of that only compounds the lack of sense in the book.

      •  You've pretty much got it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, nbutter, mainely49

        In the review, I stayed away from the enormous amount of scientific citation (readers interested in this can follow up on the studies cited). Basically, people form perceptions first emotionally, before the cerebral part of the brain kicks in to explain to the self why this or that opinion is formed. (I hope I'm not making a hash of his explanation; this is my interpretation after reading the book).

        What his research seemed to find was that because that emotion-based reaction to events/policies/candidates forms first, the rational part of the brain often uses its resources to explain an already-arrived-at unconscious conclusion. Thus, if one wants to change the opinion of say, a conservative about gay marriage (who has an unconscious recoil from the thought), one has to counter it with an emotion-based appeal first (for example, a powerful, emotion-based appeal to the notion of fairness, that fairness is what this country is about, perhaps citing cases of 20-year relationships in which a partner was not allowed in the hospital room of a dying lover), before taking on the task of rationally explaining how this would work in the legislative policy realm.

        [Note: This is my explanation based on what I read. YMMV.]

  •  Money trumps all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfadden

    The reason that our liberal "leaders" do not fight is that once a person sells out they are no longer liberal. A sell-out is nothing at all but a tool of Mammon. And any American politician, including Dem candidates, must sell out in order to have enough money to run. So both Parties operate on behalf of the same interest: big money. (Which was Nader's point, and look at the out-sized, overdone reaction to the man's efforts).

    Repubs ARE the money party; they only have to figure out how to wear the sheepskin most convincingly.

    It is the problem with capitalism: over time the scum rises to the top because nothing pays like crime. Now we worship mob families and vigilantes.

    The very strangest thing to me is how difficult it is for people, including and maybe especially Dem partisans, to simply understand that normal human rules do not apply to sell-outs. Bought players will fake principles if that is what they are paid to do.

    It is so obvious to me that the Dems are not struggling or weak or cowardly or stupid or misguided or any of the other myriad of excuses. Our political system runs on money, and the gigantic pretense that it is not the animating principle of our "leaders" should not be reinforced by making excuses.

    It's a Right-wing, conservative, Republican war.

    by J Royce on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:25:06 AM PDT

    •  The primaries are where we change this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, J Royce

      Those who stray to close to the money bag, who don't support public financing, or live up to their promise must always face a new challenger in the wings.

      Until we begin lining up potential candidates and support networks within two or three months of election day we will continue to face this difficult problem.

      But now with the Internet, those of us who are happy with our reps can support new candidates, ala Lamont, who need to replace those that don't represent progressive views.

      It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. - Upton Sinclair

      by Noodles on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:48:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Call Republicans "Liars" (16+ / 0-)

    Everyone knows Republicans are liars, including Republicans. Democrats who want to win should call them "LIARS", in those words, every time. Even Republicans will start to agree.

    Instead, Democrats whine about "misleading", "less than candid" and other BS Americans find insulting and weak.

    Call them liars. And distinguish yourself from them by telling the truth, starting with how they're liars.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:28:13 AM PDT

    •  Damn good point. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, DocGonzo

      my personal favorite BS word, though, is "disingenuous." You really can't listen to politics on radio or teevee for more than a couple of hours before you hear it. Usually from a Democrat, too.

      Where may one find the plate up to which the Iraqis must step?

      by revenant on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:19:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is silly stuff (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfadden

    The political industrial complex which still runs the Democratic Party has a strong self-interest -- that is to keep their jobs whether Dems win or lose.

    the corporations have a good interest in making sure certain democrats and their poltical industrial complex keeps on churning it out.

    It's not until ordinary people like you take over the Democratic Party and fire all those greedy political media, electoral office holders and hacks that there will be some real choice.

    This guy is just full of baloney.  Kerry was just a jerk and everyone knew it.  Was there a Democrtic Party that can elect jerks? NO.  Bush is a jerk and has been but somehow he is President... so take a look at the party and who controls it and see where the grassroots are... there are amazing grassroots connections within the Republican Party.  There are just rumblings in the Democrats.  Once they take over, then even jerks can be elected because we will tell them what to say..

    don't link to MSM; support your alternative grassroots media by linking to them

    by john from vermont on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:31:56 AM PDT

  •  goodness me, sounds just like Daily Kos (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mainely49
  •  just the facts ma'Am (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, opinionated, Over the Edge

    Bill Clinton, for all his triangulating faults, knew how to exploit the political brain. The man weaved a tale, and had people nodding their heads in agreement. Arron Sorkin when writing speeches for his fictional President had a way of weaving a narrative that pulled at your brain.

    We on the left do rely on the facts, we are wonky, look at Media Matters, we love to fact check and point out the wrongs, what we need is a group working on our narrative, and our story.

    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 24, 2007 at 08:42:50 AM PDT

  •  Using "Shrum" and "lion" in the same sentence? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, SusanG, metal prophet, Kidspeak

    That has to be a first.

    "I call 'em as I see 'em."--the late Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem.

    by Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:43:27 AM PDT

  •  The Democrats must bridge the gap... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, opinionated

    between the middle class-- now under pressure-- and the working and jobless poor-- who have always been under pressure.  The Depression brought these groups together.  But it need not take a Depression to find common ground among them.  The Republicans divide and conquer-- and win.  The Democrats must unite the broad electoral base and then they will win as they used to.

    Of course there's no such thing as evolution. If there were, there wouldn't be a Republican Party.

    by djohnutk on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:48:16 AM PDT

  •  It goes on the list (0+ / 0-)

    Since the list is not exactly kept anywhere, I may forget it by next month.
    This is another reason, if one was needed, to get Al Gore's book. I believe that the authors of the Federalist relied on the people's ability to use reason for them to keep [classical] liberal freedoms and ideals alive. So in that case it is important to speak to the people as if they are rational, which I believed in 2004 and which I am sure that Gore believes. However, at the risk of sounding like Gooserock, our society has become much more technical in the succeeding 200 years. So we equate "reason" with the kind of detachment that is necessary to do science. This book seems to imply that reason is a means to preserve and act upon the core principles which we believe to be good, without detachment.

    -4.00, -5.33 Defunding is Extraordinary.

    by 4jkb4ia on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:53:25 AM PDT

    •  An interesting side note/implication ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, soccergrandmom

      that goes along with your direction.

      When Westen describes how the brain forms its first unconscious, emotion-based opinion, it struck me that paradoxically, it was fact-based. We've evolved as a species an ability to quickly, quickly interpret stimuli from concrete clues (facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, etc.) in order to sort out foes and friends, danger from safety, etc.

      In a weird way, dispassionate dismissal of immediate emotional reactions is in itself irrational if it does not recognize that even our non-cerebral functions are based on facts we cull from the environment around us.

  •  I live with an illustration of this principle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, Rabid Lambert

    My husband is one of the most liberal people I know--sometimes more liberal than I, and that's hard.  And the last Democrat he voted for for President was Lyndon Johnson.  I don't completely understand why.  Some of it is his own psychology.  But he has repeatedly voted against his own opinions and beliefs because, I think, Democrats have been so completely confused about who we are.  It did no good for me to tell him the truth about, say, Bush's draft evasion, because someone else was telling the story louder, more often, and with greater resources. This man, and many others, should be voting with us, but we haven't given them an emotional reason to do so.  And so, as the book says, I have to tell who Democrats are speaking only for myself, and not for the principled values that the Democrats of my parents' era articulated so well.

  •  How sad (0+ / 0-)

    That Americans can't think or feel on their own any more, but must have their feelings and thoughts marketed to them.

    I've gone to Republican cmpaign school. They market to swing voters on their hot button issues. It's effective, sure, but look at the results in our government.

    This is all very nice to understand, but how do we get real political discussion back into our national dialog - that's the real issue here.

  •  Democrats have had some (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rabid Lambert

    success using the republican talking points against them -- like 'No more STAY THE COURSE in Iraq'.

    Nancy Pelosi got the message when she stood up there last November and said 'It's time to drain the swamp.'  She also said 'No more blank checks for the president's war.'

    All democratics are not hopeless intellectuals debating how many republicans can dance on the head of a pin.

  •  Family values, for the Democrats. WE WIN !!! (0+ / 0-)

    And we can prove it.

    Civic values? Katrina! (Fuck you, NOLA. The Rethugs said it, not US!)

    Public Education? (No Child Left Behind was a scam for vouchers!)

    Stem cell cures for chronic ailments?  Fuck you America! Religious fanaticism trumps scientific initiative, a minority view to say the least. Over 60% of Americans are for it!!!!

    Republicans are the cancer, Democrats are the cure.

    I say this from my heart: They have screwed the pooch leaving America nowhere to turn for leadership. Democrats lead, and have always led, from the heart. I may be a geezer, but I would die for my country as I almost did once.

    We won in 2000!!! Can you imagine how much Rove underestimated the Republican losses when he had the voting machines gamed in October 2006 ??

    All that a Republican candidate represents to me is hubris, plain & simple. Total arrogance about the needs of the American people. The Rethug candidates are as sleazy as they look. Mitt Romney: too slick a backroom dealer. He is as full of crap as the rest of them. Thompson? We had an actor-a bad actor-named Reagan who gam3d the intel, got caught at it, and he was one of our worst Presidents ever. (No, he did not tear down the Berlin Wall. Chernobyl was the end of Russia. Lech Walesa, a stell worker, did more, far more, than Reagan ever did, and he faced down another General, Jaruzelski!!

    Mr.Westen is absolutely wrong about most of what he says, at least from the perspective I get from these excerpts. Bush & Cheney have made it untenable for a Republican to declare himself as such in polite company.

    And if you are scared of all of the military & ex-military throngs in the intel establishment, the memes that we trashtalk about how King Bush will take over the government....know this:

    "Give me liberty, or give me death," is not so far from the truth.

    "Live free, or die," is a slogan that the Republican Party has scared us into.

    74% of our nation wants him out, gone, done, over with. I do not believe that we will allow a totalitarian government to prevail. Not after a successful run of 200 years with Europe united against us. Bush & Cheney must go, and the dark doors of scary scary intel & military must open. Not for our own nation, but for the world.

    This is no longer a battle the MSM can control. Only hubris would lead to a different conclusion.

    (Read The Authoritarians. Bob Altemeyer explains
    it totally!)

    In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. -George Orwell Iraq Moratorium

    by ezdidit on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:25:08 AM PDT

  •  Passion, heart felt positions & opinions resonate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, keeplaughing

    Democrats need to talk to the voters from conviction. Unfortunately, too often many Demos. fall victim to the idea that adding emotion to your message some how is a display of weakness. Its anything but. Rethugs have no problem using the full range of emotions to sell their ideas or lack of ideas. Its an irony of our times that the worst among us are the ones filled with passion for their dangerous beliefs. D's seem to think charts and numbers and lecturing is the way and it falls flat on the voters ears. A political party should not sound like an IRS auditor , or any other bureaucrat for that matter.

    "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees" E. Zapata

    by Blutodog on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:25:42 AM PDT

    •  Well, I think the author is saying (0+ / 0-)

      that while we can say things with passion and conviction, raising our voices and pounding our podia, that hasn't worked, and it won't work.  Kerry gave some very impassioned speeches, which I was privileged to attend. But in retrospect, his appeals to voters regarding the issues were framed in rational rather than emotive language.  All of the animation in the world, all the righteous anger and shocked disbelief at this administration won't change that.

      I think it's about choice of words and unspoken cues, and the play between the two.

    •  So true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Blutodog

      The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

      William Butler Yeats

      ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

      by Rebecca on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:50:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The power of social myth (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, jfadden, Over the Edge

    Like it or not, human beings are wired to respond most strongly to a narrative that stimulates already internalized "myths".  It is, for instance, the American myth of the hero on the white horse that leads so many of us, despite our rights, powers and freedoms as citizens of a democratic republic, to wait for some charismatic figure to arrive upon the scene by whose individual acts all wrongs will be righted.

    The Democrats in my youth had a similar myth, that the Democrats were "the party of the working man and woman".  Now that wasn't really true, after all, almost all the Democrats national leaders were drawn from the ranks of the elite, just like the Republicans.  But like all myths, ths one was rooted in the fact that it was Democrats that championed labor unions and social and economic reforms that advanced the cause of working people.  However, timid Democratic leadership seeking the approval of corporate America, and the campaign contributions corporate America can produce, have squandered that myth, allowed it to lose its emotive power.  Into that vacuum the Republicans rushed to push their own myth about the Democrats, which I needn't recite here, all here are too familiar with them.  OTOH, the Republicans have their own myth that they market, that they are the tough guys, the hard-nosed pragmatists, the people that get things done, the party of the winners.

    Even intellectuals act and form allegiances on the basis of their own internalized social myths, though most are loath to admit it.

    Progressive people need to start reclaiming our own myths, reconnecting with those quasi-spiritual essences that shape progressive allegiances and identifications in the minds of the people.      

  •  How the brain takes in political argument (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Over the Edge, Flywheel

    is not how many people, particularly people more used to logic, believe that it does.  What we see and hear goes first through parts of the brain that are much more attuned to emotion, before it reaches the higher cortex where more logical reasoning takes place. (That misses a lot of details, but is the basic idea.)

    Progressives are used to arguing and discussing among ourselves in ways that are fairly reasonable and logical, because the emotions that we attach to what we are thinking about are pretty much in agreement. We often show our emotions most strongly against those of the opposition, who stubbornly (or as we often say, stupidly), do not see it as we do.

    The emotion can be thought of as transforming or blocking or skewing the arguments that those persons hear and see. Arguments "get in" more successfully if they are always consistent and consistently attached to emotions that the hearer often feels. And if we mostly present our side of things neutrally, without making strong emotional appeals? Those we are trying to persuade still get our emotion, even if detached from the message. For example, the emotion that many here and elsewhere have in reaction to people who disagree or who aren't convinced is often contempt - sometimes in advance of attempts to persuade (e.g. the way Southerners are spoken of by some). That's a surefire recipe for turning off a listener.

    Westen is saying, I think, that we cannot win on logic, on reason, detached from communicating great caring that is seen and felt strongly. Dukakis made that mistake when he responded many years ago to the hypothetical question as to what he'd do if his wife was brutally attacked. He sounded like a detached, uninvolved bystander, not an angry, horrified spouse. People wanted to see the "fire in the belly", and they didn't see it. Neither did they vote for him.

  •  Sounds Exactly Like Lakoff (0+ / 0-)

    Especially Thinking Points.  I didn't see his name mentioned in any of this.

    "Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote." -- Lord Chesterfield

    by Fatherflot on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:33:21 AM PDT

  •  Anti-thought (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, averybird, jfadden

    I had lunch with an old buddy of mine I periodically see. He's a salesman for a BIG Corp. Comp. company and never misses an opport. to brag about his 6 fig. income to me. He's also proud to say he has two right wings and is a dyed in the wool Reagan Rethug.  What most interested me though is how he is proud that he doesn't read. In other words hes a self-proclaimed anti-intellectual and pointy head. He's very suspicious of readers and people who don't just swallow FOX news and the Rethug. party line whole without question. He's for arresting anyone, he said who is a traitor. When I asked him who he felt were traitors he basically named Democrats all of them. So, I said then in your view I'm a traitor. he said he made sure I wasn't tortured in the camps they had ready for all of us when the next attack came. Isn't that nice of him? This is the mentality of the hardcore that support whats left of the Rethug ( fascist) party today. Scary!

    "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees" E. Zapata

    by Blutodog on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:36:12 AM PDT

  •  This essay is brilliant (0+ / 0-)

    One thing to take note of is that talk radio, which the conservative political philosophy dominates, operates on the exact same premise.  They appeal directly to all of their listeners emotions.  They make emotion-based arguments rather than rational ones in persuading their audience.

    This hit home for me recently when listening to a so-called Liberal talk radio host on a local AM station.  This was the one liberal guy on a 24 hour news/talk station.  He spent a half hour sputtering and spitting all kinds of warm up messages until he finally expressed one opinion.  Listening to it, I finally decoded it.  His opinion was directed at the emotions of the very conservative audience, not in an attempt to convince them but instead for a 180 degree opposite effect - to rile them up - against liberals.  Really, truly!  Talk radio uses liberal hosts to advance the conservative agenda, by sticking to emotional themes.

    Air America, on the other hand, which no conservatives listen to, attempts to convince their audience through intellectual and rational arguments.  As a result AA hasn't done all that well in the ratings.

  •  That last quote is debatable (0+ / 0-)

    Of COURSE the Democrats have a consistent message.  Every Democrat -- hell even Lieberman -- wants affordable, high-quality healthcare.  Every Democrat wants functioning public schools and affordable higher education.  Every Democrat wants to preserve the rights of people to organize (despite the fact that the Dems vary on friendliness to specific unions, we are STILL the party of labor).  Every Democrat believes the government needs to play a role in improving people's lives.

    The biggest divide is on national security, and while I think it would be AWESOME if we could all get on the same page there, I don't see it ever happening.  Too many people on the Left have too many disparate ideas about that.  In a way, believing that America can actually achieve all of the lofty domestic political goals we want almost REQUIRES a belief in American exceptionalism -- "I believe a country this great can insure all of its people" or the like.  At the same time, understanding why those domestic issues exist often promotes a cautious, or even suspicious, attitude about the motivations of government.  And then there's Israel/Palestine, and the less said about that the better.  So I guess the branding argument is fair on national security, but that's a HELL of a lot more limited than the quoted text implies.

    We may not have a standard "solution to everything" along the lines of Republican tax cuts, but I would say that the Dems absolutely do have a consistent message: We can use the power of government to help ordinary people achieve their goals.  I tend to think that simply throwing out the "advice" that Dems don't know what they believe has become an entrenched piece of conventional wisdom that doesn't describe the party too well anymore.

    Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

    by ChicagoDem on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 09:41:36 AM PDT

    •  I think Westen would say ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pat208, 0wn

      Democrats actually know what they believe in. Where they're failing is conveying those beliefs and what they rest on to others ... because they don't choose to cast a narrative, an overall story about why they believe these things in a way that captures the heart.

    •  Leaders we can trust. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, Flywheel

      You're not a leader if you need a focus group or poll to tell you what you should believe.  Then you're a follower.  You also have to convince voters that they can trust you.  Trust is the key word, and it's based on both evidence and emotion.  You can't have one without the other.  

      •  Along this line ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rebecca, trinite, 0wn

        Westen makes the case that Democrats should use polling not to follow public opinion but to proactively shape it.

      •  of course... (0+ / 0-)

        I don't have a problem with that aspect of it -- they're way too poll conscious and scared of public opinion.  My issue is more with the characterization of Dems have inconsisent positions as here:

        It has no shared terms or "talking points" for its leaders to repeat until they are part of our political lexicon. Instead, every Democrat who runs for office, every Democrat who offers commentaries on television or radio, every Democrat who even talks with friends at the water cooler, has to reinvent what it means to be a Democrat, using his or her own words and concepts, as if the party had no history.

        I mean, yeah the brand is weakened by the leadership since 2000, but I would argue that it DOES exist...

        Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

        by ChicagoDem on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:14:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Emotional appeals on the left? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, jfadden, Mike E, trinite

    These will get you marginalized so fast in US politics you'll fall off the edge of the world.  That's why the Dems don't make emotional appeals--for the past 20 years, it hasn't been possible.  A leftist master narrative?  It hasn't been possible since 1950, at least.  And, no, I do not mean  communism--I mean a plain old moderate social democracy; the liberalism of FDR and the sort of thing that's centerist in Western Europe.   The only way we're going to win this one is by bringing stuff back from the margins.  That, in turn, is going to involve appeals to emotion; the right's bad ideas are hurting people.  If Dems can connect with that, they can win.

    •  Rightwing organization. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rebecca, jfadden

      They'e changed the English language and distorted the meaning of words.  The right has gained control of almost all the avenue of information and knowledge, including schools.  How many rightwing think tanks are there and how much do they spend every year to sell the military industrial complex?  They're even studying how corporations can gain control of government owned water rights around the world.  Democrats are way behind on all this.    

  •  I find it a bit ironic that Dems are advised (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfadden

    to become more emotional based on superintellectual theories like this one and Lakoff's. Rational calculation anyone?

    Not that I disagree with the conclusions.

  •  Keep it up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, Sybil Liberty

    We gotta level honest (brutal, even) criticism at the so-called progressive candidates or they'll never get it.  A friend spotted Edwards just after '04 at the local supermarket in Raleigh, shook his hand and told him that he blew it -- voters like it when those responsible for so many failures are taken to task, and he and Kerry certainly didn't do that to a satisfactory extent.  

    To mimic the Fox argument, if Dem candidates can't take criticism from their own base, how are they going to do against the people who really want to do us harm, i.e. amoral corporatists?

    Larva-tested -- Pupa-approved!

    by Mike E on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 10:29:28 AM PDT

  •  I have re-read this review several times (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    matching mole

    now and each time feel that it is an important book, and shall order it.

    I believe it can also help me wend my way through the thickets of an often conflicting blogosphere, or specific sites I frequent in order to try and understand what people are thinking, where many seem to be reading and commenting based on diametrically opposed points of view.

    I think it could also be extremely helpful in distilling the cacophany of sound and fury that is today's cable television news programs as well as interpreting the MSM's viewpoint by using emotion/rationale/perception as a template over my own interpretation.

    One must also take into consideration one's own cultural imprints and prejudices, based on class, race and even nation, upbringing,  especially when it comes to language.  It is becoming increasingly apparant to me that this is essential as we are now trying to communicate in a brand new world of language, meaning Weblish on the internet. It would be a shame if it descends into the lowest common denominator and contributes to the dumbing down further of the electorate.

    Now that probably will come across as 'moral condescension'!

    Hope some of you will understand what I mean, not that it is important, except to me.

    I think this book could bne most helpful in making my 2008 decision.  I am grateful the work has been brought to my attention.

    •  cultural imprints and prejudices (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      soccergrandmom

      exactly!

      I would make a terrible politician as would, I suspect, most scientists.  We are trained (and probably mostly have the inclination to do so anyway)to do things exactly backwards to the list of questions given in the quote.  I want to know what a candidate says he/she will do in office and I would, ideally, like some sort of evidence that they will do what they say based on past history.

      I don't care if I find them likable or inspiring.  I want to know that they share my perception of what problems need to be solved and if they have reasonable ideas for solving those problems.

      I think this is where people come off as being condescending.  I can understand and even respect someone having a different opinion from mine about problems or solutions to those problems.  Although I have to respect the empirical evidence that this occurs and occurs frequently, I have a really hard time understanding people making these kinds of really important decisions in a context in which actual information about the consequences of that decision is the least important thing.

      So hopefully people who can get their heads around this better than I will take charge of the Democratic party.

      •  Westen makes an interesting point ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        soccergrandmom

        that I think speaks to this.

        On a certain level, nothing can prepare someone completely for the job of president. After all, it's the most powerful position in the world. Sure, gubernatorial experience or other elected government experience helps you understand administratively how the system works, but ultimately, the power gap between the position of president and any other held before is vast.

        Therefore, it makes a certain sense that voters go with their gut after watching various campaigners. Unexpected events (9/11, Katrina) are going to occur during a presidency and in the end, we're going to have to vote for those candidates who seem to share our values, priorities and passions most, trusting that when the unexpected occurs, they will act consistent with how we would act in their place if we had access to the same information they had.

        I think this consideration -- that not everything can be anticipated and quantified -- helps the more cerebral amongst us understand where emotional connection comes in with a potential president. At least it helps me. Not sure if it helps others.

        •  What complicates things even more (0+ / 0-)

          is that the US is one of the few non-dictatorships in which the same person has to be both the ceremonial head of state and the administrative head of government. Voters who aren't political junkies (and that's most of 'em) by and large evaluate Presidential candidates based on how well-suited they think they are to the first job, with the second (but really most important) job being an afterthought. That was Dukakis' big problem; he had all the characteristics for a good head of government, but few of those needed for a good head of state.

          I do like conducting hearings in an actual hearing room -- John Conyers

          by ebohlman on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 01:22:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Bottom Line (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, ravenwind

    The left sucks at PR. The Democratic Party has still yet to break even or at least narrow the media/PR gap between themselves and the Republicans. The Democrats still have yet to use the media effectively. They also don't have the same extensive networks of think tanks, lobbying firms, public relations firms, fundraisers, mailing list firms, marketing firms, and so forth. They have yet to really use direct mail effectively. While they have made progress with Air America (even though it is not doing as well as people would like, that it has lasted this long at least has made the possibility of effective liberal talk radio more realistic than it was even a few years ago), the Center for American Progress, and the use of Internet blogs (such as Kos, MyDD, and other sites), they still have a very long way to go.

    For example I live in Washington, DC. Recently a right-wing industry front group has been advertising against the energy bill. It uses images of the 1970s--bad fashion, hippies, dancing, bad hairstyles, and so forth--to warn against passing the current energy bill. The ad then shows long gas lines of the era, warning people what would happen. The marketing effort is perfect because it conveys the image briefly--and to the point. On other issues the right also names its front groups "citizens for better [insert the issue here]" to make the industry-backed organization look like it has actual popular support.

    The Republicans and the right able to state their points in or two sentences max. The Democrats take three or four pages to. This problem is what is hurting Democrats.

  •  Declare war on Republican(ism) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rebecca, jfadden, ravenwind, Rabid Lambert

    All out war in the best right wing "culture war" tradition.  And the form this should take is "Take Back America".  

    Hit them at their perceived strong points.  If it were me, I would attack the Republicans on national security.  I would tie them kicking and screaming to China and Saudi Arabia.  

    I would have our candidates call them thieves and liars.  But more than that, betrayers of ordinary Americans.  I would accuse them of liking nothing better than to send your job to India and taking everything you own the first time you had a major illness.  

    And I would have people make the point that Republicans in power are laughing at ordinary Americans behind their backs.  The Republicans hit the sore social points while sneaking in the back door and stealing your mother's silver.

    Vilify them.  Yes, I believe it can work.

    Pay the protestors, save the world (-6.25, -6.92)

    by AndyS In Colorado on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 11:56:37 AM PDT

  •  YES! Democrats Must TAKE THE DARE (5+ / 0-)

    Let me begin by misquoting David Mamet, from his book "Bambi Vs. Godzilla" (can't remember the exact quote, but this nails the meaning):

    "The Republicans think of their campaigns as summer blockbuster movie spectaculars, with giant themes, huge heroes, massive villains, and scary plot twists. The Democrats think of their campaigns as a college lecture series."

    In 1988, the Republicans learned something about Democratic Presidential candidates that they've used ever since -- DEMOCRATS CAN BE MUGGED. THEY WON'T FIGHT BACK. When Bush I had Lee Atwater run his phoney-baloney (entirely emotion based) "Willie Horton" ad slandering Dukakis, Dukakis waited 6 weeks to reply. In those 6 weeks, Bush went from 20 points down to 20 points up. Atwater/Bush were, in effect, DARING Dukakis to fight. Imagine if, the day after the Willie Horton ad went on the air, Dukakis had run this ad:

    (Dukakis) "Yeah, I furloughed Willie Horton...because of a law created by a Republican governor, based on a law created by Ronald Reagan. Mr. Bush wants to talk about our "differences" -- okay, here's one. Bush wants to let Willie Horton walk into a gun store and buy an assault rifle WITHOUT the gun store owner having a run a background check. I say we need that background check. If you think so too, vote for me."

    Now imagine if John Kerry, the day after the Swift Boat smears went on the air, held a press conference and said this:

    Kerry (visibly angry)  "Apparently Mr. Bush wants to to talk about Vietnam. I was going to give me a pass, but he brought it up, so let's talk about it. We were at war. I volunteered. I fought. Mr. Bush called his dad to get him into the "Champagne Brigade" of Texas Air National Guard. Lucky for him, the Viet Cong never got west of Baton Rouge. (HOLDS UP BUSH'S 'SERVICE' RECORD) Know we we called this in Vietnam? We called this BULLSHIT. I fought. He didn't. He wants to bring this up? Let's talk about it."

    Kerry would have beat Bush by 15 points. Instead...

    The Republicans DARE you to fight their smears. But to do it, you have to fire all the consultants and tell voters what you stand for. You also have to yell "bullshit" when bullshit appears. Until they do that, Democrats will continue to lose.

    •  Except Kerry DID challenge Bush to stop hiding (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfadden, neroden, Andy Lewis

      behind the swifts and come out and debate their services during Vietnam. He said it where it SHOULD have made giant headlines - at the Firefighters Convention.  The entire broadcast media refused to air his speech and barely even reported that it occurred.

      The left media let it sit there and did NOTHING to applaud the attack or advance it the way the RW machine advanced every attack on Kerry.

      •  Yes, Democrats need to route around the MSM (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jail the BFEE

        This is another serious problem: when Democrats do do the right thing rhetorically, they get sat on by the MSM.  Howard Dean, as DNC chairman, has actually been pretty good at getting his one-line repartee into the press.  If others can manage that, that's good; if not, they have to route around it.  Every minute of airtime should be "I tell it like it is -- on algore.com" or something like that -- drive people to places where your strong, vibrant message is presented.

        -5.63, -8.10 | Impeach, Convict, Remove & Bar from Office, Arrest, Indict, Convict, Imprison!

        by neroden on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:03:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The left pundits and bloggers put all blame on (0+ / 0-)

          Kerry, and to do so they have to DISTORT what really happened in 2003-4 or full on lie about it.

          They claim he never fought back, when in reality he did so plenty enough to give them the room to launch their own attacks the way the RW machine did, but the entire left could not ever get together and become a solid back up voice the way the RW machine did for years.

          Every time Kerry DID get unfiltered airtime he won the matchup with BushInc.

          Can the DNC and the left media say the same about THEIR participation in the election of 2004?

  •  Sounds whack (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    averybird, jfadden, MacheteJames

    The central thesis of this book—that successful campaigns compete in the marketplace of emotions and not primarily in the marketplace of ideas—may at first blush be disquieting to many Democrats. But the reality is that the best way to elicit enthusiasm in the marketplace of emotions is to tell the truth. There is nothing more compelling in politics than a candidate who is genuine. And the issues that most tempt politicians to spin and parse are precisely the ones on which they should tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    Yeah, so we're to believe Republicans have been honest and that's why they win? WTF?!?

    This "marketplace of emotions" crap is really a just a fancy euphemism for our ginormously dysfunctional "marketing" enterprise that we pretend is a democracy. There is virtually nothing REAL on television, apart from the occasional overhyped missing white girl story. And that's how most people get their worldview. Bush repeats lies over and over again and the media doesn't call him on it. Bush is a Frequent-Flier Liar. He's made a career of lying and a career of winning. So what's this crap about being "genuine" wins? It's bullshit.

    What wins is the perception of being genuine. If you can fake that, you've got it made. As the Republicans have so amply demonstrated. And you do that with bullshit media campaigns that emply social scientists like this bloke working to find the right Pavlovian responses from the sheepdogs. That's what democracy has devolved into. A joke, really.

  •  When Kerry hit Bush or swifts NO LEFT MACHINE (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    averybird, LordMike, jfadden, certainot

    was in place to repeat and further the hits.

    Bush didn't LIFT A FINGER to advance the attacks on Kerry - a RW noise machine did it and plenty of bigname Republicans like McCain, Dole and Giuliani were on TV every day to further the attacks.

    It didn't matter what Kerry would say or do, even when he challenged Bush to debate their Vietnam era services in front of the Firefighters Convention - the left and bigname Democrats stayed SILENT and did NOTHING to advance the attack.

    Those same people blame Kerry for what THEY - collectively THEY - did NOT do to answer the RW machine protecting Bush and advancing attacks FOR him..

    •  why a new fairness doctrine is needed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      averybird, LordMike, Jail the BFEE

      plenty of bigname Republicans like McCain, Dole and Giuliani were on TV every day to further the attacks.

      and they couldn't have gone far with that kind of hipocrisy and bushit without the luxury of knowing what they were saying had already been and would be repeated on tens of millions of radios all over america until the election.

      the talk radio monopoly allowed them the easy luxury of jumping on a giant media bandwagon driven by rove and co.

      and it will happen to every progressive candidate and cause until progressives wake up.

  •  this book is worthless BS (0+ / 0-)

    parts of it sound like they come from a DLC hit piece

    so it is the fault of democrats for not being better demogagues. the fault with voters voting on gay marriage and not iraq is actually the fault of democrats, and not the shear stupidity of the voters.

    for one, I disagree that democrats have lost because they were too dry. democrats in 2006 had fairly rational arguments (with only a small component of emotion).

    you know I am stick and tired of all of these monday morning quarterbacks telling democrats how it is their fault that voters are too stupid to make a rational election decision.

    •  Wow, now there's a campaign message for you (0+ / 0-)

      "You, dear voter, are too stupid to make a rational election decision."

      Sounds like a winner to me.

      I think the whole point of this book is that, like it or not, humans (not just voters) are motivated by emotions first, facts second.

      It has long been a staple of psychology that people use their rational minds to come up with justifications for doing what their emotions motivate them to do. I submit that even intellectuals do this. If you don't believe you do, then you're kidding yourself. (The classic example: people want the status of owning a Mercedes. But they won't admit that to themselves. So they tell themselves they need it for the safety, or the precision engineering, or the dependability.)

      A quote from Tony Robbins sticks in my mind: "The only reason anybody does anything is that they are trying to achieve a certain feeling." End o'story.

      News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

      by RobLewis on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:56:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "I feel your pain" (0+ / 0-)

    Clinton's line was roundly derided by eggheads, but damn if it didn't help him get elected.

    News is what they don't want you to know. Everything else is publicity. --Bill Moyers

    by RobLewis on Sun Jun 24, 2007 at 08:45:57 PM PDT

  •  Was Rove afraid of power of Dean's emotion? (0+ / 0-)

    Quoting the sig line of "telex" upthread:

    "You Have The Power!" - Howard Dean

    This seems like one good example of a Democratic campaign that was successful in projecting the emotional strength behind Dem ideas. Howard Dean was repeatedly criticized for being emotional by opponents who were jealous/envious of its positive effect with people. Dean's popularity stemmed from his emotional delivery carrying solid intellectual content, an ideal combination. The sound-editing trick by the TV network creating the "shout" seemed a self-fulfilling prophesy of media and Dean opponents who pointed to it as proof that he was "too emotional."  It seemed to play perfectly into Rove's hands because,  I believe, Rove did not want to have Bush run against Dean. Rove said he wanted Dean as opponent but that was a cunning ploy to make Dems doubt Dean, implying  "What's wrong with Dean if Rove wants him?"

    That whole gestalt around the Dean campaign was loaded and may have been a turning point in history. Of course, Dean made real mistakes in the primaries, so maybe he would have fallen off even without the whole Rove-and-scream dance. The point about emotion remains. At the end of a rousing speech when Dean pointed to his audience and said, "You have the power!" it was electrifying.

    Another good human-connection line for Dems was the title of Clinton's economic plan in 1992, "Putting People First." I wish Dems would revive this line as well as "You Have the Power!," not just as slogans but as perennial campaign approaches to remind candidates of the emotional -- human -- core of their principles.  

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