This is not cross-posted from my own blog, The Field. This is a special message for the DKos community, of which I am just one among 160,000+ (correct that! 181,420!) members.
To the majority of diarists and commenters who are keeping your eyes on the ball – registering voters, donating and raising money, phone banking and going door to door, sharing with us what you’ve experienced doing the hard work, sharpening your arguments, and offering constructive and creative suggestions, fact checks, and analysis – keep it up. We’ve got each other’s backs.
To the Chicken Littles - those attention-seeking armchairmen, wanna-be campaign managers, and increasingly boring sub-group of Johnny-and-Janey-One-Notes that have begun to join the PUMAs in this year’s absurdity index - I’m hereby officially filing for divorce...
No more holding your hands and wiping your tears. From here to November 4, any more response I have to you will be, if at all, to counter and mock you for your sabotage of the best shot to win the White House so far in this century.
You’ve become an embarrassment to our side, the loose lips that sink ships, the willful spreaders of panic and despair, mere props and morale boosters for the real enemies that have been winding you up...
I’m going to repeat some very basic truths here:
- Panic and fear never won an election (or anything else).
We’ve all seen the movies where there is a conflict and the bad guys are coming to destroy the good guys or the innocents and there’s always some idiot who starts screaming hysterically thus gets everyone else massacred. Chicken Littles: that’s you. The heroes and heroines are the ones that are putting their hands over your mouths to protect the larger flock from your panicked instability and its consequences. No team or army or campaign has helped itself without discipline in the troops.
- Just because you’re “worried” or “concerned” (read: panicked) doesn’t mean we’re ever going to join you.
You know who is not panicked right now? Everybody that is doing enough of the real work – let’s repeat what that is: phone banking, going door to door, registering voters, raising money, etcetera. Yes, those of you that want your panic to be shared are feeling increasingly lonely, and you’re becoming more shrill about it in the process. Not even the recent (and long predicted) GOP convention “bounce” in the polls has caused the rest of us to join you. We’re inoculated. We have our eye on victory and our feet on the ground. We never believed this would be a cakewalk. And we’re used to coming from behind anyway; it’s what we do best. While you’re whining and crying, we enjoy an underdog fight. We had one in the primaries and we’ve never thought we wouldn’t have one in the general. Your attempts to make us share in your panic are and will continue to be a gigantic fail.
- Stupid is as stupid does.
When you say things like “Obama has to start hitting” all you’re doing is demonstrating that you haven’t paid attention all year long to the repeated steps of absorbing a blow, playing rope-a-dope, and waiting for the moment when the opponent inevitably overshoots to connect with an effective smackdown.
Every single day Obama, Biden and their staff have been hitting McCain hard. The Obama campaign sends out an average of 10 to 20 email attacks and counterattacks a day to every reporter in the country (if you’re not on the Obama campaign “daily reporters” email list, write to Hari Sevugan email@example.com or Bill Burton firstname.lastname@example.org or Tommy Veitor email@example.com or Nick Shapiro firstname.lastname@example.org and sign yourself up).
McCain (and now Palin) can’t open their mouths anywhere or put out a single ad without fact-checks and talking points flying out to confront them. But those emails are just the preliminaries, the setting of the stage, for what again and again has come later: the body blow. Get yourselves on the front end of the attacks and counter-attacks that are consistent with – and not contradictory of – the campaign’s messaging, and write your diaries on those things instead. That would be far more productive than pretending that Obama isn’t on the attack, or trying to convince us who know damn well that he is.
This morning, for example, the following titles have flooded tens of thousands of media and blogger email boxes:
6:25 a.m. from Tommy Veitor: “Washington Post (Mallaby): McCain’s Inconvenient Truth”
6:31 a.m. Daily schedule and talking points from Nick Shapiro: “Obama Today”
8:58 a.m. from Hari Seguvan: “Rice Offers Less-than-Hearty Palin Endorsement”
9:55 a.m. from Bill Burton: “RESPONSE TO NEW AND DISHONEST MCCAN AD”
10:17 a.m. from Bill Burton: “TPM: Obama Campaign: New McCain Ad Is ‘Lie’”
11:00 a.m. from Hari Seguvan: “I Supported the Bridge to Nowhere and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”
11:18 a.m. from Hari Seguvan: “Can’t Have It Your Way: McCain Bridge Claim a ‘Whopper’”
Six of those seven emails in the past five hours were attacks.
Now, if you have creative and constructive ideas as to how such attacks could be made even better, that’s certainly what diaries ought to be for. When Nate Silver offered a critique of Obama’s ads today,he offered creative suggestions for two new ones. That’s how constructive criticism is done. A criticism without a well-developed, detailed and fleshed-out suggestion for what could be done instead is just a child’s tantrum and a signal that it’s time to tuck the brat in for his daily nap.
When you title your diaries or write in them or comment on them that “Obama has to start” doing something that he’s already doing, can you see how most of us are losing, or have already lost, all respect for you?
In many ways, those that are real trolls typing from some Rovian basement somewhere at least are getting their agenda accomplished somewhat: enlisting you as their very own useful idiots and unwitting tools. Got that? They get a grudging respect that you’re not getting, except from them, as they egg you on. Congratulations for becoming their pawns.
I salute Kos and his front-pagers for not falling into this crap in the way some other big and proclaimed Democratic blogs have done. And nothing I’ve said here about the Chicken Littles should be taken as a critique of having allowed them the free speech to post here, because it also provides the rest of us the free speech to push back. The center-column continues to be fantastic. And it’s up to us, the rank and file users, to implement the quarantine of those that want to spread their harmful contagion to the rest of us.
Remember that many of the media you might like – whether MSNBC or Air America or The Huffington Post or many other blogs – often go for the sensational personality driven stuff to up ratings and hit counts, without thinking or acting strategically. They – or the latest AP story – should never be your guides as to what makes for an effective argument.
But at this point, if you're among those that can’t get your shit together, have no sense of message discipline, or just want your misery to have company, consider yourself quarantined.
You won’t get a word in edgewise on my Internet home, and as a member of this community if I bother with you at all I’ll be mocking and countering your self-indulgent bullshit here as often as I want along with many, many others who, in recent days, seem, like me, ready to part company with, marginalize and isolate the weak links in this chain.
Feel lonely in your panic now? Keep it up. You don’t know yet how much more lonely you could make yourselves still… as lonely as a PUMA.
Update: Thank you all 400+ of you that agree with the essential thrust of this diary enough to have spiked it onto the rec list. I suspected that many others were having the same response to the WOMD (not "Weapons of Mass Destruction" but "What Obama Must Do") diaries and comments, but underestimated just how many of us were seeing their potentially destructive bent.
That said, I have read every single one of the comments here, including of those folks that have expressed disagreement. Some make more sense than others (and still others make no sense at all). The idea is not to create a civil war but to say "You're hurting our cause, please stop it."
Another important point of all of this:- If you scream "Obama's not being tough enough on McCain" that reinforces GOP messages that he can't stand up for America or won't be tough enough on terrorism or Al Qaeda or Putin or whomever. Please consider, before clicking "publish diary" or "publish comment" what your words look like if the names are changed from Obama's rivals to America's perceived rivals. - If you compare Obama to Kerry or Dukakis or say that "this is just 2004 all over again" you are essentially reinforcing GOP messages that Obama's a wimp, not tough enough for commander in chief. You also don't seem to "get" how fundamentally different a nominee he is from all previous ones in at least a couple generations. - If you charge that Obama or his team are running an inept and incompetent campaign you're basically reinforcing GOP messages that he's too inexperienced and not competent to be president, that he's a bad manager. Is that what you believe? If not, then think before you speak aloud in a public space.
Now, if you really believe all those things, it's hard to believe that you wouldn't be supporting McCain, which explains why you generate suspicion, accusations of "troll" (not a word I like to use) and are beginning to be seen as akin to PUMAs.
Finally, don't hide behind Kos, or Josh Marshall, or Nate Silver (as some have done here in the comments to justify behavior that has nothing to do with theirs) or anybody else to claim somehow that they're doing what you've been doing. Don't flatter yourself with the comparison. There are degrees of coherency and strategy that are required to make smart critiques and most that have been using that argument simply haven't been rising to the same level of carefully chosen words. Basically, it's the difference between arguments carefully formed and developed before they are published, and self-indulgent knee-jerk tantrums. Sleeping on a diary or a comment before clicking "publish" is never a bad strategy. I spent days developing this one before posting it.
This is a public space, not a private meeting hall. I think it's reasonable to expect that people act like they would act as guests in any other public partisan campaign space with the media present. What you write here is being read by the world outside this community, pored over by oppo researchers for the GOP and right wing bloggers and Fox News and others that have already used plenty of it to bloody up Obama by association, not to mention countless political reporters looking for a story line, seeking to pounce upon what you say. And that scrutiny from the outside is only growing greater. We need to grow along with the site!