I would like to coin a term for the Washington “centrist,” “DLC” Democrats that we have all become so sick of: “Concession Democrats.” These are the Democrats who refuse to recognize the right-wing takeover of the country and its consequences. They have conceded at every turn, allowing the Right to advance, step by step, and finally take over.
Kerry conceded. He rolled over. He conceded in my name. HE conceded MY vote. I didn’t want him to do that, but he did. And by conceding Kerry paved the way for Bush to claim a “mandate.” Had he held out, even for a few more days, Bush and the Right would not have been able to come out and seize the initiative and frame the message, “The people have spoken” and begin the process of getting rid of Social Security, getting rid of progressive taxation, getting rid of separation of church and state, getting rid of public education, getting rid of unions, getting rid of consumer protections, getting rid of what remains of a free America, and continuing to make war on the world. Kerry allowed Bush to say, “I will reach out to those who share my goals.” But Kerry either did not understand that was what would happen, or did not care.
I’d like to ask a question of my readers. What do you think about whether Senator John Kerry should run again? He has a primary challenger named Ed O’Reilly now, and I am wondering whether you think netroots types should support Kerry or the challenger? Is Kerry a good Senator – or bad enough that we should support a challenge?
Let me know by e-mail or by comments here. Thanks.
Co-written with James Boyce
A little over 48 hours ago, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton made history when she announced that she had formed an exploratory committee for 2008. She is the first woman to have a legitimate chance to become President of the United States. In fact, she is clearly the front runner, not a long shot.
“I’m in. And I’m in to win.” She declared. It was a historic moment.
It is an extraordinary feat by an extraordinary woman. Of course, to win The White House, Senator Clinton will face many challenges and hurdles. But the first may end up being perhaps the most significant. For Senator Clinton and her advisers must find a strategy that makes every voter look at her clearly. Senator Clinton and her advisors must shatter the public’s habit of viewing her and her record through the prism of right wing distortions and smears.
Co-written with James Boyce, first published at Huffington Post.
Senator Barack Obama is a man to be admired, respected and liked. He is more than worthy of consideration for the Democratic Nomination in 2008 and if we were advising Senator Obama, and his equally impressive wife Michelle, our advice would be to run, and run now. A Vice Presidency certainly looks attractive on one’s resume, and a national campaign brings valuable experience.
Senator Obama is admired and he is loved. Look at the recent favorability polls and there he is, the Number One Democrat in America. But why? Why is a junior Senator, nationally a virtual unknown just two years ago, now at the top of the national favorability ratings? Is it because of his new book? His great 2004 Convention Speech? His appearance on Oprah? All of these, of course, but in fairness, does Barack Obama truly deserve to be the Democratic leader with the highest national favorability in a recent poll? Hardly.
With complete respect to Senator Obama, where are the long-time Democratic leaders who have dedicated their lives to the service of our country? Where are the other possible Presidential contenders? What about Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry? Where are Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid? Are they not leaders that deserve at the very least to have decent favorability ratings?
Why is Barack Obama “favorable” and not any of the better-known Democratic leaders? And why – of all people is Rudy Guiliani at the top of the list as the Number One leader in our country? The answer is simple, and dramatic.
[Co-written with James Boyce, originally at Huffington Post]
Jimmy Carter is not remembered as a great President. Most folks might even consider him a failure, the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia. But why exactly do we hold one of the two Democratic Presidents of the last 38 years in such low esteem?
Isn’t this the man that held the country together in the years after Watergate? Didn’t he bring decency and honesty back to The White House?
Isn’t it a great American success story for a man to come from such humble beginnings, serve in defense of his country and then ascend to the highest office?
Isn’t it remarkable that back in 1979 he declared “The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them.” Isn’t that leadership and vision?
Yes. But it was legacy destroying as well. Our memories of Jimmy Carter are memories laced with the poison of a right wing smear campaign because when Jimmy Carter encouraged us to face the facts of the energy crisis, he faced off against the Oil Companies and as the decades passed, it has become sadly clear that the nuclear physicist Naval Officer peanut farmer came out the worse for it. He was portrayed as naive and as a simpleton. He was routinely mocked. A good man’s legacy was taken down.
I think last week’s media explosion over Kerry’s botched joke was a good thing for the Democrats.
In case you were on the moon last week, let me go over what happened. Kerry was making a joke about Bush not having studied hard in school and ending up getting us stuck in Iraq, and left out the word “us.” Republicans decided to try to trick people into thinking that Kerry – a war hero who had volunteered to serve in combat after graduating from Yale – was “insulting our troops.” They sent instructions out to their echo chamber to pretend to be outraged. They cranked up the phony outrage across the internet, got the story onto The Drudge Report, got Rush Limbaugh to “run with it,” and then the TV networks started non-stop coverage and commentary. It was an instant, manufactured media frenzy. And then it went away. Just like that.
So here is why I think in the end this was a very good thing for the Democrats.
1) It distracted the Republican machine. Kerry isn’t running for anything but the entire conservative outrage machine spent 2 days attacking him instead of talking about anything relevant to the election and to the concerns of voters. Who CARES what John Kerry said? This is not to run down Kerry, but for voters to care it has to be about SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THAT MATTERS TODAY. In this election what John Kerry said just doesn’t matter because he isn’t running for anything.
But the Republican noise machine IS capable of influencing the public and doing real damage. That was two days in which they could have been causing trouble and instead they were entirely focused on something that just does not matter.
2) Crying ‘wolf’ too many times reduces the effect of crying “wolf.” (That’s why they call it “crying wolf.”) The Republicans cranked up their machine to absolute full volume over something that wasn’t true and just didn’t matter, and everybody had to listen to it. So the realization that these people cry “wolf” is sinking in.
John Kerry DIDN’T SAY WHAT THEY SAID HE SAID, and everyone knew it. And it JUST DIDN’T MATTER and everyone knew it. They were crying “wolf” AND EVERYONE KNEW IT!
3) It allowed us a peek behind the curtain. We’re becoming more and more aware of how the Republicans do it, how the sound machine works and how the phony outrage and smear machine operates. We’re learning about their techniques. So we’re watching and learning, and this week was like a lab experiment for studying conservative outrage and smears. We are learning how to react, how to keep from getting sucked into the defensiveness game, and how to fight back. Two years ago the swiftboating of Kerry cost him the election. This year Kerry – and all of us by extension – understood more about what was happening and responded effectively.
So yes, I think last week’s media frenzy was, on balance, very good for the Democrats.
In a post to day at Huffington Post John Kerry links to several posts of mine. See The Blog | John Kerry: Will You Fight With Them? | The Huffington Post and SUPPORT THE PATRIOT PROJECT.
The Patriot Project has an incredibly important and concise mission. “Freedom of speech and the right to dissent are cornerstones of our democracy. The Patriot Project will defend any man or woman, regardless of party or affiliation, who is attacked or defamed and whose patriotism is questioned simply because they exercise their rights as Americans. This is our mission.”
This post was written for and originally appeared at the Patriot Project, which is no longer on the web.
The Swiftboaters Are Back in the Water
"Swiftboating" is defined in the Wikipedia as:
"an ad hominem attack against a public figure, coordinated by an independent or pseudo-independent group, usually resulting in a benefit to an established political force. Specifically, this form of attack is controversial, easily repeatable, and difficult to verify or disprove because it is generally based on personal feelings or recollections."
If you thought the tactic of "swiftboating" ended when John Kerry conceded the 2004 election, or perhaps when report after report and article after article after article refuted the "facts" or discredited those involved, you were wrong.
The professional Republican PR and campaign consultants who created, funded, and coordinated the attacks on John Kerry continue to spread their poison. And now, with the 2006 campaign season upon us they are ready to attack again, creating false stories and spreading doubt and mistrust about the more than fifty veterans running for Congress this fall. We can expect that candidates like Admiral Jim Webb, Admiral Joe Sestak, Lt. Colonel Charlie Brown and Captain Patrick Murphy will be targets for attack. So it’s a good idea to look back and understand what is happening here, how they have perfected the politics of political destruction since the strategy emerged, where some of them are now, and examine some ways to fight back.