The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Over at Dkos, mcjoan quotes Joe Lockhart, who says the following about Feingold's censure resolution:
[Lockhart] sees no political downside to Senator Feingold's proposal--and likewise sees much desperation in the Republican spin that it would be another self-inflicted Democratic wound that would haunt the minority party in the fall elections. All the G.O.P. bluster about an early vote on the Feingold proposal to smoke out weak-sister Democrats for elimination in November, Mr. Lockhart said, "is complete nonsense."

He said: "One simple rule of politics is that the more ferociously you're pushing your talking points, the less you believe in them. The Republicans jumping so hard on this tells you that they believe they're in a really vulnerable position--that this issue is not the winner they thought it was."
Exactly. Perhaps the words "cornered, wounded animal" have some meaning in this situation?

But the problem is bigger than that. Every time a Democrat or group of Democrats does something aggressive -- Reid shuts down the Senate, Feingold calls for censure, opposition to Alito's confirmation, even Murtha calling for withdrawl from Iraq -- it's a sure bet that there will be a cadre of self-styled "sensible Democrats" (the Klein/Kaus/Beinart/DLC/BullMoose sort) ready to tell us via TV, print and the internet that such aggressive tactics are tantamount to political suicide for the party.

If a prominent Republican is about to be indicted (as is often the case these days!), they are the ones with their ears to the ground, ready to bleat about whatever bits of glee or schaudenfraude they think they hear. Ready to lecture us about how "bad for the country" they think we are.

And where does this leave us? Well, most of the Senate minority runs for cover in precisely the sort of situation as the one Joe Lockhart talks about. Fear in the face of aggression.

I'd like to talk, for a minute, about how this is caused, and how the dividing lines on how elected Democrats react to fiery Republican rhetoric are more blurry than just "liberal" and "moderate".

The problem for many Democrats is that they've bought into "The Myth of 'The Moment'", the idea that in a favorable political climate, they have one, and only one chance to use this climate to their advantage with the American people.

Everyone, from Kucinich to From, agrees that the current political conditions are favorable for Democrats, and are comparably unfavorable for Republicans and, especially, President Bush. The President's numbers are in the mid-to-low 30's, and the generic congressional polls are giving the Democrats a double-digit edge over their GOP counterparts. Iraq is a mess, and the American people know it. Government corruption has reared its ugly head more prominently lately, and the vast majority of its shadow is cast over the elephant and not the donkey (Abramoff, DeLay, Cunningham, and a whole host of supporting characters).

And yet, in spite of such a preponderance of evidence that the political tides are turning, there still exists a feeling that the opportunity for the Democrats to capitalize is both fragile and fleeting, as if they think they have only one shot to fully capitalize on the situation, and if they don't it's all for naught, defeatism sinks in, and Unka' Karl squeezes another 51% out of the electorate in November.

It's as if the bulk of the party has a deep, primordial fear of premature ejaculation.


"Should we try to block John Roberts' confirmation?"

"No, our scorched-earth battle should be saved for someone else"

"Should we try to block Samuel Alito's confirmation? He's worse than Roberts, and he's taking over for the abortion swing-vote, so...?"

"No, that would distract the public from... (insert other issue here)"

"But you said..."

"I know what I said, but we can't blow our wad YET"

"Should we go to the mattresses for John Murtha?"

"No, because the President equates leaving with losing. Remember you guys need to look strong and security-minded for the midterms"

"Should we go to the mattresses for Russ Feingold?"

"No, that would energize the Republicans. Remember, you guys are supposed to be afraid of them"


...And so on.

The Democrats need to understand something: Just as Republicans are sometimes adept at tweaking the "official narrative" of a political issue in their favor, there are other things that develop in spite of their actions, or those of the Democrats or even the media. The American people turned on the Iraq war, and the President's handling of it, all on their own, even though there were very, very few voices in the media openly expressing displeasure with the war, even though the media continues to sugar-coat the situation on the ground there. The American people, by and large, made up their mind on the source of the vast majority of official corruption in our elected officials, in spite of GOP attempts to wishywash the issue by bleating "Abramoff gave money to both parties!" over and over (which he didn't btw).

My point is, these public sentiments aren't going anywhere, even if Feingold or any other Democrat tries some sort of political tactic, like the censure resolution, only to see it fall flat.

To continue the "premature ejaculation" metaphor, the American people will remain horny for a long time, if you catch my drift.

Elected Democrats who would otherwise be more aggressive should remember the following whenever a DLC'er suggests they should back off: They didn't consider 2004 to be a proper time to "blow their wad", so to speak, so if they didn't then, when would they ever? They're not being sincere. And you shouldn't be afraid because of it.

The Democrats don't need a magic bullet, or a perfect, force-assisted shot into a relatively-unguarded thermal exhaust pipe to blow up the Death Star. What they need is a long-term frontal offensive. For example, just because they stayed on the sidelines, in large part, during the debate over Dubai controlling operations in six American ports, that should not stop them from hitting the GOP over the head with this.

It is not about capitalizing on a moment, or saving up for a single chance at achieving a political goal. The Democrats have the long-haul public sentiments on their side, and they need to know that those aren't going to fizzle away just because some Republicans accuse Joe Biden of being a "bully" or say that Russ Feingold is being "too partisan". And they really shouldn't listen to the SSS's (Self-Styled Sensibles) say the same thing, only in sheep's clothing.

Be aggressive.
Be-e aggressive.


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