Column: Why Democrats Have to Go Negative to Win





Mr. Carpenter is a historian and syndicated columnist.

Republicans are big on giving Democrats advice these days, especially on how to conduct campaigns. It's like Tonya Harding coaching Nancy Kerrigan on the finer points of sportsmanship.

The advice is simple. If you guys, the Democrats, have any chance of winning in 2004, it's only by staying upbeat and positive in message. Negative themes and negative campaigning are voter turnoffs. You'll go nowhere just being against things.

One hates to appear ungrateful in the face of all this magnanimous Republican counsel, but thank you, no, Democrats should pass.

On the surface, the advice seems sensible. There's no question that voters say they prefer the positive to negative and prefer candidates who propose new ideas versus slamming old ones. That's what voters say, anyway. The reality is they love to see, and are often persuaded by, a gladiatorial contest in which the provincial underdog tears the Roman Goliath into little political pieces.

Conservatives began appreciating this concept when taking on “the liberal establishment” 30 years ago with fresh verve. A review of their tactics shows what put them in power. There was one key: New conservatives – the New Right – whined and fumed and grumbled and griped their way to the top.

They campaigned against everything.

They ridiculed government spending (remember those days?), always neglecting it included such things as immunizing Johnnie and feeding Aunt Maggie. They denounced federal deficits (remember those days?), a real conservative bête noire until the Reagan administration began racking them up with childlike abandon.

They portrayed labor unions as all-powerful people oppressors. (I recall receiving an “objective” questionnaire from Jesse Helms' political action committee once. It began, “Do you want labor unions to control your life? Yes [ ] No [ ].”) They trashed environmental regulations purely as love interests of starry-eyed tree- and frog-huggers.

They ripped into abortion rights, homosexual rights, school busing, affirmative action, the Equal Rights Amendment, the U.S. department of education, school-prayer prohibitions, strategic arms limitation talks and the United Nations as Satan's commandments, notarized and executed by vile liberals out to close church doors and ban baseball.

Republicans were against everything but shiny new weapons programs. They went negative all the way, all the time.

As rhetorically significant was their wholesale rejection of critical social analysis – the kind of policy wonking Democrats have a habit of droning on about in debates and on the stump. The New Right instead committed itself to sweeping, and simplistic, one-sided arguments. In this union of negativism, scapegoatism and one-sidedness, the movement collectively transformed itself into a political refuge for anxious working- and middle-class Americans looking to point the blame for whatever ailed them.

Sure, the transformation alienated some of the Old Right's intellectual base, but strategic newcomers didn't much care. Wrote New Right activist Kevin Phillips of the wordy Bill Buckley crowd: “We [cannot] expect Alabama truck drivers or Ohio steelworkers to sign on with a politics captivated by Ivy League five-syllable word polishers.... Most of the ‘New Conservatives' I know believe that any new politics or coalition has to surge up from Middle America.” With a little help, that is.

The surge did come, and not from complicated policy analyses, upbeat messages and pleasant words from the right. The surge came out of anger transmitted through plain-spoken negative messaging. Newt Gingrich only made New Right tactics official when he advised colleagues in writing years later to “go negative early.” That was the battle plan from the beginning. It worked.

It could work again – for Democrats. And of course that's what Republicans fear. In fact, it's about the only chance Democrats have. Tearing into the conservative record of bloated deficits, corporate handouts – oh hell, that list could on for pages – would do more to dethrone Bush II than any campaign of political pleasantries.


© Copyright 2003 P. M. Carpenter

Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and buzzflash.com.



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John Lederer - 12/23/2003

I have been struck by G. W. Bush's continued politeness to Sen. kennedy even while Sen. Kennedy accuses him of the most heinous of political crimes.



Guess we'll see which attitude works best next fall.


David - 12/23/2003


It doesn't take the "chattering classes" for Dean to be perceived as angry. Is there a still photo of Dean where his lips aren't pursed and his veins aren't bulging? He's one scary looking dude.


Joey Giraud - 12/22/2003

" Harriman the Democrat and best friend of Roosevelt who financed Hitler"

Well, FDR may have been a friend of Harriman, but Prescott Bush was a fully invested partner in Brown Brothers Harriman. He profited by about 1.5 million from the Thyssen "investments." ( That was a lot more money then then it is now. )

So just how is your charge of guilt by social association equal to my charge of guilt by provable financial incentive?

Have a Happy Hannakah. It's not just for Jewish people anymore!


George Oilwell - 12/22/2003

"I believe that America is moving right. I think that in the calculus of each voter, security will be an overriding factor."

How did you come to that astounding conclusion? After all, everybody knows that most people get what little info they possess, from the liberal media.


NYGuy - 12/22/2003

Joey

Oh yes there would have been, but America would have fought on Germany's side. ( See Grampa Presoctt's affection for and financing of the Nazi war businesses. )

NYGuy

I thought the holidays would bring us together, but as Reagen said, There you go again.

It was Harriman the Democrat and best friend of Roosevelt who financed Hitler and his holocasust. (See the article on HNN with new evidence that has been unearthed and which supports this new theory). After all Harriman owned 96% of the company and made the decision to support the nazi. Some think his friend Roosevelt also backed his efforts to support Hitler while others believe Roosevelt precipated the war with Japan.

I am not jewish but have to tell you that my son was going with a jewish Medical Doctor. I was so excited so I could tell my jewish friends:

"my son is marrying a doctor"

but it never happened." (that is an old jewish brooklyn joke).

Chamberlain and his anti-war friends were naive and there is no way any one can make them seem intelligent in 1939. That is the difference, Bush learned from history and is much smarter than Chamberlain and his anti-war friends. That is why he is a great world leader.

Anyway my son is now going with another jewish girl so I will accept your greetings of Happy Hannakah.


Joey Giruad - 12/21/2003

"Then your argument is tribal warfare is natural and can not be stopped"

I specifically said "tribal thinking," not "tribal warfare."

The logic of conservatives is tribal thinking. The logic of a system of laws that apply to everyone is the core of classical liberalism.

The benefits of avoiding cycle-of-retribution feuds should be obvious. If not, let's drop the matter.

Chamberlain was not the cartoon doormat that is today's C.W. Read more, preferably something not written by conservative revisionists like Buckley or Will. He had good reason to think that he could negotiate in good faith with Germany, but he failed to realize just how dishonest they were.

Chamberlain had a lot in common with today's Congressional Democrats. Viewed by many as weak and cowardly, they're really only guilty of misunderstanding the opposition. Many Dem's actually think the Bushies radical statements are merely negotiating tactics.

A bit more on this:http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1045302,00.html">Kissinger on Radical power, relayed by Krugman

"..if Bush were President in 1932-1939 there would not have been a World War II. "

Oh yes there would have been, but America would have fought on Germany's side. ( See Grampa Presoctt's affection for and financing of the Nazi war businesses. )

Happy Hannakah!


NYGuy - 12/21/2003

Joey

What you remember about Chamberlain is most likely a caracature without detail or context. Chamberlain's supposed appeasement wasn't the cause of WWII, and no amount of second guessing can show that any other policy would have prevented WWII.

NYGuy

Then your argument is tribal warfare is natural and can not be stopped. Hmm. That is not what you were arguing earlier.

First comes recognition then comes action. People like Chamberlain and the anti-war group delayed the truth until it was too late. Seems we have the same situation today. We need leaders like Churchill and Bush to prevent a major world holocaust, not those who “feel our pain.”

I think if Bush were President in 1932-1939 there would not have been a World War II.

Joey

Your other responses are simply bizzare and confused. But let me wish you a merry Christmas too.

( "Clinton recession?" Lame *and* funny! )

NYGuy

I take offense at these remarks. You are starting to sound like my kids. :)

My best to you and yours.


Joey Giraud - 12/21/2003

"but I do remember Chamberlain. "

What you remember about Chamberlain is most likely a caracature without detail or context. Chamberlain's supposed appeasement wasn't the cause of WWII, and no amount of second guessing can show that any other policy would have prevented WWII.

Your other responses are simply bizzare and confused. But let me wish you a merry Christmas too.

( "Clinton recession?" Lame *and* funny! )





NYGuy - 12/21/2003

Joey

Well, I don't know that Bush replaced the UN. He just ignored them when they didn't support his invasion plans.

NYGUY

Seems the UN went the way of the League of Nations. But I still see Anan and the delegates dining at the best restaurants in NYC with their fine wines and cigars. I never said they were useless after all they do support the NYC economy.

Joey

My anger? Geez, Guy, isn't war the most extreme expression of anger imaginable? Seems to me that Bush capitalized on the anger of America after 9/11 as an excuse to do something that was already on the agenda.

Conservatives predicably fall back on the primative tribal response to threat: strike out to establish a 'reputation' as a tough bunch, to disuade outsiders. This strategy most always leads to a 'blood feud' situation. In our case this would mean long term low level terrorism followed by heavy handed American strikes that fuel more anger and desire for retribution on both parts.

NYGuy

I am not a great historian but I do remember Chamberlain. Perhaps if we had followed his lead you wouldn’t be complaining today.

Joey

See, the UN is an ( admittedly imperfect ) attempt to have an international structure of law. Where law exists, vigilante justice is unneccesary. It's also usually illegal.

Which is why our invasion of Iraq, as well as your rationalization for it, are both, in a word, illegitimate.

NYGuy

We all understand the “hate America crowd” that is looking for a better government with better laws. Strange thought that you would give power to about 90% of the world governments who don’t believe in the rights of the people. Might work but then again your voice would be muted. Then were are we? Looking for another George Washington like George Bush.

Joey

We are living in the 21st Century now with all its rapidly changing technology that has made this a much smaller world with an ability to reach the masses. It is also providing greater trade opportunities. All the major countries recognize this and their population is many times that of the rogue nations. They agree with George Bush and are looking to him, not the UN, to create an atmosphere that will promote trade and peace.

Therefore they, as well as Bush, have sent a clear message to the rogue states, get on board or be eliminated. No one is being invaded; they are just being told if they don’t go along they will continue to live in poverty while their people are informed of a better world through technology. That is why the smart one’s are getting on board. As China and India and Pakistan become bigger competitively in world markets do you think North Korea is going to be so stupid as to start a nuclear war with three major nuclear powers? I don’t think so. Bluster is just a sign of weakness. Bush did not bluster he showed a sign of strength and the world is grateful for that.

Be thankful Bush brought us out of the Clinton recession with his brillant economic moves. 2004 will be a banner year for Americans and the world.

Best wishes for a happy holiday.

PS: Steve is never wrong so you might listen to him.


Joey Giraud - 12/21/2003

My comments about our intellegence were kind of tangential, my real point is that even if Bush's foreign stance is directly responsible for recent "Axis of Evil" promises to lay off developing nukes, it isn't what I would consider credible progress. Promises are easy to make, easy to break. Credible progress would have to include reducing the need for nukes.

If I were running an "Axis of Evil" nation right now, I would swear off nukes while extending every effort to get them under the table. Better to have them then not, especially since there's a new bully on the block, which is what we're looking like these days ( in the eyes of most non-American human beings. )



"by arbitrarily giving Gore all the overvotes, which is clearly illegal under voting laws. "

Well, I don't think the recount method that was actually implemented was to just give Gore the overvotes. They were using a sort of "instant run off." If Gore or Bush ( but not both) had one of the multiple holes ( the 'missing chads' ),
and the other holes were minority candidates who were not in the running, then Gore or Bush would get that vote.

Seems pretty fair and balanced to me.

CNN's recount project isn't the last word on the issue. The consortium's methods were better, and while their public conclusions were almost the same as CNN's, the numbers show that Gore would have won if they had actually cared about what the voters chose ( method above.. ) rather then followed the most restrictive interpretation of the law ( Get the Supremes to 'toss em!' ).


http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=11900">Consortium Muddles Recount

Funny you should mention the strict legality of the recount methods ( methods which weren't really illegal, just not precribed, ) when there were seriously illegal means used to disqualify black voters in the panhandle. The felon voter lists were written to include as many legitimate black voters they could put on while having any kind of deniability. ( plausable being too high a standard...)

Why don't we hear of any lawsuits about this matter? I would like to know.


My last point was fuzzy because I tried to make it too big. Closer to home: Just because a majority of Americans vote for politicians who break Constitutional and International laws doesn't make that lawlessness O.K.

I hope my tone isn't too hostile. You're a civil poster. But this is really how I see things.


Steve BRody - 12/21/2003


Joey, whether you have confidence in our intelligence abilities or not, you must believe that it is a positive sign that Iran and Libya are now pledging to dismantle their WMD’s . It will certainly be easier to monitor now that they admit they have them.

Not only that, it was our ability to detect the Libyan and Iranian WMD programs in the first place that allowed Bush to keep the pressure on Gaddafi and Khatami to finally give up their WMD’s.

As for the CNN ballot project, you’re a little mixed up. CNN and seven other major media outlets hired the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago to recount all the uncounted ballots. This was the only systematic recount of all of the uncounted ballots. What they determined was that under any reasonable recount of all the uncounted ballots, Bush won Florida. The only way they were able to force a Gore win was by arbitrarily giving Gore all the overvotes, which is clearly illegal under voting laws.

Besides, for all Gore’s talk of wanting all the votes counted, he only demanded recounts in the heavily Democratic counties where he was likely to pick up more votes. The irony is that the ballot project determined that in either scenario, full recount of all counties or just the Gore handpicked counties, Gore still lost.

"I'll wager that the answer, overwhelmingly, will be Bush"

Well you know what they say, “the Lord hates a coward”. I’ll probably be sorry I went out on that limb.

" Wouldn't you agree that some things about our system of Government shouldn't shift with the political winds, like the rule of law? Our Constitution matters too, and Bush is tearing it a new one.”

You’ll have to breath a little detail into that one before I’ll answer.


Joey Giraud - 12/21/2003

" Bush learned from Clinton’s mistaken trust in North Korea’s promises. He won’t make the same mistake Clinton did"

I would think our recent intelligence failures might shake your confidence that another nation could never do something without us knowing. High tech satellites can't see everything, after all.

"look up the CNN Ballot Project."

I've read plenty about the recount investigation and the evidence is clear: if they had counted everything, Gore would have made it. But the major media preferred to look at the case that Gore first argued for, only recounting the counties where the most ridiculous trouble occured. Under that scenario, Bush squeaked in.

I mean, after all, there was a war on!

In the coming years that will make a great excuse for everything, as my old man used to say.

"One of us will be right and one of us will be wrong." ( in 2004 )

You're right, it's impossible to predict who the American people will elect.

I would never try.

Diebold might ;(

I see you might too.
"I'll wager that the answer, overwhelmingly, will be Bush"

Wouldn't you agree that some things about our system of Government shouldn't shift with the political winds, like the rule of law? Our Constitution matters too, and Bush is tearing it a new one.

"Peace, brother."

I sign on for that. Nighty nite.







Joey Giraud - 12/21/2003

"He replaced a weak UN with the leadership that told the world, No more nice guy. I"

Well, I don't know that Bush replaced the UN. He just ignored them when they didn't support his invasion plans.

My anger? Geez, Guy, isn't war the most extreme expression of anger imaginable? Seems to me that Bush capitalized on the anger of America after 9/11 as an excuse to do something that was already on the agenda.

Conservatives predicably fall back on the primative tribal response to threat: strike out to establish a 'reputation' as a tough bunch, to disuade outsiders. This strategy most always leads to a 'blood feud' situation. In our case this would mean long term low level terrorism followed by heavy handed American strikes that fuel more anger and desire for retribution on both parts.

Tribal thinking was the best we had when we all lived in tribes.
In areas where no effective law exist, clans will engage in retribution to protect themselves. ( Albania recently and Appalachia not long ago are two examples that come to mind. )

See, the UN is an ( admittedly imperfect ) attempt to have an international structure of law. Where law exists, vigilante justice is unneccesary. It's also usually illegal.

Which is why our invasion of Iraq, as well as your rationalization for it, are both, in a word, illegitimate.


Steve BRody - 12/21/2003


Joey, I think you’re wrong about Libya and Iran. They’ve been lying and denying up till now. It’s a positive step that they are expressing intent to divest themselves of WMD’s. I suspect it has something to do with seeing Saddam getting the scalp exam.

As to whether we trust them or not, I believe that Bush learned from Clinton’s mistaken trust in North Korea’s promises. He won’t make the same mistake Clinton did.

If you really believe that Gore won in Florida, look up the CNN Ballot Project. I’ll give you a peek:

“WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A comprehensive study of the 2000 presidential election in Florida suggests that if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed a statewide vote recount to proceed, Republican candidate George W. Bush would still have been elected president. “—CNN Ballots Project.


Joey, the great thing about presidential politics is that we learn something about the American electorate every four years. One of us will be right and one of us will be wrong. In a little over 11 months we’ll know who.

I believe that America is moving right. I think that in the calculus of each voter, security will be an overriding factor. They will ask themselves, “Do I want Bush fighting the terrorists for me or Dean?” I'll wager that the answer, overwhelmingly, will be Bush.

That being said, I’ve been wrong before. If you ask John Brown, Gus Moner, Jerry West, Cram or Caleb, they’ll probably tell you I’m always wrong.

Peace, brother. Have a merry Christmas.


NYGuy - 12/20/2003

you don't know nothing.

I have explained how Bush's genius has hit a target the angry liberals can not see.

Bush's leadership in the world is now paying off. He replaced a weak UN with the leadership that told the world, No more nice guy. If you want to play with WMD not only the US but the rest of the world will not tolerate it. That is the new world order and Bush has created a "defining moment in history" and historians and liberals don't even know what is going on.

Before the Libia announcement I said that we are now ready to use "moral suasion" and that the peg that sticks out gets knocked down. That is what is now happening and the world is becoming a better place to live. China, Russia, Great Britain and the coalition all support Bush and stand behind him. His success in the war against WMD only make him and us stronger. We are now in the clean up phase. Only the angry liberals and thre anti-war gang are stuck in their quaqmire and don't see or understand.

Terrorism has been put on notice. North Korea is learning as well as Iran. As each one goes down we will have a domino effect.

Sorry your anger blinds you so.

I teach you all I know and you still don't know anything.

Shsssss


Joey Giraud - 12/20/2003

Ok NYGuy. Al Gore really did win the election, and Dean just might pull our troops out of Iraq. Happy?

But the big fat liar on the block these days is your hero Bush. The lies seem to be working for now, and might even work through the next election. But it will be America, including the useful fools who are not rich but vote Republican, who will be the losers from his lies.

Liberals will come out of all this looking like prophets. Hope it's not too late.


Joey Giraud - 12/20/2003

Libya has indeed learned many things from Bush administration actions. Like Iran, they doubtlessly intend to continue developing nukes while claiming that they are not. The Bushies have shown them the effigacy of the bold faced lie.

Are you conservatives so gullable as to believe them?

Well, you are gullable enough to believe Bush.


Steve Brody - 12/20/2003


With the Libya's announcement of intent to dismantle their WMD's, it looks like other nations are learning the lessons of the capture of Saddam. Gaddafi probably pictured himself getting a scalp exam and said, "no thanks".

Another reason to wish I lived in New York, NYGuy, so we could toast another victory by our President.

Merry Christmas


NYGuy - 12/20/2003

One of the tactics of the communist party was to repeat a lie and hope that it would eventually be looked upon as fact. Seems the angry liberals have been reading their history books. The only problem is it does not work and the liberals wind up the same way the communists did, losers.

Tell me again how Gore won the election and how Dean will pull our troops home and "God will be in his heaven and it will be all right with the world."

Hmm, come to think about it the angry liberals really don't have any plans for protecting our country. Seems they are in a quagmire of lies.


Bob - 12/18/2003

I horrors of the Saddam regime aren't the only story that's going to be told. Milosevich is on trial right now and he's using that bully pulpit to present his view of things, and from what I hear it's not going hunky-dorey for the prosecution. (Not that I give Milosevich much chance of being acquitted. But he's giving his prosecutors some PR problems.) And remember, we did a lot of things FOR Saddam. Things that helped him make war and helped him to stay in power. Don't expect him to be silent on that. Having Saddam on trial could be a real headache for Bush.

But more important than that will be the body-couont in Iraq and the public perception of whether things are getting better there or getting worse.


Bob - 12/18/2003

I'm a newcomer here myself. This is about the third article by PM that I've read and they've all been political diatribes. But this actually does come close to being about the past. At least it's time frame precedes the current administration. So I have to admit that this is history. The problem is that it's godawful bad history. The story of the rise of conservatism from a minority of a minority in 1960 to the dominant theme of the country by the turn of the century should be a fascinating subject. But it will need someone better qualified than PM to write it.


tcg - 12/17/2003

Bring on the 'specious present' for Christmas!


Caleb - 12/16/2003

Joey,
Never stop posting... we need all the outspoken liberals as we can get of all sizes and types! :)


Joey Giruad - 12/16/2003

Caleb, you are definitly a more reasonable critic of right wing nonsense then I. We need all sizes and types, eh?


Joey Giraud - 12/16/2003

That's pretty funny David, trying to turn a David Brooks flak piece into a "your own man says so." LOL.

David Brooks is a liberal like Saddam is a humanitarian.

If you want to see how Brooks pieces are content-free nonsense, visit http://www.busybusybusy.com. They link to plenty of deconstruction articles.

I do understand how you could get tired of hearing that George Bush is a liar and a thief. I'm sure I'm not the only American who is tired of hearing how bad Saddam is. Of course, me getting tired of hearing it doesn't mean it's not true.

Incompetant yes!
A) Our economy is not "booming." The tax cut was a waste of money mostly going to people who don't need it.
B) The stock market means nothing to the majority of Americans.
It is not the real economy, not even close. Also, the stock market is easily manipulated in the short term. That's whats happening now.
C) The campaign in Iraq is exactly the same as it was. Catching Saddam changes little to nothing.
D) Let's see how long it takes to drop back down to pre-Saddam-captured levels. My prediction:1-2 weeks.

Leftist ABC? You are too much! All the networks go so easy on Bush, they may as well carrying his water ( or shall I say oil? :)

Now it is possible that Bush will win in 2004, but he will need to pull out all the stops. On the October menu:

1.) Scare the nation again.
2.) Invade another country.
3.) Run up the national credit card to temporarilly goose the economy. Great for now, but my kids will pay big time!
4.) Get the Bush C.R.E.E.P. to concoct some phony lies about Dean which the so-called-liberal-media will trumpet.
5.) Have Dean conveniently die in an airplane crash. Run against Leiberman and win.

The Republican party's base of racists, homophobes, bigots, born again wingnuts, and the real power: super rich industrialist proto-fascists will all have to work hard to fool the regular well meaning American citizens. But it's doable. Let's see what happens!










Caleb - 12/16/2003

Dave,
A few thoughts on your post.
1) "Although not a Republican the whining rant that Geo. W. is liar & incompetent has become tiresome to read."

I can assure you as Democrat, the "whining rant" that Bill Clinton was a liar & far worse has always been tiresom to read and hear.

2) "The far Left wing of the Democratic Party is so obsessed with its lying propanda that it has come to believe its own lies about Bush."

You are going to have to provide specific statements by the Democrats for me to see whether they are lies or not. Bush's lies have been documented (as I am sure his opponents will be) by numerous books and articles.

3) "A) The U. S. has a booming economy largely due to Bush's tax cut, in response to the booming economy recovering from the Clinton legacy of recession"

You make this statement as if it is accepted fact. Not one new job has been created during Bush's administration. Also, either the current president effects the economy, or not. If so, Clinton deserves credit for the booming 90's... if not, Bush cannot get the credit for any recovery!

4) "there is a booming stock market, the DOW soaring above 10,000"

I agree with this, and think it is wonderful news for the country. Let us hope it continues.

5) "the campaign in Iraq has taken a major turn for the better"

Finding Saddam is the best thing that could have happened but this might not neccessarily translate to an improved situation in Iraq... given the number of attacks against American troops, I don't believe it is has taken any such turn.

6) "Bush's popularity rating recently has bounced upwards by 10%, according to a poll conducted by the Leftist ABC TV network."

Aside from the great myth that the news has a liberal bias, polls numbers go up and down with the whether... we got Saddam Hussein so his numbers shoot up between Sat. and Mon. Long term trends show his numbers sinking, not rising, even if short term events causes fluctuation.

7) "Evidently, people other than the Democratic Party's base of academics, federal government employees, nearly defunct labor unions & welfare recepients see Bush differently than the dying Democratic Party activists do."

I am sorry if you believe that teachers, police officers, fire fighters, the military, as well as any college student that recieves FAFSA or the PELL grant, and others see Bush differently than others do. I tend to believe that they are no different from us regular folks.

8) "More & more I'm eagerly looking forward to the general election in November, upon which the Left will be smashed again"

You mean like they were in 2000, when the Democratic candidate recieved over a half a million more votes than Bush? I look forward to November as well, but I think for different reasons than you.


Goeff Ericson - 12/16/2003


Good points, Cram. Except that I don't see anything particularly "bold" about a hypocritical talk show host whose ability to tolerate pain is so low he becomes a drug addict instead.

America could do with more courage, clarity, competency and consistency, by politicians and pundits of all ideological stripes, and less "bold vitriol" all around.


Dave Livingston - 12/16/2003

Although not a Republican the whining rant that Geo. W. is liar & incompetent has become tiresome to read.

For another perspective on what Joey chooses to call lying see David Brooks' Op-ed piece in the Left/Liberal "New York Times" published on 13 December & titled "A Fetish of Candor." The far Left wing of the Democratic Party is so obsessed with its lying propanda that it has come to believe its own lies about Bush.

Incompetent? A) The U. S. has a booming economy largely due to Bush's tax cut, in response to the booming economy recovering from the Clinton legacy of recession B) there is a booming stock market, the DOW soaring above 10,000, C) the campaign in Iraq has taken a major turn for the better, D) Bush's popularity rating recently has bounced upwards by 10%, according to a poll conducted by the Leftist ABC TV network. Evidently, people other than the Democratic Party's base of academics, federal government employees, nearly defunct labor unions & welfare recepients see Bush differently than the dying Democratic Party activists do.

More & more I'm eagerly looking forward to the general election in November, upon which the Left will be smashed again


Dave Livingston - 12/16/2003

Joey,

:-))) Valid point to a point, but it reminds me of the joke about the Texas oilman approaching Cambridge Univ. with a proposal to fund a chair of American History, if the university would name the chair after him. Cambridge turned him down with the declaration that America hasn't had enough history to be worthy of the name history or to justify such a chair.


Joey Giraud - 12/16/2003

So who get's to decide what Dean's persona is? The media ? The RNC ?

If Dean had no money to advertise, then he would have to be happy with the frame others make for him. But he has money. His ads and speeches are not only anger, but also lots of positive love of America and real policy positions. Take another look at the guy. Don't let the "Chattering classes" frame the candidate for you.


Joey Giraud - 12/16/2003

Au contraire! The key for an angry liberal is to not be too self righteous or supersilious and to keep an upbeat, just-having-fun tone that suggests the candidate is not anger-and-nothing-else.

In short, communicate a regular-guyness that makes the anger more understandable, rather then off putting.

Dean can do it. Gore could not.


Joey Giraud - 12/16/2003

Actually, it's liberals themselves who are usually unresponsive to low rhetoric. But it was the elusive swing voters who were supposed to prefer nice Democrats over combatative ones. These swing voters are undependable and ignorant. Far better to charge up the base. There are a lot of Democratic leaning voters who stayed home in 2000.

It's amazing what 4 years of Bushian lies and incompetence can do to liberal's delicate sensabilities vis a vis 'negative' campaigning.


Joey Giraud - 12/16/2003

Anything that happens now is instantly in the past, hence is history. History is being made with every passing second.


Steve Brody - 12/16/2003


You’re right, negative campaigning can work, with the right candidate. A positive, negative campaigner.

The problem, as I see it, is that Dean is the likely nominee. His persona is “the angry candidate”. I don’t think he can pull it off.

Re: Saddam's trial. If the trial doesn’t get started by summer, my guess is that the evidence of the horrors will certainly start coming out.

As for the radio pundits, I listened to Savage for about a week and stopped because he was, well ..a savage. Couldn’t stand him. Rush: listened to him for several years, got tired of the self- aggrandizement. Not really the brute people say he is, but all those “dittos” get very boring.

The two right wing guys I like are Michael Medved, who is always a gentleman and takes predominately disagreeing calls and Hugh Hewitt, a law professor, who has a regular stable of experts, liberal (like Erwin Chemerinski) and conservative (like Terry Eastland), alike. Medved and Hewitt always take the high road.


Cram - 12/16/2003

Steve
I agree the American public never wants negative leaders, but negative campaigns do work. The trick is to pretend that you are above the frey and play the good guy, compared to your opponent. This strategy was used by Bush so well, even his enemies admit he seems like a nice guy. It sounds cynical, but hey, thats politics.

As for whether people remember Saddam by 2004 or not, I think it depends... if the trial is not until after the election, it is something our new President will have to deal with :)
It is if before the election, you'll get your 4 more years. That is my prediction right now anyway.

PS: You have to admit, those radio pundits are really, REALLY nasty, although I do not pretend that they represent all conservatives... most conservatives that I have spoken to (including those on this post Steve, and NYGuy- if you are reading this- are intelligent and thoughtful people who want the same thing I do, even if they disagree on how to get it).


Steve Brody - 12/16/2003


Cram, I love you, buddy, but I think you’re wrong.

The American public is not likely to elect a negative, angry politician. That’s just not what we want.

On a related note, I notice that Juan Cole has posited the notion that Saddam will be long forgotten by October 2004. Not likely. This summer, as Dean is trying to get his “ the war was wrong” message out, Saddam’s trial will get under way. All summer and fall we’ll be getting a steady flow of horror stories about Saddam. When it’s over, not many voters are going to think it was wrong to intervene.


Cram - 12/16/2003

As a daily listener to AM radio, there is nothing the Democrats could ever say that is as bad as what I hear from Rush, Hannity, and Savage, among others. There are 2 things these pundits LOVE to do:

1) Complain about how liberal "scum" and "vermin" (as Savage calls them-seriously) are destroying America, hate the military and this country (as Rush said, in his definition al "all liberals" last week), and still find time to lie, cheat, and control the media (a running theme)

2) Complain about how Democrats go negative and how sick it makes them

Read Ann Culter and then read Al Franken, and tell me who goes more negative: the one that accuses ALL liberals of being traitorous liars, or the one who accuses specific authors of being liars.

The difference between the liberals and the conservatives is that the liberals are not bold enough to make their attacks as vitriolic as the conservatives.


Steve BRody - 12/16/2003


Anyone ever notice how often a newcomer to this site will find his way to Carpenter's column and make the first comment that in sum and substance expresses the same wonderment as Enquiring Mind?

HNN really needs to put a caution over PM's articles.


Enquiring Mind - 12/16/2003

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