Saturday, November 19, 2005

How to WIn the War of Words

A number of progressive sites are talking tonight about the political message sent by both parties. Republicans are seen as strong and decisive, Democrats are weak and reactive. Josh Marshall has posted an e-mail from a Republican reader who questions Democrats' ability to present a unified, timely response to an aggressive GOP attack, and his readers, and those at Kos, are weighing in on the issue. Here at BotB we have readers from across the political spectrum, and many of you have expressed opinions on the matter in comments. So I would like to open the question up to you. What does the Democratic party need to do to win in the next several elections?

As I see it, the GOP has a divided message. They speak to their Christian conservative base when it suites their purposes, but on issues they see as transcending that base, they reframe things to meet their needs. The Harriet Meirs nomination is an example where they misjudged the marketing strategy and tried to appeal to the wrong group. The war in Iraq has been a greater success for the administration overall. Social Security fell through the holes of their system, while tax cuts and homophobia have been spot on. One place where they have been most effective is disparaging the opposing party. Marked by strong, pointed derisive attacks, the Republicans have successfully made the Democratic party seem weak and indecisive.

Democrats, on the other hand , have played into GOP hands by behaving weak and indecisive. A perfect example is Howard Dean's campaign for the presidency in 2004. Dean had considerable power until the primary when he was framed as wild and out of control in a concession speech. Had the Democratic party tried to combat this maneuver by the GOP, the election might have turned out differently. In the recent actions by house and senate, Dems have had the opportunity to show true backbone, but never manage to capitalize on the opportunity.

Commenters at TPM and Kos seem to want the Dems to be as derisive and divisive as Republicans have been; a strong offense is better than a mediocre defense. Commenter here at BotB seem to have a different opinion. What I hear from you is that Dems should be strong, but most importantly, they should have a message. It is the message that has been missing in the party for the last dozen years.

So the question today is, what message should the Democratic party be sending and how should they frame and market that idea to the American people?


Monday, November 14, 2005

Did the Bush Administration run an Enron on Iraq?

There have been several discussions in comments recently about assertions that the Bush administration purposely lied, misled and misinformed the American people and Congress in the run up to the Iraq War. In this article by Elizabeth De La Vega posted at The Nation, she makes a case for indicting and prosecuting the WH for Enron-like fraud.

De La Vega, a former Federal prosecutor with more than 20 years experience, draws some fascinating parallels between the crimes Ken Lay and his cohorts were vilified for and the actions of the Bush administration, which have resulted in the deaths of 2000 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis, not to mention a cost of $200+ billion.

I'm not so sure the country is ready for yet another round of impeachment hearings, and I have no way to gage the accuracy of the legal analysis. But De La Vega does a great job of recreating the timeline and delineating the lies and misrepresentations made by the executive branch in their thirst for war.

Let the discussion begin...