Wednesday, November 01, 2006

POLITICAL FOOTBALL 101: WHEN NOT TO THROW INTO DOUBLE COVERAGE

I'm sure by now everyone's familiar with John Kerry's fists-a-flying verbal bash on the Republicans, aka The Balls That Retracted Into His Abdominal Cavity In The Fall Of '04 Have Descended Two Years Too Late. Among other sweet bon mots:
It disgusts me that a bunch of these Republican hacks who've never worn the uniform of our country are willing to lie about those who did.
It was good stuff. In a vacuum. Lots of full-on rage and rhetoric aimed directly at the dishonesty and gamesmanship of the George Bush-Karl Rove-Tony Snow wing of the GOP. But context matters. That'd be the Two Years Too Late part. And . . .

. . . it followed a "botched" joke that saw the profoundly unfunny Massachusetts senator appear to call the troops in Iraq stupid, under-educated, unsuccessful, etc. (so what if the under-educated part may be true to a degree, right?). As you'd expect, the Republican attack dogs are turning this into front page news from sea to shining sea (or as John Mellancamp might say, From the East Coast to the West Coast).

Memo to all Democrats (and a short one), with the exception of those embroiled in very tight races:
Shut The Fuck Up
You're running against The Republicans, Version 0.6. Fairness is not in their playbook. And speaking of playbook, I believe it prescribes rushing the ball, working the clock, taking care of possession when one holds the lead. Leave the wild passes, let alone Hail Marys, for the team that's losing!

To put that into some real life terms, consider this: Kerry's not even running this year, and he was speaking to a bunch of California University Students when he made his joke. And he's not funny. Talk about misallocation of risk. Let George Allen say the n-word when he speaks at a reenaction of the 1st Battle of Bull Run, or something. Let Santorum open his pie-hole talking about godless homos or Jews at a church rally. Let the guys who are playing catch-up commit the faux pas.

Six friggin days left. Six days. Hold the lead and let the other guys -- desperate and sloppy -- make the mistakes. They have, and they probably will.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Dmas said...

Ah, but Mike, politics is not as simple as that...if you let your opponent have the last word, that is the word that sticks in people's minds, not to mention the face. No, in an all-out fight you go for the jugular until the polls close.

You know what they call all-too-confident politicians? Lobbyists.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

You may be correct, Dumas. But then let's see the Dems go for the Republicans' jugular for a change.

As opposed to their own.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Dumas said...

I truly fail to see what it was that the least-likely-to-win-in-2004 ex-candidate said that can be construed as shooting his own/Dem foot. If it is the comment about ending up in the military if you fail in college, well, that is so,so true...AND it raises the haunting image of a Vietnam-like era which, apart from all other moral issues, is a definite political plus.

Other possible tangential/subliminal thoughts from his comment:

The economy is in such poor shape that high school-only youths are forced to enlist in the military and die in the Iraqi fiasco.

Bush has screwed up Iraq so badly that to even be in the military is a likely death/dismemberment sentence.

Because of Bush the US will be in the Iraq mess for several more years (until you graduate, at least).

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I agree with the sentiments Kerry expressed: whether the way he supposedly meant it (Bush is bogged down in Iraq) or the way the GOPers supposedly took it (bad students end up in Iraq). As to the latter, I said as much in my post.

But there's a reason (actually a lot of reasons) I'm not in politics, nor ever will be. Among those reasons, I can't keep my damn mouth shut, I'm politically tone-deaf, and years of experience suggest I'm addicted to the taste of my own feet.

A prominent Democrat -- and one who's not even running this year -- should know, far better than you or I, what not to say during the home stretch. He should know what the GOP attack dogs will & won't say to harm him/his party.

Maybe the fact that he played dead 2 years ago, but he's frothing & fighting now tell us a lot about Kerry's judgment.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Dumas said...

I think you misunderstood what I meant: his comments were DESIGNED to evoke exactly those feelings I mentioned and were not simple, off the cuff remarks. There is almost nothing said today in mainstream politics that is not designed beforehand, anyway.

On balance I think he raises a point (and lots more subliminaly) that damns Bush even in the eyes of GOPers - even those that have sons and daughters in the military. They are not fools, they know their kids had no choice...

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I gotcha. You're saying he meant what he said.

And if that's the case, he's more of a political moron than I'd ever guessed. I don't like it, but a fact's a fact: Telling the cold, hard truth (especially 6 days before Election Day) is political suicide, something at which Kerry and his fellow Dems have proven their expertise the past decade or so.

I didn't like Bill Clinton as a statesman (he's a big part of the country's move rightward IMNSHO), but he was a great politician. You think Slick Willy would've been caught dead saying something like this?

C'mom, we're talking about early November politics, not about idealism or good quotations for the history books. This was a dumb move, politically. No other way around it.

Except -- and even I'm not sure I'm cynical to go there just yet -- if Kerry's setting himself up for '08, and nothing more. In that case there's a colorable argument in favor of what he said.

But that's cold comfort for those of us that want to see Bush de-fanged the next two years.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Dumas said...

All I am saying is that evoking Vietnam's futile mess pours cold water over Bush's baloney about bringing democracy to the ME, etc etc. I think his comments were MEANT to produce an emotional response with those voters who are afraid of a draft, those who already have children in uniform and those who have no choice but enlist because they have no other job prospects.

But all this is splitting political hairs, something I have little interest in...

On another subject...in a poll just released, when asked about their views about their house's value in 2007 americans said:

Will go up alot:10%
Up a little: 53%
Same: 27%
Down: 6%
Dunno: 4%

How about THAT Pollyanna?

10:53 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Kerry is an idiot. Why the hell is he trying to make a joke involving the military. He has to know that whatever he says is going to be twisted by the repubs. And frankly, I can see why people are pissed, the joke is not funny, and can easily be seen as a slap at the military. Even people who are against the war are not going to look upon his "joke" favorably. Leave the jokes to the comedians John.

Christ, this guy is stupid. After all he went through in 04, you would think he would know when to STFU. If I'm Howard Dean and the rest, I am locking his ass up until after election day.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Dumas-

Those numbers (re home prices) are shocking. I'm gonna call that Exhibit A in the case for People will believe anything if it means it helps them.

Not to get overly portentious (I'm already overly-pretentious), but that's a sign of much that troubles us as a people. The Wish=Reality Fallacy. If I want it to be so, then it'll be so.

And the folks in charge these days are MASTERS at exploiting that trait. Americans are the most roghteous folks on the planet because we want to be. The economy is humming because we want it to be. The Adminstration is keeping us safe from terror because we want it to.

The wake-up slap is gonna sharp and stinging when it comes. Boy, oh boy.

Ed-

This speaks volumes: He has to know that whatever he says is going to be twisted by the repubs.

The politically deaf don't seem to hear it, nonetheless.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

mike - the sad thing is, his words this time don't even have to be twisted, just hearing what he said it makes him come off bad. Not to say they are not twisting them, they are, but they don't have to do too much.
Time for him to just be a Senator. No more big speeches. Just worry about your own state Senator.
You would never here Schumer say something that dumb.
I liked Kerry, voted for him, hated the swift boating. But his time is done. Do not run again John, there are 3 other people ahead of you, Hillary, Edwards and Obama.
It is time for some new blood at the head of the party. The older guys and gals need to step aside. Their time has passed, as they are open to the attacks on their old line positions. The new blood can deflect the old attacks much easier. The party cannot continue to be so far to the left at the leadership positions. The country does not want that, just like they do not want it to be too far to the right. Bubba had it right with the center, that is what is going to win as a Dem.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Dumas said...

Americans are perennial optimists and with good reason. With the exception of Native Indians every other single american left home and family, traveled thousands of miles, facing the unknown, etc etc...to make a better life for themselves. It just HAS to be better...it's part of the national reality based docu-drama playing in every town. As such, it is admirable and valuable.

The flip side is that at the top it produces a sense of entitlement and complacency, even hubris, that may pop with great ugliness. It will be no small matter to shatter the American Dream and the ensuing funk may last for generations.

Indeed, The American Way of Life, is iconic. In the absence of everything else that may act as national glue (history, culture, language, ethos, religion, etc etc) it IS America.

Slap that down and I fear America will be finished as a nation. I speak from a perspective of a few thousand years' worth of national genes.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ed-

Hillary, Edwards and Obama.

Well, there are the "centrist" Dems you want.

Dumas-

Good point about Americans and optimism. It has been one of our hallmarks. Hopefully we can get things back on track somewhat, so that our misplaced pride can return to its (somewhat) humbler prototype.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Mike - My point is that the repub's are better able to energize the base when the opponent can be painted as an old time liberal. It pains me that the word "liberal" has become a curse, but that's what it is to many. Even in NY, they have to run to the center. The Dem's don't get the vote out as effectively.

Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that gov't should help the less fortunate (growing up that way, and having college aid chopped by Reagan pisses me off to this day), but some stances just don't fit with a lot of people, for example, crime and punishment. Then we have guys like Shelly Silver, who talk out of both sides of their mouths (No to a Jets stadium, but in order to build the Moynihan Station, we need a new MSG for the Dolans. Give me a break Shelly, you can't have it both ways).

The other problem is that the Dem's are simply stating "Bush and repub's are wrong". OK, fine, I agree, as do a lot of others (probably even a lot of repubs), now, what is the alternative? Give us a plan people.

As for my "centrists", I personally do not want Hillary. Obama needs more time. Edwards is probably the best shot, but Hillary will be the nominee. The only good thing is that the repubs really don't have anyone that can be real effective against her. McCain has his own baggage, as for the others, well, they are too tied to Bush, and one even shares his name.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I understand, Ed.

I just despise Hillary so much. Not for the usual talking points reasons, but because she's even more selfish and egotistical than the usual politico. I couldn't stand her husband for much the same reason.

I'm fine with Edwards, to the degree that he's your basic cookie-cutter Democrat. I guess the same is true of Obama, but he's inexperienced, he's a Senator because he beat Alan Keyes(!) trying to hold an abandoned seat, and has a very lackluster Senatorial voting record. I think people need to admit that if he wasn't a handsome Black man who made a powerful speech at the national convention, he'd be no more (or less) notable than most other Democrats.

Not saying I'm down on him. Just that I don't see him as a serious candidate at this point.

I guess I wouldn't mind Edwards vs. McCain, in that neither outcome seems likely to screw things up too much. Unlike Jeb Bush or George Allen or Hillary.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

McCain at least has a military background, and would be more apt (hopefully) to listen to his generals.

Obama needs time. The bump from the keynote is not enough. He needs to step up to the plate on some issues. The problem for him is, if the Dems win in 08, he has to wait until 2016 to run. Will he want to wait? He has been mentioned as VP a couple of times. That would be interesting.

Oh, I hate Hillary too. She can be my senator, that's fine (until we can get someone else in 2012 to replace her). But as Prez, no thanks. Too much baggage. She lacks Bill's ability to connect. He had that ability to charm the pants off of you (pun intended). People listened and fell for his schtick (even Hillary). Is he an idiot for the Lewinsky thing, yeppers, but he was better than Bush.

All of them have that "I'm better than you" hint about them. And you know what, in many cases, they should, because they may be. But they need to keep it in private, not in speeches. Yell at your staff, but don't talk down to me.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous waitingforthealiens said...

I vote we cut Kerry a little slack. He was making a speech to college students, not a political stump speech. He—and a great many of the independents that the Democrats need—came from the era of student deferment from the draft. And if you asked 100 veterans, probably 80 would say the trying to stay out of the service is a pretty good indicator of intelligence.

The Snow/Bush smear isn’t going to take independent votes away from the Democrats. It was designed to fire up the apoplectic right wing base. It gave Kerry the chance to fire back and maybe turn a few soft Republicans (= independent) into soft Democrats (also = independent,) because if they are at all intellectually honest, they know the smear is just that. Plus any lazy (and complacent) Democrats should be reminded that it ain’t over ‘til the polls close Tuesday night and the fight is against—forgive me—some truly evil fucks.

I think the Dems have been too reluctant to call the administration on its lies: WMD’s, Niger yellow cake, Saddam’s links with Al-Qaeda, the need to surveil Americans without a warrant. If you aren’t willing to fight back, call a spade a spade, why should the electorate think you’re tough enough to run and defend the country.

They have a great chance—a gift, perhaps—to recapture the center of the electorate. If they do, I hope they won’t fuck it up playing to (or being played by) the Nader vote

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ed-

At this point I can say, without any hyperbole, that Nixon would be better than Bush.

WFTA-

I vote we cut Kerry a little slack. He was making a speech to college students, not a political stump speech.

If the world was based only on reason & common sense, you just got my vote.

But it ain't. So a guy who ran for President, for crissakes, should know that every word that escapes his mouth can, and will, be turned into a GOP snarling soundbite.

I think the Dems have been too reluctant to call the administration on its lies

Just got another vote.

If you aren’t willing to fight back, call a spade a spade, why should the electorate think you’re tough enough to run and defend the country.

As I said, I love his response yesterday . . . in a vacuum. But the time to "fight back," to convince the electorate he was "tough enough to run and defend the country" was two years ago.

He blew his chance then. And really mucked it up for all of us. Alas.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Mike - Met diversion - Mota, 50 game ban for drugs.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous waitingforthealiens said...

I stand corrected, Councilor. I had not checked to see how much ink this thing got in the liberal mainstream media (or as Rush Limbaugh styles it, “the opposition press office.” I have to hope the ringing endorsement of Cheney and, especially, Rumsfeld will further exasperate the center.

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I have to hope the ringing endorsement of Cheney and, especially, Rumsfeld will further exasperate the center

I'm with you. And I assume others have noticed that Bush only gives "ringing endorsements" when the endorsee has lost teh faith of the remaining 2.99 million citizens (see: Heckuva job, Brownie).

10:50 AM  

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