Cuz What Dems Are Doing Is Working So Well

Matt Yglesias on Markos' American Taliban:

I tend to think that this is one of the areas where progressives arenít just doing the right thing, but have a smarter tactical approach to politics. There are scenarios in which tagging your political opponents with smears can be effective, but I donít see any evidence that the particular apocalyptic ďmy enemies are totalitarian madmenĒ strain of Birch/Beck/Goldberg conservatism has helped anyone win any elections. [. . .] This stuff doesnít win votes anyone because, after all, itís a form of preaching to the choir. [. . .] Political movements need to adapt to the actual situation, and that means having an accurate understanding of your foes. You need to see them as they actually are so that you know the right way to respond. Either underestimating or overestimating their level of viciousness and evil can lead to serious miscalculations. Which is just to say that getting this stuff right is more important than coming up with funny put-downs.

(Emphasis supplied.) Yglesias of course has no actual examples of inaccuracies in Markos' book, but what the hell, smearing fellow Dems is always good for the career in the Beltway. As for his political analysis, such as it is, how obtuse can you get? Does he really think the Dems' problem is "overestimating" the level of viciousness the Extreme Right is capable of? Seriously? That's the problem? And of course, firing up the base is not something Dems would want to do with the only political weapon available given the crappy result from the policies people like Yglesias have advocated for. After all, like Jon Cohn, Yglesias seems to believe that if he is happy, every progressive should be happy.

This is why the Dems will get creamed in November. Because this is how they think. See also Tristero.

Speaking for me only

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    Well, (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by dk on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 11:18:08 AM EST
    I don't think it's the "problem", but I also don't think the strategy of calling the right the American taliban is all that effective if the Democtratic-controlled government gives away most of our money to corporations, restricts women's and gay folk's civil rights, etc.  The point of making everyone afraid of the right should be, IMO at least, to advance to policies of the left.  The entire point of everything in politics, IMO at least, should be to advance the policies of the left. How has that been working out these days?  

    Hmm (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by lilburro on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 11:33:35 AM EST
    left a comment on this subject in the other thread, but the only thing I don't like about the book (from what I have heard of it) is the title.  It just invites stupid conversation IMO and there is better red meat to throw to us than that.

    The worst thing about Yglesias' article is that he hasn't even apparently read the damn book.  How can he say that Markos is "lying to the choir?"  UNLIKE Beck, Markos can construct an argument instead of just tossing out loaded "ever wonder why" questions.  The right wing fringe does nothing but cast aspersions over everything they dislike.  They can't argue - they just change the subject to something else they hate.  

    It's really sad, actually sickening, that a leading lefty Harvard graduate gets paid to write a blog post about a book he hasn't read, and throws the author who despite the title is NOT like Beck under the bus because it's en vogue.

    I agree (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 11:35:42 AM EST
    To use Yglesias' example (none / 0) (#4)
    by lilburro on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 11:36:59 AM EST
    "Kagan favors sharia"

    In a Washington Times op-ed run alongside a doctored photo of Kagan in a turban (pictured to the right), Gaffney ropes Kagan into a bizarre fantasy involving Shariah law, the Muslim Brotherhood, and, somehow, the beleaguered Troubled Assets Relief Progam:

    Markos' book is the same kind of stuff as this crap?  Markos' book = Bachmann?  That is ridiculous.


    Maybe it is (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 11:39:28 AM EST
    But you should read the book first before you say so.

    True (none / 0) (#6)
    by lilburro on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 11:45:05 AM EST
    I would be willing to argue that it's practically impossible for Markos' style of argumentation to be the same as Beck/Bachmann though.  As tristero says, there do exist "liberal norms of argumentation and persuasion."

    Well, (5.00 / 8) (#7)
    by dk on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 11:55:20 AM EST
    there was the darkened photo incident.  He doesn't always, or even usually, descend to Beckian levels, but it's not without precedent.

    In substance (2.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lilburro on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 12:22:56 PM EST
    that was nuts, yes.  But the Beckian/Bachmann style is missing, even from that (Kos diary here).  For example, take this quote from Markos' summary of his book:

    or Glenn Beck asking Rep. Keith Ellison, one of just two Muslims in Congress, "I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.'"

    At least Markos had what he thought was evidence.


    That's ridiculous. (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by dk on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 12:29:39 PM EST
    Both were smears based on nothing but irrational preconceived notions.  

    Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Yman on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 08:27:37 AM EST
    At least Markos had what he thought was evidence.

    Maybe not.  Even if that's true, he only thought it was evidence because he wanted to believe it.


    The base is going to read Markos' book (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 12:02:33 PM EST
    and get inspired?  Really?

    Haha (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 12:05:34 PM EST

    Thsi is how Dems think (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 12:16:23 PM EST
    Just this obtuse.

    Not quite, and your reply illustrates the problem. (none / 0) (#15)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 01:55:17 PM EST
    An inability to see and/or respect the other side you ulitimately need to reach an end result closest to your original goal.

    The "base" shouldn't need a book to be convinced to vote Democratic.  IMO, you are either a Dem or you are not.  It is really rather simple.


    That'll show em (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 02:24:16 PM EST
    But to be clear, my reference, as you well knew, was to getting an aggressive message negatively branding the GOP to the Dem base, not handing out Markos' book.

    but you willfully misunderstood what I wrote.

    Because Dems like to be "clever" and "civil" more than they like and value winning elections.

    Your latest comment is another manifestation of that.


    It seems we are talking past one another (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by vicndabx on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 03:00:57 PM EST
    Of course I understand the idea is the message in the book and it's contribution to discourse amongst the base.  The red meat aspect of it.

    You are right, Dems do like to be clever (part of the problem IMO sometimes, that elitist thing.)  I don't disagree that we need to do dirt to win.  I was there when Carter lost, when Mondale got blown away.

    I guess my point is this: how can you be "the base" but need to be convinced the GOP is a negative brand?  Shouldn't that be part of your DNA already?  To use your analogy about negotiation tactics, haven't we lost half the battle already when we need to come up w/red meat in the first place?  Shouldn't the starting point be support your Dems no matter?  As I've said before, I can understand some may be upset at some of the things O has/has not done.  However, anyone saavy enough to get something out of Markos' themes (let alone know who Markos is) should also be saavy enough to see the big picture and be willing to forego their personal agenda in the short term.

    I'm not trying take anything away from what Markos is attempting.  It's just the "crazy republicans" message tells me something I already know and IMO, is a small ingredient in the glue that binds.


    Cuz the base (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 03:03:48 PM EST
    does not see anyone fighting what they oppose or fighting for what they support.

    I suppose you can just scold them and fell clever. I prefer winning and having them come out to vote.


    What convinces me to vote Democratic (5.00 / 4) (#20)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 03:32:59 PM EST
    is not the fact of my party registration, but whether the Dems on the ballot represent the positions and agenda that I support.  "You're either a Democrat or you're not" is a challenge that should not be restricted only to voters - but issued to every individual serving as a Democrat in state legislatures, county and city councils and in Congress: this is not a one-way street, as much as it is being treated like one.

    Sadly, we live in an upside-down world, where we are expected to be loyal to those who work for us, to accept without question or challenge the mediocre-to-poor efforts by those who want our votes and our money, and be grateful in the bargain.

    Sound a little dysfunctional to you?  Well, it does to me; it sounds downright abusive.  The one thing we know about abuse is that it can't continue without one's cooperation.  Voting for Dems who don't represent you is cooperating.  Sending money to Dems and getting nothing in return is cooperating.

    For those who have good Democratic representatives and Senators, support them, nurture them, and help them keep up the good work.  For those who don't, stop enabling them, even if it means the other guy/woman wins - because if they aren't voting the way you want them to, you're already losing.


    I remember (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by weltec2 on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 03:34:02 AM EST
    I believe it was OldPro arguing this after I said I broke down and voted for Obama even though my heart said PUMA. It was an agonizing decision. I voted only because I was thoroughly convinced that McCain would have been so much worse.

    I sincerely doubt that a low voter turnout says much to those who win beyond TGIW. If I lived in a Blue Dog district and refused to vote for that candidate, I don't think the Blue Dog candidate would be wringing his or her hands over it.

    I see your point, but you're either politically active in one way or another or you're not.


    I always enjoy reading your work, by the way... (none / 0) (#22)
    by weltec2 on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 03:37:09 AM EST
    but non-involvement just doesn't seem like a wise option. Choose a candidate and then whip them into line in every way you can... even if you fail. Action is always better than inaction.

    D'oh!! n/t (none / 0) (#16)
    by Warren Terrer on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 02:15:43 PM EST
    What just continues to boggle my mind (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Anne on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 12:25:48 PM EST
    is that the most obvious strategy - good governance, good policy, improving the lives of ordinary people - doesn't seem to be part of the Democrats' playbook; it's all about making sure the other guy looks worse, and keeping their big contributors happy so they can keep their jobs.

    If the Dems had committed to the kind of strategy that people could measure in a positive and tangible way, no one would have to think about whether the GOP had a point (if "neener-neener-neener" is even considered a point), because it would be obvious that they just don't.  

    You don't neutralize your opponent by devising better insults and better dirt - you do it be being better at the actual job, for heaven's sake.  Or, in the face of opposition, you don't roll over, concede all the best parts of your policy and shrug your shoulders when the result is mediocre: you go for the best, you use the bully pulpit to whip support and show how your plan is better, and you highlight the intransigence of your opponent so it's clear who or what is in the way.  Do you always get what you want?  Of course not, but you can't tell me that what you do get isn't better, or that you haven't made it clear who is on the side of the people and who isn't.

    This isn't rocket science, so one has to ask, do the Dems actually want to be better, to do better, or what?  That we even have to ask that question is a sad commentary on their motives, on their priorities and on their commitment.

    And that's really what it all comes back to: before we can say that they just need a stiffer spine and more courage and bigger testicles and THEN we would be making more progress on what most of us want, we first have to know if they really do want what we want; at this stage, I'm not prepared to believe that they do, and that it's just a case of "if only" that is preventing them from making it happen.

    We're so smart - and good lookin', too (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by RonK Seattle on Thu Sep 02, 2010 at 01:06:51 PM EST
    I can't figure out why even our mothers won't vote for us anymore. :(