May 11, 2006

No fair fighting back...

Howard Fineman, in Newsweek:

...The conventional notion here is that Democrats want to “nationalize” the 2006 elections — dwelling on broad themes (that is, the failures of the Bush Administration) [I would not, myself, call that a "broad theme."]— while the Republicans will try to “localize” them as individual contests that have nothing to do with, ahem, the goings on in the capital.

That was before the GOP situation got so desperate. The way I read the recent moves of Karl Rove & Co., they are preparing to wage war the only way open to them: not by touting George Bush, Lord knows, [You may get a nasty surprise on that one] but by waging a national campaign to paint a nightmarish picture of what a Democratic Congress would look like, and to portray that possibility, in turn, as prelude to the even more nightmarish scenario: the return of a Democrat (Hillary) to the White House. [So it's "nightmarish" to focus on the failures of Democrat leaders, as a response to your focusing on "the failures of the Bush Administration?" No fair fighting back?]

Rather than defend Bush, Rove will seek to rally the Republicans’ conservative grassroots by painting Democrats as the party of tax increases, gay marriage, secularism and military weakness. That’s where the national message money is going to be spent. [I can see why Mr Feinman might not want attention called to those self-evident truths. But how does he have the chutzpah to act if this is some sort of dirty trick?]

The numbers explain the strategy
The president has a job-approval rating of 31 percent in the latest comprehensive poll, by the New York Times and CBS. His “favorable” rating, a more general measure of attitudes, is only 29 percent — barely above the levels enjoyed, if that is the word, by Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. Bush can’t hope to raise that number significantly by this November — no matter how many seniors sign up for the Medicare prescription drug plan or how many Sunnis join the new Iraqi government. [WHY can't he hope to raise the number? Economy strong, war going well, no domestic terrorist attacks, a program of bold reforms and defense of American values. The only surprising thing is how low the number is. It's Dem leaders who probably can't raise their numbers]

So the White House will try to survive by driving down the ratings of the other side. Right now, an impressive 55 percent of voters say they have a favorable view of the Democrats, one of the party’s best ratings in years. But the “favorables” of leading national Democrats are weak: 34 percent for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; 26 percent for Sen. John Kerry; 28 percent for former Vice President Al Gore. ["WEAK?" You just called 29 percent "barely above the levels of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter."] The bottom line: As long as the Democrats remain a generic, faceless alternative, they win; [Well, there's your winning plan! Stay faceless. All Democrat candidates should wear masks, and disguise their voices. In fact, that's what they are already doing.] Rove’s aim is to paint his version of their portrait.

You can see him busy with the brushes at his easel now, even as he waits to see whether Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is going to indict him for false testimony. [Even as we wait for the Libby trial to start putting reporters and editors under the microscope. Yum!]

Take the new GOP deal on taxes. It would, among other things, extend by two years the Bush-era’s reductions in taxes on capital gains and dividends. The claim is that doing so will sustain overall economic growth (which has been pretty impressive, even though Bush gets no credit for it.) [Why not, Howard? You would give him credit if the economy was bad.] But the real political target is somewhat narrower: the estimated 60 million Americans who own stock. [Foul bloodsucking rich bastards who have stolen their wealth from poor Democrats. Tax them hard!]

Bush and the GOP talk earnestly about their vision of an “ownership society.” And maybe it’s true that they want everybody to be part of it. [This is an example of a REAL "broad theme," Feinman. So what's yours?] In the meantime, however, they will focus on trying to secure the support, or at least the acquiescence, of voters with portfolios. They aren’t the stereotypical country club Republicans of old, by the way; they include tens of millions of middle-class Americans — ancestral Democrats — who nevertheless don’t want Congress to do anything that would depress the value of their 401 (k)s. [Just ignore them. Write the greedy capitalists off. You can afford to lose a few tens-of-millions.]

The idea is to get Democrats to vote against the tax-cut bill — ANY tax-cut bill. Let the op-ed pages rail about the deficit [Bad news--the booming economy has raised Federal revenues to the point where the deficit is running at the historical average for the post WWII years. But I'm sure you "journalists" can keep that under wraps.] and the debt; the White House survivalists won’t care if they can find a way to accuse the Democrats of “wanting to raise taxes.”....

....The issue of gay marriage will play a part. So far this year, at least seven states will have on their ballots measures to ban same-sex marriage: Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. There are citizen-led campaigns seeking to add the issue to ballots in Arizona, Colorado and Illinois. ["Citizens?" Who they? Any Democrats in there? Or "ancestral Democrats?"]

But GOP strategists eventually are going to want to “nationalize” this topic, too, by bringing up in Congress again the draft of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I know that Dick Cheney isn’t for it, and neither is his daughter, Mary, whose new book “Now It’s My Turn” was released this week....[Ooooh. How you "tolerant" Dems LOVE mentioning Mary Cheney. Because supposedly homo-phobic Republicans having gays in the family is a delicious paradox. The idea that people ("citizens" even) might oppose gay marriage because they actually think the integrity of the family is something government should be FOR never crosses your tiny mind. Which is a lot of why you will keep losing elections.]

...Strength and faith wins votes
Beyond that amendment is the more general GOP theme of faith in the public square. To highlight that issue, the White House will use judicial nominations. That’s one reason why Bush is now pushing the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh. Faith matters — namely, that he is a conservative Catholic. [When I was growing up, conservative Catholics were almost all Democrats.]

A Rove Reliable on the Senate Judiciary Committee made the strategy clear at the confirmation hearing: Kavanaugh, he said, is the type of judge who will oppose “hostility to all things religious in American life.” Read: Democrats. [Almost right. Except that Democrat activist types are not hostile to religion, it is Christianity they hate. They are Christo-phobic. It's banning crosses and prayers and Nativity scenes that energizes them.]

Finally, there is the war on terrorism and military strength — the only two areas in the New York Times/CBS poll where voters say they trust the GOP more than the Democrats. [So of course it would be a dirty trick to campaign on those subjects. But we Republicans are evil to the core.]

Bush and Rove are daring the Democrats to turn the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden as head of the CIA into a fight over the president’s secret eavesdropping program. That’s a fight they think they can win politically, by turning a legitimate constitutional issue into another Us v. Them morality play. [There is NO constitutional issue, since the courts have repeatedly ruled that warrantless wiretapping is allowable for national security, and previous Democrat presidents have done so with much less restraint than Bush. The "morality play" is America-hating appeasers like you vs those who will vigorously fight for our way of life. Bring it on! Make my year.]

Posted by John Weidner at May 11, 2006 8:54 AM
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