« "The answer to wingnuttery is not equal and opposite wingnuttery." | Main | Hilzoy Hearts Barney Frank »

May 15, 2005

Comments

You're right, CB, we should be debating Kerry's health plan and Clark's foreign policy ideas and Edwards's suggestions about tort reform. The press should run long articles describing what Durbin has to say about the Downing Street Memo, what various wings of the Republican party think about that, etc. Democrats should stop ignoring the fact that their non-debated amendments don't get any airtime and force the nightly news to pay attention. We should have a national debate about the current Republican big idea: low taxes, high govt spending. Drop me a line when it happens.

There's only one thing to say to this continuing exercise in blind quixoticism:

*yawn*

Other than that, what rilkefan said.

"they don't feel the need to articulate and promote their ideas on how to improve the country rather than simply oppose its opponents."

Probably a typo.

yawn. what rilkefan said. wake me up when the GOP stops looting and ruining the country.

For starters, it matters who you mean by "the Democrats". Consider the Dem. primaries: there were all sorts of good ideas floating around. The trouble was that none of them got any airtime at all. I know Clark best: he had this absolutely great service plan which was utterly unlike anything else out there. Later on he proposed a tax plan; when I explained it to the two nice women who come to clean my house, they registered to vote for the first time just to vote for the guy who proposed it. And yet, oddly enough, these never got any play at all. Why? It was more important, in the eyes of the media, to ask him (in EVERY interview): what about whichever general it was who doesn't support you? -- I mean, he gave speeches about these, he tried to bring them up, etc., but unless you watch each and every one of his speeches, you're dependent on what the media choose to report, and they didn't choose to report policy.

Consider the Presidential campaign: Kerry had a really interesting and innovative health care plan (can't find the old campaign web site, but it's described quite well here; other research comparing it and the Bush plan can be found here.) It was really good; and I recall a bunch of speeches about it. Again, very little coverage.

Consider the current Congressional Democrats: as I noted here, the Democrats' current planned response to the nuclear option is to force ten bills of theirs onto the calendar for a vote. Now, all but one of these bills are (imho) quite good, but I had only heard of one of them previously, and I actually follow this stuff. This makes sense, more sense than the media not covering issues in the campaigns: until the Democrats adopted this strategy in response to the nuclear option, there was precisely zero chance that these bills would ever get a hearing, so why would anyone cover them? Still, they were there.

And finally, on Social Security: our plan is to address other, more pressing issues (e.g., the deficit) first while we wait to see whether there actually is a problem, rather than rushing to cut benefits before we're sure they need to be cut. It's a perfectly good plan, I think, especially since any of the 'stitch in time saves nine' fixes out there involve building up the Social Security surplus now so that we can draw on it later, and I do not trust this President or this Congress to honor the bonds in the trust fund. So I have no confidence that if we put more bonds there, that would actually solve anything.

And, of course, Harry Reid's body has not been invaded by Tom Daschle. Conservatives' views about Reid have become identical with what were once their views about Daschle. Why this might be, I have no idea (she said, rolling her eyes heavenward.)

The Democrats have ideas, but the GOP is in power so they control the narrative, and their ideas are very, very, very bad. If someone ran up to you and asked to kick you in the shin, you'd probably have your very own "No" caucus right there.

"Democrats have done damn little to sell their ideas to me or to the American public."

When was the last time a physicist tried to persuade you that perpetual motion is impossible? Where do you get the idea that others are responsible for educating you?

Go ahead. Run enormous budget deficits. Trash the environment. Make a mess of foreign policy. You guys have the ball. Play.

Definitely, Charles. When Clinton proposed his health plan, did Republicans go negative? No, they sat down at the table with him, brought their own ideas, and hammered out the reform that solved the problems and gave us the health care system we enjoy today. Oh, wait a minute...

Consider the Presidential campaign: Kerry had a really interesting and innovative health care plan...

Was I the only one who, after watching the second debate I think it was, laughed at Kerry's endless repetition of "I have a plan" only to go to his website and find that, by gum, he actually did? And was I the only one struck by the utter poverty of Bush's "plans" -- I use the term loosely -- in comparison?

But I'm back to making the same arguments against Charles' meme-driven obsession, all of which seem destined to utter uselessness,* thereby proving yet again that what the Democrats lack aren't policies, but a marketing campaign so potent it can bore its way into your skull and block out anything that might challenge its memetic contagion. So much for the marketplace of ideas.

* This is, what, the sixth time I've tried to point out the utter BS of his central slogan? It didn't work before -- hell, he didn't even engage it before -- so I doubt anything will come of it now.

And, for the record, as someone who (to her own amusement) ended up writing most of a position paper during the last campaign, and carefully put in some actual good ideas (in this case, steps to minimize the number of stem cell lines actually needed for research, by trying to make the process of finding out about and then getting access to existing lines as easy and transparent as possible), I have to say: we try. I didn't exactly think that the whole world would grind to a halt in amazement when Wes Clark's policy on stem cells was announced -- in fact, I anticipated the very level of indifference that the world actually showed -- but I don't think the problem was not trying to be innovative and have ideas.

I wasn't in the US for most of Bush's anti-Kerry campaign (and most of the time I was, I was hiking the Grand Canyon and happily out of earshot of all of it) but what struck me during that campaign was the number of anti-Kerryites who would say "I'm against Kerry because of this!"

And it would be pointed out to them that (1) they were taking the right-wing spin as if it were an accurate report of something Kerry actually did or said, and (2) that in fact if they were opposed to this kind of thing (whatever it was) Bush was actually a much worse example of it.

And it would be ignored - because, as I came to realise, pointing out facts did no good: the facts didn't stand a chance against the power of faith.

And it would appear that the power of faith is still with us - though I suppose at least this is a generically anti-Democrat post, rather than an anti-Clinton or anti-Kerry. Still just as counterfactual, though.

Off-topic note: Newsweek has backed off their story about the Qur'an desecration. I am really, really glad if it's not true, and have updated that post.

Back to your regularly scheduled argument ;)

As others have so aptly quipped above, yawn. Like most of Charles' posts, this is inept memetic engineering masquerading as an attempt to engage in real constructive debate. I'm sure there are mouth-breathers who will be fooled by his use of question-begging to spread the prima facie lie that Democrats have no plans or positive agenda, but judging by the upthread comments, it's not anyone here.

Even going back to Bush's first tax cut, it was a Democratic proposal that led to the $300 rebate - really the only part of the cut that made sense as a stimulus. Also note that Democrats have proposed, and continue to propose, alternative changes to the estate tax, and to Medicare. But these are rejected out of hand.

anarch's comment about the debates reminded me of Kerry making a number of suggestions, and Bush leaning forward and whining, "But there's a tax gap."

And are you really seriously lamenting the "energy wasted" over the filibuster? Why is the argument over the filibuster more the fault of the Democrats than the Republicans? Is it "obstructionism" to try to block a few nut cases from getting on the bench?

This really illustrates the point. Republicans make a proposal - take the bankruptcy law for example - and shut the Democrats out of making any amendments. Democrats then oppose the law and are accused of being "obstructionists" or the Party of No. This is ridiculous.

Doesn't salesmanship imply the ability to convince someone to buy something they don't really need? That's certainly not what I want the Dems to have.

Right on Charles.

After all, this is the Universe where the issues of the day are prioritized based upon their actual relevance and urgency. Where various well reasoned technocratic policy proposals are debated on their merits. Where Sunday morning talk show producers go out of their way to reveal and expound expert consensus positions on issues (and wouldn't think of searching far and wide for lunatic fringe opposition voices in order to provoke talking head screaming matches). Where schemes to "privatize" highly successful and popular programs or invade far away lands without provocation (or exit strategies) are literally laughed off the air.

Oh, wait, this is the Other Universe isn't it?

"Go ahead. Run enormous budget deficits. Trash the environment. Make a mess of foreign policy. You guys have the ball. Play."

So good it needed to be said again.

The Grand Old Pranksters don't want any debate, much less an honest one. The Pranksters control the House and Senate - not just in votes, but deciding which bills make it out of committee, and what gets debated on the floor. Democratic proposals get tossed in the trash. Literally.

You know, sarcasm aside I'm actually genuinely curious what's going through your head when you write a post like this, Charles.

It's certainly true that Democrats mostly lack the message discipline and single minded fanaticism of the current Republican crop, but that's not exactly a bad thing, and you're saying a lot more than that.

Just hypothetically, suppose Party A starts insisting that it is absolutely vital that we blow up the Moon. Do you understand that this doesn't actually obligate Party B to come up with their own detailed 347 page plan for blowing up the Moon? That saying, "NO! That's crazy, and there are more important things to be talking about" is actually a perfectly appropriate response? That that response is not "obstructionism"?

Pretend this doesn't resemble any current situation, and that you don't know who Party A and B are. What are your answers?

"Harry Reid's body has been invaded by the spirit of Tom Daschle. Barbara Boxer has become the Senate version of Jim McDermott. And like a virgin vigorously protecting her maidenhead, Nancy Pelosi says "no" all day long."

I can predict Your childish one-liners from the current GOP talking points about Reid and Polosi. Your not interested in an honest debate and you never have been.

BSR: civility. It's not just a good idea; it's the law.

"Perhaps since they're talking mostly amongst themselves, they don't feel the need to articulate and promote their ideas on how to improve the country rather than simply oppose its opponents."

Okay so it is a grammatical error of a pronoun not matching what it refers it to. In any case, leave it in.
I really like it.

Right, so that the Democrats are making a mistake by arguing against a guy who fixed intelligence and scuttled chances of renegotiating the NPT, instead of "arguing for change at the UN". Bolton's not the agent that could cause change at the UN, he's utterly unsuited to be our chief diplomat to the UN. Opposing him is the patriotic thing to do.

And, uh, saying the majority of America's not on the Democrats' side on the fillibuster issue, when in polling, a sizable majority are against the Senate Republican's attempts to short-circuit the rules even more? Or did you mean they should go back to the old fashioned way of preventing judges, with blue slips and anonymous holds, and all the other things that the Republicans used to block many, many, many more than SEVEN of Clinton's nominees?

And I'll take the bleating about "the Democrats must present ideas!" more seriously if and when you actually, y'know, read any of the ideas that've been put forward over the past five years, and not covered by breathless editorials or had multi-million dollar presidental PR tours laid out for them.

This isn't commentary. This isn't discussion about the issues, this is crude memetic engineering, trying to repeat the same "obstructionist" rhetoric often enough that it seems true. Or at least merited, I mean, after all, "if there's smoke there's fire," right? Or a bunch of guys with smoke bombs.

But if Democrats want their power back, the proper way to do it is to actually win elections . . .

Every single Democrat in Congress right now won an election, Charles. My goodness, if they hadn't, how do you suppose they got there? And, having won their elections, they deserve to be treated as equals with the Republican majorities in each house. But they aren't.

When Democrats suggest several amendments to the bankruptcy bill, or to a proposed Mann Act-style abortion bill, they are offering ideas. When the Republicans dismiss all the former out of hand, and read the latter into the record as if they're designed to protect sexual predators, what, exactly, do you expect the Democrats to do? Keep playing a game they're bound to lose and be treated like chumps? Or simply do their level best to keep the current crop of nimrods from dragging the country down further?

Seriously. This may be the most un-insightful juvenalia dressed as serious commentary I've ever seen on ObWi. And after your rather well-researched AIDS post . . . well, blind hogs and truffles and whatnot, I suppose.

Sheesh, Phil don't you know that Democrats appear in Congress by spontaneous generation, from piles of hair and dust? Honestly.

Lighten up folks. It's clear enough that when Republicans start whining about how Dems aren't putting forward enough ideas, it's because they recognize the utter bankruptcy of their own.

I agree CharleyCarp. While this comment will be overly harsh, a small part of me believes that these kinds of posts are made in order to create an echo chamber so that any point that arises from discussion here can safely be dismissed. While florid insults can have a certain attraction, I'd suggest that everyone move it back a notch.

It's funny that you bring up the UN, Charles. Almost everything that I hear about the UN from Republicans is no, no, no! Republicans like Bolton aren't making positive proposals for reforming this international institution. They're trying to undermine it. It's all "Oil for food!" and "Annan is corrupt!" and "Don't give them authority over Americans!" Even here, you're mostly just bashing the UN: "This rudderless organization is corrupt, incompetent, lacking in moral authority, and too often works against the interests of the United States and the free world." But what's your positive proposal for reform? Well, you want power for your side - a leader who agrees with you & Bush about the War on Terror - but that hardly counts as a positive idea. You do have one real suggestion, a "Democracy Caucus," but that does not exactly get to the heart of the improvements that the UN needs.

Of course this is a caricature of the Republican position on the UN. There are serious ideas for reform out there, although they aren't central to the big shouting match. But, as other commenters have ably shown, there are plenty of Democratic ideas out there for reform of the UN and many many other issues. They just aren't central to the big debates, since the party in power is setting the agenda. You could blame this on the democrats (they lack message discipline) or the republicans (they aren't engaging with the democrats' ideas) or the media (they aren't publicizing the democrats' ideas) or just the whole damn system.

If you want to be involved in more serious discussions about democrats' ideas, you should be reading sources like the lovely new blog, Democracy Arsenal, where they've recently been addressing competing ideas for reforming the UN.

You'd never know from this post that Dems in the Senate actually represent more people in the country than R's.

You'd also never know that Dems in the House are routinely denied the opportunity offer amendments and substitutes that would allow debate and votes on alternative ideas.

Dems aren't required to accept Charles Bird's formulations of what the most important issues of the day are, and we're not required to come up with ideas to address your top reform priorities.

Frankly, I think the whole post is BS, and the only thing I take away from it is the utterly sexist description of Nancy Pelosi as acting like "a virgin vigorously protecting her maidenhead."

It would be entirely defensible for the Democrats not to bother proposing bills for some of the reasons given above. The thing is, they haven't stopped. Not even close, and I'm not even talking about the ten issue . Jon Corzine is leading the fight to do something about Darfur. Durbin is absolutely tireless on veterans' issues, and did everything he could have done to de-crappify the bankruptcy bill; he also finally got his anti-torture amendment passed and is one of five Democratic Senators opposing rendition. There's the bill about verified paper ballots. There's the efforts to fund Iraq through a normal bill that allows real oversight & reform instead of an emergency supplemental. There's the efforts to impose legal limits on interrogation by U.S. troops. There's bills to make modest improvements in health care. To increase Pell Grants for the first time in years and years. To allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. PAYGO. To establish a cap and trade system for CO2, to raise CAFE standards. To encourage microbicide research for AIDS in Africa. To designate ANWR and Red Rock in Utah as wilderness areas. The SAFE Act, to take out the more invasive and unnecessary provisions of the PATRIOT act. This is off the top of my head. There are too many others to even begin to list them.

This, even though the overwhelming majority of these bills do not receive a committee vote.

If you want to really know what's going on in Congress don't listen to the consultant-ocracy with axes to grind, just because they confirm your prejudice. Read the Congressional Record, if you want to know what's going on in Congress--it's organized by subject headings and it's usually evident where the interesting parts will be that day, if anywhere.

I understand why you haven't heard of these things. The press pays no attention at all. I don't blame the press, either. They don't have a chance in hell of passing. It is the standing policy of the House not to allow a vote on a bill that is not supported by over 50% of the Republican caucus. Given that they can't possibly pass, the press might do one article on page A13 when they're introduced if that.

But if you knew a damn THING about Congress, you'd know that the fact that you hadn't heard about these things didn't mean that they didn't exist.

Or, you do know, and don't care, and are looking for another way to spin "sit down and shut up because we have the divine right to get our way" such that it looks like something other than what it is. Because I know you're not too thick to realize why allowing the majority party to break the Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster matters to the Democrats if you spent even 30 seconds of independent thought about it. But it's easier not to bother, and just repeat everything that confirms your preconceptions.

(I admit, the Democrats have not nominated their own candidate for UN ambassador. Those rascally Democrats.)

While this comment will be overly harsh, a small part of me believes that these kinds of posts are made in order to create an echo chamber so that any point that arises from discussion here can safely be dismissed.

I suspect that this is a consequence rather than an intent, but you're probably right. Of course, a subsidiary question is whether anything can prevent those who wish to regard this place as an echo chamber from doing so... but that's a topic for another time.

Also: I'm curious to know whether you can defend, on the merits, a single thing that the Democrats have obstructed or attempted to obstruct this legislative session. Explain why they were wrong to oppose it. The bankruptcy bill, the Bolton nomination, the REAL ID act (not that they were actually allowed to vote on that), the Janice Rogers Brown nomination, the social security plan such as it is....pick any one of those things and explain why it was good for the country.

I'm curious, too:

The fact is that his better plan for Iraq wasn't much different than the one Bush already had in place.

I could have sworn that Bush didn't have a plan until eventually he defaulted into what Kerry said and, for that matter, what about half of the liberal blogosphere had been saying all along. Anyone remember the details here?

Bush's plan was to depose the Baath regime in Iraq.

After the UN didn't come through, he left it up to the military guys to figure out how to do this. This worked better for the 2003 war, and the first Gulf War than in a war where the president, think Johnson or Nixon, was calling all the shots.

Jesus, DaveC, you just make it too easy sometimes. "After the UN didn't come through"? On what authority, and by what law, does the UN have the power to depose governments?

And "Bush's plan was to depose the Baath regime in Iraq" is another good one. On what authority, and by what law, does George Bush have the power to unilaterally decide to depose a government?

And even if you can come up with an answer to the first two - without, mind you, parroting GOP talking points and the lies Bush used to sell the war in the first place - don't you think it might have been a good idea for Bush to also have a plan for what happens after the regime is deposed?

Because "they will greet us as liberators, with rose petals" is not a plan. It's a dumbass fantasy.

Just like "Mission Accomplished" was a dumbass fantasy.

And "We'll turn the corner after Baghdad falls... no, wait: when Saddam is captured...no, wait: when sovereignty is handed over... no, wait; when Fallujah is leveled...no, wait: after the elections...no, wait: when we have 125,000 - er, 100,000 - er, 75,000 - er, 50,000 - um, some Iraqi security forces ready to take over" were all dumbass fantasies.

All fantasies. All dumbass fantasies. All dumbass, criminally negligent fantasies. All dumbass, criminally negligent fantasies that have killed 1600+ Americans and 100,000+ Iraqis and hundreds of aid workers, contractors, UN workers, and journalists; physically or psychologically maimed a few hundred thousand more people; and cost us $300 billion and counting.

And we still have no idea how long we'll be there. We can't even secure a freaking highway, for Christ's sake.

Folks, y'all are missing some merit in Charles's post. Regardless of how things look to Democrats (or Republicans), I believe that to a lot of swing voters, the Dems *don't* "stand for anything."

People tend to believe (wrongly, in practice) that they already know what the Republicans stand for, in terms of positive policy positions: low taxes, low gov't spending, anti-abortion, etc., etc. As I said, these beliefs are wrong in practice, but people *think* they're accurate.

To the extent that "Democrat" calls anything to mind in the typical noncommital swing voter, it's the sterotypes that the Republicans have pasted to us---"liberal," soft on defense, tax-&-spend, secular humanist, etc., etc. Again, inaccurate, but part of the conventional wisdom. Note that these aren't policy positions so much as negative stereotypes.

I think the Bird Dog is right when he says or implies that the Dems have a greater burden on them to outline their real policies & goals. As it is, the Repubs are working to add "nay-sayers" to our list of stereotypes, & god knows they've had plenty of success in the past.

So many of the comments above are versions of "but we DO have positive proposals, etc." It's not that Kerry, for ex., didn't *have* real policy proposals; but Charles is right, Kerry DIDN'T sell them. We may doubt, in retrospect, whether Mr. Kerry's virtues include the ability to sell ice water in hell. Having all the good ideas in the world is useless if you're not getting them out there.

Another theme: "but the media is against us." Right. It is. And it will stay that way until Dems win the stereotype war. Most journalists are (1) lazy and (2) panderers to the conventional wisdom. The Dems have to fight to get their ideas out there.

How to do this is anyone's guess, but as Bird suggests, it needs to be a continual topic of discussion. (I tended to think Kerry needed more substantive commercials, each closing with his website address to get people away from relying on TV. Whatever.) But as long as Dems stay defensive & won't acknowledge that---in losing to a [many expletives deleted] like George W. Bush in 2004--- the party was doing SOMETHING wrong, then we will continue to lose.

Anderson: I agree. (And while I thought Kerry was miles better than Bush, my heart truly sank when we nominated him. I mean, I'm from Massachusetts. I am very familiar with Kerry. And I though, no, no, NO! Not that he isn't a thoughtful guy, but getting his points across clearly is not his strength. And he has all the charm of an oyster.)

Still, I have no idea how to do it. And the press is worse than unhelpful. My favorite example is this: I once wrote a reporter at Business Week to correct a factual error he had made about Clark. (The reporter, covering a speech, wrote that Clark supported turning our efforts in Iraq over to the UN; in that very speech, Clark had said the opposite: "it is simply unrealistic to have the United Nations take over this daunting task - it's not able and it's not willing." The reporter corrected this in the web edition). -- Since I was writing him anyways, I noted that he had criticized Clark for being worried about the deficit, as though this showed some sort of economic naivete. I wrote:

"I was somewhat puzzled by this passage from your article: "after a long period of growth, forecasts for the deficit are starting to shrink. One minute, we're looking at the Deficit Clock in Times Square, wondering about how our grandkids are going to pay for this mess. The next minute, the deficit has turned to surplus, and we're retiring the 30-year bond." Perhaps I misunderstand, but you seem to imply that there is some reason to think that the deficit might actually turn into a surplus without any major change in our fiscal policy. I know of no budget projections that support this claim. Moreover, the idea that the deficit will simply disappear becomes even less likely if we assume that those of Bush's tax cuts that are supposed to expire will not be allowed to do so, and less likely still if new tax cuts are passed."

He replied:

"As for the deficit, I think there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that current fiscal policy has helped spur economic growth, job creation and a lower deficit forecast. If left in place, I see no reason why current fiscal policy won’t continue to help. I think the prediction that tax cuts would turn out to be a scourge on the economy is simply mistaken."

For starters, that doesn't actually address what he had said in his article, which was that the deficits were going to go away by themselves. For another, what he wrote me is just plain ignorant. (I mean: it's true that Bush's fiscal policy helped spur growth, though I would have added: there were ways to spur it more at far less cost. But it's not true at all that tax cuts, unaccompanied by spending cuts, aren't a scourge on the economy, via the deficit.) So what we're left with is: an article in which a reporter basically makes fun of someone for saying something that is not just true, but obviously true -- that the deficit is a serious problem -- and implies that the person he's making fun of doesn't know what he's talking about. And this was on the economy, in Business Week.

And don't even get me started on Maureen Dowd, whose column on Clark's sweater and how it showed a deep failure to connect with women voters via his wardrobe (not his tax plan, not anything of any importance, but his sweater) I have yet to forgive.

Grr.

I don't blame Democrats for not suggesting someone for the UN. We should just withdraw and be done with it. ;)

Doesn't salesmanship imply the ability to convince someone to buy something they don't really need?

No LJ, it doesn't, at least not to anyone who understands and is successful at sales.

Good salesmanship about teaching a prospective customer why your product or service is valuable to them, their co-workers and their company (or family if you prefer).

Strangely, crionna, that doesn't actually contradict what LJ said...

crionna
Sorry if my comment came off like a anti-salesman crack, I just went for the short version rather than a lp version of 'while I realise the day to day need for salesmen to tell us that we need certain things, and the possibility that what someone sells may really make a difference in our lives,but...'

I also thought that Chas participated on some level in the Dean or some other Dem campaign (in support, not throwing rocks at the bus), but even as I type those words, I'm thinking I have something messed up.

Sad fact: the media will not report thoughtful Democratic initiatives, because the Democrats are not in power. Modern media are largely corrupt and have become mere lickspittles for their Republican masters. Blaming the victim (the Democrats) won't help. Fighting back will, but much depends on timing. DailyKos is right - join the battle of visions next year, maybe, but not this year.

You'd never know from this post that Dems in the Senate actually represent more people in the country than R's.

Unfortunately, after floating this one myself on an earlier post, I actually sat down and did the math, and it isn't true.

Last time I looked James Carville as a spokesman of the Dems was a little like Paul Ruebens as a spokesman for the Actors Guild.

Phil, the numbers I saw you post in the comments here were for the House. Did you also do it for the Senate?

Last time I looked James Carville as a spokesman of the Dems was a little like Paul Ruebens as a spokesman for the Actors Guild.

Yet, Ann Coulter continues to be the official spokesman for all Republicans. Odd how that works.

I've been AFK for quite a while, now. I was going to write something about the flushing-the-Q'uran story, but things have changed a bit since then. MY initial reaction, though, was something like: my toilet won't even flush what it's supposed to, sometimes. A book? No way.

But there was always the possibility that it was an outhouse-style toilet, so I kept my yap shut. The Slartibartfastian pause giveth, and it taketh away.

KC, I did, here: In any case, for the record -- and assuming that in split states we can split the population equally -- the breakdown by population is R - 144,765,157, D-148,026,027.

That 4 million person difference advantage in the Senate for the Democrats -- whatever it's worth, which isn't much in terms of how things work -- doesn't offset the 23 million person advantage in the House for the Republicans.

Slart:

I don't know what the classified report referred to in the Newsweek story says (or, more correctly, the one the unnamed source meant to cite, not the one he erroneously cited) but the story circulating among prisoners and those recently released employs a bucket used for urine and feces, rather than a flush toilet. There's a collection of information at www.cageprisoners.com

CC

This is just another example of the up-is-down, in-is-out, black-is-white brain function of the right side of our collective American cerebral cortex.
Look at the last one hundred years: every piece of legislation that moved the country forward, addressed an issue of lasting significance, solved or mitigated a problem, and has positive historic significance, has come from the liberal side of the political spectrum. This includes LaFollete's efforts since he was a liberal in terms of his day.
On the other hand, what is the vision of the future on the current Republican leadership? Their goal is to go back in time over one hundred years to the 1970's and 80's and re-create the Robber Baron oligarchy. Of course they don't say so, because they never say what they really mean. Their intent is clear, however, from their legslative initiatives.

Fair enough, Phil, but Doh's statement was specifically about the Senate, not Congress as a whole, so you were wrong to say it isn't true.

I am curious about why you included nonvoting delegates, though presumably that didn't really affect the result. Eleanor Holmes Norton does represent me as well as she can, I suppose, but it's not very meaningful representation since she doesn't have a vote. There's a reason our license plates say "Taxation Without Representation".

I agree with Carville and Begala on this one, but as a parallel course of action to go with sturm and the drang and the rhetorical savagery.

I also believe Democrats should preemptively "blow up the moon" on occasion just to test how much the Republican Party loves their ideology and rhetoric about blowing up the moon. And, if that doesn't work, blow up the sun.

"And like a virgin vigorously protecting her maidenhead.." I knew, I just knew, that as soon as liberals embraced abstinence, the Republican lexicon would suddenly discover the fun in promiscuity with a Luntzian inflection. (a provisional smiley face)

On the Quran thing: When someone discovers the truth (you know, facts) about this one way or the other, someone also explain to me how it is we "know" anything about secret places like Guantanamo, run by folks who have spent years defiling the language to cloak the reality of their actions, and by folks who have spent decades convincing me that every tax, every regulation, every utterance, every action by the beast government is wrong, misguided, incompetent, corrupt, and all of the other lovely terms in the Luntzian universe.

I'm left only with my self-reverential bias. Everyone else seems to have nothing but the facts. But how do you know?

And, of course, Harry Reid's body has not been invaded by Tom Daschle. Conservatives' views about Reid have become identical with what were once their views about Daschle. Why this might be, I have no idea.

Hilzoy, perhaps it's because of what Harry Reid is doing (Bolton and judicial nominee filibusters) and saying (Bush is a loser, Clarence Thomas is a lousy writer, etc.). I'm not denying that Democrats didn't have plans and position papers and so forth (or that you believe that Democrats wear the white hats on the issues), but it's a matter of what gets through, and what is getting through are big loud nays. Offense AND defense. And special teams (which would be effective rapid responses against attacks). Bill Clinton was real good at special teams.

When was the last time a physicist tried to persuade you that perpetual motion is impossible? Where do you get the idea that others are responsible for educating you?

Cute analogy, Kevin, but the responsibility of the Democratic Party (and GOP) is to sell, not for me to eat my porridge.

I'm sure there are mouth-breathers who will be fooled by his use of question-begging to spread the prima facie lie that Democrats have no plans or positive agenda, but judging by the upthread comments, it's not anyone here.

There was no "prima facie lie" because I didn't write that, Catsy. It boils down to prioritizing.

Doesn't salesmanship imply the ability to convince someone to buy something they don't really need?

That is a distortion of salesmanship, LJ, and a sad way to look at an honorable profession. Every time any politician gets on the stump, he or she is selling something. We don't need cell phones or laptops or push-button rollup windows, but the qualities of our lives are better and more productive because some folks went out there and made the pitches.

Why is the argument over the filibuster more the fault of the Democrats than the Republicans?

Because Democrats are the ones who launched a series of tactical nukes by filibustering circuit court nominees, a tactic never before done in American history, Bernard.

Just hypothetically, suppose Party A starts insisting that it is absolutely vital that we blow up the Moon. Do you understand that this doesn't actually obligate Party B to come up with their own detailed 347 page plan for blowing up the Moon? That saying, "NO! That's crazy, and there are more important things to be talking about" is actually a perfectly appropriate response? That that response is not "obstructionism"?

I try to avoid hypotheticals as much as possible, Jack, but if you see Party A as the Republicans, it does not mean that the opposition party should just settle for saying no.

I can predict Your childish one-liners from the current GOP talking points about Reid and Polosi. Your not interested in an honest debate and you never have been.

I'm sorry you feel that way, BSR.

Every single Democrat in Congress right now won an election, Charles.

Yep, Phil, and every single Democrat right now (that ran against a Republican) not in Congress lost an election.

But what's your positive proposal for reform? Well, you want power for your side - a leader who agrees with you & Bush about the War on Terror - but that hardly counts as a positive idea.

That is your opinion. To me, replacing Kofi with someone competent and who understands the world around him or her is a supremely positive proposal. Why is it that no Democrats have called for Annan's removal?

Yep, Phil, and every single Democrat right now (that ran against a Republican) not in Congress lost an election.

Yep, Charles, and every single Republican right now (that ran against a Democrat) not in Congress lost an election. Is any of this actually supposed to prove anything, or is it starting to sink in yet that the pithy "Win elections" doesn't contain as much wisdom as you presumed it might?

Because Democrats are the ones who launched a series of tactical nukes by filibustering circuit court nominees, a tactic never before done in American history, Bernard.

A more introspective person might start asking himself why there are so many vacancies on the circuit courts in the first place. I don't expect you to do so.

KC, I included nonvoting delegates just because I had the full House list in front of me, and it was trivial to include the information.

--Why is the argument over the filibuster more the fault of the Democrats than the Republicans?

-Because Democrats are the ones who launched a series of tactical nukes by filibustering circuit court nominees, a tactic never before done in American history, Bernard.

You say "filibuster," I say "blue slip." Can we call the whole thing off?

Why is it that no Democrats have called for Annan's removal?

Ahem...I have.

A more introspective person might start asking himself why there are so many vacancies on the circuit courts in the first place. I don't expect you to do so.

Intellectual arrogance is an unpleasant and undesirable personality trait, especially when such a person makes wrong assumptions. A Karnak Award for mindreading by liberals to you, Phil (yes, I know you claim that you're not a liberal). Because I didn't write about circuit court vacancies does not mean I was unaware of it or that I accepted or agreed with the present situation. You should actually try to make counterarguments rather than get personal and try to insult the other person's intelligence.

You say "filibuster," I say "blue slip." Can we call the whole thing off?

Yes!

Ahem...I have.

Thank you, Edward. I wish more Democrats, especially the leadership kind, were with you on that.

Why is it that no Democrats have called for Annan's removal?

Really, why should they? Republicans don't like the UN and don't want to work with the UN. John Bolton is hardly Kofi Annan's moral superior. Republicans aren't serious about making the UN a better institution, so why do you think Democrats--(actual office-holding Democrats, not bloggers)--must be serious for you?

In what sense was the 2004 election a "shutout"? Is every election in which the party that wins the White House also gains in the House and Senate a shutout?

Is the idea that the game has one point for each of the three that you control? Is the term "shutout" often used for games with such low scores?

"Because I didn't write about circuit court vacancies does not mean I was unaware of it or that I accepted or agreed with the present situation."

So, I assume, you'll write a post about how the Republican party is the "party of no"?

We don't need cell phones or laptops or push-button rollup windows, but the qualities of our lives are better and more productive because some folks went out there and made the pitches.

Err, if you are going to respond, you might want to read down to note if any other points were made subsequent to that by the writer. I realize that you want to engage everyone who takes up what you write (which is an honorable notion) and time is limited, but the primal notion of your post that 'salesmanship' is more important that 'representation' deserves a little closer examination.

I'm not trying to turn this into a salesman is a huckster versus a salesman is an honorable and respectable profession (hell, read Arthur Miller if you want that) but to point out the foundation of what you posted is based on a rather strange reading of what a 'representative' is supposed to do, and have you retreat into a defense of being a salesman might be appropriate for Willie Loman's wife, misses the point. The primary portion of the job description of a 'representative' is to defend the interests of the people s/he represents, which is probably why salesmen often go chuck the job title and go with 'sales representative', because they want to suggest that what they think you need is same as what your interests are when in fact they are not necessarily. When you base an entire post on a sleight of category such as this one, and then defend it on the premise that being a salesman is 'an honorable position', it suggests that you really haven't examined the premise all that closely.

If you want to inflate 'salesmanship' to cover everything under the sun, that's your business, but you should realize that when you do that, you not only deprecate salesmanship, you deprecate the things that you are naming as salesmanship. If I had to explain to my 6 year old that one reason why she shouldn't hit her 10 month old sister because that it invariably leads the the aforementioned sister crying, I would note that by your definition, that would be salesmanship, in that I am 'selling' my daughter a notion. And if she doesn't 'buy it'? Certainly my ability as a salesman/parent should be reviewed, but it doesn't absolve my daughter of responsibility and it doesn't make her walloping her sister value neutral (I should note that this is NOT a problem in my household, just a suitably at hand example)

The question then remains at what point does the salesmanship (and therefore the spin of it all) stop? Or do you think it never stops and the person that is the best at it deserves to win?

"Why is the argument over the filibuster more the fault of the Democrats than the Republicans?

Because Democrats are the ones who launched a series of tactical nukes by filibustering circuit court nominees, a tactic never before done in American history, Bernard."

You miss my point, Charles. You wrote,

So much energy spent over a stupid wanking Senate rule, so much energy wasted.

This statement makes none of the usual arguments about "unprecedented," etc. It just says the fight over the filibuster is a waste of time. It suggests, pretty clearly, that this waste could be avoided if the Democrats just didn't filibuster, and let the nominees in question be confirmed.

But the waste could just as easily be avoided if Republicans quit worrying about it, let these nominees go, and accepted a 90% confirmation rate, or better still if Bush simply avoided nominating extremists.

Let's put this in more general terms. Bush proposes some legislation. Democrats dislike some of the provisions and block the bill trying to get changes. Now come Bill Frist and Charles Bird and others to label the Democrats "obstructionists." But they are no more obstructionists than the Republicans are. Either side could get the bill passed by conceding the other's points. It is simply wrong, as a matter of simple logic, to claim that only one side is obstructing passage.

Who was it (on the Left) who recently called the Democrats/Left the "bookless party"?

I thought it was apt.
This general sense thet they are devoid of ideas.

Who was it (on the Left) who recently called the Democrats/Left the "bookless party"?

That was Martin Peretz of the New Republic, who was ironically quoting Galbraith discussing conservatism in the early 60's. We all saw what happened with that. I think 2040 is going to give you guys such a shock...

TNR is behind a subscription wall, but I think the essay you refer to is
this one

People who consider Martin Peretz to be "on the Left" these days are widely thought to have an impaired sense of direction. Yes, there is surely someone to the right of Mr. Peretz, but even that doesn't make him "on the Left."

A Karnak Award for mindreading by liberals to you, Phil (yes, I know you claim that you're not a liberal).

If you're going to call me a liar, Charles, grow some balls and do it directly. If you can't, I'll dismiss this as just your usual reactionary silliness. I'm not required to establish my bipartisan bona fides to your satisfaction, and if that bothers you, tough merde.

Because I didn't write about circuit court vacancies does not mean I was unaware of it or that I accepted or agreed with the present situation. You should actually try to make counterarguments rather than get personal and try to insult the other person's intelligence.

OK, Charles, since you're incapable of taking the logical step, I'll do it for you: If the Republicans hadn't spent the entire decade of the 1990s, when Clinton was trying to fill vacancies, a) arguing that we have too many judges anyway, and why do we need all these judges?, and b) blue-slipping nominees before they could even get out of committe, I'd be more inclined to listen to them now about how unfair the Democrats are being and how urgent it is that we fill vacancies now with these particular people. And I further see no reason for the Democrats to roll over on the people they consider the most extremist when they've confirmed the vast majority of Bush nominees. And I super-duper further see it as the height of disingenuousness for you to suggest that they should roll over, since your ability to read the FactCheck link -- I assume you did read it? -- shows that you know that the Republicans are a bunch of frigging liars on this issue.

Let me ask you something, Charles: When was the last time you actually took the effort to find about, and later highlighted publicly, a good idea from the Democrats?

"You say "filibuster," I say "blue slip." Can we call the whole thing off?"

"Yes!"

But why is it Hilzoy has to bring up the Blue slip rules, something you are very well aware of. Instead of honestly addressing the blue slip and other rule changes that prompted teh Democratic action you simply state "-Because Democrats are the ones who launched a series of tactical nukes by filibustering circuit court nominees", as if that happened in a vacuum. You are simply not capable of having an honest arguement, and you have no desire to either, that should be obvious to anyone here.

"Ahem...I have."

"Thank you, Edward. I wish more Democrats, especially the leadership kind, were with you on that."

Same old Charles, pretending that the Democrats are setting the agenda in a Republican contolled congress. Pretending that Frisk hasn't used the "Nuclear option" to stroke his supportera up for the past month. Pretending that Delay hasn't joined in Frist's efforts to fan those flames.

I know your not that stupid, so I'll call you what you are, extremely dishonest.

Thank you, Edward. I wish more Democrats, especially the leadership kind, were with you on that.

I should clarify this though (now that work has calmed down a bit). I feel Kofi can no longer be effective because of the food for oil scandal. That is the types of people the head of the UN needs to listen to him/her (e.g., heads of states in powerful democracies) can too easily dismiss any of his rebuffs to them by pointing back and saying, yeah, but what about the food for oil scam...hmmm?

Who I would like to see replace him won't make many on the Right any happier though. I'm quite fond of the idea of Bill Clinton getting that position.

"bookless party"

Yeah, that's a hoot, considering the anti-intellectual streak of American conservatism, especially prevalent today. Anyway, I'm trying to big up "the redeless party," as in "Redeless Republicans." Maybe I'll write a poem about it.

I know your not that stupid, so I'll call you what you are, extremely dishonest.

I'm going to ask that claims of "dishonesty" be considered off limits around here. You gain nothing by it, you can't actually prove it, and it just pisses people off...mostly me.

You can state your case and ask the other person to address what appears to be discrepancies or inconsistencies to your heart's content without resorting to this very offensive conclusion. Therefore, anyone calling anyone else "dishonest" (or similarly implying that a person is lying) will be temporarily banned from this point if I see it. Even if you do conclude they are lying...prove it...don't just assert it. In fact, don't assert it at all. Let your proof speak for itself.

Civility demands you give people the benefit of doubt without impugning their integrity.

Yeah, that's a hoot, considering the anti-intellectual streak of American conservatism

Not to be confused with "anti-intellect".

What Edward (just) said.

Therefore, anyone calling anyone else "dishonest" (or similarly implying that a person is lying) will be temporarily banned from this point if I see it.

In that case, I'm publicly calling for Charles to clarify his statement to me, " A Karnak Award for mindreading by liberals to you, Phil (yes, I know you claim that you're not a liberal)."

There's a difference between a mindreading charge and a dishonesty charge, Phil, but I'll let Charles clarify his own statement.

I'm asking for clarification on the second half, Edward, since Charles appears to be insinuating that there's a difference between what is true and what I am claiming.

Got ya...fair enough.

Charles, I could just as easily say that, to me, replacing Bush with someone competent and who understands the world around him or her is a supremely positive proposal. But you take this kind of anti-Bush sentiment as evidence that the Democrats are obstructionist naysayers who are fighting for power itself rather than ideas. So why would you take the Republicans' anti-Annan sentiment as anything more than a fight for power?

"You say "filibuster," I say "blue slip." Can we call the whole thing off?"

"Yes!"

Clarification: I meant the argument over the Dems being an unacceptably obstructionist party, not the decision to filibuster a couple of circuit court judges.

Minus the vitriol, I'd second BSR's point: there's something fundamentally wrong with claiming that Democratic behavior on these issues is outside the norm of proper conduct for an opposition party.

Charles' argument is particularly misguided given the Republicans decision, after the 2000 election, to change the rules in such a way that the Dems have no choice but to filibuster extremist nominees.

Even if you do conclude they are lying...prove it...don't just assert it. In fact, don't assert it at all. Let your proof speak for itself.

Civility demands you give people the benefit of doubt without impugning their integrity.

I have to vehemently disagree with this call. When someone /demonstrates/, again and again, that they are arguing in a deliberately dishonest and disingenuous way, they need to be called on it. One of the great problems in both our media and politics is the inability to simply come out and call out a lie for what it is. I've watched /you/ complain about this phenomenon before.

Charles is well aware of GOP's history of torpedoing Clinton's judicial nominees without allowing them an up-or-down vote, and they did it to far more of them--his own party's actions are, in fact, the reason why there are currently so many openings to be filled. He is well aware of the history of the filibuster, because the /facts on record/ have been pointed out to him time and time again. This isn't mindreading, it's simply a fact: Charles /knows/ these things.

Charles also knows that the Democrats have proposed plenty of positive alternatives to the GOP agenda. He knows this not only because he reads Democratic web sites, but also because these proposals and plans have been pointed out to him many times, particularly during the election. He also knows that his own party, as the current majority, has the ability to control what legislation is brought to the table, and has worked to actively prevent Democrats from bringing their alternatives up for a vote. Charles /knows/ these things. He can't /not/. And yet he goes on to write things like this:

The Democrats continue to be the "No Party" instead of the "Better Ideas Party". Republicans propose, Democrats oppose. Instead of "ask not what your country can do for you", it's another round of Fight Club.

If someone knows something is true, and then goes on to assert that the opposite is true, what is that?

I'll tell you what it is: dishonesty. And if calling dishonesty out for what it is earns me a temp ban, then do what you must. But I'm telling you right now that it is bad policy--civility is an admirable goal, and I appreciate what Obsidian Wings is supposed to stand for, but I place a much higher value on truth, and on not allowing blatant lies to stand unchallenged.

Not to be confused with "anti-intellect"

Indeed. Might as well confuse peanut butter and peanut sauce.

One of the great problems in both our media and politics is the inability to simply come out and call out a lie for what it is. I've watched /you/ complain about this phenomenon before.

There is a significant difference, as we've noted here before, between the people who write and comment here and those in the public realm though. The posting rules are designed to protect the people who write here.

What Charles is offering in this thread is spin, yes, but not a "lie," per se. He made his case. Rip it to shreds, but leave the ad hominem arguments for those other blogs that don't care if people of the other side ever understand why they feel some way or other. You know where he's coming from. You understand his POV. Teach him why this assertion is wrong if you can. But give him his due. He's not a liar.

There's one thing I've learned in blogging: things that I am absolutely convinced are true can be shown to me to not be true. I can assert the most ludicrous idea without wanting to be dishonest and without realizing why it might strike someone else that I'm intentionally lying.

Charles put forth an argument and doesn't accept the conclusions some are arguing prove he "knows" are true. Just because someone tells you something, doesn't mean you have to accept it as true. I refuse to accept as true that Bush isn't systematically trying to dismantle Social Security. Even if he came out tomorrow with a solution that truly strengthened it, I'd be convinced he changed his mind or is up to something else devious. Just because someone tells me he's not trying to dismantle it doesn't mean I "know" it's true.

Charles also knows that the Democrats have proposed plenty of positive alternatives to the GOP agenda.

This is a good example. Charles can't have missed the examples pointed to here or elsewhere, but just because you and I think they are "positive alternatives" doesn't mean he sees it that way. They might be horribly negative alternatives to him.

All I'm saying is give him the benefit of the doubt that he means what he says....that he's not intentionally be dishonest.

...that he's not intentionally be dishonest.

I waited a day to comment here, since my first impulse was to simply indulge in some easy (Bird-)Dog-kicking and flay CB for this reflexive Democrat-bashing, but on re-reading his post (and the subsequent comments), I came to the conclusion that, at least in concept, he is quite right. Ideally, in a two-party system like ours, yes, it would be a much better situation, for the Congress, and the country as a whole, if the political dialogue truly was a "duel" of ideas and plans: and the more thought-out the better. To castigate the current Democratic Party leadership for a lack of a positive "agenda" is certainly a legitimate critique (and one that I, a Democrat, can agree with wholeheartedly!).

But to put this critique forth in the form he has, which seems to be to criticise Dem "obstructionism" and naysaying without, apparently, any reference to the significant and crippling-to-the-minority changes in Congressional procedures that the Republicans enacted after their House takeover in 1995 - and the results these changes have effected on the whole process of legislation in this country - is, if not "dishonest" (and I do not think it is), disingenuous at best. And I think I'm being generous in that estimation.

Charles seems (unsurprisingly) to ignore the reality of political life in contemporary Washington, where both Houses of Congress are in control of Party dedicated mainly to forwarding a set and inflexible agenda: first and foremost, to consolidate political power; and secondly, to marginalize the opposition and render it incapable (mostly via parliamentary rules changes) of having ANY influence on the "process"of legislation. Thirdly, to then utilize their political leverage to force their program - mainly that of remaking the nation's economy in the 21st Century into a rehashed version of the 19th's - on the country, all the while "making [their] own reality" and blithely ignoring and and all criticism. (And not coincidentally, frantically flogging whatever "cultural" (i.e., prejudice) issues they can dredge up to distract the voters from their program of economic Royalism).

It would be nice if NOT, as it is now, the Majority Party wasn't under the discipline and control of a clique of self-righteous radical ideologues motivated primarily by greed for money and contempt for their opposition - but since it is, "Just Saying NO" is as good strategy for now as any. If there really were any chance that the Congressional Republicans would do anything other than simply sneer at and dismiss any Democratic plans or intiatives, then they should be articulated and brought forward. But as it, why waste the energy?


Edward_, we appreciate your heroic efforts to keep the tone ObiWi elevated. But I want to be sure I understand what you're saying when you defend Charles.

Take this, for example:

"Charles can't have missed the examples pointed to here or elsewhere, but just because you and I think they are "positive alternatives" doesn't mean he sees it that way. They might be horribly negative alternatives to him."

Do you really know what you're implying here? You seem to be saying that:

(a) Charles' complaints (about the Democrats not offering their own policies) can be regarded as "True" because Charles doesn't like the Democratic policy proposals.

(b) And, because Charles doesn't like the Democratic policy proposals, those policy proposals do not, in effect, exist, as far as Charles is concerned;

(c)therefore, when Charles says he doesn't know of any Democratic initiatives or policy proposals, he is telling the truth, for certain values of "truth" - i.e., the value of Charles having his own solipsistic universe wherein whatever he doesn't like doesn't exist.

I just want to be sure that I understand you properly, Edward_. Because that is either the most pettifogging, desperate-to-be-nice reasoning I have encountered lately, or it's a near-genius bit of subtle sarcasm.


...that he's not intentionally be dishonest.

All your base are belong to us!

Charles, I wonder if perhaps you're confusing the terms "ideas" and "ideology." I find the former much better for making informed and enlightened decisions, but extremely boring and lacking the attention they deserve. Conversely, I find the latter an extremely poor tool for making good decisions, but exceedingly easy to soundbite and popularize.

It seems to me that many Republicans support adherence to an ideology as a good thing. But is it really a good thing?

Talk about "near-genius bit of subtle sarcasm." That's one impressive, if bumpy, path to your conclusion, Casey. I'd deconstruct it, but I have other fish to fry...let me see if I can do this in less time:

This is where Charles began:

Nevertheless, the Democrats have done damn little to sell their ideas to me or to the American public.

[...]

The prevalence in the Democratic Party is obstruction and opposition, not "we have a better plan", followed by actually spelling out what that better plan is.

He's using generalizations to stake out some rhetorical ground (in a nutshell, arguing that Democrats are not leading, but not letting the Republicans lead either).

And to some extent I, as does JayC obviously, agree that the overriding message from the Democrats is negative and this is a problem. Of course the overriding message from the Republicans during Clinton's term was negative as well, so it probably goes with the territory of being the minority.

Yes, we could list all kinds of specifics to refute this generalization, but in the end Charles can still claim, honestly, that we're not reaching him. And I personally accept that he means this.

Look at what the Republicans did during Clinton's years for an example of what might reach him. Until the Dems, as minority, offer their version of the "Contract with America" Charles can claim, honestly, that w're not getting our positive alternatives out there in a fashion that sells them to him (or a host of others obviously).

Sometimes, hidden in your opponent's criticism, is something you really need to hear.

Look at what the Republicans did during Clinton's years for an example of what might reach him.

Okay, so the Democrats should bring up every financial and sexual scandal Bush has ever been remotely involved in? Make Margie Schoedinger a household name? Demand a special prosecutor to investigate the Harken Energy Corporation insider trading scandal, and why the son of the President was never prosecuted at the time - with George W. Bush's and George H.W. Bush's involvement with BCCI as a material subject for further investigation?

Do you really think that the Democrats behaving to George W. Bush exactly as the Republicans behaved to Bill Clinton would reach Charles? I don't. I think Charles would just maintain his faith that (a) Bush did nothing wrong and (b) it doesn't matter anyway.

Edward_, when somebody says that, first you figure whether or not they're reachable. My reading of blogs and watching of the last few years has persuaded me that there's about 40% of the American publich which is not reachable (barring a depression or the war getting much, much worse). Especially as there's an effective right-wing noise machine to punch out useful soundbites (notice how the Newsweek story is being greedily seized by rightwingers who had no problem with anything that the administration said about Iraq, WMD's or Saddama bin Hussein).

There's a point where somebody's statement that we're not getting through to him doesn't mean that we should try harder, but rather that we should write that person off as a waste of effort.

Do you really think that the Democrats behaving to George W. Bush exactly as the Republicans behaved to Bill Clinton would reach Charles?

I gave a very specific example of something the Republicans did that apparently did reach Americans, their conserted effort to present an alternative via Newt's "Contract with America." Now I objected to quite a few of the details when it first came out, but as a positive step, one that went beyond just obstruction, it was pretty impressive.

I think we'll see something like that emerge soon. You've got brilliant minds on the Dems side and they see the truth in what Charles is saying. Look to Obama, look to Clinton, they are building credibility and offering ideas that can reach beyond the left...anyone who wants to take back the majority should understand why they're doing that IMO.

Until the Dems, as minority, offer their version of the "Contract with America" Charles can claim, honestly, that w're not getting our positive alternatives out there in a fashion that sells them to him (or a host of others obviously).

All right, I'll back into the breach one more time: if Charles had simply said that the Democrats have a problem with salesmanship or marketing their ideas, none of this furore would have arisen. [Hell, most of us in this thread have made that argument at some time or another.] He didn't. He said that those ideas do not exist. That Democrats are purely obstructionist, that they are the party of No -- perhaps the stupidest talking point to emerge from the bowels of the GOP, and that's saying something -- blah di f***ing blah di blah.

Here's the point: he knows this to be false. He knows this to be false because we've corrected him every single friggin' time he's raised the issue on ObWi -- and like I said, by my count I think this is the sixth time it's come up -- and heck, the very first post on this thread is calling him on this BS yet again. Does any of it stick? Does it ever alter his position? Does he ever even engage this?

No.

Even if he merely wanted to claim that Democrats aren't reaching him, he'd still be wrong (or at best right on a technicality): there are about five or six Democrats on this thread alone who have, in the past, repeatedly tried to explain both Democratic ideas and why they're better than those of the Republicans. It's like watching a two-year old cover his ears than complain he can't hear you; the problem doesn't lie with your inability to scream louder, it lies with the fact that the kid is covering his ears.

Sure, the Democratic party sucks at salesmanship. Sure, the current crop of progressive ideals have yet to be boiled down to a postage stamp. And most importantly, sure, the Republicans have managed to co-opt most of the terms we'd like to use and doesn't that suck for us. [Tom Delay leading the party of "moral values"? That's almost enough to trigger the Second Coming of Jesus just so he'd have a chance to roll in his grave.] You want to say that, fine, go ahead. Don't like our ideas? Fine, critique them. But do not say that the Democrats have never said "we have a better plan" when it is pointed out time and time again that Kerry's debate performances were filled with such claims, or that the other Democratic candidates had nothing to add to the debate. Do not say that Republican proposals are, ipso facto, good when it is pointed out time and time again that many of those proposals are strictly worse than doing nothing. And do not pretend that somehow the Republican and Democratic ability to set agendas are comparable when it is pointed out time and time again that that same Republican majority you're so enamored of spends four years eviscerating the ability of the Democrats to even contribute to, let alone create, policy.

And don't even get me started on the comparative ability to propagate their ideas through that laughably termed "liberal" media, pace rilkefan's first post on this thread.

[For that matter, don't pretend that "Liberals are convinced they're right on the issues [of the filibuster], but the problem is that the majority of America is not on their side" when the polls indicate otherwise. You don't speak for the majority of Americans, Charles, and your posts would be better served if you remembered that.]

Face it, Charles: the Democrats are, right now, the minority party. They have no ability to set the agenda, in large part because of those "stupid wanking" rules you seems to think so unimportant. Given the insanity of the GOP leadership in Congress (and the concomitant monomania of the GOP White House), the Dems are rightfully obstructing the more extreme elements of the GOP's agenda while -- just to remind you -- letting the bulk of it pass without real protest and sometimes even support. [Too much of it, IMO, but that's political life for ya.] If you cannot understand and accept this fact, then you need to reconsider what the "Opposition Party" means to you... and whether you really think the practice of an Opposition Party is palatable to your ideology, instead of merely paying lip-service to its theory.

And, of course, face the most important fact of all: the Republican leadership in the Congress -- and possibly a large fraction of Republican voters, although that's a more tendentious claim that would require more careful study than I have time for right now -- is not interested in Democratic ideas. They're not interested in debate, period, unless it's phrased in the form of servile agreement. Screw any form of Hegelian dialectic; your idyllic notions of what should be happening in Congress (and with which I largely agree, btw) simply do not apply, and the Republicans are to blame. Until you realize that fact, and until you start helping to curtail it, any criticism you make of Democratic "obstructionism" will be laughable on its face. Insanity should be opposed; zealotry should be obstructed; and the Democrats, now that they've recovered some of their spine, have begun to do just that. [While, just to reiterate in case you're actually listening, letting through the moderate portions of Bush's agenda.] And more power to them.

In short: your argument is groundless and without merit. As you know, because it's been pointed out time and time again how bankrupt it is. Much like "democranami" or whatever linguistic abortion you concocted, though, it seems as if you're so delighted by the phrase "Party of No" that you refuse to listen to the truth. Which is a real pity, because you're a smart, passionate guy and I hate to see such talent wasted.

Anarch,

Brilliantly stated, very compelling case. I'll note that you did not resort to calling Charles "dishonest" per se either.

That's important, IMO, because doing so allows your opponent to shut down and tune out. By doing the hard work you've done here, you've firmly dropped the ball in Charle's court.

Again, brilliant and very worthy.

Wow, avoid the computer for a weekend and you miss a lot of invective ...

Perhaps there's nothing left to add, but since the overall tendency has been Bird-bashing, I'll say this: if the Dems were doing what's necessary to get their ideas out, it wouldn't even be possible for Charles to complain they're not doing it. Come on, we've got George Soros writing the checks! We should have our little paperback platform in every bookstore in the country!

(One could get a good SNL skit out of "Democrats arguing over what to call their version of the 'Contract With America.'")

I myself would like to have some clearer idea of what my being a Democrat means, than simply "keeping the stupid Bushies from ruining the country." I've been reading up on FDR to get some old-time religion ...

Anderson,

righteous comment.

I hope other Dems may consider that Charles is actually doing them a favor with this post.

Edward: You've got brilliant minds on the Dems side and they see the truth in what Charles is saying

What truth? As Anarch points out - as virtually everyone on this thread has pointed out - there is no truth in what Charles is saying in this post.

I know you're a nice guy who wants to think the best of people... but asserting that Charles is speaking truth when in fact he's... ah, the Houyhnhnms: "saying the thing which is not" ... is not bringing the debate forward.

Once in a while, Charles manages a well-researched, well-argued, thoughtful post. This isn't one of those times: it's a rehash of utter nonsense that Charles knows is utter nonsense. Being nice about his failures is treating him like a child who's got to be told "Yes, we love your fingerpainting, let's stick it up on the fridge" regardless of what a messy blob it is. Charles is an adult: treat him like one.

Yes, Anarch's statements were very "ouchy", as in right on the mark, effective, eloquent, and all other good things my comments never are. In fact, I retract my comment above, except for the funny parts, should they exist.

I expect Charles to retract every word of his post momentarily. Big :)

But seriously, is there in the history of political blogging (to limit the discussion) a single instance of anyone retracting an opinion post and admitting that it was completely, every word, wrong? And then maybe for good measure throwing in the big towel of actually agreeing with the opposition so much that they switch party affiliation.

Answer, I think. Von on the conduct of the war and his vote for Kerry. That test wasn't hard enough.

Jes,

I disagree.

I think Charles is spinning this, and is, as noted, perhaps a bit too fond of his own wordmanship at times, but overall he has made a valid point. It's not as absolute as he's claiming (and that's really what the bulk of the objections are focusing on), but the Dems do seem to be having trouble conveying the perception that they have a unified vision for the country. As Anderson noted: if the Dems were doing what's necessary to get their ideas out, it wouldn't even be possible for Charles to complain they're not doing it.

Just because I believe they're infintely preferable to the GOP as it stands doesn't mean beans if a majority of Americans are not equally convinced. That's the reality of the situation. Again, Charles is doing us a favor here.

Edward: but the Dems do seem to be having trouble conveying the perception that they have a unified vision for the country

If that was actually what Charles had said, that would have been a better argument. But it's not what he said: it's your very nice interpretation that this is what he must have meant. If that's what Charles meant, he's had plenty of time to update/correct his post. But he hasn't. Therefore I credit him with saying what he meant to say, and not what you have intelligently and kindly credited him with saying.

Perhaps what you are asserting Charles must have meant to say is actually the post you need to write? If you feel it needs to be said that the Democratic party have failed to present a unified vision of what America should be, then write that post. But it helps no one to respond to what Charles is saying as if he wrote the post you want to read - still less to criticize others for responding to what Charles actually wrote, rather than to your interpretation of what you think Charles must have meant to say.

still less to criticize others for responding to what Charles actually wrote,

That may be fair, but I still stand by my insistence that "dishonest" in response to assertion is uncivil as too often applied here.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad