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July 04, 2005

Comments

Sweet post, Hilzoy. Thanks.

What a very nice read to wake from my holiday nappy! Krugman might have been able to say it in 700 words, but he would have had to leave out the cites, evidence and arguments, and left himself open to suspicion and stuff. It is a work of art.

But to continue to address the question Charles poses:

1)Dems do lack slogans;slogans are good and useful things, in part as targets for the opposition. It is perhaps to Bush's benefit for Dems to keep repeating:"He said he doesn't do nation-building or negotiate with himself." Any repetition is effective, even in criticism.

2) Perhaps what Republicans want is a SS plan from Lieberman that is say, 30% of what Bush wants, so Bush can do a fair negotiation and end up in the middle, with 90% per cent of what he wants, and call it bipartisan. If he knows
what he wants.

3) If Dems were arguing with sane opponents about reasonable policy, than an exchange of ideas might work at building an identity. But it is extremely important that it be clear to the people who is responsible for our current and imminent crises, if only to identify the policies that have failed. "Supply-side economics" still has valence because Democrats didn't say "NO" enough.

No No No. And only no. When the President says we have enough troops, you don't try to find more troops. You simply say you are wrong, Mr President, we do not have enough troops. An opposition party is not the frigging sidekick in a superhero comic book.

Although, in lots of administrations, the opposition has been a sidekick on national security issues. But since this administration has announced its lack of interest in this approach, I think it would be pointless to go on trying. Not that we shouldn't point out ideas, of course; just that there's no reason to try to make them interlock with his.

Hilzoy, I really don't usually pick on tiny little typos... but this one bugs me. (I assume it's a typo - missing h.)

The Republicans in the administration do have other ideas, tough.

I think the real problem faced by Charles and many others is simply that to be genuinely conservative nowadays pretty much demands all-out opposition to the GOP on all but a few issues. In other words, by saying no, Democrats are simply playing out their new role as the voice of conservatism. I know we don't tend to state it in those terms, but it's quite true, and it's not surprising that people who think of themselves as both Republican and conservative are experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance.

Worse, the radicalism of the post-cold-war GOP and particularly of the Bush admin has been a string of increasingly spectacular failures of both foreign and domestic policy. Unlike say the radicalism of the sexual revolution say, or the civil rights movement or various labor movements. And it's been punctuated by a single Democratic anomaly who in addition to being a consummate pol, somewhat coincidentally presided over a period of truly remarkable economic and technological growth (I mean over and above the normal economic benefits associated with having a Dem in the WH).

Jes: thanks; I had missed that. And I (finally!!) got into TypePad to fix another one. Aaah.

Here's some Democratic ideas:

Competence.
Sanity.
Policy based on reason and evidence, not fantasy.

Whereas GOP ideas tend to be catastrophic flights of fancy.

The Senate has:

Security, Opportunity, Responsibility.

I think that's good. Although in some moods I'd add sanity and competence as well ;)

Agreed. With all of it. Here's what I wrote in an earlier thread, the day after Bush's last (sorry excuse for a) speech:

And now after demonstrating, on national television, that he simply has **NO IDEA** how to attain any of the objectives that are so worth while, Bush will send his minions out to charge that the Democrats are a party without ideas.
You know, Mark Schmitt had a nice comment on the TPMCafe the other day about how he had designed a nuclear powered car in fourth grade: he drew a box in the middle of the chassis where the reactor was, and some tubes that brought the nuclear stuff to the back wheels. He commented that he should have patented the design.
It seems to me Schmitt's nuclear car could give Belle Waring's pony a run for its money. This is exactly how the Bush regime dead-enders talk about foreign policy: we'll spread freedom, we'll defeat the terrorists, we'll make the world safe for democracy. All of them good ideas, and all of them objectives that I share.
And these people have **NO IDEA** how to attain the objectives. They have no more detailed plan for pulling it off than Schmitt had a detailed schematic for the plumbing of a nuclear car. It's just fourth-grade fantasies. Wouldn't it be nice.
And of course if anyone challenges them with facts, statistics, or metrics, then they either whine about pessimists, or revert to full McCarthyite type by charging treason.
This is how dictatorships are run: with unquestioned, unthinking obedience to the Dear Leader. And this is how they run into trouble in the end, when Baghdad Bob (or "Comical Ali" as the British press called him) simply can't own up to the mounting evidence of failure, simply can't pierce the Dear Leader's bubble.
Democracies are run with accountability, transparency, attention to detail, respect for facts, and constant questioning.

Here's an idea:

Allow people to withdraw some of the money from their retirement accounts early, without penalty, if the money is going to be used to start a business.

Perhaps it could be set up so that, instead of taking the money out, the money in the retirement account acts as collateral for a loan from the SBA.

That way, if the business succeeds, the loan can be paid off without ever touching the retirement funds.

If the business fails, then the balance of the loan would be paid out of the retirement account. If the account's investments have performed better than the interest rate on the loan, then the borrower will come out better than if the money had been taken out at the start.

How's that?

I never wrote that the Democrats had no ideas, Hil. In my No Party post, I explicitly mentioned that Democrats very much do. Quote: "Many liberals will of course say that they do have better ideas. Fine. Then sell them. Prioritize them. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not persuaded by hearing just opposing arguments without hearing what the better plan is. John Kerry kept saying he had better plans, but he failed to spend more time and money communicating them."

The issue is not that they do not exist, but on emphasis. The problem is that liberal "better ideas" are communicated consistently by some think-tankers and a few weblogs, but not where it counts, among the movers and shakers of the party. This is where Carville was coming from. It's one thing to disagree with me, a faceless semi-anonymous conservative who blogs in his sweatpants, but it seems that you should take notice when you're disagreeing with stalwarts such as James Carville, Stanley Greenberg, Paul Begala and George Soros.

Charles writes: ""Many liberals will of course say that they do have better ideas. Fine. Then sell them. Prioritize them. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not persuaded by hearing just opposing arguments without hearing what the better plan is. John Kerry kept saying he had better plans, but he failed to spend more time and money communicating them."

That's largely a function of the media. The news media has no appetite for plans. They just want rhetoric, sound bites, and partisan red meat.

Plans can't be communicated in a 30 second commercial.

Charles: see the parts of my post about Pelosi and Reid.

bipartisan snark coming.

For like ten years in the 90s I watched a lot of CSPAN and cable news. Never seen an episode of Seinfeld or Friends but know who O'Hanlon and Ledeen are.

And I would watch the Brookings and Cato conferences on the weekends, watch Congress during the days, and watch Matthews and Hannity at night. Until I decided there was no logical relationships among what the deep-thinkers were thinking,
what was being sold on the media, and what was being enacted in Congress or implemented in the Executive.

I mean Cato had the SS plan in '84, but twenty years of thinking hasn't helped them sell it and will have little relation to what if anything gets passed. The Heritage kids might have made Iraq a little worse, but were mostly insignificant to the more cynical and short-sighted of their superiors.

Ideas and framing don't matter. I have just singlehandedly closed down the blogosphere, except for posts about Firefly and Katie Holmes and baseball standings.

Radish: "....unlike, say, the radicalicalism of the sexual revolution.."

That was one big idea the Republican Party DIDN'T want to hear about. Too bad, too, because I have all kinds of ideas and theories I want to try, sort of a Maoist-style perpetual sexual revolution.

Try as I might, I can't think of any ideas "BIGGER" than establishing "free, democratic, peaceful, non-theocratic" regimes throughout the world through the exercise of American military power ..or .. completely rolling back the greatest peaceful transformation of a society (The New Deal and later iterations) in the history of the world.

I can envision what might be required to achieve these ends; in the first instance the killing of hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of people, probably through the use of, at least, tactical nuclear weapons, who don't want to go along with the plan, for whatever reason, and subsequent long expensive occupations; and in the second instance, the deliberate beggaring of a government through insufficient tax collection
and a colossal debt overhang which shall lead to numerous babies being drowned in numerous bathtubs. Then, the coup de grace, as Grover Norquist put it the other day: appoint as many young, extreme conservatives as possible to the Supreme Court so that NO appeal to the first two policies can be made in, what, a forever number of years.


Given the reality, Sebastian's satirical formulation on the previous thread that "I hope God comes down from heaven and fixes everything" is looking pretty good.

Besides, I thought the Administration's plan for Iraq was, in fact, "You can hope for miracles, but planning for them is stupid"

That lone guy in Tianimin Square years ago who stood in front of the tanks. I thought his simple, eloquent "No!" was just the answer.

Mine, too. No.

Whatever happened to him?

Whatever happened to him?

No one knows.

Happy Fourth to everyone regardless of their ideas, with a special shoutout to Hilzoy for summing it up in one handy, go-to reference.

I never wrote that the Democrats had no ideas, Hil.

Not explicitly--you merely perpetuate this lie by thumping various other supporting lies. Examples:

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

Lie. As exhaustively noted both in Hilzoy's post and the comments to both of yours, this is absolutely demonstrably false. The majority of the problem is the near-impossibility of selling Democratic ideas when the GOP controls the Executive and Legislative branches, and has taken every measure possible to actively shut out Democratic ideas.

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.

Another lie. Democrats--both elected and private--have advanced a legion of very good "better plans" and ideas, only to face relentless obstructionism from the party that controls the ability to set the agenda.

John Kerry kept saying he had better plans, but he failed to spend more time and money communicating them.

Nonsense. Both Kerry and Bush spent roughly equivalent amounts of money. Kerry not only explicitly laid out his agenda, but made it available for everyone on his web site. Everyone who can get on the web and read, that is, which presumably includes you--although from your professed ignorance of Kerry's ideas, I have to wonder.

If on the other hand what you mean is "Kerry should have hired a group of people who served with Bush to lie about his record", then I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree--unlike Bush and the Republican party right now, I prefer my candidate to campaign on the truth.

The issue is not that they do not exist, but on emphasis.

More nonsense. When the Republican leadership will stop shutting out Democratic ideas while claiming that they don't have any, negotiating compromises only to break them in committee, and working relentlessly in bad faith, then maybe we can have some progress on this front. The alternative, which is also acceptable to me, is that the adults--meaning the Democratic party--takes back the government in 2006 and 2008.

And when you personally will stop unequivocally lying about Democratic ideas and the real reasons why they're not getting traction, perhaps we can have a real discussion about this.

Charles' post was basically a warmed over talking point anyway, which he now backpedals from above by claiming its just about emphasis and not a lack of ideas. Please make up your mind what your story is.

As for Carville, et al.'s message, the Dems are jostling for a united message so that they project more than just opposition. The party does not have the same message discipline as the Repubs on this. Actually, that famous message discipline is why the Republican message is so lacking in substance, and why Repubs quake at the thought of actually pointing out that the official talking points are nonsense and hurting our country.

The Republicans have been running this "NO" line for a while, and it has no substance. It's their shallow way of responding to the heavy hits they are taking on substance (Iraq mess, deficits and overall fiscal nuttiness, Schiavo, just about everything else) -- instead of responding with substance, they whine about how negative the Dems are.

So Charles, if the issue is *emphasis*, why did you title your old post 'The NO Party'? Doesn't really help, does it?

Charles writes:

John Kerry kept saying he had better plans, but he failed to spend more time and money communicating them.

This is so disingenuous.

If you want to have a debate about ideas ask your party to stop siccing the Swift Boat jerks and thier ilk on candidates.

You conveniently forget that Bush got his 'mandate' back in November. You guys are in charge; what happens now is your fault. Stop blaming the Democrats for your failings and start blaiming the Republican President and the Republican Congress.

Great post, Hilzoy.

Charles,

If you're going to complain that the Democrats' ideas aren't reaching you it might be worth examining your information sources.

My impression is that you rely fairly heavily on NRO, OpinionJournal, Weekly Standard, etc. Do you also watch Fox news regularly?

You're not going to get a good picture of Democratic ideas from these people. To the extent they present them at all they are inaccurate and incomplete - often intentionally so, in my opinion.

Catsy: If on the other hand what you mean is "Kerry should have hired a group of people who served with Bush to lie about his record"

Well, first, he'd have had to find a group of people who served with Bush... ;-) And second, lying about his record is what Bush does: the truth is damning enough.

Catsy,
I fully reject your assertions that what I wrote are lies. I write about what I see and hear, and what I saw and heard was indeed the emphasis of "no" that I wrote about.

I'm sure that from the perspective of the current Administration the congressmen of "the other faith" look rather obstructionist.

It's tough being the brakeman on Casey Jones' train when the firemen keep shoveling in the coal.

I fully reject your assertions that what I wrote are lies. I write about what I see and hear, and what I saw and heard was indeed the emphasis of "no" that I wrote about.

Oh, please.

When you continue to thump the same misleading talking points long after you've been exhaustively corrected in the comments to your posts, with cites and examples provided aplenty, one can only come to the conclusion that you are a) stupid or b) deliberately persisting in advancing lies because they serve your political agenda.

I do not think that you are in the least bit stupid.

I fully reject your assertions that what I wrote are lies. I write about what I see and hear, and what I saw and heard was indeed the emphasis of "no" that I wrote about.

Oh, please.

When you continue to thump the same misleading talking points long after you've been exhaustively corrected in the comments to your posts, with cites and examples provided aplenty, one came only come to the conclusion that you are a) stupid or b) deliberately persisting in advancing lies because they serve your political agenda.

I do not think that you are in the least bit stupid.

Catsy: nonetheless, there are still posting rules.

And, apparently, double posts.

If I exclusively read Kos, I doubt I would hear a single good thing about the Republican party. There's a lesson here, somewhere.

For the record, I watch FoxNews maybe once a year, read the National Review no more than once a month, read the single articles from the Weekly Standard maybe once every three or four months. Most of my 'real' news comes from the Guardian or the New York Times. Most of my blog-reading is on lefty sites (Yglesias, Drum, CrookedTimber, DeLong). When I have a bad impression of Democratic Party foreign policy (and I do) I'm not getting it from a Republican echo chamber.

When I have a bad impression of Democratic Party foreign policy (and I do) I'm not getting it from a Republican echo chamber.

I don't believe my comments (or McDuff's, though I can't speak for him) were directed at you, Sebastian. I have a great deal of respect for you and von as front-page conservative posters.

CB, there's a time for presenting ideas and an agenda, at that time is campaign season. Presenting an agenda now is worse than useless, because it not only cannot make a change in policy, it also diverts attention away from the inability of the current Admin to perform.

The Pres likes to push this meme because it makes his base feel better about themselves, and he even says that Dems are just saying no, rather than presenting constructive ideas, with respect to nominations. Does he want them to present alternative nominations? You know the answer. Indeed, if he wanted Dems to provide input on policy questions, he could maneuver them into doing it (even though they don't want to). Instead, it's all for show. Why are you playing along?

I'm no big fan of Democratic foreign policy, either. But I'm even less enamoured of what passes for Republican foreign policy these days.

At least Kissinger fought to win.

Most of my 'real' news comes from the Guardian or the New York Times. Most of my blog-reading is on lefty sites (Yglesias, Drum, CrookedTimber, DeLong). When I have a bad impression of Democratic Party foreign policy (and I do) I'm not getting it from a Republican echo chamber.

Well, then, I suppose that finally, once and for all, puts to bed the pernicious idea of That Liberal Media.

Catsy: I have a great deal of respect for you and von as front-page conservative posters.

Seconded.

Catsy: I have a great deal of respect for you and von as front-page conservative posters.

Jesurgislac: Seconded.

Thirded. I may not always agree with Sebastian and von, but they always present well-reasoned, cogent arguments backed by evidence. When arguing with other commenters, they typically demonstrate an understanding of the opposing arguments, and attempt to address the foundations of those arguments using logic and information.

Charles still puzzles me. Unlike Catsy, I don't think he's a deliberate liar. Nor do I think he's stupid. He does, however, seem to make arguments by assertion, rather than using all available evidence. Much more disturbingly, he does not seem to often acknowledge or respond to the most well-reasoned and well-sourced arguments on the other side. When he does respond, there's often no indication that he really understood the point being made - sometimes his responses almost seem like non-sequitars. As I said, I don't think Charles is stupid, but perhaps he's so locked into his own world view that he isn't really parsing other viewpoints. It's hard to know when he doesn't provide those relevant responses.

I've discussed this with Charles in an earlier thread, and he pled time constraints which kept him from responding as much as he would like. I can understand that as a valid limitation, so I suggested that he try to anticipate and address some of the opposing views in his original front-page posts. He agreed that this was a good idea. I don't think he's quite gotten the concept yet, though. In his "Still Getting to No You" post, he talked about the failure of "the apparent Democratic policy of being the 'No Party' instead of the 'Better Ideas Party'". In one of his previous threads, hilzoy had produced a huge amount of evidence that members of the Democratic Party, including party leaders, were producing quite a few original, constructive alternate ideas. If Charles thinks that Democrats are still at fault for not publicizing those ideas better, then his front page post should have explained that, and explained why he still regards them as the "No Party" rather than the "Can't manipulate the media well enough to get attention for their constructive ideas party."

I'd like to offer something more constructive than just criticism of Charles, though. Here's a mental exercise that I recommend for all of us before getting into heated debates - it's been useful in my life, anyway. The exercise is this. Try to understand your opponents point of view well enough that you could make his/her argument in your own words and defend it in debate. Once you get to that point, you should understand where the ultimate disagreement lies. Is it in your initial moral principles? In your logical reasoning? In which facts you find believable? Once you understand that, you've got the grounds for some real communication. (Note - I've attempted this with Charles, but he was too busy to explain himself thoroughly enough for me to really understand him. I'll still think it's a worthwhile goal, however.)

tonydismukes, non sequitors can be very useful, if one does not wish to respond to the point being made, or the question being asked.

Most of my blog-reading is on lefty sites (Yglesias, Drum, CrookedTimber, DeLong). When I have a bad impression of Democratic Party foreign policy (and I do) I'm not getting it from a Republican echo chamber.

OK, Sebastian. But there is a difference between hearing ideas you disagree with and claiming that your opposition has no ideas, or does not vigorously present them.

Charles' post was basically a warmed over talking point anyway, which he now backpedals from above by claiming its just about emphasis and not a lack of ideas.

That's just pure bunkus, dm. I wrote explicitly in the "No Party" post that Democrats did have ideas. There was no "making up my mind" involved. The words are there for you to see.

My impression is that you rely fairly heavily on NRO, OpinionJournal, Weekly Standard, etc. Do you also watch Fox news regularly?

Your impression is wrong, Bernard. Check out my last ten posts and you'll get a fair picture of what I read. I watch equal but declining amounts of CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews. I check out dKos, Drum, Atrios, TNR and The Nation regularly.

Oh, please. When you continue to thump the same misleading talking points long after you've been exhaustively corrected in the comments to your posts.

Oh please, Catsy, get over this stupid talking points nonsense. My views are my own. Karl Rove doesn't send me faxes or e-mails. When my facts are wrong, I fix them. When my opinions differ from yours, you're not "exhaustively correcting" my opinions, you're just differing from them. I'm also calling you for busting the posting rules by calling me a liar on multiple occasions here. You crossed the line, pal.

Hilzoy,
I've thought about this for a few days, and I conclude that you are misrepresenting my position in the body of your post when you wrote, "When Republicans, Charles included, complain about Democrats' having no ideas..." That is not my position and it's not what I wrote. I know we disagree on just about everything, but what you wrote goes beyond disagreement. It is a false statement and it does not reflect my views or my writings. I respectfully ask that the "Charles included" phrase be excised.

Oh please, Catsy, get over this stupid talking points nonsense. My views are my own. Karl Rove doesn't send me faxes or e-mails.

Never said he did, just that you have an amazing propesnsity for clinging to and spreading falsehoods--or if you prefer, "inaccurate assertions"--long after you've been corrected. And that these inaccuracies bear a serendipitous similarity to whatever calumny about Democrats the GOP is trying peddle off as truth this week.

Note: "corrected" is right term, here. This isn't about things on which reasonable people can differ--it's about repeatedly making statements and implications that are not true, being corrected, and going right back to saying the same thing. Maybe you don't read all the comments to your threads. Maybe you just skim over the ones in which you can't find a weak but irrelevant point to jump on in lieu of addressing the corrections to your mistakes. I'm sure there are charitable interpretations some would find credible.

When my opinions differ from yours, you're not "exhaustively correcting" my opinions, you're just differing from them.

If you say something untrue and someone else points it out, they are not "differing" from you, they are correcting your impression of the facts because you are wrong. I was under the impression that relativism was still frowned upon by most conservatives.

I'm also calling you for busting the posting rules by calling me a liar on multiple occasions here. You crossed the line, pal.

I'm not your pal, and just as you call 'em as you see 'em, so do I. I promised hilzoy that I would rest the question of your honesty on the comment threads, but your continued intransigence is making that a chancy thing.

...and I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you pesky italics!

When my facts are wrong, I fix them

False.

Charles Bird: That is not my position and it's not what I wrote.

Oh, come off it:

"About six weeks ago I wrote about the apparent Democratic policy of being the "No Party" instead of the "Better Ideas Party". Well, the results are in. The strategy is failing."

That's what you wrote.

Further, you quoted (with apparent approval/agreement)

"By the logic of Mr. Clark's critique, the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq immediately because the terrorists will then leave us alone. But when Fox's Brit Hume pursued the question, Mr. Clark backed away. As for helpful policy alternatives, we didn't hear any."

This is what you wrote as a comment to your post: "Missing the point, rilke, which is that the leaders of the party are not refuting my "meme", they're reinforcing it. Kos (which is another leader of the party) is also on the "no" bandwagon, as I wrote in the earlier post. This is not small potatoes because they're by far the mostly highly trafficked left-of-center blog out there."

In short, Charles, if you don't like what people say about you, you need to change your behavior rather than trying to get other people to change what they write about your behavior.

Charles: "I wrote explicitly in the 'No Party' post that Democrats did have ideas. There was no 'making up my mind' involved. The words are there for you to see."

Charles, could you please clarify that statement? I just went back and re-read that post and the ensuing thread. The closest thing in your original post which acknowledges the existence of Democratic ideas is "Many liberals will of course say that they do have better ideas. Fine. Then sell them. Prioritize them. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not persuaded by hearing just opposing arguments without hearing what the better plan is." Of course, that doesn't really admit that Democrats have ideas, just that Democrats say they have ideas. Later in the comments, after hilzoy provided a list of constructive proposals by Democratic presidential candidates and congresscritters, you acknowledged that these proposals existed, but claimed that Democrats were deliberately de-emphasizing these positive suggestions in favor of just criticizing and naysaying. Your evidence for this claim seemed to be that you weren't seeing extensive coverage of these ideas in the media or on Daily Kos. (Actually, I'm not sure if the issue with DKos was that it didn't cover any of these policy proposals, or just that it didn't cover policy proposals which reflect your priorities, such as reforming the U.N.. I find DKos to be too partisan for my taste, so I don't know which is the case.) You didn't provide much response to the many commenters who pointed out that the media tends to ignore the policy proposals of the minority party. Nor, in fact, did you provide any response (pro or con) to the many proposals which hilzoy had listed and linked to, thus ignoring them as thoroughly as the media has.

Your "Still Getting to No You" post referred to talked about the failure of "apparent Democratic policy of being the 'No Party' instead of the 'Better Ideas Party'." In that post, however, you don't offer suggestions for Democrats to do better salesmanship for the many ideas they have. Instead, you offer some praise for Joe Biden, who made a speech with some ideas you like, and suggest that the rest of the party follow Biden's lead. However, many other Democrats leaders have given speeches with various contructive policy proposals. (I'm sure hilzoy could provide another extensive list.) This leads me to a suspicion.

I've never gotten a Karnak award, but I've always been jealous of my telepathic brethren. So here's my own bit of mindreading interpretation of past behavior. It seems that when you refer to Democrats not promoting their own positive ideas, you really mean that Democrats are largely not proposing ideas which address your areas of primary concern in terms which you find reasonable. This would explain why you can gripe about DKos and the congressional Democrats not offering proposals to reform the U.N., but you don't even acknowledge (for example) serious proposals concerning universal healthcare from John Kerry or the Washington Monthly. (You could, of course, point about everything you see wrong with universal healthcare, but then someone might accuse you of being a "blogger of No".)

(Feel free to bash me for mindreading. I really have no clear idea of what's going on in C.B.'s head. I stand by my description of his actual behavior, though.)

In that post, however, you don't offer suggestions for Democrats to do better salesmanship for the many ideas they have.

Because I don't think salesmanship alone will do the trick, tony. The point is that I never said the Democrats were the "no ideas party". If I had thought so I would have written so. My contention is that they are choosing to be "no party", i.e., opposing Republican initiatives at the expense of trumpeting their own competing initiatives. Doesn't mean those initiatives do not exist. This is a matter of political strategy, not ideas per se. The problem that you and Hilzoy and others are having is that you're conflating "no ideas party" (which is something I never said) with "no party" (which is a matter of political tactics). Implicit in both posts is that they could have chosen to be the "better ideas party", meaning that of course they have ideas but they're not putting them out. In the "Getting to No You" post, Pollack handed Democrats a viable counter-strategy, which I viewed as an opportunity waiting to happen. Again, this concept isn't just coming from lil' old me, but fellow Democrats. No one has yet answered why Carville, Bagala, Greenberg and Soros do not agree with Hilzoy's characterization.

Charles--No one has yet answered why Carville, Bagala, Greenberg and Soros do not agree with Hilzoy's characterization.

Leaving aside the lovely little rhetorical flourish at Carville et al's expense...

The Republicans have a majority. This means that they do not need to consult with the Democrats on any political agenda and need only meet with their own. The Administration and the Congressional majority could choose to set forth a centrist, broadly bipartisan agenda in line with their self-portrayal as uniters and populists, but instead they have chosen to push a partisan agenda while they have the opportunity.

Given this choice, the Democrats can either choose to oppose the Republicans' power politics or they can choose to try to sell their own ideas (which will not get through committee to a vote anyway).

The press will continue to cover every semantical explosion and ignore anything that does not come from the White House or concern a bill currently on the floor or a controversial appointment.

There is only so much bandwidth to go around, so where to throw one's effort? Try to pry the media's attention away from the spotlight, or maximize one's own efforts by opposing power politics in the hopes that eventually the Republicans will tire of trying to railroad an agenda and start governing for the center of the bell curve again?

"Implicit in both posts is that they could have chosen to be the "better ideas party", meaning that of course they have ideas but they're not putting them out." - You might be getting a bit too implicit rather than explicit there. I'm not sure the typical reader who just happened across either post would necessarily understand you to mean that "of course" the Democrats have ideas. You might want to be a little clearer in your original message.

I still haven't heard much response to the counterclaim that the Democrats are trumpeting their ideas, but they're just not getting the coverage. Personally, I find that a fairly believable claim, due to my observation that the mainstream media a)is allergic to devoting substantive time to serious policy matters in general, and b) tends not to cover congressional proposals which have no chance of being passed.

I'm not sure what level of effort in putting out a message you consider to be "trumpeting", but I note you give credit to Joe Biden for expressing his ideas on the Tony Snow show and to Kenneth Pollack for writing an op-ed. If hilzoy went back over her list of Democrats with constructive ideas and found instances where any of those individuals expressed their proposals in an op-ed or on tv, would you give those folks credit for "trumpeting" their ideas?

Hil,
Thanks for updating your post. Several thoughts. Of course the Democrats have ideas. Anyone can go to hundreds of websites and see for themselves that there are scores upon scores of white papers, position papers, initiatives, issues statements and so forth. I've read too many of those sites with my own eyes (as opposed to someone's else eyes ;) ). Why would I write something that could so easily and demonstrably be proven false? The simple answer is that I never wrote that Democrats have no ideas, because I know there is a whole cauldron full of them.

The issue as to who actually does have better ideas is of course a subject of debate, and you'll have your opinions and I'll have mine. If I thought Democrats had better ideas, I'd be a Democrat.

Again, do not confuse or conflate "no party" with "no ideas party". The former is a matter of political strategy, and the latter is simply false.

I still haven't heard much response to the counterclaim that the Democrats are trumpeting their ideas, but they're just not getting the coverage.

You still have mainstream media on your side, tony. It can be done. The Democrat leadership has not made the "better ideas" strategy a priority, thus we don't hear about it from the Reids, Pelosi's, Deans, Clintons, etc.

You still have mainstream media on your side, tony.

Do you really, honestly think this is true, Charles? Serious question here. I had to stop laughing long enough to type it, but it is meant in earnest.

If you truly do, you may want to re-examine that assumption. The evidence at hand does not support it.

Charles Bird: Doesn't mean those initiatives do not exist. This is a matter of political strategy, not ideas per se. The problem that you and Hilzoy and others are having is that you're conflating "no ideas party" (which is something I never said) with "no party" (which is a matter of political tactics).

If you really intended this distinction, you really need to learn to write more clearly. A lot more clearly.

Also:

When my facts are wrong, I fix them.

As felixrayman noted above, this is simply false and, as it happens, why the comment threads on your posts tend to generate more heat than light: we're damn tired of continually having to correct you and it shows. If you'd actually heed the factual corrections made in your threads, I think you'd find your tenure here far more enjoyable; lord knows everyone else would.

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