Tuesday, August 15, 2006

# Posted 8:21 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE DEADLY PIVOT: Let me show you what I mean when I say that Howard Dean is still too eager to pivot away from national security and back to domestic issues. Here is Dean on Meet the Press:
The Republicans hope, once again, to win an election based on fear. They—you know, fear-mongering, whining and complaining and name-calling is not going to lead America.

We need a new direction in America, we need a new direction to defend America, and we need a new direction to make the homeland safe, not just in terms of safety from terrorists, but safe for the middle class again. We have seen a decline in the middle class.

We need a strong middle class to make America strong again, and with Democratic leadership we’ll have that middle class strong again, with the ability to go to college, with the ability to count on your pension, with the ability to have decent health care.
If you're going to be "whining and complaining" about unfair attacks on your patriotism, you've got to follow up by hitting back on national security issues. Instead, Dean seemed to trivialize the terrorist threat by comparing it to a supposed threat against the middle-class. That's very bad politics.

Here's another example, also from MTP:
MR. GREGORY: On the issue of the war, is the Democratic Party welcome to differing views about the war?

MR. DEAN: Sure we are. I think we very much are. You don’t see some of the other senators who were supportive of the war. This is simply—the problem that Joe had was he embraced the president. This is a president who’s been bad for America.

You should see what’s going on in North Dakota—farmers who’ve not had any drought relief, people losing their health care. There’s a—the president’s paying no attention to the middle class. Kids want to go to college; they can’t do it now because the president’s cut their Pell grants. There’s a lot of problems in this country that are not being addressed, and Ned Lamont will address those questions.
The war! Lieberman! Farmers in North Dakota! Which one of these doesn't belong...
(5) opinions -- Add your opinion

I thought electing Dean to the DNC Chair was meant to be a rebuke and rejection of the temperizing moderate DLC types, but the domestic policies he's pushing are exactly the kind of incremental, moderate, small-ball stuff that the DLC was famous for - just with dire rhetoric of imminent middle class extinction.

Do the Deaniacs/netroots have real domestic policy differences with the DLC'ers, or differences mostly of tone & style? Is the '06 platform just a compromise that smooths over genuine differences or a genuinely Deaniac statement from the heart?
I agree with you (I was tempted to say, "for once", but that would not be quite so), David. The problem with Dean's response is that it is classic "talking points-speak" that beltway sorts love to engage in. It reminds me of the god-awful "Mary Cheney" stuff back in '04. Dean may be correct that the enervation of the US economy in the name of globalization is a bad thing. But it sure has the most tenuous (or subtle, either way bad for a talking-point) connection to domestic security. What is wrong with these people? Is it so hard to lay out why Iraq is bad for security and why spending cuts on domestic security are bad for security? Is it so tough to lay out a hard-hitting program of what the Dems would do differently AND better (or would they?).
I think you just nailed the Dem's biggest problem. It IS TOUGH to say what they'd do better/different. It's two part problem really. First of all, I don't think any of the dems (at least none of the dems I've heard) really have a better plan to fight terrorism. I say that becuase I've not heard from any dem HOW they would do it better. Second, if they did state what they would do better, and it turns out that it doesn't work, the republicans get something to beat them with. So the dems are damned if they do, damned if they don't. Problem is that is not leadership, and people vote for leaders.
What we've seen in Lebanon and Iraq is that jumping up and down shrieking "terrorist!" and lashing out stupidly only weakens your position. Terrorism calls for restraint--frequently your response to an act of terrorism ends up costing you more than the act itself. Restraint, diplomacy, economics, and culture would do a lot to hurt terrorism--which is why the terrorists are so desperate to goad us into starting wars and create the kind of chaos they thrive in.

The Dems problem is that they haven't figured out a way to "sell" patience and restraint to the American people. The best they can think of is distraction.

If someone comes up with a way to sell patience and restraint to panicked Americans, please share, because restraint is urgently needed.
jos said:"Do the Deaniacs/netroots have real domestic policy differences with the DLC'ers, or differences mostly of tone & style?"

I don't mean to paint the whole group in a bad light, but from what I have read the "netroots" come across a bit insane (like crazy right-wing talk radio). I can't see how these people add anything at all to the nation.

KaT said:"which is why the terrorists are so desperate to goad us into starting wars and create the kind of chaos they thrive in."

Are you talking about Hez'boallah or Al Queda? Both groups were doing quite well before we were goaded into action. I doubt your "do nothing while people kill us" plan is going to win many votes. It's not panicked, it's ruthless, watch how mixing the militant threat with civilians ends:)
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