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Wednesday, February 02, 2005


Green Dem

"He took the folksy route, reminding viewers he had grown up in a small town in Nevada among hard-rock miners."

Hard rock miners? Did he really say that? Sexy. I'm sure it played well in the Castro District...

"She proved that she can read a TelePrompTer without blinking or changing her facial expression."

You know what I love about Nancy Pelosi? She reminds you of that line in that Tom Waits song "Frank's Wild Years" about Frank's wife the spent piece of used jet trash. Now I like Pelosi, but she has that kind of permanent glaze of a woman who downs a half-dozen gin and tonics before noon (Jane Harman is even more tragic in this regard by the way), and quite possibly consumed enough coke in the 70s to kill all the livestock in a twelve square mile radius.

Green Dem

PS Did Reid mention his uncle the cowboy, his brother-in-law the construction worker, and his neighbor the cop too or is he saving those for the speech he gives after the Democrats fail to stop the destruction of social security?

too many steves

George W. Bush is nothing if not bold.

Maybe it's because I'm from MA but why can't the Democrats find themselves another Tip O'Neill? First Tom Daschle and now Harry Reid?!? Wormtongues, both of them.


Bush is bold indeed, very unlike his old man. That, combined with his lousy speaking skills is part of what's excited so much raw spleen whenever he appears.

The Dems are missing more than O'neill, though that would be a help. They're missing the radical vision, which seems to have been co-opted by the Repubs. How times change in a generation!

Marc Davidson

The Republicans know that form trumps substance in our political discourse everytime. The Democrats have not yet come around to this conclusion, holding out for a remergence of rationality. What they don't realize is that touting failure as victory and claiming perpetual victimization at the hands of the hedonistic, intellectual, and elitist opposition is the surest way to electoral success.


Harry Reid is imitating Tip O'Neil actually, who perfected the art of giving the Republicans big portions of the Democratic gains made in the post-War era.
However, instead of cynically attacking the Dems with no alternatives aside from attacking, here's something positive to look at:


too many steves

Sorry Steve but is that what you define as success? The Rainbow Coalition? Mel King? The leader of the Mattapan secession movement?

Tip O'Neill was a loud, brash, expert political operative who knew how to get what he wanted and who stood on priciple - even if it was unpopular. And I think he's the guy who first coined the phrase "all politics is local". Over the past twenty years the Republicans have taken that admonition seriously.

Harry Reid speaks in hushed tones about some fantasy kid who hopes some day to be a Senator. His plan amounts to nothing more than being a wrench in the plans of the leading party.

Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? Charlie Rangel? Julian Bond? They are the future for the Democrats? Call again when you're serious.

too many steves

Sorry Steve but is that what you define as success? The Rainbow Coalition? Mel King? The leader of the Mattapan secession movement?

Tip O'Neill was a loud, brash, expert political operative who knew how to get what he wanted and who stood on priciple - even if it was unpopular. And I think he's the guy who first coined the phrase "all politics is local". Over the past twenty years the Republicans have taken that admonition seriously.

Harry Reid speaks in hushed tones about some fantasy kid who hopes some day to be a Senator. His plan amounts to nothing more than being a wrench in the plans of the leading party.

Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? Charlie Rangel? Julian Bond? They are the future for the Democrats? Call again when you're serious.

"To try and cash in on the heroics of ordinary Iraqis merits endless scorn."

Unlikely that Iraqis would see it as having their bravery exploited by such a gesture. More likely they saw this for what it was: a gesture of respect.

And it was open to any Democrat congress member to make the same gesture...


Steve, as Glover and Fletcher point out, it wasn't the personality as much as the approach that Jackson took that worked and can work, at least much better than letting the Repubs chew away at the gains of the Dems as O'Neil did, which has us where we are today:
"Jackson tapped into a growing anger and
frustration arising on the US political scene among both historically and
newly disenfranchised populations. He spoke to issues of economic injustice
without abandoning the question of race, thus avoiding the classic error of
white populists who attempt to build unity by addressing economic issues
only. Jackson linked these issues. His appearances before white farmers and
workers brought forth a response that previously had been unimaginable."

If you read the article to mean that one or another leader is the solution for the Dems, you misunderstood it.


"Where do I begin?
To tell the story of..."

Nah, I won't go there! Marc writes, "Shame on any Republican partisan who even attempts to justify that sickening gesture. Have the honesty to denounce it as the arrogant, self-serving hoax that it was."

Can't let that stand, because it's not a statement designed to foster debate or look at differing opinions. It's a statement designed to make one look bad if one disagrees with Marc.

First, if one disagrees with Marc, that person behaves in a "Shameful" way; if it is not seen as a "self-serving hoax" then one is automatically dishonest.

In one of my rehabilitation counseling classes that I teach a number of students were wearing pink ribbons to express support of the anti-breast cancer meme. I asked how many had breast cancer, knew someone with breast cancer or had a family member with breast cancer. None did, so, were they being shameful for supporting an idea when they had not suffered because of breast cancer. Do the folk who sport yellow ribbons get labled self serving because they support "the troops?" Of course, I suspect that Marc and anyone else would answer "No, of course not."
This is a measure of symbolism. And, in David Corn's article (which was quite good by the way, and though I disagree with many of his inferences, I absolutely agree that Bush I's not backing up the Shia in 91 was absolutely a shameful act.) he made the statement "But she scored no points. In this arena, delivery counts as much as--no, make that more than--substance." Which is of course what Republicans and even some Democrats have complained about: that it is more important to have "style" than "substance." That belief, I would argue, is more shameful.

Which of course, brings us back to Marc's original charge. That showing visual support is a shameful, hoaxfilled dishonest act! But why, is showing visual support for those who braved death and dismemberment to vote shameful and self serving? There is absolutely no difference in showing support for one meme/idea/cause vs showing support for a different meme/idea/cause.

Perhaps the answer lies in whose ox is being gored. Showing the purple/blue finger in the SOTU shows support for the election process in Iraq, something Marc has already done here: http://marccooper.typepad.com/marccooper/2005/01/fear_and_pollin.html.
By posting this article (which I substantially agree with) show support for the Iraqi people voting, or is it a shamefull act when he had absolutely nothing to risk by noting the Iraqi courage and determination? I suspect that it was true support for the Iraqi people. So too was the "symbolism" of holding up a purple/blue finger.

There, that's my first post, though I doubt if I have changed any minds. As Mr. Corn noted discussing Pelosi: "it was hard to imagine her swaying anyone who wasn't already a Bush-basher." It is hard to imagine me swaying anyone who is already a Bush-basher.

Tom Grey - Liberty Dad

Marc, you're really wrong on this one; as an NRO guy said of Kerry who "keeps pissing in the Punch Bowl of Freedom" (or somesuch)

Pro-Iraq Democracy WON -- and anti-Iraqi death squads LOST. You really SHOULD be very happy about it. And unless you, and other Dems, can be HAPPY when goodness triumphs, you, like The Dems are really in danger of losing all vital signs.

The biggest dishonesty of the Dems and excessive Bush-hate is the inability to conceive of any good results from Bush's actions.

Afghanistan - good. Ukraine - good. Iraq - good. Really.

Bush can STILL be a lying, smirking, corporate toady, who used his slightly-higher than Kerry's IQ to go to Flight school instead of "safe" boats (*I* don't think so, but there is some evidence for these views) -- yet he DID get Iraq an excellent democratic election.

At a cost of less than 2500 American lives. (Did it cost too much? Can't really ask that question in America, unless there is agreement it was good.)

It was good, good, good. And why a LOT of voters supported Bush. If you, Marc, can't separate good results from the leader who gets them, you're only going to follow/ lead the Dems into their next 2006 loss...

Your skewering of the Dems, which I loved of course, is another reason for me to be here. But you can't honestly beat Bush about his support for the Saudis, or Mubarak in Egypt, while not accepting Iraqi elections as good. And if they ARE good, it's fine for Reps to stain their fingers. It's even good.

Of course, YOUR overly partisan criticism above will be forgotten far sooner than Bush's speech; and I'm sure you'll (not fully honestly) be complaining he's not pushing other death squad dictators around enough.

(I hope you don't consider me too blunt to visit your living room.)

too many steves

While my attorneys go over the new posting rules to determine if an accidental double post counts as one entry or two, let me try to take a more constructive approach to beating up on the Democrats.

In fact, let’s start with a construction metaphor. If you own a home that needs repairs you have two choices (not counting doing nothing): repair it in place or tear it down. Sometimes the decision comes down to simple short term math in that repairing the home often is cheaper, at least in the short term, than a tear down and replace. But I think we could agree that there is a point whereby if money were no object you would tear it down and start fresh. I think the Democrats have reached that point.

In my line of work I am constantly competing with other potential suppliers for a specific customer’s business. I have learned over the years that a very effective method of improving my success rate is to understand two fundamental things: when I lose, what did my competition do correctly and what did I do incorrectly; and when I win, what did I do correctly and what did my competition do incorrectly. They aren’t always the same thing, so understanding the impact of those dynamics makes me a better competitor.

Aside from some notable exceptions (Bill Clinton as President), the Democrats have been perennial election day losers since 1980. That’s twenty-five years. They have been consistently out hustled and out maneuvered where it counts most: at the local level. On any given day the Democrats can put more people in the street to shout about this or that issue, but come election day the Republicans get it done where it counts most, at the ballot box.

So, should the Democrats tweak the system that they have been using for the last 25 years or is a tear down and replace needed? I would argue that a tear down and replace is needed. They should lose their current cadre of out-front spokesmen (Pelosi, Reid, Kennedy, Byrd, Rangel, Schumer) and allow younger more thoughtful people to take the stage – as was done with Jesse Jackson in the early 1980’s. They also need to re-establish preeminence in grassroots organization building and campaigning. Howard Dean strikes me as a very good choice in that regard.

To do this earnestly, thoughtfully, and well, they likely would be conceding to lose the 2008 election, but I believe that is a small price to pay for the long term goal of becoming relevant and powerful and an opposition to the Republicans that can be taken seriously. That goal is in their best interest and would be a positive development for our country.

Ok, that's three and so I'll be lurking from here on in.


ISSUE 1 - No Class Democrats:
What low class and bad manners for the Democrats to boo during the speech. That side of the aisle brought a new low to the normal courtesy and decorum of the occasion. You would have thought that Bush was addressing the opposition party in the House of Commons.

The Democrats cannot stand to be out of power, so they hate and blame Bush for that and look for any occasion to express that hate. And, don't tell me the Republicans booed Clinton. They didn't unless you believe everything you read on the DemocraticUndergound.

ISSUE 2 - Social Security:
The Democrats booed when Bush brought up Social Security reform. The Democrats know full well that FDR started that program as an unfunded program, which he said would change within ten years. Well, it didn't, and it doesn't take an actuary to figure that it will break the financial backs of our kids if they have to pay for all the baby boomers.

The Democrats just want to continue scaring the pants off of senior citizens with lies that Bush wants to take their retirement. We surely cannot expect that party to cooperate on this issue (like they do on anything.) Of course, Harry Reid said that the Democrats would not be obstructionists except on issues where the administration is wrong--which they think is all of the time.

In Gallup polls before and after the talk, Americans were asked if Bush made a convincing case on Social Security. Before the speech, 67% thought so. After the speech, 74% did. But, in true form of leftist thought, the Democrats probably think that government knows what is best and that those 74% are just stupid and can be ignored.

Based upon their stances now, two years from now when Howard Dean is shouting all the states that the Democrats are going to take back, his list will be very short.

I agree with GMRoper's post above on this. It came to my mind, too, that this is like various ribbons that people wear. The Democrats would have done the same thing, probably worse, if they had achieved a victory of this sort. At least the Republicans had the class not to dye the middle finger and display that digit to the Democrats.

The style was nice--and unrehearsed, like when the Iraqi woman hugged the mother of the fallen soldier. Bush trying to hold his emotions was real. But, to deal with the substance, Bush outlined things that have to be done--and, all of that may not be popular and may require temporary sacrifices. The line that I liked was when Bush said, "The principle here is clear: taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not at all." That line is the bottom line, and that's not too much to ask of both Republicans and Democrats.
End of Post #1

jim hitchcock

I guess I'm just cynical, but I don't think the purple finger had anything to do with a show of support for the Iraqi voters, but rather was meant as a sort of V for victory showing for the President. That's the symbolism I saw. And I don't say that in a Republican bashing kind of way, because Woody's absolutely right; the Democrats would have done it also.

Marc Davidson

If the Republicans wanted to show solidarity with Iraqis, let them don the Abu Ghraib torture hood. this is the symbol more closely associated with the US occupation.

Woody -- "Well, it didn't, and it doesn't take an actuary to figure that it will break the financial backs of our kids if they have to pay for all the baby boomers."
In fact the SS trust fund actuaries themselves dispute the numbers that you're relying on.
Social Security is completely solvent until at least 2042 and after that will pay indefinitely at least 70% of benefits and this with no change whatsoever. Small incremental changes costing as little as 1/4 of the tax cuts given to the wealthiest in the last round of tax cuts will solve any shortfall.
Sorry. Facts aren't dependent on poll results. Where are yours?

John Davies

I was particularly offended by the members of Congress that painted their finger, put on brown makeup, dressed like Iraqis and used a fake Arab accent to tell stories of their bravery for voting.

Oh wait, that didn't happen?

Then maybe they were trying to show solidarity, like wearing an orange tie during the Ukraine elections.


"Pro-Iraq Democracy WON" thanks to Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini Sistani not George Bush. It has been apparent, by the total incompetence demonstrated in the rebuilding of Iraq, that democracy was never in the plans, if plans existed at all. The only intention that was expressed was to install a convicted embezzler as the next puppet. The Iraqi people changed that plan.

The purple finger was childish stunt. It was done for cheap political gain and not at all comparable to raising awareness for various diseases.


"You do not own their courage.

The people who stood in line Sunday did not stand in line to make Americans feel good about themselves.

You do not own their courage.

They did not stand in line to justify lies about Saddam and al-Qaeda, so you don't own their courage, Stephen Hayes. They did not stand in line to justify lies about weapons of mass destruction, or to justify the artful dodginess of Ahmad Chalabi, so you don't own their courage, Judith Miller. ...

You do not own their courage. "

Marc Cooper

Lots of hyprocrisy here. Time for a gut check. If the shoe was on the other foot, if it had been a Democratic admin and Democrat congressmembers exploiting the courage of the Iraqis for partisan political purposes you folkd would have gobe apopleptic. Solidarity? Perhaps Rep. Jindall and company would like to conduct a Capitol Hill recruiting campaign to enlist the sons of his collaegues into the U.S. Marines. Sitting on ur fat ass in Congress, collecting contributions from every blow-dired lobbyist in town, hardly confers on one the moral authority to equate him or herself with people who risked their lives to vote. When's the last time any of these gasbags risked anything? Shameful.


If the shoe was on the other foot, if it had been a Democratic admin and Democrat congressmembers exploiting the courage of the Iraqis for partisan political purposes you folkd would have gobe apopleptic.

Actually, I would have felt the same way. Expressing solidarity is not shameful, any more than wearing an orange tie is or wearing a ribbon. True, Jindal and others haven't gone, but I joined the Army, I was at risk for being sent to Vietnam and I would have gone (and probably had my ass blown off)

Sorry my dear friend. You are just plain ole wrong on this singular issue. On the other hand, I applaud much of your posting.

That's two. (hehe, reminds me of the joke about the Mo. Farmer getting his donkey's attention)

marc cooper

GM.. u ever hear the phrase of "warrping oneself in the flag?" That's what we saw last nite.. dipping oneself in the ink of another... there's the great story of how on the morning of MLK's assasination, jesse Jackson made sure he got some of King's blood on his sweater before he went live on the Today show. That was shameful. At least, however, Jackson was actually there with King and it could have been him that was shot. Watching those windbag congressmen last nite was revolting. Sorry. What mahe it worse was the evening was dedicated to a legislative agenda that was nothing less than a corporate wish list for the ricjest stratum of americans. the scare tactics used on social security were disgusting and frankly false. the "tort reform" was a naked attempt to raise profits for insurance companies. the health proposals were ones that benefitted the HMO lobbies and not needy human beings. Linking that economic program to a supposed show of solidarity with the iraqis is just a bit TOO insulting.

Keith M

There really is no need to "beat up" the Democrats, they're doing just fine by themselves and it is good to see some of them acknowledging that.

Because the Democrats didn't make any gesture of supporting the Iraqi elections, they look petty. And I wonder how Iraqis who voted feel about the gesture, and about those who choose to denigrate that gesture???

Maybe a blue finger wasn't the most appropriate gesture. I found it a bit adolescent. But I respect the sentiment, and do not question the motives behind it. It really does take an enourmous amount of cynicism to attack the gesture.

As far as the guests President Bush had, I have to wonder what the complaints were when Clinton had guests.

Was Clinton being a political opportunist when he had the wives of two slain Capital Hill Police in 1999, or the times when he would point to a guest to show an example to sell some piece of legislation?

The Iraqi elections (which a UN representative said were "fair and transparent") are a victory of sorts. Just like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a victory for blacks, in fact all people, although it was and is not the end of their (our) struggle.

No, it's not the victory of defeating Japan or Germany. And no where do I see President Bush implying that. There's tough work ahead, but we are making progress.

It just amazes me the lengths people go through to spin a public persons words to fit their point of view. President Clintons speeches were for-ever parsed, by one side or the other, until the "correct" meaning was shown. The same thing is done to President Bush on a near daily basis.

It seems everyones become an absolutist as far as interpreting President Bushs speeches.

I wonder if David Corn considered, or would have considered President Kennedy cynically unrealistic.

"We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

I guess it's ok to say that as long as you wink and cross your fingers, and don't really mean that we will support any friend and oppose any foe.

"Nevertheless, such words probably will provide encouragement to democracy activists in those countries and in others."

Corn sounds almost disappointed when he says this, but I wouldn't to subcribe motives behind his words when I have no evidence of them.

Interesting that Corn says "The United States has added 2.3 million new jobs in the past year, he said, without disclosing that the economy needs to create about 2 million jobs a year to keep up with population growth." I don't remember any such caveats or disclosures during previous Presidents addresses.

Of course, there is another alternative, we need to eliminate 2 million illegal workers in the US per year. Aren't there something like 10-19 million illegals working in the US? Talk about a jobs bonanza, although the job you get may not be the job you want. Shouldn't be a problem for committed leftists though, should it.

Trying to talk seriously about the problems inherent in the current SS system is "shtick".

I'm sure Clinton, who delievered much the same analysis of the problem, was more genuine for Corn.

Isn't it time to get over personal dislike, and start talking seriously about the problems we face. Stop demonizing the people, and present the facts, plain and simple, and how various reforms are expected to change what is wrong.

marc cooper

OF Course Clinton was being cynical when he brought people to showcase into the gallery. Why certainly! It is pure theatrics when any president does that, pure TV showmanship. Where are the honest conservatves who are willing to denounce manipulation on their side of the fence? Or are your blinders that narrow?

Anthony Nassar

Can't agree about the purple fingers being "shameless." Of *course* they're meant to signify, among other things, "We were right and you were wrong." That's politics. If you expect Republicans to get all bipartisan right about now, you're foolish.

Anyone who opposed/es the war, but claims he doesn't feel uncomfortable at the election having been a success for Bush as well as the Iraqis, is probably not examining himself as scrupulously as he might. I count myself here. Anyway, examples from intellectuals on the Left shouldn't be hard to find, as witness this too-pitiful-to-be-disgraceful account from Terry Eagleton: http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2005/02/no_not_east_gri.html (thanks to Marc's acquaintance Norman Geras).

Randy Paul

The next time some Bush partisan starts waxing rhapsodic and gets all dewy-eyed about Bush's "democracy promotion" I have one word for them: Haiti.

Who here is aware of the detorioration of Haiti since Aristide either resigned or was pushed out?

Apparently the Bush administration isn't.

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