Democrats & Liberals Archives

Republican Spin Machine and the Pyrrhic Victories

Sometimes it’s better to lose. There’s a term for triumphs that cost the winners dearly: pyrrhic victories. One can lose a war for the sake of a battle. I would submit here that the Republican party is losing the war to retain its power because it could not let any victory pass it by, no matter how much it might cost them.

In The Selfish Gene, Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins noted that it wasn't necessarily the most vicious fighters who passed on their genes best. The most vicious, take no prisoners battlers would constantly pick fights, and by doing so wasted precious energy and health. Normal creatures tend to have a point where they give up the fight. Also, fights to the death are the exception, not the rule in the Animal Kingdom. Much of the time, posturing and threatening are employed in the stead of actual physical combat.

And why not? There's not much good evolving strong species members if they're going to get killed every time there's a fight. Survival of the species outranks the willingness to take the fight all the way.

Human beings in society, unsurprisingly, are little different. It takes a lot for people to kill each other, and even in the most violent of our cities, no more than a thousand or so souls will die in a year. Good old fashioned beatings are a different matter, undoubtedly more common.

It's also instructive that most criminal cases end in plea bargain, and most civil cases in settlement. Even with all the litigation out there, true jury trials are rarer than you might think.

We think otherwise, for the most part, because that's not what makes good drama. Good drama is death, destruction, disaster, failure and all those other nice things. When the system puts the brakes on something it takes actual skill to make things interesting in prose, poetry, or audiovisual terms.

In this media saturated age, some have gotten too enamored of playing to the media, playing to the dramatic, playing to the base. If nothing else, the Republican run Congress has forced more crises on the American people and allowed more to develop than their predecessors. Their greater cynicism about government, in addition to all this, has made for a congress that often waits excessively to deal with problems, and then deals with them with all the enthusiasm of a beached whale.

What's allowed them to get away with this for so long is a combination of factors, but the major one is the media defenses they've built up. They give off talking points the way the sun gives off heat.

There's always some justification. The strategical error that lets the terrorists flood into Iraq becomes The Flypaper Strategy wherein the failure to secure Iraq is in fact an ingenuous method of drawing terrorists into Iraq to die, thus protecting America from their attacks. Never mind that our purpose in coming to Iraq was to leave behind a safe, secure, peaceful nation that could stand up for itself. Brilliant strategy or no, the persistent war against insurgents there has undermined our ability to win. With Katrina, we are confronted with a whole host of responses, from calling the Katrina victims stupid for living below sea level (I guess the Dutch are congenital eejits too), to blaming state and local authorities for the screwup, to the particularly uninspiring excuse that it was just the expected failure of big government.

There's always some people who take these things at face value, even those with considerable mental gifts. Let's face it: even smart people can invest themselves in idiocy. Intelligence sometimes means just finding new and creative ways to be foolish. But most Americans, smart, average, or below average can remember times when there weren't any such excuses given. They can remember a time where things were done better, where there wasn't merely this negligent, couch-potato "I did my best."

Therein lies the driving force behind the collapse of the Republican majority. People are sick of being told that these failures are all that can reasonably done, sick of the passive hypocrisy and active corruption. The recent Foley affair has only compounded what was already a pretty bad problem, by demonstrating the complete lack of shame of many members in the party. That Hastert has not resigned may very well turn a mild loss into a catastrophic one.

Americans want Aragorn and Theoden in charge, not Wormtongue and Denethor. They want people who have a sense of mission about government, that mission being to serve the people and to write good policy and legislation to that end. If there is one service that the Bush Administration and Republican Congress has done for the American people, it's to show them in a rather punishing fashion just how important their choice is on election day, and how dangerous it is to simply elect people because they spout the right promises, party lines and whatnot. Apathy and cynicism will only help those who exploit us in government. Concern and idealism are survival traits, not weaknesses. We should want better, we must want better if we want America to be a better place.

America lives by our motivation, and dies when all we can summon is nostalgia for better times. Sure we never have to push for something only to see things fail. We can't be defeated if we never show up on the battlefield. But such "victories" of unattachment only lend aid to this most cynical of Congresses. They win if enough people don't care how corrupt they are, or allow themselves to be frightened off by the prospect of what Democrats in charge might potentially do.

Which leads me to one last point: We Democrats will be fools if we let the people in Washington believe that they can pick up where the Republicans left off. We are not under the illusions, hopefully, that the Republicans are shrouded in. We remember, or should remember, how we lost our last majority. If we attain the new majority we desire, it will be a bitter irony indeed if we do not observe the lessons of the past- The Republican's and our own. There must be a difference between our behavior and theirs, their actions and ours. Otherwise, the pyhrric victory will be ours, and the voters will turn on us as they did on the other majority.

We must police our own, or expect somebody else to do it for us and at greater cost. Winning elections and power isn't everything. We'll be expected to make a break with the error and the corruption of the past. That is the most important victory we have to win in the competition for the majority power in this country.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at October 6, 2006 12:55 PM
Comments
Comment #186673

“DRAIN THE SWAMP”!!!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061006/ap_on_el_ge/pelosi_time;_ylt=AsEDCrTU6orkv2BzyiJJBPcEtbAF;_ylu=X3oDMTBhZDJjOXUyBHNlYwNtdm5ld3M-

I’m having my bumper sticker made up now.

Posted by: Observer at October 6, 2006 1:01 PM
Comment #186674

Too simplified an explantion, Stephen. The real world of the Republican demise is far more complex than their penchant for losing sight of the path through forest for the trees.

The two issues which are killing the GOP’s staying power are Iraq and a temporary healthy economy which is not translating into perceptible gains for more than half of the voters.

Foley’s and Ney’s and DeLay’s are just reinforcers for voter’s growing lack of confidence in Iraq progress and their own bottom line bank account issues (which for parents includes an eye to the economic conditions for their children when they become working adults).

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #186681

Stephen,
Top-notch post, as usual.
David,
I beg to differ. The republican party’s implosion is exactly, and ONLY due to their inability to back off when they’ve made a mistake. I was fascinated and delighted watching Joe Scarborough’s incisive evisceration of his own party’s tactics last night on his MSNBC show. When you own party members rip into you as he did, you have just got to admit you have f$#ked up. Do they? Nope. And that more than anything else is why they are gonna go down. hard.

Had the republican house leadership come clean right away, the scandal would have been minimized. I note with great interest that nearly all of the hubbub, pro and con, has been generated by the republicans themselves. Needlessly dumping salt on this festering wound.

This whole thing is just too good to be true, from the democrat’s political standpoint. NO ONE could have engineered this any better! And they are doing it all to themselves, all by themselves, without any help from anybody!

Posted by: Steve Miller at October 6, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #186683

Steve Miller said: “The republican party’s implosion is exactly, and ONLY due to their inability to back off when they’ve made a mistake.”

But that has been their modus operandi for more than a decade and they continued to win elections throughout. Sorry, historically, your argument just doesn’t ring true.

In fact, quite the reverse. The reason they are going to hold on to so many seats is partly due to their unwillingness to yield on their policy directions.

If admitting mistakes were the problem, you should be very worried, because in the last couple months, Rice, Bush, Rumsfeld, and even Cheney have all admitted mistakes to the public in conferences and interviews. Bush was admitting them before the 2004 election, though not in the manner Democrats would have preferred.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2006 1:44 PM
Comment #186685

I think its a good explanation, though I might not have gone into it with enough detail. If Bush had been supported with anything less than the full weight of the Republican Party in 2004, he would have lost.

Iraq represents a fairly complex, but in the end elaborated version of the same unwillingness to lose political battles. We don’t see more soldiers in Iraq, or a draft to provide them with, because both would be admissions of failure that they would perceived as a license for others to jump them. That said, had they accepted the political losses and changed course, events might have turned to their favor, and success would have raised the fortunes of the president and his party.

With the Tax Cuts, we have another example. Reducing that “relief” might have done much to reduce the deficit, but the supply-side theory would stop them. You can’t, after all, bring taxes back up, if they’re all that’s maintaining prosperity, right? Even if they don’t buy that load of malarkey, Republicans are bound to that same lockstep answer: we need tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

The Republican party, to minimize divisions and maximize election winning unity, has artificially thinned the robustness of its diverse coalition to force the GOP in general to follow these and other positions in elections.

Additionally, they’ve gotten very good on being on message, on talking point about events and issues. People can’t remain dumb about those things forever, so at some point, people begin to understand the truth behind the lies. Again the spectre of political defeat rises, and again most Republicans shy away. They maintain the rhetoric, even as the ranks of folks believing them thins.

As things become worse, the pressure that people feel to maintain the rhetoric and the propaganda increases, as does the severity and obnoxiousness with which those who fall away are dealt. The Party self-estructs as one layer after another decides to part ways with the core.

I think collection of articles will be helpful in sketching things out.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 6, 2006 1:53 PM
Comment #186686

David-
An additional point: sometimes you can see the end in the beginning. I got the sense long ago that this characteristic of the Republican party was going to come back to haunt them. I guess my mistake was thinking that things would get only mildly screwed up before Americans started deserting them.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 6, 2006 1:56 PM
Comment #186687

Nice Post.

FOX News has “accidentally” put up a graphic on The O’Reilly Factor of Foley as a Democrat.
The FOX spin factory actually said Foley has ties to Hollywood and is really a Democrat.
It’s really nice of the Republicans to want to share their scandal with the Democrats.
Jeb Bush said “this is not a partisan issue, it’s just wrong.”
I hope the folks who have supported this party see that their party thinks that their members are so stupid that these sophomoric tactics would work on anybody with half a brain. Republican voters should be insulted by their leaders,who appear to believe that their voters are idiots.
Prove you’re not. Vote them out of office.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at October 6, 2006 1:59 PM
Comment #186688

Andre

But the Republican party knows that half the population is below average intelligence, and keys its messages to that group. When one adds in those that are selfishly motivated to vote Republican (i.e., those that are wealthy enough to benefit hugely from the tax cuts they ram through), voila, a Republican majority, based on the transparent lies and half-truths that those of average or above intelligence can easily see through. Ain’t no mystery here, boss.

The beauty is that even those below average in intelligence are starting to see through the lies after all these years. “You can fool all of the people some of the time…”

Posted by: Mental Wimp at October 6, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #186692

Stephen, all your points are valid, but, only for fence sitters who have not been moved by Iraq or pocketbook issues. I don’t mean to discount that group, they have become substantial with the rapid growth of independent voters since 1998.

Well, except your point about being mislead. That is a big huge factor influencing sentiment about Iraq. They lied and people died, has resonance even today in the back of folk’s minds.

You are right, you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time, and that truism has run its course with the Republican Party overall.

But, I’ll tell you straight out and honest. If I were still a Democrat, I would be voting for Republicans. Here’s why. If democrats get one or both Houses, Republicans will slaughter Democrats in the polls as ineffective and do nothing and obstructionist, because for 2 years, Bush will be going through VETO pens like beans through an alimentary canal.

That could really damage Democrat’s chances in 2008 for a Presidential run. Without the White House in 2008 and without 60 vote veto override in the Senate, Democrats will continue to have no real power at all.

As an anti-incumbent, however, if it plays that way, I think the people, Congress, and the nation will be improved in the long run as the ranks for anti-incumbent voters grow as a result of ineffective and irresponsible incumbents failing to solve our most threatening problems - baby boom retirement, competitive advantage losses in the global marketplace, and loss of support and and respect by foreign nations.

Our nation needs a growing number of reforms, and the truth is, Democrats will not back a good many of them out of a short term sense of preservation of power. Election, campaign finance, lobbyist, tort, and immigration reforms are desperately needed to preserve the integrity of our nation and restore confidence and trust between the people and their government. But, the DNC has exactly the same motives to NOT adopt those reforms as the RNC. Tough effective measures will cost votes in the short run. And I don’t see the DNC gutting it out given the current political climate and hostilities between the two major parties.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2006 2:24 PM
Comment #186693

The real beauty of this scandal is it cuts right to the one area of the Republican platform that the Democrats could not crack themselves, Family Values. There will always be disagreements on budgets, foreign policy, immigration, etc. But the Republicans have long had the market cornered as the “tough on crime” party, protecting families from the evils of the world. Obviously, this was an act. In fact, Republican congressional leadership aided and abetted a sex predator. With traditional values crumbling before our eyes, and small government and strong defense already laid to waste, can a party exist on tax cuts alone? Does the four-pillar concept work with only one pillar? We’ll find out in a few weeks.

Posted by: David S at October 6, 2006 2:31 PM
Comment #186694

Stephen: Excellent analysis. Thanks.

Mental Wimp: You have aptly described the GOP coalition of the selfish rich and the Christian Right (which is neither Christian nor right).

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at October 6, 2006 2:31 PM
Comment #186696

David R-

I agree with most of what you said, but is it possible that a lame duck presdient hurts his party more than a congress that can’t override his veto? The fact that Democrats were going to gain seats in both houses BEFORE the Foley scandal shows a shift in the tide of the independent voters. The key will be in the Democrats hands: if they push legislation that most people agree with, and Bush vetoes that legislation, we will see a Democrat win in ‘08. If Dems run to the left after gaining power and Bush can play the role of centrist, we will see a Republican White House in two years.

Posted by: David S at October 6, 2006 2:39 PM
Comment #186699

David S. asked “I agree with most of what you said, but is it possible that a lame duck presdient hurts his party more than a congress that can’t override his veto?”

That’s a damn good question. Wish I had a good answer. I don’t know! It will depend so much on what happens in Iraq, and wages vs. inflation, and whether any headway is made cooperatively between the White House and Congress on Soc Sec salvage, for example. I can envision it going either way, depending on current events throughout the cycle.

In my article in the next column, Iraq and Befuddled Republicans, Sen. Warner’s conference made an extremely valuable point. If February rolls around, and Maliki’s attempts to broker a deal between the militias fails, you will see a change in course on Iraq forced by Congressional Republicans upon the Bush Administration. Depending on which way that course is changed, Republicans could actually vindicate themselves to a lesser or greater degree prior to the 2008 elections. In which case, the lame duck would become a soaring eagle in campaign literature and speeches.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2006 2:49 PM
Comment #186717

David,
I agree that some have recently admitted mistakes or wrong doing. But no effort to change the m.o. after the admission. Sort of like Hastert and his “buck stops here” blather.

So I ask you; have any of these admitted mistakes resulted in ANY policy changes? I can’t think of any. First comes an apology, no strike that, no apologies. First comes a vague and half hearted admission “there were some mistakes made”, etc. Usually followed up with some “blame the anti-American party of the cut-and-runners-who want to wait and do nothing until the terrorists attack us”. Huh?!?!

I say again, had the republican leadership admitted the policy errors and mistakes that have turned their tenure into an almost-nightmare, AND MADE SOME CHANGES to same, we would not be looking at a change from republican to democrat control of the house and senate.
I don’t think what you’re saying is wrong, I just don’t think it goes far enough to explain the downfall we’re seeing.

Posted by: Steve Miller at October 6, 2006 4:04 PM
Comment #186718

Good article, Stephen.

It does seem like the Republicans lack flexibility, or any ability to adapt to change. Guess it comes from the whole “denying evolution” thing. They prefer to see the world in black and white. But the blindness is so profound, they think the alternative to black and white is shades of grey. They cannot conceive of colorblindness because, metaphorically, the idea of color is beyond their conception.

The Republicans find themselves pursuing pyhrric victories because they prefer convention to innovation, tradition to new ideas, and heirarchal chains of command to the chaos of the individuals making up the liberal community.

Pursuing money and power is perfectly acceptable in the black and white thinking of Republicans, because for some bizarre reason, they are convinced God not only American, but that God is a Republican.

It results in situations like Foley. Putting the scandal behind them should be easy. Instead of doing so, they attempt to blame it on Democrats, as if the could spin their way out.

The ossified, “the leader is always right” thinking appears elsewhere: Stay the Course, Tax Cuts, Terry Shiavo, Selling Ports to the United Arab Emirates, There Is No Such Thing as Global Warming, and so on.

It is like watching lemmings run off a cliff.

Actually, it is worse. It is like being inside a car heading towards a cliff, and the driver not only refuses to brake, but insists “we are almost there!”, and steps on the accelerator in order to make better time.

Unfortunately, there is nothing pyhrric about the situation.

Posted by: phx8 at October 6, 2006 4:05 PM
Comment #186727

Steve Miller said: “So I ask you; have any of these admitted mistakes resulted in ANY policy changes?”

Do you think it matters to voters who haven’t the slightest inclination to research whether they have or not? For 10’s of millions of voters, an apology is all that is needed and the will trust that that means policy is changing, because they haven’t the time, energy, or in many cases, the education to check for themselves.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2006 4:25 PM
Comment #186732

Phx8, it sounds to me that you’ve heaped together a litany of human flaws (i.e. resistance to new ideas, inflexibility, a tendency toward black and white thinking) and decided that these are “Republican” when you could equally apply them to anyone.

Yes, there are inflexible Republicans with some pretty shopworn old-fashioned ideas. And in the political realm these tend to do battle with some pretty shopworn and old-fashioned Democratic ideas.

The idea that Democrats are filled with creativity and innovation while never falling into black-and-white thinking is itself a pretty quaint idea, though Democrats apparently do think this about themselves, though its primarily PR.

I see plenty of black and white thinking about George Bush, for example. Where are these so-called nuances and shades of grey when it comes to the Democrats’ attitudes toward their political foes?

There is nothing new, creative, or innovative about the basic idea that the government should take more and more control the economy, for example.

And politically, the Republicans have actually been VERY good, historically, at adapting to change and learning from their political defeats.

Much better, I’d say, than the Democrats. Look at the state of the Republican party during the Goldwater era. Look at how far they’ve come since 1991, a time when they controlled nothing.

Posted by: Pilsner at October 6, 2006 4:55 PM
Comment #186733

If the folry scandel helps so be it But I hope the election is decided on the real issues. The war in Iraq was a big screw up wages health care S.S and the borders. I like most of my like minded friends and family think that we need to stop people from crossing or borders. This is something the democrats are not embracing. And yes I am a Democrat. This seems to be more important to working class people.

Posted by: Jeff at October 6, 2006 4:57 PM
Comment #186737

Can anyone explain to me how Rep. Foley differs from other predators like say… John Mark Karr
AND why he is being treated differently?

Posted by: gb at October 6, 2006 5:09 PM
Comment #186739

Pilsner,
It would be more accurate to suggest the black and white thinking which is intended to conserve the status quo is conservative, rather than Republican; and by the same token, the ability to liberate thinking from the status quo is liberal, rather than Democrat.

Of course, it is a generalization. I think it helps explain how the Conservatives/Republicans can find themselves in such a bind. The fear of others, the fear of foreigners, the fear of change, the fear of fear itself, of terror, this fear freezes the ability of the conservative to adapt.

This fear is projected upon an imagined enemy. Rather than confess to mistakes, the fear is blamed on “the other.” Sometimes it is blamed on Democrats, as is the case of the Foley scandal. (I know, I know, it makes no sense, but that is what we are seeing). It is almost like an enemy within. Again and again, we see words like “treason” tossed around by conservatives. Sometimes the fear of “the other” is an immigrant. Sometimes it is a Muslim. Few people in the US have passports. Few speak another language.

Bush is making a series of fairly bizarre speeches while this Foley Scandal unfolds. The speeches are great examples of what I am saying.

When collapse happens and the cliff is crossed, and there is no support anymore, just thin air, then that collapse is usually complete. It may take the form of a long fall.

Posted by: phx8 at October 6, 2006 5:12 PM
Comment #186740

Jeff,
Yes it IS hilarious that the republicans are being laid low by a sleazy sex scandal coverup, and not the godawful policy mistakes that are really much more important.

I’ll bet that both Bill Clinton and Scooter Libby wish they could take back the denials that got them in hot water much more than the original transgressions might have.

David,
You certainly have a point about those who don’t care to question or research.

Posted by: Steve Miller at October 6, 2006 5:13 PM
Comment #186749

Phx8, there indeed are a handful of issues where Democrats want us to be “liberated from the status quo,” i.e., gay marriage and redistribution of wealth, but most of their agenda is actually based on defending the status quo to the death.

Affirmative action? Access to abortion? Drilling in Alaska? School Choice? Government entitlements? Ask the teachers and labor unions how they feel about getting rid of the status quo.

One rather large problem the Democrats face, actually, is that they don’t even agree (to the extent that Republicans do) about what parts of the status quo they’d like to do away with.

The Democrats by and large are a loose confederation of special interests more than a cohesive party. Look at the African American community, to cite just one example. They might like government set-asides, but they’re against gay-marriage to a greater degree than almost anybody else. Blue collar midwestern union members have very little in common with your San Francisco or New York liberal activists.

Posted by: Pilsner at October 6, 2006 5:33 PM
Comment #186752

I like variety. I like the fact that democratic members are free to disagree with the leadership and have individual thoughts and ideas.

Why is it sooo important to republicans that everyone be a “stepford type” member?

Posted by: gb at October 6, 2006 5:40 PM
Comment #186753

Stephen, as for pyhrric victories, the Democrats suddenly becoming the majority in 2006 would be the very definition of a pyhricc vitory.

Should the Democrats suddenly win either or both chambers of Congress next month, it is sure to be by the slightest of margins and they will become the “majority” in name only.

At that point, what they’ll primarily achieve is a wave of Republican candidates in 08 who will be only to glad to run AGAINST Nancy Pelosi instead of ON the record of an inneffectual lame-duck Republican congress with a diminished majority.

And Bush will not be vetoing any “popular” Democratic initiatives—if there really are any such—because they will simply not arrive on his desk. If something truly is popular and it also manages to get through, it will have to do so with bipartisan support in such a closely divided Congress. In which case, Bush can just sign it and take credit for it like Clinton did with the Republican initiatives which came to his desk.

In recent years, the deep divisions in the Democratic party have been papered over by their minority status, the fact that they haven’t had to govern or take responsibility for anything and all the Democratic voter has expected of them is resistance to Bush. The fact is that there are some quite conservative Southern, midwestern and western Democrats in congress now who are not about to spoil their reelection chances in 08 by going along with the agenda of Nancy Pelosi.

Posted by: Pilsner at October 6, 2006 5:42 PM
Comment #186760

Pilsner: Phx8’s analysis parallels what scientific research has shown regarding the conservative personality type. In fact, the word “conservative” denotes as much. A patient exhibiting these behaviors and thought processes would be psychiatrically diagnosed as personality disordered.

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at October 6, 2006 6:16 PM
Comment #186766

“Dr” Poshek, sounds like the “scientific research” that once declared Jews were not actually human beings. In other words, BS.

Posted by: Pilsner at October 6, 2006 6:33 PM
Comment #186817

Pilsner: As typical of conservatives, your rejection of objective fact and reason in favor of ideological delusion proves the point. The earth is flat and the sun revolves around it, etc., etc……..

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at October 7, 2006 12:13 AM
Comment #186819

Steve Miller, and you certainly have a point that if their apologies had been accompanied by ‘AND MADE SOME CHANGES’, it is indeed possible they would not be losing as many seats as they will.

One thing I trust about the American public, when they see a powerful political army walking the goosestep in perfect simultaneity, figuratively speaking, they shiver and react, even if only slowly at first, as that image becomes clearer in their minds and the focus sharpens to reveal remembered black and white footage of Germany’s uniformed SS parading in the square for the greater glory of the people.

I pray that footage continues to be run for each new generation of Americans. It should be mandatory for social studies in every school in America, if it isn’t already.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 7, 2006 12:24 AM
Comment #186830

David R. Remer-
The tolerance of homosexual pedophilia by the leadership of this congress will hit hardest among those who most consider this behavior an abomination. In short, the right’s religious base. The internal polls say that a twenty seat loss could become fifty if Hastert Remains in power.

Ultimately, I agree that it is imperative for my party to go quickly towards reform once elected. Nothing else will cement our majority quite that well.

Pilsner-
There are both inflexible Democrats and inflexible Republicans. I acknowledge that. Same thing for everything.

But you neglect to mention the difference in degree. That’s whats important. Democrats have been known to openly support and opposed different positions on gun control, taxation, regulation, welfare, and other issues.

I don’t remember the last time the club for growth, the religious right, the NRA, or many other Republican organizations really smiled on others contradicting their point of view in your party. As for your adaptation? The more you’ve changed, the more you’ve tried to convince yourself and others that you cans survive as a rigidly defined party.

You may scoff at our more informal organization, but there is the secret to our persistence. It takes less effort to represent people effectively when your party can represent more than just the partisan core.

You also fail to realize that the change in the Democrats has been from the bottom up. You may think that going after Dean and Pelosi disheartens the lot of us, but mostly we’re just annoyed. The Democrats in power who think that this will be a license to pick up where our friends on your side left off are badly mistaken.

You’re also badly mistaken if you think we can’t find common ground. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.

You count your chickens before they’re hatched. Lets wait a couple years before we start talking about who will restore what.

All that said, you will have to deal with the last few decades of baggage, one way or another.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 7, 2006 2:55 AM
Comment #186837
As typical of conservatives, your rejection of objective fact and reason in favor of ideological delusion proves the point. The earth is flat and the sun revolves around it, etc., etc

Thank you Dr. Poshek, you made my day, and it’s only 7:30.

Stephen D.

Great post. I, for one, plan to keep a vigilant eye on my party to make certain they clean up their act when back in control. I liked the link to Nancy Pelosi and her plans for Speakership. She will make a much better speaker than Hastert in so many ways, even beyond the public appearance.

Posted by: Loren at October 7, 2006 7:47 AM
Comment #186882

Stephen said: “The internal polls say that a twenty seat loss could become fifty if Hastert Remains in power.”

Those polls are not very reliable. I mean they accurately reflect what pollees say, but, don’t take into account the wide divergence between what pollees say when interviewed and what they do when not observed, as in a polling booth.

My guess, if the polls say 30% increase in non-voting by the Christian Right, it may actually only be 10% on election day. There is a fair body of research out there now on this divergence between reported intent and actual behavior.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 7, 2006 1:15 PM
Comment #186883

Stephen, P.S., I applaud your comment about Democrats adopting reforms to solidify a growing base. Not sure how internal party divisions are going to impede such efforts, however. Keeping power is likely to remain the DNC’s first priority, and reforms which may alienate various minority groups within the party will be somewhere around 10th priority after campaign revenue generation, PR development, catering to wealthy or powerful lobbyist groups, etc.

In other words, I fear not much will change within the party. And if not much changes, your party will continue to lose constituents to Independent voter status reserving their option to vote for third party or Republican candidates as well as against incumbents in general. Let’s hope I am wrong and the Democratic Party can put the needs of the nation and the people ahead of power and money.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 7, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #186928

David R. Remer-
Expectations can be a trap. I don’t want to go into this without a great deal of hope for my party’s reform of the system. I want that golden naivete that is shocked, simply shocked when confronted with corruption and incompetence. As a supporter of third parties, it might seem to you that the healthy course is to expect problems from the parties and vote elsewhere, but as Democrat, I feel an obligation to hope and act for something better within the party, rather than seek better elsewhere.

And is that not the healthy way of dealing with things? There will be obstacles, impediments. But why give up? Those are what we have to fight, to resist. What I’ve written about the Republicans is a warning to us that those who become too dependent on smoke and mirrors for their party’s popularity. Implied within any mandate from a turnover is the responsibility to do better in substance than those that came before us.

The Republicans lost power doing such things. We’d be fools to repeat their mistake, especially so soon after their defeat. Majorities depend on credibility, and hypocrisy sells credility poorly. Therefore, we keep our noses clean, because honest is the best policy for building trust, and trust is the best means of securing a lasting mandate.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 7, 2006 11:27 PM
Comment #186962

David:

My guess, if the polls say 30% increase in non-voting by the Christian Right, it may actually only be 10% on election day. There is a fair body of research out there now on this divergence between reported intent and actual behavior.

I don’t totally disagree with your point on polls vs reality. However, using your 10% figure above, 19 seats won by GOP reps in 2004 would have gone Democratic AND GWB would have lost the presidential election. This is the problem with having the pseudo-Christian right as your base. In round numbers, a decrease of 10% in CR voters voting means a 6.2% decrease in GOP votes. GWB won IA (.67%), NM (.79%), OH (2.11%), & NV (2.59%) by less than 3% points. By the RNC’s own calculations, they can only absorb a 3-4% decrease in CR turn out in 2006 and that figure presumes independents do not vote as they tend not to vote in mid-term elections. Polls since this past July have shown an actual increase in independents likely to vote this year ranging from 2 - 8%. The Rovian plan for CR voters can and does work in a limited number of election scenarios; however, even a modest increase in independent voters can defeat the plan.

Posted by: Dr. Poshek at October 8, 2006 7:35 AM
Comment #186997

Stephen, I understand where you are coming from, entirely. I used to work for the Democratic Party here in Comal County to try to move them to become the agent of reform. But, they wouldn’t budge. They insisted that their platform had to attract more Republicans, so they became more like Republicans. That was when I left.

But, you see, from my point of view, the Democratic and Republican parties are a huge part of the problem. They coerce their Congressional members to vote party line rather than asking these people to represent their constituents and vote for the nation’s well being. In other words, inter-party warfare supercedes the nation’s needs.

This is how 5 years after 9/11 we are only just now beginning to secure 700 miles of a 6000 mile border. This is how the deficits and debt have grown by monumental proportions - a direct result of interparty trades and tactics for federal pork to get the votes to pass something like Iraq war funding.

Ask any Republican or Democrat if we shouldn’t be putting an end to pork barrel spending. They will flat out say YES! But, then look at their voting records. They vote for it in the billions every year so they can tell their constituents they brought home the bacon so they can get reelected. All the while killing the economic future of this nation.

The Party’s are the problem. I no longer even support any third party, except to the extent they may be able to unseat an incumbent. The solution is making incumbency depend upon results for the nation and her future. And the only way that is going to happen is by voting out incumbents who keep this status quo party war going superceding the nation’s looming and expanding problems which are getting extremely serious.

Bernanke, like his predecessor, warned last week that the cost of delays on the safety net programs is huge, and the longer the delays, the more impractical and untenable any solution becomes.

The only reason there is no progress on this is the two main political parties putting elections, campaign financing, and wealthy contributor special interests ahead of the job #1, the nation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 8, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #186998

Dr. P, wrote: “The Rovian plan for CR voters can and does work in a limited number of election scenarios; however, even a modest increase in independent voters can defeat the plan.”

This year anyway, that’s for sure. The independents are swinging toward the Democrats, in the polls anyway.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 8, 2006 1:13 PM
Comment #187059

I’m always wary of approach human interests with too many preconceptions. People have a way of redefining themselves, seeing the writing on the wall, etc, etc. Were you to have asked after the last big election what direction the nation was headed in, the Republicans would have been in favor, naturally.

Yet now, things have been turned on their ear. Expectations have changed, because as it often happens, one set of human events can compound another, taking what might have been far less significant events, and elevating them to camel’s back breaking status.

I think that it may take a while, but you will find that there is considerable political momentum away from the status quo. The wish to avoid future dominance by the Republicans will motivate many in the party to get on the backs of those who would repeat their rival’s mistakes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at October 8, 2006 10:49 PM
Comment #187075

The word is PYRRHIC not pyhrric. I’ve checked several dictionaries, both on-line and actual books.

Editor: Thanks. The needed correction has been made. to the entry.

Posted by: Pam Dunbar at October 9, 2006 7:07 AM
Comment #187402

Stephen, just chalk me up as someone who spent time in Missouri. “Show me!” Then, and only then, will I allow my skepticism to ebb a bit. But, only a small bit.

Let’s hope you are right while staying prepared to toss incumbents election after election until our nation’s problems are met with effective, efficient, practical, legal, transparent, and accountable solutions with staying power beyond the next election.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 10, 2006 12:31 PM
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