Strategy: Democrats Need to do More Than Back

The Democrats need to recognize that every attack from the far right is an opportunity for an effective and devastating counter attack.  Nowhere is this more apparent than the rising chorus trying to condemn for their brilliant ad against General Petreaus (Steve Benen, C&L):

The far-right Washington Times reports this morning that Republican demands for a resolution condemning are being ignored.

Democratic congressional leaders and the party’s presidential candidates yesterday refused to repudiate a liberal group’s ad questioning Gen. David H. Petraeus’ character.

Capitol Hill Democrats rejected a call for votes in both chambers to condemn the attack newspaper ad, run by, saying Republicans are trying to take attention off what they call the president’s failed Iraq policy.

Good. MoveOn is not the problem. If the right took coming up with a coherent Iraq policy half as seriously as they take some intemperate newspaper ad, the nation would be far better off.

They need to go further and publicly support the ad and attack a general whose own boss thinks he is a kiss up (Meteor Blades, DKos):

Sometimes, no further comment is needed. (According to Gareth Porter at Interpress, General David Petraeus’s boss doesn’t think too highly of him. (Hat tip to Think Progress):

In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus’s superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” and added, “I hate people like that”, the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.


Right now a resolution against MoveOn represents the first jab.  This will get worse before it gets better.  (Betsy Newmark, Betsy’s Page):

Chris Cillizza writes about the danger to the Democratic Party when the goals of the party and the left anti-war movement depart.

This latest ad by MoveOn, however, shows that the left’s goals and the party’s goals are not always in coordination. There’s no question that yesterday was a GREAT day for MoveOn; its ad was shown and referred to not only in the hearings but on the wall-to-wall cable television coverage. And, the ad accurately reflected the sentiment of its consitutency; liberals do not trust Petraeus and view him as yet another tool of the Bush Administration’s attempt to deceive the American public when it comes to the conditions on the ground in Iraq.

It was not such a great day for the Democratic Party as the ad gave Republicans a chance to play offense of the war. Republicans have been back on their heels for months (if not years) when it comes to Iraq and the combination of Petraeus’ plan to draw down 30,000 troops by next summer and the MoveOn ad gave Republicans a foothold to get back into the debate.

Watch for Republicans to continue to wrap Moveon around the Democratic Party and increase calls for candidates to return donations from Moveon. And when they don’t, the GOP will start talking about a Democrat as the candidate from Moveon.

Expect a thousand variations of this in legislation being raised, attack ads, speeches and even staked out positions.

The Republican leadership understands the value of an aggressive, repetitive rhetorical style.  They’ve fused the fervor of the far right party activists with the brutal efficacy and sophisticated repetition of corporate rhetoric to create devastatingly effective new style.  We on the left must counter this, and simply neutralizing a single tactic like the Congressional resolutions condemning will only leave us vulnerable to the strategy behind it.  At some point we have to stop fighting every demon the Republicans raise and fight the source.  Stop responding to every disingenuous statement and take on the frame instead.

We need to be aggressive, and we need to be effective.  The Democratic party has to match liberal activists in every way, tooth, muscle, and will.  If they do not then come 2008 they will suffer defeats where there could have been victories.  And right now they will see their policy goals, our policy goals remain fanciful dreams instead of ripening into hard won reality.’s ad was correct.  We need to recognize the coming backlash from the right, who especially hates effective criticism more than anything else.  Instead of simply defending ourselves we need to use this as an opportunity to attack the Republicans and the craven bloodthirsty ideology they represent.

The Republicans are bullies, and we’ve spent far too long dodging and blocking and asking them to stop.  Too long just taking the punches.
Its time to give them a bloody nose.


One Response

  1. 58% of the American people believe a third party is necessary.


    Independent candidate for U.S. Senate 2008, Oregon

    Call to Impeach Bush

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