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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Aggressive Pacifism vs passive aggression

I don't totally agree with Armando at the daily Kos, although I agree with Atrios and Harold Myerson.

The orginal point is that opposition to the war in Iraq is very widespread partly because opponents or the war have not offended the silent majority with extreme rhetoric as did opponents of US involvement in the war in Vietnam. I think this is a very good point. The desperate efforts of Republicans to make an issue about Richard Durbin's absolutely reasonable comment on the FBI agent's description of cruel inhumane and degrating treatment in Guantanamo shows how much they miss Hanoi Jane.

Armando makes the more general point that Democrats by sticking to criticism of Republicans keep the focus on Republicans. Given what people see when they focuses on them, this is a great strategy. Also he stresses the advantage of not showing one's hand 18 months before an election. I agree with all of that. The incessant whining of the Bush administration about how the Democrats should present alternative proposals shows just how good this strategy is.

However, I disagree with the final thing Armando says. Maybe I disagree with my confused interpretation. He is discussing two issues I think. First he argues that it is wise for Democrats and lefty bloggers to keep their rhetoric moderate and focusing on facts. This is very convincing to me. Second he argues that Democrats and bloggers should stick to criticism and not make alternative proposals just yet. This is a quite different issue and I half agree. My one objection, which might be an objection to my own missunderstanding, is that I think the second argument applies only to Democrat elected officials and candidates.

I think either I was careless when I read or Armando was careless when he wrote

Keep that in mind when we want to trumpet an issue. Passive Aggression. The Politics of Contrast. Not drowning out your message about the Republicans. Find the right approach.

This lesson applies to use here at the blogs as well. If DSM had been about Impeachment, it would have been DOA. but the folks who created were smart. They didn't make it about impeachment. They made it about Bush's Lies. Leave a Small Target for attack. It's true for the Dem Party and true for the Lefty Blogs.

I agree that talk about impreachment would be counter productive. However, I think discussion of policy by bloggers, columnists and pundits would be very useful. I mean, for one thing, politics aside, it is a good thing for people to try to find improved policy. For another the bloggers can run things up the flag pole and see who salutes. A policy proposal made by a non politician can be useful to the politicians because, if people hate it, the politician can neglect to mention the fact that he thought it was a good idea.

I think that an example of this is Paul Krugman's discussion of health care in America. It is less useful than it might be, because many people would express outrage if Krugman claimed 2+2=4. However, the discussion at, say, Political Animal seems to me to have been useful and not just for policy wonks.

Here this reminds me of something I read somewhere. The left blogosphere is divided between the frontal lobe of moderate wonks (Drum again, Yglesias, Marshall, Kleiman, Clemons, DeLong etc) and the temporal lobe of (mostly) further left activists (Kos of course, Pandagon, Oliver Willis, Billmon, Digby, the daily Howler, Aravosis, J C Christian and don't even mention the Rude pundit) with Atrios the only tenuous link between the two lefty quadrispheres. The wonks are not hurting the Democratic party.

The Republicans could get some milage out of the rude pundit if the could find five printable words in a row. On the other hand just the thought of a Repub oppo researcher forced to search his rudeness for the most inflamatory bits makes it all worth it.

p.s. can anyone explain the concept of "track back spam" to me ?

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