Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Stand By Your Man
I’m with Atrios on this:
Great, just what we need - non-stop nitpicking of the candidates by "even the liberal" TNR. Look, I'm not against constructive criticism but this kind of carping isn't exactly helpful. Besides, I thought that was EVERYONE ELSE IN THE MEDIA's role.
So, the Dems will get stepped on from the left over at the Nation, smacked into submission from the center by The American Prospect, and bludgeoned from the right by the New Republican - and that's the liberal media for god's sake.
I’ve also noticed this self-destructive impulse on the part of the SCLM, even the great Buzzflash, which finds it necessary to slam Tom Daschle every single day on something. Today the screaming headline is “Graham Blames Bush Iraq Strategy for Saudi Blasts. Daschle, As Usual, Waffles.”
C’mon. Daschle is a Democrat and a good human being and he's being savaged every day by the Republicans. Is this really necessary?
Josh Marshall wrote inThe Hill last week about the thuggish intimidation tactics that the national GOP and the Wurlitzer are employing on him in South Dakota, which should make decent people cut the guy some slack. The machine is using everything it’s got against him. They literally compare him to Saddam Hussein and then have the temerity to cry ”Unpatriotic!” when he does far less than these same people did when Clinton was in office. Trent Lott said “I can support the troops without supporting the President” but these Republican PoMo relativist hucksters simply turn around and say, “and your point is….?”
We know by now that it doesn’t matter what a Democrat actually says or does, he will be attacked via the Mighty Wurlitzer, if it is deemed useful to the cause and according to whatever script has been written for them. And we also know that appeasement doesn’t work and we want the Democrats to fight back. But, what we are failing to understand is that unless the Democratic Party from the grassroots to the elected representatives support politicians who do fight back, they cannot survive. Democrats win with collective power.
Via Salon magazine last month, look what happened when Tom Daschle came out blasting:
As the war abroad continued to escalate last week, the nation's leading Democrat requested help for someone else under attack: himself. In response to Republican criticism, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's reelection committee sent out an e-mail last Thursday to union presidents and other supporters asking for them to "take the time to defend Senator Daschle from his critics."
The e-mail, obtained by Salon, noted that after Daschle "criticized the Administration's diplomatic efforts, the conservative attack machine went into full swing."
The Daschle e-mail goes on to complain that the Republican National Committee, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, former Rep. John Thune, R-S.D., and their allies "put out scathing attacks on Senator Daschle -- going so far as to even question his patriotism." These criticisms, the e-mail stated, are being used by conservatives to "flood their rhetoric on talk radio and in news rooms across the state and country." It implored recipients to defend Daschle, who served with Air Force Intelligence during the Vietnam War, "as a veteran, a patriot, and the best friend South Dakota veterans ever had."
"Please speak out," the e-mail pleads. "This is important." Attached to the e-mail is a March 22 column by Beltway pundit Mark Shields defending Daschle.
Remember what it was that Daschle said?
"I am saddened, saddened, that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to go to war. Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."
It’s perfectly ok for Newtie to say such things. He is, after all, a member of the Republican cabal that now rules the world. But, a Democrat is mercilessly worked over if he says…well, anything except praise for His Majesty, George W. Bush.
So, what happened when Daschle appealed to his supporters to speak out on his behalf?
Zippo. They left him hanging out to dry. He stood alone while everybody criticized his statement as well as his request for support.
One Democratic strategist saw the e-mail as indicative of a larger partywide problem. While Daschle's e-mail "might be kind of pathetic," the strategist said, "what's more pathetic is that his party doesn't stand behind him more." Daschle has decided to take on a more aggressive posture, "and is to be applauded for that, but the problem is that there's no supporting choir for him. At the DNC, the structure is not there, and the Senate is not known as a place of grand alliances -- especially when you have six guys running for president."
Frist spokesman Stevenson asked whether the "conservative attack machine" also includes a number of Democrats who, when asked for their views on Daschle's comments, begged off considerably, like Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., who on the day of the remarks said "there is plenty of time later to point fingers and to figure out what went wrong with what. But tonight is a night for us to unite our country and have our thoughts and prayers for our young people out there in the Gulf." Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said in response that "you have got to say that the blame for the war is Saddam Hussein's," as did former Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., who said in response that "the failure is Saddam Hussein's."
Daschle's home state newspapers were harsher, Stevenson notes. In fact, the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader editorialized that "Tom Daschle was out of line" and "went far beyond what was needed"; the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan condemned Daschle's "fierce partisan rhetoric" and called for him "to elevate himself from that garbage at once."
Daschle consultant Dunn says that those taking issue with the timing of the Daschle missive need to address their reservations elsewhere. "In terms of timing," Dunn said, "this letter came following a period" when Daschle was attacked by Hastert, DeLay, Frist, Santorum, chair of the GOP House Conference Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Racicot and Fleischer.
"Many of our supporters were saying, 'We want to hear from you, all these Republicans are attacking,'" Dunn said.
One Daschle advisor alleged that the attack originated at the White House and was done so for purely political reasons -- so President Bush could more easily pass his legislative agenda. "Clearly they recognize that since January of 2001, when the Senate was 50-50, that Senator Daschle as the leader of the Senate Democrats was in a position to heavily influence what happens to the White House agenda and they've made him their No. 1 target."
The Daschle brouhaha came toward the end of the filibuster against the federal appeals court nomination of Miguel Estrada, and just as the Senate was about to defeat the Bush initiative to permit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It also occurred "right before Senator Daschle defeated a huge part of their tax policy," the Daschle strategist says, referring to last week's move by the Senate to cut Bush's proposed $726 billion tax cut to a mere $350 billion.
The Senate "is the only place in Washington they cannot just roll people." The Daschle strategist hadn't "a doubt" that this was a White House-coordinated effort.
The problem is not Daschle’s lack of courage. It’s the Democrats’ failure to stand together even though they know full well that the whole thing is bullshit and that Rove is playing politics. This non-stop criticism and derision of Democratic politicians’ character is only helping the GOP, and they are quite adept at assassinating the characters of Democrats without our help.
Addendum: On an unrelated note, this same Salon article quotes a Republican strategist who ran a campaign against Bush in the primaries (can you say Mike Murphy?) saying that the way to get to the Bushies is to “belittle them.” He offers nothing to back that up, but I think there may be something to that. Bush himself is thin skinned and the wing-nut pundits turn into hysterical old women when anybody successfully makes fun of President Codpiece. On the other hand, I can’t argue with Chris over at Interesting Times when he says “Never NEVER EVER take political advice from the opposition. In fact, pay attention to what they say you shouldn't be doing because that probably means they are afraid what you are doing might actually work.” So, take it with a grain of salt.
I see Kevin at Calpundit has weighed in this as well.
digby 5/13/2003 10:32:00 PM