HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Friday, January 18, 2008

 
Game Changing Strategy

by digby


So, I see that Edwards and Clinton are jumping hard on Senator Obama's Reagan comments and Obama supporters seem to think it's below the belt. (I think it's entirely to be expected: they're dogwhistling appealing to the traditional, liberal base, who hate Reagan with a passion.)

I've tried to explain why it's bad for progressives to validate the conservative myth that the country was tired of liberalism and big government and so voted en masse for Ronald Reagan. There are so many straw men fighting among themselves on that now that I'm going to leave it where it is.

But I'll try once again, in a different way, to explain why his comments were ill advised.

Here again are the comments in question:

"What I'm saying is I think the average baby-boomers have moved beyond the arguments of the 60's but our politicians haven't. We're still having the same argument... It's all around culture wars and it's all ... even when you discuss war the frame of reference is all Vietnam. Well that's not my frame of reference. My frame of reference is "what works." Even when I first opposed the war in Iraq, my first line was I don't oppose all wars, specifically to make clear that this is not an anti-military, you know, 70's love-in kind of approach."

"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."


Let's assume for the sake of argument that he right. And then ask yourself if Ronald Reagan would have "changed the trajectory" back in '80 with a similar kind of rhetoric:

"We're still having the same arguments. It's all around regulations and smaller government and it's all ... even when you discuss traditional values the frame of reference is all around abortion. Well, that's not my frame of reference. My frame of reference is "what works." When I first came out against abortion, my first line was I don't oppose all abortions, specifically, to make clear that this is not a theocratic, you know, snake-handling prayer vigil kind of approach."

"I think Lyndon Johnson changed the trajectory of the country in a way that JFK did not and Nixon did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of racism and anti-communism and government refusing to raise taxes to care for the poor and the elderly, I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was, we want a return to that sense of community and compassion that had been missing."


I'm sure that many Democrats would have ben reassured by those comments but does anyone think his Republican rivals in 1980 wouldn't have jumped all over him for that? And wouldn't that argument have made a lot of Republicans wonder if he was actually as conservative as he said he was?

Reagan, ofcourse, would have never said any of that. He knew it was a huge political moment and changed the trajectory of the country by forcefully asserting the merits and superiority of conservatism and (falsely)making people believe it was the failures of liberalism that had brought them low. He used the language developed by the conservative movement over the previous two decades and never gave the liberals a rhetorical inch. He did it all with panache and good humor, but he was merciless with Democrats and used every opportunity to sell conservatism, not distance himself from it.

I agree with Obama that this is a potentially game changing election like 1980. And I am open to the idea that he's the guy to do it. He's young, he's brilliant, he's a fresh face with immense political skills. What I don't get is why he keeps using conservative phrases and adopting hot button conservative issues like social security when it's so unnecessary. If the people are there, then why keep using this tired old crap to appeal to the middle? I understand that he doesn't want to run as a traditional liberal and that's fine. I don't think he should. But people also don't need that stale stuff about love-ins and "entrepreneurship" or "fixing social security" or dissing "trial lawyers" or they'd vote for Rudy McRomney. They want something new. Give it to them.

If he wants to change the trajectory as Reagan did then he should take a page from his political strategy instead of his rhetoric, stop praising him and bury conservatism instead.



.