Sunday, October 26, 2008

Golden Oldies and Important Lessons

I was thinking about that question of Republican "advice" some more, and a quick googling revealed this nice digby piece from last year. It's about how the GOP "couldn't be happier" that Clinton was pretty much guaranteed the nomination.

(Yes, people used to believe that, in case you'd forgotten.)

I don't know about you, but whenever Republican hacks offer political "advice" to Democrats I tend not to take it a face value. I get especially suspicious when they leak to the media that the loathed Republican president is secretly giving Democrats advice through back channels. Somehow, leaking that doesn't strike me as something done in the best interests of the Democrats.

I also hate to be cynical, but when they call the election early and tell us that a candidate has won and that it's really good for Republicans, I get a little bit suspicious.
KING: And looking ahead to that general election, pollster Neil Newhouse believes Senator Clinton would guarantee high GOP turnout even if many Republicans were less than thrilled with their nominee.

NEIL NEWHOUSE, GOP POLLSTER: There is a shared dislike for Hillary Clinton and that motivates our base more so right now than any of our individual candidates does.

KING: There are numbers to support such talk. About half of Republicans have an unfavorable view of Senator Barack Obama. 80 percent view Senator Clinton negatively.

CULLEN: Nothing unifies Republicans more than the idea of President Hillary Clinton.
If you've been following politics for the past few days you've heard this constantly, from virtually every Republican: Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic nomination and Republicans couldn't be happier. This means they are going to win the election and live happily ever after! If I didn't know better, I'd think they were trying to get the Democrats to nominate someone else, wouldn't you? Or maybe not. In any case, it is a long established Republican tactic to try to pick the candidate they wish to oppose.

I am not taking a position in the primaries, but I know a couple of things. First, never count the votes until the votes are cast. During the last primary season, everyone anointed Howard Dean long before a vote was cast and we know how that worked out. Second, whenever the Republicans suddenly start singing exactly the same song, Ze Party has decided to push a certain line for its own reasons.

It's possible that they are simply trying to raise money on the prospect of a Hillary nomination. The CW has been for years that evoking her name could produce projectile spews of cash among the faithful. I don't know if that's true, but I'll take their word for it.

However, I think this latest outbreak of parroted talking points may be something more in keeping with GOP tradition. It's very rare for the pooh-bahs not to anoint a candidate. In fact, I think it may be unprecedented. So, considering that they have Bush himself out there making this argument about Hillary, I suspect this means they are anointing ... Rudy Giuliani. The sub-text of this whole argument is that they need a candidate from outside their regional limitations who can potentially win one of those big blue states. (Certainly, that's the argument Giuliani is making.) Although Giuliani certainly believes he can win New York, going up against a favorite daughter makes it far more dicey than it normally would be. I would not be surprised if they think their Sweet Rudy Blue State will be California --- Schwarzenneger has been kissing Rudy's ring for a while now. (That awful electoral college dirty trick could only help.)

Just last week:

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he expects former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

The governor said his prediction does not constitute an endorsement, but Giuliani is "the most consistent, stable person who is out there who makes the most sense to the people. That's why his poll numbers are high," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
(Stable?)

I think they think they might be able to position Rudy as Arnold. Certainly, they may think they can position him to appeal to someone like Tina Fey, of 3rd Rock fame, who said this in a recent NY Times article:
In another episode, in which Liz reflects on things about herself that others wouldn’t know, she says, “There is an 80 percent chance” that she will “tell all my friends I’m voting for Barack Obama, but I will secretly vote for John McCain.”

Ms. Fey, who wrote that line, said it was semi-autobiographical, a way of “admitting I have a lot of liberal feelings, but I also live in New York, and I want to feel safe, and I secretly kind of want Giuliani.”
(Another heroine bites the dust....)If a Hollywood/New York liberal thinks this about Giuliani, they very likely think they can cop the Arnold vote. And, sadly, it's possible they can. Arnold came back from a huge deficit and won big last year by moving to the middle. Rudy could try that too --- once he programs the GOP borg they'll do as they're told.

Whatever their motives, the Republicans are not saying this because they had simultaneous epiphanies. The Party is directing this meme for a reason. It's always important to keep that in mind, even if the media, like newborn babes, dutifully burp and spit it back up without any context or explanation. They don't go on jihads or spread memes like this spontaneously.
Bolding's mine, for the most part. Good, huh? Yeah, digby was wrong about Rudy, but at the time I think they were planning on anointing Rudy. Rudy ruined his own shot; he wasn't forced out. McCain was always a back-up plan.

And notice that the Republicans were busily trying to push the Dems into supporting or opposing a candidate. Sound familiar, Canadian Liberals? It should. Same thing's happening to you, and is going to continue to happen until May.

Here's another, earlier one from 2003.
(And, what do you think Ed Gillespie and all the rest of the "helpful" Republicans doling out advice to the Democrats are doing by stoking the division between the DLC and the grassroots? Somehow, I don't think they are really trying to help us.)
They aren't.

I've been making this point for a while too. This is from after the Dems won in 2006:
As always, don't listen to conservatives proffering advice, as people like Brooks had absolutely nothing to do with your victory.

And, honestly, what's sadder than a conservative babbling about how this is all "a win for the centrists", in a desperate attempt to try to save the ideology that is his bread and butter?

Yes, some conservative Dems won. No, it wasn't all conservatives, and some were pretty damned liberal. Yes, Lieberman won. No, Lieberman's victory wasn't a victory against Kos. it was an embrace of the Republican party without the "R" to bring him down.

Hell, Brooks (along with many other pundits) doesn't even get that Kos doesn't care about ideology, and never has. He just dislikes Lieberman because he takes shots at his own party to get ahead. It works for Joe, but harms the party, and thus can't be held up as an example to Dems pretty much by definition.
One of the reasons why Canadian Liberal bloggers' lack of knowledge about the history of the American netroots annoys me is because of this sort of thing. Every progressive American blogger knows full well that the Republicans are constantly offering "advice" that is in their own best interests. The commentators know it too: that's why they run off trolls pretty quickly these days, if the mod doesn't disemvowel them first.

Republicans did it then for the same reason that Conservatives are doing it now: to exploit the sense of frustration and desire for answers to accomplish their own agenda. Liberals now, like Democrats then, wanted to know how their counterparts were so successful, and the media was (as ever) interested in the strategy enough that they were willing to repeat the "good advice".

Yet it was never great advice. It wasn't even good advice. It was, almost universally, disastrous advice, usually revolving around how the Democrats are too "elitist" and too "out of the mainstream" and too "left wing" and how the needed to bend over backward to cater to hard-core conservative constituencies they'd never actually attract.

The Dems didn't win by putting any of this into practice. It was always nonsense: progressive congressional candidates were as competitive in 2006 and are as competitive in 2008 as conservative ones. Shifts "left" and "right" were meaningless; it was about reconnecting with the people you aim to represent. That's what the "50-state strategy" was about: it had nothing to do with trying to create bland "centrist" policy, but instead helping to build that connection. In Canada, progressivism will remain particularly important because of the social democrats nipping at the Liberals' heels. They cannot abandon it.

The Liberals aren't going to win by listening to conservatives either. They don't want to help you. They just want to screw with you, demoralize you, and drag the political "center" of the country to the right so as to suit their own ideology. And, rest assured, they will not tell you that that's what they're up to.

If they want to win, they need to rethink their on-the-ground strategy. But they also need to think about their on-the-Net strategy. And, based on being involved in this game practically since it started, I can offer one bit of insight above all:

They Are Not Your Friends.

(Edit: And remember: they're desperate. They've got two years, maximum, and those two years are likely to see further growth of world progressivism. The Dems are poised to decimate the Republicans, Labour is at the helm in Britian and Australia, Sarkozy's running left, the Germans conservatives are in coalition with the Social Democrats, and even Japan's mighty LDP is poised to be knocked off by the progressive Democratic Party of Japan. Progressivism is winning. Never forget that.)

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