"Our Karl Rove is the blog you should be glad that Democratic strategists don't seem to listen to"
-- what they're saying on Republican blogs

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Democrats: Put Up a Gate, Quick

Democratic Leadership,

Timing is critical here: Bush has just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar: He has apparently been giving the NSA (and FBI) permission to spy on American citizens in his quest for dictator-like powers of the presidency. Russ Feingold did a brilliant job on the immediate smack down. It helped set the tone for the first day’s debate, but you need a more powerful follow-up strategy before you lose traction.

First, you have to turn this into a "gate." Americans have been conditioned to only think of a political crisis when there's a “gate” attached to the allegations. Don’t worry about being seen as petty using this approach, the Republicans created a "gate" for Clinton's haircuts, for crying out loud. The fact that I remember this almost 10 years later tells you how effective "gate"ing can be.

Some ideas for naming your gate:

  • Spy-Gate
  • NSA-Gate
  • Emperor-Gate
  • Privacy-Gate

Privacy-Gate is my favorite of the bunch (thanks to Orin for that one). It is crucial that we get this "gate" thing into the national dialog quickly. In fact, if you don’t "gate" this one, then you're really not doing all you can do to involve the public in this critical debate over Americans' fundamental right to privacy from their government.

Second, you need to try Bush in the Court of Public Opinion. You won’t even get a trial covered by the media unless it's a "gate," but once you're there, you need to win.

Some talking points in making the case against Bush:

  • This isn't Big Government, this is Intrusive Government. If you thought the Republican Party was about getting the government out of your hair, you might want to reconsider the party you support. This Republican administration has decided that it has every right to learn everything it can about any American, at any time.
  • These aren't the actions of an American President, these are the actions of a Dictator. Dictators do as they want and as they say, with no oversight, always in the name of national defense and keeping the country safe.
  • With all this talk about Bush's judicial appointees being strict constitutional constructionists, how is it that Bush all of a sudden wants to conveniently interpret the executive power given to the office of the President?
  • How sad it is for this administration that we are now left to compare President Bush with President Nixon. Both Presidents similarly abused the benefit of the doubt – and the deep trust – that Americans give our Presidents. Our trust has been abused and misused.
  • This is not just about civil liberties – this is about an administration that is just out of control with its power. I think President Bush has overreached for the last time.

Once you've "gated" the crisis, and sold your perspective on it to the media and he public, you have then set the stage to start calling for impeachment.

Warning: Do not overreach! Do not add in accusations that may or may not be illegal, and do not pepper your accusations with partisan or philosophical banter. This is clean and simple, and impeachment is about specifics, not general admonishment:

If the man broke the law, then he is impeachable based on the law he broke.

Now, if there is a list of impeachable offenses (like Representative John Conyers has compiled) that are simple and clear as that of Privacy-Gate, then by all means, pile 'em on. But, please, please do not add any color or opinion to your call for impeachment. Keep it very simple:

"If President Bush is found to have abused his office by secretly spying on American citizens, then he should be impeached. We will find out the facts, and we will determine next steps when the facts have been reviewed."

If you can't find the venom in you right now, try recalling how Republicans spent all of their time in the 1990's trying to undermine the Clinton presidency with "Whitewater-gate."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Democrats: Take Responsibility for Bush Improvements


Bush recently gave a speech about the war in Iraq that was well-toned, contrite and more honest than ever before. In fact, Harry Reid said "The president has reached out and spoken more directly than ever before about how we went to war and why it is important to achieve victory, a goal we all share."

Unfortunately, you missed a key Rovian strategy in your response to this good speech by the President. When the opposition does something good (or at least, better), you need to simultaneously praise them (because something good from either party is good for the country) and take credit for it.

In this particular example, let's do a before-and-after with Reid's message. After the above quote, he said this:

"While I appreciate the president's increased candor, too much of the substance remains the same and the American people have still not heard what benchmarks we must meet along the way to know that progress is being made and that our brave troops can begin to come home."
This is weak and whiney. Benchmarks shmenchmarks -- the Iraqis just voted in their first democratic government! I'm sorry, is that not a benchmark? Don't use outdated messaging when it doesn't apply, please. That's just thoughtless rhetoric.

However, if we apply the above Rovian spin to this, it transforms into:

"I appreciate the president's increased candor, and I think the American people can clearly see the difference in our President after the Democrats successfully led a campaign to force this administration to be more forthright, direct, and frankly, honest with the American people. Americans are now able to see that Democrats in congress can really make a difference -- and can even help turn this secretive administration, once pressued and cornered, into an administration that can level with the American people."
You could go on to rhetorically ask Americans to count the number of speeches the President made about Iraq before and after Democrats led a revolt. You could go on to ask Americans to recall when this President finally took responsibility (hint: after the Democratic revolt). You could go on to tell Americans that if Democrats take back the Senate and/or House leadership next year, they can expect more honesty out of this administration, quicker.

The whole idea here is to take anything and everything that happens, and tie it into "why to vote Dem" in the 2006 congressional races. And as the above talking point shows, even a rather good speech by the President can be great fodder for boosting your pro-Democratic message.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Iraq War = The Corrupt War

Democratic Leadership,

You have a problem with details --- you're mired in them. When you go into details, you create the opportunity for everyone to have a problem with something.

Why do you go into details so readily? Because you're currently the party of tactics, not strategy and vision. You're like the plumbers of government, trying to explain to Americans about all the crap you see every day. Meanwhile, the Republicans look like white-collar executives, setting strategy, taking risks, and marketing their offerings like executives do to Wall Street in Corporate America.

While it would be foolish to think that the entire party can transform itself into an executive-style organization in under a year, it's not foolish to think that carefully crafted talking points can jump-start America's belief that you are, even if you are not quite there yet.

Let's start with some high-level attacks on the Iraq war. Have you noticed what happens when you say things like "withdrawal time lines" and "withdrawal immediately"? Your ideas get instantly scrambled and distorted by the Bush Administration into "cut and run" and "defeatist" messages. In other words, you lose this battle because Americans want to believe and follow the lead of the executives, not the plumbers. We're all conditioned to think this way through our working environments.

Since you cannot instantly transform into executives, start sounding like a management consultant instead of a plumber. Provide professional, high-level assessments that talk to the problems you see in our strategic and tactical approach, and provide alternative, break-through solutions that are designed to impress.

As management consultants, it is quite fair and effective to characterize the Iraq War as a Corrupt War that needs to be stopped immediately as it is designed today, and a new initiative immediately started to replace what we have today.

As consultants, you will raise the following reasons for this war effort being corrupt:

  • The intelligence was faulty, and the government knew it before we went into war (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5024408, http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/5161)
  • Our claims of Saddam being evil for torturing and killing his own people is undermined by America's torturing and killing Iraqis as a part of the war effort
  • Abu Gharib
  • Summarily ignoring Joe Wilson's findings in Niger re: aluminum tubes due to politics
  • Scooter Libby, an Iraq War architect, indicted for lying under oath
  • Rumsfeld did not provide the amount of troops required to maintain order
  • American troops didn't have the armor they needed for their protection
  • The war has created new recruiting tools for terrorist organizations, escalating the war on terror
  • We are paying off the Iraqi free press to run American propaganda in their newspapers
  • No-bid contracts given exclusively to American firms to rebuild Iraq
  • Destroyed decades of good will America has earned around the world since World War II
  • Hurt domestic morale so severely that we are no longer able to recruit enough people capable of maintaining adequate levels of military readiness.

When something is corrupt -- be it in your personal computer or an organization like Enron -- you fully remove the corruption immediately so it cannot further infect. We must take the same approach to this war:

  • Immediately end the Corrupt War in Iraq as it is defined today to instantly destroy the corruption that the Bush Administration has allowed to occur.
  • Immediately begin two new initiatives that replace the Corrupt War:
    1. Launch "Operation New Iraq" - an initiative that is divorced from all of the corrupt reasons and rationales for going to war, divorced from confusing Iraq with 9/11, and divorced from the word "war" itself. Instead, this operation focuses solely on rebuilding the nation that needs to be reconfigured to survive without a dictatorship. America no longer occupies -- it assists Iraq as a support force. If this is done convincingly, we might just get our European allies to help out as well.
    2. Re-launch "The War on Global Terrorist Groups" - an initiative that is tied to the "War on Terror" but looks at dangerous extremist organizations, no matter where they are in the world, including Iraq.

By instantly dissolving the current war, we dissolve the corruption that this administration has let infect the war effort. That does not at all mean that this administration is off the hook. In fact, by stating this approach, you are firmly placing the word "corrupt" on this administration as a de facto descriptor. It's an implicit attack, which is much more powerful than a direct attack.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rewriting Bush

Democratic Leadership,

President Bush's latest talking point is that you are rewriting history because you now critique his Mafia-inspired run up to war.

This is the perfect opportunity to practice the deflect and divert strategy that Republicans are so good at. Instead of defending your vote and your decision to critique the administration, rewrite his message to benefit you:

"Democrats are not rewriting history. We're trying to rewrite the future, because the future this President has led us toward looks terrible. We need to rewrite the future because what they promised America is not what they're delivering:

  • They promised "freedom on the march," but instead we get "terrorism on the march" around the world.
  • They promised oil would pay for the Iraq war, but instead we get high energy costs for Americans and a war that will tax us, our children, and grandchildren.
  • They promised "homeland security," but instead they got "Katrina'd."
  • They promised Social Security reform, but instead they want to destroy it.
  • They promised they'd get Bin Laden "dead or alive," but instead Bin Laden is still alive and al-Zarqawi is growing the terror network in Iraq.
  • They promised "honor and integrity," but instead we get criminal indictments inside the White House.
  • They promised discipline, but instead we get massive debt that will eventually raise our taxes.
  • They promised "compassion," but now they are trying to cut school lunch funds and Medicaid to help pay for the massive debt they've given us.

See the pattern here? This administration has a bad habit of saying the right thing and doing the wrong thing. Democrats are sick of it, and it's high time we start rewriting the future of this country. It's time for Democrats to be back in the majority in Congress so we can begin leading this country back in the right direction.

So, remember, if you want things fixed, vote for a Democrat in 2006."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function?

Democratic Leadership,

Well, the Republicans have answered this time-tested question - the function of the conjunction junction is to merge multiple ideas into a single, misleading one. The conjunction of ideas has been at the backbone of the modern Republican party communications strategy.

Even though they're low in the polls right now, that doesn't mean that their communication strategy doesn't matter. It does. Here are some functions of their conjunction junctions:

  • + Over 30,000 Iraqi deaths
    + Over 2,000 American deaths
    + Drawing the ire of the world
    + Bin Laden is still out there
    + al Q'aida is growing and expanding
    = The World is Better Without Saddam

  • + Democrats voted for the war resolution
    + Saddam had WMDs a decade ago
    + Saddam was Evil
    = Don't Blame Us for the Iraq War Fiasco

  • + Democrats saw the same bad intelligence
    + France had same bad intelligence
    + Only the U.S. interpreted this intel - good or bad - as an
        imminent threat
    + Cheney lying on Meet the Press about not knowing about
        Joe Wilson
    + White House smearing any intel challenging the imminent
        threat assessment
    = Don't Accuse Us of Manipulating Pre-War

  • + We didn't give the weapon inspectors enough time
    + Misleading Americans about links between Iraq and 9/11
    + Creating mass mistrust and fear in the world through
        abusing power
    = The Lesson We Learned from 9/11 is to Strike
        Before We're Attacked

[Feel free to add your own conjunction functions in the comments section below.]

Using conjunctions like these, the Republicans are able to deflect and redirect almost any conversation. Their trick: when approached with a fact (the facts are before the "="), they can land on a catchphrase (after the "=") that alludes to the facts in that function, but sums up exactly none of the facts in that function. (You might want to read that last sentence again)

You need to start getting better at deconstructing these conjunctions instead of leaving debates flabbergasted. If you don't expose this trickery, you are doing the American people a disservice -- if Americans are misled by the manipulation through conjunction functions, they'll unknowingly be supporting hidden agendas.

Start deconstructing these conjunctions that the Republicans unleash regularly. Some examples to get the juices flowing:

The World is Better Without Saddam:
That's like saying the world would be better if we eradicated near-sightedness when we have more important problems like cancer to deal with. Would the world be better off without near-sightedness? Of course. But, how much better off, and at what price? If we eradicated near-sightedness but let over 2,000 Americans and our allies die of cancer as a result of that singular focus on near-sightedness, would it be the right decision? Would it be the right priority? Would it be worth losing our own citizens and alienating our allies in cancer-fighting to eliminate the "near-sighted" threat? Most reasonable people would question this type of decision making. And these same people are questioning the leadership of our President for going after the "near-sightedness" of American enemies instead of focusing on the real, serious security threats that we face. The "cancer" of our enemies is al Q'aida, not Saddam.

Don't Blame Us for the Iraq War Fiasco:
It doesn't matter who else voted for the resolution, nor does it matter which foreign country agreed with your pre-war intelligence. The decision to go to war with Iraq was the calculated decision of the President of the United States. That's his job alone - in war, the buck stops with the Commander-in-Chief. He utilized the anger and fear generated by 9/11 to go after an old enemy, and he manipulated his case and facts to fit his pre-determined military goal. Democrats are not rewriting history - Democrats are just coming to understand that they were intentionally misled by an administration in a time of war in a matter of national security, which is treasonous.

Don't Accuse Us of Manipulating Pre-War Intelligence:
If Democrats saw what this administration did with the intelligence to sell it, not only would they have not supported the war resolution, but they would have called for investigations immediately on the abuse of executive power. Let's also keep in mind that even if everyone had the "same bad intelligence" (including France and Germany), only one administration determined that the threat was imminent, and manipulated the intelligence to make it seem that the threat was imminent. This is about priorities, and this administration was unique in the world in its prioritization of Saddam over al Q'aida.

The Lesson We Learned from 9/11 is to Strike Before We're Attacked:
Oh yes, the Bush Doctrine, which states that American must preemptively strike back at old enemies after new, more dangerous enemies attack us first. That's not only reactive, it's also a petty - and quite frankly, pathetic - foreign policy for our great nation. A real 9/11 doctrine would guide us through this new world of global warfare: explaining that war has evolved beyond country-to-country battles and has given way to loosely-connected networks of enraged extremists around the world. This new wave of warfare needs to be dealt with by joining forces with our allies that share our values around the world. It would go on to explain that together, this global alliance would have the military, intelligence, and moral force to stamp out extremism wherever in the world it creeps up.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Courting Supreme Nominees

Democratic Leadership,

In observing Senator Kennedy stumble through his rationales around Supreme Court nominee Alito on Meet the Press, it was clear that Democrats are in a rut on the thinking and rhetoric around this process. It was underwhelming to see the bobs and weaves he needed to perform to rationalize his past and current statements. But it's not Kennedy himself that's frustrating -- it's the entire discourse around judicial nominees these days. It's like a broken record...

"What's his judicial philosophy?"
"Will he overturn Roe v. Wade?"
"Will his ideology affect his ability to judge?"
"It's not about abortion, it's about privacy."
"Judges should not legislate from the bench."

Your terminology and approach to this debate is mundane, technical, and wonkish. We keep on hearing the same things, over and over. As a result, they don't mean much to people anymore. If you care at all about breaking through the noise and leading the debate, you need to discuss this in terms of judicial character, values, and the law.

When asked about strict constructionists or legislating from the bench, move the conversation toward your concern over a "pre-set agenda" instead:
"This debate should be less about looking back in history to see where we've gone right and wrong, and more about enforcing the laws of the land, and how we continue to form a more perfect union. Americans demand justices that respect their rights as free citizens of this country, and any judicial nominee that comes with a pre-set agenda to change the laws of this great nation -- whether it be civil rights, Roe v. Wade, or other established laws -- is suspicious and probably not suited for the job. Qualified justices of good character look at the facts of each case independently, and do not tailor outcomes according to a pre-set agenda."
When asked about judicial activism, your response should break new ground (based on moral principles) and stop blindly playing into the Republican paradigm that activism in and of itself is bad:

"Judicial activism is entirely appropriate when we're not adhering to the spirit of the Constitution, and entirely inappropriate when we are. For instance, if a justice reads that "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence, and he or she looks around and sees that certain types of people can't vote, this is a just and moral cause for judicial activism. However, if a justice reads that "all men are created equal," and he or she looks around and determines that some people don't have the right to, for instance, have a marriage recognized by the state because they're "not equal" in some way, this is also judicial activism that goes clearly against our nation's values. So, in the end, this is not about activism, this is about understanding the letter and the spirit of the Constitution... and adhering to it."

When asked about ideology versus judicial philosophy, your response should focus around the ideas of "sound judgements" and decrying "pre-set agendas":

"Judicial philosophy is very different from ideology. Judicial philosophy is an approach to the role of a judge is in our government. This is the core issue we try to understand during the judicial nominiee hearings. A personal ideology - or a pre-set agenda - has no room in a justice's mind when reviewing a case on the merits and the law. As a result, personal ideologies are not part of the judicial assessment unless, of course, ideology affects a justice's ability to look at facts, interpret law, and make sound judgements. A justice's inability to make sound judgements because he or she bases them on pre-set agendas developed from a personal ideology disqualifies a justice from the Supreme Court in my opinion."

When asked about Roe v. Wade and the pro-choice and pro-life movements, your response should be inspired by pro-life Republican Senator Coburn, and separate the morals of abortion policy from the job of a Supreme Court justice:

"Nobody likes abortions. Not Democrats, Republicans, or Independents... no one wants to see abortions performed left and right. Roe v. Wade didn't create abortions, and reversing Roe v. Wade won't end abortions. Roe v. Wade is a legal and political issue, not a moral or human issue. The moral and human issue is in the hearts and minds of people who choose to have abortions. The only way to stop abortions is to convince individuals throughout our country -- and the world -- that abortion is not the right solution to their specific problem. The only way to end abortions is to ensure that in each case where a woman is up against this situation, there are options that are more beneficial to the woman than abortion. If we really want to slow or stop abortions in this country, we need to focus on providing support systems and options to women to make non-abortive options more compelling than abortive options. I see Roe v. Wade as a red herring debate - a legal issue being used as a surrogate for a debate around religious and personal values."
Only after you establish the baseline parameters for what you consider to be a qualified justice can you then begin outlining why you will -- or will not -- support Alito for Supreme Court.

Last, but not least, take the opportunity during these interviews to slip a zinger into the discourse of judicial nominees:

"Of course, a Supreme Court Justice needs to be sufficiently politically independent to fairly judge and rule in a case that might involve members of their own party in the White House."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Senator Reid Flirts with Leadership, Gets to First Base

Democratic Leadership,

Senator Harry Reid astounded Your Karl Rove today by researching, preparing, and enacting an obscure Senate rule that permitted him to physically shut out the Republican majority from the Senate on Tuesday, November 1, 2005.

There was a time and place when this type of stunt would be seen as political hackery. There was a time and place when this type of action would be perceived as an attack on the decency of the Senate institution. There was a time and place when Frist's outrage would have appeared genuine. There was a time and place when Reid would be branded as a radical.

That time is long gone. In today's environment, Reid's actions were a sign of bravery, courage, and most importantly, leadership.

In these troublesome and confusing times, Americans are looking for politicians that are willing to take big risks in order to protect our country's interests. This is why the "Texas Way" has been so appealing to Americans of late -- you just don't play Massachusetts-Mister-Nice-Guy with Al Q'aida.

Senator Reid attacked the Senate Majority today like he was fighting terrorists or an insurgency. This is exactly what Americans need to see if Democrats are to ever be a majority again: a Democrat kicking ass and taking names.

While this blog is mostly about words, both actions and words are required to transform the Democratic party into a brand that can be trusted to guide and lead this nation into future peace and prosperity, even if it means pulling out all the stops when we absolutely need to. Are there some downsides to Reid's action? Absolutely. But it was a calculated risk that was required to show that the Democrats can, indeed, take risks.

You see, there's a difference between aggressive attacks based on informed research, planning, and slick execution (i.e., what Reid did on November 1), and aggressive attacks based on biased research, gut instincts, fantasies, and botched execution (i.e., what the Bush administration did in Iraq).

Reid's Senatorial Stunt has at least now given Americans an opportunity to compare and contrast different ways to attack. Providing real choices in leadership is a great service to Americans, because a Hobson's Choice is all that Americans have really had since Clinton left office.

It is possible that Senator Reid has kicked off the process to redefine the Democratic brand as a political party that is more than a bunch of whiny policy wonks who shrink from the tough decisions and are more satisfied to point fingers at others after big decisions are made. It is possible to fully transform the Democratic brand if the rest of the party latches onto this as a bellwether event. This event should be a model, but it should not be cloned, copied, or overused. Don't fall into the trap of reusing a good trick.

Remember: Americans like innovators and leaders. So, go innovate and lead.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Democrats: Film This Scene in Black and White

This CIA leak investigation must really be terrifying the Republicans, because the fear of indictments has scared them into seeing nuances and color where there was once only black and white.

Republicans from across the spectrum of their broad-yet-weakening coalition are already priming the pump on the thinking that any indictments related to perjury or obstruction of justice to the Grand Jury are mere technicalities. They believe that it would escalate the "criminalization of politics" to see the great Rove and Libby indicted for so-called "technicalities" like lying under oath or obstructing justice.

Even though we all collectively shake our heads in disbelief over the same group of unconscionable hypocrites that just six years ago saw fit to impeach a sitting President over the same so-called "technicalities," you simply cannot let this blatant hypocrisy go unchallenged.

This is your opportunity to establish moral leadership without needing to go biblical. This is your opportunity (once again) to tie in the morality of misleading a Grand Jury with the misleading of America about the real reasons to go to war with Iraq:

"Intentionally misleading people seems to be a pattern throughout this administration. Whether it's misleading a Grand Jury or misleading Americans on just about every initiative they've pushed through, Republicans have proven to us that they can no longer be trusted with the public's business. Indictments are simply a legal response to what has been a moral problem for years."

"Morality means telling the truth to Grand Juries. Morality means being honest with Americans. Morality is a matter of character. What we now know is that the very same administration that asked you to trust them has now proven that they are not to be trusted. We can no longer trust this administration with the public's business."

"If Democrats ran Congress, you can bet that many of these alleged crimes and misdemeanors would have stopped before they hurt America. Remember this when you vote for your Senator next year."

"We don't even need indictments to prove that this administration lies and has abused the trust of the American people. We already know that Rove and Libby lied to the Press Secretary. We already know that Cheney in all likelihood lied about not knowing who Joe Wilson is. We already know that the President had to retract words from his State of the Union address. Holding a bible in one's hand does not make a person moral."

"When Americans vote in one party to run all branches of government, they should not be surprised when they find rampant abuse of power, and the decline of morality and values in the process."
Whether you use these specific talking points or not, the overall feeling of your attacks should be visceral contempt for the lack of morality and integrity in this administration. It doesn't really matter who is indicted for what, or why. It's a simple black and white issue: If they lie and mislead to push their agenda, then they cannot be trusted to push their agenda. Period.

Therefore, for the duration of this presidency, Democrats are needed in congressional leadership to bring trust back to American governance. Take this message to the streets in each state and start using morality to win back the Senate in 2006.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Democrats: Bush Administration Insurgency in Last Throes

Democratic Leadership,

As noted in a prior post, the Bush administration -- what with its seemingly bipolar attraction to an evangelical pro-life agenda at home while killing thousands of people in the name of secular freedom abroad -- is somewhat of an insurgency in our own government.

So many people (neo-conservatives, televangelists, media haters, and other extremists), with so many radical ideas, just knew that there was just no way they'd get another chance to push their fringe agendas through the American political system like they could with George W. Bush. They knew that this modern American Prince (who was already drunk with hubris) would be the ideal vessel for their policies, because - face it - he really never had to live in reality. And with no basis in reality, almost any idea floated by his desk could appear to be rational, sane, and just -- especially coming from the people the President knows and trusts the most.

As you know, both Bush Junior and Senior share many of the same policy makers and administrators in their inner circles. But Bush Senior had a little thing called experience. He ran the CIA. He was the Vice President. He was also sober. He knew all too well the ramifications that accompanied the various "visions" that the neo-cons and evangelicals espoused. This experience and sober judgment proved frustrating to the radical conservatives. The radicals found Bush Senior weak and wobbly, and later created organizations like the Project for a New American Century in the 1990's, where neo-cons fantasized about American military might toppling Saddam, creating a department of Homeland Security, and taking aim at an axis of evil.

With no opportunity to, shall we say, explore their ideological fantasies in Bush Senior's administration, you can only imagine how their pent up frustration transformed into elation when George W. Bush became President. Finally, a guy who won't hold us back like his dad did. Finally, a guy who will let us implement all the post-cold-war and cultural ideas we've been dreaming about for over a decade. A guy who not only won't understand our philosophical underpinnings (and therefore can't possibly undermine the rationale), but a guy who is also stubborn enough to not back down when times get tough. Perfect.

Which brings us back to the idea of an insurgency, where the pent up desires of radicals who finally have a way to make a difference typically make that difference in ghastly, explosive ways. This quite disturbingly describes Iraqi radicals as much as it describes some of the American radicals in George W. Bush's circle of influence.

Like all insurgencies, they eventually overreach, go a step too far, and lose their ideological credibility by completely ignoring the means they use to pursue their very ideological and unwavering ends.

Such is the story of this administration. And, as Vice President Cheney noted earlier this year, the insurgency is "in the last throes." A prescient comment, no doubt...just directed at the wrong insurgency.

It may be in its last throes, but insurgencies die hard. If you think of this administration - and the recently radicalized Republican Party leadership - as an insurgency, then you need to deal with them like one. Start reading military strategy books like Resisting Rebellion: The History And Politics Of Counterinsurgency; start thinking like national defense strategists; start separating yourselves from the insurgency by speaking out against it. Divorce yourselves from the Iraq War because of what the war really represented: a neo-conservative fantasy devised in the 1990's.

Before you critique this administration for losing the war in Iraq to insurgents, think about how you're doing against the insurgency here at home.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Democratic Leadership: Start Revving Up the Moral Indignation

Democratic Leadership,

As we approach the precipice of the outcome in the CIA identity leak investigation, it's time to start planning around positioning your party around the fallout.

No matter what the outcome of the investigation, don't get sucked into the details. You must broaden the picture for Americans, otherwise this hearing could end up deflecting the real problems onto a few White House staffers. As you know, this problem is much deeper and problematic than Scooter Libby and Karl Rove.

This is about an administration that would do just about anything - including terrorize Americans with false information about a Saddam nuclear threat - to go to war with Iraq.

As details of the CIA leak investigation continue to be reported, Americans have started hearing that this administration was hell-bent in finding evidence to support their already-determined mission to unseat Saddam Hussein. This could be seen as an insurgency within our own government. This administration acted like an insurgency when it "went to war" with the CIA, ignored terror experts like Richard Clarke, did not heed the expert advice of then Secretary of State Colin Powell, and worse, intentionally fed Powell bad information to reveal at the U.N. hearings about justifying the war.

This approach to running our government is abhorrent and immoral. It is this morally-guided belief that should be the context for all discussions around the CIA leak investigation.

Don't let any indictments drag you into a legalistic or process debate with Republicans. Stay above the fray, and use any indictments -- and the suspicious acts they allege -- as supporting the case for a larger moral indignation that should be igniting across this country around how this administration has conducted itself at our expense.

Lead in the charge that we need to bring morality back to Washington D.C.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Democratic Leadership: Their Lack of Karl Rove Proves the Need for Our Karl Rove

Democratic Leadership,

As you revel in the current apparent meltdown in the Republican Party, take some time out from the celebration and think through why this is happening at a systemic level:

Their Karl Rove is Out To Lunch.

Between health issues (he was in the hospital leading up to the Katrina disaster) and legal issues (his attention required to represent himself in the CIA leak investigation), their Karl Rove has not been acting as the "brain" of the administration full-time. And it shows.

Case in point: The Harriet Miers nomination was picked by Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Not Karl Rove.

Case in point: The first time Bush was made aware of the tragedy unfolding in New Orleans was days later, when Counselor Dan Bartlett finally got up the nerve to create a DVD compilation of the coverage of the disaster.

Case in point: Bush's latest press conference on the War on Terror was promoted poorly, received poorly, and did not advance his agenda. Shockingly, he suddenly refocused on Osama Bin Laden as our key nemesis -- the very Public Enemy #1 that he has notably not brought to justice.

Case in point: The Department of Homeland Security actually downplayed the terror warning sent to NYC regarding their subway system. Since when does the White House downplay any terror threat? Since Rove has been out to lunch.

Case in point: Bush's elementary school-quality theater production of "The President Keeping it Real with Our Soldiers," where the President conducted a little "ad hoc" Q&A with our troops in Iraq. This performance was about as real as the existence of Saddam's WMD program.

Is it troubling that the entire competence of an administration revolves around the brain of one individual? Yes. But, there is also an inherent advantage to a "top-down" strategy setting, as the prior four years have displayed. Despite the problems that this particular Karl Rove is having, the fact that having a Karl Rove did work so effectively should not be lost on Democrats.

Our Karl Rove will continue to provide Rovian advice to the Democratic Leadership until a small group of talented strategists is developed whose sole purpose is to design a single, unifying vision and plan for the Democratic party. This group should be positioned as the Democratic Senior Advisory Council, and its work products need to be consumed and reused by the Democrats of all stripes in a consistent, diligent manner.

See the Our Karl Rove post directly below to help think through how this Senior Advisory Council should strive to create a broad coalition platform designed to attract more mainstream Americans back into the party.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Democratic Leadership: Rebuild a Coalition Party

Democratic Leadership,

Bush has been one of those unique figureheads that is just vague enough in his style to allow Republicans of all stripes to project their own values upon him. As a result, each leg of the Republican party got their own idealized version of Bush. He was a social conservative. He was a fiscal conservative. He was a moderate, compassionate conservative. He was a neoconservative. He was for business. He was for the middle class. He was for women. Heck, he was even for illegal Mexican immigrants.

This, my friends, is how you build a coalition party -- and why Bush eked out something even close to 50% of the votes in two elections, despite the fact that his actual policies are either unrealistic (democracy in Iraq through military occupation) or unpopular (stem-cell research ban).

This coalition paradigm is coming into focus because, well, it's easier to see a failure than a success. And Bush's coalition party is unraveling right in front of our eyes. Failures in Iraq, Katrina, Supreme Court nominee Miers, and a host of scandals under investigation have exposed rifts in the party that were always there, but nascent because Bush promised everything to everyone. Republicans of all types held their breath... until now.

To be a majority party in a two-party system, Democrats need to rebuild a coalition, just like the Republicans did, and just like politicians do in multi-party systems across the world.

Coalition building is not easy, especially if you're used to listening only to special interests with specific points of view (hint). Coalitions worthy of majorities in this country require more than just the ability to placate and patronize (another hint)... they require deep research into understanding what each segment in the coalition wants, and remaining open to a broad set of desires. The key is then to employ deft communication and negotiation skills to prioritize these wants without giving that nasty disenfranchising aftertaste.

Coalitions are transient. And this is a good thing, because a viable party needs to continually disassemble and restructure its constituents to effectively lead a nation through the ever-evolving problems and opportunities facing us.

As you watch the Republican coalition disassemble right in front of you, seize this opportunity to hone in on this political paradigm, and go build your own.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Democrats: Delay the DeLay Tactics


I've already heard and read about the carefully-crafted catch phase "Culture of Corruption." It's lovely, but there are three problems with it:

1. It's too early to throw down the gauntlet.

There's a lot of nasty stuff circling the Republican party right now, between Abramoff, DeLay, Frist, and even Rove himself. It's really tempting to start characterizing the entire party as corrupt. But please hold back. Hold back until the Spring of 2006. And slowly turn up the volume through the summer, and then lead to a crescendo in the fall, just in time for the elections.

2. It's too broad of a charge. It opens you up for attack as typical Washington Partisans.

For every DeLay, there is a McCain. Don't fall into the trap of overplaying your rhetoric (again). Tweak the "Culture of Corruption" tag-line to "Ring of Corruption." Sure, it doesn't have the alliteration that you might fancy, but a "ring" is much more defined and, frankly, harsher than the broad term "culture."

3. Do not get politically involved in the details of these investigations.

At this point in time, the bulk of these "corruptions" you're talking about are still in the allegations phase. And, unless you forgot your American Values, you'll clearly recall the idea of "innocent until proven guilty." If even one of these cases ends up clean, it effortlessly removes all the teeth from your "Culture of Corruption" attack.

Some hints on how to communicate effectively on this matter, without getting yourselves burned:

"Republicans like DeLay, Frist, Rove, and others are going to do what they're going to do with their time. Let their actions speak for themselves. Democrats, on the other hand, not being under various investigations of wrong-doing, are going to use the extra time we have to solving this country's real problems: the deficit, rebuilding our Gulf Coast, and finding a solution to the Iraq problem."

"It does look as though there is a ring of corruption within the Republican party right now, but the good news is that Democrats are free from these legal distractions, allowing us to work full-time to represent the American people."

"These various alleged scandals in the Republican majority, unfortunately, just add to the crisis of confidence the American people have with their government. America does better when American citizens trust their government. With Republicans having majorities throughout government, I think it's clear that we need to establish some balance between the parties if we're going to make America strong again."

"Corruption scandals, indictments, and malfeasance like this are the inevitable result of an imbalance of political power. The American people need to vote in 2006 to re-establish a healthy balance of power to ensure that Washington has checks and balances."

Think about it: There is no way Democrats can win the White House and Congress in 2006, so use this opportunity to appear to be the noble party, and develop the message of "balance of powers" for 2006. Tie these corruption allegations to an unhealthy imbalance, and encourage Americans to vote for balance in Washington to avoid even more scandals.

Start now. Get comfortable with the message. Tune the message in targeted markets, and then unleash the ready-for-prime-time message in full force in Spring 2006.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Democrats: Bush Engulfed by Own Hubris


The twin Gulf crises, Iraq & New Orleans (the Gulf War and the Gulf Coast), are further draining the focus and passion from this administration. In hindsight, it's easy to say that it was bound to happen. But, let's skip the preaching, and get right to the strategizing.

Americans can now see, in retrospect, that the Iraq war -- and maybe even 9/11 -- might just be more like Katrina than they originally thought. They might now see that a lack of preparedness, facts, and perspective -- combined with an abundance of hubris -- might have made these disasters appear in the first place.

Sure, Katrina was unavoidable. But was the callous, detached, seemingly ignorant federal response unavoidable?

Americans think that the Mayor, Governor, FEMA, and the President all dropped the ball. But only the President is the common link between the trifecta of tragedies that have plagued his tenure as President.

What to do? Reinforce the linkage for Americans. The linkage is that these crises didn't just happen to "W", he helped create them through a unique mix of ignorance, avoidance, and appointment of inept cabinet members to lead key government functions.

Some specific linkages to try out:

Link "Nobody ever thought the levees would break"
With "Nobody ever thought they'd use planes as weapons"

Link "Louisiana will let us know what they need"
With "The Army Generals will let us know what they need"

Link Cheney will solve the problem
With Cheney will solve the problem

Link Not enough food & water for American citizens in
          New Orleans
With Not enough armor for American troops in Iraq

Link Give no-bid contracts to special interest
          reconstruction firms
With Give no-bid contracts to special interest
          reconstruction firms

Link Reduce pay caps for local contractors in New Orleans
With Reduce benefits for soldiers in Iraq

Link Hide all body bags
With Hide all body bags

Link Appointment of Brown for FEMA
With Appointment of Rumsfeld for DOD

Link Go into debt and borrow money from China to fund
With Go into debt and borrow money from China to fund

Bush's response to this domestic disaster hit at the very core of the brand he and Rove have so carefully crafted: "We will protect you." He is now seen by more Americans as the hapless heir of a Bush Dynasty -- the same way Americans saw him before 9/11.

The Real Bush is Back. Now go tell America all about it in preparation for 2006 and 2008.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Democrats: The Nation Needs a Holistic "Putting Things Back on Track" Party, not an "Anti-War" Party


As you've seen in the latest polls, "W" is down, congress is down, and -- sorry -- you are down as well.

Considering you have little direct responsibility for what the majority party is doing to our country, this poor showing is still completely your failing. Why? Because you should be seen as the only hope for the country to get out of the quagmire that "W" and the 'Pubs have gotten us into. Yet, you're not. And you're running out of time to change deep-seated brand perceptions for the '06 elections.

The press seems intent on calling people pro-war or anti-war, and that's just a trap. You need to introduce a new persona the debate -- a persona that redefines the lines.

Do not get stuck in the pro or anti-war lines any longer. Make your side the "Getting Things Back on Track" side.

Americans are generally of the belief that Bush and his colleagues have made a mess of things, but at the same time, they don't want to see Democrats just stand up and point fingers (see Gallup polls).

Instead, focus on how your platform -- putting things back on track -- is about just that. Make "Democrat" synonymous with putting things back on track -- the feeling that Democrats have the logic, facts, and insight to analyze the situation and make the necessary changes to regain America's footing in the following areas:

The Iraq War
- Internationalize and legitimize the peacekeeping mission and political stewardship
The War on Terror Organizations
- Get our sights back on al'Qaida before they strike us again
- Not just regaining old jobs, but creating new, better jobs for Americans
Gas Prices
- Display America's global leadership by convening an international Fossil Fuel Summit to ensure gas prices once again become reasonable

Stand on these four pillars, own these four pillars, and embody these four pillars. Only through consistent adoption and communication of this go to market strategy will you begin to sway public opinion to start trusting your party to run America once again.

Rudy Giuliani said it best at the RNC Convention in 04...

"Neither party has a monopoly on virtue. But I do believe that there are times in our history when our ideas are more necessary and important for what we are facing."

...and the time is now for solemn, rational, fact-based leadership that Democrats are naturally more attuned to than the ideological Republicans in place today.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Rove to Democrats: Extreme Left Does Not Beat Extreme Right


It started out fine enough, when an anti-Bush mother-of-a-dead-soldier decided to stage a mini-protest outside of "W's" ranch in Crawford. The first few days went really well; Cindy Sheehan got a lot of press, sympathy, and gave a face to the negative side of the war effort.

Now, however, the Sheehan protest experience is rapidly deteriorating due to the hijacking of her cause by a bunch of anti-war/anti-Bush groups, which causes a strategic problem: Democrats need the money and votes from Liberal Activist Groups (yup, that's LAG), yet you also need to steer clear of them because they are a burden to your attempts to recapture the respect and dignity of the vast Moderate Majority of Americans.

Sheehan started out with a very effective message and campaign. But like fruit flies to a rotting banana, the LAGs glommed on, pimping her out to prostitute for their more divisive and angry agenda. The net result: At best, a much less sympathetic figure of Sheehan has emerged. At worst, a complete backfire of what was a very effective campaign.

MoveOn.org, Michael Moore, and other "brands" are just as unpopular with regular Americans as radical conservative groups. The difference is, the radical conservative groups hide behind a church steeple, which most people respect and utilize as part of their spiritual lives. MoveOn.org and Moore are not attached to people's daily spiritual endeavors, so these institutions don't have the same ability to gain sympathy or empathy from Americans.

It's time for tough-love with the LAGs. Treat them as they are: very important base-warming institutions. Feed them enough to keep the base warm, but do not overfeed them, because the Moderate Majority will reject their anger and venom (unless, of course, "W" screws things up even more, in which case we're likely to go back to 70's-style liberalism thriving in America).

Senator Biden is striking the right tone now on Iraq. Don't worry about presidential politics now -- focus on 2006, and go speak with him before speaking out. Get on his message, and take better advantage of the awful mess this administration has gotten itself into through blind faith and ideological hubris.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Rove to Democrats: It’s Time for Recess!

Schoolyard bully-cum-President George W. Bush always liked recess. In school, recess was the time to recover from the constant droning by teachers about liberal activist topics like biology, chemistry, and physics. It was also the time when he could put his real talents to good use: he could corral like-minded folk and bully the rest of the class by utilizing the time-tested tools of intimidation, fear, and tests of loyalty.

I'm sure you remember the schoolyard bully in grade school. Well, now he's President. And, in case it wasn't clear to everyone, he's still playing the schoolyard bully role in his current job. But instead of hiding behind teachers that turned the other cheek because his daddy was an Important Person, he now hides behind a gang of talk show and new media activists that provide him cover.

And here we are, once again, observing our Bully-in-Chief utilizing his favorite period: recess. By using congressional recess as a loophole strategy to appoint people to key positions in government -- positions designed to be approved by our democratically elected representatives -- he is once again playing schoolyard bully during recess.

Sure, most presidents use recess appointments strategically. To say that Bush is alone here is unfair. But what is very clear is that, as usual, Bush is taking an established precedent and blowing the doors off of it and magnifying his vision of consolidated executive power.

George W. Bush appointed John Bolton during recess because he could not get his pick past America's representatives in a high-profile set of hearings. So, in essence, "W." decided that Americans were wrong, and went around us to put the guy he wanted in the post anyway.

Is this "Democracy on the March?" No. It's the schoolyard bully during recess.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Rove to Democrats: Rick Santorum Needs to be Interviewed More Often


Oh, it was rich. More specifically, it was Rick. Senator Rick Santorum was on the Daily Show and needed to go unscripted for a few minutes.

Lesson #1: Invite dumb ideologues to the talk show circuit whenever possible.

Santorum was peddling his book ("It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good") on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and tried to keep fresh'n'happy with Jon during the friendly debate on society.

During this friendly debate, Santorum said that while he feels that homosexuals can be virtuous people...

Lesson #2: Make sure to include Santorum's quote about gays being virtuous in independent advocacy ads during next year's PA Senate race. While I'm not so sure it will improve his gay voter turn-out, it certainly will dampen enthusiasm with cultural conservatives -- his base.

...he wants to legislate the "ideal family" which includes only a mother and father raising a child. He asserts that the very future of our society is in the balance, and that legislating the ideal family unit is the only way to keep our society healthy and successful. He went on to say that government needs to help parents get through problems in their relationships. He went as far as to say "we have to" when asked if government should legislate the ideal.

Lesson #3: Let dumb ideologues drown themselves in their idealistic rhetoric. There's nary a reason to even respond. Libertarian Republicans will wince when they find out that their dear party has been hijacked by "cultural socialists," and intelligent conservatives may decide that they don't want to vote for a mental midget to represent them.

It's all about slicing off small part of the United Republican Front that Bush assembled. In a 50/50 nation, you need to focus on promoting the alternative and at the same time, tear down the opposition. Rick has outed himself as a cultural socialist and voters need to know this so they can make an informed choice in 2006.

Democrats -- this may be your opportunity to link the moniker "cultural socialist" with the "movement conservatives." Any use of "socialist" is demeaning in today's America, thanks to the Republicans! So, in true Rovian style, utilize the work done by your opponents and use it against them. And then, tie it into an embarrassing event:

Rick Santorum - Pennsylvania's Cultural Socialist. He knows what's best for your family. Just like he knew what was best for Terri Schiavo.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Rove to Democrats: Roberts Nomination - Update on Strategy


After a few days, it's much easier to see the way things are turning out: George W. Bush has pulled a very strategic maneuver that has caught most people off-guard:

He nominated a Conservative that most everyone can like and respect.

This, by the way, is at once a gift (a good guy gets on the Supreme Court under Bush's watch) and a booby trap (Americans change their views of Republicans from Dick Cheney and Karl Rove to the "All-American" Roberts).

Now, if Roberts' persona would actually shift the focus of the Republican Party to one that resembled Roberts more than Rove, that would be one thing. More likely, the radical ideologues on the Right will effectively leverage this new lovable Republican Persona as a vehicle to draw more people in the party that they effectively hijacked 5 years ago.

As a result, any opposition move for or against Roberts is a tricky one, and this is exactly what Bush wants.

Here's the tough-love advice, Democrats: Make and portray the Democratic Party a party that someone like Roberts should belong to. Even though Roberts is a "Conservative," that does not mean that someone like Roberts (i.e., his persona) should not be a Democrat. The Democratic Party should be portrayed as a party that consists of "good people" with "good character" more than "people of a narrow set of liberal beliefs."

If you can embrace Roberts as a good guy who could possibly be a Democrat, you are strategically implying that Republicans are too radical and out-of-mainstream to keep him.

Does it matter what party Roberts is really a member of? No. Does it matter that Roberts might actually be too conservative to be a Democrat? No.

What matters is how you portray your party against Roberts' persona.

I've seen some liberal interest groups already beating up Roberts on cable talk shows. This is a dreadful mistake. This puts Democrats (sorry, but liberals = Democrats on talk shows) in a radical light, which is exactly where George W. Bush wants you to go.

If George W. Bush can make Liberals go nuts on Roberts, he has successfully made progress with his and Rove's "Permanent Republican Majority" initiative.

Democrats, you should embrace Roberts for his positive assets as a person, and as an American. You will upgrade the Democratic Party in Americans' minds, and simultaneously foil the Rove/Bush "Permanent Republican Majority" initiative.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Rove to Democrats: Don't Go to the Mat over Roberts Nomination


The John Roberts nomination for the Supreme Court is not the right battle on which to go to the mat. I know he does not represent many "mainstream" values, but his persona is very mainstream. And if we've learned anything in the last 5 years, it is that persona is just as (if not more) important as fact or policy in terms of national political messaging.

Be honest with your assessments based on your values, but do not demonize Roberts. It will backfire.

Focus on the strategic value of this opportunity: re-branding the Republican Party. Transform this nomination from Judge Roberts to Bush's "stamp" on a strange, new America that he is ushering in through his brand of Texan Conservatism.

Some talking points to help set the right tone:

"Judge Roberts is a conservative judge who does not represent my values, nor the majority of my constituents' values. I do not think Americans are really this conservative, but if this Republican President and this Republican Senate want to change the course of law in this country, it is clearly in their hands. It is up to the American people to change the make-up of the Senate if they do not want the rule of law to change from where it is today."

"Judge Roberts is a judge of character, yet his philosophy is clearly right-of-center. Unfortunately, I believe this means that the freedoms, liberties, and equalities that Americans currently enjoy will be altered in the future. But this should come as no surprise, as this is our President's philosophy as well. Nobody should be surprised about a right-wing President who pretends to be "compassionate" nominating a very conservative Supreme Court justice."

"Judge Roberts is the conservative 'stamp' on the Court that the Republican Right Wing has been waiting for. We will have to live with a more conservative court, and only then will the American people truly understand what a conservative court will mean to them. Once they find out, I predict we will see Democrats regain majorities throughout government. It's a case of 'be careful what you wish for, America. You might just get it.'"

"I no more want Roberts to be on the Supreme Court than I want George W. Bush as President, but the American people have put Democrats at a political disadvantage recently, and until we regain some majorities, I will do all that I am able to do to educate the American people on how Republicans are remaking America in their own image."

"When I think about the progress we've made as a society through a moderate, balanced Supreme Court, I think we can all take pride. I just hope that we've just ended the golden era in American's history as President Bush ushers in a new era."

"Let this be a lesson to the American voters: You do not just elect a President based on how tough he is on terrorism. You also elect someone who sets the legal tone for the next 20-40 years."

"The conservative-leaning Supreme Court already rules on eminent domain in favor of the State. I hope George W. Bush and the Republicans aren't stacking the deck against Americans even more with this conservative nominee."

Let the chips fall where they may with Roberts. Unless something heinous comes up, he'll be confirmed. Instead, use this no-win situation to begin chipping away at the Republican Brand. Get entrenched for the long-term struggle for ideas, and don't get distracted by fights you simply cannot win.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Rove to Democrats: Fight Rove with Rove


Recently, Karl Rove has been doing some campaigning for this "Permanent Republican Majority" project. We all know this is his project, because he plainly stated it in public.

What does this mean? It means that Karl is the brand manager for the Republican Party, and his job is to ensure that his brand is perceived as superior to that of the competition.

So, it should be of no surprise that he is smearing the Democratic "brand" with lots of rhetoric that paints his competitor as clearly inferior and not worthy of anyone's investment. As a side benefit, he gets the chorus of talk radio and cable news talking heads going bonkers and deflecting from the real serious issues at hand.

Nice move, Karl. I tip my hat to your skill.

However it looks as though Democrats were caught unprepared for these types of remarks. This is a real shame, because Dems should be doing "oppo research" proactively and coming up with these Rovian snipes ahead of time in their own think tanks. If they were doing this due diligence, then they'd already have stock responses to Karl's rantings.

Why Democrats don't see this as a brand management issue is beyond me, because that's exactly what this is. Karl is smearing the Democratic brand, and Democrats appear to have no brand manager to develop messaging strategies to counter.

Actually, they do, it's this site. But the Dems don't really pay enough mind to this advice column, do they?

OK, enough belly-aching about the problem. This site is about solutions, so here we go:

Instead of feining anger over Karl's assertions that Democrats are essentially pussies (sorry, but that's what he's saying), you need to defend your brand by using the coverage he has received for his over-the-top remarks as a messaging conveyor belt for your message you want to get out to the American people:

Talking Points:

Instead of fantasizing about what Democrats would do if in charge, Karl should focus on figuring out how to get Republicans out of the mess this administration has made of Iraq, and at home.

Democrats have a distinguished history in effectively managing wars. What's in question is this administration's ability to manage this war.

If Democrats were in charge, my guess is that we'd already have Bin Ladin. Instead, we have Saddam. Who are you more afraid of?

What you see here is the equivalent of somebody trying to save a sinking ship by blaming the water instead of trying to fix the hull.

(Ideally, Dems would have talking points segmented by "levels of legitimacy" -- where a more spicy talking point may go to Alan Colmes or Howard Dean, and the more statesman rhetoric be delivered by senators and governors. But this is very tactical stuff that I will not go into in this post.)

Notice how the first three talking points strategically insert Democrat brand identification in the response? This is the type of response that is required, because Americans need to begin believing that Democrats aren't just a bunch of sniffling Senator Durbins. They need to believe that Democrats can be trusted with America's difficult national security concerns. They need to believe that Democrats can lead. This means convincing Americans that the Democratic brand is powerful, trustworthy, and represents a vision of the future that Americans believe in.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Rove to Democrats: Stage a "Minority Report" in Early 2006

You might as well start preparing now, because it's going to take some time to organize. What's that, you ask? A Minority Report.

I'm not sure if this has ever been done before, but Democrats need to stage a media event that includes the Democratic Senators and Congressmen holding "hearings" on the Republican Leadership. This, of course, will not be any actual governmental hearing. It will be a media event that provides Democrats with the opportunity to grade the administration on a report card.

You need to start thinking what will comprise this report card, how you will grade them on these various "subjects," and how to best position the event as non-cynical and pro-American, with the intent to show the country that Democrats should rule the Senate once again.

Don't tell me why it won't work. Just do it.

Rove to Democrats: The Truth is Ugly


Kudos on a fine year in politics to-date. You've managed to escape the Conservative Machine and actually gain some ground in the public's eye.

The public needs to see Democrats as tough, united, and principled, because they need these traits in their Commander-in-Chief in 3 years. So far, so good.

However, these are things that are simply slipping through the cracks that you need to take advantage of NOW:

After the "Nuclear" option was scuttled by the Centrist Fourteen (kudos to McCain), the Right Wing came out swinging. Not just the leaders, but the people as well. Letters, phone calls to talk show hosts, cable TV interviews... the whole shebang...venomous rhetoric spewing disgust, anger, frustration, and downright hatred of the Republican moderates (and Frist) who didn't fulfill their radical marching orders.

Don't you see the opportunity here? The vast majority of Americans are actually moderate, and don't like this venomous aspect of our society (on either side). But right now, the truth is out... and it's ugly:

Right Wing Conservatives - the same ones that got "W" into the Whitehouse - are anti-American, unpatriotic, and civility-haters. They are truly disgusted that a compromise was reached. They are disgusted by the fact that compromise was even an option. They are disgusted by compromise. Which, by the way, is a fundamental aspect of the American political system.

What we've learned is that Right Wing Conservatives care more about their ideology than America. I think it's time to start spreading this meme throughout the country, and really put a fork in the radical right-wing movement.

Go to it.