"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

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.