"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

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 Don't use outdated messaging when it doesn't apply, please.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.

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