"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, January 23, 2006

Attacking the "Privacy-Gate" Road Show


The President, in trademark Rovian fashion, is taking an issue he's weak on and going on the attack to defend it. The thinking is (as it has for the past 5 years): turn any weakness into a strength by believing that your weakness is indeed a strength.

Don't let this tactic work again. Don't react in the traditional way, because this entire strategy is based on a traditional response. And, need I remind you... it has not worked.

After Bush starts giving his speeches across the nation, explaining how he is just doing what he needs to do to protect us from terrorists, you need to come out strong, loud, and untraditionally:

"The President is spending a week of his time trying to sell America on the fact that he needs to protect us. I can't think of a bigger waste of time for a President who is overseeing a long-term, costly war and picking up the pieces after his Katrina fiasco. Why? Because every American already agrees that we need the government to use the tools it has at its disposal to protect Americans from future terror attacks. Mr. President, you can go home now and work on the war and Katrina fiasco... we all agree with you. What Americans are concerned about, Mr. President, is that you have apparently decided that you are allowed to act like King George, not President Bush, because Kings don't need no stinkin' courts -- they just rule. Americans have given you a lot of slack in the war on terror, but no American wants a King, Mr. President. So, if you want to talk about changing your Constitutional role in our government, be my guest. Let's debate that this week."

"The President is obviously, once again, confused and in a bubble: the debate isn't about whether or not to use our intelligence tools to outmaneuver terrorists, the problem is that Americans expect our Presidents to follow the law, or challenge congress to change the law if the laws aren't good enough. Isn't that what the PATRIOT ACT was all about? If the President doesn't need to follow the law or the constitution, then why even bother renewing the PATRIOT ACT next month? Legal scholars from all parties agree that this President has overreached in his executive power, and it's time for him to stand down and promise court reviews of federal eavesdropping. Remember: this is about the President not even wanting to tell the courts after he eavesdrops."

"The President is trying to make this a choice for Americans: either he is above the law or you are not safe. This is utter crap. Americans deserve better than this so-called "choice." If we're not going to follow our Constitution, why should Iraqi leaders follow theirs? If we're going to hand over our democracy because of fear of terrorists, then have they already won? We must not let the terrorist win. Therefore, we must keep to our Democratic values and require court oversight for every eavesdropping initiative, as it is stated in our laws. If the laws need adjusting, then adjust them, Mr. President. Why aren't they in the PATRIOT ACT anyway, Mr. President? What laws are you bound by, Mr. President?"

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Debating "Privacy-Gate"


You're letting the Republicans, once again, define and debate the "Privacy-Gate" scandal on the White House's terms. Stop it. This administration liberally interprets the U.S. Constitution to suit their unbridled expansion of executive power, and lies to the American people saying that they don't wiretap without court approval. There is no parsing of this that doesn't implicate this administration of abusing power to the point of Constitutional Corruption.

The Democrats I've heard trotted out to fight this battle have been pretty lame -- they are being sucked into the debate of "what would you do to protect Americans from terrorists, hmm?" This is not the debate. The debate is whether Americans will or will not trade in our Democracy to overcome our enemies. Don't get caught up in the Republican-devised faux-debate. Ignore their attempts, and re-focus on the matter at hand.

Some talking points to roll out:

  • This President says he's spying on you to protect you. Just let that sink in.
  • The President says he knows he's acting within the laws and the Constitution. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this President has said something that is patently false.
  • If spying on Americans without due process is part of this administration's strategy to win the war on terror, then we clearly need a new strategy and new leadership, because now it sounds like we're losing.
  • This administration has now admitted that they are, in fact, losing the war on terror. Democrats believe winning the war on terror means more than just being at war forever -- we're only winning if we're not trading in our standard of living and democratic values.
  • Spying on Americans without due process is about as un-American as it gets.
  • If the President of the United States doesn't respect our system of government enough to follow the laws, then he should resign.
  • How many impeachable offenses and abuses of power are we going to stand by and watch until we decide enough is enough with this President?

Notice how none of these talking points dive down into the nitty gritty details of what is -- and what is not -- legal, constitutional, moral, and the like. This is by design, and is a contextual augment. If you want to create a groundswell of support for your position, best not to get mired in the details. Keep it at an executive, contextual level, with your integrity and moral indignation as the topic.

Don't get me wrong - you definitely need to know the details to give you the authority and integrity to justify your moral indignation. But just because you know the details doesn't mean you need to communicate them to the general public as part of your message.

Facts are much less important until they have proper context, so focus on how low this administration is willing to go in order to "win" - and portray it as a sign of weakness. After all, everyone knows that if you're willing to give up your values in a fight, you've already lost.