"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, March 21, 2007

Democrats: Are You Ready to Rumble?

Democrats,

The spinmeisters in this reckless administration have cooked up another brew-ha-ha. The primary ingredients in this round are 'Democratic partisanship' and 'Democrats trying to politicize government' when the nation's business needs attending to. In his latest speech, Bush warns of a "fishing expedition" and "show trials" in an effort for Democrats to score political points.

The good news is that this is pretty standard Republican rhetoric -- conservatives are generally a fearful bunch and really do feel like they're consistently under threat by some outside force. Since this is really nothing new, it will be quite easy (and, quite honestly, fun) to turn this around on them. The other bit of good news is that the President has given you a gift if you are willing to accept it (we'll talk more about this "gift" later).

The bad news is that there are a lot of politically independent people in America that are fearful of the unknown as well. According to recent Gallup polls, most Americans do not feel safe on a number of fronts. And Bush's rhetoric could have a rallying effect on those who aren't following this scandal's nuances, and might also see our injured President trying to "protect" the Oval Office from the image of savage, salivating Democrats just looking to take down their President.

This means that your responses need to be finely-tuned to ensure maximum impact and to minimize any rallying effect Bush's "fighting words" might create:

"The only thing we're fishing for is the truth."

"Astonishingly, the President is not willing to allow his aides to testify under oath. The only logical conclusion is that he must, for some reason, think they're going to lie. "

"What we see here is a deeply troubling pattern in this administration. Scooter Libby has already been found guilty by a jury of his peers for lying under oath, and now other administration aides are being instructed by the President not to swear to G-d to tell the truth. We must ask ourselves: Is there any truth left in this administration?"

"The American people need to ask themselves if they are comfortable with a President who is so afraid of the truth that he refuses to let his aides testify under oath."

"We can only assume that if Karl Rove and other presidential aides will not speak to us under oath that there is a reason for this. Why are they afraid to swear to G-d to tell the truth to the American people?"

"The President talks tough about 'show trials' and 'fishing expeditions,' yet at the end of the day, he is clearly afraid of us uncovering the dirty deeds of his administration. Why else would he stonewall an investigation?"

"This Republican administration has been behind their wall of secrecy for too long. They've let us down too many times, and now it's time to come out into the daylight and show America what they've been up to. "

"This is about the rule of law, nothing more, nothing less. This administration has declined our request for sworn testimony under G-d, so we are sadly forced to issue subpoenas to officials in our very own government in order to get the truth."

"It's honestly hard to believe how far this administration will go to avoid telling the American people the truth."
There are a couple of important concepts embedded in these talking points that are worth noting:
  • None of the talking points talk specifically about the Attorney General scandal. This is intentional, because this row with the President is not about this scandal anymore -- it's about a new "war for secrecy" that has been waged by this administration.
  • Testifying under oath is a big part of the issue here, because it signals to our famously religious America that testifying under oath is all about swearing to tell the truth under G-d, plain and simple. This is now about an administration that is trying to avoid sin. Think about this carefully, because the new religious fervor in our country makes this a finer point than merely a legal one.
These talking points set the groundwork to ensure Democrats are not seen as the salivating partisan goons that the President just depicted you as. Once that bedrock has been laid, you have the opportunity to open the 'gift' that the President gave you -- the gift of raising this debate to new heights that could very well overwhelm this entire administration. If you're willing to go there, you can do a very Rovian thing: use their own strength ("hunkerin' down fer a fight") and turn it into their weakness by attacking them on your terms:
"If we've come to the point where our very own government is afraid to swear to G-d to tell the truth, then unfortunately the time has come to consider an even larger investigation into the overall level of corruption of this administration."
Yes, these are fighting words, and yes, it's a risky proposition. But it's something to be seriously considered in your strategy meetings. When are you going to pull out the big guns and use your new majority powers to expose an administration that comparatively makes Nixon look like a six-year-old stealing candy from the local drug store?

Make no mistake -- the big fish here is not Gonzales; it is the wall of secrecy around the Executive branch which is a patent abuse of power. The President gave you a gift -- a fight for something bigger and more important that a single scandal (which we all know is merely one of many). The framers of this nation would find this wall of secrecy unacceptable, as should contemporary Americans. Sliding into a totalitarian state like Russia is the last thing the American people expect or deserve. But if you, Democrats, don't shine a bright light on it, we may continue to slide.

19 comments:

Sirocco said...

Excellent analysis, though it does seem obvious: a frightened, defensive Bush gave the Democrats the chance for a smash.

Anonymous said...

YES hammer them for refusing to swear to G-D, under oath, to explain what they've been doing to our country!

Matthew Tod said...

As a conservative, I enjoy reading liberal blogs to see what you think of us and the country as a whole.

You're on the right track, thinking that we are caught up in a religious fervor and that we right-wingers are fearful types. Such misconceptions will help us in the next election.

Jon said...

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for posting. I really enjoy discussing debating issues with liberals and conservatives alike.

If I may, I want to point out a few misconceptions:

1. This is not a liberal blog. Far from it, actually. It is a political messaging blog that focuses on party brands, political memes, and message management to help get the Dems competitive again in the political domain. They have rested on their cultural laurels for too long, and have appeared weak and flimsy because they don't put the same amount of effort into managing their personas as the top Republicans do. Our Karl Rove (OKR) is here to help reduce the gap.

2. This particular post really has nothing to do with what I think of the country as a whole. This particular post has everything to do with building up the Democratic brand and disassembling the Republican brand -- Rove Style. Too many Americans feel that Democrats are secularists, and too many Americans believe that Republicans are the party of religious value.

Religion knows no party, but it's going to take a lot of stories, messages, and situations to convince the casual American who doesn't follow politics that either party can co-exist with their religious beliefs.

Those are your misconceptions that I just wanted to clear up. Now onto the disagreement!

You're going to have to say a lot more that what you said to convince me that conservatism isn't directly linked to fear. It is. Psychologically.

As an individual, I am at my most liberal when I feel empowered and unafraid of the consequences of my actions. So, if I am very good at, say, driving a car, then I will likely take more risks as a driver because I trust my skills and impulses.

i.e., I will drive more liberally.

However, if (like my fiancee') I am naturally afraid of driving because cars are essentially killing machines on 4 wheels, and that any idiot could run into me at any time on the road and hurt me, I am going to have my guard up, drive more cautiously, and take many less risks as I maneuver within the highways.

i.e., I will drive more conservatively.

So, that's where the fear-based stuff comes into play. We're all liberal and conservative in different ways, but Republicans who use conservative tactics to play politics use fear and anxiety very effectively to win political battles. I was just pointing this out because it's just so predictable.

It can also be said that the Clinton's use this very same tactic. They are conservative in this way as well. And this was partially why the Republicans hated them so much -- they were using their own (highly effective) moves!

Jon

Matthew Tod said...

1. Since "getting Karl Rove" seems to be a primarily liberal focus, it appeared that your blog was of the liberal persuasion. I still believe that to be the case. More on that point later.

2. Your mention of the "new religious fervor" in our country, coupled with implying the Dems could find favor by saying the administration was "trying to avoid sin," implies that you feel most Americans are too simple minded to examine the issues and think for themselves. Deeply held religious beliefs do not necessitate a divorce from reality. Bringing the president's staff before congress without proof of wrong doing to try and catch them in a process crime a'la Scooter Libby doesn't spin well on its on, so the Dems will need to put some kind of acceptable face on it, however.

Democrat-appointed judges and Democrat-affiliated organizations such as the ACLU tend to support any and all religions except Christianity. Recently, we saw another glimpse of what liberals think of Christians in general and Catholics in particular courtesy of John Edwards' campaign staff. Also, most conservative Christians that I know are anti-abortion and abortion rights are a cornerstone of the modern Democrat platform on a nation level.

Your comparisons of "liberal" and "conservative" as political labels don't really hold water. (Although your positive spin on the definition of "liberal" and your negativity regarding that of "conservative" does reinforce my contention that yours is a liberal blog.)

Back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, liberalism "emphasized freedom as the ultimate goal and the individual as the ultimate entity in society" (from Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom). "Liberalism" does indeed mean going through life with less fear and trusting to one's own skills. Today's current crop of liberals are instead promoting different levels of socialism which take away the need for the individual to act or think for himself. Promotion of a gov't that removes personal choice and the need for individual skills is not the method I want to embrace as the means to secure a life without fear.

In closing, the only "fears" I have as a conservative are well-grounded in past experience with Democrats (and assorted moderate Republicans).

I'm concerned that my 2nd Amendment rights will be abridged (Clinton's "Assault Weapons" Ban). I'm concerned that my taxes will be raised (Clinton, Bush Sr, etc).
I'm concerned we will give up any pretense of national borders.
I'm concerned the Judiciary will continue to legislate from the bench, ignoring the Constitution.
I'm concerned our national defense will be weakened (Clinton, again).

Anyway, I've gotta go to work.

Anonymous said...

Matthew wrote:implies that you feel most Americans are too simple minded to examine the issues and think for themselves

I think you might get that impression from reading any marketing, messaging, or public relations how-to guide. But it's not that people are unable to think for themselves. It's that once can anticipate what the public will think about different messages.

Jon said...

Matthew,

Good stuff.

My turn.

Regarding "getting" Karl Rove being a liberal focus, there are a couple of things wrong with this observation:

1. This blog has absolutely nothing to do with "getting" Karl Rove. It has, ironically, a sort of respect for the grand political mastery of Karl Rove. "Our Karl Rove" means I'm playing the persona of a Karl Rove that works for the Dems vs. the Pubs. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Karl Rove should be flattered.

2. "Getting" Karl Rove is by no means a liberal focus. It is, very accurately, a Democratic focus. And for very good reason -- in political gamesmanship, Karl Rove is the Republican Wizard. Democrats should be working very hard to unseat or unsteady their wizard. Of course, they do a very, very poor job of it, which is why, again, I blog here.

And regarding my remarks around using religious fervor and sin in Democratic rhetoric really has nothing to do with how simple or complex I find Americans. It has everything to do with using the brand identity of Republicans against themselves. It's Swiftboating with Jesus. It's Rovian. It's not nice, not accurate, not polite, and not very American. But it's what Rove seems to do. Apparently, in New Politics, there is nothing wrong with seeing politics as a grand game. And those who see it as such have a better chance of winning the game. For those poor Dems and Pubs who still see it as public service and not a competitive business will continue to be trounced by strategists like Karl Rove (and others).

Bringing the President's staff in front of congress might or might not be politically motivated. I really don't know for sure, because I'm not in the Democratic party meetings when such tactics are being discussed. But what I am sure of is that this administration has been caught up in another cover-up that they don't think is a cover-up. They think its their right to do whatever they want within the executive branch. Of course, they're wrong. And the congress is making political hey out of it, which is healthy for our democracy.

Let me make a non-partisan blanket statement: any act that does not have imminent national security implications which is hidden from the American public goes against what the framers of this nation had in mind. Conceptually (Bill of Rights-wise, not Constitutionally) transparency is what Americans deserve from all of our public servants. I, for one, demand it. I just don't get it all the time. Worse, this particular administration thinks that I work for them, and that what they do is on a need-to-know basis, which is frankly ass-backwards.

Firing states' attorney generals is legal. It's even legal to do it for the wrong reasons. But that doesn't make it right. And, I think that the Democratic value system is ultimately superior to the Republican one when it comes to administration. I think the Republican value system is superior when it comes to ingenuity, innovation, and uniquely human characteristics. This is why we need both to continually battle things out to come up with the compromise between systems-values and individual-values. We need *both* to make this country great.

The firebrand, black-and-white, Democrats-are-the-enemy approach of modern Republicans is shameful and unpatriotic. I clearly see the Republican approach to politics introducing the idea of black-and-white to the public debate. This cheapens the debate, reduces the options, and reduces creativity in an effort to introduce clarity.

Regarding my portrayal of liberal and conservative, you're going to have to better than just telling me that they don't hold water.

Lastly, and importantly, your need to label my blog "liberal" is part-and-parcel to your conservative nature to black-and-whiting the world we live in. I find it revealing that you project your black-and-white view of the world on me, claiming that I must be liberal since I'm not anything else.

In fact, I am not liberal in the slightest, nor is this blog. Your inability to see shades of gray is a great indicator that you are indeed conservative, and need to over-simplify things for yourself in order to make sense of the world you live in.

The reality is that I am politically independent, and am leveraging this perspective to help provide some much-needed context to the Democratic party. Why the Democrats and not the Republicans? Well, I started this blog back in 2003, and from 2003-on, it has clearly been the Democrats who have needed political help. The Rove-powered Republicans were absolutely dominating all debates, and the Republicans solely ran the entire government. And Congressional Republicans were the ones rubber stamping the executive (like lemmings instead of congressmen), and Executive Republicans were abusing power and reducing the rights of citizens without due process.

This is why I felt it important to help arm the Dems with additional political firepower. The Republicans were just doing too much damage to this country as I saw it -- and see it.

Counter to your framework, that does not make me liberal. It makes me a patriot who believes that our constitution and bill of rights are what make our country great and powerful. Every time this reckless administration challenges any of the notions in either of these documents is an unpatriotic act.

Jon

Matthew Tod said...

1. My apologies for misinterpreting the title of your blog.

2. On a national level, the Democrat party is generally controlled by its more liberal elements. To my black and white thinking, the terms "liberal" and "democrat" are almost interchangeable on a national level. There are still conservative Democrats in state governments.

Politics has been nothing but game for years. Republicans espouse Christianity and national defense. Democrats trumpet civil liberties and sticking up for the little guy. Too often, both parties are blowing smoke up our orifices.

Swiftboating with Jesus? I think I get it. The Democrats have adopted the term "Swiftboating" and use it much as the Republicans refer to someone being "Borked."

I don't agree that congress has to start what could become a separation of powers case before the Supreme Court just because someone doesn't think something is "right." There were no laws broken. As you said, the firings were within the rights of the executive brach. This is akin to liberals thinking that the prisoners at Guantanamo should be treated as POWs despite the fact they clearly do not qualify as such under the definitions provided.

I'm a little fuzzy on your meanings when you reference Democrat and Republican value systems.

To elaborate on what I meant when I said your portrayals of liberalism and conservatism don't hold water: the labels have been changed over the years. Prior to 1930, I could have proudly called myself a liberal and analogized about driving more liberally, trusting in my own skills and impulses. I could not, in truth, call myself a liberal today without being misinterpreted due to the modern, accepted definition. It is all just a matter of semantics.

I make no bones about being defined as a conservative in modern parlance. I am actually much more of a conservative than a Republican. Should McCain or Giullani be the R. candidate next year, I may vote Libertarian (if they have a pro-life candidate).

I don't really buy into compromise for its own sake, or to create some best of both worlds hybrid, as the best course. I firmly believe that conservatism is the best course for America. Liberals firmly believe socialism is the best course for America. An individual must believe their cause is the right one in order to pursue and achieve a goal. That is true in politics or anything else.

I will not insist in calling your blog liberal, although many of your catch phrases and viewpoints sound distinctly liberal.

One question, why not spell out all of God's name?

Thank you for being willing to engage in a dialogue with me. The mods at democraticunderground wiped a civil response of mine and banned me posthaste. Twice.

Jon said...

Matthew,

I was taught at a young age that in order to fully respect The Lord, one should never write his name in any medium that could ever be destroyed sometime in the future.

I do my best to uphold this teaching, despite the fact that it looks kind of weird online.

I must ask you Matthew, why don't you agree that the congress should "start" a separation of powers case with the Supreme Court over what they think is "right?" Even if it is the congress "starting" something, they have every right to. This administration has "started" a lot of things that challenge contemporary interpretations of the constitution . While I don't agree with most of this administration's constitutional interpretations, I was always impressed with their ability to challenge things that Americans have pretty much left alone for quite some time. In the long run, the recklessness of this Administration is a healthy thing for our democracy. Folks like me weren't even interested in politics until Bush and his team manipulated the entire country into a pre-emptive war of choice that is, in itself, historic.

There are other frameworks beyond contemporary liberal and conservative labels, and one of them is one's ability to gain something from an open debate vs. see debate as a threat to truth.

I find that the current administration (and prior Republican congress) too often sees debate as a challenge to authority and an unproductive process that attempts to cloud "the truth."

There are plenty of Republicans who are *not* like this that I think are actually "liberal thinkers" -- folks who think that debate improves the outcome and shapes the truth.

It's those "conservative thinker" -- folks who think that debate clouds the truth that I have little patience or respect for the debate that concern me as legislators. They can sometimes be great leaders, but they really can't be trusted to oversee complex, non-linear systems.

Jon

Matthew Tod said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

Matthew,

It all depends on what your last post was. I don't moderate the posts. They go up as they're submitted. Try refreshing your browser.

Matthew Tod said...

I'll try again.

" . .until Bush and his team manipulated the entire country into a pre-emptive war of choice . ." You're going to have a hard time convincing me you're not a liberal with statements like that.

Anyway, on to congressional subpoenas.

If the Congressional Dems really thought there was some evidence of wrongdoing in the firing of the attorneys, I would support their efforts in trying to get Bush's staff to testify. They know firing the attorneys was well within the powers of the executive branch. They know that there were no ongoing nor pending investigations being conducted by these attorneys that Bush wanted stopped.

What the Dems hope to do is get Rove and co. in front of them and grill them hoping to gain some political advantage from their testimony and/or get Bush's crew so flustered they give contradictory statements.

I'm all for debate. What would happen if the Dems got their way with these subpoenas would have nothing to do with honest debate and everything to do with political posturing.

Jon said...

Hi Matthew,

If we cut behind the common rhetoric, what you're saying is that if I didn't believe that Saddam was an imminent threat to US security (like we were guided by this administration), then I'm a liberal?

What does being a liberal have to do with an independent assessment of the risk profile of Saddam as he pertains to America's security?

That's the thing, Bush and crew have turned everything into a black-or-white, liberal-or-conservative, with-us or against-us debate which is just a disservice to the culture.

I happen to believe that Bush and team (driven by NeoCons who published their Iraq strategy in the late 1990s) tried to make an airtight case to finish the job in Iraq, and failed miserable in keeping their case airtight.

What was more problematic about going to Iraq was not the war itself, but the way they tried to make the case by using fear-based propaganda and squelching debate in the process.

I don't think they intentionally squashed debate. I think they believe that the debate was a waste of time because it clouded the "truth" as they saw it. They truly believe that they are doing what the country really, really needs to do. And if it weren't for those 'meddling Dems' (or meddling Sunnis, Shia, Turks, Saudis, Iranian, etc...) that they would finally be able to do what needed to be done in the world.

I know that they fully believe that they are doing what's right for the nation.

It's just that they're taking the least enlightened path toward the nation's goals, which has been way too costly in terms of good will, America's brand to the world, and American's own sense of real security.

Regarding the Gonzalez case, I can see your perspective on the matter. If they have no real evidence that a law was broken, then why hold hearings other than for politics?

I guess the answer is because this congress also feels it has ethics oversight as well. And what these guys did was legal, but not ethical.

Yeah, they're using values as a political tool. It works better with conservatives if you use that dog-whistle word "values," but nevertheless, that's what they're using.

Think about what the prior congress did to try to save Terri Schiavo based on their "pro life" values. They did a very unconservative and big-government thing and tried to intercede on a personal family matter based on values.

Well, this is like that -- what Gonzalez and team did was harmful to the rule of law in this country by their set of institutional values, so they feel the government is an institution worth holding accountable for transgressing on those values.

Make sense now?

Jon

Matthew Tod said...

It's obvious that you and I live in parellel dimensions which by their natures cannot intersect. I don't mean that as a slam, just that we will never agree on anything.

No, your views on the U.S. invasion of Iraq don't make you a liberal. Those views coupled with other points of view, catchphrases, etc. in your blog do tend to portray you in that light, however.

In my reality, Saddam was denying inspectors access to suspected weapons facilities and playing games with the U.N. We had just lost 3,000-plus people in a terrorist strike. There were and are WMDs that neither Saddam nor anyone else ever accounted for. I don't think they walked off of their own volition.

Also, Joe Wilson was proved to be a liar of the first magnitude and was reported as such by a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee. The Brits never backed down from their assertion that Saddam was trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa. Wilson's report to the contrary has been proved to be the purest malarkey.

BTW, the persistent attacks of the media and the Dems on Bush in particular and conservatism in general has helped polarize me. Bush and Rove didn't really have anything to do with it.

What administration would you say has done the most to promote goodwill towards the U.S. worldwide? Clinton? By sitting on his hands, he helped set the stage for 911. Bin Laden has said our retreat from Mogadishu convinced him it would only take a few American casualties before we run from any given conflict (from the 911 Commission report).

I really don't believe the Dems are looking into the firings of the federal attorneys out of a sense of moral indignation. I don't see how they can claim to care about upholding standards of fairness. If they were concerned about ethics, they would look into the bribery charges against William Jefferson, D.-LA, he of the cold, hard cash. Democrats might also scrutinize Jack Murtha's involvement in the 1980 Abscam scandal. The FBI referred to him as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the Abscam case. Harry Reid's nose is certainly far from clean, as he failed to report some real estate earnings in the neighborhood of $700,000.

The Republicans effort to stop Terry Schiavo's killing was portrayed in the most negative light possible by the media (of course). That "personal matter based on values" was simply a killing sanctioned by the gov't, the judicial branch, specifically. It would be a different matter if Michael Shiavo had one shred of proof that his wife didn't want to live in that condition. Instead, the judge decided to take his word for it. Her parents offered to care for Terry Schiavo. That didn't matter to Michael. He wanted her dead, end of story. I hope he is enjoying the extra $$ released to him upon Terry's death.

Well, it has been a pleasant preoccupation the last couple of days. I don't think either of us was able to reach the other in his respective dimension, but it has been interesting. You may have inspired me to restart my blog. Take care.

HouseofPolitics said...

Thanks for the great analysis.

----------------------
houseofpolitics.com

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than reading partisan Republican blogs is reading vitriolic Democrat blogs.

Jon said...

Anonymous,

If you thought you were going to get balanced, thoughtful, kumbaya style opinions at a site called "Our Karl Rove," then you either must not know who Karl Rove is, or you just didn't see the title of the blog.

And it is worth mentioning that there would not be the need for an "Our Karl Rove" blog if there were not a Karl Rove in the first place.

Jon

Andrew said...

May I propose for those intent on revising history the links to follow:

1.

http://www.fas.org/news/iraq/1998/11/01/981101-in.htm

The law was passed by a unanimous Senate vote, setting forth the American agenda for support of the Iraqi opposition, the removal of Saddam using the terms "Regime Change," and the imposition of an Iraqi government friendly to the United States and hostile to terrorism.

At the time George W. Bush was minding his own business as the Governor of Texas.

2. Clinton and Blair Attack Iraq:

http://www.cnn.com/US/9812/16/clinton.iraq.speech/

3. Bush Lied:

http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/20920.html

4. Who lied?:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/moveonfacts/message/2

Sorry to demolish your fantasies so rudely on a nice Sunday night.

Good night.

Andrew

Jon said...

Andrew,

Thank you for sharing your perspective. So, I have a question for you: What's the point you're trying to make? That Clinton was a good President and took the right moves against Saddam? That he was able to dismantle his WMD program successfully without getting the US into a trillion dollar adventure of nation-re-building?

Just wondering exactly what point you're trying to make by putting Clinton up as an example of a President who aggressively, pre-emptively attacked Iraq successfully and without misleading America.

Thanks,
Jon