"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, September 24, 2007

Despite Petraeus Theater, Democrats "Get" Foreign Policy


The Republicans may have won the Battle of Petraeus, but they are losing in the war of ideas and brand equity.

Americans don't like losing wars, but they've certainly lost faith in the Republicans' ability to conduct American foreign policy. While it is true that the Republicans still present themselves as being the party that knows how to be tough, brawn without brains is no longer acceptable to the majority of Americans. Petraeus might be trusted as a General, but he's not trusted as a Republican.

Don't get sucked into the Petraeus theater. The need to hide behind a General shows just how weak Republicans actually are. In response to this weakness, the Republicans pulled a reverse punch on the MoveOn.org ad. Democrats, sadly, fell for it. Apparently, it's still open-mic night every night in Democratic party strategy meetings.

Yet these are all details. The real challenge ahead is changing the narrative. But how can we create a positive narrative when Democrats seem confused and weak on Iraq? Let's start with this truism: While Democrats might not know exactly what to do, Republicans certainly don't know what they're doing.

Of course that doesn't speak well for Democrats, but politics is about comparisons, not absolutes. Don't get hung up on your problems -- focus on the bigger, broader, more troubling problems in the opposition party. While focusing on how much worse Republicans are isn't going to solve any real problems within the Democratic party, it's just good enough when there are only two political parties.

Democrats -- if you boil this down, this means you are now the party that "gets" foreign policy.

Decide, as a party, that Democrats are now the "best and the brightest" in foreign policy, and that no other party has the chops to get us out of the mess that we're in. Focus on this because, frankly, America needs someone who sounds like they're smart at foreign policy.

A rising tide lifts all ships, so the Democratic party needs to begin to rally around the belief that Democrats are the 21st century's answer to knowing how to navigate the seven seas and seven continents, and Democrats can steer America out of the stormy waters created by Republicans.

Some additional talking points:

  • Republicans know how to get into wars, but Democrats know how to win them.
  • Democrats want to grab success out of the jaws of defeat.
  • Our overcommitment to Iraq has created a violent welfare state.
  • Republicans vote for Iraqi welfare, yet vote against American welfare. Makes you think.
  • Republicans created our foreign policy problems, and now it's time once again for Democrats to clean up the mess.
This approach to creating a new narrative is truly Rovian. We all know that Democrats as a party don't really "get it" yet, however, Rovian strategies are optimistic by definition: Repeat an idea enough times, get enough people to believe it, and it might just come true.

It's trickle-down reality. Better to trickle down reality onto Republicans than to have Republicans trickle down reality onto you.