November 7, 2002
When I first moved [to the UK] and couldn’t watch baseball anymore, I was distracted by snooker, and particularly one amazing player named Jimmy White, who had a knack for doing things that were physically impossible. In post-match interviews, White, like most snooker players, is astonishingly humble, even when his performance has been utterly dazzling. When he loses, he usually says it’s because his opponent played better than he did, and when he wins, he doesn’t insult the competetion. The phrase he uses to describe the only thing that matters in winning goes something like this: “He did the business.”James M. Capozzola:
The Republicans lied and cheated, and had non-stop free advertising from the mass media, and a lot of other things, but at the end of the day the real problem in this election was that the Democrats didn’t do the business. We knew in advance that the media was underplaying the election and distorting the issues. We knew that the only way to get our message out was if we did it. But did we? Or did we keep expecting that somehow the media would have an epiphany and do it for us?
Well, get real, folks. Tim Russert is not going to suddenly develop a conscience, GE is not going to magically decide that getting the truth out to the public via their network is a good thing after all. […]
If the media has gone over to the other side, and the party isn’t going to use their resources to inform the public, then the rest of us have to do it. Remember, the powerful have always had more access to the media than “the little guy” has—and we’ve always had to find alternative means to communicate with our peers. Create those flyers that explain the issues and why people should vote for your candidate. Hit the streets and distribute them. If you’re a good writer, post your text on the web so people can print up fliers from it. If you’re not a good writer, find someone else who is (on the ‘net or elsewhere) and ask if you can use their material. But for goodness’ sakes do the business, ‘cause if you don’t, nobody will.
It also is time to start taking the Republicans seriously. Yes, the Republican Party long ago was hijacked by representatives of the lunatic fringe and the vested aristocracy, groups that have succeeded in making their extremist agendas the standards with which all else is compared. Contempt for the right-wing party and its ideas or policies can be strangely satisfying on an intellectual level, but it is dangerous when it veers into hubris and it easily renders itself useless in politics.Eric Alterman:
When we fail to understand that Republicans and conservatives actually believe the words they say, believe them to be the truth, and intend to take action upon them, we yield the advantage to the other side. Lamenting the devastating effects talk radio and the talk radio culture have had upon our political discourse—and now on our polity as a whole—does little if anything to advance our cause. Millions of people are listening to talk radio every day and Democrats have not only failed to refute the lies and defamation it spreads, they seem incapable of even pretending to be able to speak the pidgin language of the medium.
Taking Republicans seriously does not mean giving credence to their morally and fiscally bankrupt platforms and policies. It means listening to their arguments, determining the messages they are sending, finding the reason voters respond, and then attacking them, vigorously and mercilessly, and exposing their lies, relentlessly and repeatedly, in a way that speaks to the real needs and interests of the American people.
Let us note as well, that the roll-over-and-play-dead DLC strategy for the Democrats was a total dud. They lost the South and lost the Senate. Speaking of yesterday, let92s quote Paul Krugman again: “Of course, some pundits tell you that not much is at stake in this particular election, that the parties aren’t really very different on the issues. I don’t know what planet they are living on: in reality, the parties are further apart than they have been since the 1930’s. The fact that anyone imagines otherwise is a tribute to the timidity of the Democrats, who are afraid to say what they really think, and the subterfuge of the Republicans, who show a disciplined willingness to pretend to hold positions they actually abhor.” The reason for this, which I don92t think Krugman explained, are two:Tom Tomorrow:
2. The so-called liberal media is actually in the pocket of conservatives.
And so we have a country that is to the left of the Democrats on the issues, but is run by people who are to the right of virtually every respectable right-wing party in Western Europe and beyond.
Memo to the Democratic leadership: You’re called “leaders” for a reason. Sometimes you have to take what you fear may be an unpopular stand and try to, well, lead the public to your position. And you know what? Sometimes it may cost you your job. You wanted job security, you should have gone into another line of work.Dwight Meredith:
1) Politics is never over;Jason Rylander:
2) Unity and discipline beat chaotic backbiting every single time;
3) Elections are won by occupying the center;
4) You do not beat something with nothing; and
5) Politics is about substantively improving people92s lives.
The Democratic Party must present voters with a true alternative to Republican politics and policy. It is less important whether that alternative is liberal or moderate so long as voters have a choice. If the party chooses the centrist position (and that may be the right choice) it cannot simply mimic the GOP or offered watered-down versions of GOP ideas. It needs to offer its own distinct plans. If the party can do that in a compelling way, we’ll go a long way toward rectifying the problems Democrats faced in this election.Matthew Yglesias:
Well, at least we’re rid of Dick Gephardt, a totally reprehensible man and a basically failed leader. I never understood how one could go into the ‘94 elections as the #2 Democrat and emerge as the #1, and Dick’s unique ability to personify the worst instincts of the party’s right (senseless accomodationism) and left (protectionism) while throwing some poor public speaking abilities into the mix was just too much. I suppose I’m supporting Nancy Pelosi over Martin Frost in the leadership battle, because while I think I agree with Frost that a moderate would be preferable to a liberal, I think Frost is the wrong kind of moderate. Trying to win the South and put the New Deal coalition back together again by ditching the cultural issues is both immoral and strategically silly. It’s true that Dems could stand to do better with white men, but there are fewer and fewer white men in this country every year, so better to look for votes elsewhere.More from Yglesias:
Let me offer a prediction and say that while the media will cover Pelosi/Frost as a left/right ideological struggle, that the actual breakdown in the House Democratic Caucus will break down more along generational and stylistic lines, with old-school types flocking to Frost irrespective of ideology and younger folks more comfortable with postmodern politics’ emphasis on fundraising and media strategy will go for Pelosi.[04:26 PM]
Remember that when Pelosi ran against Steny Hoyer for the job she’s currently got that everyone felt the need to interpret that race as a left/right battle, too, even though no one was quite sure who the liberal was. It was all about age, gender, style, and region. After all, picking a Minority Leader isn’t like picking a President since all the voters in this election are people who are actually going to need to work with the new Leader on a day-to-day basis, so they’re bound to bemore concerned with that person’s general approach than with his specific policy stances.