Sunday, April 20, 2003

A ramble inspired by Alterman
Eric Alterman has an excellent article in The Nation this week, “Bush Goes AWOL.” He sums up the job (or lack of job) the leader of the free world has done so far in making us safer from terrorism. Most of the individual points are well known to us, yet it’s always stunning to see it gathered in one place. This is one of the messages that the Democratic Party and its candidates need to make loud and clear before the next election: we are less safe today than we were on September 10, 2001 and most of the blame lies squarely with Bush and his administration.

One of the dangers of political pontification as an avocation, is that it becomes a substitute for action. I’m not referring to the usual criticism of, “you’re good at complaining. How come you never try to come up with solutions?” Look around, there are lots of creative suggestions for policy coming out of the lefty blogs. What I’m thinking about this morning is that just saying it isn’t enough.

We’re in a battle with common knowledge and common wisdom. Everybody “knows” the Iraqis were behind 9/11. Soon they will “know” the Syrians did it. Everyone “knows” responsible to make tough choices and trade freedom for security. Everyone “knows” liberals and Europeans hate America.

Why do we always lose the propaganda battle? (That’s a rhetorical question. I’m busy reading What Liberal Media? Sadly, I know the answer). In the coming election cycle, it won’t be enough to have good candidates with good issues. We need to take control of the common wisdom. Heck, then we could win with dim candidates and incoherent issues, just like the Republicans do.

One way to influence common wisdom is to buy the media from Rupert Murdoch. I’m starting a collection. If we don’t have enough to buy it in time to affect the election, I’ll put your money to good use paying off my student loans. Okay, that’s not a realistic expectation. What is realistic is to pick a few messages and hound them into the ground. Write to papers. Call talkshows. Come down like a ton of bricks on the contrary wisdom wherever it rears its ugly head. It wouldn’t hurt to take over local Democratic Parties and push progressive messages and programs.

Am I saying anything we don’t already know? Not really. Actually, I’m very encouraged by the growing blogger chorus for the Democrats to stop talking about bad bologna, to stop allowing the administration to stampede them on everything it wants, and act like an opposition party that’s interested in ruling some day. I’m also encouraged by Democrats learning to say “no.” Filibuster is not a dirty word.

I started this with a recommendation of Alterman’s latest article and I’ll finish with a few of his words. This is the song of message every man, woman, child, and none-of-the-above in America should be able to sing in their sleep. We need to teach them the lyrics.

Thanks to Bush & Co., America is hated the world over as never before. Deficits are exploding, unemployment remains high, the stock market is still in the tank and interest rates are poised to take off. The country is headed to hell in a handbasket from so many directions one can barely keep track. And yet the increasingly Foxified media tell a story only of heroism: of the US military, of the American people and of the President of the United States, who has so far managed to avoid service to either one.

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