Re: The Ad

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The factual claims in the ad and the inference it draws both seem incontrovertible to me: Petraeus's statements about the war shouldn't be taken at face value, and misleading us about the state of things in Iraq is a betrayal. What's to argue with?

Except that isn't incontrovertible - Petraeus (from the coverage I've seen) has been upfront on the mixed success of the surge (and, as it's his job on the line, he's allowed to spin it like we all would), and how that's relatively meaningless without forward movement in the political arena.

More generally, the ad seems really, really tacky, and an own-goal scored by the Moveon.org folks.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:03 AM
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Having said that, I'm now off to a meeting.


Posted by: mike d | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:03 AM
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Yup. People in the military complain, and rightly so, about general ignorance about and alienation from the military among civilians generally and the left particularly. And that's a fair complaint, and something people should be thoughtful about.

But there's no principle requiring anyone (1) to assume that a speaker's motivation is non-political when they're speaking in a political context, just because they're in the military, or (2) to assume that a speaker is truthful or straightforward, just because they're in the military, or (3) to pay lip-service to either of the former two statements.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:04 AM
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Someone will have to explain the tackiness of the ad to me.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:04 AM
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To reprise what I said in the other (grossly long) thread: good ad, bad pun. The ad would look stronger, and far less silly, if instead of the "BETRAY US?" headline they had the stark opener "GENERAL PETRAEUS IS LYING TO YOU."


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:04 AM
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For some reason I have Antony's speech from Julius Caesar running through my head.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:06 AM
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Why the fuck is the military so valorized?

Last time I looked, the military was staffed with human beings, which means that, like every other similarly staffed organization, it has members both honorable and not. And, like every other organization, bad people can rise to positions of great power.

As I noted in the other thread, the right wing wasn't so horrified at criticizing a general when Wesley Clark was running for president as a Democrat.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:07 AM
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People in the military complain, and rightly so, about general ignorance about and alienation from the military among civilians generally and the left particularly.

Oh, bitch, bitch. The military is absolutely lionized in American society; volunteer troops are lionized and treated as warrior saints. It's an insanely unhealthy attitude for any country to have about its military, and prevents Americans from having anything approaching a reasoned discussion of foreign policy. What does the military have to complain about?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:09 AM
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What's to argue with?

The Democrats, and in particular The Left, is not well positioned to accuse a well-regarded general of betrayal. You might not like the valorization of the military--I really, really don't like it--but you should accept it as fact for the moment. And you should understand that the worst time to seek a reinterpretation of the military is when military men and women are dying.

And you should not imply that the representative of the military is betraying us, particularly when "us" is actually sitting fairly comfortably and safely int he US.

The headline is just beyond idiotic.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:09 AM
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Hey, the Republicans are crying out "Waaah! Waah! Not fair! Ref!" about this. Keep slashing; it's what they want to do to you. If you do that, it's also possible that some of the facts may creep through the filter - like a buffer-overflow exploit.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:10 AM
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For those concerned about the tackiness of the ad, I just feel the need to point out, for whatever it's worth, that if you considered this case hypothetically with all the D's and R's reversed, you can be be pretty sure that all the conservative blog commenters would not be having a conversation about how tacky the ad was.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:10 AM
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a well-regarded general
well regarded by who? and why?


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:12 AM
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8: Oh, I think you're right about the valorization and sacralization. But the alienation's real too -- I talk about my cousin Timmy who was in Iraq, but that was a fluke. I might easily not have known anyone who was in the army during this war.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:12 AM
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And you should understand that the worst time to seek a reinterpretation of the military is when military men and women are dying.

And you should not imply that the representative of the military is betraying us, particularly when "us" is actually sitting fairly comfortably and safely in the US.

The headline is just beyond idiotic.

Agreed. Leave the name calling to the Republicans. Move On screwed up. Why give them something to hang their hat on?!?!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:13 AM
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Hypothesis: The kind of people who get a bee in their bonnet about the headline of the ad are exactly the kind of people who the Democrats don't need to win over.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:14 AM
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I'm surprised that you're taking the defeatist line on this, SCMT. "We can't criticize the military because we're the Left and we have no credibility on this." Screw that. When soldiers are dying seems like the perfect time to point out that the well-regarded military man is misleading us so that they can keep dying. This is precisely the kind of very ugly fight that "the left" (if not Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi) needs to pick.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:14 AM
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13: With all due respect to people in the military, alienation is to be expected when your job involves killing people.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:15 AM
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11 is spot-on. It's a poorly chosen headline, but whatever. The guy just got up and lied to Congress, which is a crime. Not a mistake, not a policy difference, a crime.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:16 AM
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Hypothesis: The kind of people who get a bee in their bonnet about the headline of the ad are exactly the kind of people who the Democrats don't need to win over.

I think this is absolutely incorrect and vastly underestimates the allegiances of the large majority of citizens.

You have an entire generation of people who served in the military or who had loved ones who served in the military. Unless you have pretty damning and clear evidence of a betrayal, you simply cannot accuse him of betrayal.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:17 AM
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Because there's no accurate way to describe what he's doing -- claiming the surge was a qualified success when in fact it's been completely useless in terms of producing the sort of political stability that was its whole point -- without implicitly or explicitly pointing out that he's trying to mislead us for political purposes. If we do it implicitly because being explicit is just unacceptable, (1) the point doesn't get across clearly, and (2) the administration's spokespeople can shame us by making it explicit: "Are you calling Gen. Pet. a liar?!?" So might as well start out being explicit.

I saw this movie in 2003, when the well-regarded General's name was Powell, and we should have called him a liar then.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:17 AM
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Anyway, I don't think the ad was supposed to be persuasive. It was, though, supposed to be provocative and certainly nobody can say it failed at that. Here I invoke that old LBJ quote about how you don't need to prove your opponent fucked a pig, you just need to get him to deny it. The Republicans spent a lot of time yesterday denying that Petraeus was a liar and none of the Democrats had to actually allege it (which should make SCMT happy, no?).

(Sorry if this has already been hashed over in the other thread.)


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:18 AM
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16: The problem with the headline is that it seems to put the blame solely on a well-regarded military man... are you so partisan, ogged, that when someone as well-regarded as Petraeus gives a mixed report about Iraq, you won't believe him because it isn't gloom and doom like you'd be lead to believe?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:18 AM
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You have an entire generation of people who served in the military

And they always have nothing but unvarnished respect for the brass, right? That really hasn't been my experience.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:19 AM
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Will is helpful to have around, in that he automatically supplies the Republican frame on every possible issue.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:19 AM
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Unless you have pretty damning and clear evidence of a betrayal, you simply cannot accuse him of betrayal.

Why? No one is shooting at Petraeus. He's putting soldiers' lives at risk by misleading Congress--support for them shouldn't shield him; just the opposite.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:19 AM
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The guy just got up and lied to Congress, which is a crime. Not a mistake, not a policy difference, a crime.

What percent of the population are you going to convince of that?

Aren't there some psych people here? When you overplay your hand, people move away from your position. Underplay it slightly, you keep them on your side.

There were many, many other hard-hitting headlines that could have been used. This one should have been tossed to the side.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:20 AM
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When soldiers are dying seems like the perfect time to point out that the well-regarded military man is misleading us so that they can keep dying.

We have a volunteer army that shares the political beliefs of Petreus. It seems to me that you're possibly arguing that (a) the military is made up of morons who don't realize they're being led to slaughter for political reasons, (b) the military--synecdoche!-- is betraying the country somehow (don't know why that would be troubling), and (c) the relevant betrayal is apparently that done by the people in harm's way and to the people whose great worry is whether the ass-depression in their couch can be just fluffed out. If it weren't for your terrorist sympathies this would be way more obvious to you than to me.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:21 AM
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well-regarded as Petraeus

He has a reputation for being very smart and competent, but not, as far as I know, for being a moral paragon.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:21 AM
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Indeed, fuck a stupid pun. But also, fuck the idea that any American isn't betrayed when a terrible war is bolstered by lies.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:21 AM
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What percent of the population are you going to convince of that?

Zero percent, if nobody ever says it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:22 AM
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And they always have nothing but unvarnished respect for the brass, right? That really hasn't been my experience.

Agreed. You can attack him hard, but the use of the word "betray us" overplays it.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:23 AM
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We have a volunteer army that shares the political beliefs of Petreus.

The military doesn't get to decide how the military is deployed, and members of the military have to respect the chain of command, so punting the decision is again wrong, and part of the unhealthy deference given the military in America. Again, this is an activist group, making points that need to be made. Good for them.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:24 AM
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"Are you calling Gen. Pet. a liar?!?" So might as well start out being explicit.

Gawd, I think "Liar!" would have been sooo much better than "Betray Us." I think "pedophile" might have been better.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:24 AM
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Will is helpful to have around, in that he automatically supplies the Republican frame on every possible issue.

Right. Or everyone could sit around and agree with themselves bc this site has such a cross-section of views.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:25 AM
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We have a volunteer army that shares the political beliefs of Petreus.

Bullshit. The army hasn't got political beliefs en masse, and plenty of enlisted people (and officers -- I'm sure less than half, but plenty) are not rabid Republicans, and don't think the war is a great idea. Being committed to doing the best job that can at whatever they're ordered to do does not logically imply (although probably makes it psychologically easier to believe) that the orders are sensible or sane.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:25 AM
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Didn't Petraeus advance his career by faking war injuries?

But then Kerry did stab the troops in the back by speaking out against Vietnam.


Posted by: Barbar | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:25 AM
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Rather than talk in broad generalities about what abstract Americans think or feel about The Military, I'm linking to this poll via Kevin Drum, which indicates that a majority of Americans expected Petraeus to lie to them anyway. Would it really be so difficult to make the argument to these Americans that Petraeus is lying and that we need to get out of Iraq, given that this is what most Americans already believe?

People like Will seem to live in a tiny, tiny world, whose horizons are bounded entirely by the last RNC press release.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:25 AM
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Gawd, I think "Liar!" would have been sooo much better than "Betray Us." I think "pedophile" might have been better.

Look, I realize that this isn't the current view in the US, but the military "belongs" to the people, and we need to stop being so deferential to it. A politician can't say this right now, but someone has to.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:27 AM
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You can attack him hard, but the use of the word "betray us" overplays it.

See, this is the sort of squeamishness that the right wing NEVER EVER EVER shows, and they have dominated American politics since the '80s as a result.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:27 AM
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Stras, cut it out with the personal stuff.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:27 AM
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39 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:28 AM
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I am reading will's comments as restricted to the headline, which sj also agreed was overplayed.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:28 AM
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The military doesn't get to decide how the military is deployed, and members of the military have to respect the chain of command, so punting the decision is again wrong, and part of the unhealthy deference given the military in America.

Great. Excellent point, master-debater. Who the fuck cares?

Again, this is an activist group, making points that need to be made.

Activist toward what end? If it's "electing Democrats," then the points that need to be made are the ones that help elect Democrats. Do you imagine anyone switching sides...to our side, that is...because of this ad?

Good for them

Because they made the point that they have the moral courage to make asses of themselves in defense of a pretty good point?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:28 AM
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Stras:

I've advocated hitting him hard, but not using the words "betray us."

And you accuse me of living in a small world?

So in your mind, there is only one true way to convey the message? "Betray Us" was the best possible message to use?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:29 AM
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It seems to me that you're possibly arguing that (a) the military is made up of morons who don't realize they're being led to slaughter for political reasons, (b) the military--synecdoche!-- is betraying the country somehow (don't know why that would be troubling), and (c) the relevant betrayal is apparently that done by the people in harm's way and to the people whose great worry is whether the ass-depression in their couch can be just fluffed out.

Ogged's right, and this is wrong. Look, the whole point of a properly functioning army is that it follows orders. We can and should respect and honor them for that. We can't, say that we have to respect or credit anything said by a military officer when he's speaking under orders from his political masters. If it's political spin, it's still political spin after they've laundered it through a general.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:30 AM
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"Betray Us" drew much more attention than "Liar" ever would. And provocation and attention was the intent. It worked, so it's good.

Anyway, as a Joyce freak, I believe are no stupid or unnecessary puns. Puns are an even better indicator of intelligence than dirty limericks. Yglesias is such a Philistine.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:31 AM
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I think that the key to turning things around is taking the game to the Republicans and getting off the defensive. I'm willing to allow a learning curve if it starts slowly. (I don't know what I think about the ad itself, which I haven't heard.)

There was something posted a few days ago to the effect that all denials do is keep the meme alive. In other words, if you run a denial that X is gaypast a group of subjects, a significant part of the pool (increasing with time) will end up thinking that X might be gay, even in the absence of anything actually saying that X is gay. Furthermore, the more repititions the more effect.

So putting the other side on the defensive is job one as far as I'm concerned.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:31 AM
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See, this is the sort of squeamishness that the right wing NEVER EVER EVER shows, and they have dominated American politics since the '80s as a result.

There is a huge difference between squeamishness and effectiveness. Perhaps the right has dominated politics because they have hit hard effectively.

Are you suggesting that we just swing wildly?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:31 AM
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make asses of themselves

See, you argue for adopting Republican tactics, but you're still seeing things from a defensive perspective. You play hardball by making a strong claim and if people get pissed off, by escalating, not hedging. Their next ad should ask if he should be courtmarshalled. I'm 100% serious about this.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:32 AM
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44: Can you give us a quote of the 'hardest hitting' headline you would have used? If it's just the word 'betray' that's one thing, but I think you're overly squeamish.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:32 AM
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36- No, no, the story was that Kerry stabbed himself in the back to get 3 purple hearts for stab wounds so he could get an early discharge.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:32 AM
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Guys, this is why we keep getting handed our asses. A general gets up and lies under oath to Congress about a failed war we're waging on a country that never could have threatened us, in the service of an administration that wants to recreate the situation in the country beside it, and we spend hundreds of comments debating whether moveon.org made a bad wording choice in the headline of an ad.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:32 AM
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44: It doesn't need to be the best possible message. It was a good message. The right-wingers who are screeching about it are being wildly disingenuous. The liberals who are squirming uncomfortably about it are being useful idiots, as always.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:32 AM
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will: what's wild about calling a liar a liar?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:32 AM
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New headline: FOR PETRAEUS IS AN HONORABLE MAN.
Subheadline: So why is he lying?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:33 AM
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Just off my head, even "Betrays them" is better than betrays us.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:33 AM
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Here's the ad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:34 AM
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Are you suggesting that we just swing wildly?

I'm suggesting that the GOP throws aas much shit at the wall as they possibly can to see what will stick and they never apologize for the piles that slide to the floor. And it has worked fabulously for them. If moveon is going to serve as our Rush limbaugh, so much the better.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:34 AM
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56: If that's the level of what you're quibbling about, that's just silly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:36 AM
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If moveon is going to serve as our Rush limbaugh, so much the better.

Exactly. "Betray Us" is better than "Betray Them" because it assumes that the military is answerable to us, fat asses on the couch, which it is and should be. Very few people might think this, but that's what MoveOn should be trying to change.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:36 AM
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58: I would say that I don't want a Rush Limbaugh in the sense of someone who spreads lies, or personal irrelevancies, or unsupported hatred. But a nasty hostile way of saying something true and useful? I'm all over that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:37 AM
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The guy just got up and lied to Congress, which is a crime. Not a mistake, not a policy difference, a crime.

--What percent of the population are you going to convince of that?

If we can't convince the populace, we lose. We actually have to change people's minds. We can't trim our message to what TV tells us that The People think (and not only because TV lies to us: Bush is a very unpopular President and the war is very unpopular).

DLC types claim to want Democrats to pay attention to public opinion, but there are two ways they go wrong. First, sometimes they're using The American People as stooges to justify policy positions that the DLC supports for other reasons (e.g. militarism). And sometimes the DLC seem to have such an enormous contempt for The American People that they're unwilling to try to persuade them of anything.

Elite liberalism and elitist Democrats are not imaginary, though populist Republicans are frauds. Minnesota never quit being somewhat populist, so I'm frequently amazed at the virulent anti-populism of most Democratic leaders.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:39 AM
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What I see in America is that the proportion of the population which reacts badly to childish taunts and spurious accusations is rather small, while the proportion of the population which finds Bill O'Reilly's show entertaining is rather significant.

I, too, wish that frivolous, taunting accusations of treason weren't acceptable in our discourse, but you go to war in the discourse you have, etc. And in this media environment, where schoolyard taunts are propagated and substantive critique gets ignored, there's really no other way to go.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:40 AM
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A pun and a rhyme is more powerful than a pun alone.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:40 AM
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LB:

Small differences in wording aren't important?

I'm not personally bent out of shape about it. I saw it, but wasn't pissed off about it. But, I think it wasn't played well.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:40 AM
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"Betray Us" is better than "Betray Them" because it

rhymes with Petraeus.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:41 AM
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but the military "belongs" to the people, and we need to stop being so deferential to it.

I sincerely agree, and genuinely believe we should be working on that. But now is not the time to be making this point with the words "betray us." (I'm reminded of one of my favorite scenes from Buffy, in which Cordelia breaks up with Xander, and Xander says: "You know when's a great time to break up with someone? Any day that isn't Valentine's Day.")

right wing NEVER EVER EVER shows, and they have dominated American politics since the '80s as a result.

They've been able to do that because they represented, in some real sense, especially closer to the eighties, "real Americans." The sixties changed the definition of "real Americans" and the Republicans were where the old guard turned for support. (Things have changed a lot.) I don't know if you've read Edsall's Chain Reaction, but it's more compelling than I would have thought something recommended by Alterman could be in this area.

Ogged's right, and this is wrong. Look, the whole point of a properly functioning army is that it follows orders.

Oh gawd. I can finally imagine the Republicans winning in '08. "The point" is not the point. Whatever should happen, however logical the argument or justifiable the idea behind the ad, the point is to win in '08. That's it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:42 AM
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I think it wasn't played well.

It depends on what you think the game is. Again, probably not a good move for Harry Reid, but a fine one for MoveOn.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:42 AM
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Rush Limbaugh in the sense of

In the sense of saying things that elected representatives cannot for reasons of decorum. For example, somebody should have been screaming throughout his tenure as Secretary of State than Colin Powell is a man utterly without honor, who will say any goddamned thing he's told and has never seen a scandal he wasn't willing to cover up.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:43 AM
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When you overplay your hand, people move away from your position.

God, if only the Democrats could get anywhere near overplaying their hand. They don't ever seem to recognize when they have a good one.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:43 AM
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65: Really, no, in the sense of handwringing about it. If you mean that one phrasing conveys one idea which is acceptable, and the other conveys another idea which is totally out of line, then a small difference could be important. But if you just don't like the way it sounds, eh, buy your own ad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:44 AM
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Glen Greenwald did an excellent video take-down on Petraeus.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:44 AM
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An argument that John E made a long time ago that really stuck with me was that conservatives were much more entrepreneurial than liberals, and that this showed up in their approach to politics. I think you can see that at work here. The conservative movement is full of loose cannons (Club for Growth, for example) who promote all kinds of weird attacks. The Republicans don't feel the need to somehow have a complete theoretical model of how well every attack will work. They just attack. The attacks that work, they keep. The attacks that don't work, they drop. Entrepreneurs learn an idea is stupid by trying it.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:44 AM
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"real Americans."

Every American is a real American.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:45 AM
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I wonder if the content of the ad, which is very good, will even be noticed under the shrieking about the headline. Punching is good, but it's turned into whether it's fair to say that Petraeus is betraying soldiers, not about how fucked up this war is that we don't count deaths by car bombs or assassinations in the front of the head to drop the numbers.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:45 AM
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If that's the level of what you're quibbling about, that's just silly.

So disagree.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:45 AM
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they represented, in some real sense, especially closer to the eighties, "real Americans."

Aieeeeeeee!

This is Stockholm syndrome. Or something.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:45 AM
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the point is to win in '08. That's it.

There's always a crucial election coming up, and always a reason not to be controversial. But you do have to start playing rough at some point, O Zeno.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:45 AM
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God, if only the Democrats could get anywhere near overplaying their hand. They don't ever seem to recognize when they have a good one.

I think this is almost always true.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:46 AM
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You people. The headline's only problem is that it's too long: as headline, the pun is excellent because it's memorable. Anyone who sees the ad is going to have a hard time hearing the man's name without also hearing "betray us" in the background.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:46 AM
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They've been able to do that because they represented, in some real sense, especially closer to the eighties, "real Americans."

Again, bullshit. I'm a goddamnit real American, and so are the millions of people in Mississippi who vote for Democrats. They represent 'real Americans' in an entirely bullshit sense, and tiptoeing around that ("Yes, we know we're loathsome traitors with no right to patriotism") is never going to get us anywhere.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:46 AM
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The pun is kind of lame. Along the same lines, I dislike most "street theater", most political ads, & any chant that begins "hey, hey, ho, ho." I am trying to get over myself a bit about aesthetic objections like this. If we want strong statements of opposition to be phrased according to our liking, we'd better make them ourselves, not make ritual denunciations of Michael Moore, MoveOn, etc.

If I think an attack or an organization is seriously dishonest or immoral, that's another thing. But this is a lame pun, not the accusation of treason that everyone's making it out to be.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:47 AM
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I can't see how the headline is possibly helpful or constructive. Just make the substantive point, who will you convince by silly puns or name-calling?


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:47 AM
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Speaking of Rush Limbaugh, I'm currently involved in an anonymous conflict over the magazine rack in my gym, which has a subscription to National Review. (Why does every gym I've ever gone to subscribe to National Review? And why are the damn TVs always tuned to Fox News?)

Anyway, there's a recent issue with Limbaugh on the cover. I keep putting it behind other magazines, where I don't have to look at his ugly face when I use the drinking fountain. Someone else keeps moving it back into view.

Would it be unethical of me to rip the cover off the magazine and quietly dispose of it? Or surreptitiously remove the issue entirely, perhaps? Being the only person who uses the gym at 7 am, this would be easy to do.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:48 AM
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And I think Bitch is right about the effectiveness of the rhyme. Dopey, but it'll stick -- when anyone thinks of his name, they'll remember this.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:48 AM
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seems as good a place as any to ask this:

If a hypothetical former poster who left for hypothetical pseudonym collapse reasons was hypothetically thinking of returning ... how would the regulars think this is best done? If said poster wanted to avoid any easily constructed connection between oldpseud and newpseud but was perfectly happy if regulars could make the connection, the hypothetical poster could hypothetically do several things : obliquely reference previous `life', wait until someone asked (and answer affirmatively but googleproofed), ... , or simply pretend it never happened.

Probably nobody cares. If they do, what's best?

hypothetically speaking.


Posted by: threadjack | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:48 AM
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74: Increasingly true. But it wasn't in 1965, and people weren't sure they liked the effect of the change in 1980.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:48 AM
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Draw a Hitler moustache and horns on him, and somebody else will tear off the cover for you.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:49 AM
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So the general liberal consensus is that a headline of "Baby Killer!" would have been too on the nose?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:51 AM
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obliquely reference previous `life', wait until someone asked (and answer affirmatively but googleproofed),

This is how it's been done before, at least twice. This is embarassing, but I remember a recent pseud collapse incident but not who you are, if I've got the right one. Referencing the thread where it happened would tip people off reasonably discreetly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:51 AM
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80: I seriously don't think political views are changed by pointing out that someone's name rhymes with "betray us".

I'm with 82 on the general effectiveness of tactics that involve puppets, rhyming chants, etc. The yelling and screaming in the hearing room by Code Pink and other protestors yesterday just looked silly.

Obama testifying in Senate FR right now.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:51 AM
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The Democrats have a very strong hand, and they don't seem to be playing it at all. Recently the mainstream press has been congratulating Bush on how well he's been doing recently, and for reasons I don't understand Reid and Pelosi are failing to show any fight to speak of. They really seem to believe that Limbaugh and O'Reilly represent most Americans (as does Will here).

The only excuse that the Democrats have is that nothing they say will ever have "traction", but getting around the media is one of their primary jobs. MoveOn and the internet bypass the commercial media, and that's most of their importance.

Putting on the tinfoil, people have speculated that hawks are circulating secret information behind the scenes to Congress and the media, so that we effectively have entirely secret government. I've also believed for a long time that a lot of Democrats are happy to be in the minority party and have an essentially Republican bottom line on several key issues. I've even wondered whether some key individuals have been intimidated with actual threats (the threat of being Wellstoned). I'm not kidding.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:51 AM
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But it wasn't in 1965

Sure it was. "Real American" is just an othering technique. Both the Birch Society and the Black Panthers were also composed of real Americans. This is a country *founded* on the concept of pluralism. Don't buy into that frame.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:52 AM
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73: That really is a good point. Which is why it's so maddening to see people on our side get so bunched up about stuff like this. Recoiling at something like "Betrayed Us," comes from a good instinct, I think - insults and namecalling DO suck, and do wreck interpersonal discourse. But the problem is projecting that personal instinct when it's not really an interpersonal discourse you're trying to have. That, in essence, is what the Washington insider media types do that is so maddening. They think their social norms apply everywhere, above all other rules.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:52 AM
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Obama just came out swinging on CSPAN8 (the "ocho") against having the hearing on 9/11. Says it re-enforces a flawed narrative where 9/11 and Iraq are wrongly conflated.

My wife says he sounds to much like Kerry.


Posted by: keatssycamore | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:52 AM
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Activists use inept pun in ad, Democrats bicker endlessly over it. The Republic establishment &mdash including House Armed Services committee member Illeana Ros-Lehtinen &mdash tries to tie said ad to Democrats in Congress, no one can muster the indignation, because we're too busy infighting. There's a lesson there.

They've been able to do that because they represented, in some real sense, especially closer to the eighties, "real Americans."

Christ almighty, Tim.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:53 AM
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I've even wondered whether some key individuals have been intimidated with actual threats (the threat of being Wellstoned). I'm not kidding.

<shameful confession> The Carnahan/Wellstone coincidence freaked me all the way out, and left me wondering exactly what you're wondering. </shameful confession>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:54 AM
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Like Kerry in that he's going on and on and using words like "bailiwick".


Posted by: keatssycamore | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:54 AM
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`life'

That punctuation sorta gives it away, no?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:54 AM
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"the point is to win in '08. That's it."

No it isn't. The point is an end to the war, better domestic policies, a gov't that complies with the law, etc. Winning elections & holding political power is a means to other ends. A necessary means, sure, but treating it like an end in itself has screwed us over: Democratic politicians routinely sacrifice a large, certain change for the worse as far as policy, for a small, theoretical & possibly nonexistent electoral benefit. It's a bad trade, unless your goal is merely "to win."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:55 AM
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I seriously don't think political views are changed by pointing out that someone's name rhymes with "betray us".

OMG once again the arguments that the only things that count are people's conscious, rational decisions. Ayiiii.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:56 AM
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insults and namecalling DO suck, and do wreck interpersonal discourse

Yes, but that's not what the ad is doing. A true but hurtful charge isn't the same as an ad hominem attack.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:56 AM
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I wonder if the content of the ad, which is very good, will even be noticed under the shrieking about the headline.

That's a good reason for us not to talk about the headline. A lot of people here are being played. It's not about MoveOn, and it's not about the headline, and it's not about the pun. It's about Petraeus. The reason why the content is being obscured is that the Wurlitzer made a predictable effort to change the subject, and we've taken the bait.

Democrats, being educated, have this weakness for going meta, and the Wurlitzer people have figured that out.

Just make the substantive point, who will you convince by silly puns or name-calling?

Jesus, Marcus, name-calling is the meat and potatos of American politics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 10:58 AM
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who will you convince by silly puns or name-calling?

Nobody; that's not what silly puns and name-calling are for. They're for attracting and keeping attention while you try to slip some narrative-shaping information in under cover.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:00 AM
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Nobody; that's not what silly puns and name-calling are for. They're for attracting and keeping attention while you try to slip some narrative-shaping information in under cover.

Right. One important thing to keep in mind is that no one ad or piece of information changes anyone's mind or the discourse. But little bit after little bit eventually makes a difference.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:01 AM
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OMG once again the arguments that the only things that count are people's conscious, rational decisions.

A mistake that Mineshaft-denizen-types will make again and again.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:01 AM
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If MoveOn seriously thought the headline would draw attention to the content of the ad, then they had their thinking caps on backwards. But I don't think they thought it would.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:02 AM
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I saw the Code Pink outburst on Olbermann, and his people tweaked it so that you could actually hear the message -- something like "You're lying, Petraeus" or "The American People don't believe you". It was not ineffective at all, but I'm sure that everyone else tweaked it to be unintelligible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:04 AM
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102: agreed


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:07 AM
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"pseud collapse" sounds very dramatic


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:08 AM
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I think it's great to criticize Petraeus, and harshly. Being military is no protection.

I think that I'd rather put aside the word "treason" and other forms of it for very particular and rare occasions, though. That's my main issue with some people and organizations on the left: it's not the substantive act of criticizing active-duty military, it's the rhetorical style that is in use (for this or any other political purpose). That matters a lot. Both because some people (including me) may choose to take the concept of treason very seriously and therefore don't want the word used carelessly (as I think many people, contemptibly, have done on the right) and because the word may have strong emotional resonance that gets people stirred up in a way that you don't want. Also, given the way that the term makes use of a particular set of patriotic tropes, whom does it most mobilize?

That's really the question: does the idea that Petraeus committed treason strongly motivate anyone to oppose the war (or the Administration) who wasn't already strongly motivated? If no, who's the ad for? Will it motivate people who have ambivalent feelings about the war or the Administration? Likely not. Does it "frame" Petraeus' testimony so as to promote skepticism about it? I don't see it.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:09 AM
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OMG once again the arguments that the only things that count are people's conscious, rational decisions.

I think people arguing against the ad--at least me--are arguing exactly the opposite.

Note re: "real Americans": I'm not claiming that such group represented real Americans, but that, culturally, if you asked a swath of people whether the hippies/African-Americans/etc. or the Birchers/other conservatives/etc. best represented people like them, more would say the latter in the eighties. Which was the motivation behind the campaigns of Nixon, Reagan, and most Republicans for a long time. Things have changed and are changing more. But to make the change more permanent means avoiding picking fights that are relatively unimportant (here, just the "betray us" language) and, however wrongly, initially offensive to a wide swath of people who might otherwise fall into our camp.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:10 AM
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Insults and namecalling DO suck, and do wreck interpersonal discourse

Politics isn't interpersonal discourse. Since Gingrich, it isn't even negotiation between factions. We're in a non-normal political era.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:13 AM
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111: Lucky for you, the word "treason" doesn't appear anywhere in that ad, nor anywhere in this thread until you used it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:13 AM
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The problem with the 'relatively unimportant' fights not to pick, is that there's always going to be something -- if we focus on the problem being that we're just too offputting, we'll get (have gotten) more and more cautious until we don't say anything, ever. If we attack at all, we'll do so imperfectly, and I'm not going to worry about that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:13 AM
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110: there was minor drama, but not here.


Posted by: threadjack | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:14 AM
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I take it everyone has seen this?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:15 AM
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nor anywhere in this thread

Sorry, the word appears, but not accusations thereof.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:15 AM
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I think it's a real stretch to say they're accusing him of actual treason. Lying is a form of betrayal.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:15 AM
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Politics isn't interpersonal discourse

which was my point, which I apparently failed to make


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:17 AM
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I know they're derived from the same root and all, but I just do NOT buy that as a matter of standard English usage, "you betrayed us" & "you committed treason" are identical charges. I flatly do not buy it. I don't think I've ever accused anyone in the Bush administration of treason, because it is a specific crime specifically defined in the Constitution & punishable death. I am pretty sure I have accused them of betraying us/their oaths of office/the constitution/this country's principles, etc.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:17 AM
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Their next ad should ask if he should be court martialed. I'm 100% serious about this.

I'm not terribly confident in my own opinion here, but I think I'm on board with Ogged. The success of the Right ought to teach us a couple of lessons.

1. Smearing people works, and it matters not a whit that whether they deserve it or not. Think about the recent attacks on the GAO. Is there an institution in Washington that enjoys more bipartisan respect for its factual analysis? I doubt it. But the moment the situation required it, the GOP let loose with a no-holds-barred attack on its credibility.

2. Any argument, no matter how transparently ridiculous, can be ruled within bounds of respectable discourse if your side keeps a united front. When your argument contains a fair measure of truth, it's that much easier. Corrolary: as soon as there is a fissure on your side, an unfair attack collapses under the weight of its own ridiculousness. If any significant Republican (Bob Dole, I'm thinking of you) had loudly denounced the SBVT, the narrative would have been reversed and President Kerry would be in the White House.

3. There is nothing, nothing to be gained by denouncing or "distancing yourself" from the more extreme voices on your own side. When the question comes up, you just turn it around and talk about the extremists on the other side.

4. The battle almost always goes to the side that shows less scruple.

5. You should never judge the effectiveness of an attack by the impression it makes on reasonable people. Al Franken quoted Frank Luntz to this effect: Think of those ads for commemorative plates in the back of Parade magazine. Would you ever buy one? Would anyone you know buy one? Never! But enough people buy them to justify running the ads week after week.

I would hate for these principles to become SOP for the Dems, but on the issue of the war, I'd willingly sacrifice my entire storehouse of moral feel-good to make it stop.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:20 AM
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I think that the way to sell the problem is to ignore the military-- publicize contractors getting rich on services that were paid for but not delivered in Iraq. Sailboat fuel is a useful phrase. The brave soldiers are made into props so that the public coffers can be robbed; the point of the war was to create contracts overseen behind closed doors. The face of a veteran wounded while guarding trucks filled with useless or nonexistent goods would be good.

The ad wisely didn't use the word "lied," since P spun and fudged rather than lied. I don't see where attacking officers' motivations this way is a winning tactic. Playing up the religious civil war and the corruption of any US decision maker who affects the flow of money seem like the best tactics.

On a more optimistic note, an oil company signed a contract with the Kurds today. Hopefully that corner of Iraq will become more stable.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:25 AM
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. I flatly do not buy it.

Which would matter if you weren't already committed to voting for whatever Dem shows up. (Or at least not for the Republican.) But you are, and so what you buy isn't really the issue. If we have to have that argument with what should and shouldn't be inferred with someone we could otherwise have had, then the language was a mistake.

Their next ad should ask if he should be court martialed.

I wouldn't love it, but I'd be more comfortable with that than the "betray us" language. And I'm totally fine with charging the other side with treason; fuck, I basically believe it. Just not soldiers. And especially not during an actual war.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:26 AM
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How do we ignore the military when the administration is hiding behind it? The whole point of the 'Petraeus Report' is 'look at the noble military man, with the noble military credibility, say that the surge is useful and should be continues, and everything will be better if we stay than if we leave.' We have to disagree with that head on, or we get nowhere.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:27 AM
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if we focus on the problem being that we're just too offputting, we'll get (have gotten) more and more cautious until we don't say anything, ever.

I think this disagreement is the standard distinction between strategy and tactics. After 9/11, everyone said we needed to address terrorism. But that didn't mean all efforts to do so were good ideas; some were even own-goal-ing.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:29 AM
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I don't see where attacking officers' motivations this way is a winning tactic.

People, the *soldiers* are already questioning the motivations of the generals, for christ's sake.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:29 AM
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If we have to have that argument with what should and shouldn't be inferred with someone we could otherwise have had, then the language was a mistake.

There is no language sufficient to communicate the things that must be said, around which a similar controversy cannot be created. We cannot take the existence of controversy as a reason to walk away from a necessary topic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:29 AM
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Why aren't we talking about how lame Tigerhawk's outrage is?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:34 AM
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There is no language sufficient to communicate the things that must be said, around which a similar controversy cannot be created.

My specific claim is that "Liar!" would have been infinitely preferable to "betray us." Would there have been a controversy? Sure. That's fine.

I might be wrong about the language use. But I'm not.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:34 AM
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124: I was responding to 111.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:39 AM
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Why aren't we talking about how lame Tigerhawk's outrage is?

Or how an actual tigerhawk would almost certainly have too much bone mass to acheive flight. Silly wittle fwightless tiggy!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:40 AM
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the *soldiers* are already questioning the motivations

They're not well-fed backbiting shills, which is a big difference. I think that the pettiness and fingerpointing that make up soundbite politics don't work well with uniforms as a counterparty, even if the officers are themselves political.

Does it make sense to give to campaigns that engage in soundbites? I can't bring myself to do it. I prefer organizations that do something, either on the ground or in court.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:44 AM
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I might be wrong about the language use. But I'm not.

This gets back to "We beat ourselves up over this shit, and they don't." Was 'betray us' worse, in some ineffable manner, than 'liar' would have been? Maybe. Great. On to the next ad, then, and do better next time. Not a big deal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:44 AM
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On to the next ad, then, and do better next time. Not a big deal.

Don't disagree at all.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:47 AM
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Just to repeat two things: first, there will always be some hook to hang a distraction on, and we should always ignore shout over the distraction.

Second, I was serious about "meta". Democrats and academics always go meta. Meta can be analytically powerful, and in certain cases it can be persuasive, but not if it's an ingrained kneejerk response. If you watch for it you'll see it everywhere. It's a dog and pony show by now -- the Republican tricks the Democrat into making some meta-comment, and then the Republican does his man-of-the-people thing and gets down to brass tacks. It's another Lucy-Charlie-Brown case where the Democrats get suckered again and again.

Webb is not meta. Bartcop is not meta. It makes them seem like conservatives, but they aren't.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:48 AM
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My only objection is use of the word "betray" -- because it plays into the other side's narrative. Sadly, there's a significant portion of the population willing to stick with the other side for no reason other than discomfort with our side. People were willing to support the war in the first place because they couldn't stand to admit that the hippies might be right.

We're now winning with these people. We can, however, blow it.

Continuing to talk about the thing feeds it. So I'll shut up, and hope that MoveOn thinks beyond its base the next time out.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:54 AM
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Jim Webb is making me proud right now. Just superb -- going from the glaring problems with our strategic posture to the specifics of his deployment amendment, showing the connections.

In general the Senate questioning from the Democrats has been good.

Emerson's right about the "meta" thing. But it's an artifact of having a large newsertainment industry that is devoted to talking about the game of inside politics all the time. It's a political junkie thing. It is true that the Republicans always benefit from turning attention to this kind of thing. The Senate Democrats have been very good about simply ignoring the pseudo-issue. All you need to do is talk honestly about the seriousness of the situation we face and it automatically makes talk of NY Times ads look petty.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 11:59 AM
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What's wrong with puns?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:01 PM
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Webb is not meta. Bartcop is not meta. It makes them seem like conservatives, but they aren't.

This helps me understand something.

In all of the discussion about the need for candidates who are are more "aggressive" or will "stand up for what they believe in" (e.g, more "manly") I've been thinking about the appeal of Patty Murray, the "mom in tennis shoes" and whether I want to completely concede that "manliness" is something we should be cultivating in political candidates.

But this makes me think that part of the appeal of Murray is that she isn't inclined to be meta about everything. I admit that I haven't follower her campaigns closely, partially because the last one wasn't at all competitive.

OTOH, how meta is it to say that we need to find candidates who aren't too meta?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:02 PM
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I don't really understand why the word "betray" is being given such special weight. "Treason" is (sort of) okay, "liar" is okay, "courtmartial 'im!" is okay, but "betray" isn't? Fair enough if this word sets you off in a special way, but do you really think that sensitivity is universal?


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:03 PM
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"Get meta with me, Arthur!"

All Democratic politicians, clearly, are The Tick.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:03 PM
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I know they're derived from the same root and all, but I just do NOT buy that as a matter of standard English usage, "you betrayed us" & "you committed treason" are identical charges. I flatly do not buy it.

Agreed. One betrays a trust, and I simply cannot understand why it's so horrible to make such an accusation here. I also don't understand why it's "playing into the other side's narrative." I do understand why the pun feels cheesy, though!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:03 PM
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Two metas make a ..... whatever the opposite of meta is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:05 PM
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I think that the base wasn't the intended audience -- I think the Republicans were. You don't call someone a silly name to impress a crowd; you do it to tick that person off, in the hope that they'll overreact.

In front of all the world, the Republicans come off as being more concerned about juvenile namecalling than about the war and this makes them look unserious and petty.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:06 PM
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Plus, I really do feel a certain amount of special betrayal is involved when a military guy allows himself to be used for political purposes, to the detriment of the servicemen and -women that he leads.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:07 PM
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Jim Webb is making me proud right now.

He gave props to Obama both in the hearing and in the post-hearing commentary. I like!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:09 PM
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You groan, but the rhyming pun is pretty sticky.

And vs. NYT readers I think it's just about right. People who are vaguely liberal but buy into the conventional wisdom that Petraeus is a good guy and therefore we should give the surge a chance need a kick in the pants.


Posted by: elemund | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:09 PM
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138: In the media, someone who habitually goes meta (Bill Schneider comes immediately to mind) is often thought of as liberal even when he isn't. Same for irony. Liberalism has been assimilated to a personal style and a class position (educated intellectual) rather than to any political position.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:10 PM
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Why aren't we talking about how lame Tigerhawk's outrage is?

Having just now read it, I'd say it's because his post is too fucking stupid to merit a response.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:10 PM
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Hey, but he blogrolls us.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:11 PM
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Conservative bloggers jumped all over it, wondering whether it was -- or ought to be -- the moment when the men of good will ask "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

How dare the pro-war contingent even think of appropriating this sentiment and reference to themselves? This makes my bile run hot and furious.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:16 PM
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You know what I don't understand? Why all this pussyfooting around? Forget `throwing punches'. This calls for a curb stomping. Metaphorical teeth on the sidewalk. There are vermin in the executive branch, sapping the life out of this democracy, and people are tying themselves up in knots about the ongoing psychological effect of the WTC collapse? The significance of events in New York on 9/11/2001 pales in comparison to the disasterous attack on the underpinnings of this society that have been ongoing ... yet all people seem to worked up about today is whether or not it is inappropriate to call a bullshitter a bullshitter today particularly.

Going to war in Iraq was both wrong, and stupid. Funneling masses of money through this effort into the pockets of friends and lackeys is morally reprehensible. US foreign policy has wandered far beyond the bounds of any ethical justification that might plausibly have been applied, and it's not much better at home. This administration has so often shamefully and cynically broken faith with all that is good, all that is worth fighting for in this country that it barely noteworthy anymore --- abandoning the job in afghanistan, NOLA, torture, ext. rendition, wiretaps, outright fraud, the list goes on and on...

Where is the politician of any stature who will stand up and speak these simple truths in plain language?


Posted by: threadjack | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:16 PM
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That pun is so bad I think I'm becoming outraged over Chappaquiddick.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:17 PM
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150 gets it right.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:31 PM
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Juan Cole evinces some respect for Petreus:

But I don't think career public servants such as Ryan Crocker and David Petraeus are acting as partisan Republicans in their Iraq efforts. I think they both are sincere, experienced men attempting to retrieve what they can for America from Bush's catastrophe. They may as well try, since the Democrats can't over-rule Bush and get the troops out, anyway. If the troops are there, they may as well at least be deployed intelligently, which is what Gen. Petraeus is doing. I wish them well in their Herculean labors. Because if they fail, I have a sinking feeling that we are all going down with them, including the next Democratic president. And their success is a long shot.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:39 PM
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My thoughts on the ad.

1. The title is a gift to the Republicans although not a very significant one. Such gifts are inevitable, there will always be activists who care more about making noise than being effective and organizations will form to cater to them.

2. Petraeus is not the reason we are still in Iraq. That is the responsibility of Bush and his supporters in Congress. If you want to accuse someone of betrayal accuse Bush of betraying the soldiers who are loyally dying carrying out his senseless orders. This is how Webb talks and it is much more effective.

3. The timing of the ad reminds me of people denouncing movies that haven't come out yet which does not make a good impression. Having read the ad I see it refers to past events but how many people will read the ad?

4. The analogy to Clark is inapt, Clark had left the military and was running for President making him fair game in a way that Petraeus is not.

5. The claim that conservatives never criticize their bombthrowers is incorrect. Ann Coulter gets criticism from the right.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:47 PM
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157.5 please.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:52 PM
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Petraeus is not the reason we are still in Iraq.

Congress refusing to cut off funding is the reason we're still in Iraq. Petraeus is spinning falsified numbers like a turbine to ensure that state of affairs continues.

Ann Coulter gets criticism from the right.

The only criticism Coulter gets from the right is the same kind they use with Pat Robertson. They chuckle and say, "Oh, you can't take her seriously. She's just crazy." And then they fax her the next set of crazy talking points.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 12:53 PM
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82--
"I dislike most "street theater", most political ads, & any chant that begins "hey, hey, ho, ho.""

even:

"hey hey, ho, ho/ whose woods these are i think i know"?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:04 PM
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John, can I ask you something? Let's just say I tell you, "Hey, John, can you design an ad that effectively communicates to an audience that Petraeus' testimony is not to be trusted and serves the Administration's purposes"?

You say, "The eggheads always go meta, just relax and stop talking about meta, eggheads". How would you carry out my request for ad design without going "meta"? Would it be meta if you came back to me and said, "Uh, which audiences am I trying to reach, boss?" Sounds pretty meta to me! Would it be meta if you came back to me and said, "What do we want people who see the ad to feel or do when they see it?" Meta, meta, meta! And so on.

To avoid going meta, either in design or in reaction to design, you have to have an instinctive feel for what plays in Peoria. And pardon me, but I don't think a lot of left activists in the United States do (including MoveOn). Neither do left and liberal eggheads. So the only option is meta, until or unless you get political leaders and activists who instinctively know how to hit the right notes at the right time. That's kind of what's being talked about here: I don't think this MoveOn ad is a representative sample of that kind of style.

-----

As far as whether "Betray Us" references treason, come on. Yes, I can say that someone betrayed a trust without accusing them of treason. But when you're talking about a general during wartime, in reference to mass politics, and you say that he betrayed his country, you're not just expressing personal disappointment. Try this exercise: Benedict Arnold _______________ his country. What's the verb that goes most smoothly into that blank? "Committed treason against" is not the winning entry.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:06 PM
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The ad was a huge positive for Moveon and a net positive for antiwar Democrats generally. It's a classic instance of the Rovian tactic of hitting the opposition at its strength, not its weakness, since the only thing Bush had going for him was the alleged faith of the American people Obviously, without the headline no one would be mentioning the moveon ad today. Plus for Moveon.

As for antiwar Democrats generally, the result is that Republican Congressmen wasted talking points defending Petraeus yesterday, rather than making any substantive points. Result: it sounds like the strongest argument for continuing the surge is that someone bought an ad against it. Also, you can't defend against a charge (which appeared in a newspaper ad that few would have noticed) without repeating it. I'm surprised the Republicans fell for it.

The "serious" journalists are doing the same thing. Joe Klein and Jay Carnety are defending Petraeus from treason charges on the Swampland blog, a harmless activity, when they would otherwise be parroting Petraeus' bullshit arguments.

*formerly a longer name starting with "unimaginative"


Posted by: unimaginative* | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:13 PM
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The title is a gift to the Republicans

Well, it's certainly a gift to the Republican bloggers and commenters who will undoubtedly devote thousands of hours to parsing the prose and checking the kerning in that quasi-autistic way of theirs. If it's "gift" to the wider Republican causes of economic ruin, perpetual war, and cottaging, neither you or I can say.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:20 PM
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Come on yourself. It didn't even occur to me until the entire right wing went "OMG they called him a traitor!" & the ritual denunciations began. I conceded the point about the French root or whatever.

I don't know what "general during wartime" has to do with it--if we're talking about context the fact that it *rhymes with his name* is probably actually what drove the word choice, and not a sneaky allusion to treason.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:23 PM
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"Plus, I really do feel a certain amount of special betrayal is involved when a military guy allows himself to be used for political purposes, to the detriment of the servicemen and -women that he leads."

Petraeus doesn't represent us. He works for the commander-in-chief. That is the only way an army can work. And he's inherently biased to military solutions.

That MoveOn ad is the kind of stuff they always do. If the Republicans have a problem with with an ad, screw 'em. What does it say about their positions if they're complaining about a frickin' ad, anyway?


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:25 PM
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Petraeus doesn't represent us.

I meant that it is, or feels like, a betrayal of the troops.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:26 PM
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156 - The point I would have emphasized is Petraeus's 2004 op-ed about how we had finally turned the corner in Iraq, something on the order of: He was wrong then, but he still claims he was right, because Petraeus is a professional can-do guy, an eternal optimist. Good for him! Go Army, beat Navy! But he'll stay in there fighting, spending money and American lives, well past the point where it's useless, because that's his job; it's the politicians job to say when it's time to go home. That gets the job done without derailing things into 500 comments of whether MoveOn is worse than Hitler or merely worse than McCarthy.

Quibbles aside, I'm glad to see that someone isn't going to just smile and let the charm offensive win, and it's not 2003 any more -- screaming TRAITOR TRAITOR isn't going to convince the 55% of the American public that thinks it's time to go home.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:28 PM
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Come on yourself

Seriously. We wouldn't even be having this conversation if Iraq was under the command of General Ruckus.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:30 PM
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166 ah, got it. Thanks.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:32 PM
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What does it say about their positions if they're complaining about a frickin' ad, anyway?

It says they'd rather kick the can and see if they can get the media discussing why JEWISH FINANCIER GEORGE SOROS IS FINANCING A GROUP OF COMMUNISTS THAT HATES THE GREATEST SOLDIER IN AMERICA rather than how George W. Bush lost Iraq and what purpose is being served by keeping our troops dying there.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:33 PM
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164- Yeah, just wait until General Eason is on the witness stand.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:34 PM
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168 much better than mine.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:36 PM
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Tim, what I said was: Democrats and academics always go meta. Meta can be analytically powerful, and in certain cases it can be persuasive, but not if it's an ingrained kneejerk response.

I'm not saying that no one should ever ask "Are we doing this right? Is this an effective way to present the message?" But when a good message is badly presented, the main thing you have to do is keep bringing the discussion back again and again to the substance of the message. Because both the supercool media and the Republican tools wil always try to distract the audience by changing the subject, often in a meta direction.

And, in general, Democrats, liberals and academics seem to unconsciously slip up to the meta level, even when not forced. It's like tic, but a disastrous one, and to non-meta people it looks weak, insincere, cute, elitist, and so on.

I think it traces back to the Kennedy years, when the general public still had respect for urbane, articulate professor types like Galbraith and Schlesinger. But the world has changed.

Time will tell how this will play. When Democrats try to read the mind of The American People, they often jump to conclusions, and often this involves accepting O'Reilly and Limbaugh as representatives of the common man. (Which is tied to the post-Hofstader liberal rejection of any and all populism.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:39 PM
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What is the opposite of "meta", BTW? w-lfs-n? "Primary" and "substantive" aren't snappy enough.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:42 PM
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174:"Chthonic" ?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:44 PM
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As far as I can tell, there are four positions here.

Language ("Betray Us") was perfect, total win: ogged and a bunch of other commenters.

Language was a mistake, net win: apo, and a few others.

Language was a mistake, net loss: me, Carp, and a few others.

Language was a mistake, total loss: no one.

Just for my own clarification.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:46 PM
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you have to have an instinctive feel for what plays in Peoria. And pardon me, but I don't think a lot of left activists in the United States do

You know, if we don't know what Peoria is thinking, how do we know that it's not thinking the same things we are? I propose the radical and liberating strategy of saying, loudly and unapologetically, those things we think are true. Peoria will come around. Why on earth would an activist group play it safe at this point? Things are so fucked up that people are joking about manning the barricades, but we're also wondering if MoveOn was too hard on Petraeus? Madness.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:46 PM
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177: (Whistles, stomps feet, briefly considers bigamous marriage proposal.) Indeed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:49 PM
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Shut up, sigheh.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:50 PM
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179 to 177, obv.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:51 PM
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we're also wondering if MoveOn was too hard on Petraeus?

I'm not wondering if they were too hard on Petraeus; they weren't hard enough, probably. I'm wondering if their ad was stupid. It looked stupid when I saw it. I said "Oh please". Twisting your own message in order to make it rhyme is not the way to go.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:51 PM
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What is the opposite of "meta"

Nobody knows. Metameta, perhaps.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:52 PM
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"visceral"


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:54 PM
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Is the opposite of 'beyond' 'before' or 'within'? I'm thinking 'within'. So what's the Greek for 'within'?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:54 PM
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What is the opposite of "meta"

Unreflective crankiness.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:55 PM
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Liberals or left activists do not have an instinctive notion of what plays Peoria, but neither do conservatives. Messaging is the one place that conservatives respect the scientific method. They throw some shit out there, and see what works. Their hand doesn't tremble before hitting the return key, thinking "oh my God, what if I've gone to far?" They go too far, and then if it's too far, they back up. Is making fun of Petraeus' name too far? Who the fuck knows. Let's try it and see.

The argument that you can't call generals traitors makes no sense to me. You can't do to veterans what the Republicans did to John Kerry, but they went ahead and did it. Now half the country thinks that Kerry faked his war wounds.

Attack politics is not the same thing as debating the issues. Sure, lots of liberals stands are outside the national consensus, and if liberals campaign on them they will lose. Attack politics is about creating uncertainty about the other guy. It's always safer to be uncertain than it is to be certain, so uncertainty always wins.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:56 PM
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Babelfish suggests 'mesa' as the modern Greek for 'within'. Does that get used as a prefix? I can't think of a word with it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:57 PM
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Language was a mistake, net win

I think my position is more "Language might give certain people pause, but in the face of 100,000+ Iraqi corpses and 1,000,000+ refugees, who really gives a fuck about the language."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:58 PM
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We don't even have to debate the merits of attack politics here; no one is saying we should call Petraeus a pigfucker. We just have to say what we actually think. It just so happens that things are so bad that it will sound brutal.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:58 PM
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What is the opposite of "meta", BTW? w-lfs-n?

Intus.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 1:59 PM
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188 seems about the most compelling thing I've read in this thread.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:00 PM
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189: Pigfucking has a long and glorious tradition down here. Don't sully it up by associating it with lying to Congress.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:00 PM
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Except maybe 177.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:00 PM
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Or "intra". Latin instead of Greek for extra oppositeness.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:00 PM
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Shit is the opposite of meta.


Posted by: sam k | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:00 PM
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I beg to defer. We should call Petraeus a pigfucker.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:01 PM
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Wiki of the Opposite of Meta

I disagree violently with Wiki. The opposite of Meta must not be just "concrete" or "actual" but must be a step othogonally away from the actual towards...towards...a different direction. Which is why my initial instinct was toward "Primordial" or "Chthonic"

Now we are getting interesting.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:01 PM
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Language ("Betray Us") was perfect, total win: ogged and a bunch of other commenters.

I guess I would count as one of these in SCMT's taxonomy. I would point out, though, that the language feels totally wrong to me, and yet I still think it was the right way to go for MoveOn.

Something tells me that any line of attack that seems measured and appropriate to my ears would be wholly inadequate to the task; that the politically optimal stance is one that would sound uncomfortably over the top to my ears. Anything less is bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Put another way, I've yet to see any evidence that there is any downside to going slash and burn. And no evidence that playing the voice of sweet reason will have any impact in this debate.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:01 PM
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no one is saying we should call Petraeus a pigfucker

No one? Sign me up.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:02 PM
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bah better link Talk Meta


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:02 PM
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I beg to defer

I grant you leave to defer to me at every opportunity.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:02 PM
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What is the opposite of "meta"
Ortho.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:02 PM
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196: Sigh. I hate you, Emerson.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:02 PM
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I think it's worth mentioning that the right wouldn't be in such a tizzy about the ad, to the point of repeatedly denouncing it during the hearings, if it hadn't hit its mark. So score one for MoveOn.

Christ, Lieberman is such a turd.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:02 PM
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I would like to make a plea: that people resist calling Wikipedia "Wiki".


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:03 PM
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I grant you leave to de-fur Ogged at every opportunity.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:04 PM
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196: wouldn't it be more effective and accurate to call him a panderer. Shoe fits.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:04 PM
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I always call Wikipedia "pigfucker".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:04 PM
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I'm all for calling Lieberman a pigfucker, at any rate.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:07 PM
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Too late, RFTS. I routinely use wiki as a verb, too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:10 PM
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209: Comity.

There sure have been a lot of questions about Iran in these hearings.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:11 PM
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177: boo-ya.

Also, I just looked it up, and Dick Durbin won 56.67% of the vote in Peoria County in 2002 after being one of the only Senators with a contested seat to vote against the Iraq War. Durbin is one of my three favorite Senators, in part because he tends to explain what he actually thinks instead of consulting with his imaginary friends Joe & Eileen from Peoria. He recently made a speech calling for Congress to defund the war.

I don't think he's going to have much trouble getting re-elected, but if he does, well, *there's* a campaign I'd be truly motivated to work for.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:11 PM
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195: Everyone should read Kotsko and Lobofilho's seminal contribution to meta studies.

Seminal. Yuk.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:12 PM
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I think Walt's right, by the way, that the way to do political message is the same way you do stand-up comedy and advertising: throw a lot of shit out there rapidfire and see what works, ignore what doesn't, and don't let the hecklers make you go back to what doesn't work and apologize for it. Doesn't mean you shouldn't quietly review the last performance to figure out what didn't really work and why, but you do that for yourself, not for the audience.

I'm still very interested public conversations with them that want to converse, but I don't see much point to even trying to deal with or answer to the hissy-fit conservative bloggers.

The only exception to the "throw a lot of shit out there and see what sticks" theory is that you have to avoid the equivalent of a Michael Richards performance. You don't have to worry about ordinary misfires, but you do have to worry about catastrophic ones.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:13 PM
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205 is correct.

Babelfish suggests 'mesa' as the modern Greek for 'within'. Does that get used as a prefix? I can't think of a word with it.

There was a short-lived trend, spearheaded by Jar Jar Binks.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:13 PM
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It's never too late to resist!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:14 PM
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I got it? If 'meta" is "data about data" (controversial) then the opposite of "meta" must be "data that isn't about data, yet not primary data".

I am attracted to this because if "meta" is hyper-rational, then it's opposite would be sub-rational.

How about "id-iotic?"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:16 PM
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Seminal. Yuk.

The opposite of "seminar" is "ovular".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:16 PM
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86: I can certainly understand the desire to maintain some connection to the former pseud, but I think the better practice is to assume that it's burned for all public uses. Start fresh, unburdened by whatever caused your pseud collapse.

My 2 cents, anyway.


Posted by: NCProsecutor | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:17 PM
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Ovular isn't even a word.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:18 PM
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Fine, then the opposite of "seminal" is "ovulicious".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:19 PM
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you have to avoid the equivalent of a Michael Richards performance

Agreed, nobody should call General Petraeus a nigger.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:23 PM
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unburdened by whatever caused your pseud collapse.

There's googleproofing and there's anonymity against a malicious person. If the latter, what NCProsecutor said.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:24 PM
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Derivation of "idiot"

"Middle English, ignorant person, from Old French idiote, from Latin idiota, from Greek idiotes, private person, layman, from idios, own, private; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots"

Stupid = solitary?

I am like a chicken with its beak on a chalkline.

And I ban myself.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:26 PM
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Ovular isn't even a word II.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:27 PM
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The Republicans very indirectly fund a lot of disavowable bomb-throwers. The Swiftboat Vet were the culmination of years of attacks on Kerry by freelancers who hated because of his handling of the MIA question.

Incidentally, these same people hate McCain for the same reason.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:30 PM
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I'm wiki-ing pigfucker right now.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:31 PM
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What is the opposite of "meta"

e.g., for instance, consider the case of, as illustrated by.

"Metadata" originated as a term to describe some elements of a formal data specification. Computer scientists wrote about this before literary people did, with Hofstadter perhaps serving as a crossover point. An XSLT book rather than belles-lettres is the way to go here, IMO.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:32 PM
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Better than pigfuck-ing wiki.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:32 PM
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I'm done with the ad, but wanted to look at the thing at a different level. Why do Rovian attacks work? Because they are aggressive? Or is it because they play to the narrative their intended audience wants to believe?

This is a significant question. If all one has to do to tip the balance is to take the offensive, then ok, let's go. If, on the other hand, it has to do with the narratives people want to have, or are prepared to believe, then it has to be thought through a little more. With the Administration, there's a mix of incompetence and venality -- these are in no way mutually exclusive -- but there are different segments of the population who find each to be the more congenial narrative. And the other to be offensive.

On the Peoria question, while it's true that any one of us might not know what's going on in Peoria, or Las Cruces, or Shreveport, or Bangor, the fact is that there are people who are spending a vast amount of time and effort in doing so. I'm not suggesting blind deference. I am suggesting that just because I don't know something, that doesn't mean it's unknowable, and just because it's convenient for me to project my own thoughts onto others, that doesn't mean they think that way.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:33 PM
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212 is pwnership of a level that is inappropriate to the internet.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:34 PM
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I can't think of a word with it
meson, Mesopotamia, Mesolithic

I vote for 'pro-' (before) and 'cata-' (below) as opposites for 'meta-'


Posted by: Zonule of Zinn | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:39 PM
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Charley, my point is that the answer to your question is purely empirical, but liberals keep trying to deduce the answer from first principles. The Roves of the world did not invent their strategy while philsophizing in a sensory-deprivation tank. They draw on a wide body of empirical knowledge from years of attacking Democrats and liberals.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:40 PM
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"On the Peoria question, while it's true that any one of us might not know what's going on in Peoria, or Las Cruces, or Shreveport, or Bangor, the fact is that there are people who are spending a vast amount of time and effort in doing so...I'm not suggesting blind deference"

You may not be suggesting it. As far as I can tell, you're giving it. I have yet to find the bad Democratic vote which you won't defend on grounds of electoral necessity.

Even if they know what they're doing, which I don't concede, their goal is different from mine. Their goal is maintaining their own & their clients' power, & making money. Whereas I have policy goals.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:42 PM
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meson, Mesopotamia, Mesolithic

That's "meso", not "mesa". "meso" meaning "middle".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:43 PM
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Charley, that sounds a lot like the Democratic strategy of figuring out what people think so that we can say we believe it too. Hasn't that failed pretty spectacularly? Haven't people seen through it? I really do think Peoria will come around if we advocate for our beliefs.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:43 PM
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"mesa" is not ancient greek, only contemporary greek.

(it turned into an adverb from being accusative neuter plural of the adj. meaning "middle". so 'towards the middle stuff' > 'inwards'.)

but really 'meta' in this sense has 'object-level' as its proper opposite.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:45 PM
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Narratives people want

Definitely. But I don't even know myself, and only in moments of hubris can I imagine knowing my fellows. As Kathleen points out in 212, a capable politician can show people what they want but didn't know they wanted by being honest and reasonable. PT Barnum and Aaron Spelling made out OK by aiming low, so saying this unfortunately says nothing about what is possible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:47 PM
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their goal is different from mine. Their goal is maintaining their own & their clients' power, & making money. Whereas I have policy goals.

Apparently those which require no electoral power. Good luck with that.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:47 PM
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Charley, that sounds a lot like the Democratic strategy of figuring out what people think so that we can say we believe it too. Hasn't that failed pretty spectacularly?

I dont think that is what he is saying.

You cannot just be aggressive. You have to be aggressive about a message that is compelling.

The Dems have failed miserably about sticking to a compelling message. I think the messages are out there to grab (Rule of Law, Moral standing in the world, fair treatment of people, WAsteful spending on the war, etc), but we havent grab them and sold them.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:49 PM
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In terms of what Charley raises, the thing I'm consistently scornful about is the idea that all one has to do is be aggressive, that this is the only attribute of right-wing propaganda that makes it work.

As far as advocating for one's own beliefs with conviction and figuring that will be sufficient, Ogged's right as long as we're talking the right kind of liberal-left beliefs, or any political beliefs for that matter. There are convictions that you could advocate with the utmost sincerity that wouldn't resonate with anyone but a small set of people no matter how passionate or sincere you might be about them. It's not that you should surrender those beliefs if you happen to hold them, but you should have a sense of proportion about how peculiar or isolated you are and a sense of realism about how likely you are to remain that way. I think that's where both right and left activists get into trouble at certain political conjunctures: when a fringe constituency starts to hallucinatorily believe that its vision is already widely distributed through the general population and is going to become more so.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:50 PM
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It might be meaningless, but yesterday afternoon I saw headlines about Republicans complaining about the ad. This afternoon, with the Senate's more topical questioning, the headlines are about Republicans 'sharply' criticizing present Iraq policy.

Which of these two stories do you think is better for Republicans, particularly among people who are only casual news consumers?


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:50 PM
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139 :
What's wrong with puns?

Some may call them the lowest form of humor; but what matter that?
I know my audience.


Posted by: William Shakespeare | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:51 PM
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I vote for "visceral" as the rhetorical opposite, occasionally supplemented with "basic", "primary" or "substantive". I can't bend the Latin and Greek into usable English.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:52 PM
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More specifically, the questions I'm wondering about are not: "what can I say to win Peoria by the largest margin in the next election?" It's more like: "Can they be convinced of my position? How can I best convince them of it, or failing that, to convince them to still respect & trust me despite their disagreement with my views on this issue?"
MoveOn has a mixed record on correctly answering the second sort of question, but most democratic consultants aren't even asking it.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:52 PM
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244, you are overlooking "ovulicious".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:54 PM
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239: See 100. God, do you have a short memory.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:54 PM
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I think that's where both right and left activists get into trouble at certain political conjunctures: when a fringe constituency starts to hallucinatorily believe that its vision is already widely distributed through the general population and is going to become more so.

The thing is, a belief that General Petraeus is (regardless of his personal honor or culpability, incompetence or otherwise) saying the thing which is not isn't a fringe belief. The idea that things in Iraq are totally hosed? Not a fringe belief. The idea that someone speaking for the administration is going to be full of shit about how things in Iraq are going? Not a fringe belief.

Of course we can't unlease our fiendish plans for live sex shows in gradeschool classrooms until we have a firm grip on power, but this sort of thing we can say aggressively.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:54 PM
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What Will says is the kind of thing I look for. I think there are big messages that are consistent with a wide range of more specific left-liberal ideologies and movements but are not reducible to them. That's what I'd look to push with conviction because I think those messages are both good messages in and of themselves AND because I think they resonate with a significant majority of the general population.

Rule of Law
The Importance of Process and Consultation
Don't Tread on Me/Civil Liberties
Pluralism and Diversity as Everyday Values
Even-handedness/Fairness towards all
Competence and High Standards
Checks and Balances in Government/Beware the State
Don't Waste the People's Money

and so on.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:56 PM
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"Can they be convinced of my position? How can I best convince them of it, or failing that, to convince them to still respect & trust me despite their disagreement with my views on this issue?"

Precisely.


Posted by: terpbball | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:56 PM
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I don't think that underage performers should be used in those shows, LB. I draw the line there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:57 PM
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Pretty sure that metalanguage and its derivatives come into literary studies directly from Tarski and, to a lesser extent, Carnap. It did certainly gain a much greater currency in the late 1970s than before then (see, for example, Colin MacCabe's James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word, but the source was not Hofstadter.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:58 PM
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Alas, for my missing end-parens.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:58 PM
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247: Right, and I'm suggesting that electoral power is a precondition to any goal you seek. If you want A,B, and C, and can only choose between A and nothing, choose A. I'm suggesting that's the case.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 2:59 PM
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252--
agreed. don't know the entire history, but your guess and mine are in the same neighborhood. that's why i plumped for 'object-level'.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:01 PM
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254: But you've got it wrong. The situation is that we want B, C, D, and E (various good policies) and need A (electoral power) to get them. We don't want A at all in the absence of B, C, D, and E.

A strategy of giving up most of B, and all of C, D, and E, in the hopes of increasing our chances at A, is completely useless. Better a longer shot at A, without renouncing our ultimate goals.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:03 PM
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248, 251: And those performers should be paid a living wage. With health benefits. And spousal benefits for their gay partners.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:05 PM
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Are the live sex shows, A, B, or C?

Those darn New Yorkers always pushing for live sex shows.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:06 PM
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In Elgin, North Dakota, you can get a live sex show for $8.95.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:10 PM
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I think that the sex shows should be done in a playful, fun way, possibly by furries, so that that kids don't end up seeing sex as a burdensome duty like algebra.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:12 PM
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The fact that it took over 200 comments before this thread become solely about live sex shows for grade schoolers is shocking! Shocking!


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:14 PM
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I've taken my kids to what might as well be the local live sex show.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:18 PM
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204

"I think it's worth mentioning that the right wouldn't be in such a tizzy about the ad, to the point of repeatedly denouncing it during the hearings, if it hadn't hit its mark. So score one for MoveOn."

The right is making a big deal of the ad because it feels (correctly or not) that it is to their advantage to publicize it. If the right felt the ad hurt them they would just ignore it.

John Edwards did not play up Ann Coulter calling him a faggot because it hit the mark.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:18 PM
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A completely different take on the Petraeus story: Which side has done the man a greater injustice? Bush has apparently taken advantage of the general's sense of duty to make him complicit in a series of P.R. tricks that he almost certainly knows to be highly misleading, if not outright dishonest. Although Petraeus may well believe in his heart of hearts that a continuation of current policies is the worst of a series of bad choices, he is too smart to be under any illusions about the progress of the mission or the slimness of its chances of success.

In essence, the administration has prevailed upon the man to stake his considerable reputation on the long-shot bet of GWB being vindicated by history. Bush is in the process of depriving Petraeus of the most valuable thing he has.

MoveOn made a couple of inflammatory, but hardly inaccurate statements about him in print. Which is more worse?

What MoveOn is attempting is the domestic political equivalent of "raising the costs of defection" in international relations. Petraeus knows there is a downside to bucking Bush. He needs to sense that there is a downside to knuckling under, too.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:20 PM
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The right is making a big deal of the ad because it feels (correctly or not) that it is to their advantage to publicize it. If the right felt the ad hurt them they would just ignore it.

This doesn't follow. Even if we make the assumption that the right is superhuman and never errs, all that you can deduce from that is that they think that making a fuss about it is better than ignoring it. The possibility that ignoring it would have been terribly damaging, and making a fuss only slightly less so, is still out there. Isn't that how the Swift Boat thing worked?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:21 PM
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In essence, the administration has prevailed upon the man to stake his considerable reputation on the long-shot bet of GWB being vindicated by history. Bush is in the process of depriving Petraeus of the most valuable thing he has.

Exactly. Again, I saw this movie when his name was Powell. I wonder if he has a drinking problem yet. I would if I were him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:22 PM
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The right is making a big deal of the ad because it feels (correctly or not) that it is to their advantage to publicize it

The right is publicizing it because they're desperate to distract attention away from the fact that the president they repeatedly lauded as the reincarnation of Abraham Churchhill has completely shit the bed and is trotting out a general to flog data that a sixth-grader can see are false. They are publicizing it because they can't keep touting the stunning progress in Iraq with a straight face, so must fall back to proclaiming the eternal perfidy of the left.

In other words, they're publicizing it because it's the only option left to them aside from admitting they got taken for a ride, which they will never admit.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:27 PM
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I've taken my kids to what might as well be the local live sex show.

The important thing with this kind of sex show is that they be pedagogically age appropriate.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:28 PM
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266--
well, sure. after he was stationed with the airforce in drambui.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:28 PM
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SCMT: No, read all of 100.

The way this tradeoff actually presents in practice is not: "choose door A, to do the right thing & doom any hope of winning the election; choose door B, to do the wrong thing & guarantee you'll win the election." Rather, it's: "choose door A, to do the right thing & maybe somewhat decrease your electoral chances; choose door B, to do the wrong thing & maybe somewhat increase your electoral chances."

If your overriding goal is staying in office, you'll tend to pick door B. If your goal is policy results, you'll tend to pick door A.

First, it's possible that your consultants are guessing wrong about the electoral ramifications. Voting for the Iraq war was thought to be a smart political move in 2002. In 2004, it looked worse; in 2007, it looks even worse. This isn't a random stroke of bad luck, either: it's predictable that a badly conceived, dishonestly sold war is going to decline in popularity over time. Gephardt, Kerry, Edwards, Clinton--I think all of their presidential campaigns would've been better off if they opposed the war from the start.

And it's not an isolated case. Political courage can lose your Senate seat, but it can also work out pretty well for you--compare Feingold's margin of victory in 2004 to Kerry's.

Second, it's possible that even if your consultants are right that there is some political benefit for doing the wrong thing, that doesn't mean that this particular vote is going to be decisive in the election. It could be--it's much more likely--that this vote will be ancient history by the time your seat is up again; or you win by 90,000 votes instead of 95,000; or you lose by 85,000 votes instead of 90,000.

Maybe Dick Durbin will get fewer votes in 2008 than he would if he acted more like Hillary or Schumer, maybe he'll even lose Peoria, but you know what? I bet he'll still win the state. And I can't even tell you how much more liberal Rahm Emanuel could be without jeopardizing his re-election.

Third, it's possible that this vote is actually more important than your re-election.

Say that every Democratic vote for the Military Commissions Act, the Democratic decision not to filibuster, the Democratic votes against the habeas amendment--say all those were necessary for the 2006 midterm victory. I don't believe this for a second, but let's just assume for the sake of argument.

Well, they're in power now. Are they going to undo the damage? I think it's pretty clear that they will not. Are they going to do enough good to make up for all the things they could have stopped, but failed to, while they were in the minority?

This really shouldn't be so hard to understand.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:29 PM
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267: They didn't get taken for a ride. The rest of the country did. They (the ones making noise now) are part of the ride.


Posted by: threadjack | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:30 PM
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To my knowledge, unsuccessful Democratic consultants are never fired.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:34 PM
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271: (BTW, would I be right in surmising that your prior ID could be brought to mind by thinking broth-scone?) (I'll delete if this seems insecure to you, but if you want regulars to know who you are, and I've guessed right, this should tip people off.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:34 PM
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This really shouldn't be so hard to understand.

I understand your claim. I disagree with it. I think you've misdescribed the situation. (1) It's possible the consultants are right. Who knows? I'm going with my gut as to what will matter and how much, as you are with yours. Unsurprisingly, I trust mine and you trust yours. (2) I'm less concerned with any or every Democrat than with the marginal Dem or marginal Dem-voting state in the national. Is it likely that I (or anyone else) will be able to pick out a mistake that costs the Dems? No, no more than a coach can say "That play lost the game." You just point out all mistakes. (3) Depends on your goals. Mine are to put and keep in power people who are sane by my lights. I assume I'll get better outcomes across all policy goals in such a situation than one in which all the good people vote their conscience on one bill, get the win and make it stick, and then all lose their seats to bad people in the next election. (Obv. description dependent.)

Are they going to undo the damage? I think it's pretty clear that they will not.

I think they will eventually. But the big disagreement is that you seem not to be able to believe that there are other directions than "better," and that each new low is the floor. I disagree.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:43 PM
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And that, right there, is why we're fucking screwed.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:46 PM
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I think that not believing the losing consultants is the place to start, and doing something different if the first thing doesn't work, and taking a certain number of gambles. All the party-insider wisdom I've ever heard was play-it-safe stuff.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:50 PM
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234 -- My senators didn't have to vote for the recent Iran thing. Neither did yours. Wyden's vote on the first version of the DTA -- or was it the Bingaman amendment -- was unforgiveable. There's a long list.

256 -- A exists, and if you don't have it, someone else will. I can't believe you make this mistake -- as Katherine makes in 234 -- again. Even if HRC isn't going to do a single damn thing you want, she's still better by orders of magnitude that Gul. or Romney, because they will go affirmatively in the wrong direction. It's not just about whether you're going to get B, C, and D. It's also about preventing not-B, not-C, and not-D.

I understand that a great many people think this too careful, and that one ought to be bolder. Fine, I say: show me that way you're going to get A, B, C, and D; and face the real risk of not getting A. In this -- to be yet more tiresome even than I've been over the last 3 days or so (if such a thing can even be imagined) -- my attitude towards the Bolder, Faster Caucus is similar to my response to Iraq War Advocates from 2003: it's not like I'm claiming that I'm due an apology for the catastrophic effects of your decision way back when, but if you think I'm going to take you seriously at all, you're going to have to acknowledge past error, and take some responsibility for the consequences. "It's not my fault, it's yours for not convincing me that I was wrong (although, OK, a blind man could see it)" isn't good enough.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:51 PM
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The ad is not a Rove-style attack. Rove has a set of proven constituency hot buttons about liberals that he knows how to hit. He hits them by making personal insinuations. This is just a silly pun, which actually says nothing and Petraeus. The better conservative analogy would be referring to "Dhimmi-Craps" or some such nonsense.

Anyway, it doesn't matter too much because it's about as juvenile to make a fuss over stupid puns as it is to make stupid puns, so I don't think there will be much traction in attacks here. It's actually astounding it's gotten as much press traction as it has...more proof of our decidedly non-liberal media. The Republicans have clearly switched today to trying to sell the withdrawal of troops as a voluntary deescalation (even though it's not a choice, it's made necessary by military overstretch). Not to mention demonizing Iran.

Also, Petraeus's situation is very different from that of Colin Powell. Powell was given false info to justify making an indefensible strategic blunder. Petraeus has been given the strategic committment to occupy Iraq as a given, and he needs to try to make it work tactically as best he can. Granted, there is a good chance that will be impossible in the end, but he can legitimately argue we're doing a marginally better job doing it than we were last year. We can hardly be doing worse.

The Juan Cole piece linked above is really compelling and sobering, and takes things beyond the current just raw anger in the left blogsphere:

http://www.juancole.com/2007/09/can-gen-petraeus-and-ryan-crocker-save.html


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:53 PM
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274: The thing is, Tim, if we ever have any hope for making things better, we have it now. They're standing up there trying to defend a nightmare of a war. The president's down to a 27% approval rating. We're not going to get a better chance.

If this isn't the time to make an aggressive move toward our policy goals, there's never going to be a time, and things will simply get worse and worse until the inevitable heat death of the universe. This may be the case, but as Kris Kristofferson so wisely said "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose." If we're screwed, might as well go down swinging.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:53 PM
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"nothing and Petraeus" s/b "nothing about Petraeus"


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:54 PM
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but if you think I'm going to take you seriously at all, you're going to have to acknowledge past error, and take some responsibility for the consequences.

You think Democrats have lost electoral power in the past by being too bold? Man, I'm puzzled by that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:54 PM
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"(1) It's possible the consultants are right. Who knows? I'm going with my gut as to what will matter and how much, as you are with yours. Unsurprisingly, I trust mine and you trust yours."

They could be right. The point is that the electoral effect is SEVERAL YEARS AWAY & HARD TO PREDICT; the policy effect is KNOWN.

. (2) I'm less concerned with any or every Democrat than with the marginal Dem or marginal Dem-voting state in the national. Is it likely that I (or anyone else) will be able to pick out a mistake that costs the Dems? No, no more than a coach can say "That play lost the game." You just point out all mistakes"

So, because you never know which principled vote will lose you the game, you never make a principled vote?

If we're making sports analogies, that's usually known as a forfeit.

"I think they will eventually."

I meant while this Congress--the one whose accomplishments all our previous policy goals had to be sacrificed to bring to power--is in session.

But the big disagreement is that you seem not to be able to believe that there are other directions than "better," and that each new low is the floor. I disagree."

I have no idea what the fuck you're even talking about with this one.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:55 PM
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Maybe the easy resolution to this particular debate is that the more successful short and medium term strategies aren't necessarily the best long term strategies. But that's what groups like MoveOn are for: let the politicians be cautious, but at least let the activists push the debate. If they make you uncomfortable, think of a way to dodge that isn't a disavowal.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:56 PM
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I have no idea what the fuck you're even talking about with this one.

Tim and Charley are saying the same thing -- if we fuck up and try and do anything principled, we'll lose all power and then really really really bad stuff will happen. I'm not sure what else we're supposed to be afraid of -- an expansion of the class of people it's legally permissible to torture? Invading France?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:57 PM
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LB, I think Charley was saying that I owe an apology or a public self-criticism for personally throwing the 2000 election to Bush by voting for Nader & causing Gore to lose Massachusetts. I can't quite figure it out though.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:58 PM
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John Edwards did not play up Ann Coulter calling him a faggot because it hit the mark.

John and Elizabeth Edwards responded to Ann Coulter because Ann Coulter directly attacked John Edwards. See if you can tell the difference!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 3:59 PM
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(BTW, would I be right in surmising that your prior ID could be brought to mind by thinking broth-scone?)

Sure didn't tip me off.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:00 PM
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Run through some synonyms for each, and then do a 'sounds like'. A synonym for 'broth' and then one for 'scone' should give you the commenters 'old name'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:03 PM
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284 -- On this point Tim and I are saying the same thing, as I understand him, and it's quite telling that you two refuse to hear it. There is significant downside risk to overreaching where the system can go.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:04 PM
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The ad is not a Rove-style attack. Rove has a set of proven constituency hot buttons about liberals that he knows how to hit. He hits them by making personal insinuations. This is just a silly pun, which actually says nothing and Petraeus.

Is it on par with the best of Rove's attacks? Surely not. But then neither are most of Rove's. I refer you to 233 above: "They draw on a wide body of empirical knowledge from years of attacking Democrats and liberals."

Let a 1,000 ragweed blossoms bloom, and resist the temptation to get queasy because something is unfair, intellectually dishonest, or (god forbid) carries some risk of backfiring.

Timothy Burke is correct when he says above that there is more to Rovism than sheer aggression. The other key ingredient is that you never back down in the face of a counterattack.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:05 PM
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Why not non-meta?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:09 PM
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285 -- I don't know if you were an out-and-proud member of the Bolder Faster Caucus in 2000. If you were, then, you might consider the extent to which the impact went beyond just your vote/state. Even if the impact didn't go beyond your own vote, that just puts you, in the taxonomy I've proposed, in the place of someone who was quiet in 2003 and is now pushing to invade Iran.

'What can go wrong?'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:09 PM
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289: Also telling is your interpretation of disagreement as 'refusal to hear'. (Okay, I don't know what I mean by 'telling', exactly, except that I'm cross. But I hear you, I just don't agree.)

See my 279: If we can't take some risks, and stick by our principles (not the nutty fringy ones Tim Burke's worried about. The popular ones, like ending the war, and universal health care.) now, what are we waiting for? What will be the signs to look for that it's safe to be aggressive? Ever? Never?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:10 PM
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If this isn't the time to make an aggressive move toward our policy goals,

The scope of discussion widens and narrows in this thread so much as to make it unclear what's being discussed. I'm very much for aggressive tactics. My dream campaign is pure aggression. I'm against certain specific manifestations of it.

The point is that the electoral effect is SEVERAL YEARS AWAY & HARD TO PREDICT; the policy effect is KNOWN.

So always vote your conscience? Sweet, Mr. Smith is going to Washington.

So, because you never know which principled vote will lose you the game, you never make a principled vote?

I don't really care whether the vote is principled or not. Garbage scores count the same as good ones, after all. I want good outcomes. That may mean good votes today or more good votes (or not bad votes) tomorrow. As a general rule, I would almost always choose keeping control out of the hands of bad people over any specific issue. This may less true in the future, if the Republican Party somehow miraculously regrows its sanity.

I have no idea what the fuck you're even talking about with this one.

I'll borrow from Charley: Gul. or Romney, because they will go affirmatively in the wrong direction. It's not just about whether you're going to get B, C, and D. It's also about preventing not-B, not-C, and not-D.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:10 PM
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don't know if you were an out-and-proud member of the Bolder Faster Caucus in 2000.

You think Gore lost because he was too bold? Really?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:11 PM
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Some Republican just this minute (sorry didn't catch who) prefaced his questions to Petraeous by calling on everyone, across party lines, condemning the Move On ad (which was, of course, the most egregious slandering of a public servant and patriot he'd every seen).

He sounds like a parody of the right wing reaction to the ad we've been talking about here.

If anyone caught who it is please post it.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:11 PM
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295 -- I'm not and have never been referring to the Gore campaign. Has this really been unclear?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:12 PM
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s/b "calling on everyone, across party lines, TO condemn the ad"

And now he's complaining that people often talk "in the abstract" about things. I think he's eavesdropping on the thread.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:12 PM
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I'm very much for aggressive tactics...I'm against certain specific manifestations of it.

Totally non-rhetorically and out of genuine curiousity: which manifestations are of aggressive tactics are you against, and how does the MoveOn ad fit into that framework?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:14 PM
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Also, for clarification:

--I regret voting for Nader in 2000. I think the idea that it makes me responsible for Bush is ludicrous: my lame attempt at vote swapping had slightly more chance of helping Gore get elected than voting for him in Mass would have done. Nevertheless, I regretted it from the next day, & regret it more now.

--I do think things could get worse: expanding the class of people it's legally permissible to torture *could* happen, & *would* be worse! As would expanding the class of people you could detain without charge. As would the median Justice on the Supreme Court being John Roberts instead of Anthony Kennedy. As would invading Iran. As would invading Syria. As would more serious crackdowns on free speech.

--I am not considering staying home or voting third party. I bitch about them all, but Obama is preferable to Hilary is preferable to McCain is preferable to Romney & Giuliani is preferable to Tancredo & Hunter. And the biggest drop off on that list is between Hilary and McCain.

But:

--I think that although things are not the worst that they could possibly be, they are a whole fucking hell of a lot worse than they'd have been if the Democrats hadn't spent my whole life, & especially the past 6 years, being afraid of their shadows.

--I think that in general, trading a worse substantive result right now for a hypothetical & possibly nonexistent political benefit during the next election is a bad strategy.

--I think that if you are still afraid to forcefully oppose Bush NOW, you are basically forfeiting the hope of things ever getting significantly better (not better than they would be under a President Giuliani, but a basic reversal of trajectory to a country that we're more proud to live in over time), in return for a hope that they'll get worse more slowly.

That's what drives me to distraction. Fucking disaster after disaster, and still people are making the same DLC arguments--Nader apparently absolving everyone else left of center for everything before & sense.

If you're not willing to risk anything now, when will you be? Never.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:16 PM
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297: But we, here in our powerless little offices, are if anything exhorting those with more voice and more power than we to be bold. Whether I am or am not a member of the Bolder Faster Whatever coalition doesn't change anything. I, individually, and Katherine, individually, don't matter at all. (Leaving to one side her rendition work.) The argument is about whether the Gore campaign, the Kerry campaign, the Democrats in Congress for the last eight years, should be bolder and more aggressive. And I'm pretty sure we'd all be better off if they had been.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:17 PM
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285: You voted for Nader? Priceless. I'm going to stick with my gut appraisal of the various American voting groups for the moment.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:18 PM
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158 159

Some criticism of Ann Coulter from the right. Note comment 12 complaining that only conservatives criticize their own.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:21 PM
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Totally non-rhetorically and out of genuine curiousity: which manifestations are of aggressive tactics are you against, and how does the MoveOn ad fit into that framework?

Run against the Southern conservatives. Demonize the fuck out of them.

302 was cross posted with 300.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:21 PM
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299 -- Not to answer for Tim, but I'd like to see aggressive tactics that play to the narratives most likely to sell to the voters we didn't get, but need to get. It's a small set of people, really. More about incompetence, less about venality. More about the negative impact of the policies on middle income people. On detainees, 'tough but fair' is a good narrative, with a sprinkling of Reagan/Winthrop's city on a hill. Contrast to Dick Cheney hiding in darkness advocating torture, and Abu G.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:22 PM
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This is obviously not dispositive for any particular dispute over tactics, but y'all should google democrats + "overplayed their hand" and compare the number of hits returned to the actual number of times you believe the democrats have objectively overplayed their hand in the past seven years.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:22 PM
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I think my position is more "Language might give certain people pause, but in the face of 100,000+ Iraqi corpses and 1,000,000+ refugees, who really gives a fuck about the language."

Amen, apo, and I might add, "fuck anyone whose undies get twisted up over the language." If the Republicans are crying foul over a mean nasty word in an advertisement, it's because they desperately want to distract the public from the giant dookie they've taken in Iraq.

I've never met anyone named Broth-Scone.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:22 PM
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300 is basically what I was trying to say in 153, but did badly because I fell into rant mode.

LB -- yes, but I'll not keep `threadjack' which was actually meant to be a descriptive one-off until I got sucked into this. I'll ref your comment (or not) though, once I've had a think about if that's the way to go. It's obviously oblique enough!


Posted by: threadjack | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:23 PM
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304: That's what you want to do, not what you're afraid is too much. I'm also kind of curious about the latter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:25 PM
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296: It was Jon Cornyn from Texas.

Hillary Clinton was quite good I thought.

I know this has been hashed over endlessly in this thread, but the Democrats simply don't have the power to stop the war without actually refusing to pass spending bills and effectively shutting down the government. We saw how well that worked when Gingrich tried it.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:26 PM
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308: I was actually trying to work it up into a proper cryptic crossword clue, but gave up after a bit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:26 PM
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Charley and Tim, there's several problems with what you're saying.

First, it's a two-sided gamble. Risk A is failing to win. Risk B is conceding too much. You're weighting Risk A so much higher than Risk B as to make the choice obvious. In this case, I think that the Hillary risk (authoritarianism, corporate government, and continued militarism) is much greater than you're admitting.

Furthermore, you're also making assumptions about the odds. You're pretty close to the bedwetting Dem consultants' claim that any movement way from the notional center will doom the party to defeat.

Third, you're demanding that we come up with some kind of proof that we're right, when proof of that kind is never possible. The people running the Democratic party are much better at proving their case than they are at winning elections, and something has to change.

Last, it may be that you really don't care much about some of the things that the rest of us do (or even feel the opposite). I have no evidence that this is so here and now, but often enough in these cases that's where the argument comes from.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:26 PM
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291: B-o-o-o-o-ring.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:27 PM
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203: Exactly. Democrats are so centralist that they don't even want disavowable peripheral groups. Ideally Mr. Democrat in the middle would hand down istructions to everyone. Lat's have no enterprise at all!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:30 PM
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279

"If this isn't the time to make an aggressive move toward our policy goals, there's never going to be a time, ..."

The time is after you win the Presidency and big majorities in Congress in 2008.

Btw what exactly are your policy goals?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:30 PM
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I want to second Katherine's point in 270. If you can't win an election by stating what you believe, and convincing the voters that what you believe is the right thing to do, then you should lose the election. Trying to divine what the people want is a formula for disaster, for people are fickle.

The problem with attacking Gen. Petreus is that most people don't have a fucking clue what he's talking about. You have a sense of what you know from what you have been told by others, the media, etc. But how would you even know what you don't know? The fact of the matter is the surge will end because we are out of troops, and the ones in theater are due to rotate home anyway.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:31 PM
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304 -- That's where Tim and I part company. I see his point. I think, though, that I'd rather demonize the people who've hijacked southern conservatism -- in hopes of peeling off just enough of them, and their northern sympathizers.

We have to win Iowa. Would Kerry have won Iowa if he'd been more strongly anti-war? if you've got empircal evidence for this, I'd be interested to see it. We also have to win New Mexico. My snapshot there is pretty narrow, but I did talk to voters all day, and I don't think we lost a single vote to lack of boldness. Turnout was usual, so our people weren't staying home in disgust -- they were voting for the wrong guy, and it was all about terrorism . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:31 PM
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Charley, if you wave the bloody shirt one more time this place will get bloodier than it's been for awhile.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:31 PM
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I applaud "broth-scone".


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:31 PM
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318 -- Looks like you've gone meta first. Does that mean I win?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:34 PM
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315: You could look back in the "Opinions" thread, where will kept on asking the same question and not seeing the answers. But to repeat myself:
I want to pull out of Iraq. I want to not attack Iran. I want warrantless surveillance to stop. I want the DOJ to stop making prosecutorial decisions on political grounds. I want every prisoner in US custody either to be released or to get their day in court. I want universal health care. I want serious action on global warming.

Do I have a policy paper on each of these things? No. Are they an exhaustive list of everything I want? Also no. But they'll do for a start.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:35 PM
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n: That's what you want to do, not what you're afraid is too much. I'm also kind of curious about the latter.

It's not a "too much" issue. There are just better and worse angles of attack. Going after or appearing to go after the military at a time of war, when soldiers are bearing real costs for that war, however misguided the policy, is a worse angle of attack. To my mind. (If I were a Dem, I'd consistently make clear that the Iraq War, including all of the lives lost, is a foreign policy mistake rather than a military one.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:36 PM
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Would Kerry have won Iowa if he'd been more strongly anti-war? if you've got empircal evidence for this, I'd be interested to see it.

Ohio? Seriously, you don't think the combination of the intitial vote authorizing the war, and then soft opposition to it hurt him? If he'd been able to say "This is a fucked up, useless war and I was against it" I can't tell what would have happened, but I don't think he would have lost a vote and I'd bet he'd have gained some.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:37 PM
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Going after or appearing to go after the military at a time of war, when soldiers are bearing real costs for that war, however misguided the policy, is a worse angle of attack. To my mind.

But they count on that. That's why the Administration is hiding behind Petraeus now, because he's in the sacred military, so if he says it it's true and honorable and only evil hippies would be rude about it. If we can't attack nonsense when it comes from a military spokesman, we lose everything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:39 PM
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Run against the Southern conservatives. Demonize the fuck out of them.

Really, you can't pin that shit on me. I've worked the polls for Robert Fucking Byrd, for cryin' out loud. Indeed, I surmise that I am somewhat to the right of the median unfogged commenter.

Ogged sparked the original controversy with his assertion that MoveOn's attack on Petraeus is both justified on the merits and tactically sound. One can subscribe to SCMT and CharleyCarp's framework and without disagreeing with Ogged.

Comity!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:39 PM
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That's why the Administration is hiding behind Petraeus now,

Trying to hide behind him. It isn't going to work. They know that, too. Again, in my estimation.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:41 PM
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This blog sucks.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:43 PM
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Charley, I was referencing 292. The Democrats have been trying to squeeze me out of the party since 1988. But when I finally left the party briefly in 2000, suddenly Bush was my fault.

In 1980 the Democrats controlled the Presidency and Congress, and the Supreme Court was not too bad. The New Democrats took over the party in 1988, promising to make things better, and since then we've lost Congress and the courts and have had two so-so terms of Bill Clinton. They didn't turn things around with their cautious centrism, but you're proposing that we continue the same old.

The last thing we should be doing here is reviving the Nader 2000 controversy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:44 PM
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the people who've hijacked southern conservatism

Nobody hijacked Southern conservatism. They are exactly who they have always been.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:45 PM
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Risk A is failing to win. Risk B is conceding too much. You're weighting Risk A so much higher than Risk B as to make the choice obvious. In this case, I think that the Hillary risk (authoritarianism, corporate government, and continued militarism) is much greater than you're admitting.

This is a fair critique. I think that B is meaningless without A: I don't care what concessions Gore might have made on gun control to win WV. If I had a time machine, I'd tell to make all he could think of (among a bunch of other things).

On HRC, I think you understate the extent to which Republicans and their friends in the media will revert on authoritarianism once she's in office. The smallest encroachment will be met with howls that the wicked witch is trying to enslave the munchkins. Changing 'corporate government' I'm not seeing on the menu, particularly, and I'm not sure what can really be done about that. We'll be in a better place than with Delay & his K Street Project, but only marginally. Unless of course the press gets wound up enough to take her on, a possibility I wouldn't discount, if there's some particular episode that puts blood in the water. On continued militarism, I think we'll see a definite change, but agreed it won't be all the way. Again, though, we'll have calls of 'wag the dog' from the Republicans anytime something is contemplated.

That is, I see her as too weak to be truly dangerous in any of these areas.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:46 PM
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That is, I see her as too weak to be truly dangerous in any of these areas.

That still leaves us ratcheting slowly downhill. If the best we can do when we elect someone is make things worse only slowly, when does anything ever get better?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:48 PM
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331 -- I think you've misunderstood me. I think there's very little downside risk on the areas JE identified, and that's what I was addressing. On a number of issues, though, there is significant upside risk.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:51 PM
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In 1980 the Democrats controlled the Presidency and Congress, and the Supreme Court was not too bad. The New Democrats took over the party in 1988, promising to make things better, and since then we've lost Congress and the courts and have had two so-so terms of Bill Clinton.

Gee, John, aren't you omitting a *few* salient facts from that chronology? There was this actor guy, the one with the chimp, you know the one I mean?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:54 PM
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At best, Hillary will leave a lot of those things as she found them. I was actually hoping for a fundamental foreign policy remake, and she's absolutely not capable of that. I don't even trust her about the near-term coices specifically about Itaq.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:56 PM
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"choices specifically about Iraq".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:56 PM
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KR, there was no turnaround after 1988. We elected one weak President, continued to lose Congress, and lost the courts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:57 PM
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321

Ok and what is your campaign platform for 2008?

By the way do you mean "political grounds" or "partisan grounds"?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 4:58 PM
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337: Dude, what are you going for? I can spend the evening answering more and more detailed questions about how I'd run a campaign if I were were running, but, you know, I'm not. Are you just curious, or are the questions in the service of some point?

(Socrates: as we all know, poisoned for a reason.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:01 PM
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I think people are conflating two different issues. There's overplaying your hand on policy, and overplaying your hand on rhetoric. If the Democrats started advocating mandatory gay marriage, they would get killed at the polls. If they start calling George Bush a goddamn traitor, I bet it wouldn't hurt them much at all. I suppose it's possible to overplay your hand at rhetoric, but damned if I can think of an example.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:02 PM
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302: wow, patronizing! It was the first presidential election where I was old enough to vote. If it's a reason to ignore everything I say from then on, then by all means do so; we can both save each other a lot of time.

Charley: I guess I often don't know whether you are ACTUALLY seriously defending a lot of these votes & positions & arguing their political necessity, or simply putting a good face on them & pretending you think they were actually necessary to argue against the Nader response. I'm not even a little bit tempted to vote for a third party\, and I could tell a Democratic campaign how to be pretty damn persuasive on things like detainee issues & executive power & opposing a war with Iran. (It's not even that hard. McCain has the rhetorical part down pat. Addington's theories are *nuts*, and easy to argue against. And when you add in the factual evidence--well, there's a reason they want so badly to keep the facts secret.) So if that's what you're arguing against, it's not going to be persuasive to me.

What I am tempted to do, is to give time & money to issue-oriented groups & direct attempts to influence public opinion rather than Democratic candidates. But that's actually completely consistent with your view that we need to change public opinion before we have any expectations of the Democrats.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:04 PM
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If they start calling George Bush a goddamn traitor

To be clear, I'm fine with the above.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:04 PM
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wow, patronizing!

As opposed to: God, do you have a short memory (247) and This really shouldn't be so hard to understand (270) and The point is that the electoral effect is SEVERAL YEARS AWAY & HARD TO PREDICT; the policy effect is KNOWN (282, specifically the caps).

Really? Truly?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:11 PM
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It's not like I haven't been arguing as well, but it would be nice if everyone would take a deep breath and chill a bit. The stuff we're arguing about is important, but on the other hand I've known everyone arguing for long enough to be reasonably sure that good faith is being attempted on all sides. If everyone (Katherine, Charley, Tim, Emerson, will, me) could try to take things less personally, and to be less hostile, we might make more progress, or at least not leave the argument holding grudges.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:15 PM
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328, 333, et seq.: Held the Presidency in 1980, yes, and lost it. And remember what Reagan said he would have liked for his birthday in 1984? "Minnesota." That would have made it a clean sweep. Surely something different was needed for 1988.

Speaking of old railroad, isn't there a good way we can hang Mr 27% around the Republicans' neck for a long, long time? GWB is the apotheosis of the conservative movement; people hate Bush (and the war); thus to paraphrase, "Conservatism is not the solution, conservatism is the problem."

That won't be new to anyone here, I think, but it's a good push in the other direction.


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:17 PM
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Forget about Kerry. You want to know something? It's a good fucking thing he didn't win. Because nothing that Bush has done since 2004 with a few important exceptions (Supreme Court) is anything worse than what he did before then. It's a continuation of same, and everything he did before 2004 set in motion structural consequences that would have affected us now no matter who the President was.

This is part of the political long-game that's important here, and another issue with Petraeus' testimony. Opponents of the war and other Bush policies need to figure out how to make it utterly clear who is responsible for every single fucking one of the disasters that ensue from those policies. Some of those policies cannot be repaired now, the best than even President Jesus Christ could do would be to mitigate the damage. Other policies can be pretty significantly reversed to good effect, yes, but there's a lot of stuff that we're just going to have to endure rather than overcome.

So it's still important, as we head for 2008, that the ball of blame remain in the correct court. And yes, that entails a certain amount of passivity, of saying to the electorate, "Look, until you guys really hand us the keys to the car, we can't drive it where you want to go." Yes, the Dems in Congress need to block the bad stuff, overturn the immediately obvious disasters, and most important, expose the living daylights out of everything horrible in the last six years. But some of this is still a waiting game. Not much longer, not forever, but a bit longer.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:17 PM
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343: Fair enough. My apologies. I really do think Katherine and Charlie are doing God's work.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:20 PM
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343: In the spirit of the anniversary of my miraculous entry into this world, exactly twenty-eight years ago today, let's have a round of "The Times, They Are A-Changin'."

Everybody now!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:21 PM
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Yay, giant carnivores! Happy birthday -- I'm sorry I didn't have time to set up drinks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:22 PM
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348: Don't worry about it! It's too yucky to party it up tonight. Chinese food and a Becks (yo!) will have to satisfy. A nice romantic evening with the new New Yorker. We'll live dangerously sometime soon, if my aging mind doesn't suddenly yield to conscience (unlikely).


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:24 PM
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Happy Birthday, lil bear!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:26 PM
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Little girl, would you like a ride in my Cadillac? I have a bag of candy for you here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:28 PM
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Happy Birthday, AWB.

I think people should make more and better puns.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:29 PM
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350, 351: You guys make me feel like a kid again! If only adults seduced other adults, adulthood wouldn't be such a drag.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:31 PM
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Happy Birthday! But is that 28 in bear or in human years?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:34 PM
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Happy birthday, Bear.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:35 PM
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Katherine, I don't believe I've taken any positions in conversations with you in bad faith. Other than obvious attempts at humor, you can take it at face value. And just because I've thought some votes to be politically necessary, that doesn't mean you ought to draw an inference about others.

For example, I still think it was defensible for the Dem leadership not to take the bait and execute a failed filibuster of the MCA. I know that you know how many people have been tried under the MCA. Even on the crassest terms, the bet's not so bad. (For those not keeping score, there haven't been any trials, just a plea deal so sweet nearly anyone at the prison would take it). It's a damn lot to ask someone to vote against bringing KSM to trial, on the eve of an election. Lots of people were willing to do it.

I've said before that I think investing time and money in issue groups is a great option. I'd hope that you don't end up slandering the nominee, both because it weakens him/her, and because it weakens the ability of the group to accomplish its ends.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:36 PM
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Upon review I see that the contingent defending the lowly pun comprises McManus, w-lfs-n, William Shakespeare and myself. What a Voltron we could form.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:36 PM
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If only adults seduced other adults, adulthood wouldn't be such a drag.

It's a bit repetitive to seduce oneself, night after night.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:37 PM
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354: What's the ratio?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:37 PM
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358: You ain't just whistlin' Dixie, as Ben says.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:38 PM
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359: I probably should have thought this through. I don't know.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:38 PM
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I've worked my stare up to 172.5 meters. Soon I will be attractive.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:39 PM
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archy confesses

coarse jocosity catches the crowd.
shakespeare and I are often low browed.
the fishwife curse and the laugh of the horse.
shakespeare and I are frequently coarse.
aesthetic excuses in bill's behalf
are adduced to refine big bill's coarse laugh.
but bill he would chuckle to hear such guff.
he pulled rough stuff and he liked rough stuff.
hoping you are the same.


Posted by: archy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:39 PM
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343 is completely right. I had skipped over 304 when I posted 340.

I found 239 patronizing too & responded in kind, which I obviously shouldn't have. I really, really, really, really, really hate it when I think people are talking to me as if I'm stupid. There is nothing that makes me more unbearable more quickly. As I think I have demonstrated amply.

This is especially true when you combine it with:
--the date.
--General Ruckus' testimony.
--the sense that the world can go to hell in 1000 different ways & we'll still be having the same debates about the future of the Democratic party as we were on inauguration day 2001.
--slowly concluding that with the torture & surveillance & executive power stuff, even if a Democrat wins in 2009 we are going to fail to put the genie back in the bottle before the next awful president takes power, and fail to even get a full public accounting of exactly what happened until 25-45 years from now. (It's those specific issues, along with Iraq of course, driving the alienation from the Democratic party.).

It may not be totally fair to blame all of this on Tim (& Charley, though I think I was less obnoxious to him). Anyway, LB was making the same argument far more calmly & better than I was.

Charley: no, not bad faith. You once told me something to the effect of you were disgusted with Sherrod Brown too, but you didn't think it was smart to say so publicly. And the Nader stuff seems totally irrelevant to the whole debate about what the Democrats should do, in the absence of anyone here arguing for voting for Nader, so I thought maybe you thought I was thinking dark thoughts of third party-dom.

I was fairly supportive of Kerry during the 2004 general election. Even in 2000, I argued pretty vociferously for Gore to anyone in a state where it could possibly make a difference, & to anyone deciding between him & Bush (that whole thing was as much to do with feeling my vote didn't count in either the primary or general & I would not be ignored as anything else--I didn't buy into the idea that there was no difference between them for a second, & you can imagine how full of righteous fury on Gore's behalf I was during the recount fiasco).

Once it's down to two candidates--I will probably get all excited about Obama or Edwards, & even Hillary is going to seem so much more appealing than Romney or Thomspon or whoever that for a few months I'll fool myself into thinking she'll be better than she actually will be (even if I don't, I'm not sure what kind of "slanders" you're afraid of, if you mean something other than "kvetching in an obscure weblog comments section.") I won't be depressed on election night if she wins, just before & after.

You must know that the commisions were the least of my problems with the MCA; it's habeas stripping & the amendment of the war crimes act. I don't blame the leadership for not filibustering when they clearly didn't have the votes. I am extremely skeptical that they made any serious attempt to determine whether they had the votes or try to get the votes, given the whole brilliant "let's hide behind McCain & Graham & Warner" stratagem whose failure I could see coming a mile off. Durbin still remains one of a tiny & dwindling (Levin's off the list) handful of Democratic Senators I really trust. Reid's okay, especially when you consider his background. I have a bigger problem with the caucus collectively than the leadership, who are well above average.

Happy birthday, AWB.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 5:55 PM
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The leadership is all kids from Lake Wobegon?


Posted by: Doug | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:07 PM
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or at least not leave the argument holding grudges.

Dumdum de de dum, I walk on Guilded Grutches.

If it wasn't for grutches, I'd have no fantasy life at all. Happy Birthday AWB.

I hope my my restraint at the visitations was duly noted, athough my imtemperance was sorely tempted (guillotine,guillotine), especially on this day of personal tragedy, ok severe annoyance, ok goddamn cracked oil pan in the 2nd car.

Do I sound drunk? We are in God's season in Dallas now, 75s and 80s, low 60s at night. Last season it lasted all fucking fall, winter, spring. It is to die for out there. Happy doggies, all three of us.
Gotta go pee on something.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:10 PM
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Happy birthday, AWB.

And 239 was kind of snide, Katherine. I'd forgotten about that. Huh. Still, miraculously, all you fault.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:11 PM
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Happy Birthday, AWB!

And um, I'm pretty sure my support for puns goes without saying, but just in case, sign me up for the Voltron synchronized punning rehearsals.

Also, I greatly look forward to the return to Unfogged of broth-scone (did you get the memo about the agreed date for the Get Your War On meet-up?). And 366's enthusiasm about the weather also applies down here in Austin. Such great weather!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:31 PM
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I am oh so very tired of the expression "blood and treasure." It sounds like something some medieval crusader pirate worries about. Why not "lives and money"?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:31 PM
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369: I think it should be "vital essences and specie" myself.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:32 PM
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Also, why is Petraeus being asked about whether leaving Iraq is in our national interest? I think it was Petraeus and not Crocker. Shouldn't generals be in charge of running wars, and civilians be in charge of making judgments about national interest?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:34 PM
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Humours and booty.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:34 PM
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I like this ad. As rhetoric, it's memorable and punchy, though too diplomatic. Personally, I think the bin Laden-Petraeus alliance should be played up more than it is.

And ogged is exactly right about both the need to change the terms of the debate, and the identity of the people who should be doing this job.

I'll only take issue here:

Why the fuck is the military so valorized?

Because military service is a necessary and valorous profession. That is, military service is valorized for the seem reason Petraeus should be vilified: on merit.

The sooner people understand that people like Powell and Petraeus serve the terrorist enemy and, um, betray us, the better off we will be.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:36 PM
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372: Didn't Ice Cube say that life was about nothing other than that?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:37 PM
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Reflect for a moment on the fact that Bill Clinton was impeached - impeached !. Then consider the fact after this disgrace, which the actual goddam people of this country understood to be a disgrace, Gore almost failed to get a plurality of the vote.

This happened in part because Gore refused to validate the wisdom of the American people - he essentially conceded the terms of debate by running away from Clinton. If Petraeus is going to stand up and try to mislead Congress, thank god somebody is available to call him on it.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 6:53 PM
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86: I ain't affiliated with The Management, but I agree with NCProsecutor in 219 - including the disclaimer about this merely being my 2 cents.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 7:04 PM
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362 is some funny shit.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 09-11-07 9:31 PM
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Jesus wept. Didn't anyone read my damn comment? Look, I'm a British generalist with no specific talents; historically the demographic that produces the world's best advertising. And I say run the ad again twice as big, but sub Bush for Petraeus.

Whilst they are moaning about the ads, they're talking ABOUT YOUR ADS. They are not getting their message out. They are not getting dirt out. They're doing fuck all; and what can they do to reverse it? Policy announcements; their policies are desperately unpopular and anyway they can't pass them. Attacks on character? Larry Craig, fuckos! Ralph Gonzalez! And you're still a LIAR!

Now all of you, go tell a Republican they're a liar.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-12-07 3:29 AM
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Being gutless in opposition has been the Democratic default position for the best part of a decade and it has worked for them politically, as they now control Congress and seem opn the verge of winning the presidency, without ever having to take any risky positions, while the Republicans and Bush have (justifiably) gotten the blame for all those policy decision many of the Democratic forerunners supported as enthusiastically.

The point isn't whether or not the Democrats should fight more aggresively, but whether they actually want to.

the way I see it, for much of the Democratic establishment, the current situation is having their cake and eating it.



Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 09-12-07 4:17 AM
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The point isn't whether or not the Democrats should fight more aggressively, but whether they actually want to.

That's what depresses me so much.

Targeting Bush instead of Petraeus makes sense, though you can obviously do both. The reason why Petraeus is being attacked is that Bush is using him as a screen to hide behind, the same way he uses the 20-year-olds in the Army to hide behind. So you have to get past Petraeus to get to Bush, but it probably would be smarter to jump over him instead of trying to knock him down.

Petraeus has been willing to serve as a standin for Bush, though, so he's a legitimate, relevant target.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-12-07 4:56 AM
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Evil will always triumph, because Good is dumb.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-12-07 9:49 AM
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"Why the fuck is the military so valorized?"

Because States can give out valour for a lot less than the can give out $$.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-12-07 9:56 AM
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Also i think the "Kerry lost->Dems take congress" thing is when i remember what i learned from spending too much time on an alternate history forum. History is really random.

And that means the future is too.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-12-07 10:03 AM
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Hi,

Thought this news might be of some interest to your readers:

NEW moveon.org TV ad coming out on Monday Sept 17th...basically calling President Bush a traitor.

Catch it here:
MoveOn.org TV Ad


For general david betray us fans or not:
General David Betray Us


Have a great weekend!
Steve


Posted by: Iraq War News | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:34 PM
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Hi,

Thought this news might be of some interest to your readers:

NEW moveon.org TV ad coming out on Monday Sept 17th...basically calling President Bush a traitor.

Catch it here:
MoveOn.org TV Ad


For general david betray us fans or not:
General David Betray Us


Have a great weekend!
Steve


Posted by: Iraq War News | Link to this comment | 09-14-07 9:34 PM
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