New theory: Karl Rove has faked all the Democrats’ focus groups

Thursday, September 28th, 2006 · 14 Comments »

It’s Day Two of my burning question, What The Fuck Is Wrong With The Democrats?

In the last episode, your blogger was wondering aloud why the fuck the Democrats don’t realize that taking a stand against torture and in favor of the core judicial rights we’ve had for 200+ years might actually be a good move. The self-defeating futility of our so-called “opposition party” boggles the mind.

Reading through the liberal blogs, it seems that everybody’s take is pretty much the same as mine. Here’s Jack Balkin:

The reason why the Democrats have not been doing very well on these issues, however, is that the public does not believe that they stand for anything other than echoing what the Republicans have been doing with a bit less conviction. If the Republicans are now the Party of Torture, the Democrats are now the Party of “Torture? Yeah, I guess so.” Not exactly the moral high ground from which to seek office.

The Democrats may think that if they let this pass, they are guaranteed to pick up more seats in the House and Senate. But they will actually win less seats this way. For they will have proved to the American people that they are spineless and opportunistic– that, when faced with a genuine choice and a genuine challenge, they can keep neither our country nor our values safe.

All of us out here beyond the beltway can see that the Dems are self-destructing; why can’t they see it? There are even polls showing that most Americans oppose torture; can’t the Dems read polls?

It was the same thing with the Alito confirmation, and any number of other jackbooted bullshit moves pulled by BushCo. The Democrats squander every single chance to galvanize support from the millions of Americans who are appalled by what’s happening in Washington. They ignore polls showing that most Americans actually favor abortion rights, oppose the war in Iraq, and so on.


The usual answer is that they’ve lost the media wars with Karl Rove, et al, so many times that they’re gun-shy. But as you and I and everybody else who isn’t a Democratic politician knows, the reason they’ve lost those wars is because they haven’t fought hard enough. When a Rovian accuses you of being soft on terror, you come back and say why do you need the power to torture American citizens? Why do you need the power to lock up anybody you please without judge or jury? Is this really about fighting terror or about making yourself a dictator? Then you keep saying that and keep the conversation on target. You fucking fight.

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14 Responses to “New theory: Karl Rove has faked all the Democrats’ focus groups”

  1. Mandos says:

    I guess the correct answer is that they aren’t campaigning in good faith.

  2. love2all says:

    I don’t know, answers are hard to come by. They feel they’ve got to somehow appeal to the public.. they’re playing it safe. I think Dems at this point are like deer in headlights, scared to make a mistake and not quite sure what the right direction is.

    How DO you deal with red-staters, though? People who will only listen to whether a candidate is pro-life or not? That’s all my parents seem to care about when voting.

    Do the Dems have to resort to the Bible to convince voters? Maybe that’s what it’s going to take. If they can somehow convince Republicans that killing and torture is immoral (gee, I never ever thought about those things being immoral!) then they might have a chance. But when dealing with an largely irrational (and frankly, not so smart) group of people, sometimes you feel like throwing up your hands and asking, “Where do we go from here?”

    I agree, Dems need to fight. But will it work? That’s what’s so fucking frustrating. I don’t know if it will. But it’s what they NEED to do. It’s the moral thing to do.

  3. Violet says:

    How DO you deal with red-staters, though? People who will only listen to whether a candidate is pro-life or not? That’s all my parents seem to care about when voting.

    The Democrats could try explaining the situation in language even red-staters could understand.

    Like this:

    “What the President is doing here basically is getting rid of the court system.

    “See, the police don’t have magic powers to know who’s guilty or not. That’s why we have trials and juries and judges and all that. It’s because sometimes the police arrest the wrong person.

    “But what the President is claiming now is that we don’t need the court system. He’s telling us that we should just trust that he and the police and the CIA have magic powers to know who’s guilty.

    “What this bill means is that from now on the President will be able arrest anyone he wants and just declare them guilty. The person won’t ever get a chance to prove themselves innocent. They can be tortured to death or locked away for life and no one will ever know what happened to them.

    “But of course the President doesn’t really have the magic ability to know who’s guilty. He makes mistakes, just like the police do, and innocent people are arrested. It’s already happened: hundreds of the people that he had locked up in Guantanomo Bay turned out to have been picked up by mistake. And some of them had already been tortured. Innocent people tortured.

    “That’s going to keep happening — innocent people will be arrested and tortured — except that this bill will make it legal, and make it secret so no one will know what the President is up to.

    “Do you think that’s a good idea? For the President to have the ability to arrest and torture and lock away anybody in America, without that person ever having a chance to prove their innocence?

    “The President could lock you up, just from a case of mistaken identity, but you would have no way to prove your innocence. And no one would ever know what happened to you. You would disappear, and your family and friends and neighbors would have no way to find out what ever happened to you. You could be tortured to death, just because the CIA mistook you for somebody else. Do you want that?”

    I don’t know, is that simple enough for the mouth-breathers?

  4. Mandos says:

    That’s way too verbose. It doesn’t fit into a 20 second soundbite.

    In the meantime, you might find this amusing:

  5. Violet says:

    Dear God. My country has lost its mind.

    It’s all very well for you, Mandos, as you can go back to Canada anytime. (Just go far enough north to avoid getting hit by stray Coast Guard fire.) Me, I’m stuck here. In a police state.

  6. Mandos says:

    Yes, but in Canada we are afflicted with students’ council fascists.

  7. love2all says:

    Violet, you may as well be right.. Dems are going to have write their speeches in children’s book language.

    And we have to make sure pictures of Jesus are flashed on the TV screen every so often, just to remind the Republicans to pay attention. Sad, isn’t it?

    Perhaps we do need to (seriously) get religion on our side.. if we can get an open-minded church (which sounds like an oxymoron) to wake up, speak out and run ads against the war and Bush, how it is all against god and morality.. well, that might help.

    I’m not a fan of religion but if that’s the only thing some people will listen to, perhaps we need to use it for good. For once.

  8. Violet says:

    love2all, your idea about religion is interesting because I’ve been thinking this morning that maybe the only good thing here is that Christianity is being more and more discredited. There’s a damn-near perfect correlation between people who call themselves evangelical Christians and people who support torture. Keep this up and before long the equation will be automatic in everyone’s minds: Christian? Oh, right — torture and war.

  9. Paul Tergeist says:

    It is pretty obvious that the President showed some senators on both sides an intelligence summary stating that ‘terrorists’ have already brought, or are preparing to bring nuclear weapons into the country and detonate them. There is not much else that would get the legislative branch to give the president powers like that. The Republicans were up in arms one day and all in line the next and the Dems had signed off on it as well, no discussion, as if by magic.

    I expect this is the same sort of assessment that proved conclusively that Iraq was behind the terror attacks, but even if it’s real, I do not wish to give up my rights to a hearing.

  10. Infidel says:

    The Democrats must first get elected.
    The electorate is insouciant shoppers.
    Packaging of product is dishonest.
    Blood, Sweat, and Tears won’t sell unless V2 rockets are falling from the sky.
    Blood, Sweat, and Tears will sell if it can be packaged as “New!”, “Exciting!”, or “it Rocks!”
    That isn’t as crazy as you might think, just consider how Rove and co. has managed to package torture and dictatorship; “National Security” and “Tools to Fight Terrorism”

  11. Paul Tergeist says:

    That isn’t as crazy as you might think, just consider how Rove and co. has managed to package torture and dictatorship; “National Security” and “Tools to Fight Terrorism”

    We have become what our entire country was founded against. Taxation without representation. Unlawful detention. Unlawful imprisonment. Torture in the name of good. We are Nazis…….or YOU are Nazis. I am revolting. :-)

  12. Steve says:

    Each party takes for granted that 40% of the electorate is with ‘em short of a mass congressional child molestation scandal.

    But one of the problems is that gutlessness is almost guaranteed when both parties see themselves as fighting over the same remaining 15 – 20% of swing voters. The parties see these promiscuous political bisexuals as available for plucking as long as you don’t piss them off. You can get laid but you can’t serve them the main course right away and go straight to the motel. First you have to serve wine and be gracious and be vacuous. They dont want to be spoken to frankly and bluntly. They only want to be comfortable and to feel safe.

    They especially care about their pocket book, and they watch the fluctuations in the price of gas not giving a good shit whether or not anyone is manipulating there price. Lower prices are good. Higher prices are bad.

    To tell these voters the truth is to make them angry and uncomfortable. Exactly what truth is supposed to do, right? But rather than look them straight in the eye, the parties kiss their ass.

    Swing voters are a tough nut to crack. They are for the most part scared shitless and are not profiles in political courage. Oh, they might hate torture. But in the right mood, they could also be easily convinced that maybe a little paddle on the ass aint the end of the world for some towel head.

    Whether the parties are right or wrong, the conventional wisdom is that you can scare these little peckerheads a little but not too much. So they are pandered to, lied to, comforted, or promised that they won’t lose this or that subsidy or benefit. But never leveled with, lest the truth cause them to panic and go to the other comfortable place. A Democratic strategist reading your suggestion for straight talk, Vi, would tell you that you have written the speech for the 40% already in the bag, not the 20% in play.

    Are they right? To some extent, yes. But what they miss with this ass-kissing middle of the road swing voter strategy is that being gutless can start to erode your 40%. And I think this is what might be happening to the Democrats who wouldn’t know a bedrock principle if it bit them in the ass.

    They risk losing you. They are losing you. And that should scare them and scare them bad.

  13. Infidel says:

    The price of glory is revulsion
    the price of freedom is oppression
    the price of righteousness is being wrong
    you pay with war to buy peace
    You’ll see- the electorate will give the dems a majority in congress, closing the lid on Bush’s “mandate”. All his political capital spent he’ll sink into some bipartisan initiative about a war on drugs, and slog through a grotesque maintenance of military forces “on the ground” with a few interspersed bombings of some cave, and some insurgent headquarters.
    Politics will change and voices of reason will grow louder and competent American leaders will be elected.

  14. gordo says:


    I don’t think that putting things simply and concretely is the same thing as using children’s book language. Violent had a post recently about Clinton taking on Wallace. He showed that it’s possible to stick up for what’s true and what’s right without being condescending or simplistic.

    The thing is, you have to put all of the nuance into the thinking, not the talking. The Republican party just voted to legalize torture, plain and simple.

    The president can now take any person, even a US citizen, and declare that person an enemy combatant. He can then imprison that person for the rest of his or her life, without showing any kind of evidence at all.

    Think that’s not constitutional? Here’s the thing: if 5 Supreme Court judges say it’s OK, then it is constitutional.

    If our congressmen can’t convince people that this bill is wrong and un-American, then they really have no business being congressmen. It’s just not that hard to sell human rights and freedom.