Saturday, September 15, 2007

2004, CLONED

What we're seeing the Republicans do to MoveOn right now is exactly what they did to Michael Moore in 2004. A lot of people saw Fahrenheit 9/11 that year, among them quite a few red-staters who should have been safely in the Bush camp -- so the GOP took advantage of weak spots in his work and his affect (which were rather trivial compared to the basic truths he was presenting) and hammered away at him until, by the time of the election, he was a pariah, and Democrats' association with him was a liability. He's still a pariah, and Democrats can't go near him.

Republicans could make that happen because, even though the movie made a hundred million dollars, that meant only a small percentage of Americans actually saw it. Republicans flooded the zone with horrified denunciations of the evil hatemonger, and by November '04, much of America assumed Moore was an evil hatemonger, simply because they'd heard it said so many times.

(The "liberal media" cooperated, of course -- pundits lined up to express their disapproval of the filmmaker because, unlike a good liberal, he was unapologetic; they linked him to Ann Coulter so many times that everyone in America who's unfamiliar with his work now thinks it's exactly like hers, when it's not even remotely the same.)

What happened to Moore is what's happening to MoveOn right now: Republicans are creating conventional wisdom, and soon just about everyone in America will assume that MoveOn must be beyond the pale because, well, so many people seem to say it is. This despite the fact that most of those people will have never read the actual "Betray Us" ad or read or seen anything else MoveOn has generated. Pundits will echo what Republicans are saying now about the horrible awful radicals, and ordinary Americans will assume it's true.

And the only lesson to be derived from this is that Democrats need to learn to flood the zone in precisely the same way as Republicans.

Spare me lectures about "stooping to their level" -- this is too important. The next time Coulter or Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or some other semi-official GOP flack truly goes beyond the pale -- and we all know that what they say is far worse than what Michael Moore or MoveOn says -- Democrats have to pounce, en masse. Democrats have to tie the offender to Republicans and not stop tying that offender to Republicans until the idea of the link sticks. This is something they've never, ever done. Republicans are like jazz musicians in this regard -- they know exactly when to pounce and they can do it as a group spontaneously; they're also like a street gang defending their turf. I'm sorry to say it, but Democrats have to learn to improvise mercilessly in just that way, or they'll be the minority party forever.

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