Monday, January 25, 2010


I suppose it's no surprise if Politico is right and Bush-bashing isn't working for Democratic candidates:

...following their recent defeats, there seems to be consensus now in the Democratic consulting community that candidates can't simply insert grainy footage of the former president into a commercial or say their rivals will "support Bush policies" and hope voters will respond.

... when Democrats, realizing in the race's final week that they were in danger of losing the seat previously held by Ted Kennedy, rushed up ads depicting Brown as being a Bush clone, it had little effect.

... In New Jersey, ... [j]uxtaposing [Chris] Christie's face with a narrator warning of "the same Bush policies that got us into this mess," as Corzine did in a September ad, wasn't as relevant as Christie's warnings of higher taxes in a second Corzine term.

In Virginia, ... "Tax breaks for the superwealthy. Job losses and foreclosures for the rest of us. Virginia calls the McDonnell-Bush approach a failure," went [an] August ad for Democrat Creigh Deeds.

Not long afterward, the Democrats running Deeds's campaign determined such a strategy was a failure....

Sure, it makes sense -- after all, Bush isn't president anymore ... except why does the teabagging, Scott Brown-loving right-wing base still get pumped up by comparisons of Obama and Jimmy Carter?

I say this all the time, but I'll say it again: Democrats and liberals don't sustain the narrative of Republican/conservative evil on a day-to-day basis, except perhaps in the blogosphere (and that's only when we're not beating one another up) and on a few hours a day of MSNBC). As 2008 turned to 2009, voters recalled that Bush was appalling, and perhaps Cheney and others in the Bush administration, but no one outside the insular precincts of Left Blogistan and the Olbermann/Maddow/Schultz programming bloc ever fit the story of Bush into a larger story of how appalling Republicans are. No narrative linked Bush and Bush and Gingrich and Limbaugh and McCain and Palin and Reagan and the whole damn lot of them.

On the right, there's always a discussion of the ongoing dirty hippieness of Democrats. Everyone can be slotted into it. There are supervillains -- Carter is one of them -- but it's the daily re-recitation of the lore (what in the past I've called the Protocols of the Elders of Liberalism) on talk radio and in the Murdoch media that keeps the story alive. Republicans can slot any Democrat into this narrative. Democrats haven't familiarized the broad public with a comparable narrative.

The broad public, at least north of the Mason-Dixon Line, does have a wary resistance to the religious right, but when you've got a guy like Scott Brown who doesn't fit that story (I half-wonder if the nude Cosmo centerfold actually helped him, by insulating him in that way), you have to run against him as an individual, not as a representative of a worldview. Democrats need to develop a narrative about that worldview -- and, meanwhile, Republicans have a decades-long head start.

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