Wednesday, September 08, 2010


I have no problem with this, and I think, with some tweaks, it's a message that could be aimed at moderate swing voters, not just the base:

Democrats desperate to convince their base to show up at the polls in November have begun talking less about issues and more about the possibility of a "Tea Party Congress" next year....

"These are not your run-of-the-mill Republicans we're talking about here," said one Democratic organizer working in a state with a contested Senate race this fall. "When you actually start telling voters what these candidates are about, it scares the hell out of them." ...

This is a much more potent message than Republicans will return us to the failed policies of the Bush administration -- which, as Greg Sargent noted yesterday, is an argument most voters aren't buying.

The two messages are actually contradictory, and every time Democrats go with the Bush message, they're going with the less frightening, less motivating one -- and, I'd argue, with the less accurate one. The new guys really are much more extreme. They really do have very, very radical ideas. Why not say so?

David Axelrod tried to split the difference in this Huffington Post interview yesterday; he was saying a lot of the right things, but he came off as far too tentative:

"I saw that [Alaska GOP Senate candidate] Joe Miller said that he would abolish Social Security if he had the chance and he is not alone," said chief adviser David Axelrod. "This is akin to what [Nevada GOP Senate candidate] Sharron Angle has said in Nevada and also a number of these other Republicans. So, this could go one step beyond the policies of the Bush administration to something more extreme than we have seen."

"Could"? "One step"? What some of these people have talked about -- not just Angle and Miller, but the likes of Paul Ryan is a headlong leap off a cliff. Just say it.

And I mean say it in ads all over the country, anywhere there's a tough race, even if the Republican in the race is a moderate. Nationalize the race. Use solemn music and ominous voiceovers to talk about what happens if the Republicans take control of Congress. Play Angle's "phase out Social Security" soundbite. Play her demeaning comments about the unemployed. Quote Miller and Ryan and even John Boehner, who called teachers and cops and firefighters "special interests." Don't just put this stuff into Web ads that will be viewed only by the politically engaged -- put it in real ads placed in slots on real television. (UPDATE: Throw in the talk by various Republicans of repealing the 17th Amendment, not because it's a viscerally important issue for most voters, but because it seems radical and bizarre.)

The only adjustment I'd make for a general audience is to lose the references to the tea party. To engaged base voters, "tea party" has a negative connotation. To swing voters, not so much. The point is, these are now what the Republican Party's ideas are. Just say that.

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