September 04, 2004

The Hate is Not a Change of Subject

The hate IS the subject--and it wasn't me who said so:

The trouble with Democrats, traditionally, is that we're not mean enough. Dukakis wasn't. I wasn't. I don't particularly like destroying people. I got into politics because of issues, not anger. But too much is at stake to play by Dukakis rules, and lose again.

That is the conclusion Democrats have reached. So watch out. Millions of dollars will be on the table. And there are plenty of choices for what to spend it on.

I'm not promising pretty.

So sayeth Susan Estrich (via Ace of Spades). Not that "we need to be as mean as they are" is an idea unique to Democrats; she could have lifted that first paragraph straight from David Horowitz. Compare:

Before Republicans can begin to change this situation [losing political battles to Democrats], they need to stop whining that life is unfair, that Bill Clinton "stole" their programs, and that Democrats do not play by the rules. They need to stop complaining that Democrats are unprincipled or that they follow a party line. (Of course they do. It's the politics, stupid.) They need to accept that Democrats are going to practice the politics of personal destruction and attribute to Republicans the sins they themselves have committed. They do it because that is the way they can win.

When Republicans complain about forces they cannot control, they behave like victims and give up the power to determine their fate. Democrats will be Democrats. They will be unprincipled and lie. Republicans can hope Democrats will behave better than this, but if Republicans go into battle expecting Democrats to be better than they are, they will only set themselves up for political ambush.

[Emphasis mine.] From The Art of Political War and Other Radical Pursuits, published 2000.

It is not that Democrats have traditionally failed to be "mean enough." Frankly, it isn't that Republicans have neglected meanness either. It's that when your side is going up against the incumbent, it's a harder road. The temptation to go low, play nasty, be mean, is always there.

And it often backfires.

Mind you don't burn your own ass with those matches, Susan.

There's an old Stuart Smalley sketch in which, for Halloween, he parodies the movie When a Stranger Calls. The sketch ends, "The calls are coming from inside the house. It's your father--and he's been drinking!"

That's all I could think of when I read this bit:

. . . Cheney is still drinking. What their records suggest is not only a serious problem with alcoholism, which Bush but not Cheney has acknowledged, but also an even more serious problem of judgment. Could Dick Cheney get a license to drive a school bus with his record of drunken driving? (I can see the ad now.) A job at a nuclear power plant? Is any alcoholic ever really cured? So why put him in the most stressful job in the world, with a war going south, a thousand Americans already dead and control of weapons capable of destroying the world at his fingertips.
Honeybuns, either you have the soy-flour cake OR you eat it. In a country with an estimated 17-1/2 million alcohol abusers, suggesting that Democrats be both the party that feels one's pain and the party that doubts any alcoholic "is ever really cured" strikes me as one hell of a dumb idea.

Yes, I know organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, and alcoholics I have known personally, subscribe to the idea that alcoholism can only be contained, not cured, and I'm not disagreeing with them on that one. I figure they probably know better than I would.

On the other hand, I don't think stigmatizing people who struggle with alcohol by imposing restrictions on what jobs they may hold is any kind of solution; and if it is, ask yourself how you'd feel about sterilizing women who've had more than one elective abortion, or barring recovering addicts from driving a school bus. This whole "Oh my God, Cheney drinks" gambit opens up the Democrats to accusations of wanting to foster a nanny-state and therefore strikes me as an extremely poor line of attack. But then, I'm not Estrich, and thank God for that, because it seems awfully cold and lonely in her world.

Incidentally, I clicked over to Ace and read this Estrich thing shortly after reading a comment thread at Tim Blair's in which people, mostly conservative-minded people, people who really, really, really do not like Bill Clinton, were posting comments like this:

I'm not fond of the man, but I do wish Clinton a speedy recovery and a long life.
That comment is typical of other sentiments expressed in that thread as of this writing.

Make of the contrast what you will.

Posted by Ilyka at September 4, 2004 01:49 AM in news

Clinton's kind of like a dauschund I think-you don't want one yourself, but you think they're kinda' cute maybe and that they make you smile in their wirdness.

I LOVE when you come back from silence with a thunderstorm.

Posted by: Helen at September 5, 2004 07:24 PM