Begala and Carville (B&C) on MTP
(And why are Democrats playing defense (poorly) on the Abramoff scandal?)
Begala and Carville surfaced to pitch their new book “Taking It Back,” a diagnosis of what’s wrong with the party and a prescription for success. (Update - and pitch Carville's new XM sports radio, a more interesting side note to MTP than it appeared. Huffington has the goods on this.)
Wow, in 2006 they have concluded that Democrats need a backbone. Guess they don’t read blogs. By late 2002, lots of us nobodies at dKos had identified that one (and I’m sure that assessment predated us). Or maybe they missed 2003 when it was apparent that Howard Dean demonstrated fearlessness -- that he had a spine - and said that the party needed a spine transplant. These two SOBs were among Dean’s most vocal critics in 2003 - nothing like hacks dumping on those that figure things out years faster than they do.
Two of their prescriptions for Democrats are 1) have a clear message and 2) fight back. Neither demonstrated either on MTP. They sat there and didn’t respond to Carville’s creepy wife Matalin as she scored point after point based on falsehoods, half-truths and denigration of high profile Democrats. She plainly and clearly dismissed and ridiculed Dean in responding to Russert’s question about Dean’s statement, “If you liked Delay, you’re going to love Blunt.” Carville didn’t defend Dean and then gave a meandering, weak response to the Blunt question that only a political junkie could distill into saying exactly what Dean had said. (Dean’s comment was exactly what Begala and Carville recommend Democrats do, but they don’t like it when Dean does it. They were, however, actively still pimping for the Clintons on Sunday.)
Carville spent a lot of time defending Hillary’s stupid comment that the House is run like a plantation. Even after he admitted that it wasn’t a good metaphor. In their book they included a response from Bill Clinton on the Democratic Party performance in the 2004 elections. That Democrats cannot ignore the social values issues voters, must talk to them. B&C endorse that and continue to flog the idea that Democrats must learn to talk about values. Sheesh -- as if Democrats didn’t do that in 2004. Democrats could talk to the anti-abortion, pro-school prayer and anti-gays voters until their blue in the face and not capture a single one of those votes. Taking advice from Clinton on how to talk to the social values voters would be like Republicans taking emergency management advice from Brownie.
(No, it’s worse because Republicans were smart enough to distance themselves from Brownie before his incompetence became linked in the minds of voters with the GOP. Democrats still fail to recognize that every time they champion Clinton, ordinary, not very politically observant, voters recall two things: good economy and bad personal morality. Democrats way overvalue the “Clinton economy.” If things in our daily lives are really good, we resist change. If they suddenly change for the worse, we want change that we think will improve matters. In the middle and lower middle class income brackets the 1990’s were okay and up through 2004 not as okay but not bad. (Knowing about the USA, Inc. credit card position is above their interest level.) Therefore, the “It’s the economy, stupid” Clinton legacy wasn’t robust enough to blunt, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky,” particularly when the GOP has found a large number of clever and subtle ways to exploit the Democrats=immorality equation.
On Abramoff, Inc. B&C barely passed (Obama didn’t do that well, leaving the impression that Abramoff, Inc. isn’t a major GOP scandal and Democrats have no right to throw stones). On the GOP campaign to convince Americans that Abramoff, Inc. money went to Republicans and Democrats, the Democrats are blowing it by apparently working from the same playbook used to respond to the Swift Boat Liars. After six years of seeing how Bu$hCo operates, they still don’t get it. The SBV said Kerry didn’t earn his medals, Kerry and Democrats calmly said he did and then when the issue heated up, they looked to daddy McCain to issue a single, lukewarm statement saying that it was inappropriate to question anyone’s military service. Granted, it’s much easier to play political offense than defense, but Democrats don’t get it that a dispassionate recitation of the facts is insufficient in a defensive situation. While maybe a bit over the top, Kerry and every other Democrat should have responded to the SBV charges with the passion that Lawrence O’Donnell did on one of the cable shows. And they should have done it earlier and more often (and Kerry should have released all his military records). Demanded that all the network and cable shows give them equal access to refute the SBV lies. Again and again, to try to level the playing. When your opponent (and their lap-dog network and cable shills) is going to be seen ten times more often repeating baseless charges than you’re going to be seen responding, you’re going to lose. When they start these propaganda wars, strike back hard and get on the offensive.
Technically, the Republicans aren’t lying with their Abramoff offensive action. So, what do Democrats do? Parse it. Reducing it to a “ they say and we say.” The public responds by tuning it out, and taking away the superficial impression that Republicans got twice as much dirty money as Democrats. The tired, boring Democrats keep trying to win by claiming “We suck less.”
Dean started the push-back on the right note: “Not one Democrat received any money from Jack Abramoff. This is a GOP scandal.” Individual Democratic politicians, should repeat that for themselves: “I didn’t receive a dime from Abramoff.” It doesn’t really matter if they’ve ever met, seen or been in the same room with Abramoff; therefore, why waste air time reciting this? None of them should claim that they didn’t know who Abramoff is -- that only makes them look uninformed. What they should add to their “not one dime” response is that “the Republican charge is an outrageous and slanderous insinuation. Nobody expects any politician to investigate every campaign donor. To make sure that donor isn’t also funding a corrupt political operative of the other party. Instead of repeating slanderous insinuations about Democrats, why don’t you do your job? Find out if Abramoff’s clients knew he was bribing Republicans, and if they did, what they did about it.” Or “… insinuation. Do you have any evidence that any of my campaign contributors are under investigation for colluding in Abramoff’s corruption scheme? Or were told by Abramoff to donate to me? Or even attempted to bribe me? I have never accepted a bribe nor would I ever accept a dime from anyone that attempted to bribe me. You should get your facts straight before you repeat a Republican slanderous insinuation.”
More? “You’re saying that I was supposed to know that Abramoff was engaged in illegal activities and know if any of my tens of thousands of campaign contributors had any involvement with him? That’s ridiculous. Why aren’t you asking the President and other Republicans to return all the money that Abramoff collected for them? All the money that Abramoff directed his clients to donate to Republicans? What Abramoff and his wife personally gave to Republicans is peanuts compared with what he personally raised from his clients for Republicans. If you’re going to repeat a slanderous insinuation that I received money from Abramoff clients, are you even prepared to provide evidence that Abramoff directed those clients to donate to me? That they could buy my vote for such a donation? (laugh) That would be like Pat Robertson telling his flock to send money to the Dalai Lama to increase their chances of getting into heaven. Why wouldn’t Robertson’s direct pipeline to God be enough for his flock? Why would Abramoff’s direct pipeline to the GOP controlled Congress and WH not be enough for his clients to get what they want?”
If the MSM doesn’t stop repeating this, Democrats will have to raise the stakes. “You call yourself a journalist (or this is called a political news show), so why don’t you tell us why you weren’t investigating and reporting on Abramoff before the Justice Department began filing criminal charges? I don’t have enough time to do my job and yours. My job includes holding myself, my staff, members of my Party and every member of Congress, the White House and the Judiciary to the highest ethical standards. While I can look into charges against any member of my staff and Party and take appropriate action if wrongdoing is discovered, I cannot investigate charges against members of the Republican Party unless they participate with me in an investigation. The House Ethics Committee never even opened an investigation on Duke Cunningham because the Republicans blocked the request to do so. Duke gave millions of taxpayer dollars to a contractor for personal gain! If the Republicans aren’t going to investigate such open and shut cases of corruption and bribery against one of their own, what will they investigate?”
More? “You’re really good at repeating Republican slanderous insinuations. Is that your idea of journalism? No wonder a Republican fake reporter and male prostitute in the WH briefing room could go undetected for two years. Journalists are too busy repeating GOP talking points to bother with investigative work -- even when fake journalists are sitting in the room with them. Writing for major newspapers. One more time, no Democrat received any money from Abramoff. No Democrat was bribed by any Abramoff client. No Abramoff client has stepped forward and told us that they were directed by Abramoff to donate to a Democrat. It would responsible of you not to insinuate that they have.
More? “Have you no shame? Why do you keep repeating what you know is a slanderous insinuation? Can’t you do anything but endlessly repeat Republican talking points? When did the Republican agenda of trying to destroy every decent Democrat become your job? The job of a free press? You should be ashamed of yourself.”
The GOP is not going to drop this talking point. They are in siege mode with it. It’s a winner for them. They will not fall back until they can either claim victory or Democrats begin mowing them down. Denying them a disproportionate amount of airtime in which it is repeated without being effectively debunked and challenged. IOW, on this one, Democrats need to take off the gloves with the GOP and if they don't shape up quickly, the MSM.