Democrats Need To Revive The Truth Squad Road Show Now To Cripple GOP Agenda This Year
The White House is putting the word out today that Bush will tour the country over the next 30 days, and give four major addresses to sell his underwhelming vision and agenda from last night’s State of the Union. This morning, I have a simple question and an urgent request for Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi:
Do you remember last year, and how Democrats followed Bush around the country after the SOTU to derail Social Security privatization scam?
Why aren’t we doing that again this year?
Every day from now until November 7th is just one day in a long and critical election season. Democrats scored a major victory last year by organizing to defeat Bush’s signature domestic initiative of his second term, and did so by following him around the country to do a “Truth Squad” routine on him, so that no matter where he went and what he said to the locals, there was a counter-narrative and some fact checking from Democrats also provided to the local and national media in the same news cycle, so that the President didn’t get the news cycle and sound bites all to himself.
That needs to be done again this year, starting now. We know that Bush will be in Tennessee today in front of a handpicked audience, but it is too late for anything to be done about that. He will however be in Minnesota tomorrow, and the White House is quite willing to tell the media where he will be in the next 30 days, so it will not be a problem for the DNC, or for the Senate and House Democrats to organize who will be leading the Truth Squad effort at each Bush stopover.
BUSH in Maplewood, MN: President Bush is expected to stop in Maplewood as part of his post-SOTU stump.
BUSH in Albuquerque, NM: President Bush is expected to stop in Albuquerque as part of his post-SOTU stump
BUSH in Dallas, TX: President Bush is expected to stop in Dallas as part of his post-SOTU stump.
BUSH in New Hampshire: The White House has been inquiring about a possible visit by President Bush on or around this date.
What I am suggesting is for Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to select telegenic members of their caucus to be waiting for Bush at each location where he touches down to sell his SOTU agenda the next 30 days, and provide the national media with a media event that can be carried in the same news cycle as Bush’s visit. Those selected should be well versed on energy, national security, and health issues who can articulately point out, without negativity, that Democrats thank Bush for his suggestions, but they don’t go far enough and Democrats can do better. And while they are at it, these Democrats can take the opportunity to point out the lies, distortions, straw men, and flaws behind the White House arguments and policy prescriptions.
Aside from the national media and the fall 2006 voters, there is another audience for this effort, and that is the GOP incumbents this fall, who will see the Democrats undercutting Bush’s message and aggressively debunking the talking points in the same news cycle. Just like it did for the Social Security fight, after a month or so of this, other groups can then go directly after the House GOP incumbents when they go home to their districts and pressure them on these issues, planting in voters’ minds and away from the Fox News national spin that Democrats have an alternate vision and are ready to turn Congress from a Bush rubber stamp back into a real check and balance against an inept White House. This will cause some problems inside each GOP caucus, when they see the Social Security Truth Squad activities repeated from last year, destroying the whole GOP fall agenda.
There is no reason why Dean, Reid, and Pelosi cannot put this together now, and the success of their efforts to at least regain parity in each house this fall rest on this effort over the next 30 days. Again, challenge the man wherever he goes in the same news cycle, and show an alternate, positive vision and solutions that aren’t tied to the GOP’s “pay-for-play” approach to government, reminding voters that Bush has come late to this party and still doesn’t go far enough. And if this works well enough, it will allow Reid and Pelosi to take a “Tier One/Tier Two” approach, like the White House now does, whereby the leaders stay on the high ground with their positive message of what we can do better than the GOP, while the designated point persons on these issues can follow the president around and point out his inadequacies, misstatements, lies, and straw men while offering better solutions that address what Americans are telling pollsters they care about.
The sooner Reid and Pelosi put this together, the sooner the GOP will feel some pressure and anxiety over the administration’s agenda. And the sooner the White House’s plans for 2006 unravel like they did last year.