Wednesday, February 22

Shot in the face

Bob Burnett's latest Searching for the Democrats article on the Huffington Post is yet another long-winded screed on how the Democrats just can't own morality and make it the focal point of the party. From Searching for the Democrats - Show Me the Values:

Americans don't believe that the Bush Administration is taking the US in the right direction, but they aren't convinced that the Democratic Party would do any better. This is the fourth of six articles exploring why Dems are having such a tough time taking advantage of Bush Administration ineptitude. This focuses on the issue of values.

The words of George Lakoff came to mind after the first paragraph: When you negate a frame, you evoke the frame. Democrats have no new ideas. Democrats don't have a real grasp on values. *Yawn* He frames us as some sort of pitied group of ragtag pols who just don't get it. Barack Obama did the exact same thing on one of the Sunday talkers a few weeks ago. One would think that adding to the fray would only increase the Machiavellian hold the Republicans already have on politics.

It's emblematic of how far the Dems have fallen that they have turned off a large segment of their base.

Excluding the 59,028,109 people that voted for John Kerry, of course.

Democrats have fallen so low that even New York Times columnist, David Brooks, gives them advice. In his column of January 26th, Brooks noted, "Smart Democratic analysts are also taking another look at values issues. There has been a tendency in Democratic circles to regard values as a sideshow that Republicans use to fool the working class into voting against its self-interest. But over the past year [Democratic pollsters] noted that voters don't separate values issues from economic issues. They use values issues as stand-ins and figure the candidates they associate with traditional morality are also the ones with sensible economic policies." The Neo-Con lapdog concludes, "Middle-class Americans feel social anxiety more acutely than economic anxiety because they understand that values matter most. Democrats are beginning to understand this, too." Brooks moves in the same New York-Washington DC circles frequented by what passes for the Democratic "intelligentsia." Therefore, he may be correct stating that in this rarefied environment, where over-priced consultants monitor every move that politicians make and smother them with ill-considered advice, Democrats are just now turning to values.

Where to begin? Unwarranted advice from the unusually shiny, low-talking Brooks hardly constitutes commentary on just how low Democrats have fallen. From a guy who started his career on the factually-challenged editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, then moved on to author Bobos in Paradise, a bestseller exploring the not-so-mysterious world of REI-shopping, hybrid-driving, middle-aged blue-state Boomers, Brooks is hardly the person Democrats have ever looked to for assistance. And what is this Democratic intelligentsia Burnett is talking about, and since when has David Brooks been a part of it? The article thus far has painted the overused cliche of elite and effete Democrats that just don't get it.

Nonetheless, out here in the boonies, where we actually talk to real people, we've been concerned about values for a long time. We actually worry about things like the morality of the war in Iraq, the ethics of a government that would leave poor black folks behind in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, and the mores of an Administration that worries more about the profits of big oil companies that it does about the prospects of global warming. Maybe David Brooks should get out more, talk to Democratic loyalists rather than desiccated DC pols. Because rank-and-file Dems care a lot about values.

Seriously, someone please stick a fork in my eye, then beat me about the head, face and neck with a dead fish.
Paraphrasing Bob Dylan, “Something’s happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. [Brooks]?” The N.Y. Times conservative pundit has unwittingly wandered into the middle of a fight for the heart of the Democratic Party. A battle between tactics-based apparatchiks and values-based loyalists. Between the DC-based Dem “intelligentsia” and those of us who inhabit the real world.
Paraphrasing Bob Dylan (*double-yawn*) and unnecessarily simplifying the Democratic divide to an us vs. them mentality within the party is disingenuous. Just as the nation isn't divisible by red or blue lines, neither is a political party relegated to only intellectuals or real-world inhabitants.

Ironically, the fight for the heart of the Democratic Party will not be decided by the issue of Iraq or the Economy or the other issues vying for media attention. This fight will be about morality. What set of values will the Democrats embrace?

So now what? The party is devoid of any new ideas, we don't have a grip on morality, and we're hopelessly out of touch with the real-world. Thank God we have good people like Bob Burnett to outline our disillusionment and offer up no new ideas to remedy the problem. Until this great Democratic revolution magically appears, we'll have to deal with the good deeds being done by the following out-of-touch intellegistas: Progressive Legislative Action Network Southern Poverty Law Center The Fighting Dems The Swing State Project The Congressional Black Caucus The Center for American Progress Think Progress

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