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September 27, 2006


Last night Al Franken was on Hard ball. He looked like a carbon copy of Clinton. Red face, angry and valid. One thing that kept coming out yesterday was that Clinton was angry but that his words were true. He had validity on his side which cannot be said for the current pres. It was pretty amazing and made me wonder if there hasn't been a true shift.

One, Tony Blankley is usually very smooth and even tempered. He was clearly flabbergasted. His spin was called "spin" and Franken basically jumped in and called him on his lies. Blankley tried to call "uncle" by saying that the confrontation (with direct quotes from Blankley last spring) was not "fair". Blankley's demeanor clearly shifted from self assured to "shook up". It "felt" like a shift. but feelings aren't facts. I enjoyed seeing Blankley confronted. I felt Franken countered with facts so that his temper was somewhat ameliorated. It seems valid for folks to be getting angry about the lies and the obvious desire of this administration to obscure the truth about the war.

The encounter ended on a funny-cordial note. franken's good at this.

I think Katie gets to an interesting point: for the last six years (including during the 2000 election), Democrats have held wide poll advantages on most every issue important to voters...yet, when Election Day came, too great a number of those voters went GOP, apparently for atmospheric "feelings". The fact that Dems were so rational, so calm, while the GOPers went for the jugular, helped create the sense that Pubs "cared" more. While the usual civility-nannies in DC are appalled by the Clinton interview ("What he said was correct, but I didn't like his manner"), his fury may be what the public responds to most strongly -- and the fact that it's being taken up by other Dems 1) is a good sign and 2) tells me they know it's a winner.

A second thing the punditeers are absolutely wrong about: I've heard, about 20 times in the past two days, that it's disastrous for the Clinton story to be soaking up so much oxygen, when it'd be better for Dems if the NIE dominated completely. This is horse-pucky. First of all, there's no guarantee the press would even give the NIE the attention it has; they could just as easily have provided wall-to-wall Terrell Owens coverage for camouflage. Second, The Note's "Ho ho; this really helps Bush" approach would probably be far more widely promulgated were the Bushies not on the defensive to begin with. What I see is, the Clinton manifesto has dovetailed perfectly with the NIE, to bring a far more negative slant to an area of discussion -- "the war on terror" -- where Bush is used to, even at this late date, universally adoring coverage. Hmm...his supposed strength turned into a negative -- isn't that the sort of thing that supposedly makes Rove a genius?

Last point: even if The Note remains in the ideological weeds, much of the other TV coverage has been far more willing to ring the truth bell. On ABC, Jake Tapper's report flatly contradicted Condi on her main points; John Roberts on CNN, while straining not to use the word "lie", said her contentions "were not exactly the truth". This wouldn't have happened two years ago. And, as DemfromCT documents, though Bush has issued his traditional "signing statements" with the NIE ("It may say this, but it means the opposite"), no one outside of FoxNews and the WSJ editorial page are buying.

Another point. When we lose our temper, we create news, which gives us some control over the topic and the news cycle. This is an old trick that the repubs have used repeatedly. This is another way to control the story. Yesterday, the story was clearly that Clinton got mad, but that his points were valid. In response to Franken, some titter has been made that he wasn't acting like a statesman. It worked because Franken is not a statesman. He doesn't have to act like one and all the American people know that. Yes, this is about emotion, and about taking control of the news cycle. I think that for the first time, the dems are more secure in the facts and this then can feed the emotion. Up to now, the dems couldn't prove that Bush was on the wrong track. Today we can, and we need to take up the discussion and talk it to death.

contrast the Note's Halperin (what he says):

When the Clinton political family and the Bush political families fight, it's bigger [than] the Hatfield and McCoys. It's bigger than King Kong vs. Godzilla," said ABC News political director Mark Halperin. "They set the tone. Now every politician around the country is going to be engaged on the national security debate. That could help the Republicans," who have historically been trusted more by voters to handle terrorism and national security issues.

It's been a winning issue for the GOP in 2002 and 2004. The question is, can the Clintons fight back so aggressively that they can break that streak? Or does it just bring attention to what's been a losing issue for their party?

and what he does
More Gingrich: "As a calculated political decision, it is reasonably smart because Bill Clinton is more popular than Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or Howard Dean or any Democrat who is not very well known and therefore he can rally the base in an off year election. . . On the other hand, it is very bad for the Democrats if they are looking to spend all of October arguing about terrorism because the country generally feels much safer with Republicans in fighting terrorism than they do with the Democrats."
with a more reasoned and accurate approach:
The escalating debate over national security reflects the belief among strategists in both parties that the terrorism issue works to their benefit. The question is how voters will interpret each side's arguments.
If the R's did it, Halperin would cite it as Rove attacking the other guy's strength, a sure sign Rs will win (and of Rove's genius). But since it's the D's, he ignores it.

My point has been and continues to be that the dems cannot win if we are still "limping" on the issue of national security. Bottom line is that all americans are safer under democratic rule. Thoughtful, careful and effective. The American people still do not understand what happened in Kosovo. There is nothing to fear here, we can and should put our record up against there's on national security. Wesley Clark was explaining what we accomplished in Kosovo and the fact that only a few soldiers died. Literally a few. There are handles here if the dems will only stop fearing the topic.

Bingo, bingo and bingo, Katie, Dem and dem. I've long felt like Katie about the necessity of going straight at the terrorism/security issue. And after all the years of despairing at the right's ability to harness the power of emotion against legitimate but bloodless arguments, Dems are finally seeing that they can harness that power on BEHALF of those arguments, and that two can play Karl's game of jiu-jitsu. The koolies can bemoan the ill manners of the angry all they want, but anger is not an emotion of the wimpy, or of those without conviction. And what emotion has fueled the right's successes all this time, after all? Hallelujah, and about time.

DemCT, love the Outer Limits reference.

DemTom is right. Until the Democrats have a Presidential nominee, it's very good for Bill Clinton to frame the debate, because he does it well. I'd like to see people pick up Clinton's words and combativeness.

The Gang of 500 are idiots. David Broder is a deluded, self-absorbed fool. I have not read the note or watched a network TV news broadcast (outside of crises like Katrina) in 5 or 6 years.

ever seen 500 deer stand and stare at the headlights of reality before ???

the democrats need to aim reality at the mifddle of the herd

lets watch all the koolkids blinking and stunned on November 8th

reeality has a way of doing that

Karma sucks if you're a repuglican

Clinton was trying to be one of those coaches that when his team is losing and everything he has tried has failed, he finally charges the referee or umpiree and gets tossed from the game trying to rally the gang to play better.

I think he thinks the Dems are losing. Well, he is pretty good at politics.

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