Monday, March 19, 2007

Losing 2008 in 2007

According to Hines Sight, we are supposed to be bowled over by the Obama Barack ad which rips off the old Apple ad wherein Big Brother's video image is smashed before the eyes of a mass of beaten down and chained prisoners, by a bright young thing in a jogging suit. Big Brother brought down using one of those Olympic style hammers, which don't look like hammers at all.
Anyway, the Obama ad has Hillary Clinton up their droning on like Big Brother. How hip and how cool is that?
Problem is that it is a right wing talking point that Hillary Clinton is a potential authoritarian menace -- a liberal fascist. It became a favorite right wing talking point after Hillary supposedly tried to take over the entire Health Care Industry by providing a plan for universal health insurance while making every element of the health care industry happy.
So, Obama thinks that Hillary is a authoritarian threat.
If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, then Obama Barack has reinforced the narrative that will be used against the Party's nominee. Gee Thanks.
If Barack Obama is the nominee, why should anyone believe him when he says the Guiliani/Romney/McCain each plan to continue the Bush progress toward unconstitutional and undemocratic authoritarianism? He has trivialized the most telling argument against continued GOP rule. He has reduced a constitutional crisis to the level of a brand war over hipness.
Supposedly, it is an independent expenditure, but really, the ad ends with the official website.
Senator Obama should pull the ad down.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Politics in Church

The Washington Post reported a study that showed that the political polarization of the country was very pronounced. There is not much of a politically centrist portion of the population. I don't doubt it.
People who because of rules, regulations or custom, are supposed to talk or write about current events in a non-partisan way are put into a very difficult position by this polarization. One such group are the elite pundit corps of columnists and commentators, who are supposed to be neutral and objective. Apparently, their strategy for dealing with this situation is to pine for the good old days of bi-partisanship and dream about a John McCain-Joe Leiberman Unity Government.
Another group professionally disadvantaged by the collapse of the middle are ministers. The issues are too grave to not talk about them. The old "plague on both their houses" doesn't hold water any more, because one party wages illegal wars, tortures people and claims unprecedented executive power and the other one doesn't live like Fransciscan Monks and occasionally swears in public.
The middle is not a reasonable position anymore. The folks in the middle of the road are the ones who have not been paying attention very much and are simply adverse to having an opinion. And there are very few of them left.
Ministers have to move from being non-partisan and above the fray to a place where they speak their minds on current events and still try to maintain right relations with people who disagree with them.
It means not going for cheap shots, being very serious, being as factual as possible in the presentation of one's evidence, and setting a goal of being able to summarize the position of those with whom you disagree in terms that they would recognize their own position. It means keeping a good humor and not getting tribal about loyality. It means being very transparent about one's own thinking and the murky areas of it. It means talking about current events to raise important issues and not to rally the troops.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Forming the Firing Squad in a Circle

As usual, liberals, both at the rank and file level and at the level of commentators and bloggers, are busy writing stories about the Democrats in Congress that work to the benefit of the GOP. The explosion of blogs now means that everyone can get in one what used to be the Washington elite media's exclusive terrain -- telling people how weak, ineffectual and incompetent the Democratic party is.
The House passed a non-binding resolution disapproving of the escalation of the war. Only 15 Republicans voted for the resolution and 2 Democrats voted against it. Despite the cratering of public support for the war, the GOP held together very well in the House. There had been some predictions of as many as 40-60 GOP defections. Only 15.
In the Senate, the same non-binding resolution was filibustered. The cloture motion got 57 votes -- a much higher percentage of GOP Senators defected from the President as in House. The story however, was that the President's Party had prevailed, because they had prevented the resolution from coming to the floor.
I bring this story up because it indicates the actual state of power relationships in the Congress, an understanding of which is a necessary precondition to the evaluation of strategy and tactics.
Put simply, the Democrats in the Senate are in a weak position. Their majority depends on Lieberman. They are well short of the 60 votes needed to get something, anything to the floor.
They have two options: one is propose a wide variety of bills, repeals of bills, and resolutions which will be filibustered and kept from the floor. Every incident of which will be portrayed as a Bush victory.
The second is to try to find some measure that gets past the 60 votes mark and present Bush with a escalating clash of institutional powers, which will result in exposing the constitutional crisis already created by Bush's executive branch power grab.
The Democrats in the Senate are objectively in a weak position. But instead of explaining how it is going to take crafty and persistent legislative strategizing to gather the power to effectively challange Bush, writers supposedly sympathetic to Democrats assail them for being weak. Apparently the only way to show strength is to take a series of positions which repeatedly lose.
End Result: Everyone in the world knows, and even most Democratic partisans say so, that the Democratic Party is too weak to govern.
Who benefits?