Tuesday, January 11, 2005

All Is Fair In Love And War -- And This Is Revolution

Two subject lines today. Here's the second: "You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So of course I had to invent not only myself but ways of escape no one has every thought of before."

You'll see why.

There's a fascinating take on the Democratic party at USA Today (by way of Yahoo). You should go read the whole thing. But there are some interesting phrasings of the perception of the problem:
Democrats "as a group are uneasy" about attacking and defending on character, says Harold Ickes, a former Clinton aide who heads the Media Fund, a political ad organization. "But they damn well better get the stomach," he adds, because "we've seen way too many of our candidates taken down on issues of character."
Let's make a new definition, okay? When Mr. Ickes says "Democrats", above, he does not mean "people who think of themselves as Democrats". He means "the current crop of Democratic politicians, television pundits, and party officials".

Why do I make such a distinction? Because for several years now, we -- that is, Democratic bloggers, commenters, party workers, friends, family members -- have been
begging the Party to call these lying fuckers... well, lying fuckers. We're not uneasy, we're enraged that our party, our supposed voices, are just bending over and taking it. If you don't believe me, check out any blog listed to the right -- any one -- and look at the language there. Concise, evocative, accurate, and direct.

I suspect that the reasons the Repubs have become so adept at slapping Dems with character issues and "moral values" is a combination of things. The Dems don't want to look petty, i.e., getting into a game of "Whoa, yeah? Well
you guys did...". The Repubs, for the most part, have apparently had their shame and in some cases humanity surgically removed.

But the biggest reason is that, in the name of human decency and politeness -- which, understand, I am all for in most cases, thank you very much -- we are not using the right words for things. When I started looking for citations for this post, I had a different argument in mind. But a quick Google of "Gonzalez testimony", regarding last week's fun in the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave me some lovely opening lines.

From the Washington Post editorial:
"ALBERTO R. GONZALES missed an important opportunity yesterday to rectify his position, and that of President Bush, on the imprisonment and interrogation of foreign detainees. At the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on his nomination to be attorney general, Mr. Gonzales repeatedly was offered the chance to repudiate a legal judgment that the president is empowered to order torture in violation of U.S. law and immunize torturers from punishment. He declined to do so...."
Isn't that nice? He missed an important opportunity. I've got a slight revision for you: "ALBERTO R. GONZALEZ thinks it's okay to torture people. He gave long, legalistic justifications for inflicting severe pain on human beings. He tortures not only human beings but the law and the spirit of the law. He doesn't deserve to be Attorney General; he deserves to be disbarred on this point alone. But let's go on...."

From the ACLU:
The American Civil Liberties Union today called Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales’ confirmation hearing testimony vague, evasive, and said that it ultimately raises more questions than answers about the Bush administration’s role in formulating legal policies surrounding the abuse of prisoners in American custody.

"While Gonzales hoped to quiet concerns about his nomination in today’s confirmation hearings, he ironically refused to answer some of the important questions about his policies that may have contributed to widespread torture and abuse," said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. "Gonzales couldn’t even ‘remember’ if he approved or agreed with a now disavowed memo addressed to him in 2002 that justified certain torture techniques."

While as a matter of policy, the American Civil Liberties Union neither opposes nor endorses the Gonzales nomination, Romero said that the nominee’s testimony during today’s hearing has been frustrating at best.

Uh, guys? You're the organization that defends the Bill of Rights. First thing: No torture. Mm-kay? And what's this "vague, evasive... raised more questions than it answered" wording? Put it later in the press release. With the first line, you're supposed to be going for the hearts and minds of America here, framing your sound bite. Say "Alberto Gonzalez refused to directly answer questions about his justification for torture, which apparently led to the widespread abuses at Abu Ghraib."

Senator Joe Biden, the one who's supposed to be the attack dog on the committee, going after Gonzalez? He spends so much time in a lecture that ended with "We're looking for candor, old buddy. I love you, but you're not very candid so far" that Gonzalez didn't have to be candid -- his time was up.

Here's from the transcript of Meet the Press this week. Mention of Gonzalez? None. Not one word.

Dick Meyer actually gave a pretty good smackdown of Gonzalez on but how much of one are we going to get on The CBS Evening News? That would be "none".

Then there's this whole Armstrong Williams fiasco. No sympathy for the guy here -- he took himself down. But three Senators wrote a letter to the White House demanding explanations on this payola scheme. Where the hell were they when Gonzalez was nominated? Why didn't they write a letter saying, "Fuck you, send somebody who's not a torturer"?

Amy Sullivan points out something that the blogs have been going on about for months: The Dems keep hiring the same losers -- as in, inept, unable-to-win advisors -- over and over again.

Meanwhile, in the last ten years, among many other things:

What is being said about all these things? Not fuckin' much. Not by our most public spokespersons. Not by the ones we fucking elected to represent us.

So, yeah, Harold Ickes' "Democrats" had indeed damn well better learn to attack and defend on character issues. Because they only think they do.

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