Ezra's already mentioned the Beinart, Tomasky, vanden Heuvel roundtable, and I thought Ezra's idea about how make lemonade out of lemons is interesting, and possibly the only good thing one can do with that kind of epidemic of mistatement. But while several people have pointed out that Beinart repeats that incorrect republican talking point about Bob Casey, my problem with Beinart overall is that everything he says seems designed to reinforce republican talking points of one sort or another. Not that I think he's ill-intentioned necessarily, but to those of us who are either fully or partially Lakoffian in our strategic thinking, this kind of thing is very disappointing:
Liberals need to look at how they grew estranged from large numbers of Americans in the post-Vietnam period. And I think another estrangement has occurred since 9/11. Many Americans have questions about the degree to which liberals are willing to defend the country.
You can just hear Sean Hannity saying "see, even liberals admit they're out of touch."
If Beinart wants to say something like, 'I think liberals should talk more about national security, and strive to be clearer about what they'd do fight international terrorism,' that would be fine. The irony, instead, becomes that though he's no doubt trying to be helpful and truthful -- telling it like he sees it -- he ends up feeding an impression that already exists and doing more harm than good.
The party has to have a listening tour within its own base but also a listening tour among swing constituencies that are moving away: Hispanics, Jews, the military in particular. The Democratic Party needs a strategy with military voters not simply because of their numbers, but because military voters will give the Democratic Party credibility with nonmilitary voters who are concerned the Democratic Party is not tough enough.
Jeebus, this is terrible! He makes it sound like 1) the Democratic Party isn't listening to those groups and 2) the Democratic Party isn't tough enough. Why not just say, 'We need to remind Hispanics, Jews and military personnel why the Democratic Party is good for them. We need to be more vocal about our national security ideas, and make sure that veterans remember that it's the President who wants to cut their benefits.'
Seriously, it's not that hard. You don't have to buy everything that George Lakoff (or Newt Gingrich, for that matter) says to realize that the way you say things in public matters to your audience. And I find it very distressing that as intelligent a person as Peter Beinart still doesn't get it. Remember, the keynote speaker at the republican national convention wasn't a republican, and that (D) next to his name for the course of his speech did more for the Bush campaign than anything the fallen Senator from my homestate actually said.
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