Meyerson: Republicans Have Become Party of Slime Rather than Ideas

Harold Meyerson accurately describes the tactics being used by the Republicans. They have run out of ideas and must resort to slime:

With fewer than 60 days remaining before the November election, the only two Republican strategies left standing are to scare the public about the Democrats collectively or to slime the Democrats individually. There’s nothing new about these strategies, of course, but this year they exist in a vacuum. Having run both the executive and legislative branches for the past two years with nothing but failure to show for it, the Republicans can no longer campaign as the party that will balance the budget, reform entitlements, lower energy costs, fix the immigration problem, create a more secure world or find a suitable way out of their endless war of choice in Iraq. What’s left is a campaign of scaring and sliming, with the emphasis on the latter.

This strategy worked before, but Meyerson doesn’t think it will work this year:

But the public isn’t falling for the third iteration of the scare campaign — not yet, anyway — so the Republicans have fallen back on slime. According to a report in Sunday’s Post by Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza, the National Republican Congressional Committee “plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads” that attack Democratic candidates on their business dealings, legal battles and legislative votes that can be taken out of context.

What’s a party to do when its high road leads nowhere but down? The Republicans tried privatizing Social Security, but their numbers never added up. They tried spreading democracy with unilateral, preventive war but instead unleashed a sectarian bloodbath. So the party of big ideas, of Milton Friedman and the neoconservatives, is now just one big Swift Boat flotilla, its ideas sunk of their own dead weight, kept afloat solely by its opposition research. For their part, the Democrats still champion common security; they call for a government that can build dikes and reduce the costs of college and medication and that knows that remaking the world becomes more plausible when some of the world is actually willing to go along with us. Those are, in the campaign of 2006, just about the only ideas in play.

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  1. 1
    Jan says:

    I hope the dem strategist are listening. There was a good editorial in the Wash Post yesterday about Bush’s disgusting unethical speech. Yes, it was tacky, innappropriate and without morals to spin 911 all week. And, as usual, with the dumbest 4% of Americans it worked, and thats all they need. This editorial pointed out (and I dont remember who the author was) that Bush (Rove and Cheney) uses passive aggressive rhetoric. YES!!!! I am a family therapist and I fight this highly effective communication blocker (it is known as a “dirty fighting technique” everyday. The most difficult to get through because it is indirect. (“well he didnt say Democrat or Republican but he didnt need to because it was implied”) so that people say, “what are you talking about, it wasnt partisan???” Yes it was, but it was indirect. (well not to me it was very direct and shameless) but with these literalist (they have to have it spelled out cause they are dumbasses) they dont get it. THEY ONLY WAY TO RESPOND TO PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION IS WITH DIRECT CONFRONTATION EVERY TIME. You must be tireless. Everytime he does it (and now that is daily as the heat is turned up) you (all dems) must be on talking point and say loudly, “What did you mean Mr. President when you said…?” That’s not right!!!! and strongly so that the stupid americans get it. Spell it out over and over (like the 2nd grade) Iraq is NOT 911. Saddam Hussein is not Osama Bin Laden. (I am starting to think they think that all islamists are the same-islamofacist, what the f**k is that???) Treat americans like 2nd graders (like they do with slogans and spin lines and sound bites, but no more than two syllables, “flip flop”, cause Americans have a very short attention span). This strategy works for passive aggressive behavior with patients, transfer it from the micro system to the macro, it would work.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:


    A lot of good points. There’s often disagreement over to what degree to respond to each attack, with some fearing that the response will lead to increasing coverage of the attack. I’ve always leaned towards aggressively responding, but it was a gut feeling and I had no real proof I was right. Interesting to relate this to handling the passive aggressive.

    Conservatives have a tendendy to concentrate more on the specific words than full meaning. They can defend Bush with a straight face of not saying Saddam was behind 9/11 ignoring every effort of the Bush Administration make people believe this. They also think that it is fair game to attack Democrats for “their words” even if they have cherry picked statements out of context, or even twisted the quote around a bit. So what if it isn’t what they were saying–they will attack as long as they can convince themselves they are dealing with a quote.

    Speaking of dealing with the passive aggressive: if you return responding to I Must Be Wrong appears to be more up your line of work.

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