Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Democrats Starting to Win the PR War (Finally!)

When you're dealing with Right and Wrong — or even Sleazy vs. Sleazier — it shouldn’t matter who comes up with better one-liners. But unfortunately, in a country saturated with slogans and bumper-stickers, it comes down a battle of slick PR and catchy phrases.

From the Vietnam war right up through Iraqmire, armchair warriors have claimed that criticizing the war equals “aiding and abetting the enemy.” Any critics of American foreign policy are tarnished with “Hating America” and “Blame America First.” Unquestioning devotion to George W. Bush translates into “Support Our Troops.” Etc.

But lately some Democrats have actually scored some rhetorical points. Senator Joseph Biden said “It’s not the American people or the U.S. Congress who are emboldening the enemy. It’s the failed policy of this president — going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely.” Yeah!!! Bam! Pow! Take that, chickenhawks!

And John Conyers told a crowd of anti-war demonstrators: “George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing. He can’t fire you.”

And as you’ve probably heard (God it’s fun to kick an asshole when he's down), Bush’s poll ratings actually went down right after his State of the Union speech last week.

Again, slogans and rhetoric shouldn’t matter. Style shouldn’t triumph over substance. Unfortunately…

But now, after several decades of Republican PR victories, the tide seems to be turning. Instead of answering Republican soundbites with incoherent sputtering — or trying to be Republican Lite — Democrats are actually firing off some good soundbites of their own. It’s a necessary evil.

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Blogger Mike V. said...

I think a HUGE help to the "cause" was Webb's response after the state of the union speech.

It was very well written (by him), thoughtful and reasoned.

January 29, 2007 at 1:11 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Yeah! And I loved it when I saw the news headline one morning saying, "Bush chides ..." and then later the same day, it was "Biden chides ..." Finally!

January 29, 2007 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Damien said...

It looks like its gonna be the same old same old this time around, candidates trying their best to make the best one liner, the best sound bite. Fortunately Hilary does'nt seem to have taken that road yet, she seems to be making fairly long winded and detailed statements, good on her
but I guess details do tend to miss the target with ordinary diner Joe Smoes.

January 29, 2007 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger PoliShifter said...

I really do think that the alternatives to conventional media are helping.

Sites like Think Progress and Media Matters dissect right wing hypocrisy on on a daily basis.

YouTube makes clips available for all to see of Bush, Cheney, Rummy, and all the other right wing tools making asses of themselves.

Before the internets and YouTube, many of these clips would have likely never seen the light of day again (like Bush's WMB joke, "Mission Accomplished", "Bring'em on", Dead or alive..etc etc)

It makes it hard for the Bush cronies to lie. They still try to lie even when their lies are caught on tape. All in all I think it helps when Bush tells a lie, then denies it, and then the internet is flooded with YouTube video of Bush telling the initial lie.

Without that, Bush would be able to get away with more.

We didn't have that in the 80's or even the 90's.

Now these fuckers really just can't hide.

January 29, 2007 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike: Oh yeah, Webb’s speech was great. Exactly the shot in the arm we all needed. Bush’s SOTU speech was lame as anything, and Webb mopped up the floor with him.

Candace: Yup, finally. It’s the Democrats’ turn to start doing some chiding.

Damien: Unfortunately, I think Hillary is too long-winded and wonkish. She could use a sharp well-worded jab from time to time. I know that’s not supposed to matter, but like you said, a lot of Joe Schmoes out there only notice the soundbites and slogans.

PoliShifter: Yup, internet news sites, blogs and YouTube clips have made a world of difference. That’s why it’s so important to save the Internet from corporate sharks and government censors. Undoubtedly the Powers That Be — politicians, Big Business and mainstream media executives — are all in a white-hot fury over these pesky “internets.” They'd love to put the squeeze on those dissident bloggers, and we can't allow that to happen. Like you say, there's no place to hide, and we have to keep it that way.

January 29, 2007 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Right or wrong, slogans and soundbites work. For example, you could define John Kerry's failed candidacy with one sound bite: I voted for the war before I voted against it. That is the definition of a flip-flopper.

Democrats have to think on two levels: on one you talk to the thoughtful voter who makes an effort to understand the issues and seeks out info on current events. On another level, you focus on the person who rarely thinks about politics but might respond to a powerful (and truthful) sound bite or slogan.

My personal favorite is "Don't Like Abortion? Don't Have One".

January 29, 2007 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

J. Marquis: That's true, you need those two levels. You can get all detailed and wonkish with the person who follows the issues. But for millions of people who never get beyond the sports page, you need a good hard-hitting soundbite. Republicans have understood this for decades; it's about time the Democrats caught on.

January 29, 2007 at 5:33 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

Yeah, don't forget the Maliki comment the other day regarding Rice's statements. That was a real winner as well.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Funny, remember when Reagan used to give his SOTU address and people would soften up? I did. For a brief moment I would forget why I hated him so much and say "hey, he isn't such a bad guy." Then I'd remember Iran Contra.

But with Bush, his speaches just reinforce the hate. He is so phoney and transparent it is almost hard to watch.

January 31, 2007 at 2:29 AM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

The Goppers never really had anything but character smears anyway-their trick was to convince people that "the other guy" was always worse than they were.

Thanks to El Shrubbo del Estupido, everybody knows better than that now-save for the Chimpletons, who are practicing a religion rather than engaging in politics.

January 31, 2007 at 4:47 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Prague Twin: Yeah, that’s really a major diss for Bush to have his poll ratings sink after his SOTU speech. It’s such a cliché that presidents and other political leaders get an uptick in the polls right after a major speech. To give the SOTU speech and then go down in the polls — red flag.

Jolly Roger: Yup, character assassination and soundbites were all the GOP had going for them. Now that these tactics are getting less effective, they're screwed. And speaking of religion, I think it’s about the same percentage that still favors Bush and who think the sun revolves around the earth.

January 31, 2007 at 12:54 PM  

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