Cool Like That

In regards to DougJ’s post about Michael Steele, the thing that cracks me up about the entire thing is this bizarre belief that the real problem with the current GOP is marketing failure. They simply don’t seem to understand that the public did not reject their packaging and messaging, they rejected their product. Not the other way around. George Bush was nothing if not a marketing success.

In fact, an argument could be made that they have managed to sell a deeply, deeply flawed product for years, and that only their successful marketing kept them in the game. See “death tax,” and “patriot act,” and “sanctity of marriage” and the whole host of clever terms and names that they have used to get their way. Did any of you notice anything either “compassionate” or “conservative” about the previous eight years? Now granted, smarter conservatives have figured all of this out, but being smarter conservatives, they are completely shut out of the debate.

To further illustrate my point at how successful they have been at marketing and branding, look at the number of issues in which the American people repeatedly have what would be considered left to hard left opinions, yet time and time again the right wing side of that opinion is presented as “centrist.” (* Update: How timely. Steve Benen has a post up about this just today). Ask the same people who provided the “liberal” response if they are “liberal,” and they shriek in horror and run. The Democratic party in the United States would most likely be a center-right party in virtually every country in Europe. Mr. Overton, your window is open again. At any rate, entire movies have been dedicated to this sort of thing at the Media Education Foundation, and Marc Crispin Miller and George Lakoff and the staff at Media Matters and other folks who follow this could talk for days about it, so there is no point for me to go on and on about this.

To reiterate, this notion that the real problem with the GOP is just a packaging problem is delusional. It is akin to the CEO of the Peanut Corporation of America deciding that their current fail should be blamed on a shitty looking wrapper. “Don’t worry shareholders- we have a brand new logo coming out.”

I have no idea why they think this, although perhaps they bought into the Clinton spin of “just words” from the primary, and honestly think they were just beaten by better marketing. To them, everything is “just words,” then you DWTFYW once you are elected. That certainly would explain their idiotic campaign in the fall, to include desire to win every news cycle at the expense of anything resembling a coherent message.

At any rate, far be it from me to tell my former party how to run itself, but let me suggest that if the GOP thinks that all they need to do is just re-brand themselves, they are crazier than even I thought they were. Considering they spent the last couple of weeks voting no against the stimulus bill before racing home to promote it in their states and districts, they might just be that dumb. “Look-see! We are the party of fiscal conservatism, and we voted against all this pork and wasteful spending. Which, by the way, will create 7500 jobs right here!”

But then again, you know what they say about going broke and estimates about the intelligence of the American people.

And there are all sorts of typos, errors in grammar, and other mistakes in this, and I am too lazy to fix any of them. Deal with it.

*** Update ***

And via the comments section at Eunomia, I see that as always, the Onion or the Daily Show was there first:

64 replies
  1. 1
    SpotWeld says:

    George Bush was nothing if not a marketing success.

    Heck, Sarah Palin was a marketing triumph. Seriously, she pretty much ended up as the national topic of conversation in just a few days.

    The failure was, once she was in front of the cameras she couldn’t deliver. Yet the GOP kept throwing her out there.
    (Caroline Kennedy also failed to deliver, but see seems to have taken her knocks and stepped back… a little wiser for it.)

    Joe the Plumber, he’s like the Pecos Bill of conservatism. Sadly he would do better as a legend than as a actual person. (Personally I think he’s being groomed to replace Rush, but that’s just my opinion.)

    All the GOP can do now is lay ground work to portray Obama as the "new Jimmy Carter" and whoever they can drum up to be the "new Regan" in 2012.

    All noise, no substance except for a single unified petulant "no" vote.

  2. 2
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    if the GOP thinks that all they need to do is just re-brand themselves, they are crazier than even I thought they were.

    This has been their MO for quite awhile hasn’t it? Or if not the party itself, its activities. Didn’t they keep sending Karen Hughes around to explain to people that the Iraq war was really, really great and all they had to do was hear the explanation and they’d get it? Sort of thing?

  3. 3
    Stooleo says:

    an argument could be made that they have managed to sell a deeply, deeply flawed product for years,

    Prop 13 in California fits into that category. Now it is truly biting them in the ass.

  4. 4
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    These are the same guys that spray painted a new name on the Exxon Valdez and pretended the accident never happened. They invented the phrase "New packaging, same great xxxx…".

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    In fact, an argument could be made that they have managed to sell a deeply, deeply flawed product for years, and that only their successful marketing kept them in the game. See “death tax,” and “patriot act,” and “sanctity of marriage” and the whole host of clever terms and names that they have used to get their way. Did any of you notice anything either “compassionate” or “conservative” about the previous eight years?

    Blah blah pro-life. Blah blah family values. Blah blah personal responsibility. Blah blah faith based initiatives. Blah blah protecting our freedom. Blah blah.

    The Republicans succeeded themselves to death. Like a cigarette salesman working an old folks home. I can’t really blame them for their dogged belief that marketing is the reason they’re failing if marketing is the reason they were such a success. And, in a way, their right. Liberals came through as the recession loomed large and two wars dragged us down and simply sold a better bill of goods. People like the idea of universal health care. They like the idea of deescalation in Iraq. They like the idea of government spending for economic stimulus.

    If Republicans could just get people to like HMOs and Middle Eastern wars and corporate tax cuts, they’d be back on top again in short order. But they burned through their market. Private insurance looks much better when you can afford it. Wars are more fun when you’re winning. And tax cuts for the rich really don’t benefit the unemployed.

    The scary thing is that 10 years ago people DID like HMOs, war, and money for rich people. Large swaths of the nation were totally sold on the ideas. So – at the end of the day I have to agree – its clearly not the ideas that are the problem. Its the public attitude. And that’s what the Republicans are trying to change. They’re just not doing a very good job of it.

  6. 6
    TenguPhule says:

    They are crazier than even I thought they were.

    Republican Insanity is always a measure of Quantum.

  7. 7
    The Moar You Know says:

    They simply don’t seem to understand that the public did not reject their packaging and messaging, they rejected their product.

    Unpossible. Conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.

  8. 8
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    @Stooleo:

    Now it is truly biting them everyone in the ass.

    Corrected for accurracy.

  9. 9
    Keith says:

    For another reference, look at WCW vs. WWF circa 2001 when WCW would "reboot" their brand about every 2 months after getting trounced in the Nielsens.

  10. 10
    MikeJ says:

    “Don’t worry shareholders- we have a brand new logo coming out.”

    That’s what Xe just did.

  11. 11
    The Other Steve says:

    ABC has a good post up, seems mostly cut and past from Think Progress, but it’s all about how these same Republicans who voted against the stimulus are touting it’s benefits back home in their districts.

  12. 12
    Joshua Norton says:

    if the GOP thinks that all they need to do is just re-brand themselves, they are crazier than even I thought they were.

    Really, Even though it worked so well for the Whigs?

    Oh, wait….

    Never mind.

  13. 13
    Tonal Crow says:

    You’ve got it *almost* correct. The GOP leadership knows, I think, that its ideology is the problem, but it wants us (meaning, as many people as possible) to believe that its rhetoric is the problem. If they can convince us of that, their problems are over, and we are in for a whole new era of up-is-down, black-is-white, slavery-is-freedom policies.

    Beware: GOPtarded as their policies are, these guys know rhetoric cold. And oh, BTW, most Democrats in power can’t argue their way out of a wet paper bag. Everytime I hear Harry Reid my head almost assplodes.

  14. 14
    RandyH says:

    This is the argument I always hear from Republicans when they have a setback. "It’s just a P.R. problem. We just need to tweak the message" or do a better job of catapultin’ the propaganda, new slogan, new logo, etc. Somebody call Frank Luntz! We need sparklier lipstick for this pig.

  15. 15
    Lev says:

    Yeah, the tech and communications bit is a crock. The GOP message machine works just fine, as the stimulus debates showed. The problem is that nobody trusts Republicans or wants particularly to hear from them.

  16. 16
    Zifnab says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    Really, Even though it worked so well for the Whigs?

    Abraham Lincoln. Fifteen years earlier, he woulda been a Whig. Seems like it worked out rather well.

  17. 17
    Stuck says:

    Steve Benen has good post on this subject via polling questions and how they’re asked with the Orwellian twist on terminology. I believe on the issues, the country has always, or at least since the Great Depression, been a center-left country. The GOP only has wordplay and a predators sensibility on things like social issues and patriotism, and the fact that in good times people just don’t pay attention to what they really stand for, which is mostly always transferring wealth to themselves and their friends. And like we’ve seen, when they manage to get elected, what eventually comes through is this mindless race for money and the power that comes with it. Maybe this time, it will be different, though i doubt it. Meanwhile, wingnut needs to get some new rap.

    As for true conservatives seeing the problem, there just aren’t enough of them to stand up a decent party, and I see nothing on the horizon that will change that. except maybe cloning.

  18. 18
    Joshua Norton says:

    Republicans = Clarence Thomas
    Democrats = Thurgood Marshall

    You can apply this formula to everything the Republicans do.

  19. 19
    Tim C. says:

    The basic problem the GOP faces is that they have been lying so successfully for so long, that they have forgotten that they are lying. Sometime during the Clinton administration, they decided they were really the Great and powerful OZ, not just the humbug behind the curtain.

    I think the root of the problem lies in the deal that was hatched between the old country-club GOP and the Christianists who make up the rank and file today. It’s a party now made up largely of people who simply don’t care about things like evidence and objective truth. The old guard like Mark Hatfield and Tom McCall in my own state of Oregon could never ever be Republicans today. Too heterodox, too willing to look at the world the way it is.

    Those were Republicans I could lose too and still not worry about the nation……

  20. 20
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    STRINGER: Y’all heard of Worldcom? Alright, let’s try this: Y’all get jacked by some narcos. But y’all clean. Y’all got an outstanding warrant, like everybody in here. What do you do? What do you do?
    POOT: Give another name.
    STRINGER: Why?
    POOT: ‘Cause your real name ain’t no good.
    STRINGER: Alright, it ain’t good and, follow through…. Alright, death grip ain’t shit.
    POOT: Then change up the name.
    STRINGER: What else?
    ROCK: Yo, I got it, change the caps from red to blue, right? Make it look like we got some fresh shit, boom.
    BODIE: And you know what else we might could do, give each tower its own name, right? And then we do like some fake competing. So a fiend gets some bad shit from one, he’d go back to the other.
    STRINGER: There’s a thinkin’ man, right there.

  21. 21
    stickler says:

    Well, of course they think that the only problem is re-branding. Or, more likely, the only part of the problem the GOP leadership is willing to challenge is the branding.

    Because the reality is, the GOP coalition is breaking apart, and a serious re-evaluation of issues will only make that problem worse. Which part of the GOP coalition do you want to piss off right now if you’re Steele? The fundagelicals? Hell, nominating McCain damned near sent them out the door in ’08. So no letup on the abortion front. How about the big-business interests? There’s been a few populist murmurs out there, but if you piss off the banks, who pays for ongoing legal challenges to Al Franken? Who pays for the cocktail weenies at Conservatism 2.0?

    And on and on it goes. No, far safer to Twitter your way into oblivion than blow up the party right now.

  22. 22
    Stooleo says:

    I love "The Wire".

  23. 23
    Joshua Norton says:

    Remember when "lipstick on a pig" was a joke? Now it’s a political strategy.

  24. 24
    Lev says:

    I wonder if the whole "liberaltarian" concept will take hold. What happens if libertarians begin to move into a partnership with the right? Answer: the end of the GOP, basically. So I’m fully supportive of Will Wilkinson’s efforts as far as that goes.

  25. 25
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    @Lev: What happens if libertarians begin to move into a partnership with the right? Answer: the end of the GOP, basically.

    …wait, isn’t that what the GOP is now?

  26. 26
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Joshua Norton:

    Remember when "lipstick on a pig" was a joke? Now it’s a political strategy.

    "Lipstick on a pig" is much too easy on the GOP, and too hard on pigs. "Lipstick on an Orc" is much better, as is "Grand Orc Party". What do you wanna bet that some of these guys actually have nicknames like "Shagrat" and "The Mouth of Sauron"?

  27. 27

    When I first read the Michael Steele story this morning I–just for a moment–thought that it was an April Fool’s prank. Of course, it wasn’t because we’re still in February but just for that split second I thought "this has to be a joke."

  28. 28
    libarbarian says:

    They simply don’t seem to understand that the public did not reject their packaging and messaging, they rejected their product. Not the other way around. George Bush was nothing if not a marketing success.

    I don’t think people have rejected the GOP message as much as they no longer trusts the GOP as a messenger.

    At least I still like some of their messages, like limited-government, but I no longer trust them to live by it.

  29. 29
    The Moar You Know says:

    ABC has a good post up, seems mostly cut and past from Think Progress, but it’s all about how these same Republicans who voted against the stimulus are touting it’s benefits back home in their districts.

    Why can’t Democrats be the first ones to think of this kind of stuff? Just once I’d like to sucker-punch those assholes first, instead of the other way around.

  30. 30
    John S. says:

    "Lipstick on a pig" is much too easy on the GOP, and too hard on pigs.

    Still, it’s a lot easier than polishing a turd to a high luster.

  31. 31
    MattF says:

    Problem for the Republicans is that they have to hold on to the voters who think the cause of the current financial crisis is illegal immigration– or gay marriage, or the Jews, or something. This prevents formulation of any kind of rational political policy, even supposing, for the sake of argument, that current Republican politicians could formulate rational political policy. My feeling is that they are really doing the best they can.

  32. 32
    Shiva says:

    It seems that many Republicans consider the Democrats to be evil. From this point of view, it would be a "marketing problem" that explains why America voted for "the evil" (Obama) instead of "the good" (McCain).
    Time and time again I am amazed, and frankly scared, to see that many Republicans really do think Obama is a "bad person", e.g. who "pals around with terrorists".

  33. 33
    NonyNony says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    You’ve got it almost correct. The GOP leadership knows, I think, that its ideology is the problem, but it wants us (meaning, as many people as possible) to believe that its rhetoric is the problem.

    I see no evidence at all that this is the case. If the GOP leadership actually knew that it’s ideology was the problem and not its rhetoric, it would find ways to subtly shift its ideology without shifting its rhetoric, win votes, and take power again. The guys left in the party are the hardcore Kool-Aid drinkers – Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Michael Steele, Mitch McConnell – these guys are the hard core of the "conservatism cannot fail" faction.

    @stickler:

    Because the reality is, the GOP coalition is breaking apart, and a serious re-evaluation of issues will only make that problem worse. Which part of the GOP coalition do you want to piss off right now if you’re Steele?

    That’s an easy question to answer – the batshit crazy fundamentalist Christian wing is the group you marginalize. You get the moneymen and the remnants of the non-crazy wings into a room and you say "Look, we’re going to be losing elections for the next, oh, 4-8 years. We need to rebuild our image. We have a choice – we can be a populist party that panders to the Know-Nothings, or we can become a party that is openly pro-business and serious about economic stability. But we can’t be both anymore, and one of these two groups has to be marginalized for the long term survival of the party." And then, as they say, stab the Christianists in the back. Or push them under a bus. Or give them a ticket for the ferris wheel or whatever the metaphor is nowadays for cutting them loose and telling them to join the fucking Constitution Party if they don’t like it.

    It’s an easy equation – the country has already moved left on social issues. The GOP is bleeding people in the Northeast and West because of their backward and regressive stances on social issues. In the short term they’re going to be struggling to win elections anyway, so cut those fools loose and move the party back to the center on social issues. Make a huge fucking deal out of it and send the crazies packing.

  34. 34
    Karmakin says:

    @libarbarian: Honestly, where I think they (and by extension, actual libertarians) went off the rails, is not recognizing that government is not the only form of government. The things that irritate people about government, the facelessness, the bureaucracy, the lack of control, the pseudo-monopoly power and the red tape, can all be seen more and more in the private sector.

    More so, the actual government can take steps to limit the power of private bureaucracies. A good example is universal health care, which could cut like a lightsaber through the HMO maze (probably the most destructive bureaucracy that exists today).

    Conservatives needs to come up with actual solutions to these issues, and other basic economic issues like declining job and wage security. And not the 3-bank masse trick shots they’ve been trying for years now. They’ve had a million tries and do-overs. I think the public at large is tired of it.

  35. 35
    Napoleon says:

    @Shiva:

    It seems that many Republicans consider the Democrats to be evil.

    In the last couple of days I read an interview with Nancy Pelosi’s daughter who is a film maker who just released a film on the GOP during this last election cycle and I guess they ask some woman at a rally why the people are there at the rally, or why they are republican’s, or something similar, and she says "because we hate the same things".

  36. 36
    gwangung says:

    @libarbarian: Honestly, where I think they (and by extension, actual libertarians) went off the rails, is not recognizing that government is not the only form of government. The things that irritate people about government, the facelessness, the bureaucracy, the lack of control, the pseudo-monopoly power and the red tape, can all be seen more and more in the private sector.

    Way I put it is that both corporations and government are forms of collectives. And pitting individuals against collectives means that individuals will always get the shaft. There are distinct differences, of course, between governments and corporations, but they share a lot similarities…a lot more…and many of those similarities are destructive to individuals.

    The key is to remember that to counteract the power of the collective entity is either to oppose it with another collective, or to get access to it’s own power….

  37. 37
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    @Tim C.:

    The old guard like Mark Hatfield and Tom McCall in my own state of Oregon could never ever be Republicans today. Too heterodox, too willing to look at the world the way it is.

    From next door in Washington, same thing. It’s funny how different people responded in different ways to the hijacking of the Republican party.

    Our old governor, Dan Evans was, until recently anyway, regarded as something of an elder statesman around here, and the newspapers used to ask him to pontificate on shit all the time. I’d have to tape my jaw closed, because, I’d be constantly going: "A Republican wrote this?"

    Meanwhile his protege Slade Gorton, who came in with him as Attorney General, had no trouble going with the flow and turning into a wingnut. And his most zealous campaign worker, Ted Bundy, well we all know what happened to him!

  38. 38
    Desargues says:

    John, with this post you have joined Gore Vidal in asserting that America has only one party with two right wings, Democratic and Republican. You’re now slightly to the left of Francois Mitterand. Whew. That was some trajectory you took.

    (Mind you, I’m not blaming you for this — I think you’re right. I just hope you’re aware of the transformation you’ve undergone.)

  39. 39
    mak says:

    In fact, an argument could be made that they have managed to sell a deeply, deeply flawed product for years, and that only their successful marketing kept them in the game. See “death tax,” and “patriot act,” and “sanctity of marriage” and the whole host of clever terms and names that they have used to get their way.

    Spot on. For whatever reason, though, the pugs seem to have lost their marketing mojo. Aside from the "Socialism" mantra (which, sorry, just ain’t that scary anymore, and in fact sounds pretty good right about now), the best they’ve come up with of late is "generational theft" vis a vis the stimulus bill. Lame.

    Bottom line is that you can call a shit sandwich whatever you like, but if the public knows it’s a shit sandwich, they ain’t gonna buy it.

  40. 40
    iluvsummr says:

    I almost died laughing the first time I heard this part of the clip:

    Q: How do you get people to eat a shit sandwich?

    A: Dip it in chocolate and tell people it has zero calories.

    I mean, the GOP actually did this for over 20 years and it worked! Now there are more sane people reading between the lines. Time for a new strategy. Unfortunately, Michael "bleeding edge" Steele is part of the old one.

  41. 41
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I think someone needs a big hug.

  42. 42
    libarbarian says:

    @Karmakin

    I agree 100%.

  43. 43
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @[delurk]…[/delurk]: Depends on how senile they are now. If Jim Bunning and Ted Stevens are any indication, wingnut crazy and senility manifest very similarly.

  44. 44
    srv says:

    Meghan McCain explains it’s because the GOP isn’t tech savvy enough.

    I wanted to ask some of the people who have been doing online work for the Republican party if they could somehow explain—or even admit—what has gone so wrong. But when I started calling around asking for people to comment, I discovered most did not want to talk to me. Instead, they told me that not having enough money was a huge factor in our loss—not our misuse of the Internet. Others were just plain angry, blaming the liberal media, and not the party’s shortcomings online. Of course, there is truth in some of this. But denial only amplifies the stereotypes about Republicans being disconnected.

  45. 45

    Wow, is that a dress or did Kermit the frog throw-up on her?

  46. 46
    WereBear says:

    The things that irritate people about government, the facelessness, the bureaucracy, the lack of control, the pseudo-monopoly power and the red tape, can all be seen more and more in the private sector.

    Absolutely correct. I’ve been dealing with a couple of huge corporations, and it’s impossible to get anyone who knows anything. They have no idea who does what, much less how to fix something.

    Back in the day, it must have been powerful to talk up "business" and sell it as a good thing to have operating for you. But now, I would say government actually has a better public profile.

    Remember that old Lily Tomlin line? "We don’t have to care. We’re the phone company."

    Unchecked monopolies breed loathing. Does anyone love their cable company?

  47. 47
    Rick Taylor says:

    if the GOP thinks that all they need to do is just re-brand themselves, they are crazier than even I thought they were.

    I agree with most of what you said, but I don’t find it surprising. It’s human nature. When you’re world view is falling apart, proving itself incapable of addressing reality, you can either sober up and re-evaluate what you believed, even though it threatens your security, or you can double down, deciding you just haven’t been holding tight enough. Human beings love security and will usually do the latter than the former; remember Baghdad Bob? Those conservatives who are willing to take a risk and face reality started to do so long ago by now.

  48. 48
    Rick Taylor says:

    What’s astonishing now is how bankrupt the Republican party is. They have no believable story of how we got to the crises we’re in, no explanation of how they’d get us out of it, beyond smiling and saying we have to cut capital gains. They have nothing. And anytime, but especially in a crises, people will follow those who have some plan for what to do, even if it’s a bad one. I was despondent when Republicans managed to win in 2004, despite what everyone knew by then, but if there was any lesson to be learned, it’s that bad ideas beat no ideas.

  49. 49

    […] to Balloon Juice. Read the post. Play the […]

  50. 50
    Tonal Crow says:

    @NonyNony:

    …If the GOP leadership actually knew that it’s ideology was the problem and not its rhetoric, it would find ways to subtly shift its ideology without shifting its rhetoric, win votes, and take power again. The guys left in the party are the hardcore Kool-Aid drinkers….

    I think that many of the dominionists know that the big-bidness types’ ideology is "the" problem, and that many of the big-bidness types know that the dominionists’ ideology is "the" problem. But only a few know that their own ideology is the problem.

    On subtle shifts of ideology, that won’t help. You can’t make craziness sane simply by turning the dimmer a few ticks.

  51. 51
    NickM says:

    The GOP has too much posse.

  52. 52
    les says:

    @NonyNony:

    Well said. Now, kindly stfu. They might be listening.

  53. 53

    The GOP doesn’t exist in a vacume, the problem is that all the pieces bumping up against each other in their chamber agree about ideology or are too afraid of offending a piece of it to go another direction. Witness the House Rs being more afraid of a Primary challenge from the Right than an infuriated General vote. I mentioned after the 06 election that 08 would mean a concentration of the hard right and now that it is so they’re trapped.

    They have object lessons. Sen Gordon Smith (OR-R) lost the general due to votes siphoned off to a Right minor party. Gordon’s actual voting record was solid Right but he’d curried a Moderate reputation in OR and had lap dog out of the paper of record The Oregonian. The mere appearance of moderation cost a well established incumbent with more money than god a general election. His BS moderate image still brought him enough votes that he’d have won minus the Right challenge – from someone nobody thought had a chance and in fact got single digits, but enough. That was in a blue state. Imagine the fright in a Red State. (Gordon killed in OR2 but we limited the bleeding enough for the rest of the state to win for Merkley – yes he knows who I am)

    People talk about the money GOP versus the Christianists and in that someone starts to think money means contributions and that’s not so. Those churches are money machines and control a massive amount of GOP money income. The battle may be between the monied interests GOP and the Christianists but don’t think business/plutocrats have some big money edge in the fight.

    Rush’s ring has to be kissed and the cross must be borne because there is no out other than a D implosion. They cannot address their ideological shortcomings if they recognized them. I can think of things a Conservative Party could do, but they can’t do them.

  54. 54
    nota bene says:

    In the linked Eunomia post, Larison says this….

    All that said, let’s give Steele a break for a moment. This is not necessarily that different from Howard Dean’s famous “guys with Confederate flags in their trucks” line, which was tone-deaf in its own way but at least demonstrated some awareness that his party consistently failed to win the votes of most white men in national elections.

    If I remember correctly, Dean’s remark had nothing to do with culture. He was saying that poor, rural whites were voting against their economic self-interest by voting for Republicans. He wasn’t saying we need to get all honky-tonk (a far superior example supporting Larison’s point would have been Kerry going hunting rather late in the 04 campaign), he was saying the GOP’s dog whistle politics were beating the Democrats’ appeal to working-class voters.

    Everybody got fixated on the cultural baggage of the "flag decal" language and missed the point. The particular image that he conjured up obscured what Dean was actually saying.

    (A major difference between Dean and Obama is that, for whatever reason, Obama has the ability to overcome a rhetorical misstep like that.)

  55. 55
    Anastasius says:

    Ask the same people who provided the “liberal” response if they are “liberal,” and they shriek in horror and run. The Democratic party in the United States would most likely be a center-right party in virtually every country in Europe.

    Hilariously true. In Germany the Liberal Party, a pretty small party and traditional coalition partner of the Christian Democrats, is pretty much considered the Rich Man’s party and the only thing on their agenda is tax cuts.

  56. 56
    stickler says:

    NonyNony:

    Well, great — tell the fundagelicals to get bent. But the GOP depends on them for the footsoldiers who knock on doors, do the retail politics.

    I mean, sure, I live in Oregon and I’ve also seen how these batshit crazy numbnuts have driven the Mark Hatfields and Vic Atiyehs out of the fold. But you dump them at your peril (if "you" are the local or national head of the GOP). Without ’em, you’re left with the 1964 Goldwaterites and the 1993 black helicopter freaks and the evergreen country club set. These folks don’t knock on doors.

    EDIT: or, what Chuck Butcher said.

  57. 57
    cinnamonape says:

    One more marketting ploy:

    "an employer payroll tax holiday"

    = cutting the employers share of Social Security, Unemployment, and Medicare pretty much bankrupting those systems within two years.

  58. 58
    WVAPA says:

    @Joshua Norton: or. . .

    Democrat=Barack Obama
    Republican=Michael Steele

    It’s urban/suburban hip-hop for the Republicans.

  59. 59
    reboot says:

    I think both the stupid and smart GOPers know that rebranding is not the answer, but when you do not have the answer, you spin.

    When you spin, the opposition spends all its time attacking your spin as inept and ridiculous and meanwhile you are regrouping .

    It is always fun to laugh at their messages being so completely out of touch, but a lot of their base is driven by faith that democrats kill babies/want to ban religion/ want to take rush off the air and they are gormless enough to believe the spin. This keeps them in the fold while the GOP looks for a real point of purchase.

    I think they honestly believe they just need to hang on until Obama makes a big enough mistake then they can walk back into power.

  60. 60
    Persia says:

    @WereBear:

    Back in the day, it must have been powerful to talk up "business" and sell it as a good thing to have operating for you. But now, I would say government actually has a better public profile.

    Remember in the 1990s, when people were saying how scary and terrible it would be if Government Health Care took over, and there’d be all kinds of long waiting lists and you couldn’t pick your own doctor?

    And now, there’s all kinds of long waiting lists and you can’t even find a doctor….

  61. 61
    Phenobarbarella says:

    Just slightly OT, in regard to one of the clichés you mentioned, the famed "sanctity of marriage." Commenters from all sane parts of blogtopia and elsewhere have for years now been pointing out that under any rational definition of the term, the high divorce rate is a far worse reflection on the "sanctity of marriage" than gay marriage could ever be. But sometimes, a picture truly is worth a thousand words, and for anyone who’s not seen it yet, put down any beverage you might be consuming and then take a look at this; I promise it will cause you never to utter the phrase "sanctity of marriage" with a straight face again.

  62. 62
    Phenobarbarella says:

    Oops. Didn’t realize I could upload an image. Should try reading the directions once in a while. Here’s the photo:

  63. 63
    Phenobarbarella says:

    Dammit! Third time’s the charm:

  64. 64
    Phenobarbarella says:

    Dammit! Third time’s the charm:

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