« Artistic Travesty! | Main | Department of Nonstandard Beverages »

The "Shock and Awe" Cliche Goes Domestic

Radio-surfing while running some lunch-hour errands last Friday, I heard Rush Limbaugh guest-host Roger Hedgecock crowing about the Bush Administration's domestic political machine. He said that it would be "Shock and Awe" on an incredible scale -- that the "you're either with us or against us" approach toward state sponsors of terrorism would also apply to domestic politicians -- and Hedgecock was loving it.

I shouldn't be surprised. Politics is, after all, the practice of applying power. And if you've got a lot of power -- a compliant legislature; high approval ratings; a national media easily distracted by bright, shiny things -- the only reason to hold back is the fear of overreaching.

But damn, it's uncomfortable knowing that my politics are the deer in the headlights.

For more on the subject, Boston Phoenix columnist Dan Kennedy has a column about "The GOP attack machine" which, while laying its biases on the table, covers several examples of the current application of "shock and awe" politics.

I'd be really interested in seeing some counter-examples: was the Clinton Administration in 1993 and 1994 sufficiently organized or clever to even attempt to steamroller its opposition? I honestly don't remember...


TrackBack URL for this entry:


Even if the Clintonites had wanted to, they couldn't have. For one thing, although they had a bare majority in both houses, a significant number of conservative Dems opposed some of his biggest (or most prominent) initiatives, everything from gays in the military to health care. And, of course, after the '94 elections, his party was in the minority in both houses.

That said, I have two thoughts about how a Dem could win in '04 (besides bashing him on the economy and tax policy, which is a given).

Aaron Sorkin is a coke-addled dweeb, but he has gotten one thing right in his life (and I'm not talking about "The West Wing"). In "The American President," he had Michael Douglas's president say something on the order of, "My opponent has suggested that being President of the United States is, to a large extent, about character. He's wrong. Being President of the United States is COMPLETELY about character." And then you go on to talk about aspects of good character -- and how Bush's actions have contradicted them. Dems like to think just saying and doing the right things will win. No. Saying and doing the right things, AND CONNECTING THEM TO PEOPLE'S VALUES, wins.

The other thing you do is attack him head-on on the issue of national security. Seriously. His administration has committed enough serious misjudgments in this area that it is vulnerable. The GOP is counting on a few flashy pictures to present an aura of invincibility in this area. But the fact is, despite giving up freedoms, we're very little safer now than we were on 9/10/01, and many of the reasons for that lie directly at the feet of the administration and its allies in Congress. ($3 million to investigate 9/11? One-tenth what's being spent to investigate the Columbia disaster? And that's just for starters.)

That's not an entire platform, of course, but I'm confident that any Dem who does not do AT LEAST these two things will lose in a historic landslide.