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Thursday, October 09, 2003


the "what i wanna know" meme

posted by Trammell at Thursday, October 09, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
meme p.(meem) n. A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

A few days before the recall election in California, my buddy Paul and I discussed the pros and cons of victory for Carnal Arnold. The Bad News: CA is now in play for next year's Prez race. Bush, who ignored the state totally for years, will now shower us and The West Reich with dollars and attention. Dems will be forced to spend ad money here that we could otherwise spend in key swing states.

But now, a few days after the election, what's on all the pundits minds, pens and lips was what we saw as The Good News: "Recall fever" ain't gonna happen, but a tsunami of voter protests are likely to cascade over our state's borders and across the nation, preceding major primaries and a Presidential and Congressional election year. It's everywhere. And, it sprouted organically. From Chris Matthews on Leno to e-mails from to tons of bloggers and even plenty of Republican talking heads, the "what I wanna know" meme is here, and it's here to stay. With Republicans holding majorities, this is good news for Democrats. Further, and most importantly, this is great news for Howard Dean.

The Republican spin machine, desperate to play the "CA in play" meme, find themselves instead face to face with Dean's "what I wanna know" meme and it's driving them koo-koo-crazy bananas. But why can't they get traction?

Consider this: If you remove the one-liners from his movies, Arnold directly lifted all of Dean's talking points and used them to "terminate" Gray Davis. In fact, his winning tactics are the same tactics that National Republicans have decried as "negative doom and gloom" when they come from Dean's lips. Further, Dean actually has far more specifics and a much more positive vision than Arnold has demonstrated.

Sure, Bush will come out here to Kah-lee-foh-nya and try to get him some of that "recall shine" but it won't do him or Arnold any favors -- in fact, it will likely harm them both. While the national Republicans including Jeb Bush personally belittle Dean, Dean keeps his critiques of Bush on the administrations policies and performance. So what I wanna know is, why did it it take the media so long to finally get that Bush and Co. should be spooked and warily looking over their shoulders at this recall race?

Ironically, Arnold gave us our first, huge test of the Dean Doctrine -- and it worked. Note to Arnie: Thanks! Also posted in slightly different form at Points West.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.