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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Wednesday, November 26, 2003


Josh Marshall and Al Gore on the RNC ad

posted by Aziz P. at Wednesday, November 26, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
Josh Marshall, writing in The Hill, analyzes the RNC ad and makes some points that I think the Dean campaign should take notes on:

We now know that the U.S. Central Command started cycling personnel out of Afghanistan while we were still in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants to get ready for the invasion of Iraq. We know that a lot of our diplomatic capital with countries in the region is being expended on dealing with the Iraq issue rather than on assistance in the fight against al Qaeda. And of course we hear almost daily stories about gaps in homeland security — whether its airport screeners, port security, or bio-weapons sensors — which could easily be funded with the literally hundreds of billions of dollars we’ve already spent on a mix of war fighting and reconstruction in Iraq.

These arguments aren’t made for 30-second TV spots or quick rejoinders in presidential debates, but a summary of them easily can be: The president talks a good game on taking the fight to the terrorists. But after a good start in Afghanistan, he got bored with attacking al Qaeda and attacked Iraq instead.

Most voters now realize that the two things are basically unrelated. And to the extent they are related our errand in Iraq has exacerbated our problem with terrorism, not alleviated it.

The Democrats can play defense and complain that the president is questioning their patriotism, or they can take the offense and show that he has failed by the very standards he sets for himself.

A Democrat who can do the latter will be a formidable challenger.

To be honest, I didn't like the "Misled" ad. The emphasis shouldn't be that "Bush lied" - it should be that "Bush failed". Al Gore also addressed this theme of failed leadership in his own critique of the RNC ads:

Former Vice President Al Gore told college students Tuesday night that the Bush administration is "using fear as a political tool" unworthy of the presidency.

"For the president of the United States to claim in a television ad that those who disagreed with the decision to go to war with Iraq are against attacking terrorists is a disgrace," said Gore, who lost the 2000 election to President Bush.

"It is a cheap and petty political tactic not worthy of the presidency. It is something you would find in a down-and-dirty sleazy campaign for city council," Gore added, drawing laughs from the partisan crowd at Middle Tennessee State University.

He said Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt did not inspire fear but called for courage in urging support of World War II. "I'm concerned (Bush) is turning out to be a divider, not a uniter," Gore said.

Dean especially needs to broaden the message, away from the essentially-partisan-even-if-true issue of whether Bush lies, and towards the specifics of how his policy has harmed America. In other words, a substantive critique, not a moral one.


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About Nation-Building

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.