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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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Thursday, January 08, 2004


Strategy Vs. Tactics

posted by Dana at Thursday, January 08, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
This was going to be a shout-out to the Wes Clark trolls on this blog (hi gang) but the Gephardt campaign, and the reactions to Dean's "defensiveness" here, make this post more urgent.

It is time to talk about the difference between strategy and tactics.

General Clark understands this. Strategy is how you map out the campaign. Tactics is what you do in the middle of the battle.

What we're seeing right now are tactics. Gephardt's desperate charge is a tactic, aimed at dissuading Dean people from outside Iowa from coming in, and at causing fence-sitters to recoil from Governor Dean. Clark's claim that Dean's flyers at his event are a "dirty trick" are a tactic.

Neither has anything to do with the elephant in the room, George W. Bush.

Tactics won't beat George W. Bush. You need a strategy, a coherent strategy that lays out an alternate vision, that appeals to swing voters, and that can compete with Bush's "Guns, Gays, and Gazillionaires."

Howard Dean has a strategy. He's going to run to the right of Bush, on issues like Homeland Security and the deficit. He's going to challenge Bush, and not let him get away with anything. He's going to appeal to the better angels of our nature, using the nation's founding documents.

Does Dick Gephardt even have a strategy? General Clark's strategy seems to be to point to imaginary fruit salad (medals) on his chest, then run to Bush's left on every issue.

People now beginning to choose a Democratic nominee need to know this. Beating Bush will require a strategy. Governor Dean is going to match Bush's spending with the energy of millions of people. He's going to stay on the offensive from now until November 2. He has laid out a clear, coherent vision for the country, based on its founding values.

Get this campaign out of the gutter now. Tell us, Mr. Gephardt, what is your strategy for beating George W. Bush? Tell us, General Clark, what is your strategy, besides pointing to your military record? How are you going to implement that strategy when you're out of money for months, after securing this nomination, while Bush has $200 million to fire against you?

We're waiting. Iowa is waiting. New Hampshire is waiting. The nation's Democrats are waiting.

If you want Bush out, do not consider supporting one of these other candidates until you get a clear, coherent answer to that question.

What is your strategy for fighting the Bush advertising barrage, after you run out of money in April?


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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.