Monthly Archives: April 2012

Joe Biden Comes Up with the Bumper Sticker of the Year

Vice President Joe Biden, at a speech in New York City today, came up with the political bumper sticker of the year. He even told us that it could be used as a bumper sticker. Said the Veep:

“If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.

In fact, The Daily Kos liked Biden’s idea so much that they immediately created the very bumper sticker that Biden had suggested.

Biden’s bumper sticker becomes doubly effective when one recalls that Willard M. Romney both said “[i]t’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch” bin Laden AND suggested that Americans “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”. That’s why Biden twisted the knife by adding: “You have to ask yourself … if Governor Romney were president, would he have used the same slogan in reverse?” Ouch!

Biden’s speech today serves as a reminder that good policy decisions or merely reciting facts and reasonable arguments likely will not be enough to win the Obama-Biden team reelection against a Republican candidate backed by a corporate army that will wage an air war of false tv ads. Messaging matters, and that Democratic messaging must include catchy, hard-hitting phrases that fit on bumper stickers. Vice President Biden proved today that, so far, his team is up to the task.


No Need to Say the Republican War On Women “is Real”

Why do Democrats always seem to snatch weakness from the jaws of strength? The Republican War On Women is an important issue for Democrats. It’s another vivid example of how Republicans favor big corporations and wealthy individuals instead of middle class Americans. Republicans keep providing ammo in their War On Women, from trying to redefine rape to attempting state-sponsored rape in Virginia to Ted Nugent‘s latest vile attacks on Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. In other words, we know the Republican War on Women is real. So there’s no need to say it’s real.

Saying the Republican War On Women “is real” sounds defensive, as if the assertion is in doubt. It isn’t. Like gravity and the curvature of the Earth, the War On Women is now so obvious that it no longer needs to be proven. When Democrats play defense, they lose. When the Republicans say President Obama‘s Affordable Care Act is “socialist”, do they then explain that “socialism in the Democratic Party is real”? No. When the Republicans say the Democratic-sponsored Buffet Rule is “class warfare”, do you hear them say “and class warfare is real”? Nope. The Republicans have learned Messaging Maxim #1: Go on Offense.

Democrats also need to go on offense and have the confidence to talk about the Republican War On Women without backpedaling to say it’s “real”. We need to point to the almost daily salvos fired by Republicans in this war, and  say that the Republican War On Women is hurting families, and hurting America.

Republican Politics of Projection

As a younger voter in 1988, I remember when then-Vice President and presidential candidate George H.W. Bush stood in front of Boston Harbor and slammed his opponent, Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis, for the pollution in Boston Harbor. I was shocked because the U.S. had just gone through eight years of a Reagan-Bush administration that had attacked and dismantled every environmental protection that it possibly could, including fighting the very cleanup of Boston Harbor.  This was perhaps the beginning of the modern Republican Politics of Projection — accusing your opponent of doing the very thing that you have been doing — as practiced by Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater.

Atwater had a young protégé, Karl Rove, who perfected the Republican Politics of Projection during George W. Bush’s presidency. Thus, for example, we had Bush administration officials approving and abetting the kidnapping and torture of suspects and the illegal warrantless wiretapping of Americans at home, then turning around and accusing those who criticized such actions of “hypocrisy” and being “out of bounds”.

Today, the Republican Politics of Projection continues in full force. Republicans in Congress vote for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget that would end Medicare as we know it, then raise phony objections about Democrats “cutting Medicare” when the Affordable Care Act cut funds from a private program called Medicare Advantage that is not part of the actual Medicare benefit. Likewise, Republicans raise the spurious charge of “voter fraud” in order to commit the true voter fraud of vote suppression via unreasonable and unfair voter i.d. laws. Or how about when Republicans carp about Democratic-appointed or “activist” judges who “legislate from the bench”, when it is the Republican-appointed, so-called “conservative” judges who do this, such as in the infamous Bush v. Gore and Citizens United cases, with Republican approval. If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were running for president today, Republicans would probably call President Obama “fat”.

The Republican Politics of Projection can be stated with the Republicans’ own simple term: hypocrisy. It is a very popular and effective tactic in the Republican playbook, and Democrats and progressives need to identify it and speak out whenever they see it, in order to lessen its power.

President Obama Takes it to the Republicans

Mark the beginning of April as the time President Obama amped up his campaign rhetoric against the Republicans to a new level. First, on April 2, President Obama, as shown in the above video, turned the tables on the Republicans’ long-running charges of “judicial activism” against judges appointed by or aligned with Democrats, and said that if the conservative-controlled U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act or its health insurance mandate provision, that would be “judicial activism”.

Then, on April 3, President Obama came out swinging against Republican Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget plan, and, by extension, the entire Republican philosophy of “trickle-down economics.” According to President Obama, the Republican plan, containing more tax cuts for the wealthy and drastic spending cuts for lower income Americans, “is thinly veiled social Darwinism.”

In both of these cases, President Obama followed Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. It was a page taken from the Republican playbook, and it may well be extremely effective.