It happens every election. We get pieces written by Democrats about how their party -- a party full of naive saints who have dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate -- must learn to be as mean as the Republicans in order to win.
And they're serious. They think they're good, moral people and Republicans are bad, mean-spirited people. They think Republicans are naturally "tough," but Democrats, being altruists, must make a conscious effort to fight back against their fellow man.
Peter Fenn has written the first such piece in this election cycle, titled, "Do Democrats have the backbone to win?"
The one concern gnawing at Democrats is the burning desire to nominate a candidate who can go head-to-head with the Republican nominee and pin him to the mat.
My other concern, I have to confess, is that a lot of Democratic presidential operatives may not be tough enough to handle what the Republicans have dished out.
President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, Swift-Boaters and the religious right have all proven that a “take no prisoners” approach really can work.
Now, remember that the Democrats are the party that invented Borking. For the last 20 years they have depended more and more on character assassination, smears and lies to win political contests. The Clinton White House looked through over 900 FBI files to dig up dirt on their enemies. The Clintons were willing to ruin the lives of the people who worked in the White House travel office in order to get their cronies in there. The Democrats have perfected the art of releasing dirt late in an election; just ask Bruce Hershenson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Dole and George W. Bush.
None of this dents the liberal self-image as a combination of teddy bear, Mother Teresa and Boy Scout. Because they are altruists and collectivists who want to use state power to help everyone, they believe they are good people, unlike those selfish, unenlightened Republicans.
The great thing about being good-hearted altruists is that nothing they do can be bad. The end justifies the means, so they can lie and smear Republicans -- whatever it takes -- and still be good and noble. Besides, those evil right-wingers deserve whatever they get.
Mr. Fenn gives examples to support his argument from recent elections.
Looking back at the 2000 and 2004 elections, a main conclusion that many come to is that Democrats did not respond well enough, did not fight back and did not take on Bush and the Republicans.
Al Gore was on the defensive on stories that were blatantly false — from Love Canal to “Love Story,” from “inventing” the Internet to wanting to destroy Detroit’s automakers.
I don't know if Bush and the Republicans were behind all of those stories about Gore. I think David Letterman is more to blame than the VRWC. But why did they stick? Because voters sensed that Gore is an enormous phony who never seems sincere and authentic. And as an environmentalist, his policies would end up destroying Detroit's automakers (and western civilization) if they were allowed to go to their logical end, whether Gore wanted to destroy them or not.
John F. Kerry, too, saw a record as a war hero turned upside down, impugning his patriotism and questioning whether he deserved his medals.
Maybe that's because he threw his medals away when he was a young antiwar activist and accused American troops of behaving like Ghengis Khan. The Swift Boat attacks were effective because they confirmed what people already suspected about Kerry. They made sense, given Kerry's radical, anti-American past.
Both Gore and Kerry were poor candidates who didn't respond to Republican attacks because they couldn't.
All the while, Bush, Cheney, John Ashcroft and the crew had avoided service in Vietnam. ... and blatantly.
None of that "chickenhawk" blather matters a whit because people know who is strong on defense. People know that the Democrat Party has many leftists in it that are outright anti-American. People aren't stupid: they can think abstractly; they understand that what Republican politicians did during the Vietnam War really doesn't matter.
So Mr. Fenn hopes the next Democrat running for President will attack like a Republican. Time to drag out the bean bag line.
This election year has to be different for the Democrats.
Politics ain’t bean bag, as they say.
I knew he wouldn't fail me. Mr. Fenn's thinking is so stale and cliche, he had to use the bean bag line.
My sense right now is that Clinton has an operation that can truly take on the Republicans...
Gee, ya think? Ya think Hillary Clinton has it in her to say a negative word about a fellow human being? Now, are you sure about this, Peter?
The Democrats do not help themselves by looking at the world through glasses that turn politics into a cartoon in which Republicans are these fat guys who smoke cigars and eat babies and Democrats are Bambi. The "reality-based community" is so out of touch with reality that it's amazing they win any elections at all.