George Will has some unsolicited advice for the Democratic Party. Tone it down and don’t be “shrill” like Cindy Sheehan, if you want to win 2006 and 2008. It is a typical tactic Republicans use –attempt to cow the Democrats into disavowing their own. Thanks, but no thanks, for the advice Mr. Will.
Frankly, your advice is absurd and a recipe for another disaster, in a long string of disasters, for the Democratic Party. The”shrillness” that Republicans tag to Cindy Sheehan, is their mistaken perception of bravery and steadfastness. They mistake belief in ones cause and the rightness of ones actions, as being extreme and someone Democrats should “distance themselves from”. Sheehan displays an attitude, a sureness, and an intestinal fortitude that the Democratic leaders sorely need, and that is why Republicans are so desperate to stifle it at its onset.
To distance yourself from people like Cindy Sheehan, as the Republican commentator suggests, is to put your destiny in the hands of people like Tom Delay, Karl Rove, and George Bush. It is to push Sheehan and your own allies away with one hand, and to reach out the other to Republican wolves, knowing full well that your hand is going to be bit.
The “Un-Shrill” Democrat
Take for instance Dick Durbin. Durbin very forcefully stated that an FBI prepared report, describing Bush administration sanctioned torture, was disgusting and reminiscent of the Nazis. The right-wing smear machine immediately lied about his statement and said he slandered the troops and called them Nazis. He did nothing of the sort. Yet after weeks of pressure from Republicans, right-wing interest groups, and a compliant media, Durbin took to the Senate floor to cry and apologize for what he said.
Certainly this is a Democrat that George Will thinks is a winner. With one hand he pushed away his base and infuriated them, with the other he held out his fate to the Republican Party.
Will they take my hand and accept my apology for something I didn’t say?
Message to Dick: “No they won’t accept your apology” –they will laugh at your lack of intestinal fortitude and your inability to stand up for truth and the American way, (which is not to stoop to the human-rights level of terrorists merely because they are barbaric).
Durbin’s first instinct was right when he used harsh rhetoric to describe Bush’s torture schemes. Instead of backing down Durbin should have stood up even more forcefully for what he said because the Republican argument, which rests on accepting torture, is not only immoral it is illegal. Durbin should have shown his opponents to be in a weak position and wrongheaded. Instead he showed everyone that he was weak and unable to stand up for himself, even when his opponents had no leg to stand on.
Voters will undoubtedly now scoff at Durbin’s wimpish behavior, thereby depressing Democratic turnout and completely turning off any Republican or non-voter who might have considered voting for him. In the era after 9-11 one thing is for sure, voters are looking for someone they think can “throw down” if need be on a foreign power, and a Democrat who apologizes for what he believes in and cries under Republican pressure surely cannot do that –he can’t even defend himself from an extremist and wrongheaded group of right-wing nutcases.
Take for another example, Howard Dean. When he goes into Republican territory raising money for Democrats at an unprecedented pace, and chastising Republicans at the same time, the Republicans cry foul.
Surely, they say, you cannot support your own leader when he calls Republicans a largely “white, Christian” party?
Some Democrats even take the bait, as we saw Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman do –continually not standing up for and distancing themselves from Dean when he is under attack. In the military that would be called deserting your unit. In politics its called just plain political suicide.
Putting aside for a moment the fact that what Dean said about Republicans was largely true, if you can’t stand up for your own friends right or wrong in the mind of the voter, how can you stand up to a foreign power intent on destroying this country?
Not supporting our own party members when they run into resistance plays right into the opponent’s hands and they laugh all the way to another election win. Perhaps that is why George Will underhandedly suggests this course of action.
Have you ever seen the Republicans back off supporting one of their own?
We aren’t talking about merely a vicious tirade of slandering liberals, like Tom Delay does consistently, dwarfing in “shrillness” of anything Dean ever said. We aren’t talking about a disgusting tirade by Karl Rove saying liberals are traitors and sympathize with terrorists. We are talking about serious crimes by Tom Delay, Karl Rove, and others, yet the Republicans do not back off the support of these criminals nor distance themselves from them –on the contrary.
In light of this, should we back off our leaders merely because they speak the truth in a dominant and unapologetic manner?
When have you seen Republicans asked by the press to distance themselves from people like Tom Tancredo (who wants to treat undocumented immigrants like terrorists) or former GOP Presidential candidate Pat Robertson (who openly talks about assassinating world leaders on the public airwaves)?
Does the press ask Bush to denounce Robertson, Tancredo, Delay, or Rove for their shrill rhetoric or their criminal acts? No.
Does the press suggest some hypothetical, unspecified, fictional, “Democrat” to distance themselves from a woman protesting in a ditch that has nothing to do with the Democratic Party? Yes. We see George Will Doing it –it has almost risen to the level of a talking point. Distance yourself from Cindy Sheehan or you will lose the election. Nonsense.
The hypocrisy is astounding and Democrats need to get a spine when the press bullies them in this manner.
It is the aggressive “shrill” Democrat that can defeat the Republican. It is the John Kerry-like, Al Gore-like, Michael Dukakis-like Democrat, who listens to Republican advice, alienates and depresses his voting base, and reaches his hand out to a shark hoping that it won’t be bitten off, who well, . . . –gets his hand bitten off.
When John Kerry had his manhood attacked by the swift boat traitors, he essentially took George Will’s advice. He went windsurfing off Nantucket and reached his hand out for the nice Republicans to understand the swift boat traitors were lying and that he really was a silver-starred war hero. He should have went on a whirlwind tour attacking the questionable manhood of his opponent George Bush.
The material was there. Mr. Bush is a former frat-boy and cheerleader, who decided to work on a political campaign by having his father pull strings, instead of seeing combat like John Kerry volunteered for. Bush should have been emasculated for being the coward he is. Instead Kerry reached out his hand and the Republicans took it and turned a genuine, silver-starred, war hero into something less manly than an AWOL, coke-sniffing, combat-avoiding, string-pulling, cheerleader.
Gladly, we don’t see as many apologies from Dean and the rest of the Democrats lately –no crying on the Senate floor, no begging for their opponents to be fair and nice, no allowing the Republicans to remove the filibuster. That is why Democrats are contributing at an unprecedented pace. It is not Tom Delay and Karl Rove who Democrats need to reach out to for approval, (they never will), it is the hundreds of millions of uncounted, potential liberals who don’t know why they should vote and think it is a waste of time if they did.
It is dominant, “shrill” characters that will bring these people out of the woodwork, because the non-participating potential voter sees character traits in the person they admire –crying on the Senate floor and cowing in front of your opponent is not one of them. A Republican-lite Democrat is lower in the pecking order in the mind of the voter, he is merely “mimicking” the dominant Republican. Just as in nature when a small ape mimicks the powerful silverback, the small ape may do a great job of mimicry, but as soon as the silverback enters the area there is no doubt who is in charge.
These silent, uncounted liberals don’t vote because they perceive no difference between either pat or worse the democrat is a faker trying to mimic the Republican that the non-voter despises. By merely mimicing Republicans, Democrats will never be able to showcase their Democratic credentials without being portrayed as a flip-flopper.
Why would such a passive, dominated, un-”shrill” Democrat ever win? How could they ever win? Their fate and their victory rests with the good nature and acceptance of the people who cling to power at all costs. Such people will never reach back for the outstretched hand of the Democrat, they will never accept reason and logic even if it is warranted, they are illogical at their core, their goal is to win and to kick us when we are down if that helps them, by all means lets stop sticking our heads out to be kicked.
To sum up, George Will’s advice is a recipe for disaster. Even a schoolboy knows if you want to win a fight and your opponent is down, you “kick them hard”, you don’t “offer them your hand and help them up”. Will has made a persuasive case that Republicans are down for a number of reasons, from Iraq, to the economy, to Republican associated corruption. Yet his advice is for the Democrats to be nice to the “benign Republican Party” and to mimic their positions, thereby becoming permanent, dominated whipping-boys to an entrenched Republican majority.
Forget it Mr. Will. Now is not the time for Democrats to offer a hand, be un-”shrill” and rest their fate on the good nature of the Republican Party. It is time to wake up. Winning is all that matters to Republicans, not fairness, not democracy, not the American people. Putting your hand out to a shark like that is a recipe to have it bit off. When Republicans start calling for Democrats to distance themselves from their own, a red flag should go off. Its time to circle the wagons around our friends.