The Collective
Thursday, December 18, 2003
By Steven Taylor

Tina Brown’s piece in WaPo underscores part of the reason why the Democrats are staring at several more years of minority status: they constantly mis-interpret the reason that Republicans win. Instead of deailing with (Heaven forbid!) actual policy differences, Brown argues that the reason Reps are winning because the public likes stereotypical masculine types these days. She compares Bush to come a “comic-strip” hero and a “a guy in a sports bar” and quotes a progressive academic regarding the Schwarzenegger win:

as Berkeley professor George Lakoff, author of “Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think,” pointed out to me last week in Los Angeles, Jay Leno is a celebrity, too, and he wouldn’t have had a chance. Lakoff is a bearded, articulate progressive who has done a lot of work on the framing of winning issues. He stresses that Arnold was sponsored by Republican kingmakers because he’s a fantasy figure who very clearly represents the strict, punishing father people turn to in times of fear.

What about the very real possibility that voters were truly unhappy with Gray Davis, and that none of the other candidates were able to convince the voters that they were the best alternative. Obviously the election had nothing to do with the lackluster campaign of Busamante (who simply offered more Gray Davis) or the overly-conservative (for CA) message of McClintock (not to mention the shrillness of Huffingotn). No, it was the deep-seeded need for an authoritarian father figure that led to the outcome.

And the only reason Bush is President is because he says tough-guy things like “Bring ‘em on.” It has nothing to do with the weakness of the Democratic field, nor of the dearth of actual arguments against the President’s policies (and no, just saying “Bush is bad at X” is not an argument).

If the intelligensia of the Democratic Party continues to think this way (and especially if their candidates, both at the Presidential and Congressional levels, continue to campaign this way), then they can look forward to another decade of minority status in the Congress, and at least four more years getting into the White House only via the tourist line.

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Filed under: 2004 Campaign | |


  1. Uh, let’s see. Nope, no democrat I know believes any of this clap trap. Great fiction.

    I love it when the other side believes their own PR.

    Comment by Hal — Thursday, December 18, 2003 @ 11:43 am

  2. Hal,

    Tina Brown isn’t a Republican. Plus, try reading some of the stuff that Democrat-leaning pundits write.

    And are you really going to argue that the Democratic Party has done an excellent job of getting their message out?


    Comment by Steven — Thursday, December 18, 2003 @ 11:56 am

  3. This kind of thinking will have very little, if any play on the next election. Here’s why Bush will win the next election:

    There’s an old adage that countries go to war to distract the populous from the internal problems. There’s a corollary that says countries that are at war don’t focus on internal problems.

    The real reason Bush will win in ‘04 is because Iraq will continue to dominate the headlines next year. Dean’s going to have a real hard time getting air play on much of anything else.
    And since we won the Iraq war, Bush wins.

    Comment by Eric — Thursday, December 18, 2003 @ 12:00 pm

  4. Did anyone else note the extraneous bit about him having a beard?

    Lakoff is a bearded, articulate progressive who has done a lot of work on the framing of winning issues.

    What does having a beard have to do with anything? some of the most conservative people I know have beards. She could have just as easily left that out and it would have changed the point not one whit.


    Comment by bryan — Thursday, December 18, 2003 @ 9:34 pm

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