Wednesday, June 15, 2005



Shorter Republicans: We keep trying to help the Democrats be the majority party, but they keep refusing to follow our advice!

Bush blasts Democrats for 'agenda of road block'

By Adam Entous | June 14, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Tuesday unleashed his harshest criticism yet on Democrats for thwarting his second-term agenda, demanding they put forward ideas of their own or "step aside" and signaling a more aggressive administration strategy of attack.

With approval ratings the lowest of his presidency and critics suggesting he is already losing political clout, Bush blamed "do-nothing" Democrats for holding up an overhaul of Social Security and delaying votes on his nominees to the federal bench and the United Nations.
Bush accused Democratic leaders of trying to "delay solutions" and "obstruct progress."

The speech marked a combative turn for the president, who declared two days after winning re-election last November that he had earned "political capital, and now I intend to spend it."
Bush said the Democrats, in contrast, were employing a "philosophy of the stop sign" and an "agenda of the road block," and warned: "Political parties that choose the path of obstruction will not gain the trust of the American people."

He issued a challenge to the Democrats: "If leaders of the other party have innovative ideas, let's hear them. But if they have no ideas or policies except obstruction, they should step aside and let others lead."

Bush's line of attack was echoed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican who accused "half" of the Senate of being "determined to keep anything from being accomplished."

Senate Republican leader Bill Frist of Tennessee took aim at Democratic Party boss Howard Dean, saying he was "helping us expand our Republican majority."

Okay, let's try to parse this rhetoric. It's very easy to let them rile us, to get our dudgeon up, but we've got to be smart about how they're using their language. It's a given that back in non-Bizarro land, blaming Democrats for the problems in Washington is like blaming me for the breakup of Destiny's Child. Because it's not enough that the Dems allowed shit like his credit card bonanza bill to pass, the Schiavo insanity to fester, his wacko judges to be approved, etc. If they don't all vote en masse for every single legislative proposal he backs? They needs to git out the WAY!

But we're not going to let ourselves get drawn into the actual substance of their remarks, which they don't believe and we don't believe. That's the old "How often do you beat your wife" trap. Instead, let's remember how Bush and his friends like to operate:

1) projection
2) marginalization
3) cooptation
4) lies/blatant hypocrisy
5) message coordination

Projection is by far the most insidious of Bush's tactics. In other words, project your greatest weakness onto your opponent. We saw this done throughout his two presidential campaigns. In this situation, he's clearly frustrated by his lack of popularity (lowest approval ratings in his presidency) and specifically for the low approval ratings of his policies and stunts. He can't get a few unpopular pieces of legislation passed. He hasn't managed anything like a "mandate" in his two elections, the latter of which came after freakin' September 11. And he's anything but an idea man (not that he's not smart, but he's not an idea man).

Solution? Blame the Democrats for the inability of your unpopular shit to pass, even though they could pass every single one of their bills should they so choose. It's just that the GOP incumbents would pay dearly should those things pass, as things stand now. Say the Dems're unable to come up with any ideas, and that they will continue to fall in popularity.

Marginalization: Well, who amongst us has not tried to marginalize a political opponent? Still, Bush, Rove, DeLay and the rest are playing this game at a much higher level. From the K Street project (demanding that lobbying organizations fill their staffs with Republicans) to the redistricting of Texas to dismissing anti-war legions as "focus groups," these guys make a point of not merely demonizing their opponents but actively trying to get us to believe that Dems don't even deserve to be part of the discussion. His little "they should step aside and let others lead" is hilarious but exactly in this vein.

Cooptation: Yes, this is a long-standing political tradition. If you can't beat 'em and all that. Still, it doesn't make it right. Bush and cohort are extremely adept at using the language and imagery of progressive movements over the past several decades to promote their corporatist, theocratic agenda. Remember how Bush I called himself an "environmental president" oh so many moons ago? Or how Bush took the Department of Homeland Security, a Dem idea, and used it to wage political war in 2002?

Well, in this case, Bush is coopting the concerns of rank & file Democrats that the party leadership may lack the "grand ideas" that are so popular in Grovers Corners. The whole "lack of ideas" thing is direct from progressive democrats who have been frustrated by losing in the "grand ideas" game. Hell, Rove could well have been reading my blog from December when he decided to make that the centerpiece of this summer's Bush offensive. Regardless, it means that the focus gets taken off the question of WHY ON EARTH anyone should support ideas that are almost without exception BAD (hey! let's get rid of social security!! and interfere with a Florida family's medical-slash-religious dispute and lie about the medical condition of one of the parties!), or how that's somehow better than having no ideas at all. Oh, and by the way, the Dems have plenty of good ideas (universal healthcare, stopping global warming, equal rights for gays) but apparently that doesn't matter.

So anyways, that's what's going on here.

//more during the day...

The arguments don't have to be credible, just loud.
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