The Post headline says it all: " Intelligence Analysts Say War Spread Terrorism "
So, despite hundreds of billions spent over five long years, tens of thousands of casualties, the degradation of our military and the ruining of America's image around the world, Bush's own government has concluded that our failure in Iraq has made the world much more dangerous.
Congressional Democrats have said that they are nationalizing the elections. Will this quote, and this story, appear in every Democratic ad right now, this week? The Republicans have made their closing strategy clear - Democrats will make us less safe in the war on terror, cut and run in Iraq and raise taxes. Their ads are mirroring their national arguments.
If Democratic leaders are to nationalize the elections around their arguments, then the ads run must mirror the national argument. Is this happening? According to the Washington Post a few weeks back, most Democratic candidates are rejecting the leadership's position on Iraq. So what does this mean about the Democratic Party's capacity to nationalize and have our arguments and our ads mirror one another? An election is only national when a Party is speaking with one voice, everywhere.
Putting this headline and the NIE into every race, right now, would be a good way to test whether Democrats really believe there is a national narrative, and can execute on it.
Bored on a friday? Why not sign up for Casual Observer. Its an online trading system, in which you get $5000 imaginary dollars to bet on the outcome of close races in the run-in to November. A friend of mine has roped me into an informal league, a contest which i fear might forever prove i know very little about predicting elections. Trading seems show a slight narrowing of the Democratic lead in House races, which doesn't seem unreasonable given spread of Bush's slight security poll bounce, falling gas prices and the like. What else do we learn? The market is long on Jim Webb (who it thinks has a generous 55% chance of winning in Virgini) and Martin O'Malley, short on Angelidies, and can't make up its mind on Connecticut, where things are pretty much 50/50. You can check the other stocks offered here. I'm suspicious of it at the moment, in particular as to whether the market is sufficiently liquid to provide accurate information. Still, we mustn't get too Poindexter about it. Its just a bit of fun after all. Naturally, if you've got any insider tips............
EJ Dionne on the economy and the elections. Rising gas prices have given the Republicans a fillup, but as he points out, from a low base. But the other economic fundamentals - wages, incomes, price rises, slow job growth - haven't changed.
The GOP is still in trouble on the economy. The New York Times/CBS News poll published Thursday found that 36 percent of respondents thought the economy was getting worse, compared with 17 percent who saw it getting better.
But this is actually good news for Republicans, considering that in July the same poll found that only 12 percent saw the economy improving while 47 percent saw it declining. And in the Pew survey, the proportion of voters listing gas prices and the constellation of issues around energy as the country's most important problem fell from 14 percent in May to 7 percent this month.
And so it begins. We've known for a while that the Republicans have planned to trot out a tax increase message, as a siamese twin to "cut and run." There have been reports that the GOP would run the national campaign on security, but in local races would try to capitalize on voter concern about the economy by running hard on tax. This makes sense, particularily if you listen to reports like this on NPR this morning, showing discontent over the economy in rural areas (and noting that Dems were doing surprisingly well amongst rural voters.) And, so, no surprise yesterday when President Bush began to roll out the tax message, during a sweep through Florida yesterday.
Predictability notwithstanding, there is something rather fantastic about all of this. The President says that, if the Democrats win back the House, they would raise taxes. In fact he says they plan to raise taxes. I might be ignorant on this matter, but i no of no such plan. And i can't think of any particular reason why a Democratic house would to do this. Come 2008 Democrats will have to cope with the unexploded bomb of whether to repeal the Bush tax cuts and get slated for raising taxes, or to suck it up and forgoe any hope of returning to fiscal balance. Mark Warner fired the most recent shot on this battle this week, and it'll run all the way through the elections. But that is not relevant in this election.
The Democrats have neither plans for a tax increase on anything, nor planned increases in spending so large as to infer that a tax increase would be needed, nor any chance of enacting such an increase with a Republican President and a likely Republican Senate. Naively one might that in order to say they will Republicans would at least feel obliged to concoct some sort of rationale for the claims. But no. Check out the RNC - where you will find not a single fact-sheet or issue brief giving any reason why the Democrats might actually raise taxes in practice. Add this together with their other frequent dissembling over rising wages, fast-growing job numbers and falling deficits and it seems clear that out there, beyond the outer-rim of the reality-based community, a passing familiarity with the truth is no longer something to which one should even aspire.
As our own Pete Leyden would say, the web has gone 2.0. The NYT has an excellent update about the state of the internet and the increasingly important role of video:
"...the world has gone batty over video. Thirty-second clips, three-minute spoofs, half-hour sitcoms, TV dramas that haven’t been shown in decades, rap videos, Hollywood blockbusters and feeds from TV news outlets big and small are flooding online. The term video itself is already starting to sound old — the equivalent of songs before the advent of MP3’s and downloads."
Progressives need to understand this technology, and how we can use it to get our message out. If you've been wondering what Apple iTV, NBC Broadband, Google and Yahoo are up to in this space, this article is a good way to get up to speed.
This is an extremely important fall for progressives and the New Politics Institute wants to help maximize the impact that organizations and campaigns can make through advertising and media. Our national tools campaign focuses on four critical tools that could make a huge difference in the weeks ahead.
They are “Buy Cable,” “Use Search Ads,” “Engage the Blogs,” and “Speak in Spanish.” Each of these are proven techniques to more effectively reach critical constituencies and the public at large. Progressives can easily and immediately adopt all of them right now.
The first recommendation, “Buy Cable,” is the most important because so much political money currently goes to broadcast television ads – a whopping $1.5 billion in the 2004 cycle compared to less than $80 million on cable ads. Yet, as our new cable memo makes clear, much of that money is wasted in reaching people far beyond the districts that progressive organizations and campaigns want to reach.
Cable TV ads allow you to reach much more targeted audiences, both in demographic and geographic terms – and it’s cheaper to boot. In many if not most situations, shifting significant TV ad spending from broadcast to cable is a more effective and efficient strategy.
The accompanying “Buy Cable” memo makes the argument in more detail and points to how progressives can start to do this. It’s written by NPI Senior Advisor Theo Yedinsky, who has extensive campaign experience, and NPI Founder Simon Rosenberg.
Feel free to distribute this far and wide. If you are part of a campaign or organization, use it to influence this fall’s strategy. If you are a donor, use it to make sure your money is not wasted, but used wisely. If we all do this, we can save the progressive movement millions of dollars, and make political advertising much more potent this fall.
In the coming weeks we’ll be pushing the other recommendations of the Tools Campaign. For now, let’s help move more TV ad spend to cable.
Peter Leyden Director of the New Politics Institute
NDN Senior Policy Advisor James Crabtree has an article in today's online edition of The American Prospect. It seems that a close relationship with President Bush isn't just toxic to candidates here in the states, but also his friends across the pond.
Interesting. Very Interesting. Chris Cillizza's blog over at the Post tells of a new type of "telephone townhall" campaigning technique, otherwise known as a giant conference call, being used by Republicans in the Kentucky 2nd. I've never heard of this being used as a way to talk to voters. Seems like a smart way idea, especially in rural areas. The video clip says more about how it works.
The sophmore edition of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. NDN is a big fan both of the journal, and its two founders, so we'd encourage you to sign up regardless. Luckily, though, issue 2 looks just as interesting as the first, and showcases a number of hip policy concerns.
First, a controversial article on China, that gives progressives a spin normally more associated with neo-conservatives. China's rise is an ideological threat, rather than a generally good thing mitigated by a few ethical and economic glitches:
The rise of China presents the West, for the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, with a formidable ideological challenge to that paradigm. The "China model" powerfully combines two components: illiberal capitalism, the practice and promotion of a governance strategy where markets are free but politics are not; and illiberal sovereignty, an approach to international relations that emphasizes the inviolability of national borders in the face of international intervention.
(Interestingly, there is a small story in the FT today about German Minister Michael Glos saying something fairly similar, in particular noting that "China's aggressive attempts to secure energy supplies in developing countries constituted a "breach of international rules of behaviour." The diplomatic, ethical and ideological implications of China throwing her weight around are clearly underappreciated. The piece is a timely reminder.)
Second, there is also a plug by Barack Obama's policy head Karen Kornbluh for this month's hot social policy: the revival of social insurance systems. Kornbluh notes that "mass layoffs, globalization, rising costs of living, and lower real wages" means that "Americans no longer rely on stable careers, nor do they assume that they will earn enough to raise a family on one salary." We need "a national commitment to mitigating the new risks to the economic well-being of families." This sounds similiar to Jacob Hacker's ideas in his new Hamilton paper, and elsewhere.
All in all, interesting "big ideas" of the sort Democracy was meant to be hawking. Get yourself a copy.