Tuesday, July 17, 2007


A political storm, as I have explained before, is a bit of political theatre and storytelling, in which the nation, hopefully, learns from its mistakes.

The nation certainly made a mistake, when it let George W. Bush crawl into the Presidency, and then confirmed the Republicans in control of the Congress in 2002 and 2004. The Republicans have led the nation into the debacle, which is Iraq, as well as further down the road toward national bankruptcy and corruption, and away from the rule of law.

The rampant corruption apparent in the Republican Congress, the catastrophic aftermath of Katrina and the debacle in Iraq brought on the political storm, giving the Democrats a remarkable sweep in 2006. The Democrats are now in charge of Congress (or are they?) and trying to stage-manage the on-going political storm.

But, the Republicans, with near-complete control of the news media, and near-control of the Senate, appear to be winning the political struggle to control the narrative accompanying the poltical storm.

digby at Hullabaloo:
You can't help but be impressed by the sheer audacity of their strategy. Since the November election, in every situation, the Republicans have responded by not compromising, negotiating or capitulating in even the most minor ways. They have instead aggressively upped the ante.

The Democrats won largely as a result of the public's desire to end the Iraq war. What did the president do? He escalated it. The Democratic congressional majority quite naturally wanted public oversight, the president offered private, undocumented "talks." Then, when the congress issued subpoenas to ex-staffers, the white house directed them not to comply. One showed up and testified incoherently, and the white house ordered the other one not to show up at all. Even when the congress asked for documents about Pat Tilman the president invoked executive privilege.

The Republicans in congress have not been any better. Today you see them completely reversing their recent position that the filibuster is unacceptable (recall their mantra, "elections have consequences") and bizarrely calling for a permanent filibuster on all Iraq measures, as if ending the occupation should require a super-majority!

I don't think the Democrats have fully internalized what is going on yet. As I wrote the other day, we are dealing with a political party that is employing a strategy of anarchy in which incoherence is used to flummox the opposition and confuse the media. They are confident (and likely right to be so) that this will never catch up to them because the media has ADD and today's political atrocity is forgotten by the next news cycle. By running circles around the Dems with obnoxious disregard for the congress and gleefully flouting their own precedents and rhetoric, the president and the Republican minority are almost daring the Democrats to try and stop them. Which is the point. They are going for the big narrative, which is the old stand-by that the Democrats are too soft to run the country: "If they can't stop Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, how can we trust them to stop Osama bin Laden?"

The question comes down to whether the Democrats will make sure the Republicans are held responsible for the mess they made or whether they are going to allow themselves to be held responsible for failing to stop them. The Republicans are betting that the public will blame the indulgent parents when the children run wild and it's a pretty creative plan for a party that has a deeply loathed president and monumentally unpopular agenda.

I wonder what the Democrats' strategy is?

I wonder, too.

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