Critical Condition

Dems Fight Back

From Marc Ambinder

A key part of the developing strategy: ridicule the opposition — and portray those who disrupt meetings with loud chants and signs as part of the same ilk of people who showed up at campaign rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin right after the 2008 Republican National Convention. At those rallies, some supporters hurled racist remarks and displayed objectionable signs; McCain himself was forced to respond to a questioner who called Obama a “Muslim,” to the applause of others in the crowd. To this day, McCain aides maintain that the media inflated the number of reactionairies in the crowd, abetted by an Obama campaign that was all too happy to point them out.  

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The more troublesome question for Democratic strategists is why the major Democratic groups, including Organizing for America, the labor unions, Health Care for America Now, seem to be flatfooted and unable to match the much smaller conservative organizing capacity in these critical districts. One answer is that the media pays attention to the loudest voices, which are coming from the right.  The other is that organizing around major — even popular — reforms of existing institutions is tough. The Democrats don’t have a single bill right now, and the elite left is worried about what’s not in the cards — a public plan — and is therefore fairly unenthusiastic. If the liberal elite isn’t enthusiastic, the liberal base — less knowledgeable – will be as well.