Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 19, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... Last week, the Boston Globe talked to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) about his opposition to Wall Street reform. He initially explained that he disapproves of the bill because it adds "an extra layer of regulation," but that's absurd. Asked how the legislation could be improved, Brown told the reporter, "Well, what areas do you think should be fixed? I mean, you know, tell me."

Behold, the new Republican hero.

Yesterday, the dimwitted senator appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation," and was asked about far-right Tea Party activists and their fears about "socialism." Host Bob Schieffer wanted to know if Brown agrees with their paranoia. Here's the senator's response in its entirety, exactly as it appeared in the official transcript:

"I know that the President should start to focus on jobs and job creation and -- and -- and -- and -- and that hasn't been done. Since I've been here we've done health care, which they obviously rammed through by using a parliamentary procedure that has never been used for something this big ever. And then the bill as we're finding out is -- is flawed, seriously flawed. It's going to cost medical device companies in my state, you know, thousands of jobs. But then, we're taking -- we're talking now about regulation reform. We're politicizing that. Maybe -- I've heard illegal immigration is going to come forth. When we're in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the only thing they talked about from the Presidents all the way down to the poorest farmer were jobs. Since I've been here, I've heard zero talk about jobs. So, I'll let -- leave that up to the political pundits, but I know from what I've seen that we need to focus on jobs and the President should start to do so."

Now, with a response like this, it's tough to know where to start. One could point out that Brown is wrong about the focus on job creation by pointing to the stimulus bill that rescued the economy. One could note that Brown is wrong about health care, which wasn't "obviously rammed through by using a parliamentary procedure," but rather, passed the Senate through regular order.

But I was particularly struck by the notion that Brown believes he's "heard zero talk about jobs." I realize Brown isn't the brightest light in the harbor, if you know what I mean, but after only three months in the Senate, I do expect him to have some sense of the bills he's already voted on. For example, he might remember voting on this "tax extenders" bill last month, which was intended to spur job creation, or perhaps voting on this job bill in February. In both instances, Scott Brown voted with Democrats, which was a fairly big deal with his far-right buddies. Seems like the kind of thing he might remember. It really wasn't that long ago.

And yet, there was Brown, telling a national television audience he's "heard zero talk about jobs." That's true, so long as one ignores all the talk about jobs.

In some ways, I almost feel bad for Scott Brown. He was elected to Congress before he was able to learn anything about public policy, and was put in a high-profile role before he could speak intelligently about any area of public policy. He didn't even expect to win his Senate campaign, so there probably wasn't any real point to him learning anything substantive before running anyway.

Brown, in this sense, is another classic example of a post turtle -- you know he didn't get up there by himself; he obviously doesn't belong up there; he can't get anything done while he's there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down.

Steve Benen 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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Comments

Sounds like it's time to call up William Shatner again and ask him to do one of his beat riffs on Brown's prose just as he did using half-term governor Sarah Palin's resignation speech as his text.

Posted by: June on April 19, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder HOW anti-government tea-party types desire the government to address job creation and unemployment.

Posted by: flubber on April 19, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

You really didn't have to add "dumb" to the last sentence - it's unfair to turtles, and reads a bit mean.

Posted by: will on April 19, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Might I suggest the junior Senator from Massachusetts stop allowing his ego to live and take up residence in his self-perceived superlative world! After reading his mangled, outloud thoughts above, me thinks he needs to work on his rhetorical game a bit to elevate it beyond the imbecilic! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 19, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I am going to be as restrained as I can be... but this is the most mindless, ignorant, uninformed, comment that we have seen from

  • Half Term Governor Palin
  • Scott Brown so far and there's been a lot of competition for that prize

    Posted by: john R on April 19, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

    Those of you who complain about a lack of party discipline should actually notice when you see it.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 19, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

    I don't feel one bit sorry for him. Nobody forced him to run, and nobody forces him to go on these shows. He's dumb, and too dumb to realize that he's dumb. He's the perfect Republican in the current environment, he opened himself up for the mockery, and now he's reaping what he's sowed!

    Posted by: Michigoose on April 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

    If Brown can get elected I don't see why Paris Hilton can't.

    Posted by: Sean Scallon on April 19, 2010 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

    Republicans have been electing morons like this to very important positions in government for decades now. It's not surprising that they have no damn clue WTF they are doing when they get in power.

    Posted by: Joshua on April 19, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

    He was elected to Congress before he was able to learn anything about public policy, and was put in a high-profile role before he could speak intelligently about any area of public policy. He didn't even expect to win his Senate campaign, so there probably wasn't any real point to him learning anything substantive before running anyway.

    WTF??? Was he abducted by aliens and forced to run for office? Hell no he wasn't! He put himself on the campaign trail and, according to legend, worked hard for the position he deserved.

    I don't feel a bit sorry for him.

    Posted by: Lifelong Dem on April 19, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

    Voting is a parliamentary procedure.

    Brown just doesn't like it.

    Posted by: B. Cowper on April 19, 2010 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

    sad tho it is, this stream a' consciousness(?) miasma probably simulates the thought(?) processes of many american peeps...

    that's why the newtster is looked up to for his big ideas!

    Posted by: neill on April 19, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

    Steve, I love it!! It's a keeper - Senator "Post Turtle" Brown.

    Posted by: MikeBoyScout on April 19, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

    There's a reason why most freshmen senators don't want to be on the Sunday talk shows.

    Confucius say: he who is in over his head in shit is unwise to open his mouth.

    Posted by: Tim H on April 19, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

    The last time Brown was the subject of a column, I defended him on the grounds that his comment (on that occasion) was insufficient to brand him stupid. I also decried the "pile-on" instinct that caused people who might well be halfwits themselves to chorus, "stupid!! stupid!!" just because they perceived that was the intent of the column.

    Sorry, Scottie. You're on your own this time.

    Posted by: Mark on April 19, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

    And not one word of that pitiful ramble had anything whatsoever to do with socialism! Except that, perhaps. to the extent that he thinks government should be creating jobs, he appears to be for it.

    Posted by: T-Rex on April 19, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

    Maybe next time he's on one of the sunday shows he should appear nude.

    Posted by: SaintZak on April 19, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

    flubber writes:


    I wonder HOW anti-government tea-party types desire the government to address job creation and unemployment.

    You've got to be kidding! The answer is obvious: lower taxes, fewer regulations and tort reform. Those three steps would stimulate the economy, boost employment, improve education, heal the sick, prevent future recessions, eliminate childhood poverty, fight hunger, and if there were such a thing as global warming, it would fight that, too.

    Posted by: Daryl McCullough on April 19, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

    Two comments:

    1. I think Paris Hilton is a Democrat, but I might be wrong. Anyway her campaign ad during the Presidental campaign was priceless.

    2. He really said to a reporter "Well, what areas do you think should be fixed? I mean, you know, tell me."

    Hell that is what a playgirl model might say to a reporter. It is definiately not what a United States Senator is expected to ask a reporter, unless he is a Fox News reporter.

    Dumb as a box of rocks.

    Posted by: Ron Byers on April 19, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

    Just how does Senator Brown think the Government should go about creating jobs--magic pixie dust?

    Posted by: Ron Byers on April 19, 2010 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

    Two things:

    1) There was nothing about socialism or tea-party paranoia in Brown's answer. If I was an interviewer, I would insist that my interview guests answer my questions. Of course, I wouldn't last long in that job, I fear...

    2) I love the "post turtle" metaphor. What a great nickname!

    - PonB

    Posted by: PonB on April 19, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

    Oy... these are the Republican TALKING POINTS, folks. It does not matter whether they have any substantive traction.

    They are what you say when you're on national (or even local) TV -- that's why they're called "talking points".

    Somebody asks you about anything, you say "I'm not hearing enough about jobs." Why?

    Because THAT'S WHAT MOVES VOTES YOUR WAY.

    Lord, you folks are like people watching a baseball game waiting for the field goals.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 19, 2010 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

    For Brown's "It's going to cost medical device companies in my state, you know, thousands of jobs," read "I want to repeal the Medicare DME competitive bidding process, which would then cost the taxpayers about a billion dollars per year."

    Republicans may not love socialism, but they sure have a thing for fiscal inefficiency, don't they?

    Posted by: twb on April 19, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

    Maybe next time he's on one of the sunday shows he should appear nude.

    We could finally answer the age old conundrum, what does an empty suit look like without the suit?

    Posted by: doubtful on April 19, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

    "Now, with a response like this, it's tough to know where to start."

    No it isn't. Start by stating the obvious that Brown would be the ideal running mate for Palin in 2012. Then ask the good people of Mass. what exactly were they thinking when they elected this paragon of cogency their senator.

    Posted by: Independent on April 19, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

    Ah, back to normal. Well, one good post out of 200,000 ain't bad, theAmericanist.

    Posted by: Allen on April 19, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

    I wish you guys would stop putting the names "Scott Brown" and "Sarah Palin" together. Don't you know you're playing with fire? What if they became more than running mates? Can you imagine the damage that conservative coupling could do to our country? Granted, it does suggest a great plot line for the next B-movie cult-classic, but it is still frightening.

    Posted by: broken arrow on April 19, 2010 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

    "Republicans may not love socialism, but they sure have a thing for fiscal inefficiency, don't they?"

    Check out this link for a fascinating background on what socialism did for one of the biggest financial backers of the Republicans, not to mention the nutty teabaggers.

    http://exiledonline.com/a-peoples-history-of-koch-industries-how-stalin-funded-the-tea-party-movement/

    Posted by: Mark on April 19, 2010 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

    They are what you say when you're on national (or even local) TV -- that's why they're called "talking points".

    I take your point Americanist, but what's happening here is that our host is taking the talking points apart and commenters are piling on.

    I take that you would agree that Scott Brown's comments are worthy of ridicule. I'll grant that it's not the same as owning a cable television network, but it's an effort at counteracting the spin.

    Posted by: AK Liberal on April 19, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

    If Brown can get elected I don't see why Paris Hilton can't.
    If she's running against Cosmo, she's got my vote.

    Then ask the good people of Mass. what exactly were they thinking when they elected this paragon of cogency their senator.
    Judging by the Cosmo voters I know, thinking was not part of the process.

    Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on April 19, 2010 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

    Senator Mimbo

    Posted by: Baldrick on April 19, 2010 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

    theAmericanist is right about the talking points, but what's missing is the "don't use all these at once" instruction at the bottom of the list. You're supposed to weave these into your spiel a little more skillfully.

    Posted by: dr2chase on April 19, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

    Brown, in this sense, is another classic example of a post turtle -- you know he didn't get up there by himself; he obviously doesn't belong up there; he can't get anything done while he's there; and you just want to help the poor, dumb thing down.

    Here's hoping "PT" Brown catches on. :)

    Posted by: FC on April 19, 2010 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

    I blame James Joyce.

    Posted by: exlibra on April 19, 2010 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

    "...but it's an effort at counteracting the spin."

    That's what you guys tell yourselves, but actually, what you're doing REINFORCES the spin.

    That's why you're watching a baseball game, waiting for the field goal unit to run onto the field and start fact-checking Senator Brown, etc.

    Look at Allen, whose response to me wasn't to notice that, um, er, I'm right, but only to complain that I was mocking you guys for being stooopid.

    The Left (to use the jargon) has a positive compulsion to see ourselves as smarter than the average bear. We're wrong about that, but what counts more in a situation like this is that responses that dis somebody like Brown for being uninformed and unintelligent simply accelerate the English he's putting on the ball.

    The GOP talking points (which Brown is using) are about an EMOTIONAL appeal. You're worried cuz you've lost your job, or fear you might lose it? Well, Brown is a US Senator, and he's a new guy, not like those people who have been in power all this time, and HE'S "not hearing enough about jobs." That re-assures you that SOMEBODY gets it.

    And what do you folks say in response? You say: Well, Brown is wrong, because of all this boring stuff that sounds remarkably like tax and spend and borrow, when everybody knows (which means how they FEEL, cuz that's the nature of the pitch) that you can't spend your way into prosperity and that deficit spending is what is making jobs scarce. The more talk like that ya hear, well...

    ... the more sense Brown makes when he says: "I'm not hearing enough about jobs."

    Honest, get over yourselves a bit. You'd learn something about politics, which might actually help when you're participating in political commentary.

    Ya want to be effective countering Brown? Make it about feelings, not logic.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 19, 2010 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

    Ya want to be effective countering Brown? Make it about feelings, not logic.

    I don't disagree, but I'm not sure that Steve's blog is aimed at the majority of the electorate. This is inside baseball talk for folks that enjoy politics.

    Posted by: AK Liberal on April 19, 2010 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

    "...but it's an effort at counteracting the spin."

    That's what you guys tell yourselves, but actually, what you're doing REINFORCES the spin.

    That's why you're watching a baseball game, waiting for the field goal unit to run onto the field and start fact-checking Senator Brown, etc.

    Look at Allen, whose response to me wasn't to notice that, um, er, I'm right, but only to complain that I was mocking you guys for being stooopid.

    The Left (to use the jargon) has a positive compulsion to see ourselves as smarter than the average bear. We're wrong about that, but what counts more in a situation like this is that responses that dis somebody like Brown for being uninformed and unintelligent simply accelerate the English he's putting on the ball.

    The GOP talking points (which Brown is using) are about an EMOTIONAL appeal. You're worried cuz you've lost your job, or fear you might lose it? Well, Brown is a US Senator, and he's a new guy, not like those people who have been in power all this time, and HE'S "not hearing enough about jobs." That re-assures you that SOMEBODY gets it.

    And what do you folks say in response? You say: Well, Brown is wrong, because of all this boring stuff that sounds remarkably like tax and spend and borrow, when everybody knows (which means how they FEEL, cuz that's the nature of the pitch) that you can't spend your way into prosperity and that deficit spending is what is making jobs scarce. The more talk like that ya hear, well...

    ... the more sense Brown makes when he says: "I'm not hearing enough about jobs."

    Honest, get over yourselves a bit. You'd learn something about politics, which might actually help when you're participating in political commentary.

    Ya want to be effective countering Brown? Make it about feelings, not logic.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 19, 2010 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

    The good news is that Brown destroys any chance for a GOP comeback in New England every time he opens his mouth.

    Sadly, were he down here in Tennessee, Scott Brown would be considered a genius, and the pundits would be talking him up for a run at the Presidency.

    Posted by: dr sardonicus on April 19, 2010 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

    Hmm... not sure why that posted twice.

    "This is inside baseball talk..."

    Which makes it exceptionally odd that you guys keep waiting for the field goal unit.

    Remember how Brown got elected -- not to push it too hard, but the Democrats in Massachusetts managed to nominate somebody who didn't know a thing about the Red Sox, much less Curt Schilling, during a Senate debate over health care in which Republicans were against big government and Democrats argued over every goddam thing possible, while the Left was particularly pissed off that Congress wasn't ready to put the entire health insurance industry out of business. All Brown had to do was repeat GOP talking points.

    No wonder I don't belong to any organized political party: I'm a Democrat.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 19, 2010 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

    What a fucking dipshit. Brown sounds like a 6th grader faking his book report.

    "Uh...uh...uh...yeah, the book I read was Lord of the Flies by uh...uh...well it was a great book. The hero really did heroic stuff. And...and...the villian he was really bad, but I especially liked the descriptions of the scenery, you know forests and...and...mountains and...and glades. In the end the hero vanquished the villian. I highly recommend the book Lord of the Rings. The end."

    Posted by: Winkandanod on April 19, 2010 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

    Which makes it exceptionally odd that you guys keep waiting for the field goal unit.

    So, what's your point? If you want to advance the conversation you could suggest what you think what would be a more effective message. I generally agree with your ideas about political messaging, so it strikes me as odd that you couch your advice in terms likely to alienate those whom you would persuade.

    Posted by: AK Liberal on April 19, 2010 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

    "Make it about feelings, not logic." theAmericanist @ 6:46 PM.

    I always thought that was why the bars don't open until the voting booths closed...
    Seriously though, the problem with appealing to emotions/feelings has been amply shown by what the right-wing has stirred up with ITS' appeals to emotion (rather than logic) - paranoia, threats (so far) of violence and an unfocused anger that quite possibly may destroy a major political party (just not the one the anger is directed at, however). This is something to emulate?
    The best time to get the emotions of Democratic/independent voters involved is during an election campaign; keep up the campaigning for any longer period and we run the risk of compounding the problems created by the Republicans; only with a group on the left instead of the right.
    And wouldn't the "liberal" MSM just loooove that!

    Posted by: Doug on April 19, 2010 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

    Whoever hands out the GOP talking points...could you please write them so they can be used verbatim in a debate? We have the technology to prevent you from killing yourselves.
    Thanks in advance
    (the teleprompter folks).

    Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on April 19, 2010 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

    The Senator from Chippendale.

    Posted by: Jesse Fell on April 19, 2010 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

    Brown is absolutely correct about the lack of focus on JOBS. There has been a focus on economic growth and financial rescue. However too many of our elites including the Obama economic team are not concerned enough about unemployment. Republican policies would make things even worse. So the weak Obama efforts at job creation are better than Bush labor policy, but Obama is tone deaf about jobs. Make the unemployment rate go down and all the other nonsense will start to dissipate. Bill Clinton understood what the people want: JOBS.

    If Obama and the Dems cannot make the employment rate start to drop, they will lose big time. Americans worry about the deficit because the spending is NOT creating enough jobs. Americans don't trust the government because government programs are not creating enough Jobs. It is all about Jobs. Obama doesn't get it.

    Posted by: bakho on April 19, 2010 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

    @ bakho

    Ummm... So, the president should have just snapped his fingers and created a magic jobs program, with unicorns and ponies?

    For better or worse, the way the senate (dys)functions makes it hard to REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY hard to pass any goddamned thing at all if one party decides on total, scorched-earth destruction.

    And the fact that Palin-with-a-penis Scott Brown can't get his talking points right, doesn't change any of that.

    Posted by: efgoldman on April 19, 2010 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

    AK liberal: As a rule, when I post as theAmericanist it's not because I am trying to persuade people.

    It's to find out whether they can persuade me. As a rule, you can't -- cuz for the most part, the only responses to my provocations are "you're right and I'm offended so I'm going to insult you". (See anything posted by Shortstop.)

    Most folks, I find, argue (or just preach) online to the converted. That doesn't seem reliably useful.

    In this case, Brown used a poll-tested, very effective line from GOP talking points: "I'm not hearing enough about jobs."

    SB's response was that Democrats have, so! been talking about jobs.

    Even HAVING that exchange means: we lose. It's a "when did you stop beating your child" sorta dynamic.

    So, one way to see what's actually happening (instead of simply enjoying the reflex to brag about how much smarter we are than the guys who are about to take Congress away from us) would be to go back in time and frame a message so that Republicans wouldn't have found data in the public opinion research to show that talking about jobs is an effective way to move votes toward GOP candidates.

    Since it's too late to do that, the smart thing to do is to think of the emotional effectiveness of Brown's "not hearing enough about jobs", and find an emotionally effective response.

    Obviously, somebody looking to take a chunk out of Brown's support would do it differently depending on whether they wanted to take him out in a Massachusetts Republican primary, or the Mass. general election in 2012. In this case, though, I think most folks (including SB) were thinking about Brown as a national spokesman for GOP talking points -- but all three of those are very different audiences.

    It helps to recognize distinctions like that, when you're being all inside baseball about politics.

    For a national audience, recognizing that the GOP wants to nationalize the election AND turn it into a referendum on how Democrats have done on the economy, the key is to show Rs as obstructionists. But that's not a general message, and for damn sure it isn't a detailed message.

    It's about JOBS.

    "We are doing good things to protect YOUR job, and create MORE jobs, but those guys just get in the way..." is the message. No, it doesn't work to say 'we have so! been talking about jobs in our excellent complex legislative packages which are carefully balanced and compromised and would have even been bipartisan except that Republicans are so mean....'

    To do that when somebody like Brown says "I'm not hearing enough about jobs" requires being able to say (or more precisely, to have it so plain that even talking heads on tv will reply): "Gee, Senator Brown, didn't you vote AGAINST jobs for Massachusetts when you called 'no' on...."

    D's haven't framed any of the legislative debates that way.

    Posted by: qu on April 19, 2010 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

    D's haven't framed any of the legislative debates that way.

    I believe or at least I think that is coming. I am of the opinion that up to now, the President's outreach to the GOP has had two purposes. First, give them the opportunity to be constructive. Barring that, the President has been intent on putting GOP intransigence on display. That was the purpose of the HCR summit with GOP leadership.

    Saturday's Mitch McConnell smackdown was quite satisfying and the Democrats have begun to take it to the GOP on financial regulation. IIRC, the President has said that a jobs bill is a priority and I'm thinking that it's next on the agenda.

    Posted by: AK Liberal on April 20, 2010 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

    classic example of a post turtle

    Yeah, I miss Molly Ivins dearly too.

    Posted by: melior on April 20, 2010 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

    Palin-Brown 2012 seems to be what is called for.
    The people of Mass. should be very, very ashamed.

    Posted by: bob h on April 20, 2010 at 7:01 AM | PERMALINK

    From the necessarily zero-sum perspective of partisan politics, 'giving the GOP the chance to be constructive' is pointless.

    But more to the point, it's entirely anti-arithmetic.

    I keep urging folks to do the most basic math: for most progressive measures, we start with roughly 180 or so votes in the House, and generally 45+ in the Senate. Since we have substantial majorities on both sides of the Hill, on EVERY SINGLE LEGISLATIVE ISSUE, it is possible to enact legislation without even one Republican vote.

    But the problem is easily seen in the promptly counterproductive strategy articulated in a heartbeat: 'we need a bipartisan bill'. Progressives misunderstand this.

    Read these threads, and you will see a lot of Republican-bashing (nearly always well-earned and satisfying). But almost nobody notices the PURPOSE of the need for a 'bipartisan' bill: it's to provide cover for conservative Democrats, particularly Blue Dogs, to vote yes.

    They're the margin of victory. So the net effect of the 'bipartisan' strategy is to give the entire Republican caucus (in BOTH the House and Senate) the leverage to prevent Democrats from using their majority -- by distracting the focus from the 40 or so Democrats necessary to get a majority to pass legislation in the House, and 10-15 in the Senate, to -- what? 6 potential R votes in the House, and even ONE in the Senate?

    But they're not the margin of victory. There ain't enough Rs who are potential yes votes. Hunt where the ducks are, already.

    The dynamic goes like this: with 180 Democrats FOR some proposal, you might have as many as 20 Republicans who are more or less committed to it. Shazam! It's a 'bipartisan' effort -- and then it needs to become an actual piece of legislation, which means committees that are often far more polarized than even the House or Senate as a whole. To give the Blue Dogs cover, the strategy is to go get Republicans. Yet every bill starts 'bipartisan' as a proposal (including jobs packages), and winds up a Democratic bill.

    But progressives hate Blue Dogs much more than they do actual opponents (which is bizarre, since it isn't the safely progressive districts which make a Democratic majority), so any and all Blue Dog initiatives WITHIN the Democratic Caucus are marginalized and rejected by progressives. That's why we're kicking and screaming and exaggerating our importance, bitching no end about how we should have have much more progressive legislation even as we are steering the Democratic majority straight into the rocks. For even the courageous Blue Dogs who wind up voting yes, the dynamic shows no upside for being on our side of the caucus. Remember Phil Gramm? "They told me to choose between Tip O'Neill and Texas. I chose Texas."

    See how an emotional appeal works? And hell, there ain't nobody less likeable than Phil Gramm.

    So you go from 180 Democrats for the proposal, to say 200 -- while the 20 R's who had favored it disappear. So with even 200 D votes, you're nowhere near a majority -- and the effort to get the marginal votes FROM REPUBLICANS to provide Blue Dogs cover is doomed.

    That's why Brown's framing (the Senate dynamic is a little different, but essentially the same, politically) is such a perfect talking points exercise. Since 'bipartisan' is what Blue Dogs demand for cover, the focus isn't on persuading Blue Dogs (okay, bribing 'em, if you don't like democracy), but on getting Rs to support stuff that 1) would give their political adversaries a victory, 2) isn't in the interests of any individual Republican within their caucus, and 3) is always framed and constructed so as to be entirely against their political philosophy.

    It's like asking the field goal kicker to pitch. Of course the answer is no.

    The GOP doesn't have to make a sophisticated argument, nor propose any alternatives: in fact, they'd be crazy to try. All they have to do is say 'we're not hearing enough about jobs', and it won't matter how sophisticated we are.

    So dissing the winning strategy by insisting how stupid it is, and how smart we are, seems sort misconceived.


    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 20, 2010 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

    More & more Brown reminds me of AShton Kutcher's character, Kelso, on THAT 70's SHOW-- a disarming, inadvertently amusing bonehead. All Hail Senator Kelso (R MA) !

    Posted by: fignaz on April 20, 2010 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

    Brown's response to the question about his thoughts concerning the paranoia of the Tea Party Hardy Gang was no different from many RepuGs on TV. They come with a set of TPs of their own and only "respond" to any question with their own answers to their "own questions". This is what St Sarah did in the debates. I heard Tyrell of the American Spectator use the same tactic on Rattigan's program. They will only answer their own questions and never the one put forward by any commentator, except, on FAUX, where they will be served up with their own pre-approved beach balls.

    Posted by: berttheclock on April 20, 2010 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

    From the necessarily zero-sum perspective of partisan politics, 'giving the GOP the chance to be constructive' is pointless.

    Unless you live and work in a media environment that is tilted in favor of the GOP and have an electorate that views both parties with equal disdain.

    Obama needs to overcome the blue dogs, as you point out and the David Broders of the world that love the idea of bipartisanship. Obama has had to prove to the world that there's no room for bipartisanship.

    As to your broader point, there is no question that emotional appeals work. It's the basis for all modern marketing. However, I don't see why we can't enjoy the observation that Sen. Brown is out of his element. I just don't see Steve's blog as a channel for messaging to the greater electorate.

    Posted by: AK Liberal on April 20, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

    It's the message y'all channel to YOURSELVES that interests me.

    I mean, hell, just look at the four logical contusions you commit in one post, the central theme of which is how smart you (and everybody else here -- but me, presumably) are.

    1) I noted that from the necessarily zero-sum partisan view (that is, either an R or a D wins in virtually every race), it is pointless to give the GOP a chance to be constructive. You promptly said that there is, so! a point to it (the meaning of your "except") when the media is biased against Ds. Yeah? What is the point? Cuz then you blithely contradicted yourself -- just exactly how does it benefit Ds to give Rs the chance to be productive when the media is biased in their favor, while the public hates everybody?

    Fercrysakes, how obvious does a political dynamic have to be before you (ahem) astute political observers talking inside baseball notice?

    D: 'I tried to reach out to let you be constructive.'

    R: "I'm not hearing enough about jobs."

    D'uh.

    2) "Obama has to overcome the blue dogs..." Sez who? That's like saying that the team with the most runs has to overcome their lead.

    3) "Obama has had to prove to the world that there's no room for bipartisanship..." How's that been working out for ya?

    I notice that Brown, et al, get all kinds of chances to say their very effective talking points to a national audience.

    4) 'Course, all of this, in typical progressive fashion, is just a setup to get to the point: "I don't see why we can't enjoy..." how much smarter we are than everybody else.

    What's the evidence for that? -- since they're winning and we're losing, as we're looking at November.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 20, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

    It's to find out whether they can persuade me. As a rule, you can't -- cuz for the most part, the only responses to my provocations are "you're right and I'm offended so I'm going to insult you".

    Except that you're infrequently "right," and when you are (and once or twice you've really hit it), you destroy your conversational efficacy with what appears to be a large glob of social retardation and, perhaps, real instability. You've understandably tried to convince yourself that you do this only for your own entertainment and "research," but the palpable desperation in most of your posts belies this odd little rationalization.

    In fact, you're deeply concerned that people will reject your analysis, so you couch it in cranked-up arrogance so you can blame our supposed hypersensitivity to rudeness when you're rejected...a preemptive move designed to dismiss criticism of your arguments. It's no secret to anyone but you that you can be both wrong and an asshole, but by voluntarily assuming the asshole mantle, you comically believe you can invalidate any pushback on your content (such as it is).

    As for everybody else, why would anyone buy what you're selling when plenty of excellent analysis is available across the intertubes without the crazy?

    You can't see any of this, of course, but pretty much everyone else can. What was that about thinking one is smarter than everyone else? A giant case of projection?

    On to bigger and better threads, here and elsewhere.

    Posted by: Allen on April 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

    Mental midget Allen can't attack my unique and subtle point, so he launches into ad hominem. Oy.

    Jeezlouise, the stoopid, it burns, yanno? When are you total wastes of space going to figure out that insult ain't rhetoric?

    Posted by: theAmerlcanlst on April 20, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

    I mean, hell, just look at the four logical contusions you commit in one post, the central theme of which is how smart you (and everybody else here -- but me, presumably) are.

    I don't know what the hell you're talking about. I come here to learn and work out ideas. I've gone out of my way to take your argument seriously and not rise to provocative language. In return you have lectured me from your "superior perspective". Your ideas are interesting, but your style is an example of poor messaging.

    Posted by: AK Liberal on April 20, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

    LOL -- oy. You guys can't resist proving my point, can you?

    Allen: re-read your post where I noted you made 4 logical knots in something like 150 words. Ask yourself WHY you even bothered to post, except to underscore your theory that folks here are talking inside baseball -- and then answer the question: if this is inside baseball, why does a typical post (like yours) have a handful of blatant errors in it?

    Ya can't have it both ways: it's not possible to be both "inside baseball" and inaccurate, unless what you're really doing is bragging about how good progressives are at this politics thing, in spite of all the evidence.

    So my point -- noted twice now -- that it's sorta problematic to insist how much these discussions understand 'inside baseball' even as we are in the process of giving up substantial majorities in Congress.

    Naturally, you bail -- no point in engaging ME, after all, especially not on, f'r instance, your observation that Obama has to "overcome" the Blue Dogs, which I noted is like the team with more runs having to overcome its own lead.

    And somebody else (presumably) can't resist posting AS me: cuz after all, why would anybody take solid points seriously? It's so much more fun to scoff without substance.

    LOL -- see how it works? The clown at 10:08 posted an EMOTIONAL appeal... which is precisely what all the arguments in these threads boil down to.

    The emotional appeals that work to progressives are generally elitist -- we're sooo inside baseball, while those guys (like Brown) are too dumb to follow our substantive arguments.

    No wonder his talking points work better.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 20, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

    Yo, Allen: THIS was unclear to you?

    "D: 'I tried to reach out to let you be constructive.'

    R: "I'm not hearing enough about jobs.""

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 20, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

    I keep urging folks to do the most basic math: for most progressive measures, we start with roughly 180 or so votes in the House, and generally 45+ in the Senate. Since we have substantial majorities on both sides of the Hill, on EVERY SINGLE LEGISLATIVE ISSUE, it is possible to enact legislation without even one Republican vote.

    Does the word "filibuster" mean anything at all to you, Americanist?

    Posted by: SqueakyRat on April 20, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

    Yeah -- that's why I noted the dynamics in the Senate are different, but the politics are essentially the same.

    I mean, look at the framing: right now, Republicans are united to vote against even taking up the motion to proceed, several long steps before a final yes or no on the financial reform bill.

    They pre-emptively rejected the bill itself, having -- except for Corker -- refused to work together with Democrats in committee. (Which is why Dodd moved it without a markup. For those of you who still haven't noticed how sophisticated the GOP strategy is -- yanno, the one you keep rejecting as too simplistic -- note that they haven't made much hay about an ACTUAL bit of majority hardball, Dodd's move to get the bill directly to the floor.)

    Right now, it's a tossup whether the "it's a bailout bill" so "we have to go back and start over" spin the GOP is using will prevail in the long run. (Lord knows, it shouldn't.)

    But in the short run, insisting that there needs to be a bipartisan bill, while maintaining GOP discipline so not even one R votes to let 'em take up the motion to proceed sure as hell looks like it will prevent the Ds from getting anything done fast.

    It also shifts the whole news cycle onto the GOP framing: it's not a bipartisan bill (since no R will let the Senate take it up), which begs the question why, which leads to "it's a bailout bill", and "we need to go back and start over".

    The Ds want to frame this (properly) as the Rs defending Wall Street. That's not an impossible narrative to pitch, but it is necessarily a WHOLLY partisan storyline: which is why I noted that Brown is following his partisan talking points.

    Are the Ds going to do that? Better yet, are you guys going to help define the Ds talking points as 'gee, how stooopid the Rs are".... which is NOT the same as "Rs defend Wall Street".

    Look, folks: I'm pointing to the way spin works. You guys keep reverting to what pleases YOU, which is how smart you are and how dumb the Rs are -- and yet, somehow, they're winning.

    Why is that? Kindly respond without dissing the media or the American people -- psst: it's a baseball game, and there will be no field goals.

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 20, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

    Brown/Palin in 2012!

    Posted by: Sarah Palin IS the ANTIchrist on April 20, 2010 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

    I don't think making it about "feelings" means it cannot also be about "facts."

    Just use fact to evoke the feelings, and then you can point to the other side having ONLY feelings and no facts.

    Posted by: Sarah Palin IS the ANTIchrist on April 20, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

    theAmericanist, having ruined many otherwise-interesting threads over at Yglesias, has now decided to honor Washington Monthly with his brand of personal, scorched-earth commentary.

    Can't you go bother somebody else?

    Even if your substance is correct, which it actually is once in a while, you take disagreement as personal criticism and respond with a flame war.

    Enough. Please take your bullshit somewhere else.

    Posted by: efgoldman on April 20, 2010 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

    Riiight... efgoldman: the next time you get the urge to blame me for folks attacking me, you should actually read the sequence of comments.

    In this thread, I noted that folks who claim to want party discipline for Ds, should notice when they see it in Rs. Was that a personal attack on anybody?

    Then I pointed out that, as you guys kept preaching to your own choir, that that is like watching a baseball game, waiting for the field goal unit to run onto the field and fact check Scott Brown.

    And you regard THAT as a personal attack on somebody? As beyond the pale of these threads?

    So in response Allen attacked me, personally -- a mild attack, but you should note, as long as you're policing me, that Allen said nothing about the thread at all.

    So why are you making this about me, efgoldman?

    A couple posters actually spoke to the substance, then -- and frankly, I think that's what the bulk of you guys object to: it's somehow me 'hijacking' a thread when I say something, and some folks respond to the substance of it while most folks decide they'd rather have a flame war (which generally get much uglier in attacks on me, than in anything I say about anybody else -- if you recall from Yglesias'.)

    You're going after me -- but I note you said nothing about the guy who posted AS me: I guess that was okay with you, efg? You didn't complain about that -- but you complain about me.

    Suffice to note that when ASKED, I suggested that the way to go after Brown is to make his votes in the Senate, and what he says as a national GOP spokesman, local to Massachusetts.

    Which the President did yesterday, when he called Brown, personally, and they talked about his votes in the Massachusettls legislature. Good thing for you that I don't add anything to these threads worth the trouble I cause, huh?

    'Course, you're not interested in an actual sifting of fact and opinion, are you, efg? I can tell cuz it disturbs you when somebody says something useful, and you applaud when they're attacked.

    So, look ef: fuck off, k?

    Posted by: theAmericanist on April 21, 2010 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK




     

     

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