February 7, 2006


Opposition Party: HOW LIBERALS PLAY INTO KARL ROVE'S HANDS (Steven Groopman , 02.07.06 , New Republic)

This year's State of the Union came not long after Karl Rove sparked outrage among liberals by unveiling the GOP's strategy for the 2006 elections. "At the core, we are dealing with two parties that have fundamentally different views on national security," Rove said. "Republicans have a post-9/11 worldview and many Democrats have a pre-9/11 worldview." I think Rove's claim is largely false, and I think his strategy is cynical. But if Rove wanted evidence that it will succeed, then he should have watched the State of the Union with me.

I watched the speech at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, perhaps the most high-profile liberal advocacy organization in the country. A panel of pundits--which included radio commentator Sam Seder as well as several liberal bloggers--were there to "decode, debunk, and deride" Bush's speech in real time on Air America.

A packed house of 100 or so viewers huddled around a few plasma screen TVs to watch the address. Early on, when Bush invoked September 11, the audience let out a loud groan and snickered. Seconds later, the president mentioned the word "freedom" for the first time. A bell rang, and the audience laughed; then Bush said the words "terror" and "weapons of mass destruction" and bells rang again, followed by more laughter. This ritual was repeated throughout the speech whenever Bush uttered any of these words or phrases.

This made me wonder: Why the visceral reaction to these particular formulations?

Rove's claim is false but here's proof it's true...

Amazing the degree to which being a liberal these days requires condemning the evidence of your own experience as unreliable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 7, 2006 5:32 PM

Can we get film clips of this?

Posted by: Genecis at February 7, 2006 5:45 PM

Brilliant post. This reads like a parody -- except that the liberal opposition in this country has truly morphed into an ignorant, petulant, nihilistic mass of spoiled children. Why Republicans frequently express regret about the death of a "once great party" is beyond me. Let them continue their slide into oblivion.

Posted by: Steven M. Warshawsky at February 7, 2006 5:47 PM

The truly sad part is that when Bush said any of the words that the Center for American Progress Action Fund participants found so ridiculous, they just rang a bell. They didn't even do a shot.

Posted by: Brandon at February 7, 2006 6:45 PM

There's nothing healthy about a one party state, though a longish correction to the New Deal/Great Society is required.

Posted by: oj at February 7, 2006 6:54 PM

Sooner or later there will have to be a political realignment. The structure of the American system demands a two-party system.

The test of what form the new two-party system will take will depend on the political maturity of the conservative side.

Thus far, There are three components of the Right, let us call them the neocons, the theocons and the econocons, although this is a bit of a oversimplification.

At present, each component is content to stand behind its fellows in respect of the others' area of greatest concern.

This is true coaltion politics, American style, with a coalition of individuals rather than of "parties." You may have Israel, you may have a tax cut, and I shall have guns and live babies.

Now the danger is always present that an opposition party may pare away enough individuals to turn an election. At present, however, this shows no signs of taking place, because the Democrats are so in the thrall of extreme, fringe or near-fringe, interests.

None of us is willing to see the country turned over to witches, perverts, Communists and assorted folk-enemies, so we accept our fellow travelers' concerns.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 7, 2006 6:54 PM

I don't think there is any danger of becoming a "one party" state, given the history and structure of our political system. We are a democracy, after all. One-party states are products of totalitarianism. People being what they are, so long as we remain a free country, we will never lack for opposing viewpoints to consider. And I agree with Lou that there are real divisions within the Republican party right now. These also help maintain a robust political environment. But a party of America-hating wackos? We can do without them, thank you very much!

Posted by: Steven M. Warshawsky at February 7, 2006 7:18 PM

Yes, so you don't want them to slide into oblivion either.

Posted by: oj at February 7, 2006 7:25 PM

It's too bad we can't post the whole thing here, because this wasn't just a passing inconsistency: Indeed, his entire article practically makes the point for the postulate he proposed and discarded in the opening paragraph. Egads, man, it's staring you in the face!

Then there's this:

This only stifles the possibility of a serious liberal alternative to Bush's policies. As long as Democrats are required by their base to ridicule Bush's ends rather than his means, they will have lost the debate over foreign policy before it even starts.

Two quick points:

1.) When it comes to national security, "serious liberal alternative" is like saying "funny Carrot Top skit."

2.) Note the reference to the importance of the Democratic base. Another TNR writer wrote an article a couple months ago in which he told about speaking to Democratic party activists. They all told him the same thing: "McCain-Feingold is killing us."

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 7, 2006 7:39 PM

Okay, a question for the house: what happened the last time a major party disappeared or splintered? Would that have been the Whigs, or the Federalists; how long did the other party have hegemony; and what happened next? Any lessons in there for the future? Feel free to mock my pathetic ignorance while you're at it.

Posted by: joe shropshire at February 7, 2006 7:41 PM

Republicans essentially governed from 1860 to 1930 in the wake of the Whigs disappearing and the Democrats sponsoring rebellion. Democrats then held one branch or another until 2000 in the wake of the Depression.

Posted by: oj at February 7, 2006 7:45 PM


So Rove is right about the base of the Democratic Party and its elected officials but maybe wrong about those who could vote Democratic in a pinch?

Posted by: oj at February 7, 2006 7:48 PM

Lots of so-called libertarians are itching to return the fold and would do so in a minute if given the slightest encouragement.

Posted by: erp at February 7, 2006 8:28 PM


I'm afraid I'm missing your point, please rephrase.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 7, 2006 9:04 PM

Treating "freedom" as a mere buzz word with no more power than other words or phrases like "gravitas," "lock box" or even "compassionate" that become subject to parody or ridicule is just horrid politics, because it shows a level of disdain for the idea, as opposed to showing outrage that the opposing party is staking claim to the concept.

At least they only had The New Republic in the room, as opposed to allowing TV cameras to record the event for posterity.

Posted by: John at February 7, 2006 11:43 PM

A party that is anti-American, anti-religious, and anti-progress has no viability in the USA. The Democrats will revive, eventually, without the Hollywood left and the Odious Boomers, they will take positions opposite the Republican positions but within the American mainstream. States rights vs federalism, internationalism vs issolationism, protectionism vs free trade, Hamilton vs. Jefferson.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 7, 2006 11:53 PM


He concedes that Democrats are required by their base to ridicule, no?

Posted by: oj at February 8, 2006 12:13 AM


Exactly, it's like he can't even hear himself think. Time to turn down that heavy mental racket, lie down and make sure his brain is clear on what his mouth is saying.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at February 8, 2006 2:01 AM

what form would a replacement party (for the dems) take ? i.e. what would be viable.

Posted by: toe at February 8, 2006 12:46 PM


Posted by: oj at February 8, 2006 12:54 PM

aside from the addition of nativism, that seems like what the dems are now.

Posted by: toe at February 8, 2006 5:39 PM