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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Is Turning the Other Cheek Good Political Strategy?

I had a tremendous response to yesterday's post about opting out of the political "base wars". In addition to the post here, I also cross-posted the piece at RedState, DailyKos, Peach Pundit, and MyDD. I received a ton of comments and emails on this piece, but one comment at Red State really stood out.

I've got one foot on and one foot off of your wagon. Although it would be swell if the discourse could shift and yes, perhaps the idealistic goal seems achievable, if only we could lead by example. But then, I look back over these past five or so years and I see a problem.

The Bush Administration was forever turning the other cheek, not answering the wild charges and misrepresentations, flying from the floor of the Senate to the Stage of Dixie Chick concerts. The silence from the President's people was deafening, and I recall joining with so many others, crying for the President to just defend himself.

Yet there was no response, and the evil rhetoric continued not only from wing-nut loons, but from elected Senators, Representatives, and Presidential Candidates. The liberal media ran with it, amplified it, and created some of the hysterical scripts all by themselves.

I don't think it works... taking the high road, when the opposition is so effective and devoted to using the low road. Sure... there are examples of excessive force to be sure. But even then, as with Coulter, there is at least some basis is truth underlying the viciousness of the rhetoric.

On the other side, the rhetoric is just as vile but has no foundation whatsoever in truth, such as... "George Bush doesn't care about Black People."

Like I said... I've got my foot on your wagon, but just now I'm a little nervous about sitting down.

Outside the obvious problem of assuming that "we" are always right and "they" are always wrong, there seems to be a pretty major flaw in this comment. And that flaw is this assumption that "taking the high road" (if you actually believe that is the case) didn't work.

I would argue that it did work and continues to work for Republicans. I have often said that if the Democrats could institute a little party discipline and keep some of their people from some of the crazy talk, that the Republicans would implode under the weight of various scandals and problems. The Abramoff scandal alone should have been enough to completely ruin the Republican chances for the upcoming fall elections. And it may still happen. But I believe that the Democrats have not helped themselves by various outlandish attacks on Republicans. I think the American people are smart enough to recognize when people are overreaching or not acting in good faith. I think a case can be made that the Angry Left single-handedly helped Bush win in 2004. I'm wondering if a Vindictive Right led by the likes of Ann Coulter will similarly help the Democrats this fall.

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