Saturday, October 21, 2006

What Kleiman Says

This pretty much sums up what I think about the new GOP scare campaign, including their OBL ad.

Man, OBL is more useful to the GOP than Rove is. But is anybody in any way surprised by this ad? I mean, it's just basically what they've been saying all along: a vote for any Democrat is a vote for OBL. Except I forgot that OBL isn't important anymore, so it's just a vote for "terror."

A prediction: if the polls keep going in the Democrats' direction, look for even worse ads to appear. I'd really kinda like to see just how low these people will stoop.


Blogger High Power Rocketry said...

This is very much true.

7:13 PM  
Blogger  Robert Boyd said...

Fear is their biggest tool, but they will also use racism and innuendo--look at the anti-Harold Ford ad where the blonde bimbo talks about meeting him at the Playboy Mansion and asks him to call her up.

I would like to see Democrats responding forcefully to this kind of nonsense--unlike Kerry's response to the Swiftboating. I'd like to see Democratic candidates get on television and say, "These crooks, these hacks, these non-entities love power so much, they will say literally any lie, no matter how evil and outrageous, to keep it! How dare they call themselves Christians!" Or something.

Hell, if a Democratic candidate who was on the receiving end of some of this crap would get up and say, "Say that to my face, you little coward."

I want to see a little more self-righteous anger on the part of Democrats, reflecting some of the shit thrown at the back to its source.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I haven't been to Mark's blog in a long time. I see I've been missing something. Thanks for the link.

BTW, came here by way of a certain blog that sucks (but not so much on the grand scale of things if you think about it.) And by way of one that doesn't (Hullabaloo)

You're welcome.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Philosophoraptor's blog is dead.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I want to see a lot more self-righteous anger on the part of Democrats myself, although I dunno if that's possible without an epidemic of aneurysms.

Still, if y'all think it's worth a try, far be it from me to stand in the way of someone's right to political death with dignity.

I started commenting on Philosoraptor to roadtest my arguments in a hostile environment. (And get lost, "Anonymous," you can't even spell Philosoraptor, you ignorant fuck. Altho I'm curious whether you're attacking WS from the left or the right...)

I then became a blogger because some of my responses to Philosoraptor were far too, um, nuanced to keep short enough for the comments section.

I liked the answer I was composing to WS and Kleiman enough that I made it a post at my own groupblog.

So, if any of you Jacobins have the mettle to Fight the Power without a mob at your back, come try your luck.

I've made the invitation before here, but except for WS once or twice, nobody's dared leave the safety of the duckblind, where I'm the only one who gets shot at. C'mon, people---you know who you are. Man up.

Robert Boyd has something to say about "little cowards." I think he has a point there.

11:13 PM  
Blogger Mike Russo said...

Tom -- I hope you'll forgive me for posting here, rather than at your groupblog, but since I actually agree with you, storming the Bastille or whatever the appropriate metaphor would be seemed inapposite.

As far as I can tell, the ad basically just insinuates that the GOP think that Dems are soft on terror, and that electing Dems will therefore lead to more terrorism. This seems unobjectionable to me -- I mean, I disagree, but clearly the efficacy of each party's counterterrorism proposals are a critically important part of the election, and should be part of the campaigns. The ad isn't really an argument, but very few political ads actually are.

It's possible to make reasonable points in unsavory ways, of course -- the objections to the Willie Horton ad, to my knowledge, weren't so much that it was false or that it was raising an illegitimate criticism, but rather that it was implying that Michael Dukakis wanted black men to rape our daughters. Given the history race-baiting has played in American politics, this seems a reasonable thing to be touchy about (though as it's been a couple of years since I've seen the ad, I'm not sure whether or not this criticism is correct).

But I can't say I see any of that here -- everybody can (hell, should) be arguing that the other guy doesn't take terrorism seriously enough, and trying to make that point in a dramatised fashion rather than through logical or factual argument is simply a recognition that this is a better way of getting people to vote your way.

Again, I totally disagree with the charge made by the ad, and find it kind of goofy (maybe this is proof that we liberals don't take terrorism seriously enough, but come on, is anybody really scared by the footage of al Qaeda types practicing kung fu?) But since both Democrats and Republicans honestly (I hope) think that voting for the other party is going to lead to more terrorism, they should both make the points as strongly as they can.

I am also with you on the anonymous Atrios commenters. When last I checked that other thread, there were about six comments that made any sort of substantive point out of 108 total.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"since both Democrats and Republicans honestly (I hope) think that voting for the other party is going to lead to more terrorism, they should both make the points as strongly as they can."

I disagree, personally, I think that electing the republicans will result in less terrorism, or as a second possibility, I think the odds are good that it would.

Authoritarian regimes are good at that are they not? Certainly better than open societies. I have seen quite a few liberal blogs make the point that the GOP may make you safer, but at a terrible cost.

Billmon has a good article on what he calls "Tickling the Limbic System".

My own personal theory -- and it's just that -- is that we have entered (or rather, are deep into) an era of limbic politics, most likely as a result of the rise and electoral dominance of television. The most effective messages now are those aimed not at the frontal lobes, the seat of reasoning and advanced cognitive function, but at the limbic system -- the area sandwiched between the cerebrum (senient being) and the brain stem (lizard).

2:05 AM  
Blogger Mike Russo said...

noen -- fair point on disagreeing on the parties' likely efficacy against terrorism (though I think the dualism of open society vs. authoritarianism elides more than it illuminates). Still, I hope it's clear that this is an important thing to discuss.

As to the "limbic system" idea, I think that's basically right, except for the idea that we've somehow "entered" into this recently. Effective persuasion -- heck, even effective *rhetoric* -- isn't just pitched to the rational faculties, and never has been. Look at newspapers from the 1790s; look at Thucydides. Modern advertising is better at this than we have been, but human beings respond to appeals to deep-seated fears, desires, and group identifications, as well as those grounded in reasoned argument, evidence, etc. Perhaps this is overly pessimistic of me, but I don't see the value in pretending otherwise. In some areas, these kinds of appeals shouldn't be permitted -- I'm thinking specifically of trials and other legal proceedings -- but doing that kind of policing in the political sphere seems neither possible nor desirable to me.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh of course, I understand that "open society vs. authoritarianism" exists on a continuum. Typically, I don't do binary either/or comparisons without it being assumed that such things usually exist on a smooth gradation with many points in between. Nature rarely works that way (though sometimes it does). I also know that these days borderline personalities reign supreme. "You're either with us or against us!" being the prime example.

Second point, true, true, but I think Billmon had in mind the not yet too distant past where it really did seem like politics was not quite the zero sum game it has become. That political discussion was done by adults and not adult children. Focusing on the grand sweep of history does seem to put recent history in perspective and that helps to lower my anxiety levels some. so thanks for that.

Billmon has been pretty morose of late, not like that is so unusual these days. Anyone who has been paying attention should be depressed at the turn our country has taken.

1:56 PM  

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