by John Hawkins | August 25, 2008 9:25 am
One of the myths that the Left consistently recycles is that Democrats lose elections because the Republicans hit them hard and the Dems don’t fight back. Why, if only the Dems weren’t so “nice,” they could compete with those mean ole Republicans! For example, according to the myth, what killed John Kerry was his refusal to take on George Bush and the Swift Boaters. If only he’d fought back, he would have won!
There are at least a couple of problems with this meme.
First of all, as a general rule, the “Democratic base,” the blogs, interest groups, columnists, etc., tend to be several orders of magnitude nastier than those on the Right. Not that conservatives don’t attack hard, but liberals have compared conservatives to Nazis so often it’s blase, publicly cheer when conservatives die, and have accused the Bush Administration of being behind 9/11. Someone like Ann Coulter, who’s supposed to be so over-the-top and ferocious, wouldn’t even qualify as one of the top 10 most vicious Kos diarists if she were on the Left.
Next, because the mainstream media is so relentlessly liberal, Republicans have to attack if they want to accentuate their opponents’ negative points. That’s because the MSM is going to do everything it can to cover for Democrats. However, the reverse is true for Democrats. The MSM already does most of their dirty work for them. Not that the mainstream media completely ignores a Democrat’s flaws or never stops attacking a Republican, because after all, they do have the illusion of impartiality to maintain, but the MSM does most of the heavy lifting for Dems in this area. With that in mind, why would Democratic candidates need to spend an excessive amount of time covering the same ground that their pals in the MSM have already covered?
So, if Democrats don’t lose winnable elections because they’re “too nice,” why do they lose? It’s because they fail to answer the central memes of their opponents.
Take John Kerry, for example.
The Bush campaign portrayed him as a snobbish, northern liberal who constantly flip-flopped on the issues, particularly on the war. On the other hand, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth portrayed Kerry as a male Jane Fonda, who sold out the troops fighting in Vietnam after gaming the system to get three purple hearts.
John Kerry lost the election in 2004 because he never effectively refuted any of those attacks against him. To this day, a lot of people, myself included, still believe what you just read is an extremely accurate depiction of John Kerry.
Obama, on the other hand, is being portrayed as arrogant, naive, and completely unready to be President of the United States. If he can’t counter that narrative, it isn’t going to matter how much he attacks McCain because he is going to lose the election — and if he does, the Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves for nominating someone who’s clearly way, way, too green to be the President of the United States.
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