Bad Politics

I’m really, really tired of getting jerked around by Democrats. Last week, Harry Reid wrote a great op-ed that justifiably compared the Republican bribery scandal to organized crime, but yesterday he apologized to the mob (via TPM) :

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday apologized to 33 Republican senators singled out for ethics criticism in a report from his office titled “Republican Abuse of Power.”

“The document released by my office yesterday went too far and I want to convey to you my personal regrets,” Reid said in a letter.

“I am writing to apologize for the tone of this document and the decision to single out individual senators for criticism in it.”

This seems to be the endless cycle for the Democratic elites. First they say something tough to get the base all riled up, but then they turn into shrinking violets at the first appearance of GOP dissent. Is this how you took down organized crime in Vegas, Harry? By sending little apology notes to mob bosses when you hurt their feelings? Real tough guys don’t apologize for being right.

And while I’m on the subject of weak-ass Democratic responses to Republican corruption, as much as I like Rep. Louise Slaughter, I’ve gotta take issue with her post over at DailyKos “Democrats Come Out Swinging for Honest Leadership in Washington”. I know a politician’s greatest skill is the ability to pat himself/herself on the back, but this is too much. When it came to proposing solutions to the Republican bribery scandal, you guys were beaten to the punch by Republicans! Do you have any idea how lame that looks? It sends the message that Republicans can do a better job policing themselves than the Democrats can. You guys didn’t come out swinging, you came out blocking.

When you get to the meat of the proposals, the Democratic plan is a slightly tougher laundry list of proposals that bears a striking resemblance to the GOP plan. When are you guys going to realize that “Me too!” isn’t a message that’s going to help you win elections? Sure, if you get into the meat of both proposals, the Democratic plan is much better, but who gives a shit at that point? Congratulations, you’ve won the confidence of a few hundred policy wonks. The rest of the country still thinks you’re wimps.

I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but you guys really need to stop worrying about policy and start worrying about politics. No matter how great the Democratic plan is, it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of actually getting through a GOP-run legislature. So instead of boring people with a wonkish list of “reforms”, why not counter with something bold and simple that actually has a chance of convincing people that the Democratic party represents a viable alternative to GOP leadership? It doesn’t have to be realistic, it just has to get attention.

For example, instead of a byzantine list of regulations on what lobbyists can and can’t do, you should just come out of the gate proposing a ban on all lobbying. Send a message that under Democrats, the rich and powerful don’t get more access to the halls of Congress than Joe and Jane Sixpack. You want to “petition the government”, then use the “Contact Us” form on a Senator’s webpage just like everyone else. Sure, the proposal is simple-minded and would never make it through committee, but that’s not the point. If you ever want to get into a position in which you can govern, you need to address the problems that voters are concerned about. Americans are sick and tired of the government working on behalf of professional ass-kissers.

It doesn’t help that those same Americans also think Democrats are a buch of weenies without moral compasses. When you’re alternately stuck in the GOP’s shadow and begging their forgiveness, that only adds to the misconception. So throw something out there to let everyone know that you’re not just a bunch of neutered shills that are afraid to defend your values. Offer big proposals that draw a stark difference between the GOP and Democratic agendas. With a track record as horrible as yours, the last thing you need to worry about is how you’re actually going to fulfill your promises. Besides, if you accidentally win an election, there’s nothing to stop you from taking a cue from the Contract with America crowd by watering down the proposals and later declaring victory. You’re politicians, remember?