Thursday, January 12, 2006

Peter Daou on how to fix the (non-existent) vast left-wing conspiracy

Hang in there - it involves geometry...
How would a functioning triangle have worked?

1. Weeks before the hearings, Dem leaders would have encouraged the netroots to build a buzz about one or two pivotal Alito issues. These issues would then have been hammered repeatedly during the hearings, reiterated by Dem surrogates, by outside groups, and blasted across blogs as the hearings progressed. (Presidential power and the nexus between the NSA scandal and Alito would have been one of those issues.)

2. Weeks before the hearings, Dem leaders would have set a trap for Alito by using his obvious and easily anticipated strong point against him, namely his demeanor. The Bush tactic, as evidenced by John Roberts, is to suck the life out of the proceedings by making everything as boring and pedantic as possible. The media then obediently claims the hearings are proof of the nominee's thoughtfulness and composure. In a functioning triangle, Dems, with the help of the netroots and honest media figures, would have prepared the public by making Alito's demeanor an issue using 'question of the day' framing, as in: "Are you troubled by the gap between Alito's radical views and his matter-of-fact attitude?" or something along those lines.

3. A list of mainstream reporters, GOP shills like Norah O'Donnell and Wolf Blitzer, would have been targeted by a Dem war room: their various Bush-propping tricks (like using polls to 'prove' that Americans are "divided" and don't share liberal activists' alarm over Alito, that the hearings are boring and Alito is a shoe-in, that Democrats are pre-judging Alito but Republicans aren't, etc.) would have been laid out in a detailed memo before the hearings.

4. An army of bloggers and online activists would have been recruited to flood these reporters with complaints whenever those tricks were employed. Screen shots, video clips, caricatures, chain emails, Flash pieces, podcasts, any and all available technology would have been used to individually target reporters who peddled GOP storylines on Alito.

5. Dem leaders and surrogates would have expressed outrage at rightwing media bias and demanded fair coverage. Every media appearance would have included a direct slam at the press for misleading the American public about Alito and Bush's hidden agenda. Again, Alito's "composure" would have been an issue: why is he so low key when his beliefs are so radical?

That's just a small example of how the left's triangle might have worked. Unfortunately for the progressive netroots, the intricate interplay of Republican persuasion tactics, media story-telling, and 21st century information flow seems beyond the ken of most Democratic strategists and leaders. The hellish reality progressive bloggers have acknowledged and internalized is still alien to the party establishment. Dem strategy is still two parts hackneyed sloganeering and one part befuddlement over the stifling of their message.



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