Monday, June 19, 2006

Boehner's Weapon For November: Setting Up Democratic Straw Men To Knock Down

The names may change, but the strategy remains the same.

When John Boehner (R-OH) replaced the disgraced Tom DeLay (R-TX) as House Majority Leader, the spin was that Boehner offered "a fresh alternative to a House GOP leadership team sullied by lobbying scandals." Boehner himself told NBC's Tim Russert after his ascension: "Tom and I have a different approaches."

But with polls showing the Democrats' chance of regaining control of the House improving, it seems Boehner has resolved to turn to a bag of tricks that would make DeLay proud.

A June 13 memo from Boehner starts off innocently enough. Citing some recent "positive developments" in Iraq -- including the killing of insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- Boehner urges his fellow House members: "We should not refrain from touting such progress."

No problem there. Let Republicans defend the administration on the Iraq War, and the greater "war on terror." Let the American people decide whether the country is heading on the right track, or whether Democrats would do a better job of handling an array of issues, from when to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq (and how much) to how our government treats veterans and their families.

Democrats welcome that debate. A CNN poll, released June 16, shows that a minority of Americans support the Bush Administration's handling of the Iraq War and the greater "war on terror."

But Boehner isn't interested in an honest debate. Instead, he proposes that Republicans frame the issue this way:

BOEHNER: "In a post-9/11 world, do we confront dangerous regimes and the threat of terrorism with strength and resolve, or do we instead abandon our efforts against these threats in the hopes that they will just fade away on their own?"

Hmmm. In other words, do we fight the terrorist, or do we hide under our covers and cry like little wussies? Which Democratic leaders actually believe that? Which Democratic leaders have suggested that we not fight the threat of terrorism? Which Democratic leaders have said that if we don't fight terrorism, the problem will "fade away"?

None. And Boehner no doubt knows this. But rather than have an honest debate, Boehner is suggesting House Republicans create straw men -- creating the impression that a minority or fringe opinion reflects the views of all opponents -- that can easily be knocked down.

The facts are easy: Democrats overwhelmingly supported giving President Bush the right to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001." Democrats overwhelmingly supported creating of the Department of Homeland Security. Just last week, Democrats overwhelmingly supported yet another huge emergency spending bill for continued operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- even though Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona criticized the use of such emergency spending bills, which he said have treated the $320 billion of Iraq-created costs as "free money."

In other words, Democrats have been side-by-side with Republicans, supporting the troops, supporting the concept of Homeland Security, and helping give the president a blank check.

Meanwhile, Democrats have sought to be partners with the Republicans, proposing a plan that sought to improve our nation's management of the war, as well as the greater issues of national security. The mainstream media chose instead to repeat the conservative spin that the Democrats lack a plan. The Democrats have proposed for several years running increased funding for port security, rail security, Federal Air Marshals, firefighters and first responders, Coast Guard operations and security of chemical plants. But the Republicans haven't allowed the various pieces of legislation to get to the House or Senate floor.

Do the parties agree on everything? Of course not. But dissent is not only allowed in our country, it's imperative in a healthy democracy. Questioning wrong-headed decisions by our leadership, mis-statements of fact, or waste and fraud in spending is not treasonous. It's what has kept our country strong for more than 200 years.

BOEHNER: Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democrat Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post- 9/11 world.

How did Boehner learn to so brazenly lie about the opposition party? Perhaps it's the same person who taught President Bush to create straw men in his speeches.

The Associated Press in March provided an astute analysis of the way President Bush rhetorically argues. The AP's conclusion: Bush creates fictional "straw men" that can be easily knocked down.

Why create straw men? Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, made this key point: "You would expect people to do that as they feel more threatened."


Anonymous BOSSHOG said...

The gop's fear: There seems to be fewer and fewer ignorant Americans willing to believe any fucking thing they say. Or at least fewer who want to play in the country's political arena. Republicans are just hoping ignorance and hate and prejudice prevail in November. That's the only way they "win." That and fixed voting machines.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

the choice Boehner wants us to make: Either the easy-to-swallow catch phrases of the GOP, or that John Kerry statement caught on tape and advertised to death in 2004: "I was in favor of it, before I was against it."

If the GOP launches an ad campaign calling the Democrats wishy-washy or anti-troop, the Dems should come back with a commercial ticking off all the things they've proposed but the GOP has voted against on homeland security, and a second commercial with Bush joking at the 2004 correspondents dinner about not being able to find WMD.

Run the laugh track of Bush joking with a stark statistic showing the number of dead and injured U.S. troops. That'll combat any spin Boehner has planned.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Strawman said...

Sounds like the same strategy they've been using since the 1980's

Hence my alias...

11:37 AM  
Anonymous gratuitous said...

Well come ON

You can't expect them to run on the issues or their dismal record, can you? If you take away character assassination, the GOP's got nothin' left!

11:37 AM  

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