Monday, September 20, 2010

Obama and 'Tea Party Extremists'

What are the Democrats to do? How can they avoid disaster in the midterm elections?

They're considering options from their playbook,
Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals.

It makes sense. Obama, the community organizer, is comfortable with those tactics.

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don't try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.

The Dems' plan: An orchestrated, national attack on Tea Party patriots.

From the New York Times:
President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a national advertising campaign that would cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.

That is among a range of options and plans under consideration at the White House for energizing dispirited Democratic voters over the coming six weeks, in hopes of limiting the party’s losses and keeping control of the House and Senate. Democratic strategists are seeing new openings to exploit after a string of Tea Party successes split Republicans and culminated last week with developments that scrambled Senate races in Delaware and Alaska.

“We need to get out the message that it’s now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party because the people who have taken over the party are radical,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with White House advisers but requested anonymity to discuss private strategy talks.

But Democrats are divided. The party’s House and Senate campaign committees are resistant, not wanting to do anything that smacks of nationalizing the midterm elections when high unemployment and the drop in Mr. Obama’s popularity have made the climate so hostile to Democrats. Endangered Congressional candidates want any available money to go to their localized campaigns.

Proponents say a national ad campaign, most likely on cable television, would complement those individual campaigns and give Democrats a chance to redefine the stakes. The Democratic strategist said voters did not now see much threat to them from a Republican takeover of Congress, even though some Tea Party-backed candidates and other Republicans have taken positions that many voters consider extreme, like shutting down the government to get their way, privatizing Social Security and Medicare and ending unemployment insurance.

While no decision about an ad campaign has been made, the fact that the idea is being considered in the West Wing highlights the effort to increase Democratic turnout and employ Mr. Obama more aggressively to frame the election, even while many party candidates are keeping their distance from him.

So far, Mr. Obama has largely limited his campaigning to fundraisers and small events. That will change soon as he plays a bigger role to rally the flagging faithful, officials said.

To mobilize younger voters who supported him in 2008, Mr. Obama will hold four big campaign-style rallies, the first Sept. 28 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, with satellite transmission to campuses in other states. The later rallies will be in Ohio, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. He also will send e-mail and record robocalls to spur voters, and conduct a national “town hall” Webcast in October.

“These events are about activating the Obama grass roots to help organizationally in terms of volunteers” for get-out-the-vote efforts, said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “We’re not going to get all the 2008 Obama voters out. We may not get most of them. But in close races, it can be decisive.”

Demonizing the Tea Party patriots would be a huge mistake for the Democrats.

Last summer, Team Obama and the Democrats tried to demonize the concerned Americans showing up at town hall meetings to express their disapproval of government-run health care. They smeared these citizens, calling them racists and painting them as extreme and on the fringe.

That strategy failed miserably. Obama and the Dems won no hearts and minds by attacking those voicing their opinions. Of course, against the objections of the American people, the Democrats passed government-run health care anyway.

Demonizing the majority of the American people and calling them extremists is not a winning game plan.

The desperate Russ Feingold has tried that approach in Wisconsin, smearing the Tea Party and calling Wisconsinites for Ron Johnson part of a vast Right-wing conspiracy, courtesy of FOX News.

That hasn't helped him at all. Feingold continues to slide in the polls and Johnson is gaining.

The Dems are in big trouble. Reality is their enemy.

We've had two years of Obama and the Democrats in total control of the federal government. They had all the power to do whatever they wanted. Nothing, no one, stood in their way. No Republicans could block them, in spite of Obama's incessant whining that Republicans are to blame for his inability to enact parts of his agenda.

We've seen what they've done and how they've handled power.

The fact is Americans don't like it.

Smearing the Tea Party patriots won't work.

If the Democrats want to avoid a bloodbath in November, they need to listen to the American people and swing to the Right. In other words, do an about-face.

Obama needs to reinvent himself. He needs to become a conservative.


jimspice said...

I think I've mentioned this before, but this SHOULD have been a landslide for the Rs this year, being the out party at the midterm, compounded with the worst economy in memory. Voting models showed them taking both chambers. But with T-party candidates winning 3 or 4 spots in Senate races, I believe that house is now safe for Ds. And the House is no longer a gimme either.

Conventional wisdom dictates running toward the center in an off year. This lurch to the far right is going to really hurt Rs. Even if they do take the House, they will not have the numbers advantage they would have otherwise.

Jim said...

What I find amusing is that this approach goes against Alinsky's principal because it specifically says "don't attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies." And nothing is more abstract than a true grass roots movement.

Barry's so desperate that he's forgetting his play book. The wheels have truly come off the bus.

joetote said...

The Tea Party movement is not a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party! A co-opted media led by a hard core left wing wanna be dictatorship government would want you to believe that it is in fact all about the Republicans. And they would be dead wrong! The Tea Party movement is a fight for the heart and soul of our country! It is a fight to return us to what made us the greatest country in the world! How sad that entrenched politicians on the right along with the garbage on the left cannot or refuse to understand such a basic tenet!

FlutterDrew said...

I just shared a link to this blog.

Mary said...


I don't think of the Tea Party as an abstract corporation or bureaucracy.

The rallies and other events aren't abstractions. The attendees are photographed. The Tea Party patriots are real people. One can look at their faces. They're our neighbors and co-workers.

Therefore, I think Alinsky's "personalize" rule does apply.

I do agree with you completely on your point that the wheels have come off Obama's bus. That will make it more difficult for him to throw anyone else under it.

Mary said...

I think what the political pundits don't get about the Tea Party movement is that it isn't about control of the Republican Party.

It's about people voting for the candidates they want to represent them. Very simple. There's no grand plan to take over the GOP. That's not what this is about.

It's simply about Americans choosing their representation in government and having their voices heard.

Jeff Randall said...

I am tired of the left trying to demonize us by throwing out some label. I decided to label myself- and screw the ones who don't understand. If believing in the constitution makes me a radical, than so be it.

I love the shirt I found on E-bay. You should check it out.