Saturday, December 27, 2003

La Meme du Jour

The meme “Angry Democrats” has been getting a work-out since Dr. Dean worked his way to the front of the Democratic race by showing some gusto in his stump speeches and getting a reaction from his audiences. C-SPAN had a segment this morning on their Washington Journal program asking callers if the Democrats were “the party of anger,” or some such wording (and of course the calls in from the right-wing were in complete agreement that the Democrats were using “hate speech” to attack George W. Bush, who was, according to one caller, decreed by God to be president at this time). Mona Charen used her syndicated column today to rail against Time magazine for not making Bush “Man Of The Year,” offering that their news judgment was suspect and that choosing the American soldier was a “safe” choice; to do otherwise would have risked the “anger” of the Democrats. She can’t seem to understand what the Democrats have to be angry about; it’s like they’re having a tantrum or something.

Leaving aside the reasons for Democratic anger – there are, after all, entire websites and blogs cataloguing in excruciating detail the reasons – the Republicans have decided to exploit this to their advantage, all the while protesting their innocence. NTodd points out that Dr. Dean’s “anger” is mostly a Rovian piece of fiction, but nevertheless this will get some traction with voters who have forgotten or ignored the Republican storms of Newt Gingrich who called President Clinton a “criminal,” or William Safire who called Hillary Clinton a “congenital liar,” or Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana who referred to Mr. Clinton as a “scumbag.”

The way to deflect this meme is to produce the reasons – in a calm and deliberate manner – that the Democrats and fully half the electorate have a right to feel angry and betrayed by the present leadership in the White House and Congress. The fact that Dr. Dean is doing something like that has Karl Rove on alert…which means we’re on the right track.