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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Positive or Negative?

Robert Reich disagrees with Paul Krugman's message in his column "Don't Make Nice":

What the Dems Must Do When They Regain Control, by Robert Reich: Assuming they win, should House Dems (and maybe Senate Dems as well, if they take control there) focus on exposing the malfeasance of the Bush Administration – who knew what and when with regard to WMD, torture, Katrina, payoffs to Abramoff, and all the other rot – OR focus on how to turn the country around?

Anyone who say Dems can do both is living on another planet. A fundamental strategic choice lies ahead: Either expose Bush or build the new agenda. Either will require a huge effort to marshal facts and focus public attention. Either will necessitate extensive public hearings and a concerted media strategy. Either will be competing with a cacophony of campaign personalities, more bad news from Iraq, and a likely slowing of the economy.

If both are tried simultaneously, the media will focus on the more sensational – which will be dirt on the Bushies. Kiss the new agenda goodbye.

But there’s no point digging up more dirt. Bush isn’t running again. John McCain, the Republican’s most likely choice for president, has nicely distanced himself from the White House. He wouldn’t be tarnished.

Besides, the public and the media already know much of what’s gone wrong – and they’re already suffering from outrage fatigue. And the Dems wouldn’t be credible, anyway. It will be easy for Republicans to dismiss their efforts as more of the same old partisan bickering.

The fact is, the public is sick and tired of mud-slinging. That’s one reason it holds Congress in such low esteem.

But the Dems do need the public to know they have real answers for some of the nation’s most pressing problems. It’s crucial to use the next two years to establish credible ideas for what the nation can and must do in future years – provide affordable health insurance, spread the benefits of economic growth, partition Iraq and get out, stop nuclear proliferation, prevent a nuclear bomb from falling into the hands of terrorists, and control global warming.

Either go negative or go positive -- that’s the Dem’s inevitable choice. Going negative would be easy but also futile. The nation needs a positive agenda that only the Dems can deliver.

I must be living on another planet. I think it's possible to do both should Democrats take control -- to deliver a positive agenda but still fully investigate "the origins of the Iraq war and the cronyism and corruption that undermined it." The press will focus on war related issues in any case and it's not clear how much Democrats can get done with the expected (and even hoped for by many) gridlock over the next two years, so Democrats won't be able to do much beyond using "the next two years to establish credible ideas." Standing up to the past and upholding their core principles rather than "cutting and running" from any investigation may be the means through which Democrats gain the strength and power to implement the positive agenda they've established and want to put into place.

    Posted by on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 12:24 AM in Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (1)  Comments (69)


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    » To Be Nice, or Not to Be Nice? from The Street Light

    That is the question. Mark Thoma draws our attention to the very different answers that Paul Krugman and Robert Reich provide this week. From Krugman: As long as polarization is integral to the G.O.P.’s strategy, Democrats can’t do much, if an... [Read More]

    Tracked on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 at 11:02 AM


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