Flightsuit Phony
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By cynsmith - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2003 - Save & Share - 10 Comments

Salon has a great article this morning that I hope Democratic campaign managers are reading right now…

So, I’m hoping for a “No More Flightsuit Phonies” sign next to the “Nobody Died When Clinton Lied” placard at the Democratic convention this year.

some key points (so you don’t have to bother with clicking the link)…

The Democrats can only win if they succeed in undermining the president’s greatest strength: his credibility as a decisive and authentic wartime leader.

The core problem with the current Democratic strategy is that a piecemeal, issue-by-issue attack on the policies of the administration will not resonate while Bush retains the esteem and even admiration of many ordinary Americans

Progressives who are flabbergasted at the audacity of Bush’s agenda seem to think that simply communicating Bush’s policy failures is enough. But this approach will play straight into Karl Rove’s chubby hands and trap Democrats in the defensive, dithering posture that has defined them since the Bush presidency began.

what communications strategy will wear down the personal appeal of Bush as effectively as the “weak and indecisive” tag slapped on Jimmy Carter, and the “out of touch” tag on Bush’s father?

Bush’s image as a regular guy has helped to obscure the fact that he is an insider with close connections to big business and a natural interest in protecting them. To turn this around, Democrats can use the “phony” message as a nexus to explain the contradiction. How can the everyman who stumbles on his words and has a traveling pillow be the same fellow whose tax cuts leave nothing to poor families with kids? How can a champion of personal responsibility and born-again asceticism engineer such unsustainable budget deficits? How can a leader who claims to be the first White House CEO engage in the kind of shoddy handouts to corporate backers in Iraq that shareholders would never tolerate in a business leader? How can a president so determined to wage the war on terrorism be the same president who starves state and local authorities of critical funds for homeland security? How can the commander in chief so concerned about terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons be the same leader who leaves Iraqi nuclear sites unattended for weeks?

These contradictions make much more sense when seen through the prism of Bush’s utter phoniness.

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10 Responses to “Flightsuit Phony”

Comment from jank
Time August 1, 2003 at 10:14 am

The article is sad, if you ask me. “Yeah, we’ve got no real issues that we can sell to the American Public, so we’ll resort to slander and character assassination from day 1.” How is ‘Bush is a Phony’ going to work any better than two months of hammering on 16 words in the State of the Union address?

This, to me, is why the Democrat Party is headed down a dusty road to irrelevance. The truly progressives, those interested in an even more agressive redistribution of wealth and re-engineering of social norms than most Americans, have commandered the party’s platform. In their haste to demonize anything and everything associated with the GOP, they’ve gotten too shrill.

Oh, and give up on the tax cuts ‘give nothing to poor families with kids.’ Most folks realize that these same families automatically get an Earned Income Tax Credit, which generally will amount to a larger amount than the payroll taxes withheld. The excess credit is refundable, meaning that low income (defined as about $33,000 for a family with two kids) families are already getting a handout from the government. How can a tax cut give any money to folks who don’t pay taxes?

Comment from etrigan
Time August 1, 2003 at 10:32 am

My friend, Jill (who is studying “the genetic basis of sensitivity and behavioral adaptation to ethanol and other addictive compounds in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans”), actually uses the words “ecology holocaust” when she talks about W. (And she has a troubling but interesting theory that genetic diversity is quickly dwindling including the fact that all big cats are basically extinct and we can’t save them. Oo! Which leads to me wondering if the dinosaurs were wiped out due to a lack of genetic diversity…but back on the topic) I haven’t seen the numbers myself, but his policies in this area have so far really bothered me. (Let’s destory Alaska! There’s plenty of it to go around!)

Some conservatives (especially one close to my heart) think that the government will save us if we end up in a tight spot ecologically speaking. I think this is akin to the pair of virgins on “The Amazing Race” praying for God to help them win. (Now that they’re out, though, it’s apparent that God doesn’t love them.)

Comment from jank
Time August 1, 2003 at 11:17 am


Go Nuclear. Huge power density per acreage both in terms of fuel gathering and in power generation. Even when you take into account long-term storage.

No problems with eyesores, acreage, and bird-kill like wind. Fuel construction is about as hazardous as making solar panels (some of the materials in those are extremely hazardous). No greenhouse gases. Perfect energy source for hydrogen generation. Proven technology, relatively good safety record, even accounting for Chernobyl.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 1, 2003 at 11:27 am

Yeah. I agree with you there, but the regulations have to be tight-tight-tight or it’s dangerous.

Comment from cynsmith
Time August 1, 2003 at 11:32 am

>Yeah, we’ve got no real issues that we can sell to the American Public, so we’ll resort to slander and character assassination from day 1.”

Naturally I read it differently. I saw it as “Bush didn’t win on the issues, and so he won’t be defeated on the issues. He must be defeated by attacking his primary strength – people’s personal affinity for him.”

Comment from jank
Time August 1, 2003 at 11:49 am

No, I read it the same. However, flip the coin – unless the 2 term amendment is repealed, the Democrats will be attacking someone the public likes with someone that the public doesn’t like as much.

What would your reaction be if someone you didn’t know came up to you and started saying that a (good) friend of yours was a lying scumbag who kicked puppies? It’s not a good strategy, especially in an already polarized country that doesn’t trust many folks besides GWB.

Comment from jank
Time August 1, 2003 at 11:54 am – more anal technical info about nuke regulations and enforcement actions than you care to shake a stick at. There’s a reason that we’ve had only Three Mile Island in the US, and that the releases from that huge accident (I think there’s pictures of the melted core on the NRC’s site) were minimal compared with the exposure that one gets on transcontinental flight or an x-ray.

Plus the NRC’s funded primarily (more than 90%) from fees from the utilities it regulates.

The IAEA and the INPO are both pretty effective international bodies that help countries set and maintain standards.

Comment from cynsmith
Time August 1, 2003 at 12:14 pm

>What would your reaction be if someone you didn’t know came up to you and started saying that a (good) friend of yours was a lying scumbag who kicked puppies?

Oh, I think that the revived “credibility gap” stuff is softening people up for it. That, and the fact that most people feel the economy is worse and won’t get better very soon. Oh, and the fact that Americans are still dying in Iraq and we haven’t found WMD or Saddam yet.

It’s more like people have this friend, they thought he was a good friend. They kind of suspect that he’s a little shady about some things, but basically they think he’s a good guy. Certainly, they hope so because they just gave him their credit card number because he said he needed to pay for a tow truck and didn’t have his wallet. Then someone comes up and says – “I know that guy. He pulled the same trick on me, but he didn’t need a tow truck. He went out and bought a keg for his friend’s party! He’s a liar – watch out.”

So, maybe they follow up and find out if their “good guy” pal really needed or paid for a tow truck after all. And they find out for themselves that he didn’t. So they invite the kind stranger who warned them over to dinner.

So ends the Fable of the Average American Voter.

Comment from Becky
Time August 1, 2003 at 3:58 pm

I used to disagree with people who said that Clinton’s impeachment seriously hurt the state of the Union, particularly the Democratic Party. I don’t know why — I’m naive, maybe an idiot.

People trusted Clinton, even though he always seemed smarmy, but that trust came back and bit them in the ass.

Now, everyone has this inate need to trust Bush, and I don’t think there’s anything the Dems can do to turn that around. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t kill Saddam (yet), or that they haven’t found WMDs or that people are still dying. The majority of Americans (including my normally critical husband) believes %100 that we should have gone to war, and they’ll continue to follow GWB on this issue as long as it’s around.

I agree with Jank on this one. Essentially, GWB is the beloved quarterback from highschool — not the brightest, or the best guy personally, but everyone just loves him anyway. Turning this into a personal attack will just make Dems look even more like the bitter band geeks we all really are.

There are PLENTY of issues to focus on, let’s start there and we might have a chance. Of course, if he finds and kills Saddam, game over for 2004.

Comment from jank
Time August 4, 2003 at 9:24 am

Scrappleface picks up on a NYT article about the Democrat’s disdain for GWB. The Times compares the DNC’s dislike for Bush to “the way many Democrats felt about President Richard M. Nixon.”

Which doesn’t bode well for the DNC, as Tricky Dick won the 1972 elections in a landslide. The saddest part about the whole Watergate scandal is that Nixon didn’t need any information from DNC headquarters to win the election. Hubris.

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