I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached the point that when President Bush appears on TV, I just turn it off. There’s no point in listening, because what he says has lost what little connection it ever had to what, if anything, he actually intends to do. They have an expression in Texas for someone like that. They say he’s all hat and no cattle.
Now, this could be just another redundant rant, but it also needs to be part of a national electoral strategy. Here’s what I have in mind, in a whole lot less than 2200 words.
Let me outline how I see us using the President’s consistent failure to deliver on anything of substance. The process has two basic steps. First is to pound home the “All hat and no cattle” message. Second is to demonstrate that the Democrats have a viable program that could actually accomplish something. I’ll start with my thoughts here, but I’m not a political pro, so if anything here has legs, it’s not likely to be in the form I set it out here.
All hat and no cattle: The images are obvious – attacking wood with chainsaws, falling off his bicycle, whatever. But the telling ones are the images of Mr. Bush saying things that received absolutely no follow-through. Here are some examples.
Any number of veto threats. It’s becoming embarrassing. It used to be that when Mr. Bush threatened a veto it shifted the legislation a bit. Now the threats have become completely empty, even on such near-and-dear topics as spending and torture.
Those pesky weapons of mass destruction.
Most famously, “Mission accomplished.” Enough said.
Mr. Bush’s famous New Orleans flyover.
Has anybody seen any action following onto Mr. Bush’s Jackson Square speech in New Orleans? bayoustjohndavid has, and it doesn’t look much like what Mr. Bush talked about in his speech.
Mr. Bush’s speeches about Social Security reform. He looks like a below-average economics student that also hasn’t done his homework when he tries to explain why his proposals would make us better off.
Let’s watch what happens with his speechifying about pension funding. That story is still open, but sure enough he’s made one of his famous veto threats, saying “I’m not going to sign a bill that weakens pension funding for the American workers.”
We’re going to find Osama, dead or alive.
I’ll fire anybody in my administration connected with outing Valerie Plame.
You get the idea. We can spin out a number of variants. My favorite is that after 9/11, we gave up a great deal in terms of civil liberties on the premise that it would allow our government to make us safer. Not only has progress in preventing terrorism been weak (not a sound-bite case, but one that we can make), but as Hurricane Katrina demonstrated so graphically, this government has no skill, and perhaps no interest, in keeping us safe anyway. So exactly why did we give up so much?
So far, though, all we have is a negative message, and that’s without even talking (much) about the Culture of Corruption. But it’s all just a gripe unless we propose an alternative. Here goes:
We need a plan for Iraq. Our country needs one anyway. It’ll be ugly no matter what we do, and we need to say that up front. But we at least have to sketch some of the real objectives we might have (regional security, energy policy, whatever), say what we can about how we’ll pursue them, and get home.
We need a domestic economic plan. Here I’m on a little firmer ground than on Iraq. The basic ideal the Democrats can successfully champion is the High Road to Prosperity. The idea here is that government’s role is to invest in public infrastructure, including education, health care, and physical infrastructure, which makes it possible for all Americans to identify and pursue opportunity. Government establishes and enforces rules that level the playing field, on the premise that basic fairness is essential to an open economy, an open economy is essential to continued growth and innovation, and continued growth and innovation are essential to continued prosperity. Under such a system anybody that want to bust their asses to make a whole lot of dough can still do it. But unlike a system that defends entrenched wealth, our system allows anybody that wants to work at making an honest living to support a decent household life to do that, too.
We need a whole lot more, but this is a start. And of course, we need a standard bearer. Any nominations?