Now that that's all over with, can we please focus on beating John McCain?
Virtually everyone (with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton -- I guess nobody told her) now knows that the Democratic candidate for president is going to be Barack Obama. But while the end of this long and winding road is now in sight, Democrats should not just be heaving an enormous sigh of relief -- they should be turning all their energy towards beating John McCain in November.
Because we've already seen what happens when the candidate lets their guard down between becoming presumptive nominee and the convention (can you say "Swift Boat"?). And we definitely don't want that to happen again.
We also want to help Barack Obama with his down-ticket coattails. A stunning thing happened in Louisiana last week, but very few people noticed. There was a special election for a House seat in a district held by Republicans for 33 years, which voted overwhelmingly for Bush last time around. And guess what? The Democratic candidate won. Importantly, he won even after he was smeared by an anti-Obama and anti-Wright ad campaign by his Republican opponent.
What this means is that Republican strategists who were overjoyed at Barack's "reverend problem," and who saw it as a way to attack Democrats for House and Senate races are now rethinking this strategy. This is good news indeed. Even Newt Gingrich is worried -- warning Republicans (in the starkest of language) of a "catastrophic election" which could bring about a "permanent minority" for the GOP in the House -- a "real disaster."
Getting Obama into the Oval Office is important, but it's just as important to prove Newt right. Democrats have a golden opportunity to rack up overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress in 2008, which they will need if they want to actually get anything done -- even with President Obama in the White House. With more and more opportunities for the Democrats to grab seats opening up almost daily, bolstering Obama and beating McCain is vitally important for every Democrat seeking office this year.
So, a few quick awards, and then the rest of this column will be devoted to talking points all Democrats can use to help beat John McCain. Beat him like a drum.
Keep your eyes on the prize, everybody. Don't let your guard down. Don't get fooled again.
OK, I'll stop with the cheesy metaphors. But you get the point....
Who else could it be?
Barack Obama wins Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week for his huge victory in North Carolina and his near-victory in Indiana. Actually, the award should really go to the voters in these two states (especially North Carolina) for mercifully putting an end to the drama that was the 2008 primary race.
It didn't even matter that Obama lost in Indiana. The mere fact that the networks refused to call it for so long meant that it was a pyrrhic victory for Hillary Clinton at best. Obama's voters showed that no matter how many times Reverend Wright was played on television, it could not alter their vote. This bodes well for November.
Barack knows he's won the nomination. His victory speech in North Carolina Tuesday night was the first speech of his general election campaign. Barack knows that his target is now John McCain. He is politely waiting for Hillary to realize that it's over, but he is doing the right thing by basically ignoring her. From now on, every speech he gives should mention John McCain as much as possible, and Hillary not at all. But, like I said, Barack already knows this.
For winning the Democratic nomination for president, Barack also picks up the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Well done, Senator Obama! Onward to November!!
Before we get on with awarding this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week, we have some "old business" to take care of first. Back in Friday Talking Points , the MDDOTW award went to the group of 20 Democrats who signed a letter insinuating that if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn't back down on her remarks to superdelegates, they would rethink their donations to Democrats. Now we hear rumors that Harvey Weinstein, another deep-pocket Democratic donor, called up Pelosi a while back, and said basically the same thing. Weinstein denies it, of course, but I'm still awarding him a retroactive MDDOTW award anyway. Since I didn't award one in FTP , I've got an extra one lying around anyway.
With that out of the way, we turn to this week. Now, this week's award is not for doing something bad, it is for not doing something at all. The dog that didn't bark in the night, as it were.
John Edwards still won't tell us who he is endorsing for president. He lost his last chance to be relevant this week when his home state (North Carolina) voted, and he still stayed silent on the sidelines.
John Edwards needs to look up the word "leadership" in the dictionary. Because I'm afraid he doesn't know what the word means, or else he's been reading the definition of "follower" in its place. This is a man who earlier this year was running to be leader of our country, remember?
John Edwards, for not barking in the night, is in the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week doghouse this week.
[You can try to contact John Edwards on his MySpace page (who knows, he might still look at it) to let him know what you think of his inaction.]
With that out of the way, let's move on to defeating John McCain this fall. Democrats everywhere need to all start working as Barack Obama surrogates in front of the media cameras, and they need to keep the pressure on and not let up. The talking points to hit McCain with will no doubt change as the campaign progresses, but the intensity should not. McCain must be defeated. The Supreme Court, the Constitution, and America's future depend on it.
Volume 31 (5/9/08)
"100 years" McCain
The Democrats took a shot across McCain's bow with their "100 years" ad. Republicans have been crying about it ever since, just like a little girl whose brother stole her favorite dolly and then used it to smack her upside the head.
If you listen closely, you can hear them: "WAAAAHHHH!!"
Republicans (and Republican media mouthpieces) have been weeping and wailing, gnashing their teeth, crying "foul," complaining to Mommy, screaming at the ref, throwing tantrums, and generally holding their breath until their face turns blue -- in outrage... OUTRAGE... over this ad. They're not just in a snit over the ad, they've actually had their knickers in a twist over the whole "100 years" quote in general, pretty much ever since McCain actually, you know, said the words "100 years" when asked how long American troops would be in Iraq under his plan.
Now, obviously, the Republicans are upset because they are horrified that it's going to work. They can read polls, and they know that Iraq is not a winning issue for them. And McCain's framing of the issue (the ad shows actual clips of McCain saying it) was so disastrously wrong for this election year that Republicans have been desperately trying to walk it back ever since.
Now, when something works, you go with it. Democrats should use "100 years" every chance they can get. I've said that before, and I will say it again -- it is a losing issue for McCain, and it needs to be hammered hard.
But this week's "100 years" talking point is in response to the weeping and wailing. If some (cough, cough... FoxNews... cough) reporter asks a Democrat this week about the "unfairness" of the ad, the Democrat should gleefully respond with:
"What's that? Excuse me? Republicans are saying that taking quotes out of context is unfair? Republicans are saying that some television ads are unfair? Republicans are arguing for a deeper interpretation of what is a direct quote from John McCain? Republicans are complaining that people might get the 'wrong perception' from a political ad? You know what I have to say in response to that?
"Seriously, you guys are the masters at producing ads like this, and have been for decades. Decades! And now you're concerned that one Democratic ad is using your playbook? I think you're actually scared that the American people are solidly on our side on this issue, and you'd rather talk about an ad, than talk about the fact that John McCain's plan for Iraq is identical to George W. Bush's. So to complaints about this ad, I have one thing to say:
"Boo. Freaking. Hoo."
[Note: no actual favorite dollies or little girls' heads were harmed in the production of this talking point.]
This is the gift that is going to keep on giving, right up to election day. George W. Bush is now officially more unpopular than Nixon was when he was impeached.
What's great is there are so many creative ways to tie George W. Bush and John McCain together. These need to be used in just about every sentence uttered by Democrats, from now until November.
"George W. McCain"
"Bush's protégé McCain"
"McCain's continuation of the disastrous Bush presidency."
It only takes about ten seconds to come up with each new fun way to inexorably link the two in a cute little phrase. Rinse and repeat, as the shampoo bottle tells us....
What is Cindy McCain hiding?
Speaking of Nixon...
Cindy McCain is now on record that there is no way she's letting the public see her tax returns. "I'm not the candidate," as she puts it. My advice to her is to phone up Teresa Heinz Kerry and ask her how that worked out.
Cindy's got piles of dough, see, just like Kerry's wife. But Kerry got hit hard by the media for refusing to release her tax returns, which means Democrats can play it as a fairness-in-media issue. And there's a great example in the past to bring up, too.
"Why won't the media ask what Cindy McCain is hiding? Why won't she release her tax returns? In his famous 'Checkers' speech, Richard Nixon said the following, while trying to explain a slush fund his campaign had: '...Pat doesn't have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat...'
"Boy, how times have changed, eh? From the concept of a candidate's wife having a quote respectable Republican cloth coat unquote to Cindy McCain. You think maybe Cindy McCain's worn a mink coat or two in her life? The Republicans have become the true elitist party, as evidenced by Cindy McCain trying to hide her enormous wealth from the public. How is it that Mr. 'Straight Talk' McCain can't even get his own wife to release her tax returns?"
The age card
John McCain is old. As he puts it, he's "older than dirt."
This isn't exactly a secret. I mean, just look at the guy.
Because he feels vulnerable on the issue, he's launched a pre-emptive strike on Obama, saying Obama "played the age card." For the record, he didn't -- Obama said McCain was "losing his bearings," which is not an ageist comment at all. Maybe it's a "sane-ist" comment, but it's not ageist.
But that didn't stop McCain, who has obviously been waiting to pounce on this issue, from saying Obama is playing the "age card." Now, this is the first time I've even heard of this "age card," personally. And I'm still not convinced it even exists. "Ageism" may exist, but it's not quite the same thing as "racism," as far as I'm concerned.
In fact, I'll go even further. As far as I'm concerned, the age of the man who wants to have his finger on the nuclear button is a valid factor in the campaign. Whether it's "he's too young" or "he's too old" -- it is definitely a factor. And it's not some sort of out-of-bounds issue that can't even be discussed. Not by a long shot, and especially not when McCain uses it on the stump as a joke (see previous "older than dirt" comment).
So my advice is to drive McCain even further off his bearings, but giving him all sorts of places to see this horrible "ageism." The more he rants about it, the more he's going to look like... well, a ranting old man. Which isn't going to help him with the voters, although he hasn't seemed to figure that out yet.
So feed him some ammo. Offer to hold his coat while he shovels the hole deeper.
"McCain's policies are the old way of doing business in Washington."
"McCain practices old-style politics."
"McCain seems to have a twentieth-century viewpoint which is not what American needs to go into the future."
"Barack Obama has the youth of America excited in a way we haven't seen for decades. Of course, John McCain remembers the last time this happened."
"John McCain said recently we needed a 'League of Nations.' Now, I know the League of Nations was around when he was a child, but most of us know that the United Nations now exists."
"John McCain said recently that we should put missiles in Czechoslovakia, which is interesting since that country hasn't existed for over a decade. Perhaps he was just going from his own memories of the Cold War, I don't know."
"I think the American people are going to say in this election: 'out with the old, in with the new.'"
Are you better off now?
This one just needs no explanation. Ronald Reagan used it so effectively that even people who weren't born then have heard the expression. And it is time to use it again, except this time it'll be a Democrat saying:
"Are you better off now than you were eight years ago? Vote Democratic in 2008!"
$1.49 a gallon.
I looked it up because I was curious. When George Bush got sworn into office, the country was getting worried because the price of gasoline was going up that month. The week he took office, the average price of gas in America was $1.49.
This one just writes itself. Just remember the accurate AAA figure:
"When George Bush entered office, the price of gas was $1.49. We can't afford any more Republicans running this country like this. Vote Democratic in 2008."
Are Republicans against apple pie, too?
I know this talking points list was supposed to be all about McCain, but this one could not be ignored. It absolutely made my jaw drop. I bet it'll make yours drop, too.
One hundred and seventy-eight House Republicans just voted against motherhood.
To be more accurate, they voted against one of those flowery proclamations Congress is fond of putting out. The House Resolution (H.Res. 1113) said a whole bunch of good things about Moms (lots of "Whereas" clauses...) and then finished off with a resounding:
Whereas May 11, 2008 is recognized as Mother's Day: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives celebrates the role of mothers in the United States and supports the goals and ideals of Mother's Day.
Not what you'd call a partisan bill, exactly. On it's first vote, it passed with an unsurprising unanimous vote (412-0). But then only eight minutes later, Republicans forced a second vote on it. They've been playing games today, trying to endlessly delay the House from getting anything done, so this can be summed up as just procedural mischief.
But the really astounding thing is that the second vote only passed 237 to 178. That's right. 178 House Republicans were for Mother's Day before they were actually against Mother's Day.
I sincerely hope the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) printed out the roll call of this vote, because it will be so easy to use against these 178 Republican House members back in their home district come re-election time. It's pretty hard to explain to your constituents why you're on the record as being against Mother's Day.
"Republicans have become so obsessed with obstructionism and so blind to the voters' wish that Congress get something done that they actually voted against honoring Mother's Day. This is a disgrace. The Washington Post ran a story about it with the headline: 'Republicans Vote Against Moms; No Word Yet on Puppies, Kittens.' I mean, what is next? Are the Republicans going to come out against apple pie, too? America deserves better than this. Vote Democratic in 2008. You know why? Because Democrats love their mothers, but apparently 178 House Republicans don't."
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post
-- Chris Weigant (who loves his Mom)