This post was originally written by Cenk Uygur in 2005 for his blog. Rachel Maddow discussed it with Cenk one night on her show, and he read parts of it on the air.
I thought it insightful enough that I searched it out and have posted it here.
by Cenk Uygur, Host of The Young Turks
“[Dean] doesn’t speak for me with that kind of rhetoric, and I don’t think he speaks for the majority of Democrats.” — Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.
“It doesn’t become the chairman of our party to be as loose with his lips as he apparently is.” — Former Democratic Party Chairman Bob Strauss
“My own view is, the chairman of the DNC is not the spokesman for the Democratic Party.” — Former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards
These are the words that Democrats used to condemn their own party leader when questioned about a couple of Howard Dean’s recent comments. Dean roughly said that Republicans don’t work for a living and that Tom DeLay should be sent to jail when he goes back to Texas.
Does Dean really believe that no Republicans work for a living? Of course not. Does Dean believe Tom DeLay is facing an imminent jail sentence for his ethical problems? Of course not.
These are simple hyperboles that are commonplace in normal discussion. But we’re not having a normal conversation. Our national conversation is dominated by right wing talk show hosts who blow everything Democrats say out of proportion and completely ignore the real problems of America.
So, in this world, invading a country that didn’t attack us and posed absolutely no threat to us is no big deal. But Howard Dean overstating his distaste for Republicans is an enormous deal. In this world, lying about Saddam Hussein’s connections to 9/11, his WMD capabilities and misleading us into a highly destabilizing preemptive strike against another country is a tiny issue. What Howard Dean said last week is a giant issue. Tom DeLay’s ethical violations aren’t an issue, what Dean says about them is an issue.
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon. How many times are we going to fall into this conservative talking point trap? Democrats shouldn’t be backpedaling from aggressive comments, they should be attacking straight ahead. To paraphrase what are quickly becoming the immortal words of George Galloway – we should not come as the accused, but as the accuser!
It sickens me how easily Democrats fall for the traps that conservatives set for them. It’s a little stunning that these party leaders haven’t caught on to how this game is played, so I’ll lay it out for them. This is the quick and easy Seven Step Plan for Media Domination and Opponent Destruction used by conservative television and radio talk show hosts on a regular basis:
Select the strongest person on the other side – and target him for destruction. Attempt to destroy his credibility in the mainstream media, so that reporters will be skeptical of him and eventually his own party will disown him.
Comb through all of the speeches of the target. Fine one to two sentences that can be taken out of context and beat to death. Portray these few, isolated statements as extreme.
Repeat Step Two eight hundred times until three things happen: 1. Every time, the target is mentioned, the audience will think of only the charges you have repeated ad nauseam. 2. The conversation is no longer on the topic at hand but about what your target said about the topic. 3. Your target sounds like an extremist simply because you have repeated the charge enough times.
Co-opt the mainstream media into doing your dirty work. If you keep talking about one issue long enough (e.g., Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, what Howard Dean has said), the mainstream media will feel like it’s an important issue “everyone” is talking about and will be “forced” to cover it.
Get the targets own party or allies to turn on him by admitting – after lengthy and ceaseless questioning from the mainstream media, as well as, the conservative talkers – that what was said was not right or prudent. And then after this is repeated a couple of hundred times, even your opponents will start to believe that your charges against the target have a lot of validity.
Get your opponents to take down their own people for fear that they will keep getting asked the same annoying, senseless questions from you and your proxies. And the reason they will give is the one you conveniently planted – the target has become a distraction.
Laugh as hard and as long as humanly possible that you just got the media, who you call liberal, and your political opponents to take down their own man because he had become a distraction when in fact the whole point of the exercise was to distract the media and your opponents from the real issue. Pat yourself on the back for killing two birds with one stone – destroying your target while avoiding the real issue – and making your opponents look weak and ineffectual. Laugh one more time.
Here’s what Senator Biden should have said when asked on the Sunday morning talk shows about Howard Dean’s comments:
“Who wrote that question for you? Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity? You are spouting a senseless, conservative talking point. Howard Dean obviously doesn’t mean that no Republicans work for a living. He made a simple misstatement in the heat of the moment because he was justifiably angry at what this Republican Party and its leadership has done to the average working family in America. How they have saddled them with over $25,000 in debt for every man, woman and child alive. For how they have lost over a million jobs in five years. For creating the largest deficit in United States history. For rewarding companies that outsource jobs to other countries. For ignoring their real problems – the rising cots of gasoline and out of control health care prices. For sending their sons and daughters into an illegal war based on faulty assumptions and outright lies. Under the circumstance, wouldn’t you be angry? Aren’t you glad someone is angry? And that someone is fighting for you, even if he fights a little too hard at times?”
The media responds to pressure. If we keep backpedaling, the conservative and the mainstream media will keep rolling over us. If we respond with strength, they will be the ones who start to backpedal.
There was no WMD, there was no Iraqi connection to 9/11, we do have the largest deficits ever, they have lost over a million jobs, they haven’t addressed healthcare, Social Security is a success that is currently running an enormous surplus. We have the facts on our side. Now all we have to do is stop moving backwards and giving up ground for no reason. Move forward! Go forward!
Watch Cenk host MSNBC weeknights at 6pm ET. Cenk and Ana Kasparian will then host The Young Turks from 9-11pm ET (6-8 pm PT).