Out of Touch
I said almost a month ago that I though the most effective strategy against GWB is that he is "out of touch, irresponsible and unconcerned." Maybe by that point it was obvious to everyone, but I thought Kerry really needed to slam home Bush's detachment from reality, it's uniformly self-serving nature, and his complete lack of concern about it.
If I have a theory, and it consistently fails to bear any relationship to reality, I try to reevaluate it. Especially when it is self serving - I recognize that I am more likely to believe things that make me feel better about myself. Bush just denies the facts, never daring a glance back at the hypothesis.
Obviously, Kerry-Edwards very soon after settled on a similar strategy. Will Saletan argues that "out of touch" is the unifying theme of five of Kerry-Edwards most recent ads. Mark Kleiman advances the ball, giving some serious thought to whether Bush is a liar, a fantabulist, or a bullshitter. He also helpfully provides a visual for the narrative.
To an extent, though, I agree with Weisberg's criticism of Kerry-Edwards implementation of the strategy. I don't agree with his criticism of the ads, and I think he is underestimating the American people when he makes them. I don't agree with any criticism of Kerry or Edwards, who shouldn't be engaged in crass Bush level mocking of their opponent. They are presidential material, and it shows.
Where Weisberg's criticisms really hit home, though, is with the proxy spinners. After Edwards won Tuesday's debate, Mary Beth Cahill was interviewed by MSNBC, and her spin was "Edwards looked good." That isn't good enough, and her inept spin may have presaged the abominable MSNBC coverage of the debate. Every proxy spinner needs to be on the same page, and they need to consistently and forcefully call George Bush on his fables.
It's not a question of needing time to formulate the talking points. Bush's lies are easily predicted. The first, and most important lie that every spinner should call Bush on is "John Kerry is a flip flopper." Bush will say it time and again - he is using it to explain his obnoxious expressions from last week's debate - and Kerry supporters need to be prepared and willing to just call it what it is: a lie. Other predictable fantasy statements: Economy is strong, tax cuts helped the economy, NCLB is working, the Iraq coalition is strong, things are improving on the ground in Iraq, Saddam was connected to al Qaeda, Saddam was a threat, Kerry wants to raise taxes, Kerry wants to nationalize health care, Kerry doesn't have a plan for Iraq... The list goes on and on. Spinners need to have their talking points in advance, they have to be on message, and they need to drive Bush's unreality home.