May 28, 2007

"Find your candidate a nasty enemy. Tell people they are threatened in some way. . . . It's a cheap trick, but the simplest."

Politics professor John J. Pitney Jr. writes about the way Jerry Falwell served the interests of liberals:
Many Republicans and conservative leaders regarded Falwell as a liability. During the 1984 race, a Democratic campaign aide told Time: "Jerry Falwell is a no-risk whipping boy." Ed Rollins, who ran President Reagan's re-election campaign, later agreed: "Jerry Falwell, no question, is a very high negative." Politicians also noticed that Moral Majority was mainly a direct-mail operation and had never built much of a grassroots organization. With ebbing support from the political world, Falwell quit as president of the group in 1987. It folded two years later.

Since then, the religious right has had a complex political history. For a time, the Christian Coalition loomed as a powerful successor; and it eventually crumbled. Although conservative Christians took up a key role in Republican politics, they were far from monolithic, having a variety of leaders and viewpoints. Their activists came to see Falwell as a small part of their heritage, if they thought of him at all.

Liberals, however, did not forget Falwell. As a political consultant once advised his fellow Democrats: "Find your candidate a nasty enemy. Tell people they are threatened in some way. . . . It's a cheap trick, but the simplest."
Yeah, we should all be onto that trick by now.

21 comments:

vet66 said...

Always on the lookout for the bogeyman du jour, politicians are constantly looking for strawmen to save the masses from.

Seperating the real dangers from the smoke-and-mirrors distractions rests on an educated and cynical public.

The cold-light of reason is our only defense!

EnigmatiCore said...

"Find your candidate a nasty enemy. Tell people they are threatened in some way. . . . It's a cheap trick, but the simplest."

A nasty enemy, like the Dream Police? That certainly is a Cheap Trick.

The dream police, they live inside of my head.
The dream police, they come to me in my bed.
The dream police, they're coming to arrest me, oh no.

You know that talk is cheap, and those rumors ain't nice.
And when I fall asleep I don't think Ill survive the night, the night.

cause they're waiting for me.
They're looking for me.
Every single night they're driving me insane.
Those men inside my brain.

The dream police, they live inside of my head.
(live inside of my head.)
The dream police, they come to me in my bed.
(come to me in my bed.)
The dream police, they're coming to arrest me, oh no.

Well, I cant tell lies, cause they're listening to me.
And when I fall asleep, bet they're spying on me tonight, tonight.

cause they're waiting for me.
They're looking for me.
Every single night they're driving me insane.
Those men inside my brain.

I try to sleep, they're wide awake, they wont leave me alone.
They don't get paid to take vacations, or let me alone.
They spy on me, I try to hide, they wont let me alone.
They persecute me, they're the judge and jury all in one.

cause they're waiting for me.
They're looking for me.
Every single night they're driving me insane.
Those men inside my brain.

The dream police, they live inside of my head.
The dream police, they come to me in my bed.
The dream police, they're coming to arrest me.

Invisible Man said...

Boogeyman are a favorite tool for cheap political points. I have two that seem to be the favorite of the right. The first is obviously black, civil rights leaders and preachers, Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Look at any post on anything concerning race, and a right-wing troll bringing up either of the two is not far behind. And a new special category are "liberal professors who no one but their former students has ever heard of". Somehow right-wingers think that liberals should disavow statements from crappy college professors because we are one big cabal.

George said...

A hater. A lard-assed charlatan. An ostentatiously deranged clown. A superannuated Elmer Gantryesque boob.

.....How Falwell is described in this week's New York magazine in an article about how evangelicals aren't as monolithic as everyone thinks. "Hairline cracks seem to be appearing...."

I was in a small country church (Methodist) yesterday, and the minister went out of his way to praise Falwell. Didn't see any hairline cracks.

Pride said...

Bogeymen cheapies for pols: Falwell & Al Quaida. Six of one . . .

hdhouse said...

So let me get this straight...Falwell, who had access to the President of the United States and along with Dobson, Robertson and a few others, constituted a "let's hate them" ready target by the democrats? The democrats are responsibility for their popularity and influence with this administration so that they could drive a wedge?

who invented wedge issue politics? who practices them daily? who is karl rove?

this is an ohmygod are you dumb story with a similar conclusion.

Doyle said...

You mean the trick where Republicans disavow the importance of one of their most prominent allies once they become unpopular?

Or the one where they hold up Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell as the most significant spokespeople of the left (equivalent to Jerry Falwell, say)?

From Inwood said...

Good point Doyle. Setting up straw men, OOOPS straw persons, is not limited to Liberals.

But the MSM consists of mostly Liberals so that the connection between the Liberal & the Extreme Liberal is not hammered home every two minutes as it is with the Conservative & the Extreme Conservative. And Oh, wait; for the MSM, there are no “Conservatives”; there’s only “extreme/ultra/arch Conservatives”.

Anyway, the more a candidate embraces or sounds like the extremist punching bag, the easier it is for the charge (the “trick”) to have “legs”. That is why Slick Willie’s “Sister Souljah” moment was effective. Of course, until the Primaries are over, the center may not hold & a candidate may not be able to stage such Sister S moment.

And is it me or when the "nasty" person has gone past his/her period of usefulness aren’t Republican-Conservatives more likely to disavow such person than Democrats are? I mean who on the Left is out there disassociating him/herself from Jimmy Carter’s remarks? Other than Jimmy Carter hisself!

hdhouse said...

Inwood belches about disavowing President Carter. I think you have to associate yourself with the issue raised before you can dis-associate yourself. Carter repeatedly speaks for himself and as far as I know, he as a Nobel Peace Prise and President Bush has the boobie prize but I digress.

Inwood also uses the coin of the realm phrase MSM...I think what the right wing refers to as anything other than talk radio and Faux Noise - or, put anyother way, anything believable and not laced with newsbunnies with lipgloss or drug addicted commentators or felons screaming traitor, traitor I say!

This ball of yarn has unraveled right in Mr. Bush's lap. Inwood, you'd do well to show some respect to "slick willie" (it is President Clinton) because jealousy and envy are not characteristics that draw a crowd.

TMink said...

The "find your candidate a nasty enemy" trick belongs to neither party. You can find examples anywhere you look for them. It matters not whether the "enemy" is potent or not, just that you can use them for the candidate to "oppose." The "opposition" should preferably be impotent so that the "enemy's" usefullness is not squandered.

Vast right wing conspiracy, liberal bias of the main stream media, it matters not. Just smoke and mirrors to be used to hide the man behaind the curtain and avoid making policy statements.

Trey

TMink said...

Let me add to what Mr. House said above. I always enjoy it when he and I agree.

I find it quite annoying when political figures are not treated with the respect due their office. I always try to remember to write of Senator Clinton and President Nixon. I admire neither, but the offices they held are due respect.

That is why I loathed those damn "Charleton Heston is my President" bumper stickers. When I lose, I try to accept it an deal with it. Disrespecting an elected offical as a person is disrespecting America.

Trey

Kirby Olson said...

Oh this is why Falwell comes up all the time. It's so simple. It's genius to notice this simple thing.

Whenever I have arguments with liberals about how the universities ought to be more intellectually diverse they always say, but wait, there IS Liberty University...

But since it's a private university, and we were talking about public universities -- there are two levels of disbelief.

One is the strawman argument. The other is that it doesn't make sense that the whole spectrum has to pay taxes so that a handfull of Marxists and quasi-Marxists can teach under the laughable rubric of "diversity."

Who do conservatives bring up?

Rosie is a good start. But I prefer to bring up people like Pol Pot.

But really those extreme people on either side are usually distinguished by wanting things all their own way and not listening to feedback or actually dismantling the feedback mechanism via the killing fields or the gulags or the concentration camps.

What we really all oughtta do is focus on whether the feedback system is working or whether it has been dismantled in a given situation....?

Falwell DID learn.

I don't think Pol Pot or Stalin ever evolved much.

From Inwood said...

hdhouse

You “belch” to me:

“I think you have to associate yourself with the issue raised before you can dis-associate yourself. Carter repeatedly speaks for himself and as far as I know, he as (sic) a Nobel Peace Prise (sic).”

Um, I think it’s called a “prize”, which prize he “has” unless he’s a cockney.

But, in any event, you miss the point. Carter, for example, despite his repeated nasty remarks about Bush, the latest being that Bush was the worst President ever, which bilious, asinine exaggeration even he had to back away from, though only somewhat, is repeatedly honored to this day by the Dem Party & Liberals. If Falwell, who backed away from his equally asinine 9/11 as God’s whatever remark had been recently honored by the GOP or by Conservatives, including high-level representation at his funeral, the MSM would’ve given them hell. And many of the folks on Fox News & Talk Radio who are on the Right would’ve questioned this homage & those on the Left would’ve condemned it, proving that Fox News & Talk Radio are more balanced than the MSM & are able to, gasp, criticize Republicans & Conservatives.

But I suppose that if you yourself think that Bush wins the “Prise” for worst President ever, you do not see Carter’s bizarre remarks as nasty. And those who see Wall St as Sodom & Gomorrah did not see Falwell’s bizarre remark as nasty either.

So what part of my remark did you not understand? I’ll repeat it.

“And is it me or when the ‘nasty’ person has gone past his/her period of usefulness aren’t Republican-Conservatives more likely to disavow such person than Democrats are? I mean who is out there disassociating him/herself from Jimmy Carter’s remarks? Other than Jimmy Carter hisself!

Luckyoldson said...

You can blather on all you want, but Falwell was an asshole...period.

Why waste your time trying to defend such a fool?

hdhouse said...

Inwood...I do apologize for prise/prize...i didn't mean to throw you for a loop. must have been confusing but i think you got the idea, agile mind as you are.

your two paragraphs starting with "BUT" (I assume you meant butt as in short for butthead) made no sense whatsoever.

What part didn't I understand? all of it.

hisself? surely you jest. what word is "hisself"?

Faux Noise more balanced than MSNBC? hmmmm got me there but then I wouldn't call an entertainment station (Faux) a news station would you? Do you? Really?

Gahrie said...

As hdhouse has repeatedly proven, the Left's current "invented enemy" or strawman is Fox News and talk radio.

can't have no dissent from the (Democratic) party line on the air...no sirree......

Fen said...

Find your candidate a nasty enemy. Tell people they are threatened in some way. . . . It's a cheap trick, but the simplest.

Only because it appeals to simple minds. Just look at the hate from Lucky, HDhouse, DTL - little brownshirts raging to kill the next "jew".

Mike said...

I found Pitney's article to be directly on target. I have a good friend who would fairly be described as liberal. He does not stay tuned into current events 24/7 like a lot of people (myself included). He lives in the country (he is currently building his own house) and doesn't have cable or satellite TV. He gets his news pretty much from NPR, over the air TV networks (CBS, NBC, ABC), and the local paper, sources I do not usually see.

This is all preamble to comment on something I've noticed about what news he fixes on. He is often telling me about the latest dumb thing Falwell, or Dobson, or Robertson, or some other right wing religious figure has said and how these people are a danger to society. What amazes me is that whatever latest utterance he is telling me about is invariably news to me. I get news daily from the Wall Street Journal, FoxNews, and increasingly, the blogs. I conclude that these sources are not reporting on the nonsense spouted by the right wing religious leaders, while the MSM is reporting on them. It appears that the left media is using the extreme religious right as a bogey man and that the right media either doesn't care what they say, or, a little more strongly, is probably embarrased by them.

Mike said...

Oh, and my friend is a big Bill Moyers fan.

From Inwood said...

hdhouse

"Hisself" is faux southern White Thrash talk, silly (just ask Hil), whereas "Prise" & "as" for has seem to be typos on your part.

Interestingly enough, what you mindlessly call "Faux Noise" has had the Rev Sharpton on as a commentator & has treated him with respect, something which the MSM would never give the Rev Falwell.

I would ask you why, in addition to falling all over theirselves (White Thrash Talk) for Jimmy C, the three major Dem Pres candidates fall all over themselves (can't use faux Southern White Trash Talk for these worthies) to cozy up to The Revs Al & Jesse without any comment from the fair & balanced MSM. The, um, character flaws of these two are not a VRWC invention. Ask the former Putnam County prosecutor; ask any Korean grocer. (So, please don't say that I'm "equating" those Revs to Falwell.)

But I guess you’d think that cozying up to Falwell was Certifiably Bad whereas cozying up to Sharpton is Certifiably Good since your idea of Fair & Balanced News is from MSNBC's Dem partisan & former Tip O'N staffer ADHD Mathews & the generally incoherent except when he's doing his "any Dem is always OK & any GOP guy is always a boob" shtick, Keith O.

hdhouse said...

ohh i get it Inwood....like in why don't you go out to that thar woodshed and wait for hisself to commence to whop ya?

i see. my golly such a nimble mind...shuuu Inwood...you jez swarmin' with learnin.