Monday, November 17, 2008

The Nice Party

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

David Brooks eviscerates the latest book that says Democrats don't win elections because they're too smart and too nice.

The funniest part is the outrageous things the author, Drew Westen, thinks Al Gore should have said to Bush in the debates. This shows for all his take-no-prisoners approach, the author is naive, while Gore's a professional. Gore knew how to deal with negative information like DUIs. You don't confront the opponent in person, where he'll look sympathetic, and respond immediately with tales of personal redemption. No, you wait till the Thursday before the election and release the information through operatives, so the final press cycle is all about the issue, cutting to the heart of fears about Bush ("we don't really know this guy") and pushing four of the five million undecideds in your direction, turning all the polls around.

No matter how many time I hear the partisan claim that "we've got facts and logic on our side, so the only reason the other side gets any votes is because they appeal to fear and ignorance," I'm still shocked. I understand by definition you believe in your side, so there's a tendency to think the other is mistaken or fooled or evil (yes, Westen even states some Republicans are just unredeemably evil), but still, try to give them some credit.

What bothers me extra is the authors, such as Westen, who came from academia and try to coat their arguments with a scientific veneer. Sure, right wing talk radio makes the same claims, but everyone understands (even those who agree) that these guys are entertainers who talk for a living. But a professor who goes to the trouble of writing a book, claiming his thesis is backed by scientific rigor--well, how does such a fool get tenure?


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