Monday, November 19, 2007

Face Off, Newsweek Style

Newsweek has new contributors as Karl Rove and "Kos" (Markos Moulitsas) have penned their inaugural columns for the magazine. A Cliff Notes version recap.

Rove: Hillary will likely be the Democratic nominee. She is tough, smart and focused. The Republican nominee cannot expect to win just by being "Not Hillary," and must create a narrative about who he is and how he would govern.

Kos: The Bush Record is abysmal and the Democrats need to run on it and club the Republican nominee with it. Unless the Democrats get soap opera-style amnesia, this will not be a problem.

Verdict: I think Rove's article does a better job with dealing with the political realities of 2008. He talks about the Republican will need to show the voters who he is and where he stands, even if his stance is unpopular. He also said that normally Republican issues like crime and welfare won't have much salience in 2008, so the nominee better be prepared to talk about the rising cost of education and health care, which are normally Dem issues.

The Democrat can not run solely as "I'm against Bush." Political campaigns are as much about the future, if not more, than about the past. In some ways, every campaign turns out to be "how can we rectify the failings of the last president." We elected Reagan because he wasn't a wimp. We elected Clinton because he understood how domestic issues affected every day Americans. We elected Bush II because he campaigned as a Clinton-style moderate who would keep it in his pants. So the Democratic nominee will have to show the personal qualities that make him/her different from the current occupant. Simply running against the Bush record doesn't do that.

Kos does not deal with how the nominee can create a narrative of who they will be. The better strategy with the Bush Record is to set up situations where the press asks the GOP nominee, "Do you agree with the Bush Administration on X," and let the press drag down the Republican with the comparisons while the Democrat articulates his/her vision for America. The Bush Record is a good weapon for the Democrats, but Kos' article makes it sound like the only weapon.

Business as Usual -- Blues Traveler

Politician -- Cream