The End of Democracy

That’s the title of a breathtaking article by Rick Perlstein that is overflowing with examples of how tday’s media and the Democratic Party let bush off the hook for transgressions that would have been fought tooth and nail at any other period in American history.

Democratic insiders use politics to explain their inaction away. They’ve seen the focus groups: Accusations of a president draining the lifeblood from democracy just won’t play in Peoria. “It’s what the folks in this business, we call an ‘elite argument,’ ” says Jeff Shesol, who was a speechwriter for President Clinton and whose firm, West Wing Writers, develops messages for some of the most prominent Democratic campaigns. “It pitches too high to reach the mass electorate.”

Julian Epstein, another Democratic consultant and frequent talking head, puts it more simply. “People will think you’re whining,” he says.

Peter Fenn, a Washington advertising guru who frequently represents the Democratic side on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, says reaching voters on this point is hopeless: “Their eyes glaze over when you deal with process kind of issues.”

Yet the “process,” by many accounts, is not just broken but shattered, intentionally ground into dust by Karl Rove and his Republican campaign machine. “What these guys do every day, as a matter of course, without thinking twice about it, would be dramatic transgressions even under Nixon,” Jeff Shesol admits from his Dupont Circle office, crowded with paraphernalia from Democratic triumphs past. He’s just amazingly quick to dismiss the notion that there’s anything a Democratic presidential campaign can do about it. “It is very hard for most people to look at Bush and see him as an extremist,” he says. “It is very hard to make that charge stick to a guy who seems so down-home, so commonsense, such a decent man.”

Perlstein gives example after example of blatant character assassination and unbelievable lies, and notes the apathetic, wearied, self-defeated attitude among those who would normally be up in arms. It’s a terribly depressing read and I felt pretty sick when I finished it. I wanted to blockquote the whole thing, every word. Instead, I ask you that you take a minute to read it all. It’s hair-raising.

Update: Case in point. Do these women look obscene?

obscene jpg.jpg
Three Medford school teachers were threatened with arrest and thrown out of the President Bush rally at the Jackson County Fairgrounds Thursday night, after they showed up wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Protect our civil liberties.

All three women said they were carrying valid tickets for the event that they had received from Republican Party headquarters in Medford, which had been distributing event tickets to Bush supporters.

Teacher Janet Voorhies said she simply wanted to bring a message to President Bush, but did not intend to protest.

“I wanted to see if I would be able to make a statement that I feel is important, but not offensive, in a rally for my president,” said Voorhies, 48.

The women said they were angered by reports of peaceful protesters being thrown out of previous Bush-Cheney events. They said they chose the phrase, “Protect Our Civil Liberties,” because it was unconfrontational.

“We chose this phrase specifically because we didn’t think it would be offensive or degrading or obscene,” said Tania Tong, 34, a special education teacher.

The women got past the first and second checkpoints and were allowed into the Jackson County fairgrounds, but were asked to leave and then escorted out of the event by campaign officials who allegedly told them their T-shirts were “obscene.”

We are not the great democracy we were just four short years ago. From the great Digby.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

“I think evangelicals really don’t like democracy much at all, especially when it’s not going their way.”

i heard mr perlstein speak about his article on the majority report last ngiht.
its heartbreaking.

this is all a part of the process falling apart. when we say “all the repubs care about is winning!” yeah thats true…but if we wont even fight for fear of losing….or for fear of how fighting might lookthats bad too!!!

October 19, 2004 @ 10:02 pm | Comment

The middle teacher looks like she might be a hellcat in bed.

But, all teachers are.

October 20, 2004 @ 12:12 am | Comment

nah.. what kinda hellcat can she be if she’s wearing two shirts and a bra? That’s no kind of access policy. Stupid civil-liberties quashers.

October 20, 2004 @ 5:10 am | Comment

Well, I can certainly see why the t-shirt on the right is obscene… it does, after all, feature an image of the Statue of Liberty. Not only was Lady Liberty created in (gasp, splutter) France, but she bears a pro-immigration poem written by a Social-ist. A *feminist* Social-ist. [ha ha, I can’t use the S- word unhyphenated, because it contains the brand name of an anti-impotence drug!]

But anyway, how long till the wingnuts start demanding that the Statue — as politically incorrect as she is — be melted down and replaced with a big, ugly statue of Ronald Reagan?

October 20, 2004 @ 8:19 am | Comment

I voted two days ago.

October 20, 2004 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

Since the founding of the two parties, has America ever had a president who wasn’t a democrat or a republican?

Two party systems with direct presidential elections are not exactly democratic, suppose you were a homosexual anti abortionist, then you couldn’t support either candidate because one wants to ban gay marriage and the other isn’t pro-life.

Which candidate could a Muslim gun lobby member vote for without getting it in the face from somebody or a transexual oil tycoon.

Maybe the presidential candiates in the US should be as diverse as the country is.

America if it elected part representatives for each reagion and whoever lead the part with the most representitives got to vote on the president. Maybe if the US had a coelition government or more independant senators there would be less personal baiting and more politics.

October 24, 2004 @ 1:06 am | Comment

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