Some deep wisdom from Digby

What a great analysis.

I’m too weary and dispirited right now to get into the inevitable fight that’s gearing up within the party, but suffice to say I don’t agree that we lost because we weren’t liberal enough. But, neither was it because we weren’t culturally conservative enough or populist enough.

I believe it was simply because we weren’t entertaining enough and that’s the sad truth. I think that Democrats are serious, earnest and substantive people. We are the reality-based community. And I think we top out at about forty eight percent of the population.

For everybody else politics is show business, whether in religious, political or media terms. Image trumps substance,charisma and personality trump everything. I don’t find George W. Bush appealing in any way because my vision of an attractive politician is that he be smart, competent and rhetorically talented. But, to many people, politics is interesting because of the spectacle and the tribal competition and they just aren’t interested in any other aspects of it. (See the PEW poll.) Oh, they mouth all the right platitudes about values and all, but this is not about governing for them because they have been taught that government is only relevant to their lives in that it houses their enemies — liberals who want to take things from them and force things on them. This is a reality TV show and they want to vote someone off the island.

It’s clear that a small majority of the country buy Junior’s “Top-Gun” act. His youthful failures are seen as acts of anti-hero rebelliousness. His smart ass attitude is the sign of a macho rogue. He isn’t the smartest guy in the class and he’s often in trouble, but he’s a fearless warrior when it counts. His image is of a fun loving rascal who found himself in an extraordinary position and rose to the occasion. I know it’s bullshit, but that’s the archetype that his handlers have laid upon him and it’s a role he plays with relish.

We have always chosen leaders for superficial as well as substantive reasons. It’s not fair to say that Democrats aren’t seduced by their own archetypal dreamboats. But, Bush is a new paradigm and we need to study him and recognize its power. He is a character created out of whole cloth by marketing and political people for the single purpose of appealing to a specific portion of the population that can guarantee a small political majority without having to compromise in any way with the opposition to enact an agenda. He’s the first gerrymandered president.

(Emphasis mine; this is a huge post and you should read it all.)

The first gerrymandered president. A marketing creation. It is such an eerie phenomenon, one so out of the sphere of traditional American politics, I can only look at it with a sense of wonder and dread. Aspects of Reagan were also the products of marketing, but the core was real — no matter what we think of him, he had his ideals and principles, and he certainly had outstanding and time-proven leadership abilities. With shrub, we have a…shrub. Pondscum repackaged for the far-right as a great leader.

And to those who say I am a bush-hater and I am out of touch, and that most Americans see him as a great leader so they must be right…. All I can say in response is that 1.) bush earned my hate one step at a time, and I went out of my way to give him every benefit of every doubt; 2.) nearly 50 percent of the country voted against him and 3.) most of the people of the world seem to be more in my camp than that of the bushies. So I’m sure not alone here.

As we know, second-term presidents, for whatever reasons, are often plagued with crises. I can’t back it up with any evidence, but I’m going to guess shrub will be engulfed in crisis and scandal sooner than any of us imagine. And don’t worry, I’ll be right here ready to report on them as they occur.

The Discussion: 4 Comments

Hmmm… so Bush was purely a marketing creation, and the Democrats need to recognize the new paradim and learn from it. So that they can adopt the same tactics, and beat Bush next time in a race to the bottom? Let’s hope not. Too much cynicism is not good for democracy.

November 4, 2004 @ 3:29 pm | Comment

Peter, God knows I agree. I don’t think we should copy it. I think we need to understand it though, and from that understanding figure out how we can appeal to those to whom bush appeals. Insight and knowledge is power.

But it does raise a terribly disturbing issue. What if the “two Americas” are totally incompatible, like oil and water? Does that mean liberals, always in the minority in America, must exist as disenfranchised politically impotent outsiders? I sure hope not.

November 4, 2004 @ 3:47 pm | Comment

It appears to me as an outsider that any political minority is effectively disenfranchised, unless they all happens to live in one or two states, making up the majority there. Perhaps I am wrong about this, I don’t know a great deal about the American electoral system.

November 4, 2004 @ 8:47 pm | Comment

America is made up of so many disparate groups, but often these groups coalesce in the pursuit of common causes, and thus they do not necessarily feel disenfranchised. I am the member of several minority groups, but always felt past of America as an Americn liberal/moderate. I never dreamed that one day this entire group would be made to feel marginalized and irrelevant.

November 5, 2004 @ 4:04 pm | Comment

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