The Republicans have decided to make this fall about Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama. Sarah Palin is less popular than any of them; the NYT likely-voter poll shows her at 21 favorable, 46 unfavorable.

Sarah Palin is also dominating this Republican primary season.

Any questions?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

21 thoughts on “Strategy”

  1. Yes, one question: should the Dems make this election about Sarah Palin? Somehow, that does not seem to be a promising strategy. She holds no office, and attacking someone not in office to begin with cannot yield many good results.

  2. I think the Dems need to be very creative, and play as hard and dirty as the Repugnants. The philosophy of QUANTITY along with QUALITY, when dishing out communiques should be explored. YouTube aftr YouTube of the contradicting and cross-purposed statements all over the place.

    Here's how I would debate Vitner :

    "Help me out here, Mr. Vitner, one of your policies is unclear to me. Which one wears the diaper, YOU OR THE PROSTITUTE?"

    If the diaper fits, make them wear it.

  3. I think it would be better strategy to confront them on their mantras, the things that they repeat mindlessly, never expecting to be challenged.

    For example, every Tea Party backed candidate should be challenged to a debate, and their opponents should look at them and ask, "Name me one advanced country with a small government!" This could be followed up with some examples of countries with small governments, like Somalia.

    Perhaps some commentator can think of a modern, powerful, advanced country with a small government, but I do not know enough about world economics and politics to think of one.

  4. You took the words right out of my mouth Ed Whitney, although likely stated with different motives. I find it funny that democrats are so focused on Sarah Palin given that she holds no office. If Palin is as irrelevant as those on the left claim she is, then why write about her or even speak her name at all, much less conduct opinion polls comparing her to actually elected officials. I generally ignore people who are irrelevant. Of course to me this is a sign that she is actually doing something right.

  5. "The Republicans have decided to make this fall about Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama. Sarah Palin is less popular than any of them;"

    Of course she is: You guys started to make this about her back during the last Presidential campaign, and never let up, The Republicans are barely DISCUSSING making this about PRO. The PR campaign that's been running a couple of years is always going to beat the one that hasn't started yet.

    The real questions, of course, are whether,

    1. The institutional Republican party has the will to make this about PRO.

    2. Do PRO have problems that would make such an approach fruitful.

    I've got doubts about 1, but 2 seems a lock if 1 is resolved positively.

  6. Gosh, I thought Republicans were making the fall campaign about the failure of Democratic policies. Welcome to the Recovery, says the Obama administration. Meanwhile everyone who works in the private sector is wondering, what's wrong with these people? (Mark can be forgiven for not knowing about the private sector; he interacts with it only at bookstores and restaurants.)

  7. Is Sarah Palin unpopular because her smug demeanor and sing-song voice get on voters’ nerves, or is she unpopular because voters know that small government is a dumb idea? Successful countries everywhere invest heavily in educating their children, making sure their citizens get health care, maintaining infrastructure, and guarding their markets from the predatory practices of the unscrupulous. That means big government, and the big losers in the world are the countries that do none of the above.

    That is why I favor a strategy that takes on the Tea Party mantras, and directs it attacks not on Sarah Palin, but on her philosophy of government. I favor a strategy that confronts the Tea Party ideology as an adolescent one, and that goes after the Republican Party for having driven the grownups from its ranks. Dwight David Eisenhower would be a RINO to these people, and they should be pursued for their surrender to the voices of unreason.

  8. Oh GOSH, did you Thomas? Well, they aren't. They're making it about fearmongering on the deficit, and labeling a moderate-left legislative agenda as radical socialism, and personifying those things in the Democratic leadership.

  9. I'm with you, Ed. Substance is more important to me than form, and the R's have about as much substance as an aerogel. The problem is that the media prefer form over substance.

    As far as Eisenhower goes, he was a RINO. He was apolitical prior to WW-II, and figured out that he could be President of the United States if he wanted it. The R nomination was the easier of the two to get. I'm frankly a little surprised he didn't try Earl Warren's trick. When Warren was Governor of California (a Governor of the California from Bakersfield?? That truly boggles the mind) he sewed up both the D and R nominations in his re-election campaign.

  10. As Ed Witney said above, I also don't see the wisdom in making these elections about her, what she believes, or who she endorses. She doesn't hold office, she doesn't even have to work a regular job, so rather than making her a focus of political communication, the focus should always be to dismiss and discount her claims. Every response from the DNC should end with, "former Gov. Palin holds strong convictions, but apparently finishing what she started in Alaska was not among them" or some variation.

  11. The Radical Right looks alternately ridiculous and scary, and I guess the idea is to convince us of the need to elect corrupt, corporate centrists (I include the Obama Administration's leading lights in this category of our rulers).

    The central political problem of people, who genuinely care about the country and the society is not the "threat" of the Radical Right — the central problem is what that "threat" seems aimed at compelling us to do: vote for the corrupt Center and their pro-plutocratic policies. If you enjoy the Obama kabuki of supposedly progressive intentions frustrated by "practical politics", maybe you can convince yourself that saving the Center is worthwhile. Personally, I'm trying to figure out how to save the country from Obama and Reid, not the half-term governor celebrity spokesmodel. (I think Pelosi might actually be one of the good guys.)

    The critical political problem is not the "threat" of the Radical Right. The problem are a political Center, which cannot be held accountable, a political Media that doesn't take truth, let alone policy substance, seriously, and an electorate, which 1) sees no choice on the ballot; 2) learns nothing reliable or useful about politics from the mainstream Media.

    I think we may have to break the government to save it. Voting for the Republican Radical Right might be the only feasible path forward, out of a full-blown authoritarian plutocracy. Now, that's scary.

  12. Bruce Wilder,

    The critical political problem is not the “threat” of the Radical Right. The problem are a political Center, which cannot be held accountable, a political Media that doesn’t take truth, let alone policy substance, seriously, and an electorate, which 1) sees no choice on the ballot; 2) learns nothing reliable or useful about politics from the mainstream Media.

    I think we may have to break the government to save it. Voting for the Republican Radical Right might be the only feasible path forward, out of a full-blown authoritarian plutocracy. Now, that’s scary.

    I disagree sharply. The problems you cite are real, but the one posed by the Radical Right is much bigger. Supporting radical rightists out of frustration with Democratic centrism is like getting cancer to take your mind off a headache. Remember that this would have real costs, mostly borne by the less well-off among us. SS and Medicare cuts, repeal of HCR, budget-balancing during a severe recession, reductions in unempoyment benefits, reduced access to courts, less consumer and worker protection, etc. Then we would have lovely foreign policies based on bombing anyone who looks at us funny, increased violation of civil liberties, and so on. Is it OK to bomb Iran in order to, maybe, ultimately, move the Democratic party a little to the left?

  13. "The problem are a political Center, which cannot be held accountable "

    Leaving aside the thousands of kilos of PoliSci texts that find otherwise, and the fact that the Center has been found by wise people throughout the millenia to be desired, I'm reminded of this:

    All extremes are error. The reverse of error is not truth, but error still. Truth lies between extremes. –Cecil

  14. Bernard is correct. Us geezers can remember when the election of Richard Nixon in 1968 was held by some radicals to be desirable, since it would speed the revolution. The people on the receiving end of the secret bombings in Laos and Cambodia were ill served by this attitude. On the other hand, The National Lampoon would never have gotten off the ground without Nixon.

  15. Bruce Wilder has a point. It's not a GOOD point. In fact it's a GOP talking point: Democrats have the White House and big majorities in Congress, so why can't they get anything done? One word: filibuster.

    It's very possible that Obama would have been just as "centrist" with 60 actual Democrats in the Senate, rather than snakes like Ben Nelson and the execrable Joe Lieberman. But we haven't run THAT experiment, have we?


  16. Tony, they've gotten plenty done–look at all the bills they've passed; these guys are definitely going into the history books. The question is what good they've accomplished. And that's where it gets hard.

  17. If I read Bruce rightly, it's a rehash of the Naderite “Heighten The Contradictions” idea: the Republicans have been fighting as hard as they can to block Progressive ideas and to enact destructive policies, the Democrats haven't been fighting for their professed ideals, and maybe if we let the Republicans do their worst the result will be that an apathetic people will wake up and empower a genuine, energized Progressive tidal wave. Riding unicorns, no doubt. Here in the real world, it doesn't seem like a good plan.

  18. Thomas, what do you mean by:

    "…Question is what good they’ve accomplished."

    You mean the stimulus bill that prevented the country from falling into a depression? Or maybe the Cash for Clunkers that removed metric tons of air pollution from inefficient gas guzzlers and provided a shot in the arm to local car dealerships everywhere? Are you wondering what good a student aid reform bill will do when our government stopped the free giveaways to private banks for doing nothing but disbursing a government-backed loan? You have questions about what the Administration's new home buyer tax credits accomplished in the moribund residential real estate market? Just look at the dip in July '10 and August '10 numbers to give you an idea of what good they did for brokers everywhere for a year. Is there a question about what good the ACA has done for millions of new college grads who can't get jobs, still live with Mom & Dad, but at least know they will be covered by their parents health insurance until they are 27? Or the millions of Americans who have pre-existing conditions and finally see on the horizon the ability to purchase an individual policy not dependent on their place of employment? Questions about what "good" can come from federal dollars going into stem cell research? Well, it employs some PhDs that otherwise might go overseas.

    No, I don't think the question is "what good" has come from this Congress and President, but rather why you (and seemingly so many others) have not been paying attention.

  19. Bruin, that you defend both cash-for-clunkers and the home buyer tax credits tells me all I need to know about your judgment, thanks. Those are some of the biggest embarrassments of the last two years. The rest isn't much better. No one can sincerely believe that the stimulus bill "prevented the country from falling into a depression." Why we would want PhDs to be subsidized here rather than somewhere is perhaps best left to the imagination (yours, preferably).

    I do hope those unemployed 27 year olds know who to thank for their situation.

  20. Thomas, I'm sorry, when you said "question is what good they've accomplished" I thought you wanted a quick response of what good has been accomplished, not an actual defense of the underlying policy. Of course, the home buyer tax credits went on to fuel the shortest-lived real estate bubble in history. It suckered first-time buyers into plunking down hard cash on over-priced homes, especially the kind where the former owner was getting forcibly evicted and the bank defaulted and handed the property off like it was a hotcake. Oh boy, the rampant real estate speculation that went on for a year and a half. I get misty eyed just thinking about that boom time. And because of the dubious efforts of Congress and the Admin, buyers were surreptitiously tricked into actually understanding the terms of their mortgage by forcing lenders to use clear language and legibly-sized font. How awful!

    And since we still live in a world where we can buy and burn fossil fuels without concern to our connections to despots & thugs in the Middle East, or worry about cooking the planet to our detriment, the Cash-for-Clunkers was so obviously pork barrel for auto dealerships, who employ no one and create zero revenue for local governments. What a waste!

    And while I noticed that you didn't single out ACA as an embarrassment, it so clearly is. Why have national health care when we can take chickens to the doctor? Sadly, but true, ACA has effectively prevented patients from leaving the capitalist system instead of giving Americans the freedom to engage in bartering with an X-ray technician. Hey, Sue Lowden says it worked for her! She must be on to something.


  21. WT: ". . . it doesn’t seem like a good plan"

    Just to clarify, I didn't say, it was a good plan. Apparently, my sense of despair, at not having any viable alternative to the very, very bad plan, which is Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress, was not clear enough.

    I appreciate that some may view the achievements of Democratic majorities over the last nearly 4 years, and a Democratic Administration over the last year and a half, as satisfactory. Obviously, not a judgment I share. (And, BruinAlum, I do pay attention, which is why I despair.)

Comments are closed.