Dave Weigel has an interesting piece on what would have happened if Al Franken had been seated more promptly. I’m not big on counterfactual analysis — it always makes me think of “What if Napoleon had a B-52 at the battle of Waterloo?” — so I’ll skip his predictions (if that’s the appropriate word here) and focus on this:
Here’s something amazing about the Franken mess: Republicans appear to have paid no price for it.* The Republican who lost, Norm Coleman, is a respected think tank chairman who’s seen as a credible candidate for RNC Chairman in 2011 or for U.S. Senate again in 2014. From time to time a conservative group releases some fishy data about how Franken won with “fraud” (on this, I trust the Minnesota courts and election boards that he didn’t), and the claim gets aired out on Fox News and endorsed by prominent Republicans. History’s written by the winners, unless those winners 1) join unpopular Senate majorities and 2) are Democrats.
*Why are Republicans better at making scandals out of other process fights than Democrats were at making a scandal out of the Franken seating? I’m referring to how they intimated, even before the election, that the Democrats would refuse to seat Scott Brown, and how they’re currently churning up fears of a lame duck session. Two things spring to mind. First, Republicans are better at messaging things like this. “But the Democrats have the White House!” you say? Sure, but the president doesn’t want to spend his capital on process fights, while Fox News and a bunch of busy back-benchers will happily do so. Second, I think a big factor was Al Franken himself. If Democrats needed Generic Lawyer Who Barely Won to take his seat, that would have been one thing. But the optics of going to the mat for Stuart Smalley sucked.
I noticed that the teatards made all these pre-emptive attacks against Lisa Murkowski “pulling a Franken”, attacks which worked in terms of getting a pretty quick concession. I expect the teatard primarying of Republican incumbents to continue at least through 2012. It will be interesting to see if the general dynamic is that the Republican incumbents play the role of Democrats (easily cowed) while the teatards play the role of Republicans (bullying).
“If”? GOP bullying has always come from the teatard faction in the first place. The teatards have always been about purging and distilling for more purity.
Because the media doesn’t make the goopers pay a price, but they do make the Dems. Obama and other Dems, for instance, might be willing to wade into these process fights if they felt like they had a reasonable chance of it being picked up. But they know it won’t. Whereas on the gooper side, Fox and the other conservamedia does all the heavy lifting. Then you have the “analysis” of all these process fights, which always consists of some rightwing nutjob versus either a moderate nutjob or at best a centrist Dem who can be counted on to say that the nutjob raises some good points.
They’ve been doing this since last year. no?
@Michael: And, yet, unlike most purity purges, at the moment it does not appear to be hurting them. It will probably affect them in the long-term, but there will be an awful lot of hurt in our future before it does.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
interesting because it’s both general and specific. No question that Franken makes Dems very nervous because of what David Broder (the general and the specific) thinks of him. Broder once referred to him as “loudmouth former comedian”. I’d’ve loved to see “Teh Dean” debate said loudmouth on any Very Serious Issue said Dean would care to pick. If Broder hadn’t run away from the WaPo’s live chats, I’d send him that challenge for a solid hour every time he appeared.
Anyway… the general. Does Weigel acknowledge that one, I think the main, reason republicans are “better at messaging” is because the Establishment Media carries their water virtually unchallenged? Franken, ACORN, deficit and debt, Iraq, activist judges, class warfare/fatcats, teabaggers not racist (Weigel himself has that jar on his head, IIRC)….
His late seating also shortened the time we had a 60 seat majority. We really only had so much time to get stuff done before the good will after the election faded.
A better question might be: when was the last time Republicans paid a price for anything?
How many billions and/or dead people was it?
Jim, Foolish Literalist
and if Napoleon had had a B-52, the Prussians would have fielded the ’85 Chicago Bears, and Ditka would’ve rolled the French back to the Loire while all that rain prevented the plane from taking off.
Of course not. That would make it obvious they are picking the refs and outright cheating.
Weigel’s a little narrow in his definition of Republicans ‘paying no price for this.’ Coleman has found a comfortable niche within the Republican community, so he has paid no price with fellow Republicans. That’s not really a surprise, is it? The real test of having paid no price is how Coleman would do in a general election where his fate would be decided by non-believers. That is not entirely clear, but I suspect he would not fare well in Minnesota in a general election right now. He’s been pretty low-profile around here since that debacle–not even out on the town openly picking up women while his wife’s away, which was a major pastime for him before (Garrison Keillor had an excellent expose about this in the Pioneer Press years ago and I blogged about it when one of my friends became a ‘person of interest’ to Coleman and his sleaze squad one night while we were out. Not sure why no one in the MSM has ever followed up on Coleman’s philandering).
Another factor – most Dems seem to have a certain amount of shame about making completely ridiculous claims or pursuing obviously bad faith challenges like Franken-Coleman. The GOP, especially the 28%’ers, seem to have no corresponding impulse. Victory – or even just advantage – justifies every stoop, no matter how low. They live the quote Vince Lombardi was so unhappy to be associated with.
Man that would have been sweet.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
True, Coleman isn’t even a blip on the pay-no-price radar compared to John McCain, Newt Gingrich or Karl Rove.
The price of losing works for me.
At this point, the Republicans are like that weird guy who works in shipping; he doesn’t care that he’s an unhygenic asshole, because it’s the only thing he’s capable of that remotely gets things to go his way.
More importantly, which one? Kate had the star turn on ‘Shiny Happy People’, but Fred had decent solo albums.
@drkrick: There are plenty on our side of the political spectrum who are unconstrained by facts. The difference is that no one pays them credence. They certainly do not hold major positions in the party or media.
You actually can envision the Democratic Party we have now going to the mat vs. the GOP for anyone?
I always chuckle when I see stuff like this and I see it a lot “Why are Republicans better at making scandals out of other process fights than Democrats were at making a scandal out of the Franken seating?”
Two reasons the GOP is “better” at this game than democrats. 1) They have Fox News, Drudge, and talk radio and those venues spew garbage 24/7 into the national discourse. The left has nothing like that. 2) Well duh, it’s always easier to frame and soundbyte a message when you’re willing to lie your ass off.
I assure you, that “shame” is existent only in your imagination.
Zombie Ted Kennedy
What are we? Chopped liver?
New York Times
Etc., etc., etc.
Republicans are willing to lie their asses off because there is no price to pay for it.
Wow, it only took you three tries to think of one that wasn’t a “Juden rat”. You’re the least anti-Semitic Teabagger ever!
Oh goodie, a troll that spews warmed-over wingnut talking points and can’t even be funny about it. What joy.
They have their own propaganda outlet FoxNews. FoxNews take their daily talking points, repeat them 24/7 and almost always they get picked by the CBS/CNN/ABC/NBC etc.
An example is Obama’s innocent speech to our country’s school children. His message was for them to study harder. FoxNews managed to make this into a controversy. Hell, Matt Lauer on the Today invited the White House and your token Republican to talk about this “controversy”.
Literally nothing will change until the Democrats get their own TV channel etc. Hopefully the big wigs are working on this.
@Bender: Links with documented lies please. Otherwise, I’m going to assume that you are just blowing out your ass as usual.
I often feel like the key to all of American politics is that the media got all butthurt about being considered liberal and decided that they would spend the rest of their existences proving, nuh-uh! It’s the reason why the media habitually amplifies Republican bullshit and ignores Democratic truth, let alone Democratic bullshit.
Please tell which of these that you listed gave a million dollars to the Democratic party as FoxNews did to the GOP?
Please tell which of these that you listed organized an anti-GOP rally as Foxnew did with their anti-Obama rally?
chopped liver, pate foie gras is more like it.
to spend any time wondering why the Republicans have the edge in politics is so emblematic of why the Democrats have no future, if any. other than the obligatory “opposition”. still trying to figure out exactly what Democrats are willing to do.
Gosh, to see this kind of question even alluded to proves how the conversation is not going to go anywhere constructive. oh pity the Demcrats, they won’t even push their own agenda.
you mean , the Democrats HAVE an agenda?
like, who gets to lead and what topics are permitted.
the demise of the Democratic party is definitely well deserved and properly earned with such Republican presumptions about who is to blame.
proves Democrats have no ability to lead the conversation, much less lead America.
Well, duh: Chappaquiddick. Because lying about a car accident that killed one person is exactly the same thing as lying about Saddam Hussein being responsible for 9/11 so we could invade Iraq and kill thousands of people.
@Mnemosyne: Agreed. I was actually more interested in the Franken “lies.”
Weigel thinks the retired AF general who is a birther is a “serious person.” Can we stop acting like Weigel is either smart or reasonable?
“You think he’s funny? You think this is cute? You think he’s “bitchin,” is that it? Let me tell you something. Look at him – he’s a bum. You want to see something funny? You go visit Bender in five years. You’ll see how goddamned funny he is.”
Coleman got awarded, by republicans, for keeping Franken unseated as long as possible. He got himself a nicely paid job.
If he had conceded at once, or too early, he would not have had that job.
But I think both he and Pawlenty have paid a price among independents for the Franken fight.
Yes, just like treating a former B-movie actor like a demigod! What?
This whole argument from Weigel is a sort of inverse Sherlock Holmes: “When you’ve eliminated everything obviously true but inconvenient, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be declared the truth.”
Weigel considers Robert Stacey McCain a friend.
Still reading what he writes though.
God damn I am sick to death of hearing about what Dave Weigel writes or thinks about anything. I wish he had never been fired so I would never have had to hear from or about him.
His writing and analysis is stiflingly pedantic, uninsightful and unoriginal. Not to mention usually pathetically wrong.
Fuck, at least it’s fun to make fun of Sully.
Weigel is just a rightwing nerd I wish someone would give an Atomic Wedgie to so he’d stay sniveling in the corner.
Word salad, word salad, word salad. Word Salad? Word. Salad.
Weigel was actually pretty good when he started at WaPo. He went out of his way to appear sane. Once the skree started he went full metal wingnut so he wouldn’t lose his next gig.
@fasteddie9318: What kind of dressing do you put on word salad?
That would require their base voting demographic to have a sense of shame and morality, something which is not in evidence.
I suspect the GOP base would have been happy to leave Nixon in place after August 1974, seeing no trouble with it.
@fasteddie9318: Thanks. I was wondering if it was just because I needed a nap that I couldn’t make heads or tails of any of that.
@Corner Stone: Something nutty.
licensed to kill time
Recipe for Word Salad Dressing:
Balsamic of Bitterness
Oil of Obfuscation
Mustard of Misdirection
Herbs of Truthiness, just a sprinkle
Whip into a frenzied froth and pour over words.
Serve on a platter of Fox, Drudge or other dodgy site.
@Bender: . Cept for Kos, all of those are news organizations who have to compete for non-partisan and bipartisan eyballs. Democrats have no similar horde of think-tankers who have nothing to do but defend them, write position papers for them, and engage in partisan combat.
Meanwhile, instead of asking “where’s our Ann Coulter, etc?” we Dems demand that the President be both Leader of the Free world and put a smackdown on Boehner at the same time, making him potentially important at both. This risks him looking undignified and petty, something that doesn’t help him in hs main job to lead.
We need to continue to build a real echo chamber. How come we aren’t trying to buy up a few defunct AM stations? Why doesn’t the DNC even try Internet Radio where they can put out some talking points or communicate nation-wide with loyal Democrats who would tune in at least for an alternative point of view? Where the Democratic Party e-zine, interim gatherings and so forth where Dems can also get their word out? Once we do that, perhaps elected Democrats won’t feel they are all alone undefended by anyone and will take bolder stands.
None of those news organizations are particularly good at being Dem operatives. They continually accept Republican frames, treating their manufactured “controversies” as if they had merit.
Oh, Doug, the media never even tries to make Republicans pay a price. That’s why there’s an acronym: IOKIYAR (It’s OK If You’re A Republican).
And whether it’s because Democrats know they won’t have the media helping them make Republicans pay a price, or because Democrats are afraid any such unilateral attempt would cause Republicans to call them names or attack them politically (newsflash: each does, and will, happen anyway), doesn’t really matter much by now, since it’s such an established principle.
Though I do take issue with the idea that Democrats wussed out on supporting Franken because he was Al Franken; I think Dave gives Democrats too much credit. I’d be stunned if House/Senate/WH Democrats supported any Democrat in any similarly close election, because it just isn’t what they do.
As President Gore can tell you.
To answer the other question: “What if Napoleon had a B-52 at Waterloo?” the answer would be:
1) Next he would have to invent engine fuel and motor oil.
2) He would need to invent air-droppable bombs.
3) He would have to train ground crew, and an air crew.
4) He would have to invent radio for ground-to-air and air-to-air communication.
5) He would have to design airfields.
6) He would have to stop the British and the Prussians from stealing his military secrets and building the exact same stuff.
what if the pilgrims had to fight dinosaurs but the man from u.n.c.l.e. went back in time to help them?
@Mickey7: I agree. I don’t think Normie would do too well in an election at this point. I know some GOPers wanted him to run for governor this fall but Norm didn’t do it……..
Norm is for Norm. That’s his whole ideology from beginning to end. He stands for nothing beyond cashing the checks from his corporate pals and lobbyists. He hasn’t had a real job outside of government for decades, so the question was….what was he going to do? I think he decided not to run for governor because…
1) he’s already lost the governor’s race before—to Jesse Ventura
2) the internal focus groups or polls probably didn’t look too good. I think most Minnesotans are tired of Norm and his minions whining that Franken stole the Senate election. The recount was a completely open process. Norm’s case was lame, lame, lame. So except for the hard-core 30 percent that still thinks Bush was the greatest president ever, most Minnesotans are sick of Norm.
3) he didn’t want to draw law enforcement attention to the unexplained payments that were made to his wife a few years back for “insurance risk” reviews.
4) He was hoping Michael Steele would resign or get booted and then he could be the next Republican party chair. Norm has good teeth and hair and says what he’s told to say. He’d probably be good at it.
The cool thing is, Franken hasn’t been shy at all. He’s acted like he is a fifth-termer who ran unopposed last time. What a cool guy.
And yet, Franken is turning into one of the best senators the Dems have. They’d sure as hell better go to the mat for him next time.