Ken AshfordBush & Co.Leave a Comment

Ezra Klein (via another) makes an interesting observation:

John Dickerson makes a good point on the laughably bungled attempt to mar Murtha:

This is what happens when a party goes into campaign mode without a single opponent. With no specific person to target, the Bush administration ends up taking on all members of the opposition at once. The White House plugged Murtha into an indiscriminate and undifferentiated rapid-response machine and it didn’t work. Finally, Democrats have reason to be happy that they have no clear leader.

That’s quite right. The GOP has perfected the art of eviscerating individual critics. As soon as a Democratic head peeks above a trench, they snipe him out. War heroes like Kerry are no safer than governors like Dean. Celebrities like Moore are used to smear representatives like Murtha. It’s all very efficient and deadly. What we’ve seen recently, however, is a Democratic Party without a putative leader. Reid is quiet and unassuming, you can’t launch an assault on an unknown. Pelosi is rarely on camera, I’ve forgotten what Howard Dean’s face looks like, no one has patience for Kerry, Hillary’s uninterested in tying herself to current debates, and so forth.

All of which has left the devolution of Iraq coinciding with a troubling lack of prominent liberals to pin it on. And, as the Bush administration has shown, without someone to smear, they can’t change the focus. Recently, they’ve tried tarring everybody whole parties in place of individuals, a move that created so much backlash that each official speech now merits a disclaimer on the courage, bravery, honor and patriotism of the war critics.

On the one hand, it’s comical, the Democratic Party is so weak and faceless that they no longer serve as a worthy target. On the other, it’s turned out to be the Bush administration’s worst nightmare: with no one to campaign against, all they can do is campaign against no one. And watching them vigorously punch air while their policies continue to rip apart real people has proven the worst media moment imaginable.

I, too, have noticed this.  I mean, the attempt to tag Murtha as a "Michael Moore Democrat" wreaked of sheer desparation.  Michael Moore?!?  Isn’t he soooo 2003?  This shows a chink in the armor of the "politics of personal attacks".  When the thing attacking you is an idea, and indeed, a rather widespread idea, you simply cannot fight back by hitting the messenger.  Sadly, this does not bode well for elections, when Democrats actually have to put up a candidate.