Walter Williams, in a Newsday op-ed piece, says that the American Majority Institute should beat the Bush League at their own game--but only to an extent.
He says the progressive think tank needs a big budget, to compete with the well-heeled GOP think tanks that have "clobbered" the Democrats in getting the word out; it should aggressively push its message, as groups like the PNAC have done; and it should hire talent--good writers who are well-connected, skilled analysts and researchers. But, he warns, they must stop short of stooping to the opposition's level in spinning, twisting, and just plain making things up. He gives two good reasons. First, the Bush League's duplicity will be a major object of attack, and such charges can hardly be effective if the Democrats are guilty of the same sin; moreover, it's the right thing to do for our democracy. Besides, it's hardly necessary.
The Democrats have a mother lode of reliable information that shows the pattern of calculated deception of the Bush administration. It is a rare opportunity that can be used effectively by a tough think tank that is scrupulous in analyzing and packaging data and commentary that can help Democrats in attacking the Bush administration.
When sound numbers support a strong case, the American Majority Institute should go for the jugular. The attack on Republican politicians and think tanks must be unrelenting in exposing deceptive information and dishonest analysis. Be partisan and be honest - it is not an oxymoron.
Such an effort can serve the interests of the Democratic Party and the public. Fighting deception with deception to win the presidency and Congress makes a mockery of the critical concept of having an informed electorate.
The rare opportunity that Williams refers to is that the Bush League spin doctors are so far out of control, no opposite spin is needed to refute and expose them. The simple, unadorned, and above all, verifiable facts are enough--as long as they are relentlessly used at every opportunity.
When Bush says we attacked Iraq because Saddam wouldn't let the inspectors in, all the Democrats have to do is remind us that it was Bush who ran the inspectors out of Iraq, and who still won't let them back in.
When Paul Wolfowitz opines that "all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq," they should point out that many Iraqis are saying the same thing--only they are referring to the U. S.
When Ann Coulter insinuates that disagreeing with the President is traitorous, we need reminders of Ollie North's infamous "He's not my President" remark, and of the "wag the dog" allegations that Clinton faced over Somalia. When the administration says we're bringing democracy to Iraq, they need only point out that the US has forbidden elections in situations where it was feared that the outcome would not be what the White House wants. Every time they say the Democrats are undermining the judicial nomination process by filibustering 4 confirmations, it should be pointed out that Bush's nominees in general have been approved at record rates, and that the Republicans blocked far more nominations during Clinton's days in office. Whenever they complain that Bush's lie in the State Of the Union address was "only sixteen words," somebody ought to point out that nine words were enough to get Bill Clinton impeached--even though his lie did not cost a single American soldier's life.
The hypocrisy of the right is so self-evident, all the Democrats need do is make sure the facts are repeated as often as the lies. And while this effort should be undertaken by Democratic politicians at every turn, they should not be alone. Relentless pointing out of objective fact is something that we should all be demanding of the press. A grass-roots campaign to get the news media to stop parroting spin and start reporting the facts could go a long way towards unmasking the Bush League.