Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Advantage of Deceit and Lies

The Daily Show re-ran a preelection episode with Bill Clinton as the guest. Clinton said a lot of on-target things in the interview, including agreeing with my (much) earlier post that liberals don't hate or want to utterly destroy conservatives and conservatism even though the reverse is true.

Another interesting thing he said was, "I have a Republican friend who once told me that they had to make up lies and create scandals or I would win all the time!" Now, it was a funny remark, in that Clinton was essentially boasting about his ability to kick the conservatives' collective asses. But it was also highlighting a basic truth: The politics of lies, deceit, and slander practiced by the conservatives today is such an advantage that only a politician of Clinton's skill can counter it, even when the liberals are right.

Clinton himself said, "They had to attack me personally and try to make everyone think I was a bad person, because I was right about everything: the economy was getting better, crime was going down, we were keeping America safe. So they had to try to paint me as a bad person to try to keep people from paying attention to how well my policies were working." (Or words to that effect).

It's not that Gore and Kerry were bad campaigners, though certainly neither were stellar either. But they made the mistake of thinking that being right would carry them to victory despite the conservatives' politics of personal destruction. But being right, as I have said before, isn't enough now. Liberals and progressives have to not only be right in order to win without resorting to the same tactics as the conservatives, but also have to be politicians of the caliber of a Bill Clinton, because being right isn't enough to counter the conservatives' underhanded advantage.

So, to say that Gore or Kerry screwed up and lost, or to say that the last election shows that America is a "conservative country," is not warranted by the facts. Because Clinton was a genius politician, he made it look like liberals can win against conservatives despite the conservatives' politics of personal destruction, so liberals thought they could keep winning without resorting to like tactics. But a Bill Clinton comes around only once in a generation. You can't expect to both be right and to have preternaturally talented candidate every election in order to win. It just isn't going to happen.

If it isn't clear to the Democrats now that being right isn't enough, after losing the campaign to a President whose first term was as distastrous as Bush's, it never will be.

It's like Bush and Kerry were playing a game of 21 and Bush gets to start 10 points ahead. When Kerry loses, it's like, "Kerry was the wrong candidate and ran a shitty campaign," or, "This proves it's a conservative country!" Maybe Kerry did run a bad campaign. Maybe it is a conservative country. But it's awfully hard to tell since Kerry would have had to been freakin' Michael Jordan to have a chance of winning at all.

Clinton was Michael Jordan. He could start out down ten baskets and smoke his opponent.

But what future do liberals and progressives have if we have to have someone on the order of Michael Jordan just in order to compete?

Not much.


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