Dear Conservatives: Pick Your Fights

This is to be the first of an irregular series offering advice to conservatives, explaining to them why they lost and what they need to do to win in the future. They won’t take it, but there are things that need to be said, for the record.

Today’s advice: Pick Your Fights.

During the Clinton years I tried giving this same advice to righties when they wondered why most Americans still liked Clinton after all the mud that was slung at him. Righties I talked to wanted big, screaming banner headlines in the newspapers every single bleeping day about whatever allegation was being pushed by the Right at the moment. They wanted this whether there had been new developments or not.

As it was, every bleeping time one opened a newspaper or flipped on cable television, there was Trent Lott or Bob Barr or Tom DeLay or somebody accusing the Clintons of one thing or another. And I truly think after a while most Americans tuned it out. The constant stream of allegations became white noise. The economy was good, there were few apparent crises (and what crises did exist seemed far, far away), gas was cheap, life was good. Plus, the President was a likable guy whose public persona didn’t mesh with the way the Right portrayed him.

I honestly think the steady drumbeat of Whitewater Whitewater Whitewater to some extent inoculated President Clinton from fatal damage when the Monica, um, involvement was exposed. People were so used to the Right screaming about scandal that, when a real scandal came along, it didn’t seem that big a deal.

Also, the Right’s perpetual ire over everything Clinton was out of touch with the public mood. There is much to criticize about the Clinton Administration. Just one example — free trade policies. But the buzzword of the later Clinton years was complacency. Not hysteria.

I think a similar phenomenon took hold during the recent election campaign. Every bleeping day the Right was going on about Bill Ayers or the Rev. Wright, or twisting something Barack Obama said into a scandal. But when people saw Obama for themselves, they saw he was hardly the wild-eyed radical. And while the Right frantically looked for the magic bullet — some scandal that would soil Obama’s public image — Obama talked about real issues and what he thought ought to be done about them.

And they haven’t stopped. The minions are still in campaign smear mode, holding up every single thing Barack Obama does as evidence that he’s the bad guy. Now they’re complaining about Obama’s transition web site, for pity’s sake.

Personally, I hope they stay in perpetual campaign smear mode. It’s good for our side. There’s a rule in business management — when everything is an emergency, nothing is an emergency. Emergency becomes the “normal.” Well, I’d say that when everything is a scandal, nothing is a scandal. If the Right would learn to STFU until something happened that actually mattered, they’d have more credibility, and their accusations would have some impact.

I think we can count on them not learning that, however.

23 thoughts on “Dear Conservatives: Pick Your Fights

  1. I agree with you 100%. Let’s hope the rightwing learns absolutely NOTHING from this election, and continues in hate and smear mode. The election proved that this turns off many more voters than it energizes.
    In fact, I just emailed Malkin with the same message: “Keep up the good work and we’ll have progressive majorities far into the future!” (though I agree with your earlier post that there’s no point in looking that far ahead, s**t always happens..)

  2. They won’t learn, they can’t, because they would then have to “talk about the issues” and “run on their record”, neither of which they can do. I think the ’04 character assassination of Kerry allowed people to hear Repub. propaganda for what it was. When they tried to bring it around this election it just sounded petty and stupid. Another boy crying wolf.

  3. Oh, mean Malkin and her maddened minions. Is the moon full yet? I guess they’re entertaining in a creepy sort of way. Isn’t being outraged all the time supposed to lead to strokes?

  4. The noise from the right is to cover up the mess their low/no tax ideas have made. All the red states that have relied upon comsumtion taxes now have large multi million dollar deficits. No one is buying anything thus revenues are way down. In january the layoffs will begin and they will get that small/no government….a mayor who will turn out the lights on his way out.

  5. I’m not even sure if focus on one thing is at the core of their problems. I’d say get a grip on reality first. They constantly scream about stuff nobody cares about. Why listen to the certifiably insane?

  6. Why listen to the certifiably insane ?
    Because, dear Moonbat, they’re 25% of the population! (snark)

  7. I’d heard about the Obama transition website, but couldn’t find it. (Change dot gov, who’da thunk?) So, I’d like to thank the Righties who are stupid enough to complain about it. You annoyed maha; she posted a link; I opened the link and bookmarked it. Now, at will, I can access information freely provided by the president-elect. And as everyone knows, freedom of information is like water on the Witch of the West, to a Rightie.

  8. Maha, I was concerned about the future of your blog upon hearing about Obama’s win, but I’m happy to report we’ll be bitching for years into the future, thanks to the looney right.
    I was afraid I’d miss your commentary, as well as the responses from Swami, Moonbat, Joanr16, biggerbox, Canadian reader,Marvel,and the other regulars (you out there Bonnie?)

  9. Not to mention, we’ll be hearing from Sarah Palin again, to say nothing of Michelle Malkin and the other wingnuts.

  10. erinyes, there will be many many battles to fight in the coming years. And khughes makes a good point– the crazies didn’t suddenly wake up sane on Nov. 5th. Also, I learn so much important stuff here, from maha and all of you. I plan to stick around!

  11. Oh, I’m definitely sticking around. This fight will never end. My painful forays into wingnutia (mainly through Moms4SarahPalin) have shown me that fascism lives on and is far from dead.

    Speaking of this blog, though, I recently realized that I found it shortly after the 2004 election. I was immediately hooked and I can safely state that unless I am far from the Internet, which fortunately happens for a few weeks every summer, I come here several times a day for both the articles and the comments.

    Long live Maha and her loyal readers!

  12. (((((((((((( GROUP HUG)))))))))

    I enjoy this blog and especially the commenter..a great bunch of quality minds. And at the risk of bruising my humility…I think intelligence, like water,seeks it’s own level.

    Another benefit derived from particpating here at the Mahablog is that I’ve experienced an elevation in my social status..I’ve gone from a nobody to a liberal elite with the minimal amount of effort. Only in America, huh!

  13. Like I tole Tris over to Digby’s place…

    We gonna have Saint Sarah to kick around for a good while…Right now she’s the closest thing they got to Ronald Reagan figure…

    (Think about that for a minute, but don’t scorch the back o’ yore eyeballs)

  14. As an infrequent commenter but a devoted reader, I plan on staying around and reading the intelligent blogs from Maha and the comments from her interesting and informed readers. I love this blog as it mirrors my beliefs and seems to be able to cut through the BS on either side. So long live Maha Blog long may she reign.

  15. Maha: I consider myself a conservative and I voted for McCain but I’ve got to tell you that your comments were right on the money. If you had a conservative perspective, however, you would see that the media (newspapers, television, programming, public funded ventures), colleges and what is being taught, and so on will never offer equal time and you would feel like everything is stacked against you or your views. It is very frustrating and you might not understand unless you were in that position, but you’re not. The shear numbers of people on the left will always be more simply because of the youth (as I was more liberal at one time), so we’re always outnumbered. As a result the right has turned into something like UFO hunters that find aliens and ET’s in pictures of
    dots against the sky. It doesn’t mean we’re wrong on the main issues but it sure does turn people off. It was refreshing to read your comments and again you were dead on.

  16. Dave B — Dude, until this year media, especially political news and commentary, has been overwhelmingly dominated by conservatives. I used to joke that if the cable politics shows ever invited a real liberal on a program and let him finish just one sentence before he was shouted down, I could die happy. (Most of the people on television who are supposed to represent liberalism are not real liberals; they just play the role on TV.) This year I still think McCain caught more breaks than he deserved, but it’s not as blatantly one-sided as it used to be.

  17. Oh, give me a break. Y’all on the left have fought almost every single thing that Bush did and/or wanted to do. Name something you supported him on. Name something he was not attacked for.

    Y’all didn’t pick your fights. Everything was a fight, generally degenerating into personal smears.

  18. DaveB I am surprised that the conservative perspective is that their view is not given in the media, unless you do not equate conservative with republicans. It was my understanding that the republicans changed the laws so that they could have a monopoly on news in some areas. I should add, I also heard Bush changed the law so that his daughters will decide what information is given to the public.

  19. Oh, give me a break. Y’all on the left have fought almost every single thing that Bush did and/or wanted to do. Name something you supported him on. Name something he was not attacked for.

    Mr. Teach, neither you nor your sad hero, the worst president in American history, deserve a break. So you’re not going to get one.

    You tell us one real, true thing that Bush did that wasn’t destructive (and likely criminal as well). OK, he signed the “Do Not Call” list into law.

    Everything else was an utter failure, and still you support him. That says nothing about us. It says everything about you. When are you going to learn that no one– not even most Republicans anymore– care what you bitter-enders think? The reason for that is simple. Everything you think is wrong.

  20. Conservatives are quite happy with “everything is a scandal”. If they can make just a little headway with this by making any of it stick they can say “See, we are no worse than them.”

    They even telegraph their intent. False accusations of voter fraud belie the voter fraud of their own. They make certain that the other side is first accused of what they themselves are contemplating doing. They have elevated this to a finely honed strategy.

  21. Maha/S: I’ve been on both sides and there is no comparison. Political commentary is more conservative because of talk radio and Fox but that is a result of trying to equalize all the other media combined and in general liberal talk shows can’t make it because of the lack of listeners. I think this is the result of conservatives looking for affirmation of their views wherever they can find it where more liberal perspectives are affirmed every day, everywhere, so you’re not looking for a port in a storm. Nine out of ten journalists, nine out of ten editorial writers, newspaper writers, college professors and so on are on the left. It is so much a part of the “natural scenery” so to speak that I think you’re not seeing it from the other side. President Elect Obama is going to need everyone’s support. I, for one, don’t want the right to do to him what the left did to Bush because its bad for all of us and our country.

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