A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Somewhere along the line, the Democratic leadership forgot that you win by winning. For the Republicans, that is all there is to politics -- that and then permanently maintaining power.
For the Democratic leadership, it seems enough to say "well, we tried hard and came in a close second." Coming in a close second in politics is defined as losing, not a consolation prize.
Of course, the Republicans don't care how they "win." They will mug you, rob you, hide votes, suppress votes, miscount votes, steal them -- it doesn't matter. And the Dems shrug, "What can we do? And do you really think that they would steal an election?"
Duh, just ask Al Gore. Heck, just ask Antonin Scalia or Katherine Harris. Just start there and move on through each election.
Part of the Democratic leadership mentality is "playing dumb." They pretend that the felonious Republican tactics are inconceivable and that the Dems on the Hill are too "gentlemanly" to accuse the Republicans of rigging elections.
But the Republicans don't have to steal EVERY election. Many they actually win. By all accounts, the GOP is much better -- no surprise here -- at mining data on voter personal preferences and getting out the vote in marginal districts. They use computers and phone banks and direct mail that's targeted down to the flea in your dog's navel.
And of course, they use wedge issues, demagogic emotional appeals, and understand the power of television images better than the Dems.
In short, the Republicans are better marketers, much, much better.
They have been, ever since author Joe McGuinness documented Nixon's resurrection in "The Selling of the President." Roger Ailes, who runs the FOX GOP News Network, was one of the early masters of packaging, branding and treating candidates as products.
George W. Bush's entire presidency is one big marketing campaign, using themes and narratives that best "catapult" the sales of the product, the product being Bush.
The main vulnerability of the GOP brilliance at marketing is that since it is based on selling the fantasy of a brand -- rather than the reality -- its products run into trouble when they run into reality.
You can, to a great degree, control the consistency and predictability of how Fritos taste, for instance. In fact, every bag prominently displays a customer service number that you can call if the bag of Fritos that you are eating doesn't live up to the "brand quality" (not that we are recommending Fritos as a junk food, but we are talking about their marketing strategy and brand consistency).
The Democrats need to be the customer service number for democracy.
They need to drag reality kicking and screaming before the American public -- whether it is the GOP's failure to really protect America or the theft of elections; whether it is the willful destruction of the middle class in our nation or the appointing of incompetents to respond to domestic crises; whether it is the vetoing of stem cell research or the hijacking of domestic policy by religious zealots.
And then there's that little dismantling of the American Constitution thing that the Bush Administration is pulling off.
You can't -- Joe Lieberman style -- pretend a bag of Fritos is fresh and tasty when it is crumbled and filled with cockroaches.
But that's what Dems too often do. They are paralyzed by the GOP marketing brilliance and then rendered speechless about denouncing how the product that is being marketed is foul, distasteful and harmful to your health.
And so the Dems all too often end up in second place. They are happy with a pat on the back for "putting up the good fight."
But they really haven't put up a good fight because the cards were stacked against them all the time -- and they were too timid to expose the reality of the situation.
When will the Democratic big shots define winning as winning, not coming in second place?
Because coming in second place in politics, however the vote was counted, is losing.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS