Monday, April 19, 2004


Originally a comment on Eschaton.

Watergate was 30 years ago, when America really did have independent media. Not a good model for 2004.

Job one for President Kerry is to reverse the media concentration. Otherwise, his win would merely be a rear guard victory in a long retreat.

Even so, at the same time he works to betray their betrayal of the country, Kerry will have to suck up to the press. Nicknames have been done already, but a little high school level flattery should do just as well. If he can't compartmentalize well enough, he'll need proxies.

Tactically, Kerry will need to forestall immediate moves from right-wing media outlets (Fox, Wash Times, WSJ, Rush, Drudge, etc.) to start the death of a thousand cuts. Yes, he needs to manage the press, and that means driving a wedge between the VWRC echo chamber and the lapdogs formerly known as the mainstream media.

The lapdogs are going to continue to put the right's smears into play. Kerry's press operation will have to kill those smears directly or through proxies. The important thing is to catch them while they are small. That means not waiting but instead framing them before they reach the public. This needs to be done in deadly earnest but using humor and ridicule. The end result should be the destruction of the right-wing media's credibility.

The first thing for Kerry to do on Wednesday, Nov. 3, is to talk about how he's going to make his honeymoon period work for America. He should use that exact term. The way this works for him is that he can put a date on it to frame the length of that honeymoon. He should aim high, The previous administration had four years to break the war on terror and the economy. I think it's only fair that I should have until July 4th [or the third anniversary of Sept. 11] to show progress on them.

Then, Kerry should propose some doable steps, some that he can accomplish alone [a ground-up reorg of the FBI (lots and lots of firings), a return to more or less honest accounting for budgets and deficits] and some that he can beat up Congress over [real funding for port security, the end of perverse tax incentives to corporations for sending jobs overseas]. Once he has implemented at least the first set, he can stop talking about his honeymoon but he should continue to expect (that is, demand) fair treatment for as long as he keeps hitting his targets. Oh, and lobster rolls for the press corps would be a good idea from time to time because so many of them are miserable toadies.

If we win the Senate, this will be easier to do. If we win the House, even easier - because the New England three in the Senate Republican caucus can be swayed into a working majority. If we win both houses, hallelujah.

When liberal and moderate groups get out of hand (and it will happen), Kerry needs to stay on target because there are only two issues that matter. He needs to say, I hear you, and I support some of your goals, but I must govern by the priorities of all Americans in contrast to the previous administration. When we have the war on terrorism and the economy back on track, we will consider your longer-term needs. Until then, I can only offer ...