Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Monday, May 08, 2006

Talkin' bout investigations

Matthew Yglesias responds to John Dickerson, who seemed to agree with me that Nancy Pelosi should not be out trumpeting investigations if Democrats win. Matt writes:
Perhaps more to the point, what could possibly be served by denying that Dole is, in some sense, correct about this? Everyone knows that a Democratic congress will mean subpoena power. What's at issue are two different ways of characterizing this. Dole wants people to think of partisan witch-hunts, Pelosi wants people to think of sober-minded oversight. Simply resting silent on the issue isn't going to stop Dole and whomever else from saying what they want. The only way to challenge Dole's characterization is for Pelosi to offer one of her own, which is exactly what she did.

The American public disapproves of President Bush and the Congress. They are dissatisfied with the direction that the country is headed. And Democrats talking about investigations rather than what they can do to help the country isn't going to appeal to that majority.

I understand that the Democratic base wants to see investigations. There's nothing wrong with that, and if Democrats pull off the upset and win back the House and/or Senate, then they are going to happen whether it's spoken about or not.

The non base wants action that takes us in a different direction. And talking above the partisan politics and appealing to their desires on wage issues and health care should be the focus of the Democrats strategy. Let the subpoenas take care of themselves. Even talking about the issue in those terms is better than having the appearance of bragging about being able to investigate the President.

And my initial argument remains. Democrats affirming a GOP talking point will only help Republicans appeal to their base.

I will say, as I re-read the article in the Post, that the characterization of how Pelosi brought up investigations is in the eye of the reader. Dickerson and I clearly saw it as a bit bragadocious, and I would hope even Matt would agree this isn't the way it should be brought up.

*UPDATE* I think this backs up my case:
Whenever journalists like Russert attribute some belief to the passive voice -- the subject-less formulation of "the impression is out there that . . ." -- they are just voicing their own views, and here, Russert's views couldn't be clearer. There is no reason whatsoever to exploit control over the House to conduct investigations into various corruption and lawbreaking scandals. The only possible reason Democrats would do that is a petty, vindictive desire for -- to use Russert's word -- "payback."

Of course, Russert's an idiot here, and Greenwald points out reasons why investigations are warranted. But the media makes the meme, and they seem to have their heart focused on vindictive Democrats taking down President Bush. And Democrats talking about it is only going to aid this meme.