Deja Vu All Over

Dana Blankenhorn, via email:

Two words.

Dwight Eisenhower.

A lot of people are going to misread this history over the next few months.

They will write that the “moderate” Clark is going to overwhelm the candidate of the “ideologues,” Howard Dean.

They have their roles reversed.

The 1952 campaign was the first true TV campaign, and Ike was the first true TV candidate. TV adored celebrity. Ike delivered it. And he capitalized it, with the very first effective political commercial on TV.

The Robert Taft campaign was directed by old party pros, who distrusted Eisenhower. That’s exactly what the DLC is doing with General Clark. Listen to what they say, their reasoning for pushing Clark. It’s all based on TV, on images — on what is now the old politics.

The turning point in the 1952 campaign came at that year’s Republican Convention, when Taft forces tried to engineer rules changes that would stop Ike’s steamroller, and they were put down by a convention that suddenly knew it was on TV.

Today the Internet and TV stand at the same point as TV and newspapers stood 51 years ago. Few believe that an Internet campaign can succeed. They prefer the TV campaign, the manipulation of simple images. But here’s my main counter-argument. The Democrats cannot win a TV campaign. It’s hopeless.

Democrats can only win by changing the game, and Dean is changing the game. By the time Republicans and DLC Democrats realize they need a real Internet strategy, based on nurturing the netroots, it will be too late.

(Blog this if you want. I didn’t realize how much I wrote until it was done.)


Wins of the Father

So that’s why I like Dean. He’s Ike, without the shoulder stars. My father was a big supporter of Ike, working tirelessly on his campaign. Here’s what I learned at my first meetup, in early June:

Eisenhower Republicans for Dean

George Morin was talking to a friend who, calling himself an Eisenhower Republican, said that Dean sounded to him a lot like Ike. Is Ike the bridge this country needs to return to civil discourse? Consider these quotes:

You do not lead by hitting people over the head-that’s assault, not leadership.

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

We merely want to live in peace with all the world, to trade with them, to commune with them, to learn from their culture as they may learn from ours, so that the products of our toil may be used for our schools and our roads and our churches and not for guns and planes and tanks and ships of war.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they never existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and co-operation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.

No easy problems ever come to the President of the United States. If they are easy to solve, somebody else has solved them.

When you appeal to force, there’s one thing you must never do – lose.

When you are in any contest you should work as if there were – to the very last minute – a chance to lose it.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.

We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.

There was a time when politics required the ability to form, question and communicate such thoughts. It was once a virtual requirement to have led men into battle and to earn your humanity, as Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated. He governed well by governing little, and led a life so full that he really preferred not to be president. It’s a shame we must send people to Washington who want to go, but if we need an enthusiastic ambition, Dean may be our best choice.

By then, George Bush may have demonstrated so well what we do not want in a leader that we’ll recognize one when we see one. And that may be his contribution to history.

2:05:02 PM    

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