Tag Archives: goodfelllas

The “stuttering prick” messaging strategy

Every day comes more confirmation of my sinking feeling that–as horrifyingly stupid and inept and arrogant and mean-spirited as Trump has been–the Democrats seem uninterested or incapable of taking advantage of the many opportunities he’s giving them.

Think of the first few weeks of the clown car that is the Trump administration, the disorganization (lest we forget, they could not, literally, figure how to turn on the lights in the cabinet room, so they met in the dark!), the myriad gaffes, the misstatements and not remotely credible clarifications. Think of that and see how much ground the Democrats have gained in the wake of this ongoing disaster. NONE. They are in fact losing ground.

demapprovalrating030717
Chart from March 8 shows….

It’s been noted all over the place that the leadership and HRC campaign folks (too often the same hacks) continue to point fingers at everyone but themselves for their diabolical failure, not just in the presidential debacle in November, but in letting the GOP take control of everything else–House, Senate, governorship, state houses. In a just world HRC, her husband, her top campaign people, the DNC leadership, and maybe for good measure assorted surrogates such as Neera Tanden and Peter Daou, should have been placed on an ice floe and shoved into Arctic waters somewhere. I’m speaking figuratively OF COURSE. But some contrition, some introspection, some walk of shame seems pretty clearly called for.

Instead, these people (well, not Hillary, last seen in … the woods somewhere?) are everywhere, being asked for their wisdom on the television, and generally–incredibly–acting like they’ve done nothing wrong, or that they fell victim to an act of God, or … a shadowy conspiracy. Well, we ALMOST won. In fact, we won the popular vote. And have you heard the latest Putin dots we’ve connected (LOOK at this chart)?

As Matt Taibbi points out in his excellent Rolling Stone piece this week, the entire Putin paranoia machine is fueled by things that have not been proven, and “that both the Democratic Party and many leading media outlets are making a dangerous gamble, betting their professional and political capital on the promise of future disclosures that may not come.”

No introspection necessary. Change? Moi? It’s Comey’s/Putin’s/Bernie’s/Susan Sarandon’s fault. Can I interest you in an “I’m With Her 2020” t-shirt?

I recently was turned on to Jimmy Dore, who I enjoy quite a bit. I see traces of the angry, later George Carlin in his schtick, and he’s a welcome change of pace from the disappointing, often cringe-worthy political comedy we see from SNL and the various Comedy Central talking heads.

The other day Dore ranted on this remarkable San Diego town hall appearance by Democratic reps Scott Peters and Susan Davis, in which the US Congresspeople cannot even say what it is they stand for. Peters and Davis appear never to have considered condensing their message into something easily understood and concrete, the 30-second self-promoting “elevator pitch” every young job seeker is meant to have committed to memory.

Instead, they mumble uncertainly, platitudes like “everyone should be treated fairly” and oh, uh, “opportunity….”

Dore has a lot of fun with this performance, which for me called to mind “Goodfellas”–that immortal “I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown?” scene where Tommy breaks Henry’s balls, to use the terminology of the film.

After Henry realizes the joke’s on him, everyone laughs and Tommy shouts:

Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

Maybe I just needed an excuse to share this clip, but I stand by this: The Democrats, circa 2017, have become the party of stuttering pricks.

***

Since I wrote a draft of this, Shaun King had a good column addressing this very frustration. In The Democratic Party seems to have no earthly idea why it is so damn unpopular, King writes of asking crowds on his speaking tour this question:

The first question is, “If I asked you, in just a few sentences, to sum up what specific policies the Democratic Party stands for, what would you say?”

“The response that I get is always the same – mass laughter or audible frustration,” King writes.

So is this inarticulate stuttering a feature or a bug of Democrat messaging?

Yesterday, New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino tweeted about Bernie Sanders’ assertion that “our ultimate goal is not just playing defense. Our goal is a Medicare-for-all, single payer system”:

I’d personally like to see how many Democratic politicians actually support Medicare-for-All/Single Payer. I don’t know the percentage breakdown, but it’s certainly not “every single Democrat politician.” The potentially good news is that I imagine more Democrats are inching towards the RIGHT to health care, not just ACCESS to a health care PRODUCT, a fuzzy conflation the Dems have taken pains to maintain.

***

ANOTHER UPDATE:

Bernie Sanders has a pretty good answer to the question in question: