Monday, July 04, 2005

Imagology

Going in, the odds are against the Democrats to win the Supreme Court battle, especially if Bush’s nominee has decent academic or political credentials and no illegal nannies, government-subsidized love nests, unconventional psychotherapies, fetishes involving soft drinks, or odd-looking facial hair. (The Kerik thing nearly doubled the list of potential nomination-killers.) But this Washington Post story gets its thesis from the Sunday show Republican talking points and the wishful thinking of just two “key” senators from the group of 14, only one of them a Democrat – Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a red state.

They argue a filibuster will fail if it is based on “ideology.” Well, yes. Republicans would love a fight based on ideology because they actually have one - or at least they used to - and most people think Bush was elected fair and square and probably deserves to name an ideological compatriot.

But to the public, ideology is boring. Who really thinks this is going to be "about" ideology? With so much pressure, money and attention, the media will tire of ideology early and develop its own narratives based on politics and character - and small, quirky things like porno rentals. Meanwhile, the Democrats – at least the smart ones – won’t base their argument on ideological grounds alone, but capitalize on the media’s characteriological biases. They’ll weave many things into the attack - ideology, character, and facts from the record (if there is one) - in hopes of tipping public opinion and the political center their way. If they can do that, they will get a jump on the GOP in setting the terms of debate for next election, regardless of the outcome of the fight.