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August 10, 2005

The first rule of Fight Club...

If you want the facts on NARAL's Roberts/Bray ad, see Dr. B, and Scott Lemieux.

I have nothing more to say about the ad. If you like the ad, send NARAL some money. If you don't like the ad, send their communications director some email.

If you dislike both Roberts' abortion record and NARAL's ad, please take a moment to assess your priorities. I predict you'll stop grandstanding about the damned ad. This is not a good time for you to make a show of meticulous even-handedness. If you really care about the politics and not just the ideas in play, now is the time to develop some message discipline.

A lot of commentators pay lip service to the ideal of a progressive movement. Many of them write long articles about how we ought to build said movement. They claim that they want to be part of this movement. Yet they're unwilling to meet the first requirement of being part of any political movement, namely--being a team player.

A lot of right wingers felt squeamish about the Swift Boat ads, but most of these "principled" conservatives also had the good sense hold off the amateur media criticism and repeat the magic mantra: "Nevertheless, the controversial campaign raises interesting questions..."

Talk about Roberts, talk about Operation Rescue, talk about choice, but shut up about the ad, okay?

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Comments

Burn. I refer to the same articles you do. And I agree 100%--party solidarity, and behind a message that means something. This wish-washy crap has brought to surface a lot of feelings with me about how I just cannot stand Democrats. Solidarity means actually standing behind the fucking liberals in the party.

Honestly, I do think that it's a matter of men who maybe have their heads in the sand to view the women as comrades and not followers. How to get this done, I don't know. I tend to think making it personal helps a lot--I reminded a friend of mine over the weekend who was poo-poohing anti-choice legislation that if my birth control failed, I need to be able to have an affordable, safe method. He said that he would give me the money for the difference, but in truth, why should he have to? I dunno--growing up on the border and hearing about all the women who died on the table has made me hard about this.

Message discipline? Our message isn't disciplined because it comes from honest debate, from the bottom up, not dictated from on high like the Republicans.

Message discipline with Democrats? That's like herding cats.

Kevin Drum actually has a really good post up about this where he re-writes the ad and (IMO) makes it a little better by emphasizing that John Roberts downplayed the dangerousness of Operation Rescue and set the stage for the clinic bombings.

Discipline can come from within, too. Ultimately, that's the kind of discipline that really matters. If you decide that you want to work with other people to accomplish a goal, you have to resign yourself to the internal snits, tensions, and power struggles that arise whenever people collaborate on anything larger than themselves. It's a question of focus. Everyone should ask themselves: Is it more important to dissect my ally's foible, or is it more important to further our shared message?

It's different for people who don't consider themselves to be activists in any sense. If you're a truly dispassionate observer, then you have no incentive for fear or favor. The people I'm talking about are people who consider themselves to be part of a political process. Those people need to take stock of their priorities and cultivate a little more solidarity with the people on their own side.

Lindsey, what frightens me about the response to the ad is that keeping abortion legal may not in fact be a shared goal. I'm pretty convinced that Kos doesn't think of it as one at this point, and neither do many of his regulars.

Been posting these links over at Obsidian Wings.

Got Katherine mad at me, but she spends her time trying to keep Arabs and Muslims from being deported, and is very sensitive to any connection between inflammatory speech and actual violence, and equating the values of lawyers to those they might defend.

She is very good people.

Mnemosyne--

The NARAL ad has 5 sound clips, containing 76 spoken words. Drum's ad has 6 sound clips, containing 100 spoken words. NARAL probably wanted to more clearly tie the atmosphere of righteous lawlessness created by Operation Rescue to the Birmingham clinic bombing, but couldn't squeeze in the amount of verbiage used by Drum.

FactCheck.org really pisses me off. If you're interested in providing a neutral analysis of the truthfulness of an ad, just give a transcript of the ad, bullet point the key factual claims, and give relevant data and information. Allow the reader to decide whether the ad stretches the truth or unfairly implies facts not in evidence. It wouldn't be as satisfying as crowing, "The Ad is FALSE! It's a LIE!", but it would provide readers with the facts, instead of just providing another set of claims and judgements to sort through. Maybe there needs to be a FactCheckFactCheck.org.

You really really don't want to go there with the 'protecting speech rights of a group' equals support for that group's most extreme members and their most extreme actions line of reasoning. That will bite the left so hard. You know that the ACLU defends the KKK's right to free speech? You know that liberal groups are (correctly) protecting the civil rights of Muslims, right?

So is it fair to say that members of the ACLU support lynching black people?

Is it fair to say that those who protect the civil rights of Muslims support bombing the World Trade Center?

Helping convince people that those are fair arguments cannot possibly be in your best interest.

Feh.

The complaints about the NARAL advertisement, they make the rrright-weengers sound like pobrecito maullido renacuajos

So, NARAL, give them another ad, eh?

so.

"This is not a good time for you to make a show of meticulous even-handedness.?

Well, Lindsay, if the emphasis is on "make a show," with it's connotations of "grandstanding," then, OK. But if the emphasis is on not striving for "medticulous even-handedness," then I must question your liberal credentials. If the ideas behind liberalism matter less than group solidarity, then your liberalism is, indeed, just a "show."

Bob, I'm not saying that the ideas aren't important. I'm saying that some of us are simultaneously engaged in a political project which makes demands on our ability to get along well with others.

Obviously, there are times when it's important to stand up and criticize members of your own movement. Sometimes, if you have nothing nice to say, it's better to say nothing.

The right wing is in high dudgeon about the NARAL ad. The goal is to derail conversation about Roberts and his record by making everything about NARAL. They want to put liberals on the defensive over an ad that most of them neither wrote, nor paid for. They want people to write long blog posts defending NARAL's communication strategy.

I say, forget it. Let's move on to the issues. Otherwise, the right will exploit the well-known division in our party over NARAL and its role in the movement.

Bob,
If there were a dire shortage of conservatives with access to the public record, I could understand liberals who felt compelled to dissect the ad. If all liberal goals were accomplished, or fully manned so that no further help could assist in accomplishing them, I could see examining my side for excesses. It would only be proper. But unless I pulled a Rip van Winkle, that just isn't the case.

Bob, has it not occurred to you that we're in a nasty streetfight with people who fight dirty? Intellectual dishonesty has not hurt the right, and much of their attack machinery is dependent on false and misleading assertions. If we advocate unilateral disarmament, we might as well surrender.

sebastian, you're missing the point, which is that roberts was not, in fact, defending the speech rights of anti-abortion groups. the groups didn't even claim that the first amendment covered their tactics. see lindsay's scott link for the details.

I try, not always successfully, to remember that self-criticism is the beginning of wisdom. I don't think that means one has to abandon the good fight, but it does imply some limits on the weapons one can employ. And after all, if the views of one's opponents are truly noxious, why resort to (or defend) misrepresentations?

The NARAL ad posits the following political equation--"If person A supports the civil rights of a large group X that equals support for all activities of small group Y which is a subset of X"

In the NARAL ad X=pro-life (or if you will anti-abortion) demonstrators and Y=clinic bombers.

If we regularize this discourse I absolutely guarantee that X will equal "Muslims" and Y will equal Al Qaeda. Or that A will equal the ACLU, X will equal gay rights and Y will equal NAMBLA's pedophilia. (In fact the NAMBLA case is logically better than the Roberts case because the ACLU has defended NAMBLA in its own issues directly rather than just as a sub-group of people promoting gay civil rights.

" And after all, if the views of one's opponents are truly noxious, why resort to (or defend) misrepresentations?"

Have you been asked to defend NARAL? All that has been requested is silence. If you propose that silence is tacit approval, please link to the 10 million sites that demonstrate that you have not maintained silence about things that are far worse than this ad.

"If we regularize this discourse I absolutely guarantee that X will equal "Muslims" and Y will equal Al Qaeda. Or that A will equal the ACLU, X will equal gay rights and Y will equal NAMBLA's pedophilia. (In fact the NAMBLA case is logically better than the Roberts case because the ACLU has defended NAMBLA in its own issues directly rather than just as a sub-group of people promoting gay civil rights. "

What? You mean if NARAL never made this ad, conservatives would never blame a group for the actions of a miniscule subset of that group? NARAL must have made this ad a long time ago.

If we shut up and make conservatives shoot down this ad, instead of doing it for them, we will be able to turn their own arguements against them.

"What? You mean if NARAL never made this ad, conservatives would never blame a group for the actions of a miniscule subset of that group? NARAL must have made this ad a long time ago."

I don't know about never. But it becomes much more powerful if it becomes a legitimized technique instead of seen as bad propaganda tactic. And legitimizing the technique is what you are trying to do.

"But it becomes much more powerful if it becomes a legitimized technique instead of seen as bad propaganda tactic."

It already is a legitimate technique on FOX news and the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal. All liberals are tritors. All muslims are terrorists. Pointing it out when they do it has no effect. If you make THEM point it out when our side does it, then you can use their arguments against them.

If someone is kicking you in the balls, saying that it is unfair isn't going to make them stop. People who are predisposed to kick balls are not predisposed to listen to plaints of unfairness. They are, however, very responsive to kicks in their own balls.

Njorl - I misspoke in my reference to defending misrepresentations. But I think my point applies as well to silence when allies resort to misrepresentation. Twisted truths and outright fabrications should be challenged regardless of their source. Of course, doing so won't win you many friends among those who embrace partisanship in their politics.

"All liberals are tr[a]itors. All muslims are terrorists."

Who says that?

Amen, Lindsay. Where's all that left-male-blogger talk about solidarity and party discipline and not undermining collective goals? Right out the damn window.

Twisted truths and outright fabrications should be challenged regardless of their source.

Agreed. But this is a discussion about the NARAL ad, which doesn't fall into either category, as Professor Lemieux demonstrates in the above links.

More importantly, it was a post about not letting the administration's attack dogs make it all about the ad, rather than the substance of the criticism of Roberts. Important history lessons: President Bush really was AWOL from the National Guard, regardless of the veracity of the CBS documents. Senator Kerry really was wounded in combat in Vietnam, regardless of when Christmas is. Letting our political opponents sidetrack us with fiddling details has been our bane for a while now. So don't aid and abet the wingers in their attempt to turn this into, "How dare you accuse John Roberts of personally bombing abortion clinics!"

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