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May 30, 2008

That's What I'm Talking About
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Yesterday I wrote a piece for the American Prospect on Soft Power and generally how Democrats talk about national security

Even more important than the specific wording is the manner in which the message is delivered. Poll after poll has found that when Democrats respond aggressively to claims that they are not equipped to defend America they are able to offset Republican advantages. In the run up to the 2006 mid-term elections when Republicans began accusing Democrats of being soft on terrorism because of their opposition to warrantless wiretapping, a Democracy Corps study found that the best response was to take the argument head on. What mattered was less the substance of the argument than the fact that Democrats were unafraid to defend their ideas.

Today's back and forth on Iraq is a perfect example.  Rather then back down when McCain
accused Obama of being inexperienced, Obama responded in kind by hitting McCain for his lack of knowledge.  John Kerry's statement was a textbook response:

Sadly it’s straight out of the Bush playbook that John McCain would propose a political joint photo-opportunity in Iraq, and then use it as a prop to raise a few campaign dollars even as he misstates the number of troops serving on the ground

Now, it would be great if this whole debate was a little more high-minded and I'd love to see Obama and McCain debating Iraq policy at a more substantive level.  But the point on national security holds.  When conservatives hit below the belt on national security, you have to hit back and hit back hard.


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