ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

You can put lipstick on a pig

but it's still a pig.

At least, that was my reaction when I read this article:

'Common Good' a New Theme for Democrats
Oct 16 3:28 PM US/Eastern

AP Religion Writer

One phrase stands out in Democratic speeches this campaign season.

Ned Lamont uses it in his Connecticut Senate race. President Clinton is scheduled to speak on the idea in Washington this week. Bob Casey Jr., Pennsylvania candidate for Senate, put it in the title of his talk at The Catholic University of America, then repeated the phrase 29 times.

The term is "common good," and it's catching on as a way to describe liberal values and reach religious voters who rejected Democrats in the 2004 election. Led by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think-tank, party activists hope the phrase will do for them what "compassionate conservative" did for the Republicans.

"It's a core value that we think organizes the entire political agenda for progressives," said John Halpin, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. "With the rise of materialism, greed and corruption in American society, people want a return to a better sense of community, sort of a shared sacrifice, a return to the ethic of service and duty."
But he acknowledged that the strength of the "common good" as a unifying theme also is a weakness. The term is so broad it's hard to define and can be misinterpreted as a call for "big government," Perriello said. "The question right now is who is going to define it."

Advocates say they don't want to tie the phrase to a laundry list of narrow policies, but intend to convey a broad philosophy of governing with a positive appeal.

It won't be easy. Under Roman Catholic teaching, promoting the "common good" would include opposing abortion _ a position both Santorum and Casey embrace _ and opposing gay marriage to protect human dignity and the family. "Common good" Democrats are generally changing how they talk about abortion, calling it a tragedy to avoid _ rather than a private issue. But most have not come out against the procedure.

"I would argue that the conservative evangelical and traditional Catholic stands on same-sex marriage and abortion are stances in favor of the common good," said Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention and a supporter of President Bush.

"We believe that traditional marriage is the basic building block of society."

So, just because you use the phrase Common Good or "true American values" doesn't mean that people of faith will flock to your message. Your message has to be consistent with their beliefs regarding the Common Good.

I suspect that when most voters hear this phrase, they have the same reaction that I do: What a bunch of Commie pinkos....

In a related story, John Heilemann asks the question... what if the Dems lose? Or worse, what if they win?

I mean, if your entire platform is purely platitudes and meaningless bunk intended to convey the message that you're "for change, a new direction", there's going to be an awful lot of confusion within your caucaus should the reigns of power be handed to you by the electorate. And don't be surprised if the electorate feels that they were sold a bill of goods that didn't meet their expectations.

Or, what happens if the Dems lose? And by lose, I don't mean a GOP tide that increases our majority. No, the bar has been set so high now that if the GOP merely retains control of one house of Congress, it will be a failure for the Democrats.

Here's Heilemann:
So maybe the GOP has dug itself a hole so deep that the Democrats will finally win. Maybe they won’t be hurt by the absence of an agenda—though, even in the short run, Luntz reserves some doubt. “They’ll probably win narrowly in the House,” he says. “But if they had a positive message, they could probably take ten more seats.”

And what of the longer run? What happens if the party is restored to power after running a campaign where the essence of its appeal was, Bush and his enablers blow? Here’s hoping that its members realize that more is needed to cement a durable Democratic revival. Here’s hoping they grasp that pursuing a nonstop strategy of investigation and prosecution—gloriously cathartic though it would be—is a sure way to turn whatever victory they might win this year into something that Pyrrhus would be proud of.

When the GOP firewall strategy and the Dems inability to "run the table" results in both houses being controlled by the GOP, Kos & Kids will be claiming it a moral victory... while the DUers will be screaming Diebold!!! HALLIBURTON!!! into the ether.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (1)
INTP said...

Actually the pursuit of the common good comes from Thomas Jefferson's first inaugural speech and James Madison's Federalist #57 (please google this to verify for yourself). Does this mean that our Founding Fathers were communists?

IMHO, the pursuit of the "common" good can be operationalized by solving our "common" problems. That's it! Note that the first step in problem solving is to formulate the problem to be solved. For example, the Congress should have asked of President Bush:

+ To what "problem" is the 'invasion of Iraq' the solution?
+ What were the "other" ways to solve this problem?
+ And in all intellectual honesty, why was it the "best" way to solve this problem?

Note that solving a common problem provides a "smell test" for whether the common good or some private special interest is being pursued. For example, we should ask of Senator Stevens:

+ To what "problem" is the 'bridge to nowhere' the solution?
+ What were the "other" ways to solve this problem?
+ And in all intellectual honesty, why was the 'bridge' the best way to solve this problem?

In general, I think that these questions should be asked of every (1) key provision of a draft or markup of a bill; (2) line item and earmark in the federal budget; and (3) regulatory rule. This problem solving approach under the criterion of the common good is how we can have limited, yet very effective, government.