The challenge is on (via Political Wire).

Democratic momentum is slowing but not yet reversing. What Republicans should hope for, and Democrats should fear, is that we are nearing an inflection point, when the directions change. That hasn’t happened yet.

The key indicator to watch for the rest of the summer is public confidence in Obama. Whether looking back at the economic stimulus package and the budget, or forward to the pending climate-change and health care reform proposals, voters see legislation that is massive, important, and complex. Few will understand the intricacies of any, let alone all, of these measures, which will be defined, positively or negatively, by the media and public dialogue. Whichever party does the better job of messaging will win.  [emphasis added]

The first thing I hope Democrats do is work the refs.  Democrats tend to wring their hands when the media criticizes them or, more important, when the media consistently regurgitates the GOP talking points.  They never seem to challenge reporters.

Or for that matter the GOP talking points.  The Dems in Congress will probably argue that they defer to Obama to take the message to the people, and he has shown that he has some fight in him.  But he could use some help. 

For starters, stop talking like geeks.  Talk in big themes, and by all means, criticize Republicans.  If you want to win, you need to not only give your argument but destroy your opponents’.  And don’t be afraid to put things in simple language.  This is not a debating society.  Talking points:


  • Health care is already controlled by a massive bureaucracy.  it’s called the insurance industry.  Which seems to be what the GOP is beholden to.
  • Meanwhile, Medicare, a public option plan, has worked great for 50 years.
  • The U.S. has some of the worst health outcomes of industrialized nations and the highest costs.  The GOP points to France.  Well, they’ve got some of the best outcomes, there is no wait, and it costs less than U.S. healthcare.   Pass the french fries, please.
  • A public option will help small businesses, most of which can’t afford health insurance for their employees.  Why does the GOP think it’s more important to help businesses avoid healthcare than it is to ensure healthcare  for its citizens?


  • The top 1-2% of the population had massive tax cuts in the last decade, while the middle class and below sent their children to war that they rich would not pay for.  It’s time to be fiscally and morally responsible.
  • A tax increase of a couple of percentage points on the rich would still put them below levels of taxation during the Reagan administration.  Is he the GOP’s gold standard?
  • Over 98% of small businesses would not be impacted by higher taxes on the wealthy.
  • Democrats are taking responsibility for paying for better healthcare, a cleaner environment and a stronger military.  The GOP wants our grandchildren to pay for everything.

The Party of No

  • Why is it that the GOP, whether it’s war or the economy or healthcare, their answer is always fear?  Fear of what might happen.  Democrats act as Americans have always acted – with boldness, confidence and commitment to make things better.
  • The GOP was against social security, against Medicare and Medicaid, against civil rights, against unemployment insurance.  Historically, the GOP is defined by what it opposes and never offers an alternative. 
  • We want to include Republican ideas.  There are dozens of them in the healthcare bill, for example. 
  • Republicans seem to think “bipartisan” means we put out our ideas and they put out theirs…and then we do it their way.  No, Republicans did enough of “my way or the highway” when they were in power.    We have been more bipartisan in a few months than Republicans were in 8 years.  We’re serious about solutions.  Republicans are serious about politics.


  • Cap and trade is a responsible way of ensuring a cleaner future.  The GOP thinks Big Oil is the answer because that’s who pays their bills.
  • Does anyone really think that gas will never rise to $4 a gallon again?  It is likely to rise to $10 a gallon by 2020. 
  • The wind and sun are free.  Let’s harness them.  American ingenuity is up to the challenge.  Why don’t Republicans trust Americans to solve big problems?
  • It is a sin how we are destroying God’s earth.  We have a moral responsibility to tend to it, to protect it and to leave it vibrant and lush for generations to come.
  • American parents have made sacrifices for two centuries to give their children a better future.  Investing in a future where our children won’t worry about a polluted environment and unaffordable energy is a legacy Americans want to leave.


  • (Here pretty much you can say the same thing to whatever criticism they have of the economy.)  When many people we thinking we might fall into a depression, what was the Republican solution.  Oh yeah, it was “do nothing.”
  • From day one, we knew – and said – the economic turnaround would take time.  Meanwhile, the Republicans were saying “do nothing.”  Now they’re saying, we didn’t do something fast enough.  Democrats take a long view that Republicans are apparently incapable of.  We want the money to be spent wisely, so that we take on projects that will benefit our country in the long run.
  • We need to rebuild our economy in a way that rewards work, not moneychangers. 
  • We need to respect those who work for a living and not those who risk our money for their living.
  • Believe it or not, Republicans argue that we don’t need more regulations.  They just want to enforce the regulations we have.  Wasn’t that what they were supposed to be doing before the crisis?

That’s enough for a Friday afternoon.