Bad Times

Things are going really badly for Republicans and the Bush administration, so notes E.J.Dionne in the *Post*, but he adds that it’s not “flatly false” to claim that things are going so hot for Democrats either. He makes this surprisingly weak-kneed remark in the context of a discussion of the phony “balance” stories that infect the national argument; bad news for the Bush administration must necessarily be accompanied by bad news (however contrived) for the Democrats, otherwise, charges (however specious) of “liberal media” will fly. And so Dionne complies.

And then he complies some more. After, correctly again, pointing out that this form of rancid (to borrow from The Daily Howler) national discourse rests on a false premise, Dionne concedes:

>The Democrats’ real problem is that they have failed to show how their critique of the Republican status quo is the essential first step toward the alternative program they will owe the voters in the presidential year of 2008.

And this is precisely the kind of second-order horse race commentary typical of Dionne. Rather than drive home the conclusion that the premise of the argument the Republicans most often make (in print, on cable television and talk radio) is hollow and wrong, Dionne steps outside of the argument and concedes (without citing any evidence other than the Republicans he is criticizing) that the Democrats have no positive vision. He continues:

>This failure has made it easier for Republicans to cast anti-Bush feeling (aka, “Bush hatred”) as a psychological disorder. The GOP shrewdly makes the president’s critics look crazed and suggests that opposition to Bush is of no more significance than, say, the loathing that many watchers of “American Idol” love to express toward Simon Cowell, the meanest of the show’s judges.

Dionne believes and so ought to argue that the Republican argument is intellectually irresponsible, wrong, fallacious, pernicious–outrageous. But he concedes to the Republican strategy he criticizes when he says that it’s not “flatly false” to claim things aren’t going well for the Democrats. If Dionne could be considered the typical Democrat, they’re right.