gives other players more information about your hand than they
would have simply from your play.
You can often discern what people are thinking by what they don't say. Case in point: the Democratic rebuttal to Bush's State of the Union address tonight delivered by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Despite what Democratic leaders are saying to outsiders, there is no longer any doubt that the party hierarchy recognizes that it is struggling. To their benefit, it looks like Democrats have come up with a strategy. To their detriment, the strategy they seem to have chosen is based on their perception of Newt Gingrich's Contract With America strategy which helped the GOP gain control over the House in 1994... and their perception is flawed. Democrats still do not understand why they are losing elections, thank God.
First, the signs of desperation:
The Dems must really be worried about how their party is perceived. Reid and especially Pelosi emphasized values more associated with conservatism than liberalism: themes like hard work, religion, patriotism, and a strong national defense. Is there any doubt that this emphasis is a result of a focus group study that reported Dems got slaughtered at the polls last November because of their weaknesses in these areas? Reid and Pelosi's attempt on the old Star Wars-Obi-Wan Kenobe mind trick didn't work on me... You like Democrats because they are patriotic... Are you nuts! Your party hates America! You like Democrats because they support the military... Are you nuts? The Democrats do everything they can to cripple the military! You like Democrats because they are the party of moral values... Are you stark raving nuts??!! How can you say that with a straight face? ... and I don't think it worked on Red State America either. Earth to Democrats: your problem isn't language, it's credibility.
Reid: [...] I grew up around people of strong values - even if they rarely talked about them. They loved their country, worshiped God, never shunned hard work, and never asked for special favors. [...]
Pelosi: [...] Democrats are committed to a strong national security: that keeps America safe, that wins the War on Terror and that never again sends our troops into harm's way without the equipment they need. [...]
Second, their clear failure to change their policy positions on the major issues of the day; Iraq, the War on Terror, federal spending, and Social Security. Sure, they put a pretty bow on the packages, but once we opened them it's the same-old, same-old.
Let's look at Iraq, where the Democrats are still urging us to hand over the car keys and get the hell out of the vehicle as soon as possible:
Basically train a bunch of Iraqis on a schedule then pronounce 'em trained... check!, give billions of dollars to a provisional government that can't realistically spend the money in a productive way (but it clears out the bank accounts)... check!, appease the neighbors supporting the terrorists to get them to quit shooting at us while we pack our bags... check!. A cut-and-run with our tails between our legs position, devasting to American credibility in a post-9/11 world but look at the bright side: if Bush were to take the Democratic advice on how to end our intervention in Iraq, he would hand the Dems a spectacular failure that they would then use to excoriate him, much as they excoriated Bush 41 when he agreed to the Democratic tax hike back in 1990. Fortunately for him and for the country, Bush is not anywhere near as stupid as Nancy Pelosi looks. Hey, Nancy? Lay off the Botox, okay? Your death mask was creeping me out.
We all know that the United States cannot stay in Iraq indefinitely and continue to be viewed as an occupying force [by the Dems and the terrorists, not the vast majority of Iraqis - jc]. Neither should we slip out the back door, falsely declaring victory but leaving chaos.
Despite the best efforts of our troops and their Iraqi counterparts, Iraq still faces a violent and persistent insurgency [greatly diminished as shown by their irrelevancy during the election - jc]. And the chairman of the National Intelligence Council said in January that Iraq is now "a magnet for international terrorists." [great! we'll kill all you want... just send more! - jc]
We have never heard a clear plan from this administration for ending our presence in Iraq. And we did not hear one tonight. [Uhhh... you should have been listening, because Bush said that we'll leave when Iraq can stand on its own... a victory strategy rather than an exit strategy - jc]
Democrats believe a credible plan to bring our troops home and stabilize Iraq must include three key elements.
First, responsibility for Iraqi security must be transferred to the Iraqis as soon as possible. This action is long overdue. The top priority for the U.S. military should be training the Iraqi army. [Isn't that what Bush just said? - jc]
[...] Second, Iraq's economic development must be accelerated. Congress has provided billions of dollars for reconstruction, but little of that money has been spent to put Iraqis to work rebuilding their country. [Pointless to pay contractors who won't work until they can do so safely, isn't it? And the terrorists have been deliberately targeting contractors since they are soft targets - jgc]
Third, regional diplomacy must be intensified. Diplomacy can lessen the political problems in Iraq, take pressure off of our troops, and deprive the insurgency of the fuel of anti-Americanism on which it thrives. [Pelosi has a point here: if we give in to the Iranians and Syrians, we can get out quicker. Is that what she wants? - jc]
How about the Democratic dedication to fighting the War on Terror?
And as we protect and defend the American people, we must also protect and defend our Constitution and the civil liberties contained therein. That is our oath of office.Translation: given half the chance we're going to gut the Patriot Act like a beluga sturgeon. Yep, back to the good ol' days, when the FBI couldn't talk to the CIA, the CIA couldn't talk to the FBI, neither could talk to the INS, and we had to go beyond the letter of the law and avoid any appearance of aggressiveness directed towards foreigners.
I could go on by cutting and pasting the sections of the rebuttal having to do with greatly expanding federal program for education and health care, but my BS detector has just about had it. Suffice it to say that the Democratic rebuttal was not against the President, it was against the voters. Here it is in a nutshell:
So we got beaten in November. So what? We're right and you're wrong, but you're just too stupid or selfish or greedy to understand that. We're going to work on our message to pick off enough of the low-lying electorate "fruit" to start winning elections again, but don't expect us to change our position, just our way of pitching it. And we're going to oppose any policy, legislation, or appointment put forth by any Republican because the Republicans and their evil ways must be thwarted, especially anything that threatens to make Americans less dependent upon the government like Social Security privatization... when that puppy crashes and burns in a few decades you'll be voting Democratic like your life depends on it! Transferring wealth and ignoring the will of the people for their own good because we know better is what made the Democratic Party what it is today, and we're not going to change. Sooner or later, and sooner if we can screw up the economy like we did in 1990 or cause a massive foreign policy debacle like we did in the mid 1970s, you podunks with your short attention spans will forget your silly infatuation with self-reliance and come to us out of desperation... and we'll be waiting.
Quick, someone! Put a stake through this monster before it can get up again!
Addendum: Other places to look for rebuttal analysis... Ankle-Biting Pundits, Vodkapundit, Protein Wisdom, and Wizbang (great synopsis on this site).