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Erick Erickson and “The Power of Plain Speaking”

I’ve been hammering Erick (and some of his fellow bloggers on the right) lately for what I think are over-generalized, over-heated, over-the-top criticisms of various Republican Senate leaders. I’ve gotten a lot out of the resulting back-and-forth. Not sure any minds have been changed, but it’s good to hash out the logic and be challenged on our rhetoric.

Yesterday, on his RedState blog, Erick posted The Power of Plain Speaking. which was very specific, very measured, and very not over-the-top.

Politicians of all stripes go to Washington and lose the ability to relate to people. Part of that is an inability for politicians to speak plainly, even when talking to the base.

This is one of the many aspects of citizens getting elected, going to Washington, and going native. Same thing happens to diplomats. They simply lose their ability to talk like normal Americans, which I often suspect is less a problem of speaking clearly than of thinking clearly to begin with.

I have criticized Mitch McConnell repeated[ly] for wanting to beat the spread instead of actually beating health care. Being in the good old boys club that is the United States Senate means Senators often put collegiality before the fight.

Some of you have said I have been too hard on Mitch McConnell [don't know if Erick was thinking of me, but I plead guilty...], but I stand by the comments.

Erick then describes (in good Sunday School teacher fashion) the teaching of Jesus to let our “Yes” be “Yes” and our “No” be “No.”

This is a complaint I share. Here’s what Erick quotes McConnell saying:

Well, certainly, politically, it’s a big problem for them. They all kind of joined hands and went off the cliff together. Every single Democrat provided the vote that passed it in the Senate. You have seen what’s happened already with Congressman Parker Griffith in Alabama switching parties. There are rumors there may be others. There is great unrest in the Democratic Party. And the reason for that is, the surveys indicate the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to this effort to have the government take over all of their health care. It will be a huge political issue next year, and that’s why you hear the Democrats saying, let’s don’t tackle any more big issues. I mean, I was reading an article this morning indicating they don’t want to do cap-and-trade anymore, they’re nervous about financial reregulation. What they understand is the new administration and the new Congress has squandered its goodwill with the American people, leading to what could be a big setback for them a year from now.

Truthfully, I don’t think there’s anything I necessarily disagree with in that answer.

The problem, though, is two-fold:

  1. His answer isn’t clear. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a kind of thinking out loud thought stream. Like this is the first chance he’s had to vent about this.
  2. Even worse, it didn’t answer the question.

It was a yes or no question.

Of course, the correct answer is “Yes.” Followed by “Of course we are.” Followed by “For these reasons: Blam! Blam! Blam!” Followed by “We’re gonna do it this way: Blam! Blam! Blam!”

McConnell looks to me like he’s not thinking ahead. The Democrats know they’re going to lose a lot of seats. But they think it will be too late. McConnell isn’t leveraging the probabilities. He isn’t going to the Blanche Lincolns in his world and showing them the polls demonstrating they’re about to have their brains knocked out in the coming elections. He needs to be standing at the highest pulpit saying, “We’re going to beat the stuffing out of you guys in the next election and we’re going to repeal. And if President Obama vetoes the repeal, we’re going tie that veto around his neck and beat him next time. And then we’ll repeal again.”

Truth is, they should’ve been talking like this from the beginning. Then it might not have gotten this far.

Cross-posted to Thinking Out Loud

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