Democrats: Seeking Disunity
December 15, 2001
In the early nineties, a short homemade video began the destruction of the presidency of George Bush. The now famous George Holliday video showed three Los Angeles police officers – as their supervisor watched – kicking, stomping on, and beating with metal batons a seemingly defenseless African-American named Rodney King. At the time, the country was celebrating a three-day rout of a dreaded invader. Not since the end of World War II, had the nation honored its military. Ticker tape parades were hosted around the country. Our soldiers returned as heroes. Then the video; and a willing media, which played it so often that an executive at CNN called it "wallpaper." The contradiction was shoved before viewers around the country – A triumphant nation, which had ably protected its interests overseas, and had rid the world of a blatant invasion force, but unable to guarantee civil rights at home. This was the media’s message and intention – A media we know now has a bitter resentment for all things patriotic.
We must fear a repeat of this episode. Not necessarily the police subduing a suspect driving at 117 miles per hour, ignoring flashing lights, running red lights nearly causing an accident. But some event portrayed to destroy the unity and moral rearmament this country is experiencing as a result of the terrorist attack.
The Democrats remember how President Bush senior’s poll numbers began a precipitous slide with the Rodney King incident. The strategy was so clear. Paint President Bush as competent in international events but disconnected from domestic issues. The strategy evolved into to the raging Cajun James Carville’s "it’s the economy stupid" theme for the 1992 presidential campaign.
Now the Democrat Party has begun the first attempts to detract from the extraordinary popularity of the president. Keep in mind, that President George W. Bush’s current poll numbers are as high as President George Bush senior at the Gulf War’s end. The Democrats current campaign to focus on the economy comes from the very same source of Bill Clinton’s campaign – James Carville. It might be called "it’s the economy again stupid."
The Democrats have begun running ads in Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia that claim that the Bush Administration and Congressional republicans are out to help businesses at the expense of the unemployed. This follows an earlier charge that the projected deficits and the receding economy have resulted from the Presidents tax cuts. Congressional democrats are following the script outlined earlier in the year by Carville.
In a May 27, 2001 opinion piece for the New York Times, Carville with Paul Begala lashed out at the Bush Administration. He and Begala advised that "Democrats in Congress ought to continue to raise alternative tax cuts: refundable credits for the working poor, reductions in the Social Security payroll tax…. these tax cuts for the poor and middle class should be offered as replacements for the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Even if they don't pass, proposing them and fighting for them will offer the public a stark choice - the kind of distinctions on which elections are won." That is precisely what the Democrats are proposing in their economic stimulus package.
Second, the stalemate over the stimulus package is also a strategy recommended by Carville. In the same article, he writes, "when push comes to shove, the Democrats should obstruct. They should push a positive agenda, passing a patients' bill of rights, an increase in the minimum wage and campaign finance reform - filling Mr. Bush's desk with progressive legislation and defying him to veto it." For Carville and the democrats, with obstruction and a prolonged recession come greater opportunities in next year’s elections for Congress.
But, in the end, these attacks will not significantly affect the popularity of President Bush. He campaigned and has proposed comprehensive proposals to tackle the major issues dominated in the past by democrats—education, health care, among them. He has also assembled a diverse administration to implement these proposals. And this president is very connected to the American people. This war differs from the Gulf War, which ended quickly after a comparatively short buildup. The threat this time is far more sinister and the destruction already far more deadly. Still the democrats hope that an incident will occur packaged for prime time that will divide America once again. They are most comfortable with a divided nation.
Postscript on Mr. Rodney King:
May 28, 1991: King picked up a transvestite prostitute in Hollywood who happened to be under surveillance by LAPD officers. When the prostitute spotted the officers, King sped away, nearly hitting one of them. King later explained that he thought the vice officers were robbers trying to kill him. No charges were filed.
July 16, 1992: King was arrested for driving while intoxicated. No charges were filed.
August 21, 1993: King crashed into a wall near a downtown Los Angeles nightclub. He had a blood alcohol level of 0.19. King was charged with violating his parole and sent for sixty day to an alcohol treatment center. He was also convicted on the DUI charge and ordered to perform twenty days of community service.
May 21, 1995: King was arrested for DUI while on a trip to Pennsylvania. King failed field sobriety tests, but refused to submit to a blood test. He was tried and acquitted.
March 3, 1999: King allegedly injured the sixteen-year-old girl that he had fathered out of wedlock when he was seventeen, as well as the girl's mother. King was arrested for injuring the woman, the girl, and for vandalizing property. King claimed that the incident was simply "a family misunderstanding."
September 29, 2001: King was arrested for indecent exposure and use of the hallucinogenic drug