Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Progressive Update--5/24/2005

Nuclear War Avoided—7 Democratic and 7 Republican Senators penned a compromise to avoid the Senate rules change that would prevent a large minority of Senators from having a voice during judicial nominations. It indeed was a compromise, with both sides receiving some and giving some. I am satisfied that the compromise is about the best that progressives could obtain, given that the Republican Party has such a strangle-hold on this Senate. This gives us more reason to work hard during the 2006 and 2008 elections. I recognize that (to me) very objectionable judicial nominees will be steamrolled to a vote, but again, the country has elected a lot of conservative Senators.

Jeff Feldman on www.frameshopisopen.com has a nice piece on a progressive view of the ‘up or down vote’ party-line that right-wing zealots like Frist and DeLay are shouting. That is that the American people elected the Senators, not Georgie, and Senators have an obligation to the people to stand up for them, and that this is their top priority. That responsibility includes the need to study issues that will impact their state and the country for the future (especially life-appointments to the judiciary), and this responsibility to the people trumps any spin about ‘owing our President an up or down vote’.

Websites—For local Delaware political information, go to www.delawaregrapevine.com. For local progressive information, new website www.theprogressiveline.com includes links to many progressive sites. My (primitive) blog is at paulprogressive.blogspot.com/.

Lakoff Push Back—In two or three cases in the past month or two, I have seen some articles in the progressive with criticism of Lakoff’s framing approach. I was amused that in one of them, the writer was quite effective in using frames to point out the errors in Lakoff’s ways. Here is my take: Lakoff is an academic, who wrote extensively about the linguistic aspects of framing well before 2004. Progressives and Democrats have elevated him to a semi-deity, and this is likely not appropriate. Personally, I prefer Prof. Jeffrey Feldman (frame shop site) who does a better job of applying framing to everyday life. If I were Howard Dean, I would spend more of DNC’s consulting money for Feldman than for Lakoff. Both Lakoff and Feldman have provided some guidelines to help progressives be more effective in listening to the underlying concerns of voters, and in speaking clearly of progressive ideals.

I heard Democratic Party Chairperson Howard Dean interviewed on Meet the Press on Sunday. He was really quite good, in the face of regular tough questioning by Tim Russert. Dean did stumble by twice saying Osama bin Laden when he clearly meant Saddam Hussein, however 1) I can’t imagine anyone being flawless for a thirty minute grilling (unless he had a wireless earpiece hidden under his suit), and 2) it reinforced Dean’s point that the administration has worked tirelessly to mislead the American public that Saddam Hussein is somehow synonymous with al Quaeda and Osama bin Laden (and that the American people deserve a president that leads, and not misleads). Dean did a wonderful job of stressing the hypocrisy of the Republican Party leadership, and the vision of the Democratic Party.

Dean also did a nice job of standing up for his beliefs, admitting fault when it is due, and clearly stating how Democrats and progressives are different. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that he had been studying www.theframeshopisopen.com for several days leading up to the interview.

Howard Dean did a wonderful job in his interview of leading with the ideals, and not with the details (they come later, after consensus on ideals is reached). Each of us will be more effective communicators if we work at this approach. Practice with your friends (or pets ;-), and then go into the world and make a difference!

Paul Baumbach


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