Creating a cohesive narrative in a chaotic media environment is never easy. The 3d chess game that is modern politics is a complex and nuanced dance. In normal times, it is relatively easy to focus on an issue and make the case for the policy you are trying to promote. However, in the current political climate where the GOP have literally created an alternative universe, the task of cutting through the noise is a major challenge.
The Biden bipartisan Infrastructure bill is such a big bill that creating a cohesive narrative is a challenge. The only way to really do it, is to break it down into small digestible pieces that point to the human benefit the bill will bring to the American people. At this time, there are so many moving parts in the daily news cycle, it is a challenge to know how to best place ads to be most effective. It is critical that the President and his team get out on the road and sell the benefits. Ads can then be tied into this activity to maximise the impact of any message.
There is little doubt that the passing of the bill has resulted in disquiet within the ranks of Republican lawmakers. There appears to be little effort by Kevin McCarthy to dampen that disquiet. Indeed, there is talk of stripping committee assignments from those Republican lawmakers that voted for the bill. This in itself should be a messaging target for Dems. On the one hand Mitch McConnell is in Kentucky shouting about infrastructure from the hilltops, whilst at the same time in Congress, his minority leader is considering sanctions on his own members who voted to support the bill that he is applauding. These are indeed strange times. To be honest, ANY Republican lawmaker voting against the infrastructure bill is an easy target for the dereliction of duty argument.
It may well prove wise for Dems to get out there right NOW aggressively selling the Infrastructure benefits, because the GOP are about to embark upon yet another blizzard of obstruction and disinformation over the debt ceiling. It is my belief that the Dems have unwittingly created a legislative timeline for Build Back Better that will play right into the hands of the GOP. The news from the CBO today that the scoring on the bill may take a little longer than expected, is not good news for Dems. It appears that next legislative steps on the bill following scoring, will run directly into the postponed debt ceiling argument. It is just perfect timing for the GOP who will be able to weaponise it in upcoming negotiations. There's nothing like arguing about debt, when your opponent is bringing nearly a $2 trillion social spending bill to the floor for a vote. I doubt Mitch McConnell can contain himself at the messaging windfall this may provide.
The other dynamic that is playing out in parallel to current events, is the Jan 6 Committee and this is now starting to build some momentum. There is lots of disquiet out there at what is perceived to be a lack of urgency and intent from the DOJ. The overwhelming view in many Dem circles, is that the Committee is not being aggressive enough in its approach to what many see as a critical need for accountability.
I think there was an expectation that the DOJ would act very quickly against Steve Bannon's failure to answer a lawful congressional subpoena. On this matter, I have to admit to being on the fence. Of course I think the DOJ should act without delay, but I also accept that it is vital to get it right, so there can be no suggestion of any action being politically motived. I have to say, however long it takes, it will still be portrayed as an act of political intimidation by the lunatic right. I am truly hoping that by the end of this week, Merrick Garland pulls on his big boy pants and the DOJ sends a clear an unambiguous message to others that have been served with subpoenas, that running down the clock is not an option. The subpoenas that were issued yesterday to the likes of Stephen Miller and co will certainly present a more challenging decision, given the potential executive privilege implications. I think that the DOJ's key objective should be to make clear that running down the clock will NOT be tolerated. Hopefully, the ruling yesterday on Trump's attempts to prevent documents from being handed over as early as Friday to the committee, will lay down a marker. I was struck by one outstanding small but significant line that US District Judge Tanya Chutkan hearing the case wrote in her ruling.
"Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President."
This is such a great line and goes to the heart of Trump's obstructionist tactics. The judge also said:
Defendants contend that discovering and coming to terms with the causes underlying the January 6 attack is a matter of unsurpassed public importance, because such information relates to our core democratic institutions and the public's confidence in them. The court agrees.
Obviously Trump has appealed and is hoping that the appellant court issues a stay until the case can be heard. If there is no stay, it's game over because once documents are handed over, the appeal will have no relevance.
The challenges faced by Dems to hold those involved in the Jan 6 insurrection are not unlike those faced in the impeachment hearings or the hearings for the Mueller Report. Those under investigation, simply attempt hide behind judicial process, in an attempt to run down the clock and dilute the narrative. Trump and his accomplices have become expert at it. It is hard to emphasise just how important it is for the DOJ to come down hard on Bannon. If an example is not made of him, then the whole deck of cards will fall and any conclusions drawn by the January 6 Committee will be hugely devalued. They will simply serve to encourage continued bad behaviour by Trump and his accomplices in the knowledge that they can break the law with impunity.
I can't let today pass without addressing the subject of Paul Gosar and the abhorrent video he posted showing him in an anime short, killing Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Biden. Before I even begin my comments I am trying to visualise how Fox News and the right would portray AOC if the roles were reversed. She would be in media handcuffs and hanged at dusk. It is easy in these situations to say 'It's just a cartoon', as he was quick to do.
He and his Republican friends just love to constantly brush these things off as a joke and that everyone should just 'get a life'. To them, no coverage is bad coverage and let's face it there has has been LOTS of attention on it, at a time when Dems need to be talking about infrastructure. For me, the burning question is how on earth Twitter failed to act to take the video down. The fact that it was simply tagged as a violation was a BIG fail on the part of Twitter. Accounts have been suspended for far less. In my opinion, he should be expelled from Congress and subject to a hate crime indictment. This behaviour MUST not be tolerated.
This goes to the very heart of how a small number of right wing lunatics have dragged US politics into the gutter. What is even more disturbing, is their inability to see they are being manipulated by forces that would happily throw them under the bus, once their political objectives have been met. The well is so poisoned that getting any sort of common sense message out has become a monumental challenge.
I read an interesting thread yesterday by Teri Kanefield about the cynicism of the left on Twitter and how exhausting it can be. Let me begin by saying Teri is a great follow and I would highly recommend you follow her @Teri_Kanefield I think it is very easy to get angry these days with the political direction of travel. I know myself, some days I am simply exhausted and can't see a way of making a positive impact. From reading various threads and timelines, there is clearly a LOT of exhaustion out there. I would simply say to anyone who is feeling down at the thought of the daunting task ahead, take a break if you need to. Take a moment to breathe and gather yourself, because we need you. Only together can we win this battle to save democracy.
I won't be doing a post tomorrow as I will be releasing the first in my 'This Is' ad series. It's going to be a long day. These ads are designed to break down key issues into short fact filled messages that can be used to punctuate your own social media posts. They will be posted at least one every 48 hours and will form a library of ads that can be used on a regular basis moving forward. In my next post which will hopefully be on Friday, I'll point you to where the ads will be stored for you to use. Stay safe out there and let's catch up on Friday.