OT - Politics of hate won't beat Bush
Politics of hate won't beat Bush
December 4, 2003
Anyone up for a "Hate Bush" meeting in Hollywood? Doesn't it sound like just the sort of thing conservatives would invent to make
liberals look stupid and open the conservative spigots?
But this was no right-wing conspiracy. Matt Drudge may be the one selling the idea that Hollywood held a "Hate Bush" meeting, but he
didn't come up with the title. This is a self-inflicted wound by another silly Hollywood liberal giving honest politics a bad name.
The meeting in question was chaired by two longtime Democratic operatives, Harold Ickes and Ellen Malcolm, who have recognized that
whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be at a severe financial disadvantage as compared to the president.
The Republicans have an institutional advantage when it comes to raising money, because they are the party of business, and because
they have a larger small-donor base; they also have an advantage because they control the White House and both houses of Congress.
So what are Democrats to do?
Under the new campaign finance laws, neither party is allowed to raise "soft" money. But independent groups can. So longtime
Democrats have created two independent groups. One, headed by Ickes, focuses on providing media cover for the nominee beginning this
spring, when the president is expected to start spending heavily; one headed by Malcolm and former AFL-CIO political director Steve
Rosenthal will focus on field organizing in target states for the general election.
Invitations were sent to the usual Hollywood suspects, a collection of people with an interest in politics and money to give, to
attend a meeting Tuesday with Ickes, Malcolm and Rosenthal. It was titled a "Meeting to Change the Leadership in America in 2004."
Hardly worthy of Drudge.
Then Laurie David sent an e-mail forwarding invites to the "Hate Bush 12-2 Event," and the right went nuts.
Who is Laurie David? In news clips, she is identified as Larry David's wife. Who is Larry David? He's the star of "Curb Your
Maybe his wife should curb hers. It is only helping Republicans.
The way to defeat Bush is not to advertise how much you hate him. Hard-core ideologues who hate Bush are not going to decide this
election. They'll vote for the Democrat, as they do every four years, but there aren't enough of them to elect a Democrat. You need
swing voters to do that. Hatred may motivate the left to contribute money, but it is hardly an effective talking point for public
consumption if you want to win elections.
Ari Emanuel, a talent agent who represents Larry David and whose brother served in the Clinton White House and now in Congress, knew
just how bad the Drudge story was for Democrats. "People are assembling over a political issue -- the 2004 election," he told the
press in response to the ruckus about hating Bush. "The invite didn't say 'Hate Bush,' and I don't think (the Drudge story) was
Productive? I bet it produced a lot of money for George Bush. And worse, it helps produce votes for him.
The people whose votes Democrats will need to defeat George Bush don't hate him. On a personal level, they like him. They need to be
convinced not to vote for him, for reasons that have to do with the war, or special interests or the economy. "Hate Bush" headlines
do just the opposite.
Enemies are one thing, but with friends like Laurie David, the Democratic nominee is going to need all the help he can get.
Estrich is professor of law and political science at the University of Southern California. Contact her at
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