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Posted by on Oct 23, 2006 in At TMV | 32 comments

Dick Morris: GOP Should Scare Public Silly

Lest you think there’s any question as to 2006 being an election where issues and records will be discussed, with two weeks left there’s a chance we’ll be subjected to pandering to raw F-E-A-R. Dick Morris:

With only two weeks left ’til Election Day, Republicans won’t save themselves with phony optimism – pathetic claims that, somehow, they’re mounting a comeback. They need to sound a note of alarm and fill the airwaves with specifics of exactly what will happen if the Democrats triumph.

But inside-baseball talk about a Nancy Pelosi speakership won’t do the job. The GOP needs to focus on the concrete ways in which a Democratic victory would threaten our safety.

Here’s one possible ad: We see and hear a wiretapped conversation, with a terrorist revealing his worst plans to his associate – and, inadvertently, to government eavesdroppers, too. Then, when he’s about to spill the beans on when and where the next attack is going to come, the line should go dead, with a dial tone, with a machine voice saying “This wiretap terminated in the name of privacy rights by the Democratic U.S. Congress.”

The announcer can then say, “If the Democrats win, the National Security Agency will never be able to listen in as the terrorists are plotting to attack us.”

Do you often wonder why our politics has become so poisonous and turned so many voters on both sides and the middle off? Look no further than this advice from campaign strategist Morris. Subtext: “Vote Democrat And You And Your Kids Could Die.” Demonization is the name of the game.

You might be naive and ask: “Why doesn’t the GOP run on its record for the past six years and what it has accomplished?” Fill in the blanks yourself — and we think Democrats AND Republicans know the answer to that one. More Morris:

Republicans are doomed unless they can get their base back. But the GOP base is the best informed group of voters in the nation, with educational levels consistently higher than their Democratic counterparts’. They follow politics closely and are the easiest voters to reach via the news media, cable TV and talk radio.

A message like this could have a snowballing effect on the Republican base. The word could percolate through the clutter, reminding voters of their true priorities.

And Morris is blunt about what will happen if the GOP doesn’t play the Democrats Will Enable Murdering Terrorists To Kill You subtext card:

Otherwise, we know what is going to happen. All the borderline GOP incumbents will lose, while Democrats like Sen. Bob Menendez, a scandal waiting to happen, survive.

But if the Republicans frankly address their deserting base and speak plainly of the need to hold steady in the face of the terrorist threat, the base can come back.

Again, it would be government OF the base, BY the base and FOR the base — getting power by turning one segment of the country against the other. And largely governing for only one ideological part of a supposedly UNITED States of America.

“The only thing we have to fear is not using fear itself…”

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • Lynx

    Wow, they don’t even consider using their track record to get votes. The democrats can “go negative” too, but they don’t have to theorize about what republicans “would do”, they can just roll out a list of what they HAVE done

  • Charles Jordan

    I been thinking about this and what America really needs is for Bush, Kerry, Gore, Clinton and senior members of the House and Senate to get together and have a good long shouting match and stay in the room until they can agree on wha to do in Iraq. Andrew Cordesman can facilitate the discussion.

    Then they should all walk out into the Rose Garden to announce they have had a come to Jesus meeting and concluded what to do. They should close the meeting by taking at the mic to tell their various pundits to shut the F up if the only thing they got to say is that Americans should hate each other based on what political party we belong to.

    I’m dreaming I know but until these guys figure out that unity of purpose is the answer I don’t think things are going to get any better no matter who wins in NOV.

    I can’t believe that 5 years after 9/11 and these fools haven’t figured out that how to look beyong their egos. it will take good Democrat ideas are good Republican ideas are good together.

    “We need to work together” isn’t just a catch phrase. It’s for real.

  • Charles Jordan

    sorry I made such a mess of the ending…what I mean is: it will take good Democrat ideas and good Republican ideas to fix Iraq.

    No party has all the answers. Soldiers are dying while these guys play around.

  • jjc

    Charles, do you think there’s anyone who could propose such a summit meeting and get any traction? Is Walter Cronkite seen as too liberal?

    Maybe a troika of eminence grise’s, whatever is the plural of the fancy term for old guys.

  • C Stanley

    I’d be interested to see a roundup of what political ads this year are actually saying. It seems to me that we keep hearing how horribly negative the ads are all going to be, how strategists like Dick Morris are telling the GOP to do more of the “vote Dem and die” type of ads, yet I really haven’t seen the whistle blown on too many over the top ads. Early in the season I remember one of the Osama image ads being used against Hilary, and it seemed like it backfired more than helped. of course has a few cases of distortions of record (by both parties, running a little bit more on the GOP side but not overwhelmingly). It just seems to me that for all the hype, maybe the ads aren’t as bad as we were led to believe they’d be? I don’t watch much TV so I can’t judge by what I’ve viewed: so, does anyone have any examples of ads that have crossed the line this year?

  • Elrod

    Actually, C Stanley, what’s happened is that the public has become hardened to negative ads. Depending on where you live, negative ads are all over the television. Voters tune them out. I’m as partisan Democrat as they come and even I tune out anti-GOP ads here in Michigan. They’re so damn repetitive.

    Political analysts speak of diminishing returns in media. When you can attack and the other side cannot, you win. But when you both attack each other – even if one has twice the ads of the other side – the two essentially cancel each other out, and voters just tune them out. Money is critical up to a certain threshold. Beyond that, it’s irrelevant and should be used in a different district.

    I think Dick Morris’ advice would do nothing. The GOP base is not, as he claims, the most educated group of voters. Quite the opposite, in some cases. But if we accept his premise that the GOP base is super-savvy, why does he think they’d be fooled by an all fear all the time campaign? As John Derbyshire of NRO pointed out, the republic survived Carter and Clinton, it can certainly survive Pelosi and Conyers. Better to throw the false conservatives out and start over with principled Republicans than keep rewarding them for betrayal. I don’t see a fear-mongering ad breaking through this.

  • Here’s one possible ad: We see and hear a wiretapped conversation, with a terrorist revealing his worst plans to his associate – and, inadvertently, to government eavesdroppers, too. Then, when he’s about to spill the beans on when and where the next attack is going to come, the line should go dead, with a dial tone, with a machine voice saying “This wiretap terminated in the name of privacy rights by the Democratic U.S. Congress.”

    The announcer can then say, “If the Democrats win, the National Security Agency will never be able to listen in as the terrorists are plotting to attack us.”

    Now come the freak on. And after that, he’s saying how educated the GOP base is and how well-informed. Educated, well-informed people look at an ad like that, laugh their butts off and start reading a good book.

  • Charles Jordan

    I’m so sorry to say I can’t think of anyone. Actually, I think it’s the job of the commander in chief to take the lead. He’s the guy who is supposed to be able to see the bigger picture.

    Andrew Cordesman is my choice when it comes to Iraq. But he doesn’t have the starpower to ask for such a forum. Cordesman is thoughtful and nonpartisan. I’ve seen him slam dunk one partisan hack after another. He’s simply so well informed on what’s going on in Iraq and the merits and faults of proposed solutions–all of them.

    JJC; when you REALLY think about it…it’s just sad; sad; the way our leaders have divided us along party lines (red this, blue that) and promoted hatred. And even sadder that so many of us in the American public have embraced their message hatred so easily.

    Yet we get up in the morning and go out into our world (I mean to work or whatever) and I doubt few of us see enemies. We see people not unlike ourselves.

    The solution is not for the politicians to change, it’s for US to change.

  • Kim Ritter

    I don’t trust Dick Morris as far as I can throw him. He’s a middle-aged gossip, who has been wrong quite a bit, and was a regular on Hannity’s chatfests. Hannity had him on mostly as a Clinton-insider who was willing to trash both of them. Now he’s swinging the other way-since the Dems have the momentum.

  • Ack

    C. Stanley — there are a couple of truly awful ones out there that I am aware of. The one against Harold Ford is ridiculous — and it seems they have used Morris’ recommendation, at least in part. They have several, on the street type quick interviews — and one guy said something to the effect that “of course terrorists need privacy” — or something equally as ridiculous.

    Then there is the ad in New York about a democrat calling a sex line — completely false — yet the RNC refuses to pull it.

    And this recommendation by Morris

    Here’s one possible ad: We see and hear a wiretapped conversation, with a terrorist revealing his worst plans to his associate – and, inadvertently, to government eavesdroppers, too. Then, when he’s about to spill the beans on when and where the next attack is going to come, the line should go dead, with a dial tone, with a machine voice saying “This wiretap terminated in the name of privacy rights by the Democratic U.S. Congress.”

    truly disgusts me.

  • ES

    This is a big gamble by the GOP. The GOP will be burned very badly if they fail to retain control Congress. The GOP are just asking for trouble if they think their actions would not have any repercussions.

    I am also saddened to see the sad affairs of politics these days, especially on how the GOP tries to govern by “divide and conquer”.

  • C Stanley

    Well, the Morris suggestion is ridiculous (and as MvdG points out, certainly this type of ad wouldn’t appeal to educated people). Even more egregious was another suggestion I heard from Morris: he said that Bush should have responded differently to the NK nuke threat simply for political gain. He admitted that what Bush did was the best course for the country to take, but he felt that Bush should have done it differently because he would have benefitted more politically. I guess you have to expect that kind of rot from Morris and it is the job of people like him to analyze things in that manner, but it is repulsive nonetheless.

    My point though, is that here we all are getting incensed about what someone says the GOP should do; if they really were doing it on a large scale, I would think we’d be talking about the actual ads instead of the ones that have been pitched by washed up political advisors?? There’s certainly no shortage of outrage against the GOP so I would assume that if they were going all out in the fear mongering and mud slinging, we’d hear more examples of it.

  • Chris Bell

    As a counter-ad, I’m sure the Dems could work in the recordings of MLK being wiretapped by the FBI.

    “All we want is a warrant.”

  • “The only thing we have to fear is not using fear itself…”

    lol. I did not read that one correctly the first time. good one joe.

  • ack

    C. Stanley — you very well may not be seeing these ads on a grand scale nationwide. I think Bob Novak nicely summed up what is happening at this point:

    With hopes of the late comeback faded, the Republican strategy has changed from that of a quarterback on a fourth-quarter come-from-behind mission to that of an overwhelmed emergency medical technician performing triage on several dying patients. The only thought now is to minimize losses by plugging whatever holes can be plugged. Late decisions have to be made about who lives and who dies. The GOP has to decide where it can win, and it cannot afford to waste time or resources on those who cannot be saved.

    So, it seems that they will be just focusing on a few individual races — and that is where the negative ads will be popping up. Or at least that’s my general impression.

  • C Stanley

    You, and Novak, may well be right. I guess the eternal optimist in me is hoping that the party has gotten the message that being overly negative and fear oriented is going to backfire. Of course, I’m probably overly optimistic to think that the tide may really be turning in that direction…

  • Rudi

    The Osama channel Goldwater/daisy bomb was shown on only a few cable shows. However, the pundits gave it free air to talk about the ad. The worst ads get an extended life by newstalk show carrying the ads for debate. At least the Democrats didn’t kill Nat Hollaway, or did those Libruls send her off to a Latin/brown skinned sex trader……

  • SurgeJack

    Well, how is this fellow wrong. He’s just saying what it will require to win, and what it will require to win is sensationalism and half-truths. Now, those of us in the know are aware that the wiretap situation wouldn’t happen, but publicly, people will forget that the issue was whether the wire-tapping was warrantless or not, and not the wire-tapping itself. The premise of it will be an agreeable one for viewers that didn’t have time to get the specifics of the issue, and will do enough to send a strong emotional shock.

  • Rubyeyes

    Dick is running scared. If the Democrats take over his 15 minutes is up.

  • If you’re interested in a just-for-grins version of the RNC’s new video, “These are the Stakes”, I’ve posted a video called “These are the Stingrays” that does a good job of poking fun at the GOP scare tactics…here:

  • Ryan

    Everything we have seen lately, from actual Republican ads to suggestions like this, scream desperation. These are the last ditch efforts of a party that knows its ship is sinking.

    C Stanley, one point I would make about this kind of ad, though. As pointed out in its review of what they called the “Daisy Redux” they are banking on the media picking up on the ad and spreading it for free.

    The RNC, by making only a minimal cable-TV buy, clearly hopes networks and other news media also will give this latest ad wide distribution for free.

  • Rudi

    Thanks Ryan for the link to – a truely independent site instaed of the Kossack and LGF rhetoric.

  • Kim Ritter

    Morris’ advice just reinforces my opinion of him as a spineless, souless gun for hire without a single true conviction in his entire body. He’s a despicable little trash-monger. My question is why is this type of garbage accepted as the gospel by the GOP base, the so-called “values voters”? Quite clear they don’t value the truth too much or they’d be surfing over to

  • Ryan

    Rudi, it’s a great site. I actually subscribe to their e-mail list and lately seem to have been averaging about one e-mail per day with an article about another misleading ad. Really makes you think about the dishonesty involved in politics if you hold on to those e-mails for a bit and see how quickly they can build up. This morning, I came in to find three e-mails including the Daisy Redux one. I haven’t yet fully read the one about Senator Talent’s attacks and have only skimmed the summary of the one on the attacks by Rep. Lewis. I’ll have to get through those this afternoon.

  • Rudi

    Ryan If more people visitted FactCheck and VoteSmart we wouldn’t hear that McCain and Hagel are Moderates and ALL Democrats are Libruls. I found this site a week or two ago, check it out:
    Bill Tracker

  • Jim S

    Well, CS, here’s the take on one ad that I’ve been seeing over and over again. Here’s their report on another ad I’ve seen way too many times. Then there’s the one that they don’t show that’s run by the NRA. It’s almost a parody of itself, citing every Democratic politician who the far right hates as someone who wanted to take away all rights to own guns and asking if the viewers really wanted those days to return again and if they didn’t they should vote for Jim Talent. They also run an ad claiming that McCaskill’s stance on gun control varies according to who she’s speaking to, the urban populations of Kansas City and St. Louis or the rural people in the Ozarks. The basic truth is that the only gun control issue she has a record on is opposing concealed carry laws, which she opposed as a prosecutor (The Republicans don’t like to remember that she was a prosecutor as well as auditor.). Of course lots of police and prosecutors don’t like conceald carry laws. But that wouldn’t be as convenient as lying about the issue, would it?

  • Kim Ritter

    CS – They’ve run one in Maryland accusing Dem Ben Cardin of taking special interest money- he has, but it never mentions that his opponent, who claims he wants to take Washington back from special interests, has taken just as much. Steele’s ads never mention that he’s a Republican- even though Karl Rove recruited him to run.

    Another one of his ads falsely claims that MLK,jr was a Republican-in an effort to get black Democrats to cross over.

  • AustinRoth

    Everyone in politics knows that Dick Morris got lucky to be associated with Clinton, and since then has become the second leading negative predictor of success in the ‘political advisor’ world, trailing only Schrum in the ability to get it completely wrong so consistantly.

  • Pug

    You know, that ad wouldn’t really be any worse than what I saw on TV yesterday from the President of the United States himself and the Senate Majority Leader.

    Bush told George Stephanopolous on ABC that the Demmocrats want to “surrender to the terrorists” and Frist said on CNN that the Democrats will “wave the white flag of surrender” to the terrorists.

    They are uniters, not dividers. These guys are not only miserable failures, they are offensive and pathetic..

  • Kim Ritter

    The Democrats just want to get us out of this useless war without destroying what’s left of Iraq. The history books can’t be written soon enough about this president and his cronies. I think I’ll live another 30 years, just so I can read about how GW stayed the course-until, that is he didn’t.

  • Jim S


    I think your comment about Morris is exactly right.

  • david9926

    Why do you conservative ra-ra-republicans insist on demonizing/scapegoating Democrats? Republicans are just as dirty and disappointing. Somehow it makes sense to you that blaming others will make things better for you. It seems so clear to me that you are victims of fear created to control you. The Republican party has been using unthinking blind fear to manipulate you since at least Eisenhower and the “Red Scare”. You all would be better off and in a better USA with cooperation and sensible debate back in politics rather than this atmosphere of the Protestant reformation where people were publickly ruined/humiliated or even burned at the stake.

    TITLE: One nightlight, gently used
    BLOG NAME: Polimom Says
    If Dick Morris is right that this is the best hope for the GOP, then things are even worse than the polls are indicating. I’m getting visions of blood dripping from sharp, pointy teeth… (From the NY Post):

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