I’ve disagreed with Matt Yglesias a lot over the rules and structure of the senate, but he gets this 100% exactly right:

Voters don’t have a great deal of knowledge about the issues, or a great deal of interest in acquiring knowledge about the issues. But they are human beings, equipped with our species’ excellent ability to read the emotional states of other human beings. If they see a politician acting defensive about his “side” in an argument, they conclude that this critics are probably on to something. If they see a politicians acting outraged and hitting back fearlessly, they’re likely to conclude that he has nothing to apologize for.

This has been my view for a very long time, now.  More specifically, it has been my view that this is precisely the thing Democrats have most lacked, and the thing that has most harmed them.  It’s the flip-side of Josh Marshall’s B-Slap Theory of Politics.

Stand up for yourself like you respect yourself, and others will begin to respect you.  Show some outrage when somebody falsely accuses you of something deeply offensive: hating America, wanting America to lose or fail, being a traitor, being an enemy mole, or, more recently, wanting to pull the plug on grandma.

Too many Dems still haven’t learned the lesson of Dukakis.  When you respond calmly and reasonably to an offensive accusation, you just look guilty and weak.

Take offense and show it, for crying out loud.  React like a human being, and other human beings will relate to you.

Barney Frank is the first Democratic politician to do that (and if you haven’t seen the video, follow the link) in ages.  The last one I can remember doing it is Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who called bullsh*t on Phil Gramm, to his face, on David Brinkley’s Sunday show back in 1986.


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