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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bitecofer: When They Go Low, We Get…Mean

Rachel Bitecofer visited MSNBC’s ‘Morning. Joe‘ recently to promote her new book, “Hit Em Where It Hurts:How to Save Democracy by Beating Republicans at Their Own Game.” It went like this:

There are times in politics when bipartisan outreach undergirded with respectful courtesy is the wisest approach. But this is not one of those times, according to Bitecofer. As Helmville puts it at Daily Kos, “This is war and I completely agree with Rachel Bitecofer and others like Steve Schmidt who among many more are warning us to stop playing nice! No more nice please! This victory belongs to us and unfortunately we need to take it by force!”

In the classic “Fear and Loathing n the Campaign Trail ’72,” Hunter S. Thompson advised, “Sending Muskie against Nixon would have been like sending a three-toed sloth out to seize turf from a wolverine. Big Ed was an adequate senator . . . but it was stone madness from the start to ever think about exposing him to the kind of bloodthirsty thugs that Nixon and John Mitchell would sic on him. They would have him screeching on his knees by sundown on Labor Day.” The way the ’72 election worked out, however, it’s hard to see how Muskie could have done worse.

But Nixon was a day at the beach compared to what Democrats are facing now. Nonetheless, it can be argued that President Biden has a potent wild card in his ‘nice guy’ image, which stands in stark relief to his opponent’s rabid egotism and vicious treatment of everyone who doesn’t kiss up to him.

Biden didn’t ascend to the presidency by playing patty cake. But going full ‘Dark Brandon’ this year might not come off as authentic, and could backfire. Bitecofer is surely right that Democrats must strike a vivid contrast to Republicans up and down-ballot. Sure, President Biden should deploy well-crafted zingers at opportune moments. But there is a good argument for letting his surrogates bring the mean.

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