YKos, Day 2, another day of roaming from one workshop to another in this huge Chicago Convention Center listening to scary-smart folks in their 20s and 30s. This is a particularly direct example of how age can bring humility.
A few highlights:
--Wesley Clark starting the day with a breakfast talk on the betrayal of this Admin to the military, and the damage it’s had to weather. He wants out of Iraq soon, but asserts what he calls a “practical reality” of an ongoing need for Middle East oil that stirred mutterings in the crowd.
--A panel of dramatic converts from the Right to the Left, including David Brock and John Dean (Arianna Huffington was scheduled but fell to a broken ankle this past week when, on a leisurely walk with Charlie Rose, she caught a spiked heel in a Manhattan subway grate. Don’t you hate it when that happens?). These guys HATE the neo con Admin with a ferocity that those of us who never agreed with them can barely imagine.
--a completely fascinating lunchtime talk from Andy Stern, International President of the SEIU, on the role organized labor has to take in restoring democracy. He’s just back from successfully organizing Walmart workers in China ---China—which makes it, he says, the only place in the world where he feels comfortable going into a Walmart.
-A panel on political framing with the guru himself, George Lakoff. Smart guy, and so were the 3 consultants, all easily young enough to be his son, who sat at the front of the room with him. They talked about the OVERTON WINDOW (might want to Google that one) which is the range of politically acceptable policy options on an issue, which is smaller than the entire imaginable spectrum of options. If you take positions outside of that window, it’s argued, while your opponents stay somewhere comfortably within the window, you can move the entire range of what’s considered acceptable in your direction. Example: Ann Coulter’s apparent lunacy makes saner-sounding right wing extremists suddenly seem more reasonable and even moderate. The Rs apparently play this game, like all the framing games, better than the Ds. One criticism from an idealistic listener: “A strategic calculation based on this model implicitly says ‘we’re going to lie to you to advance our policy position.’” This session had something for everybody who tinks even a little bit about languaging, including those who think enough’s enough: “Democrats tie themselves in knots thinking about ways to most successfully communicate and neglect the straight power and effectiveness of saying what they really mean.”
Or…and this come up a lot…just how far do Progressives want to copy the Right in an effort to replicate the Right’s victories?
--An all-star panel of Internet strategists including Joe Trippi, who made history with the Dean campaign, took a shot at describing the big picture of the Web’s transformational effect on politics. One ranked it with the invention of movable type in importance; another said it’s impossible to overstate the impact. Simon Rosenberg, one of the Revered Ones, says the MSM has it all wrong about the political blogosphere. “They dismiss what’s happening as the collective wacky hobby of a bunch of liberals on the fringe. It’s not. It’s the doorway we’ve been looking for through which the American people can enter politics in a very big way. It mean politics and governance can be a 2-way process, And campaigns are only the opening edge. It won’t be long before a President sends out his health plan or new tax proposl for all of us to take swing at before proposing it to Congress. Nothing in the way we do our public business will ever be the same.”