Memo to Dems: Stop Muddying the Messaging Waters

10/30/2006 03:32 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Memo to Dems: Stop counting your chickens, stop trying to soft-pedal what a Democratic victory will mean -- and for god's sake, stop muddying the messaging waters.

As Chris Bowers points out at MyDD, as many as 60 House races are still "absolutely in flux" -- i.e. within single digits, and likely to be decided by a very slim margin. Bowers rightly hammers home the importance of "unrelenting activism" and making sure that the Democratic lead isn't gobbled up by the GOP's always effective get-out-the-vote ground game over the next eight days. He provides a helpful list of the kinds of roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-busy things anyone who cares about the future of this country can and should do between today and next Tuesday to ensure that those razor slim margins tilt Democratic.

Here's another thing that would help: Democratic leaders making it unequivocally clear with every pronouncement they make and every question they answer what this election is about. And it's not about what Howard Dean said yesterday on Face the Nation.

"Here's why we're running," he told Bob Schieffer. "We want middle-class tax fairness for the American people. We want middle-class Americans to benefit from this economy, not just the folks that have contributed to the president."

Nooooo! Dr. Dean, please, please tell me that you don't really believe this election is about "middle-class tax fairness."

To be fair, you did go on to say "We want a defense policy that's tough and smart" and that "Republicans have failed us on defense." But only after leading with middle-class tax fairness. Indeed, the first half of your segment was focused on it. You jumped right in with: "We want middle-class tax fairness. We think there's a war that hasn't been discussed, and that's the Republican war on the American family. A million people have lost their health care every single year that George Bush has been president. We need a minimum wage. America needs a raise."

The Republican war on the American family? A real war is sending young Americans home in body bags and has made us all less safe and you want to talk in metaphors?

Are you out of your freaking mind?

And it's not just you, Howard. Last week, Rahm Emanuel told the AP, "Democrats are talking about middle-class tax cuts and Republicans are talking about staying the course."

I know you two haven't seen eye-to-eye on much this campaign. Why start now, with this muddled message?

Staying the course is about Iraq. And now that the president is running away from that phrase, instead of beating the GOP over the head with it, Emanuel is robbing it of its power by using it as just a synonym for maintaining the status quo on tax policy.

Yes, there are many domestic issues -- taxes, health care, minimum wage -- Democrats will need to address once they are back in the majority. But, as I warned last month, they've got to stop reaching for the "it's the economy, stupid" crack pipe.

This election is about the fact that Republicans have made us less safe and that Congressional oversight is critical to ensure that Bush and company, with their tragically misguided decisions on Iraq and homeland security, don't make us even less secure over the two years they have left. Period. End of message.

There are only eight days left before this watershed election. I beseech all Democrats within spitting distance of a microphone: Put the standard-issue, knee-jerk, focus group-tested, inanities on ice until November 8th. Or else the real war on the American family is likely to get much, much bloodier.