Friday, November 4, 2022

What the Democrats could learn from Peter Bogdanovich

Whenever the late director was interviewed (and I suspect whenever he was asked any kind of question at all up to and including the checker at Ralph's saying "paper or plastic?"), he would always start his answer with some variation on "well, as my good friend Orson Welles used to say..."

That relationship was a big part of Bogdanovich's reputation both as a director and as a film historian and while name-dropping may be considered tacky, his was the first name cable news producers thought of when some anniversary involving Welles or Citizen Kane rolled around.

For Republicans in 2022, inflation is their good friend Orson Welles, their answer to every question, followed by crime and borders.

For at least as long as I've been following politics, Republicans have been better at message discipline than Democrats (though that's a low bar). Inflation (an international problem which the GOP has plans for addressing other than possibly letting Putin have Ukraine), crime (actually more prevalent in red states) , and the border (not really a crisis) are not great talking points for the general election, particularly when compared with reproductive rights, social security/Medicare, and the insurrection, but the Republicans have still managed to be far more successful steering the conversation, even while announcing policies that perfectly tee things up for the Democrats.

The lesson of "it's the economy, stupid" wasn't that the economy was the most important thing; it was that you pick the subject you want everyone to talk about and you just keep hammering it until it becomes the topic of conversation. It's a lesson that the Democrats keep forgetting with more and more frightening consequences.


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