Gussie says, stop doing this. Make them explain things to you. Ask a pointed question, make a simple declarative statement, or go on the offensive yourself. For example, on abortion, say:
“Abortions are up under Bush.”Do we fine-tune the statement by saying, “Well, abortions are technically declining but the rate of decline has slowed dramatically since Clinton, and in fact they may actually have increased but this administration stopped publishing abortion numbers when they became inconveniently high”?
Do we say, “The Democratic position is that we’d like abortion to be safe, legal, and rare. It’s not that we like abortion – I in fact feel [state personal position here] about it but I support the right for a woman to make her own decision, treating it as a medical matter if that’s how she feels about it or as a personal matter between herself, her partner, and her God”?
Do we say, “There is disagreement as to when a fetus develops the neurological capacity to feel pain beyond the reflex level, and has developed anything like the capacity for human feeling, but we might be willing to entertain a position of zero abortions past some point of agreed-upon cognitive function”?
No. We say, “Abortions are up under Bush.” Let them explain why they disagree.
This is not intellectually dishonest. There’s nothing shameful about speaking in soundbites - it takes real understanding to reduce an idea to its essence. We can have our explanation in the wings if it’s called for. And we’re always free to use the full arsenal of reason, nuance, and complexity on those rare occasions when we meet up with an open-minded conservative. The rest of the time, follow this advice:
Here are some other simple statements to try.
- We're creating enemies faster than we can kill them.
- Our best and bravest are being used as pawns.
- Torture is wrong. No exceptions.
- Patricia Owens let a guy die because she sat for two years on a decision.
- Janice Rogers Brown wants to bring back child labor.
- Ralph Reed double-crossed Native Americans for tens of millions.
- Religious right judges want to ban birth control.
- George Bush wants to kill Social Security.
- Tom DeLay used federal agents to hunt down legislators from his own state.
To which Gussie replied:
More on this topic soon.