Triangulation

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Filed Under Races 2012 on Apr 11 

A very liberal web site (Slate.com) likes Paul Ryan’s budget plan:

Good Plan!
Republican Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is brave, radical, and smart.

By Jacob Weisberg Posted Tuesday, April 5, 2011, at 6:09 PM ET

….But more than anyone else in politics, Rep. Ryan has made a serious attempt to grapple with the long-term fiscal issue the country faces. He has a largely coherent, workable set of answers. If you don’t like them, now you need to come up with something better.

As I said in my article on why Obama wins in 2012 (“Winning by Default”), the Republicans have to make the case to the middle 20% undecideds/independents that 1) the deficit matters to them, the individual–and why, and 2) why they (the Republicans) can solve this better to the individual’s benefit than the Democrats (Obama) can.


I think it’s a too complex and too foreign issue to be easily presented to the electorate as a votable issue, but that could change if enough repeated emphasis is put on it.

The Dems will do themselves more good if they simply take the best of Ryan’s ideas, present them as if they were their own, tweak the plan enough around the edges to make it seem different and original, than if they reject Ryan’s plan out-of-hand.

Remember “triangulation”? That was a political strategy developed by Dick Morris when he was a consultant for President Clinton. It was a strategy that said you should take the best of your opponents’ ideas, re-shape them just enough to make them your own, and present them as new to the public. That way, it’s similar enough to what your opponents proposed that they can’t really oppose it, but different enough with enough personal twists to call it your own. It’s a third point on the chart, one that makes it a triangle, hence the name.

Sharp Dems will triangulate. Less politically-astute Dems will resist and reject. Sharp Republicans will try to prove that the Dems aren’t triangulating, they’re “agreeing,” or even better, “capitulating.” The political danger is that if you push too hard and ‘prove’ that the other side is agreeing or capitulating, the other side retreats and doesn’t go along.

It’s in these circumstances that politics takes on a decidedly Asian-like quality, where “saving face” is all-important in those cultures.

Or to anyone who’s been a parent to a recalcitrant 8-year-old, you’ve heard them say, “I’ll do it because I want to, not because you told me to.” Neither political side wants to be “told” to do anything; they want to do it because they want to.

The MSM’s desire to make one side or the other look good or bad is another element to consider as this process unfolds.

This is better than the baseball playoffs, isn’t it?

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