Communications 101: The threat posed by Swift Boating

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KenS
Communications 101: The threat posed by Swift Boating

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KenS

This isn't just about Swift Boating. More generally, its about the land mines that political parties need to avoid. And practically speaking, both because of the cases used and the relevance to discussions on the board, its really about hte NDP and such land mines.

Its not really Communications 101 in any true general sense, because that would have the overarching topic of getting the message across. And I'm really just launching this into staying away from serious negative consequences that cannot be controlled once you get into the. Becasue that bears on the topic of what people think are positions the NDP can and cannot take.

The same general principles would apply to public organizations other than political parties. But the practicalities are so diiferent as to make the case study approach non-comparative. For example, since other organizations do not need to appeal to such a broad slice of society, I cannot conceive of how Swift Boating could work on them or there represenatives. There might be an exception or 2- David Suzuki and the Foundation could be damaged by Swift Boating. But those kind of exceptional personal credentials and stature are come by in ways that mean that its unlikely you would leave openings to be Swift Boated.

Swift boating is the generic reference to what happened to John Kerry in the 2004 election campaign. Kerry had in the Seventies and Eigties been an outspoken and uncompromising critic of the Vietnam War and the general indictment of US foreign policy that went with it. He was also a decorated war hero. Being a [mild] critic of the war was not controversial. But Kerry's degree of criticsm wasn't easy for an elected politician- lt alone one now running for President. His being a decorated war hero gave him the benefit of the doubt with people who did not like the substance of what he had said in the past.

So along comes this front orgnization of other soldiers who like Kerry had fought on the Mekong vessel in patrol boats. In tons of TV ads they prtrayed Kerry as even then a self promoter who did not deserve his medals for bravery.

There was plenty of factual refuation of the smears that was available. And if you tested voters you'd fine that if you asked them do you beleive what is being said about John Kerry, those who weren't opposed to him already would say they didn't necessarily beleive the stories... that they knew they might not be true.

But that qualification was enough.

In this particular example, the Kerry campaign handled it ineplty. Deer in the headlights. But their ineptness obscures that countering such smears is much more difficult than people think. It is most definitely not a matter of "getting the truth out there." The idea people around here have of that- the admittedly straightforward and common sense one- wil just fan the flames.

It takes finesse to dodge that bullet.

KenS

Obama's campaign did dodge a few of those bullets. And I wasnt paying close enough attention, and/or dont remember what in particualr they did. But my purpose is to talk about the existence and intent of swift boating, and staying clear of the threat, so I don't see that the example of the Obama campaign, or the Kerry campaign, matters beyond some very general stuff.

But take the 'Obama is a Muslim' schtick. They did contain that. People around here would want it done as "And what is wrong with being a Muslim?" Turning the tables. But that is WAY into the categoryof fanning the flames. With as little attention as possible you want to establish the untruth of the claims [and maybe the motive of the perpetrators, if going there doesnt mostly just risk making new problems]. Dont discuss the substance beyond the fact of untruth.

KenS

I'm going to use "Libby affair" as an illustration of the threat swift boating poses in Canada. Its much and recently discussed [5 direct threads, and one that is current and closely related].

It also has a lot of the elements of what is both typical, and makes it challenging for people to see it as such a problem. To wit: "there are good answers to all those things that would be thrown at Libby." There are, but that doesn't mean that good rational answers are going to keep the issue from going out of control headed south, with no silver linings even of "truths brought to light".

In the videa that went viral Libby fumbles around. But ultimately, to the question of when the occupation of Palestine began she says its one of the longest running and offers 1948 as the answer.

When I bring up that this opened the door wide to swift boating the NDP with challenging Israel's right to exist, Unionist has answered multiple lines that it isnt true, and the historical record can be used to disprove such a smear.

It is correct that its a smear and can be disproved. But there is only an assumption there that this is enough to have kept Libby from being successfully swift boated.

Here is what I wrote  about what was required to close the door opened to the swift boating that the NDP was challenging Israel's right to exist [quoted from here]:

KenS wrote:

When you step on a hot button, the way you get away from it, is that you apologize. In this case, that required more involvement than just Libby saying it. And after you've said what you needed to say, you say no more. You do not "explain." You do not talk about the context, the parts of what you said that were right, etc. Because all of those will just add fuel to the fire.

In other words, Libby apologised because she knew the consequences if she didn't, not because she was made to do it by her colleagues. And that the only kind of apology that was going to keep this from exploding, was one with nothing said except I was wrong, let alone no qualifications about what I meant, or what is right in just.

Step on hot button and want the problem to go away. Step back and apologize. Period.

For that apology to stick it meant Jack also had to apologize and JUST say that isn't policy. [NOT, what is policy.] It also means that wahtever Jack thought about Mulclair's fulminations, he had to be silent about those. Because even handed crtiticism of Mulcair would be the opening to the apology not being meant.

We coud debate endlessly whether other things done also were in the category of 'needed to happen'. But why bother-in that short list of abject things that needed to be done there is already plenty that is controversial here. Unionist is the only one here that has even tried to enagage me on this. and while he hasn't directly said so, its pretty clear he does not see as convincing that Libby needed to make a complete and unbalance apology to keep the issue from going sideways.

For example, every time I raise the open door to swift boating the NDP with chellenging Israel's right to exist, he points out again that it isn't true.

As if that was sufficient in itself.

Which segways back to how swift boating works. Because that is central to why Libby Davies had to unequivocaly apologize, and say no more.

Fidel

I agree, the subject of Israel is another one of those issue the NDP should avoid like the plague. The political right in North America has had decades of cold war era to brainwash people into thinking what they do today on issues surrounding Uncle Sam. Like his front line state in the Middle East. A small party like NDP just doesn't have the resources to wage a counter battle in the overall war on democracy. If they were born after 1980, then they either don't care about the cold war or are just too young to know much about it. Canadians born before 1980 have made up their minds already. Or iows, the west was correct, and Soviet evol hath been vanquished. Now we can get on with globalizing a lifestyle for middle class capitalism based on the raw material reserves of two or three planets.

We should focus on what's wrong here in Canada. And there is lots wrong with what's happening right here under our noses for a long time.

KenS

Had Libby and the NDP left the door open, the narrative would be that Libby Davies said that Israeli occupation began in 1948. And ________. Libby Davies challenges Israel's very right to exist.

Writing the script would be a piece of cake. And the answers that this is not true because in 1947, blah, blah, blah. And then in 1948 Israel........ So you see that blah, blah, blah, blah.

In a debate or a seminar room, that works. But this isnt a debate, and you don't get to be present where tha action is at all.

So the simple and plausible stretching of truths gets to stand. You lose. And big time. And big time distraction/diversion.

And here's a close at home example of how easy the fundamentals of swift boating are:

KenS wrote:

If you think there is cowardice [NDP MPs responding to what Libby's flubbed comments], Libby is very much a part of it. People have a deluded idea of the suppressed Saint Libby, who but for the shackles placed on her by her colleagues, would be out there on the barricades.

kropotkin1951 wrote:
Libby is a coward I heard it from a NDP partisan on babble.

I flubbed that. It ended up mostly sounding like a comment on Libby, and the point I was trying to make was lost.

But I did not say that Libby is a coward.

No matter.

And still no matter when I apologize and clarify the point I meant to make.

Its not really a good example of swift boating, because I'm not an anonymous and not present public personage. I get to have my say in the discussion.

Swift boated victims dont get that.

But it is a stripped down example to show how simple are the mechanics of swift boating.

It usually happens around much more complex histories, which makes it all the easier. Even this simple near at home example. Suppose I'm someone whose words are considered significant just because who said them. "Ken Summers called Libby Davies a coward" would travel far. And sound ludicrous and immediately unpleasant.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
Which segways back to how swift boating works. Because that is central to why Libby Davies had to unequivocaly apologize, and say no more.

I don't think that's accurate.

'Swift Boating' is going to have its visceral impact, like it or not. Its goal is to create FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) at a gut-level. So you can't immediately counteract it; it requires a longer term, intellectual response - one aimed at unveiling the objectives of the ideological dissemblers behind the lies. Any attempt to assuage the situation simply makes you seem guilty or weak. In your Obama example, it was reasonably well-handled by revealing who was implying Obama was secretly 'Muslim' - and why.

No Yards No Yards's picture

Sounds kind of cowardly to me ... respond to someone lying to you speaking the truth by apologizing and allowing everyone to believe a lie about the truth.

Politics, and the people who practice politics, have no principles. I just wish they would admit the obvious and quit trying to pretend that any kind of real progressive headway came from anything other than people and groups who took principled stands. Politics is only part of the process of progress, it is not the initiator, nor the sustenance, of progress .. that comes from people of principle and courage.

KenS

Swift boating incidents are going to be different.

In the first place, some are only potentials. Which is what I'm talking about here. Its a place that you just dont want to be, so you get out if you blunder in.

With this case for example, a lot of us would agree that you do not want to let the debate get sidelined into "Israel's right to exist" and who is challenging that. Unionist and I would agree that you don't want to give the opportunity to have that as a discussion. Where we have disagreed in this case, is whather without apologizing so unequivocally and simply, Libby would have opend the door for that.

There isn't unanamity about that at all. Many people here think it would be a good thing in itself to have that debate. Maybe Unionist would differ so I won't speak for him, but this is a gulf on what is useful progressive politics that I think is too wide to have anything remotely like a focused discussion.

You cn discuss Israels right to exist and right of return, and all that here and in public forums. But I don't think its possible for anything useful to come of bringing that to a broad public level. And I think the political differences in there are just too great to try to squeeze it into a discussion like I'm opening up here.

I think there is enough difference- proabably already more than can be focused even into 'agrre to disagree' understandings- around disagreeing about what constitutes stepping into territory where no good can come of it..... that is,disagreement among people who at least have enough in common to agree that there are places where you can only be politicaly damaged if you allow them to be opened up.

KenS

No Yards wrote:

Sounds kind of cowardly to me ... respond to someone lying to you speaking the truth by apologizing and allowing everyone to believe a lie about the truth.

Politics, and the people who practice politics, have no principles. I just wish they would admit the obvious and quit trying to pretend that any kind of real progressive headway....

Thats a consistent and politicaly tenable position.

But by that very categorical standard, is there any difference between Libby Davies and the NDP as a whole?

KenS

Wide open invitation for anyone to use there own examples illustrating Communications 101.

Swift boating or dealing with the threat of it is only a fraction of even the part of the waterfront that is about the role of dealing with negative consequences of positions taken, deliberately or de facto.

I really have to get back to work. I've been doing this schtick across a number of threads at not a good time. But its also the culmination of a lot of stuff nagging at me around those persistent big questions of practicing politics.

Unionist

KenS wrote:

With this case for example, a lot of us would agree that you do not want to let the debate get sidelined into "Israel's right to exist" and who is challenging that. Unionist and I would agree that you don't want to give the opportunity to have that as a discussion. Where we have disagreed in this case, is whather without apologizing so unequivocally and simply, Libby would have opend the door for that.

You must be thinking of someone else. Where did I take issue with Libby's decision to make an apology? I have said over and over again that I don't agree with what she said on camera (which was confused and unrehearsed and unprofessional), and I agree far less with what she said in her apology.

But over and over, I've also said that my problem is not Libby's statements and views and actions (which outweigh the rest of her caucus combined qualitatively) - rather, my problem is the public attack on her by Harper, Rae, Layton, Dewar, and Mulcair, and whether we should defend her (not her views - her - against these attacks), or join in the attack, or remain silent. I gave a precise 6-point program for how Layton could have handled the issue without leaving the slightest doubt about the NDP's position on Israel (which I don't share, as everyone here knows - but that's not the issue) - and without the obscene public spectacle of Mulcair ranting, Dewar patronizing, and Layton genuflecting.

Ken, you can give your opinion about what will work with the media and what won't. There are others of us here who also have lots of experience in how to get our message across through hostile channels (the MSM and others) and avert diversions as much as possible. It's difficult to decide on a hypothetical basis whose approach will be more effective.

KenS

Unionist wrote:

Where did I take issue with Libby's decision to make an apology? I have said over and over again that I don't agree with what she said on camera (which was confused and unrehearsed and unprofessional), and I agree far less with what she said in her apology.

Its not whather there is some kind of apology. And I do think the distinction has been made pretty clear by now. I'm saying that the apolgy made has to be essentialy an abject one that simply says "I was wrong" and doesnt blunt that by saying also what was/is right.

Call that an extreme apology. That an "extreme apology" was the minimum required to close the door, and that the kind of apology you are talking about, which is really just for where she was wrong/muddled, would have left the door wide open.

I'm going to be surprised if you simply haven't seen that distinction- that I'm saying something more extreme, and that you and others obviously, don't like, is what is required to keep this from ending up as "NDP challenges Israel's right to exist".

You know, I'm consistently NOT taking the easy way out on this, and am trying to stay focused on pulling out and discussing where the disagreements are. And please don't anyone tell me, "why aggravate it." This differnce is constantly and harshly played out. Its there anyway and gets endless air play here.

Example of not taking the easy way and trying to stay on central issues. It would be so easy to say "Mulcair was over the top. That was gratuitous and he was free lancing."  Aggreeing on that papers over differences. Instead I've emphasised how extreme the apology requirement  thing is: that once Mulcairs huffing is out there, irregardless that is off base, to criticise Mulcairs comments would re-open the door that the apology closed. [And Libby sure as hell doesnt need to hear Mulcair cut down, nor is failing to do so undermining her publci stature.]

Same thing if the offer of the CIC trip was simply rjected for the substantive reasons that would make that perfectly just and consistent. That would undo the closing of that threatening door with Libbys uneuivocal apology. Instead the CIC offer needs to be accepted at least in principle... and then come back with theings that turn the tables and put them in the difficult position. For example, Jack says "while we are there we will be making an official whatever visit to Gaza to study conditions of the population there." Under the auspices of the UN or however you do that so that Israel can only use the big hammer if it really wants to stop you.

That there are solid grounds for simply rejecting the CIC trip does not matter. That would re-open the door closed with Libby and Jack's apology. The message that people here want from such a rejection would not be heard beyond the choir.

Am I really the only one around here who wants to take up some of these comments?

Fidel

The average Canadian is thinking, Israel? Isn't that where sweet baby Jesus was born? And Palestinians want to persecute them all over again?

We have to pick our battles and go hard. This would not be one of those good fights. We'd be slaughtered by a well-oiled, right wing colder war propaganda machine. The NDP would be splayed, whipped, run through, and made to bear their own cross on the way to political crucifixion. Really.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
That there are solid grounds for simply rejecting the CIC trip does not matter. That would re-open the door closed with Libby and Jack's apology. The message that people here want from such a rejection would not be heard beyond the choir.

Sometimes keeping faith with the choir is more important than being heard beyond. This is actually something I give the conservatives some credit for understanding.

Unionist

Thank you for that reality check, LTJ. I always thought the aim was to expand the choir - not get it to sing more softly.

 

Fidel

I think if theyre gonna go, it should be a taxpayer funded junket for an all party committee in maintaining an arm's lengthy disinterest.

AntiSpin

Fidel wrote:

The average Canadian is thinking, Israel? Isn't that where sweet baby Jesus was born? And Palestinians want to persecute them all over again?

We have to pick our battles and go hard. This would not be one of those good fights. We'd be slaughtered by a well-oiled, right wing colder war propaganda machine. The NDP would be splayed, whipped, run through, and made to bear their own cross on the way to political crucifixion. Really.

 

So based on Fidel's thinking, the NDP should only take on fuzzy-bunny issues against unorganized, wimpy political machines where we won't be splayed, whipped, run through or given a swirly in the toilet bowl of public opinion?

If the NDP can't take a principled, well communicated position on Israel while in Opposition, how can voters - or anyone - think that the party can take any stand?

Undoubtedly, Israel is a tough nut to crack. I've yet to see a politician take on the subject and not piss off some faction or another. That doesn't mean that the party shouldn't take a stand on what's humane, progressive and right.

Perhaps, following Unionist's line of thinking, is the mistake Libby made was apologizing at all. Perhaps she should've simply clarified her remarks regarding 1948 (she meant 1967) and stood fast on her remaining comments.

For those angry about Libby's treatment by Hippo et al, get a grip...politics is a blood sport and had one of Hippo's minions done the same thing Libby would've been on him/her for exactly the same reasons. So we can dismiss Hippo's comments as just more of the same politics....meaningless drivel for the hardcore evangelical right.

JKR

Fidel wrote:

We have to pick our battles and go hard. This would not be one of those good fights. We'd be slaughtered by a well-oiled, right wing colder war propaganda machine. The NDP would be splayed, whipped, run through, and made to bear their own cross on the way to political crucifixion. Really.

This highlights the medias bias against the NDP, and the left in general, and shows why the left in Canada need a stronger media presence. Media sources like Babble and the Tyee are great but they don't have the ability to frame issues like the MSM do.

The bias in the media has a negative effect on the NDP's ability to support left of centre policies. Just a few media sources in Canada are able to frame issues. Given the chance, the media would likely have framed Libby and the NDP much more negatively if Libby and Layton hadn't responded as they did. Libby's been a very strong representative for the NDP in the media so it'll be enlightening to see if Libby's role in the media changes in the aftermath of this controversy.

It's too bad that Canada doesn't have a strong left-wing presence in its media like the left has in other parts of the world. Left-wing parties in those parts are strengthened by the presence of a strong left-wing press. I was just reading the Guardian and and after just five minutes of reading it I probably saw more of a left-wing perspective then I've seen in our MSM for the last year. Canada's large geography and relatively sparse population seems to mitigate against the establishment of a strong main-stream left-wing presence.

I hate to say this but I think Canada might actually be better off if we had no restrictions on foreign media ownership. In that case maybe progressive media could have a significant place in Canada as part of a global progressive media group.

So what kind of solutions are there to create a MSM where issues are not framed with so much bias against progressive voices?

Fidel

The NDP already takes more "principled stands" on a variety of social and economic issues than the two US-friendly Bay Street parties who support hands down ALL of Uncle Sam's front line states in the global war on democracy. It's not about taking principled stands when it comes to dealing with Canada's obsolete electoral system. There is no real incentive for the NDP to be viewed as taking sides in this particular colder war issue on the other side of the planet, is what I'm saying.

We have some progressives who say that the NDP and everyone else should keep their noses out of Uncle Sam's business in Afghanistan, and it's apparently because uncle Sam's former proxies, the Taliban, will eventually liberate all of Afghanistan by themselves. This phony war has only been going on since start of the last decade, and US involvement in Afghanistan is ongoing for more than 30 years.

But when it comes to Israel and Palestine, the NDP just aren't involved in political interference nearly enough to suit some. For some obscure reason, Palestinians require the fourth party in Ottawa's divine intervention.

KenS

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

Quote:
That there are solid grounds for simply rejecting the CIC trip does not matter. That would re-open the door closed with Libby and Jack's apology. The message that people here want from such a rejection would not be heard beyond the choir.

Sometimes keeping faith with the choir is more important than being heard beyond. This is actually something I give the conservatives some credit for understanding.

 

Unionist wrote:
Thank you for that reality check, LTJ. I always thought the aim was to expand the choir - not get it to sing more softly.

 

Reality check? He didnt say anything about singing beyond the choir. But here we are, ready to launch into wrestling with what abstract generalities apply to a case. Civility is an improvement, but when that passes....

But the comparison to the Conservatives is interesting.

First: you have to both of reaching out, and maintaining your base. Its not even one first, and then the other. You could make a logical case that you have to secure the base for anything else. But thats an empty truism. You have to do both sufficiently, or you are nothing. One first over the other are just two different kind of failures.

If just flat out rejecting the CIC trip to Israel offer is just what the base prefers, but undoes the effect of Libbys unequivocal apology and re-opens the door to swift boating.... that sucks as a tradeoff.

The Conservatives pick their time when they throw out red meat for the base. They might throw that out when its not perfect for their standing with the swing voters, but never when the risk of severe reaction to throwing out the red meat are high. [Severe reactions from people like us dont matter if its reasonably expected to be just us. Just like the NDP neednt concern themselves when its only the Conservative base that will go apopletic over one of their positions. Or if it were only the Canada Israel Committee and the CJC, and not the general population with them.]

 

KenS

And whether it is the Conservatives or the NDP, after the party [Caucus really, when it come to implementation] positions itself on an issue... the base discusses. If it isn't their preference, they discuss how much that means to them, whether its an acceptable saw off, etc.

Which is what we do here.

Sort of.

Not really.

Because while collectively we might accept the idea that saw offs are necessary.... when it comes to the NDP at least, we don't discuss that. Its just a contest of outrages.

Unionist

I'm not sure why you're talking about the CIC invitation to Israel in this thread, Ken. But I wonder if those babblers who are attacking Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen for performing in Israel would take the same attitude about Jack Layton.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Quote:
I hate to say this but I think Canada might actually be better off if we had no restrictions on foreign media ownership. In that case maybe progressive media could have a significant place in Canada as part of a global progressive media group.

And just what 'global progressive media group' are you aware of? Honestly, this is a perfect example of how we've all been brainwashed to believe that 'free' markets actually provide meaningful alternatives, or somehow respond to actual needs.

The Guardian is the Guardian because of decades of history and tradition and success, not because it belongs to a 'global progressive media group'.

remind remind's picture

Unionist wrote:
I'm not sure why you're talking about the CIC invitation to Israel in this thread, Ken. But I wonder if those babblers who are attacking Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen for performing in Israel would take the same attitude about Jack Layton.

 

How about reversing this, and applying it to your own perceptions?

Why are you holding Layton to a different standard than Atwood or Cohen, with your wanting to go soft on them as we "need" allies?

 

As I said before, they have a much bigger public profile and thus impact larger amounts of  people with their actions,  than Layton does.

 

 

Unionist

Why do I hold the leader of a progressive political party to a higher standard than unelected private citizens?

I'll get back to you on that.

 

KenS

Is there a politicians boycott of Israel?

What comes to mind is that would be an oxymoron. We do have to deal with Israel. These days, Israel leaves nothing to negotiate about. But there will have to be negotiations some day. And in principle, ALL politicians have to behave even in the short term with an eye to negotiations. So all political parties should in principle have some kind of presence vis the state of Israel.

That doesnt say whether the NDP should accept THIS offer of a trip to Israel. But you raised the comparison to a cultural boycott of Israel, and it just isnt comparable.

The phrasing of your question is "I wonder if ________ ?" is how litmus tests of purity are typically phrased.

"I wonder if,"

thats what this question of yours is?

Back into the same old safe rut, eh? It may not be a great rut, but is one where we all know our places. Well rehearsed.

KenS

Enough of the rut. And playing my role in it.

Question for LTJ and Unionist. And it would be great if you each answered- even if just to affirm what the first to answer said.

I dont think there is any agreement around how much of an opening, if any, Libby's comments left for her and the NDP to be swift boated into having challenged Israel's right to exist.

No agreement that an unequivocal apology was required: one where Libby just recants her words and says sorry, and thats it. Where qualifications such as stating what was meant would just eliminate the effect of the apology. I see no agreement on that. And in Unionist's case, though he seems to be reluctant to come out and say for reasons I cant fathom, I think hes still made it clear that he is talking about an entirely different kind of apology. Not the kind of apology where the sole thing you want to do is get off the fricking hot button where you did not mean to be.

So no agreement that some kind of "extreme apology" was required. Which pretty well makes it impossible that there is any agreement that a flat rejection of the trip to Israel is likely to do undo the quieting effect of Libby's actual apology and open her and the NDP up to swift boating.

But humour me please and assume for the purposes of discussion that it is agreed that the flat rejection of the trip to Israel would open back up the possibility of being swift boated.

And if thats true, then it comes down to the benefits gained in the flat rejection of the trip, versus the cost in the significant risk that it leaves the NDP open to being swift boated.

The benefit of the flat rejection is that it would deliver the message that the NDP thinks that Israel should be treated like a pariah state. And most people in this discussion are quite sure Israel IS a pariah state. So that sounds good. But just in terms of the benefits, not even looking at risks, we know its very questionable how much that message would be heard by the general public. Truthfully, probably only helping the message be heard [nothing about likely receptivity] over the long term. So the benefits would be: pleases the base, makes a long term contribution to educating the rest.

The cost, the risk, has already been talked about plenty: the risk of the NDP being swift boated, which would have immediate repercussions, and much broader than its effect on the NDP. At least for the short term- an out of control fire storm.

So, with the very big caveat that there is no agreement that the flat rejection of the trip to Israel could have implications like that....  if for the purposes of discussion you agree it is a very real possibility, would you still be unwilling to forgoe the benefits of the flat rejection of the trip to Israel?

[And keeping in mind that its not as if there are not other avenues. Such as the one suggested where the NDP accepts the trip and says its also going on a fact finding mission to Gaza. But whatever the appeals of that option, it does include forgoing delivering the blunt message of flatly rejecting the trip to Israel.]

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I guess I have a problem with just humouring you.

First of all, a 'swift boating' is not "an out-of-control fire storm". it is a momentary shock, a gut reaction that generally makes little sense once considered. As I stated earlier, getting that intellectual consideration is the key. How do you engage afterwards to counter the effect and can you even use a little judo to redirect the force back where it came from?

Secondly, I have no strong feelings one way or another about the NDP touring Israel and environs, unless of course it is done uncritically and strictly according to direction by the CJC and their Israeli allies.

Unionist

Ken, I have trouble following long complicated stream-of-consciousness questions, so I'll give you my answer and hope it somehow relates to your question.

Jack Layton could say:

"We are willing and eager to visit Israel. However, it would be inappropriate to do so at the invitation of, and with expenses paid by, a registered lobby group for one of the parties to the hostilities there, especially at such a difficult and painful time for all the people. While we appreciate the invitation, we prefer to wait for an opportunity which is more multilateral in nature and which will allow us to observe at first-hand the full situation, both within Israel, within the occupied territories, and in Gaza, with appropriate access to the inhabitants and their representatives."

 

Unionist

Nope, that's the only opinion I have. Wink

ETA: I guess I can add that I agree fully with LTJ's reply as well.

 

KenS

Other opinions / thoughts out there?

Unionist

So Ken - what are you waiting for?

 

KenS

Time.

JKR

Unionist wrote:

Jack Layton could say:

"We are willing and eager to visit Israel. However, it would be inappropriate to do so at the invitation of, and with expenses paid by, a registered lobby group for one of the parties to the hostilities there, especially at such a difficult and painful time for all the people. While we appreciate the invitation, we prefer to wait for an opportunity which is more multilateral in nature and which will allow us to observe at first-hand the full situation, both within Israel, within the occupied territories, and in Gaza, with appropriate access to the inhabitants and their representatives."

Wouldn't the media just portray this as the NDP siding against Israel and Jews in general?

How would Layton respond to these kinds of allegations from the Mansbridges and Roberstons of the media?

And how would Mulcair and Pat Martin answer these kinds of allegations from the media?

The NDP should not overreact to this "invitation" and should just let it recede quietly into the past.

Fidel

JKR wrote:
Wouldn't the media just portray this as the NDP siding against Israel and Jews in general?

Yes, I think it would be best just to leave it alone as far as electioneering is concerned. The NDP hasn't been any more popular for opposing Uncle Sam's agenda in the past. We are forced to play smaller than our potential and within the confines of an obsolete FPTP electoral system based on four-year market central planning. The real issues are which party of bribed, corporate America-friendly Bay Street hirelings can they shove into power next, and that's all. They are not fearful of any real outbreak of democracy in front lines states like Israel at all. And Israel is but one of many colder war fronts in what is a global war on democracy. Talk of what's happening in front line states on the other side of the world is a diversion from the lack of transparent and accountable government right here at home.

Unionist

JKR wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Jack Layton could say:

"We are willing and eager to visit Israel. However, it would be inappropriate to do so at the invitation of, and with expenses paid by, a registered lobby group for one of the parties to the hostilities there, especially at such a difficult and painful time for all the people. While we appreciate the invitation, we prefer to wait for an opportunity which is more multilateral in nature and which will allow us to observe at first-hand the full situation, both within Israel, within the occupied territories, and in Gaza, with appropriate access to the inhabitants and their representatives."

Wouldn't the media just portray this as the NDP siding against Israel and Jews in general?

How would Layton respond to these kinds of allegations from the Mansbridges and Roberstons of the media?

The media will do whatever they want. The question is - what basis would they have for saying the NDP is "siding against Israel" in the paragraph I've suggested above?

As for the "Jews in general", that's just a rather wild statement on your part. When the NDP says it wants Israel to stop the settlements (for example - which it often does), have you heard some media say, "aw you're just anti-semites?" And if they did, should the NDP run in fear from frenzied nonsense like that?

Quote:
And how would Mulcair and Pat Martin answer these kinds of allegations from the media?

You mean, when the media say: "But you guys are well known as staunch supporters of Israel who snarl and bark any time anyone criticizes it - how do you explain the NDP suddenly taking a more evenhanded stance?"

Well, JKR, that's the whole point, isn't it? The NDP should take a more evenhanded stance - if, that is, it's viscerally incapable of (for example) condemning Israel for killing peace activists - at least it can pretend not to be on one side against the other?

And if Mulcair and Martin are too out of control to answer, then they can just repeat the leader's statement, together with appropriate talking points - or (as Paul Dewar lectured Libby Davies), they can keep their mouths shut because it's not their file?

Quote:
The NDP should not overreact to this "invitation" and should just let it recede quietly into the past.

Ah, so they should refuse it? Good. But what if the media ask Layton why he's not going?

JKR

 

Unionist wrote:

The media will do whatever they want. The question is - what basis would they have for saying the NDP is "siding against Israel" in the paragraph I've suggested above?

On the basis of the response the CIC would likely make to that paragraph. The CIC's would likely respond by saying, in the media, that they were snubbed by the NDP. The media would then use the CIC's talking points to question NDP'ers. The CIC would probably like nothing better then to start a war-of-words with the NDP knowing the media would use their talking points. The optics of the NDP and CIC feuding would not look good especially through the filter of the National Post, Sun media, CTV, Global, CBC, Toronto Star, etc....

 

Unionist wrote:

You mean, when the media say: "But you guys are well known as staunch supporters of Israel who snarl and bark any time anyone criticizes it - how do you explain the NDP suddenly taking a more evenhanded stance?"

Well, JKR, that's the whole point, isn't it? The NDP should take a more evenhanded stance - if, that is, it's viscerally incapable of (for example) condemning Israel for killing peace activists - at least it can pretend not to be on one side against the other?

And if Mulcair and Martin are too out of control to answer, then they can just repeat the leader's statement, together with appropriate talking points - or (as Paul Dewar lectured Libby Davies), they can keep their mouths shut because it's not their file?

If a clear majority of the NDP's caucus was for such a statement, there might not be dissension; otherwise such a statement could create a split within caucus. In any case, Pat Martin might resign his position as critic. The CIC and much of the media would love it if that story went viral. And just in time for an election.

 

Unionist wrote:

Ah, so they should refuse it? Good. But what if the media ask Layton why he's not going?

He could say that he hasn't had time to go as he has had to deal with more pressing issues such as his cancer treatment.

NDP MP's like Mulcair, Martin and Dewar should be able to go on if they want to, just like Libby has already gone on tours of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank.

The NDP should not allow the CIC's gambit to hurt the party.

 

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

JKR wrote:

The NDP should not allow the CIC's gambit to hurt the party.

They already have. The public now knows that the NDP has few meaningful policies or principles. People who might have voted for peace in the middle east can now comfortably stay home in droves, come election time.

Unionist

JKR wrote:

He [Layton] could say that he hasn't had time to go as he has had to deal with more pressing issues such as his cancer treatment.

NDP MP's like Mulcair, Martin and Dewar should be able to go on if they want to, just like Libby has already gone on tours of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank.

The NDP should not allow the CIC's gambit to hurt the party.

So, if the pro-Israel lobby asks the NDP on an all-expenses-paid trip on the lobby's terms and conditions, the NDP (according to your detailed scenario) cannot afford to either say "no" (because they don't all have cancer...), nor can they put conditions (such as, "arrange for us to visit Gaza and the West Bank and have access to the players there too") - because they can never win the war of words in the media.

One wonders how Tommy Douglas managed to socialize health care at the height of the Cold War and in the face of a doctors' strike. I guess the media must have been on his side, yes?

With analysis like yours, if it were accurate (it's not, by the way), the NDP should definitely fold up its tent and dissolve. I happen to think it's capable of better than that.

remind remind's picture

Personally I am going to be more mature about it, as I realize that the powers that be want us to stay home, so they can have all the power, uncontested.

George Victor

Tommy Douglas complained during the 1962 fedral election that nespapers were NOT onside with the NDP...except for the Windsor Star. But it was during the period before the successfully organized had come to realize the benefits of market investments, and a decade before Naomi Klein's "boys from Chicago" had begun to show capital how to limit the growth of social spending and limit labour's growth (and standard of living).  In 1962 folks still expected more ...PET would later that decade describe it as "rising expectations" among the mases.   I don't believe the Windsor Star is onside today.

KenS

I will get back here. Maybe today even.

KenS

I'm working on what I think is the central issue, the central difference. Which entails addressing what I think is at the core of comments by LTJ and Unionist.

But here's something I'm curious about that maybe doesnt fall into that....

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

I have no strong feelings one way or another about the NDP touring Israel and environs, unless of course it is done uncritically and strictly according to direction by the CJC and their Israeli allies.

Hmmm. What I see as the objection to accepting the CIC trip offer is two fold.

1.] That people want a message delivered. Essentially one that counters the effect of Libby's simple apology that really just says "I was wrong."

2.] That the CIC does not need to put any conditions at all. That going on the trip would affirm the legitimacy of the CIC, and the staus quo of Israel's barbarity and refusal to engage in negotiations that are anything other than Israel ragging the puck until they get everything they want [now... before moving the goal posts still further, repeat steps, etc].

It could be just that its #2. That #1 is in practice just a muddled after the fact derivative of #2.

Anyway, I'm wondering if you real mean that accepting the trip is OK as long as there is no complete kowtowing to the CIC. Because I don't think the CIC will do that, or needs to for its purposes. And I also would not like to see the trip accepted without the NDP pushing back against the envelope. [For example, saying they will go on a fact finding mission to Gaza on the same trip.]

KenS

Its worth noting that when I have previously suggested this response of the NDP, and I am pretty sure I have put it out there more than once, originally and maybe repeatedly in the thread about the offer of the trip to Israel, it has always been phrased as:

A number of people have said the NDP should do a flat rejection. The same people who are the most upset by the NDP's response, and who while they don't blame Libby, dont like her abject apology either. While no one explicit;y said they wanted it deliver a message- I didn't make that up.

My response hase been that

1.] If the NDP does a flat rejection it will be back into the frying pan on this. Granted, most people, all the objestors, dont like the NDP hopping out of the frying pan. We don't agree on how much damage would come from staying in the frying pan. Mostly people just reject my claim of how much damage would be without substantively arguing the point- with I think LTJ being the only exception. At any rate, leaving aside that disagreement, people dont like the NDP jumping off the hot seat.

So it follows of course that the objectors don't care that a flat blunt rejection of the trip would get the NDP back into hot water.

But, I don't just say that.

2.] I always suggest that the NDP could without directly rejecting the attempt at co-opting, could push back and turn the tables by graciously accepting, but saying at the same time the NDP is going on an official fact finding mission on the conditions of the population in Gaza.

Despite the fact that at least addresses what people are looking for- not kowtowing and pushing on Israel- not a single person commented on whether or not that would be a good strategy.

The only comments I got were addressing the first part, #1, that it be craven to not do a flat rejection.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

KenS wrote:

The only comments I goy were addressing the first part, #1, that it be craven to not do a flat rejection.

...an oddly appropo typo, given the subject. Wink

KenS

Unionist wrote:

Jack Layton could say:

"We are willing and eager to visit Israel. However, it would be inappropriate to do so at the invitation of, and with expenses paid by, a registered lobby group for one of the parties to the hostilities there, especially at such a difficult and painful time for all the people. While we appreciate the invitation, we prefer to wait for an opportunity which is more multilateral in nature and which will allow us to observe at first-hand the full situation, both within Israel, within the occupied territories, and in Gaza, with appropriate access to the inhabitants and their representatives."

 

That counts as a flat rejection by the way. Despite not being phrased that way.

Just like the CIC not putting any restrictions or conditions on an NDP trip to Israel, does not make it a de facto move to compromise the positioning of the NDP.

KenS

I thought that goy typo was funny too. You're quick. That was probably only up a couple minutes.

KenS

And here's the clarification for Unionist. More like, at Unionist. Since its a statement, not a question.

Unionist wrote:

Ken, I have trouble following long complicated stream-of-consciousness questions, so I'll give you my answer and hope it somehow relates to your question.

I can be hard to follow. Though in this case, is multi-stepped points. Not stream of conciousness. Anything but.

Your're a lot to blame for the multi-stepped business. When you don't answer simple questions, if I'm not just in a mood to look for simple "winning" my tendency is to say, "he didn't like that," and I try a different tack. Which isnt always a good idea.

Numerous times I have outlined- in as little as a sentence or two- the kind of apology that was required of Libby to defuse the situation from going completely sideways. And its further simplified by explicitly saying that the apolgy she actually gave was the minimum required, with no qualifications.

You dance around it. You say you have no problem with Libby apologizing, even though thats not the question. You've even said in the same comment you don't have a problem with Libby apologizing, but you don't like here apology. Thats only obliquely disagreeing with me, which means you never have to say on what grounds you disagree.

You made another oblique reference to the disagreement with "we all have our opinions about communications strategies." Just oblique.

I sincerly appreciate that you are willing to engage. But its like there's an electric fence keeping you in narrow bounds.

We've gone round and round and round. LTJ pops in, has an understanding that is very close to what yours seems to be [deduced by whats not said]... and within a couple posts offers a substantive basis for disagreeing.

[Which, for what its worth, I suspect my answers to what he suggested do not have anywhere they can go. Which is not a great thing. But if there's some relative closure [or something like that] to the discussion, or to a good chunk of the discussion, that beats going round and round and round.

KenS

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

'Swift Boating' is going to have its visceral impact, like it or not. Its goal is to create FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) at a gut-level. So you can't immediately counteract it; it requires a longer term, intellectual response - one aimed at unveiling the objectives of the ideological dissemblers behind the lies. Any attempt to assuage the situation simply makes you seem guilty or weak. In your Obama example, it was reasonably well-handled by revealing who was implying Obama was secretly 'Muslim' - and why.

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

.... a 'swift boating' is not "an out-of-control fire storm". it is a momentary shock, a gut reaction that generally makes little sense once considered. As I stated earlier, getting that intellectual consideration is the key. How do you engage afterwards to counter the effect and can you even use a little judo to redirect the force back where it came from?

"Makes little sense once considered."

What does 'considered' have to do with it?

That might sound like I'm going to say that this is inherently irrational, so whats answeing with the rational got to do with it. But that isn't the point.

Answering the irrational with rational is the right way to go. But thats an abstraction only if you are not including the medium of the "converstaion". And the medium that you are talking about, that Unionist always suggest where the answers are is a litteral conversation.

And I know that people are not the least blind that it is not a fact to face conversation. But it is not just a question of degrees of difficuly. We are talking about discourse dynamics that are categorically different than what we call a conversation. There is stiil give and take and it is a changing dynamic, but not like a conversation.

And the bias of the media is only part of the probelm. With difficulty, you can clear that hurdle. But there is still the equally determining hurdle that the discourse is highly mediated. You don't get to have the conversation that is required for the answers you and Unionist and others to give, at all.

[And JKR is chasing after the same rabbit. If it was anything even sort of like a conversation. If it was, the answers people are giving to your objections would suffice.]

Now there is practically speaking an answer that is at least in the ballpark when LTJ referrs to with, "you can't immediately counteract [swift boating]; it requires a longer term, intellectual response."

Communications over the long term addresses the actual dynamic at play, at least in the sense it does not assume and require something like a face to face conversation.

KenS

In terms of structure of communication, I would put the Obama campaign response to "Obama is a Muslim" in the same category as how Libby and the NDP apologized: putting fires out before they get going.

The Obama campaign wasn't dealing with a mistake, or needing to backpeddle. But those are differing specific tactics put to the same purpose: putting out fires before they get going. Fires that will consume you if you don't put them out.

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