Daily Archives: February 18, 2004

Direct Mail and Democrats Don’t Mix

Re my reply to Dave Johnson, Josh Marshall wonders why direct mail doesn’t work for the Dems.

Democrats have always lamented how Republicans just have far better direct-mail lists than they do, and how the Republicans are just plain better at it. And they do have better lists and they are better at it. But I’ve always thought that it wouldn’t really matter all that much if the Democrats had high quality lists too. The truth is that direct-mail, for whatever reason, just works with folks who are apt to give money to Republican campaigns. And it just doesn’t with Dems, or at least not nearly as well. It’s a different demographic. For whatever social or cultural reasons, the technology or mechanism — in this case fundraising by mail — is just particularly well suited to one demographic and not to the other.

Atrios offers an explanation.

Josh Marshall raises an issue that he’s raised before – that perhaps Democrats have a comparative advantage in raising money over the internet, relative to direct mail due to the charcteristics of their supporters. I think he’s given his reasons for this in more detail previously, and to some extent I probably agree. But, aside from the medium of direct mail I’d argue that there’s something wrong with the message.I get a reasonable amount of political junk mail. Frankly, most of it goes into the trash unread these days. But, to the extent that I do read it I have the impression that it reads something like this:


There’s a kind of “we’re pathetic and can’t do anything unless you send us a couple of bucks” vibe. Now, that may in fact be true – that they’re at a financial disadvantage. But, look – nobody likes a loser.

I’d prefer direct mail which went something like:

Last week we took Tom DeLay out back and kicked the crap out of him. This week, we plan to do it again. Help support this ass-kicking! For only $25, your name can be on a bootprint on DeLay’s mottled ass!

Democrats are tired of being on the defensive. We’ve been on the defensive since the Failed Clinton Presidency began being reported 2 hours after election day ’92. It’s time for those days to be over.I think he’s got a point.

The Bush Budget Cuts Explained

An editorial in today’s NYT notes that Bush has somewhat tardily decided that his budget is just a wee bit out of balance–$521BIL, to be exact–and he’s going to do something about it. Yessir, he’s going to get tough with his big-spender Congress and put his foot down. He’s eliminating all that shameful pork, that disgusting waste, and that intolerable fraud.

“Ah, so he’s going to veto the energy bill after all.”

“Well, no, not exactly.”

“Then it must be that he’s going to void the Halliburton contracts and open up the bidding to legitimate, more honest, competitors.”

“Um, well, no, he’s not going to do that either.”


“He’s going to collect the $$$BILLIONS$$$ corporations owe in taxes?”

“Uh-uh, nope.”

“Cut the $$$200BIL$$$ in corporate welfare?”

“Fraid not.”

“Close some of the tax loopholes that favor the rich?”

“Not as such, no.”

“Let his tax cuts expire instead of making them permanent?”

“What are you, a Communist?”

“Then how’s he going to do it?”

“Like this–”

In trying to campaign as a late-blooming fiscal disciplinarian, the president is making a show of marking 128 programs — count ’em, G.O.P. budget hawks, 128 — for elimination or cutbacks in many vital social service areas. As if they are at the heart of the administration’s rolling deficits, which threaten the nation’s economic future.

“Wow. 128. That’s a lot.”

“Well, it just goes to show how serious he is about balancing the budget.”

“I guess so. I had no idea we were spending $$500Bil on social service programs.”

“We’re not.”

“We’re not? Must be close, though.”

“Not really.”

“No? Well, then, how much is he going to cut?”

“About $5Bil.”

“But that’s only, lemme see–(takes off socks to count on toes)–1% of the deficit.”

“A shade less, actually.”

“But how’s that going to help?”

“It isn’t, but it looks good.”

“To who?”

“Wall Street, of course. They love it. He’s being tough on those welfare deadbeats, and they’re the reason we have deficits.”

“They are? So if he cuts that $5B, we won’t have a deficit any more?”

“No, we will, but it will be A LOT smaller.”

“How much smaller?”

“$5B smaller.”

“I’m don’t get it.”


[T]he White House [is demonstrating] election-year toughness by cutting child care aid for the working poor, who need it most. The proposed cuts would mean a minimal drop of 200,000, and probably 365,000, in the number of children receiving child care aid in the next five years.

“See that? Almost 400,000 freeloaders off the govt dole in only a few years. We’re cutting the legs out from under that deficit!”

“But they’re just…kids, and they could starve–”

“No, no, that’s the wrong angle. Don’t think of them as starving kids, that’s a liberal trick. Think of them as lazy, shiftless ni–, uh, leeches, a drain on society. They’re stealing money right out of your pocket, you know.”

“They are? The kids?”

“Sure. You didn’t have them, did you?”


“Then they’re not your responsibility, are they? Their parents are responsible for having the kids, so their parents should be responsible for paying. Why should you have to pay to take care of somebody else’s kid because they’re too lazy to get a job?”

“But there aren’t any jobs.”

“Are you sure you’re not a Communist? There’s plenty of jobs around for anybody willing to work. Why, Wal-mart is always hiring. And McDonald’s. And I’ve been trying to find my wife a decent maid for more than a month. All my friends? Same thing. There just isn’t enough good help to go around. No, there’s plenty of work. It’s the liberals. They blow those unemployment numbers all out of proportion. Don’t pay any attention to them. Think of the money you’ll be able to keep in your own pocket if you’re not feeding all those kids.”

“A lot?”

“A lot? Hell, yes. A hundred, maybe a hundred and twenty dollars–”

“A week?”

“No, a year, But it’s $120 you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Now you can get that new portable radio you’ve been wanting.”

“Aw, gee, I couldn’t listen to a radio if I knew the only reason I had it was I saved the money by starving some kids. It don’t feel right.”

“You are a Communist. Listen, how do you think the economy grows? It grows when people buy things. You buy that radio, you help the economy by keeping the $$$BILLION$$-corporation that made that radio in business. What does a starving kid do for the economy? Nothing, that’s what. But if you buy that radio, you keep America strong.”

“Yeah? But all the portable radios are made in Japan. Wouldn’t I be making Japan strong?”

“China, they’re made in China. But that’s not the point! Look, why are you being so difficult? You don’t want the terrorists to win, do you?”

“No, why? Will they win if I don’t buy the radio?”

“They certainly will. If the economy is weak, we’re weak, and if we’re weak, those terrorists, why, they could roll in here free as birds, blow us up with their WMD’s, and impinge on all our personal freedoms.”

“That sounds bad.”

“Course it’s bad. You wouldn’t want that.”

“No, I guess not,”

“So now you can see why it’s important to get those kids–um, I mean, the parents of those kids–off welfare and working again. If I don’t find that maid pretty soon, my wife’s gonna lop my thing off and feed it to her Rottweiler.”

“Lemme see if I got this straight. The president is starving kids to keep terrorists from taking over the country?”

“That’s it. Now you’ve got it.”

“What I’ve got is a headache.”

“Buy some aspirin and fight terrorism.”

Pubs v Dems

No Fear of Freedom notices a difference between a Republican and a Democratic president.