Going to the well one to many times
By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.
There is a fine line to follow when making this kind of attack and Cheney clumsily stumbled all over it.
1. This kind of attack only works if the overwhelming majority of the audience believes the attack is against someone other than themselves.
2. This kind of attack only works if the overwhelming majority of the audience believes that the overwhelming majority of the audience agrees with the attack.
Even as the Iraq War became more unpopular (rising to the 40+% dissapproval level), the mainstream media essentially ignored this growing discontent (scattered reports don't count when compared to the juggernaut of "rah-rah-rah" reporting that supported this war for its first year). This naturally lead to many of those 40 percenters thinking their opinion was an isolated one. So, even if they believed that this kind of attack was against them and were insulted by it, they didn't externalize that outrage because they were afraid that the majority of their neighbors agreed with it.
However, now that the Iraq War dissapproval has reached 60+% levels, a larger and larger number of dissenters have come to realize that they are not alone in their misgivings. More and more stories are spreading of people "waking up" to the mess the Bush administration has gotten us into.
Thus, when Cheney makes this kind of attack, the kind of attack that would have worked 2 years ago, a majority of his audience realizes (1) he is attacking them and (2) a lot more people agree with them than agree with Cheney.
The result? An electorate that is increasingly turned off and outraged by these kind of attacks. And the more these kind of attacks piss of the electorate, the more that electorate will listen to the arguments of fellow "haters" of the Bush administration's policies.
The Bushie's fear-mongering and divisiveness may have finally reached its point of diminishing return. If they don't wake up to this change and don't adjust for it then they will suffer a political backlash the likes of which isn't seen more than once in a generation.
Unfortunately for them (fortunate for us), they don't have any other weapon to use in this fight. So, even if they understand how things have changed, there isn't anything they can do about it.