Digby points out how utterly ass-backwards the "Wingnut-lite" strategy prominently featued in a new TAP article is. He's right, of course. But here's something timely he didn't mention: The TAP article's exemplar of the winning Democratic message is Tim Kaine:
Incoming Democratic Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, a former Christian missionary in Latin America, learned the importance of cultural appeals early in his campaign. Kaine, Virginia’s first Catholic governor and one of the two major Democratic electoral success stories of 2005, had worked as a court-appointed attorney for inmates on death row while a young attorney. This, he knew, would be a major strike against him in his bid to run a state whose citizens overwhelmingly support the death penalty, and in a contest against the state’s attorney general, who would inevitably accuse him of being soft on crime and a bleeding-heart liberal.And you know what? It turns out that he's the same Tim Kaine the Democratic leadershit has "tapped" to rebut Dubya's SOTU speech, as opposed to, say, designated spear catcher Jack Murtha. You know, the guy whose website is long on God and church and the NRA, but utterly devoid of any military or foreign policy cred. Which might matter if we were involved in, like, a war or something.
In the spring of 2005 Kaine’s pollster, Peter Brodnitz, of the polling firm Benenson Strategy Group, decided that the campaign needed to develop a strategy to handle such charges. It convened a focus group of white, conservative, religious voters, and explored different ways Kaine could reach out to them. The result was startling. Brodnitz found that once Kaine started talking about his religious background and explaining that his opposition to the death penalty grew out of his Catholic faith, not only did charges that he was weak on crime fail to stick, but he became inoculated against a host of related charges that typically plague and undermine the campaigns of Democratic candidates. “Once people understood the values system that the position grew out of, they understood that’s he’s not a liberal,” says Brodnitz. “We couldn’t even convince them he was a liberal once we’d done that.”