Republicans can dish it out, but can they take it?
You know those movies where the nice kid is constantly bullied and bullied and he "turns the other cheek" but really he's just wimping out and you're screaming at him to finally get some cojones [thanks Mad Latinist] and lay the smackdown on the assholes who richly deserve it? That's exactly how I've felt observing the Democratic party these past few years. And in those movies, there's usually a moment where the nice kid's finally had enough and his anger bursts out and he (it's usually a he) hits back. And everyone feels good. Everyone shouts "yes!" in their hearts. Could we be having one of those moments now?
Yes, maybe the nice kid in his anger goes too far. And he comes to realize that those bullies are pathetic wimps. And maybe in the future, he doesn't have to hit back because he has his self-respect and doesn't need to. But you can't go from "not hitting back due to wimpiness" directly to "not hitting back due to strength". You have to stop at the "actually hitting back" stage, and stay there until those who are bullying you, and more importantly you, yourself know in the gut that you have that strength.
Now of course "hitting back" can mean lots of different things in the political arena. And I'm not advocating that false slander be answered with false slander. Lord knows, there are plenty of very true things to beat Republicans over the head with. But Democrats can't be afraid of using ridicule, harsh accusations, attacks from third parties, and negative ads. These are important weapons in the political arsenal and if someone's smackin' you with them, it is more pathetic than noble to refrain from responding in kind. Conventional wisdom has it that if John Kerry and his advisors in the 2004 campaign had come to this realization sooner, we might not be slogging through a second term of W.