Most helpful positive review
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2006
Jarding and Saunders provide a credible, well-reasoned, and easy-to-read critique of recent Democratic campaigns, along with suggestions for significant improvement.
"Foxes in the Henhouse" begins by dissecting the '04 Presidential election into numerous dimensions, showing that Bush had improved over '00 results in about every way possible - concluding that the problem was not that eg. "Bush was a wartime President - very difficult to beat" but that Kerry, et al, had run an ineffective campaign.
Kerry's last mistake was ending up with $15 million in the bank, and 75,000 votes short in Ohio that he possibly could have won had the money been used. His first mistake - conceding the equivalent of 27 states (Bush campaigned everywhere) and their 227 electoral votes - 84% of the total Bush needed to win. Most of the 27 states were in the South, fastest growing area in the U.S. and an area Saunders had recently demonstrated as winnable via Democrat Warner's 2004 victory in the governor's race.
The authors assert that character assassination is now a conventional weapon for Republicans, and Democrats need to fire back. Kerry, for example, should have immediately gone after Bush on the Swift Boat attacks, and called for a debate on military matters (current issues and past service), and held it in the South. They also believe that '04 Democrats mistakenly focused on the economy instead of the war on terror, and added Wesley Clark or Bob Kerrey to the ticket. (Another possibility was Sen. Graham with a 70% approval rating in Florida. a state with 27 electoral votes - enough for Kerry to win.) Instead, Kerry let himself look foolish on the topic by being framed with the "I voted for the "87 billion in spending before I voted against it."
"Foxes in the Henhouse" claims that data show voters in the South and rural America increasingly voting primarily according to issues of patriotism (eg. anti-flag-burning) or morals (they also attend church more often). Republicans have taken advantage of this by using these polarizing issues, without even being burdened with pressure to deliver tangible goods. (Possibly part of the reason Bush II feels free to fill positions with little regard for competence.) The "key" to winning the South is utilizing means to connect culturally with its masses.
The authors believe that the best way to start connecting is NASCAR - eg. sponsor a car. Another is country music - eg. rewrite a popular song to endorse a candidate and have it played regularly by a popular hillbilly band. A third is via other sports - eg. hand out pins with the school and the candidate's name at football games. A fourth suggestion is to get a leading sportsperson to get out the word (eg. at gun shows) that the candidate is not going to be taking away their guns (helps also if the candidate can shoot well).
Finally, Jarding and Saunders offer specifics on rebutting claims that Republicans are the party of family values and God (eg. abortion rates rose 25% under Bush), fiscal conservatism (enormous spending increases; letters from Harvard Business School professors and Nobel laureates in Economics criticizing Bush's "accomplishments," and national defense (serious blunders in setting Iraq troop levels, insufficient armor, trying to short-change veteran's benefits and reduce "combat pay).
Bottom-Line: "Foxes in the Henhouse" ought to boost the morale of any Democrat, and boost all their candidates.