"Democratic" pollsters Schoen and Caddell speak with one conservative voice

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY & OLIVER WILLIS

In today's Washington Post you'll spy an op-ed by longtime Washington insiders Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell arguing that Democrats, in order to minimize electoral damage this November, "need to start embracing an agenda that speaks to the broad concerns of the American electorate ... the agenda that is driving the Tea Party movement and one that has the capacity to motivate a broadly based segment of the electorate."

Schoen and Caddell identify themselves in the op-ed as "Democratic pollsters who argued against the health-care legislation," but that is a gross understatement -- Schoen and Caddell have opposed almost every Democratic and progressive position in recent years. They might consider themselves "Democrats," but in practice they are conservative mouthpieces who concern-troll their way through Fox News' evening line-up telling anyone who will listen how Democrats need to be more like conservative Republicans.

Pick almost any issue facing the country today, and you'll find that that Schoen's and Caddell's rhetoric matches exactly the rhetoric you hear coming from right-wing pundits and politicians.

Let's start with environmentalism, not because it's objectively the most logical place to start, but because these comments by Caddell on environmentalism resulted in his being fired from the campaign of Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff this past February:

CADDELL: The whole idea of the environmental movement isn't to clean up the environment, or do what we need to do, or to get -- it is to basically deconstruct capitalism.

Romanoff fired him because Caddell's remarks "were completely at odds with Andrew's campaign." That's not surprising, given that Caddell's views on environmentalism are exactly in line with those of Rush Limbaugh, who had this to say about the U.N.'s climate change plans: "It fits right in, ladies and gentlemen, with Obama's plan to destruct the foundation of capitalism in this country and replace it with a giant government and a huge, huge welfare state."

How about unions? Later in that same video, Caddell takes off on a riff from right-wing nut David Horowitz about the liberal-communist conspiracy to control the American people, and he says this about the SEIU and its recently resigned president Andy Stern:

CADDELL: When you mentioned the comment about Andy Stern, the person you people really ought to meet, the two most important people in this whole movement are George Soros and Andy Stern. Andy Stern is head of the SEIU, the biggest union now in the country, and it's all public employees and whatever. And he said, in that same interview he said "workers of the world unite," he said "we believe in the power of persuasion, and if that doesn't work we believe in the persuasion of power." Now, if you don't know what that phrase means and how they're using this, then you don't understand exactly how dangerous all of this really is. Because these guys are thugs!

Again, we'll hold this up to Boss Limbaugh's rhetoric:

LIMBAUGH: Even though it never was about health care, you and I know this was never about health care, it's about expanding government, it's about regulating as much of individual life, liberty as they can. But now it ought to be clear to anybody, you got Andy Stern, the union thug out there saying if this doesn't pass, Democrats may lose their majority. That's threats and intimidation.

What about the tea parties? We already know from their op-ed that Schoen and Caddell view the tea party ethos, such as they see it, as the path to electoral success, but on the April 5 edition of Hannity, Schoen went so far as to say the tea parties are America: "[T]he Tea Party Movement represents fiscal conservatives who want to return to core principles. That's America." This comment received a hearty endorsement from Hannity: "That's America. Thank you."

How about President Obama and American exceptionalism? Caddell is of the opinion that Obama is deliberately transforming the once-glorious America into just another mediocre state like you might find in Europe, an opinion he expressed just last night on Hannity (accessed from Nexis):

CADDELL: American exceptionalism is being deconstructed here. For us to give this up, to end up being hired out to the Soviets, or excuse me, the Russians. The KGB. The Russians, the Chinese or whoever, for us to say in this that we are not going to do this.

The president's science adviser the other day gave a speech saying it was OK not to be No. 1 and we should get used to it.

This is the problem I think I, as a Democrat, have most with my president. I know it's what Doug Schoen said the other day with you in part. American exceptionalism, I believe, is the very foundation of this country. We're not supposed to be like Europe. People came here not to be.

And now conservative pundit Monica Crowley, from March 24:

We have been the "shining city on a hill" that achieved superpower pre-eminence in a very short period of time because we were unique: The American people had a fierce passion for liberty, and our political system -- based on limited government and individual freedom -- was great because it was good. It allowed us to thrive, prosper and set ourselves apart from every run-of-the-mill nation.

No longer.

What the Democrats did last weekend was not just pass a horrendously expensive, corrupt and destructive health care bill.

They took a big chunk out of our exceptionalism.

They are turning us rather quickly into France. Or Great Britain. Or any other Western European nation that was once great but no longer enjoys that status.

When it comes to national security, there isn't a lot of daylight between Schoen, Cadell and the conservative position either. Responding to news that President Obama was changing U.S. nuclear policy to limit the scope of nuclear targets, they reactednegatively:

SCHOEN: We have a President who wants to move in a non-nuclear direction to get rid of weapons when those weapons are our best security.

[...]

CADDELL: You are inviting an attack doing this.

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer?

This is quite insane. It's like saying that if a terrorist deliberately uses his car to mow down a hundred people waiting at a bus stop, the decision as to whether he gets (a) hanged or (b) 100 hours of community service hinges entirely on whether his car had passed emissions inspections.

Health care? Schoen argued in February on FoxNews.com that the existing legislation needed to be scrapped:

If the Democrats pass health care reform with a party-line vote, a betting man would have to give pretty good odds that the Republicans will win many of those seats. The existing bills need to be scrapped. Democrats need to start over with a fresh bill, and embrace ideas that have broad-based support.

That was the same case made by House Republican Leader John Boehner:

The best way to start on real, bipartisan reform would be to scrap those bills and focus on the kind of step-by-step improvements that will lower health care costs and expand access.

Schoen counseled against using reconciliation to pass health care reform

Passing a comprehensive health care bill via reconciliation is a bad idea. It represents just the sort of hyper-partisan policymaking Americans don't want. Democrats would be setting themselves up for big losses in November.

As did conservative columnist George Will:

The summit's predictable failure will be a pretext for trying to ram health legislation through the Senate by misusing "reconciliation," which prevents filibusters.

Once the bill passed Pat Caddell saw "the political equivalent of Jonestown", while the conservative Washington Times said"Obamacare is an historic moment - like the Black Plague."

During one of his appearances on Hannity, Schoen echoed a favorite conservative attack:

There has been too much big government. The American people want limited government but they don't want no government. They believe that there is a center in this country that we all share.

Sarah Palin:

"The big government, the big debt, Obama-Pelosi-Reid spending spree is over. You're fired," she said, prompting cheers from the crowd.

In an assessment of the tactics of the Obama administration, Caddell saw "gangster politics" and Al Capone:

CADDELL: Now, in Chicago, what we're going to have is gangster politics that will make Al Capone so happy.

Glenn Beck? Same thing.

BECK: This administration is ... they've modeled themselves, I guess, after Al Capone.

On issue after issue of consequence, Schoen and Caddell present conservative opinion and near word-for-word conservative rhetoric under the guise of being Democratic pollsters. Perhaps its time to quit accepting their judgments of the party at face value?

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Pat Caddell, Doug Schoen
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