- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — The Republican national chairman this week suggested Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is too “angry” to win the White House in 2008. And to hear Republicans tell it, Mrs. Clinton is just one of many Democrats with an anger-management problem.

Former Vice President Al Gore is angry. So is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. The party is held hostage by the “angry left.”

In recent months, Republican operatives and officeholders have cast the Democrats as the anger party, long on emotion and short on ideas. Analysts say the strategy has been effective, painting Democrats’ differences with the GOP as temperamental rather than substantive.

“Angry people are not nice people. They are people to stay away from. They explode now and then,” said George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

His book “Don’t Think of an Elephant” has become something of a bible for Democrats trying to improve their communication with voters.

Political history is dotted with failed presidential candidates perceived by the voters as too angry — think of Howard Dean’s famous scream in 2004, or Bob Dole admonishing George H.W. Bush in 1988 to “stop lying about my record.” Each party’s most revered figures in recent years, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, projected optimism and hope.

The latest example of the anger strategy came Sunday, when Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said on ABC that Mrs. Clinton “seems to have a lot of anger.” He cited comments she made in Harlem on Martin Luther King Day in which she likened the Republican-led House to a “plantation” and called the Bush administration “one of the worst” in history.

“I don’t think the American people, if you look historically, elect angry candidates,” he said.

Democrats defended Mrs. Clinton.

“Democrats want a leader who shares their frustration — even anger — about Republican failures,” Democratic strategist Dan Newman said. “Anger at terrorists is expected; outrage about corruption is a plus.”

RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt dismissed the charges, saying the anger strategy was fully justified when Democrats launch personal attacks. She cited Mr. Dean’s description of Republicans as “brain-dead” last year, and Mr. Reid’s calling President Bush a “loser.”

Other examples of the anger strategy abound. Last summer, with chief White House political adviser Karl Rove under investigation in the CIA-leak case, Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, denounced Democrats’ criticism of Mr. Rove as “more of the same kind of anger and lashing out that has become the substitute for bipartisan action and progress.”

Last month, after Mr. Gore criticized the president for approving warrantless eavesdropping on terror suspects, Miss Schmitt retorted: “While the president works to protect Americans from terrorists, Democrats deliver no solutions of their own, only diatribes laden with inaccuracies and anger.”

Mr. Bush himself touched on the anger theme in his recent State of the Union Address, saying: “Our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger.”

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