John Kerry's head has the look of a toby jug, set off in the background. Hillary Clinton has Little Orphan Annie irisless eye dots. And Ned Lamont -- hilariously drawn with a long neck and a pointy nose -- stares off to his right and points left.
But let's see what Broder has to say:
“It’s a dog’s breakfast,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which has done extensive polling on public attitudes toward the war. “The reason that Democrats aren’t talking about specific plans to end the war is because it’s hard to figure out what to say without alienating a broad swath of the electorate.”Distractable me: What exactly is "a dog's breakfast"? According to this, it's a poor job, a mess. Presumably, it's a wisecrack about how bad dinner is, right? One source says it's a variation on "a dog's dinner," but here we see that "a dog's breakfast" and "dog's dinner" are two completely different phrases. "The dog's dinner" means "Dressed or displayed in an ostentatiously smart manner." (Can't say that about the Dems plan for Iraq.)
Why a dog's breakfast is synonymous with mess or muddle and dog's dinner with smartness isn't at all clear. It appears that the two phrases were coined entirely independently of each other.See also the dog's bollocks? Really! No Clinton jokes! "The dog's bollocks" means excellent. Just an update on "the bee's knees." Would that the Democrats had some ideas that were the dog's bollocks. We're advised at the link that polite -- and rhyme-loving -- folks can say "the mutt's nuts."
'Dog's dinner' is first cited in ‘C. L. Anthony's play 'Touch Wood', 1934:"Why have you got those roses in your hair? You look like the dog's dinner."See also: the dog's bollocks.
But enough of this linguistic digression. We can't be all scholarly all the time here. We've got to pay some attention to the goofy world of politics some of the time. (And lord knows, it does bring the linkage.) So, back to Broder:
Among the Democrats trying to find the right message on Iraq is Eric Massa, a United States Naval Academy graduate who spent 24 years on active duty and then worked as a staff member in Congress. He is challenging a freshman Republican representative, John R. Kuhl Jr., for a seat in western New York State. Mr. Massa offers a thought-out critique of the Bush policy in Iraq, based on his years in uniform and his service as a senior NATO officer dealing with the civil warfare in Bosnia.Linguistic detour: "a fool's errand."
“We will never be successful in creating a Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq at the tip of a bayonet,” he said. “That’s a fool’s errand. The longer we try it, the more dire the consequences.”
The Kuhl-Massa debate, if you can call it that, illuminates the difficulties at least some Democrats are having talking about Iraq. The more specific they are in proposing solutions to the impasse in Iraq, the more they open themselves to Republican charges of defeatism, or worse....Calibrating your policy like this doesn't really inspire us moderates.
A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that Democratic candidates attract strong support among Democratic voters by advocating immediate withdrawal, but that position tends to repel independents. The safest position appears to be supporting a timetable for withdrawal, which independents favor by 35 to 20 percent.
Bruce W. Jentleson, a professor of public policy at Duke University and an official in the State Department’s office of policy planning under President Bill Clinton, said ... “Many of them think it’s enough to run on negativity on the Bush policy. I’m not convinced that’s true. That feeds the perception that Democrats know what they’re against but not what they’re for.”So, yeah, it's a dog's breakfast.