Whomever controls the message controls the discourse and brings their ideas to fulfillment. This idea is central the the way modern politics operate.
One of my favorite examples of this is the needless elimination of the estate tax. Conservative groups, labeling it the “death tax”, appealed to a large component of the population over a number of years, eventually winning support for the idea and having it included in a tax package. What I found downright odd about the situation is that the tax only applies to about the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans, who have estates values at greater than $670,000. Further still is the loss in tax revenue is offset by increased costs through higher taxes, less services, and more debt for the other 99% of the population.
It is the very lack of message that leaves me unwilling to support the Democrats at the moment. None of them can consistently articulate a message that is not overspun, repealed or denied. None of them strike me as being able to convince the general electorate of their honesty. These issues cost them the general election in 2000 and the mid-term elections in 2002, and at the moment I see the same trend repeating itself. Dean and Kerry both strike me as particularly vulnerable to this point, with Dean likely to be ripped by the Republican machine in the months leading up to the general election, as his message control is dubious at best. Clark is an unknown, though, and may offer a decent chance depending on how the primaries evolve over the next month or two.