I'll tell you what, that Digby sure does get it:
...Neither did Rove invent this technique of derisively referring to Democrats as liberal hippie fags and dykes. Republicans have been doing this for a long, long time ... They just spent a hundred million dollars calling Kerry a "flip-flopper" which in case you didn't get it, was designed to make you think of a flaccid penis. These guys aren't very subtle.
The truth is that to ignore this stuff it is to play into Rove's hands. Because the whole point is to make us look weak. When you don't respond when people call you weak, you reinforce the charge.
...Republicans are very successful at connecting with the primal instinctive feelings voters have about people in charge. We aren't. It is their greatest weapon against us and it has nothing to do with policy or positioning or demographics. It has to do with the fact that a lot of people make their decisions about leadership on the basis of who looks the strongest. It's primitive shit. And the Republicans strip it down even more simply than it has to be. There is some room for experimenting with this in innovative ways if we would just accept that it exists and work within it.