October 1, 2005

PLEASE, LORD, LET THEM RE-RUN 1994 (via Gene Brown):

Democrats Do Plan To 'Go Positive' - But Not Until 2006 (Mort Kondracke, 9/30/05, Real Clear Politics)

Democrats have an answer to the question, "OK, what's your alternative to the Bush policies you constantly criticize?" It is: "We're working on it." When it emerges, in a form yet to be determined, it's likely to include proposals for tax reform, health insurance, energy independence, national security and retirement reform.

Both House and Senate Democrats, plus outside consultants and think tank operatives, say that the party should have a full-blown alternative agenda to take into the 2006 elections - but that it doesn't need one yet. Democrats think that 2006 could be - in the words of Democracy Corps, the liberal polling group - "a major change election," like 1994, when Republicans gained 52 House seats and nine Senate seats and took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

They think that 1994 happened to them because of negative campaigning by Republicans against then-President Bill Clinton, defeat of his signature health care initiative and perceived corruption in the Democratic Congress.

To the extent it was about issues rather than the natural tectonics of American political structures, the 1994 Republican landslide was about tax hikes, gun control, gay rights, and socialized medicine. Democrats have had sense enough to shut up about guns but remain on the wrong side of the rest. The reason they don't talk about their own ideas is because they've been unpopular for at least a quarter century now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2005 9:28 AM

1994 was the result of several things: the tax increase Clinton passed (with only Democratic votes), the trickle down of national conservative strength to the local level, the dearth of genuine Democratic conservatives, and buyer's remorse at electing two self-aggrandizing liberals to the White House. Had there been an authentic GOP candidate in 1992, Clinton would not have been elected. But with his victory, the stage was set for the 'nationalizing' of the 1994 races, which probably should have happened under Reagan in 1984, but James Baker was lazy and greedy. And Mike Deaver didn't care.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 1, 2005 9:47 AM

The problem in '92 was the third candidate.

Posted by: oj at October 1, 2005 10:08 AM

Before 94, everyone in Washington except for Newt, and absolutely everyone in the MSM, believed that Democratic control of the House was the natural order of things and would never change.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 1, 2005 10:58 AM

Would have ended permanently in the '50s but for the Cold War.

Posted by: oj at October 1, 2005 11:06 AM

You're also forgetting the House Banking scandal that exposed the majority as scofflaws.

Posted by: Brandon at October 1, 2005 11:53 AM

Well, if the program turns out to be: Tax reform, i.e. rescinding the Bush reductions; Health Insurance, ie: Socialized medicine; Energy independence, i.e. Cafe stds. and national security, i.e. Torching the Patriot Act, they won't be whistling Dixie in 2006.

If their energy independence proposals have realistic merit, they may develop some traction.

Posted by: Genecis at October 1, 2005 1:25 PM

That the GOP was specifically running on 60%+ issues didn't hurt. If the Dems can come up with anything concrete that pulls that sort of support, I'll be surprised. Anything they come up with that placates their base won't be particularly popular, and any potentially popular "New Democrat" ideas will just be co-opted by the Republicans.

Posted by: Timothy at October 1, 2005 1:40 PM

No one votes on "corruption".

Posted by: oj at October 1, 2005 2:49 PM

It really was the guns in '94, you know. '94 was the price those people paid for the meaningless so-called assault weapons ban.

Now let us fast forward to '06. It is true that guns are off the screens as far as the MSM is concerned, but that is simply because the MSM are Democrat toadies. The NRA is very much energized on issues such as Supreme Court nominations, hunting rights and United Nations gun-control proposals. We are setting up networks of Second Amendment Activists, and have our own system of election workers.

Gun people are very sensitive to this issue, just because we appreciate how fragile our position is. We keep winning because we care a great deal about our guns and most people who are not on our side don't really care very much. It only takes one good schoolyard shooting or assassination to make things blow up again. We do not believe for one minute that those people on the other side are our friends or that they would not grab our guns if they could.

Likewise the NRA is following issues of hunting rights. This means not only things like access to Federal lands, but also the culture war in general. The NRA message is that hunting rights are threatened by neo-pagan nature-worship, which, when last I looked, is still part of the vast, left-wing conspiracy.

The NRA still avoids identification with a particular political party, but the word "conservative " is thrown around a great deal. The gun issue and the gun lobby are not going to be wished away.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 1, 2005 3:42 PM

Clinton's haircut escapade at LAX hurt him more than people want to admit - it's one thing when a subordinate gets zinged for acting like royalty, but when the man at the top does it, there is a price to be paid.

That's why the Clinton aide who commandeered helicopters (can't remember his name, David something?) is known just to political junkies, but lots of average folks remember the haircut on the runway.

And it's why Bush 1 is remembered for not knowing about optical scanners at the grocery store.

Posted by: ratbert at October 1, 2005 3:55 PM

[I]t's likely to include proposals for tax reform, health insurance, energy independence, national security and retirement reform.

Four out of the five are responses to Bush's agenda.

Unless the Dems get proactive, they're likely to be disappointed by the reaction to their proposals.

[I]t's why Bush 1 is remembered for not knowing about optical scanners at the grocery store.

Like Quayle's supposed inability to spell "potato", that was an incident taken out of context.

Bush the Elder was touring a factory that made optical scanners, and was just making admiring comments about their product, "amazing" and suchlike.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 1, 2005 4:31 PM

Michael Herdegen:

I always assumed that, even if that story was true, it wasn't a big deal. I'm told that optical scanners started showing up in the early 80s, and by that time George the Elder was already VP. He certainly hadn't been shopping for his own groceries during that time -- why wouldn't he be impressed with the technology that had developed?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 2, 2005 2:16 PM


He'd seen scanners, of course: it was a new kind (then) that allowed them to acquire and store more information.

Posted by: oj at October 2, 2005 2:24 PM