September 21, 2006


Both Parties in Ky. Battle Try to Take Right Flank (Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza, 9/21/06, Washington Post)

This is one of the places where the "Republican Revolution" began in 1994 -- before then, Democratic representative William H. Natcher held the seat for 40 years -- and it is a good window into whether the GOP reign will end in 2006.

It is also the first stop in The Washington Post's nine-day trek through nine congressional districts that sit on the dividing line between the upper South and the industrial Midwest. There is no place outside the Ohio River Valley where so many competitive districts are clustered in an unbroken line.

The aim is to capture the 2006 campaign -- its characters, issues, back stories -- at eye level, touring 500 miles of main roads and less-traveled paths through Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia. Even in a year buffeted by unease over the Iraq war and other national issues, many competitive races are shaped by local twists. There is the Democratic candidate who worries that a decades-old high school basketball rivalry could cost him the election, and a Republican hopes to turn local pork-barrel spending into political gold.

And there is Kentucky's 2nd, where Weaver, a state representative, is running not only against Lewis but also against long currents of political history. Natcher, who as Appropriations Committee chairman prided himself on the bridges and highways his political clout made possible, was a beloved figure right up until his death in office in March 1994. In the special election to replace him, Lewis hit hard on President Bill Clinton's unpopularity in the district. At the time, Lewis's victory was seen as something of an aberration.

It was really an omen. That November, a generation of Southern Democrats were tossed out of office by voters turned off by their affiliation with a national party that was far more liberal than their districts.

The Democratic plan for reversing the past here and in similar districts centered on recruiting candidates who sound like Republicans, at least on social issues. A military background was a big bonus.

The party needs to sound Republican, as Bill Clinton did.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2006 12:00 AM

The Democratic plan for reversing the past here and in similar districts centered on recruiting candidates who sound like Republicans, at least on social issues. A military background was a big bonus.

Great, but the Dem leadership doesn't sound that way. The Dem leadership scares people who might be inclined to support Dems who sound like Republicans.

Posted by: kevin whited at September 21, 2006 10:37 AM

Both BJ and Peanut Man won by "sounding Republican. Once in office, their true colors came out, and it was "Acid, Amnesty and Abortion," homos in the military on Inauguration Day, "Assault" "Weapons" "Ban," socialized medicine. and bad, bad court appointments. Carter was a born-again veteran, BJ at least a Southern "Moderate." and they both faked right and cut left.

We are not totally stupid here. We can spot a flim-flam coming. The RINO scheme is to throw an election, so as to renege on promises made to other components of the voter coalition, which promises they would rather not deliver.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 21, 2006 10:44 AM

Clinton passed and signed two major free trade agreements, balanced the budget and Reformed Welfare--making him as conservative a president as we've had since the Depression.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 11:09 AM

Clinton only did those things because his feet were held to the fire by the republicans. You surely don't think he would have done any of that stuff on his own. After all he vetoed the first 2 welfare reform bills that were handed to him. It was only the third that he signed and that only because it was an election year. That does not make him a conservative president. That makes him a president who was forced to be conservative by the Congress and the potential of being thrown out of office.

Posted by: dick at September 21, 2006 2:33 PM

He ran on them and achieved them.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 2:37 PM

Did Clinton support and/or shepherd such welfare reform legislation? Was he involved in drafting it? Did he give a national address from the Oval Office telling Congress to pass it?

He signed it - nothing more.

Sure, he mentioned it in his 1992 speeches. But did he do anything about it from Jan. 20, 1993 until Jan. 1, 1995 (when he ran a united government)? No. He was a passive actor in welfare reform. Nothing more. Your insistence otherwise is disingenuous.

He gets more credit for passing NAFTA, although it is quite clear that if he had stalled or killed it, the ghosts of Smoot and Hawley would have been howling all over the world by early 1994, as the economic order and boom started by Reagan and Volcker would have gone into a tailspin and the 1970s would have returned with a vengeance. For one thing, Russia would have imploded suddenly rather than having its current drawn out demographic death. And China might have turned into 1930s Japan.

Clinton had to push for NAFTA - there was no choice in the matter. He wisely did not try to make one. Triangulation on free trade is an impossibility.

Posted by: ratbert at September 22, 2006 8:12 AM

Yes. His 1996 State of the Union.

Posted by: oj at September 22, 2006 8:22 AM