March 18, 2006


Change the Subject: The Republican strategy for 2006. (Fred Barnes, 03/27/2006, Weekly Standard)

POLITICS IS PRETTY SIMPLE. If the debate in an upcoming election puts your party at a disadvantage, it makes sense to try to change the debate. At the moment, the 2006 midterm election is framed as a referendum on the Bush administration and congressional Republicans, putting Republican candidates on the defensive. Party strategists, led by chairman Ken Mehlman, want to rejigger the debate so it's about a choice between candidates, putting Democratic candidates on the defensive as well. In short, they want it to be a choice election, not a referendum election.

This is not a new idea. Republicans brought about a choice election in 2004. Democrats believed they were a cinch to win a referendum on President Bush's first term, and Republicans worried they were right. But Republicans were able to make Democrat John Kerry at least as much of an issue as Bush was, especially on national security.

For 2006, the Republican National Committee, the White House, and most Senate and House Republicans are on board with the choice strategy. In fact, some members of Congress are already repeating a phrase first used by Bush in meetings with congressional allies. It's an assertion that Democrats would "raise your taxes and raise the white flag" in Iraq.

The pols and pundits pretend to wonder why Democrats don't have a message when everyone recognizes that their problem is that nothing they want to do is popular with voters.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 18, 2006 3:10 PM

Oh yeah, they have a message all right. Just, who's buying that?

Posted by: Mikey at March 18, 2006 3:56 PM


What message? Being "against everything" is not a message.

Posted by: sam at March 18, 2006 4:05 PM

They just did a riff on Fox news with various Dems doing the party line rag. "Incompetent" seems to be the watchword of the day.

Posted by: erp at March 18, 2006 6:49 PM

The Democrats ran on 'incompetence' in 1988, somewhat in 1992, and mentioned it now and again in 2004. It isn't much of a charge, unless you're running against Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: jim hamen at March 18, 2006 7:44 PM