September 24, 2006


Wary Democrats drawing provisional bead on Dean (CRAGG HINES, 9/24/06, Houston Chronicle)

It's beginning to dawn on Democrats that they may not win control of the House or Senate in the November elections, so a pre-emptive blame game has begun. And the designated fall guy is Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. [...]

Although Democrats remained at least strongly competitive in public polls last week, new reports revealed the Republican National Committee with more than three times as much cash on hand as the DNC at the beginning of September — $39 million vs. $11 million.

Separate Democratic finance operations in the House and Senate are competitive or lead their Republican counterpart. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee began September with $29.8 million on hand, as against the $18.6 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Dean's best explanation for his on-hand shortfall is that he has already spent millions in what he views as seed money to rebuild state party organizations, an expenditure that he believes will pay off not only in November but also in years to come, including in the 2008 presidential campaign.

That line of argument carries little immediate weight with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. Reviewing Dean's tenure at the DNC, a House Democratic strategist said: "They don't have a problem fund-raising, but their burn rate is extremely high."

House and Senate Democratic campaign leaders now face urgent pleas from candidates in swing states and districts for last-minute infusions of funds. These are needed not only to finance television ads but also to match Republican turnout efforts that rest on several years of steady voter identification and motivation.

This Republican "ground game" was most evident and effective in the narrow re-election of President Bush two years ago, particularly in such close-run state contests as Ohio.

Far be it from us to defend Mr. Dean, but this is just another way for the Democrats to avoid asking themselves the most basic question in politics: what ideas do they advocate that the American people agree with?

They've become a completely reactionary party, opposed to reform of the Welfare State, opposed to tax cuts, opposed to liberalizing the Middle East, opposed to limits on abortion, etc., etc., etc.... For the most part they've had sense enough not to mention any of these positions openly, but that's left them talking only about "corruption," which no one cares about, and hoping for the economy to tank. Instead gas prices are plunging this fall and consumers notice that rather quickly.

They're a party about nothing in a country where people believe in certain things.

THE HATE TRAP (CRAIG CHARNEY, September 24, 2006, NY Post)

THE leftist and liberal throng who cheered Ven ezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez at a Harlem church Thursday, a day after he called President Bush "the devil," are just the latest sign of a real problem for the Democratic Party and the nation: Bush-hate is now the opiate of the party's base.

A recent Fox News poll gets at the disturbing truth: A majority of Democrats say they want to see the president fail. Such deep hatred is bad news for the country at a time when America needs to bridge the partisan divide. It's also bad news for the Democrats, who risk repeating the Republicans' mistakes of a decade ago, driving away the centrists they need to regain power or going too far if they do manage to win.

Fox's question was revealing: "Regardless of how you voted in the presidential election, would you say you want President Bush to succeed or not?" Democrats said "not," 51 percent to 40 percent - where the public at large wanted success by almost two to one. [...]

Hate is a fatal response in American politics. It leads to irrational, sectarian, and self-defeating behavior. Republicans, their base consumed by hatred for then-President Bill Clinton, showed this in 1998. Their impeachment drive pushed Clinton's polls into the stratosphere, yielding unprecedented mid-term gains for the Democrats.

In today's polarized environment, Democratic candidates feel pressure to respond to their angry voters to avoid the fate of centrist Senator Joseph Lieberman. He lost his Connecticut primary to a blog-powered anti-war newcomer, Ned Lamont. But the positions such candidates take may leave them out of the mainstream and unelectable. Lamont is discovering this in his general election rematch with Lieberman, who is running as an independent.

Some say a little anger is needed to fire up the Democratic base. Reality check: the Democratic base is just two-fifths of the electorate and liberals number just one voter in five. Yet the independent and moderate voters the Democrats must win over to regain a majority are repelled by candidates who pander to rageful supporters with tunnel vision.

A Campaign in Crisis Mode (CHARLES BAXTER, 9/24/06, NY Times)
WHILE my assignment was to write about Minnesota’s important Senate race, I think there’s more to be learned right now from the far closer contest in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, which borders Minneapolis-St. Paul to the east, north and west. The race, between Michele Bachmann, the Republican, and Patty Wetterling, the Democrat, has revealed a Bush-era national trend now visible locally.

That is, we are facing a choice between a “conservative” who wants to institute radical reforms and a “progressive” who wishes largely to maintain the status quo. In Minnesota’s Sixth District, liberalism is the new conservatism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 24, 2006 11:05 AM

"Regardless of how you voted in the presidential election, would you say you want President Bush to succeed or not?"

Badly worded. "Succeed" at what? I can understand their desire to not see his domestic policies (such as they are) no succeed, just as those of us who think he's taken the wrong direction on some issues would prefer a change. For example, if I'd been asked that about Clinton in 1997, I'd have to say I'd hope he'd be a failure, too.

"Their impeachment drive pushed Clinton's polls into the stratosphere, yielding unprecedented mid-term gains for the Democrats."

Yet the GOP retained both houses. Scoring four runs in the 9th is fine, but when you were down five, you still end up the loser of that game.

“progressive” who wishes largely to maintain the status quo.

They don't want the status quo, they want a return to the Good Ol' Days of Jerry Ford and President Peanut. That's reactionary with a death wish. (Then again, one thing I haven't heard so far is any Dem running against Herbert Hoover, so maybe progress is possible.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 24, 2006 12:01 PM

I liked the NYT scribbler's comment about Michele Bachmann:

"She has stated that evolution has a “cult” following."

Well, maybe if pro-evolution folks would not act as though they are personally affronted by heretics, maybe we "intelligent design" folks wouldn't look down upon pro-evolutionists as cultist.

Posted by: Brad S at September 24, 2006 12:07 PM

Given that just 13% of Americans believe in it, cult seems a proper term.

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2006 12:37 PM

Steely Dean: He throws down the jam 'til the voters say when.

They got a name for the winners in the world.
I want a name when I lose.
They call Carl Rove the Nazi Fascist.
Call me Dean Can Lose.
Dean Can Lose.

- with apologies to Becker and Fagen

Posted by: Qiao Yang at September 24, 2006 4:54 PM

Qiao Yang: Dang...I can't come up with a rhyme for unelectable... : ) a.k.a. Clinton...

Posted by: Bartman at September 24, 2006 8:39 PM

Gennifer was so delectable
Bill was nearly unelectable

Posted by: oj at September 24, 2006 8:56 PM


Good one.

I kept waiting throughout the 1992 campaign for some woman (holding a baby or small child) to leap forward at one of Clinton's events and cry out "Bill - this is our baby!". Now, that would have been delectable.

With respect to the MN Senate race, the Democratic candidate had to fire a staffer who snooped into the GOP candidate's website. Very similar to what Angelides did to Arnold in CA.

The Dems are desperate, because if they don't win this time, then Carville's prediction of doom will be true, and they will be facing (another) disaster in 2008, whether the GOP runs McCain or Rudy.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 24, 2006 9:15 PM