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September 22, 2006
Even The British Can Diagnose Democratic Fecklessness

The fading fortunes of the Democratic Party in the run-up to the midterm elections have become common knowledge even thousands of miles away. Only a few weeks ago, Democrats confidently discussed the chair assignments in a House run by a Speaker Pelosi instead of a Speaker Hastert. Now that confidence has deflated, and even the Times of London can diagnose the bumblings of a national party with no real agenda:

AFTER months of near-euphoria among Democrats and a growing certainty among pollsters that the party will win control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate in November’s midterm elections, doubts are beginning to creep in. ...

To the dismay of Democrats, still scarred by the way that Mr Bush used the spectre of terrorism — and their perceived weakness on the issue — to win re-election in 2004 and gain seats for Republicans on Capitol Hill in 2002, the President’s approval rating has jumped to 44 per cent, according to the latest survey by Gallup.

More troubling for Democrats, terrorism has shot up the list of voters’ concerns, with Americans more likely to vote for candidates who support Mr Bush on terrorism, 45 per cent to 28 per cent.

For the first time since last December, a majority of Americans did not believe that the Iraq war was a mistake. In an ABC News poll, a majority of Americans — 53 per cent — say they believe Iraq is part of the broader War on Terror.

Although 60 per cent surveyed by Gallup said that Mr Bush did not have a clear plan for Iraq, two thirds of Americans do not believe that Democrats have a plan, a political reality that is one of the party’s greatest vulnerabilities. ... Bruce Jentleson, a former official in the Clinton Administration and a professor of public policy at Duke University in North Carolina, said that just criticising Mr Bush on Iraq without offering an alternative could cost Democrats their chance of winning the House. While nearly all Democrat candidates criticise the President’s handling of Iraq, few present their own alternative and the national party has presented no plan to end the war [emphasis mine -- CE].

The Times underscores this last point by contrasting 1994 and 2006. In the year that Republicans gained a whopping 53 seats to wrest control of the House from the Democrats, the GOP published its Contract With America, a clear delineation of its policy objectives that they would pursue if they gained control. In 2006, however, the Democrats have issued their seventh version of the party's electoral platform, enitled A New Direction For America.

Why can't they take advantage of the opening that the Bush administration has left them in these midterms? It's because the Democrats have no clear policy goals or even political vision. All they have managed to gin up after six years in the wilderness is Bush Derangement Syndrome, a malady so powerful it leads them to attack members of their own party -- members with solid voting records and a history of party leadership.

Perhaps the Republicans went through this phase in the 1950s after losing the House the last time, where they spend years bitterly accusing their opponents of every crime under the sun, although no one has ever produced any evidence of it. The Democrats have done little else in the last six years. They have actively avoided revealing their policy goals, assuming they have any, in order to keep all criticism directed at the Republicans. We don't have any policy goals, they have said, because we have no way to get them implemented. Only after voters give power back to the Democrats will they agree to discuss their solutions for Iraq, the economy, terrorism, national security, and so on.

They have discovered that Americans do not like buying pigs in a poke. Even the British have begun to wonder why the Democrats want power when they have no clear idea what they will do with it. The upswing in Republican fortunes at this point in time reflects a growing understanding that the Democrats have no answers, only complaints, and that the GOP has managed to grow the economy and keep the country safe through five very perilous years.

They should prepare for the situation to get even worse. After the lunatic rantings of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez at the UN this week, Americans will understand better than ever that the Democratic insistence on deferring to international leadership that applauds these nutcases make Democrats even loonier than the Mutt & Jeff of petrotyrants. It will also remind voters of how dangerous the world is at this time, and that only the GOP seems to comprehend it. At this rate, the Republicans might even pick up a few seats at the midterms.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 22, 2006 5:56 AM

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