January 24, 2008

Running On Empty

A group funded by labor unions that originally formed to oppose George Bush's plans for Social Security in 2005 will spend over $8 million in 2008 to try to keep Bush's approval ratings low. That strange mission will get launched this afternoon by Americans United for Change, who see that as a critical step in keeping Republicans from winning seats in Congress:

A liberal advocacy group plans to spend $8.5 million in a drive to make sure President Bush's public approval doesn't improve as his days in the White House come to an end.

Americans United for Change plans to undertake a yearlong campaign, spending the bulk of the money on advertising, to keep public attention on what the group says are the failures of the Bush administration, including the war in Iraq, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the current mortgage crisis.

In selling the plan to fundraisers, the group has argued that support for President Reagan was at a low of 42 percent in 1987 but climbed to 63 percent before he left office. "All of a sudden he became a rallying cry for conservatives and their ideology," said Brad Woodhouse, president of the group. "Progressives are still living with that."

Maybe they should spend that money trying to get Democrats to change the leadership in Congress. If they want to protect the Democratic majorities, they should look not to Bush's low approval ratings but to the even lower numbers Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have achieved. After all, Congressional races are not likely to hinge on the performance of someone retiring in less than a year from politics altogether.

How do we know that? Despite the AUC's historical illiteracy, Reagan's rising numbers didn't do anything for the GOP in the 1988 Congressional elections. The Republicans didn't make any significant gains in Congress until 1994, and it wasn't Ronald Reagan who created that momentum but Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the corruption in Congress under Democratic leadership. The Clinton attempt to nationalize health care created such a negative reaction that the American electorate pulled the legislative rug out from under Bill Clinton, who made a sharp turn to the right to hang onto his job two years later.

Even Republicans know that George Bush is no Ronald Reagan. Movements will not form around either George Bush. The latter will gain more respect as years go by, as did Harry Truman, who left office with some of the worst polling ever, but Reagan's legacy will remain safe.

If the ACU plans on advertising, let's hope they're more accurate than they have been in the past. Fact Check took a look at their last campaign in 2006 against the Bush administration and found them deceptive and dishonest. They lied about Medicare, about gas prices, about FEMA when they clearly didn't need to do so, and they coordinated all of this with -- guess who? -- Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer.

Now they want to spend eight times as much battling against an outgoing president who isn't running for dogcatcher, let alone national public office. Sounds great to me. I hope the people who would otherwise donate to Hillary Clinton and Congressional Democrats sink more of their money in this AUC effort.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin looks at the CVs of the AUC's officers, and finds it dominated by unions and, well, more unions. I guess campaign finance reform must have missed this kind of effort.


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