Why the Republicans are in trouble
Come election day, we're gonna find out about a few thing, but a week or so out, here's why the GOP is in trouble.
Many of the incumbents are second rate:
Dennis Hastert,Curt Weldon, Tom Reynolds, Rick Santorum. Would you hire any one of theese people? Would you let them run your business?
Are you kidding?
These guys are miserable legislators and more interested in petty bickering than doing their jobs. They aren't fit to hold Bob Dole's pen, much less shine Howard Baker's shoes. You may have found many of Barry Goldwater's stand odious, but when it came to character, there was no question. The Republicans who sat in the House and Senate before 2000 were men and women who understood their duty to the country.
Even middleweight hacks like Dick Armey and Phil Gramm were people who took government seriously.
But these guys don't and it's clear. They have placed party above country to the detriment of both. And people know it. They know that party has been placed above country or even decency. I haven't written much about the Military Commissions Act because I believe that most of it will be tossed in the garbage can in the first court it hits.
The shameful fact is so much that it passed, and that IS shameful, but that no one in the GOP was serious enough to oppose it. Because it is wrong, it is wrong for our country and wrong for our values. And a Congress of men and women who cared for their country would have stood up to Bush, if they were more than Rotary Club hacks and synchophants to the White House.
So when you get a Joe Sestak or a Jim Webb running, a former carrier battle group commander, and a Navy Cross winner, the character gap is clear and obvious. You wouldn't trust Curt Weldon with a latrine. You couldn't trust George Allen not to burn a cross on your lawn and laugh.
It isn't because these men were given great trust, they were, but others have too. The problem, the men who serve in Congress now are simply incapable of being given any trust. They can't protect the country, they can't protect children.
Once the playing ground levels out, and the Dems get solid candidates with financing, the GOP is in real trouble. You have Rick Santorum airing commercials with wrestlers and talking about Lord of the Rings. You have George Allen going through Jim Webb's novels
Dems have started fighting back
It wasn't that the Swift Boat attacks worked, according to John Zogby, they failed pretty badly, but that Kerry let them fester, and the perception of his lying about his military service was out there. Not based in fact, but perception. And instead of the GOP just counting their blessings, they overplayed their hand.
Jim Webb was a Marine who won the Navy Cross. That is not easy to do, partly because awards are usually knocked down, and you can get killed in the process. Was he the ideal candidate? No. But Allen crossed a line and Webb got sick of dicking around with him and finally threw down the gauntlet today and reminded people Allen spent Vietnam on a dude ranch.
Same with Joe Sestak. Weldon implied that he sat around being waited on all day, instead of running a carrier battle group with the lives of thousands of men and women in his hands. For some reason, despite the blogosphere war on the chickenhawks, that they could just attack people's military service and get away with it. And it's blowing up on them.
Even pro-life Bob Casey has managed to gain the support of liberals because Santorum is just that bad, and when he was challenged, using his father, Casey cut the bullshit and went straight for him. He wasn't having it.
You can't defend everything
When the Dems were using their key district strategy, it was a lot easier for the GOP to swamp districts, because there were only a few in play. All their work was designed to deal with a few key districts and the Dems could never match their resources.
So with their 72 hour plan and their money advantage, they could run down the Dems who had far fewer resources. It was an uneven contest.
Now, the Dems, using a 50 state strategy, are in races no one would have predicted would have been close six months ago. Stu Rothenberg mocked Chris Bowers for daring to suggest such a thing. But the reason it works is simple. Yes, the Republicans have more money, but they cannot defend everywhere. Mike DeWine is in trouble behind that.
But then, the help that Bob Corker got was so much not help, that it didn't really work to his benefit. The idea is that the GOP is going to ride in with money and save the day is less likely because of the number of people they have to save.
Off key and out of tune
The Republicans are talking about taxes and Nancy Pelosi when people are thinking about selling their house and protecting pedophiles in Congress.
Every time Bush stands up and says "We will stay in Iraq until the job is done" a mother sees her child being trapped in the Army and Iraq.
In short, they are out of sync with the national mood. The war in Iraq has gone on longer than WWII and people see no progress, no way out. They want to get out of it. Bush never asked the American people if they wanted to rebuild Iraq, because they don't. They didn't mind dumping Saddam, but four years of war in which things are getting worse?
Juan Cole says in Time that the US promised to end the Sunni insurgency so Maliki could ask the Shia to disarm. Well, how the hell was the US going to do that? Bring in 100K more troops that don't exist?
When Bush says "Democrats will raise your taxes" people are staring at him and thinking "what about Iraq".
Remember Bush is unpopular with the majority of Americans.
The Republicans thought they could scare people about Mexicans, but the party split on that issue and the racists jumped out of the woodwork. It was oooga booga mexicans, when the GOP needs Latino voters. Tom Tancredo and Kotex Jim Sensenbrenner got to define the GOP as the "we hate Mexicans" party when they needed their votes the most.
And now that the country wants answers to war, Bush's stubborn refusal and dogged insistance on war forever is losing people.
While Bush and friend enjoy a booming stock market, average voters look at their neighbors and see them placing statues in the ground to help sell their houses. They don't see a booming economy. While Bush isn't offering solutions. Now, he wants to mess with Social Security again, despite the fact that it scares people witless.
Rove's GOTV tactics work when you can pick your targets and people generally are happy with you. This is not the case here. People are unhappy, as unhappy as can be with the Republicans. So this 72 Hour campaign may simply not work when they use it.
Well, while the fundies did the leg work, moderates listened to GOP arguments. They were the targets for the national security pitch.
Now, there's another issue, child sex predators, and it is a dagger in the heart of that middle class Republican mom. Sure, there's Iraq, there's the economy to be unhappy with, but at the end of the day, the Republican leadership stood around and watched while at least one member tried to seduce pages and refused to act. Then lied about it when exposed.
That was the point when many people stopped listening. If Rove had demanded decisive action, like Hastert resigning on the spot, the GOP might have stemmed the bleeding. But they didn't.
Then, you have the racist Corker ad. It was a mistake because everyone knew what it was saying. In another state, California, it might have passed, but in the South, well, it was clear what it meant.
And while Chuck Todd didn't get it, I bet people in Memphis did. Why?
Because they used to kill black men for dating white women. It wasn't just disapproval. They would accuse you of rape, because no white woman would willingly choose to be with a dusky negro, drag you out of jail, hang you, castrate you and set you on fire.
So while the NRSC was trying to be cute, they were playing with napalm. People flipped out because the subtext is so nasty.
What worked during 2002 and 2004 may work again, but it's against a vastly different Democratic party, better funded and better led. They have been able to pick the fights and force even long time Republican strongholds into competative races, which is how the GOP won in 1994, by going after Dem seats in the South.
The GOP is reaching into it's bag of dirty tricks one more time. The way things look, it may be one time too many.
posted by Steve @ 12:24:00 PM