Tom DeLay and 'Duke' Cunningham -- among others -- have cast a bad light on congress which the Foley scandal only makes worse. For their part, GOP Senate candidates seem content to dig their own holes. Offensive comments by George Allen and Conrad Burns have cost them votes -- Allen's seat, once considered a lock, is pretty much up for grabs and polls show that Burns should probably start packing. Rick Santorum's hurt himself by sticking to the failed and disastrous policies of the president -- going so far as making ridiculous claims that we've found WMD in Iraq. Apparently, Santorum doesn't understand that a 'weapon of mass destruction' has to be capable of causing mass destruction. He also doesn't seem to understand that when a President's polling at 33%, it's a bad idea to hitch your wagon to his star.
As things stand now, Slate Magazine gives the GOP a slim one seat lead in the Senate. They call it 48-49, with the momentum going Democrat. Three races are a tossup -- blind probability would have dems taking at least one.
There's an old truism in politics -- people are more likely to vote against something than for something. In other words, voters tend to go into the polls to stop something from happening. That's why negative campaign ads work. The GOP has been using this tactic for years, convincing voters that democrats are basically evil at worse, foolish at best. In the meantime, they gave voters nothing to vote for, concentrating almost entirely on what they should vote against.
Now that the GOP's base -- once shored up with balsa wood and sandstone -- is crumbling, Republican media operatives are finding they have only one setting -- attack. For example, rightwing radio and FOX News host Sean Hannity's been trying to scare people with the idea of a 'House Speaker Nancy Pelosi' -- to the point of being freakin' ridiculous.
This is the moment to say that there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of 'em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the speaker.
Sounds kind of like a call to jihad, doesn't it? It's hard to imagine too many people laying down their lives to keep Pelosi from becoming Speaker of the House. Making Hannity's fatwa even more unlikely, Republicans have become so adept at sucking up all the air in the room and Democrats have been such wallflowers that 46% of voters have never even heard of Nancy Pelosi. Obviously Hannity's call to arms against a monster no one's heard of isn't going to fly.
Democrats have an opportunity to make lasting progress with voters. But only if they avoid the trap Republicans made for themselves. They need to remember that they've been voted in not because people think dems are wonderful, but because they've come to hate the GOP. They shouldn't claim a mandate.
They also shouldn't display the timidity and caution that the party has shown lately. There will be calls for investigations. And there's just so damned much that needs to be investigated -- Abramoff, the lead up to the war, Bush's use of signing statements and numerous violations of law, Rumsfeld's involvement in the torture and abuse of detainees, etc.
Bolder members like John Conyers and Russ Feingold will call for these investigations and they should go forward. But Democrats should cast themselves as policemen in these proceedings, not as crusaders. If more people are forced out of office or even jailed, then it shouldn't be because it's what Democrats want, it should be because it's what justice demands.
And they should do it because it's right, not because it makes Republicans look bad -- hell, they look bad enough already. They need to remember where Republicans found themselves after they'd boiled their message down to 'Democrats suck'.
Technorati tags: politics; elections; poll; if Democrats take the House and Senate, they need to remember that voters weren't saying, 'We love Democrats.' They were saying, 'We hate Republicans' -- there's a difference