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11/04/2004

Dems in denial

Nile_river

A day after their candidate's stunning triumph in the exit polls was overturned by actual balloting, Democrats want to believe that it's just a river in Egypt after all.

An article in The Hill—a newspaper for Congressional types—describes the mindset:

Democrats, both on and off Capitol Hill, rallied around their House leader, expressing confidence that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would conduct a thorough review of how the party communicates its message, selects its candidates and deploys its resources.

Pelosi, however, seemed to indicate that House Democrats would not drastically alter their strategy, although she promised an “after-action review” of how her team prosecuted a plan she insisted would return them to the majority.

Yesterday, she spoke with her colleagues on a conference call, sharing her own assessment that the national race was lost on “cultural issues,” and listened to her lawmakers’ own explanations.

"Cultural issues?" harrumphed the Typowife when I read her this. "Like most voters wanting to remain American instead of becoming French?" She makes a valid point. To blue-staters like Pelosi, those of us in flyover country aren't bright enough to understand "issue issues," like the crying need for nationalized health care or to raise the minimum wage. We're just mouth-breathing, Bible-thumping homophobes looking for some way to overturn Roe v. Wade, punish the evil flag-burners and put prayer back into the schools. There's no reasoning with us. I mean, really, what's the point? After all, some 59 million of us were stupid enough to vote for a drooling idiot like Dubya.

In an interview with National Public Radio (the unofficial voice of blue-state America), Pelosi explained how the Democrats would focus the spotlight on the Republicans' "extreme right-wing" agenda and expose their efforts to "demagogue the issues."

So, the issue really isn't with the Democrats, it's with those demagogic Republicans: “The spotlight is on them, and, quite frankly, I think the table is set for the next election,” Pelosi said in another interview with The Hill.

At a press conference yesterday, both Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) acknowledged that the election results were not what they had hoped for. But they said their goal had not been unrealistic.

“We were on a tough playing field,” Pelosi said. “There is no question that we did not get the wind, the uplift that we expected.”

For most of this election cycle, Pelosi said that a “national breeze” of discontentment with Republican leadership would sweep her party to victory. That “breeze” failed to materialize, and Democratic candidates were forced to battle a countervailing trend of Republican dominance, especially in states that the president won.

“Had the breeze occurred, we would have been in a position to do that,” Matsui said of taking back the House.

One definition of insanity (as Albert Einstein allegedly remarked) is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Yet that seems to be exactly what Pelosi & Co. are proposing. All the Democrats have to do is keep pointing out how extreme the Republican agenda is and, eventually, the "national breeze" will lift the Dems' sails. What she and others in her party don't seem to understand is that it's their own extremism that's keeping them out of the action. You can't put bombthrowers like Michael Moore in the presidential box at your convention, or let George Soros drop millions into your campaign, or outsource your get-out-the-vote effort to Howard Dean-wing groups like MoveOn.org, or, for that matter, nominate as your party's presidential candidate the most liberal member of the Senate, without running the risk of being seen as—to borrow President Bush's memorable phrase—sitting on the "far left bank" of the political mainstream.

Unless they make up their minds to take a more centrist approach, the only breeze the Dems feel will be their own hot air.

UPDATE: Captain Ed echoes and amplifies my thoughts above: "Pelosi's leadership has been the ruin of her party. She has helped perpetuate the poisonous atmosphere in DC, and her ungracious comments today as well as her knee-jerk reaction to blame everyone but herself for her failure will not appeal to a campaign-weary American electorate. The Democrats need to quit demanding bipartisanship and start exhibiting it, and they need real leaders willing to work across the aisle rather than spit across it. If the Democrats want to compete in 2006, they need to jettison the Pelosis, McAuliffes, and Carvilles of their party now."

Posted by Rodger on November 4, 2004 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

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