February 7, 2006

Color Me Candid

Hatched by Dafydd

It's a red (state) letter day when Democrats wake up to a morning cup of reality.

Democrats are heading into this year's elections in a position weaker than they had hoped for, party leaders say, stirring concern that they are letting pass an opportunity to exploit what they see as widespread Republican vulnerabilities....

Democrats described a growing sense that they had failed to take full advantage of the troubles that have plagued Mr. Bush and his party since the middle of last year, driving down the president's approval ratings, opening divisions among Republicans in Congress over policy and potentially putting control of the House and Senate into play in November.

The problem is that the Democrats have always looked to Europe for a role model... so much so that they never quite grasp the dynamic of an American election.

Typically in a parliamentary system, voters do not vote for individual candidates; instead, they vote for a party. There are usually multiple parties, and parliamentary seats are often assigned on the basis of the nationwide percent of voters, or the voters in wide regions. Amorphous "feelings" that voters have about the ethics or competence of the government can quickly translate into a big gain for the opposition party, as we just saw in Canada.

But American elections are the exception: here, virtually every election comes down to a contest between two people: one a Democrat, the other a Republican. (Yes, I know there are rare occasions where a third-party candidate wins, such as Bernie Sanders or Jesse Ventura.) In the normal case, it is not enough to pull the other party down; you have to prove to the voters that you, yourself, will do a better job than your opponent.

Thus, just because President Bush's job approval numbers are down in the forties, and the generic congressional polls favor the Democrats, doesn't mean that the Democrats will pick up any seats; they have to convince voters, on a state by state, district by district, contest by contest basis, that this particular Democrat would do better than that particular Republican.

And without any sort of a positive agenda, how can they do that?

Instead, they fall afoul of the American electoral expression that you can't beat something with nothing. Bush had a lot of tough problems on his plate; he did reasonably well, but normal second-term disappointment among Republicans, coupled with the fanatical hatred of the Democrats, combined to push his approval number down. But the Democrats haven't made the sale either; all they've done is convince the American voter that they're a bunch of whiners and complainers.

And they still won't take responsibility for their own failings:

Democrats said they had not yet figured out how to counter the White House's long assault on their national security credentials.

I suppose it never occurs to Democratic leaders to stop demanding that we funnel national-security decisions through the snail-paced court system, or that maybe the American people are more concerned about their children's lives than about whether terrorists are being rendited to countries where they'll receive the harsh treatment that the Democrats won't let them receive here.

And they said their opportunities to break through to voters with a coherent message on domestic and foreign policy — should they settle on one [!] — were restricted by the lack of an established, nationally known leader to carry their message this fall.

Yeah, it's not their fault nobody listens to them; it just because no Democrat has any national stature -- because nobody will listen to them!

(Say... did you know that John Kerry served in Vietnam? And that Howard Dean didn't?)

There is one member of the caucus who seems to have grasped the bull by the tail and stared the facts in the face: Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL), or "Osama" Obama, as Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Margaritaville) called him.

"I think that two-thirds of the American people think the country is going in the wrong direction," " said Senator Barack Obama, the first-term Illinois Democrat who is widely viewed as one of the party's promising stars. "They're not sure yet whether Democrats can move it in the right direction."

Mr. Obama said the Democratic Party had not seized the moment, adding: "We have been in a reactive posture for too long. I think we have been very good at saying no, but not good enough at saying yes."

Alas, this particular senator has a bad habit of lurching back and forth between insightful candor and outrageous partisan attacks. He has even managed to enrage John McCain (R-AZ), the man who never met a Democratic he was unwilling to pair up to tweak the Republican base. As Tom Bevan at RealClearPoliticsBlog noted, McCain recently sent a furious letter to Obama, castigating the freshman Democrat for going back on his word to McCain.


The responses of various putative Democratic "leaders" speak volumes beyond the literal words.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

John Kerry stunned

Failed presidential candidate John F. Kerry

"Our megaphone is just not as large as their megaphone, and we have a harder time getting that message out, even when people are on the same page."

You might have an easier time getting the ear of the American people if you weren't dialing up a filibuster from Switzerland of a popular Supreme-Court nominee. (No word on whether Kerry's actual words were "je voudrais un feeleeboostaire!")


Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee

Howard Dean mad

Wait -- which finger is that?

"We're going to keep hammering this," said Mr. Dean, the party chairman, referring to the scandals. "One thing the Republicans have taught us is that values and character matter."

Like we said, you can't beat something with nothing: even mediocre values and character beat the complete lack of either values or character.


Former Sen. Al Gore, from a Martin Luther King Day speech this year

Rantin' Al Gore

Jolt Cola poster boy

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress precisely to prevent such abuses....

At the same time, the Executive branch has also claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture and have plainly constituted torture in a widespread pattern that has been extensively documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.

Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated.... They violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, and our own laws against torture....

The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after analyzing the Executive Branch's extravagant claims of these previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

Is comment really necessary?


Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag)

Bug-Eyed Hillary

The silence of the scams

"                "

(Hillary, having flashbacks to her 2000 Senate campaign, refused to answer any questions about the Democratic Party or what she believed.)


If the Democratic Party really wants to know why they have no traction at all going into the 2006 midterms, well, the mirror's right over there, friends.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 7, 2006, at the time of 11:58 PM

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Tracked on February 8, 2006 8:52 AM


The following hissed in response by: napablogger

good write up, something with nothing is exactly right. You wonder when the Dems are going to come out with a program for the voters to consider that makes a lick of sense. Oh wait, they are going to try to impeach Bush, that should get them a lot of votes. NOT.

The above hissed in response by: napablogger [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 8, 2006 11:03 AM

The following hissed in response by: tomlynk

The Democrat (D) Party might be in decline, but the Carpetbag (C) Party is gaining strength. Little Jimmy Carter has moved to Nevada to make a run for the Senate. It is true that he has lived there for three years compared to Hilary's three months in New York, but a Carpetbagger is a Carpetbagger. That could explain some of Big Jimmy's anti-Republican rant during services for Mrs. King, but Jimmy's trolley ran off the tracks a long time ago. He was the only president in my lifetime who was actually worse than Bill Clinton.

The above hissed in response by: tomlynk [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2006 12:29 PM

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