Monday, September 11, 2006

Optimistic or pessimistic

As we close in on November the Conservative commentators face a dilemma. Certainly they would like to see the Republicans retain their majorities. But if they predict that the Republicans will retain their majorities and they don't, they look like chumps. On the other hand, if they predict Republican defeat, and the Republicans retain possession of the House and Senate, well that makes them look like chumps as well (and pessimistic chumps at that). So you have some conservative commentators painting the Democrats as dunderheads who nobody will vote for and some conservative commentators who are claiming that Republicans (and particularly President Bush) have screwed up enough that the game is over.

Well you can put Debra J. Saunders in the second camp, at least based on her latest article.
Two factors will work against Republicans trying to retain control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in November -- and they both have to do with the downside of being the party in power in Washington.

First, there's President Bush. I've covered politics long enough to have lived through this cycle before -- the scorn that insiders in both parties heap on a White House in its second term, when every mistake made by an administration has been magnified and dissected. . . .

Then, there is the GOP House, which clearly saw its leadership corrupted by power. The prosecution of uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff revealed unholy ties between K Street lobbyists and congressional staffers.
She does go on to note that the Democrats don't have anything positive to answer - not exactly true, but plenty of Conservatoids feel compelled to say it.

Donald Lambro takes the opposite tack; he believes that the Republicans can pull off victory by, well, doing what they are already doing.
Last week's speech, part of a series of speeches to remind Americans of the increasing threat terrorism poses to this country, demonstrated several things that will have an impact in the war on terror -- and on the midterm elections. It showed how the president, despite his political weakness in the polls, can use his bully pulpit to put the spotlight on an issue -- in this case, the war on terror -- that his critics have tried to play down and diminish, but on which he and his party still command their strongest approval ratings.
It is clear what the Bush Strategy is - all terror all the time, and hope that nobody asks too many questions about Iraq and how it fits into the War on Terror. This could be a effective tactic. But my sense is that they are pulling this out a little earlier than they should (of course this is somewhat mandated by their desire to tie into the fifth anniversary of 9/11), and that it could backfire by making this very specifically an election about President Bush.

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