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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Are We "Slouching Towards November?"

Republicans won control of Congress in 1994 because we put forward a plan of core ideas and nationalized the election around them.

Will we lose the lose Congress in 2006 because we failed to do the same again?

Newt Gingrich, the architect of the 1994 victory has a new 11 point plan for victory in 2006. Is anyone paying attention?

I'd be willing to bet the House of Representatives on one issue: National Security.

Answer these few simple questions:

Do you want to win the war in Iraq or withdraw? Do you want us to take every step to detect and foil terrorist plot or are you more concerned with protecting civil liberties? Do you want us to confront terrorist threats and their state sponsors more aggresively, or do you want us to negotiate?

If you answered YES to the first part of each question then you should vote for Republicans running for Congress and Senate. If you answered YES to the second part of each question vote for Democrats.

I have every confidence that the American people want to win the war on terror (or the war on Islamic fascism). But I don't hear Democrats talking about winning or victory.

Here's more on this subject:

Slouching Toward November
By Jed Babbin
Real Clear Politics

...About two weeks ago, a Gallup poll showed that the Dems' lead (more than a dozen points) in national polls had disappeared. This was a poll of 1,000 adults, not likely voters. If only likely voters had been polled, the Dem advantage would probably have morphed into a small Republican lead. This, despite bad news from Iraq, high gasoline prices and voter disgust with Congress. Why? Because world and national news is trumping small issues the Dems want to campaign on.

On Monday, a Washington Post front-page story referred to a "...strategist who has worked as part of Bush's campaign team," who "...believes there is a 9-in-10 chance Republicans will lose their 12-year-old House majority." The same day, a New York Times front-page story said, "The strategic imperative facing the Republicans, many analysts say, is clear: transform each competitive race from a national referendum on Mr. Bush and one-party Republican rule into a choice between two individuals -- and define the Democratic challengers as unacceptable." But what happens if Congressional Republicans decide to do the opposite? What if they read the Gallup poll and decided to nationalize the election? What if they started firing consultants and hiring historians?

Churchill said the keys to statesmanship are in history. So are the keys to this election. They're in 1980, 1986 and 1988, in the speeches and campaigns of Ronald Reagan.

In 1986, Reagan - in the same stage of his presidency as Bush is today -- wanted to nationalize the mid-term election, making Democrats the issue. The Republicans' big buck consultants - whose track record then was as bad as Bob Shrum's is today - advised against it. The party listened to them and they achieved disaster by small margins: by only a few thousand votes in many states and the GOP lost several key senate seats all because the base didn't turn out.

It was more than Reagan's unflagging cheerfulness that propelled Republicans in 1988. It was his use of "the 'L' word." On the eve of the 1988 Republican convention, Ronald Reagan gave what was probably his best stump speech ever. He said, "It's time to talk issues; to use the dreaded "L'' word; to say the policies of our opposition and the congressional leadership of his party are liberal, liberal, liberal." Democrats are the party of the ACLU. Against liberal elitists in 1980, Republicans managed to knock out some of supposedly unbeatable old Senate's liberal lions such as Frank Church, Birch Bayh and George McGovern. This was the work of NCPAC in their tv ads. What if the Republicans went after some of today's?

What if this year's Senate contest featured an ad with Bob and Liddy Dole talking about how the Senate works? Most people don't realize that senators vote twice: before anyone votes on any bills or nominations, every senator votes for the leadership and the committee chairmen. Will Nebraska's Ben Nelson vote for Patrick Leahy to be chairman of the Judiciary Committee? Will North Dakota's Kent Conrad vote for Carl Levin - who has made a career of opposing missile defense - to be chairman of the Armed Services Committee? Of course they will. But the voters of their states probably don't remember that. What if Republicans remind them?

Democrats want the president to fire Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and replace him with a real tough guy like, maybe, Susan Estrich. Dems can't refute these charges because they happen to be true. Republicans made some good moves, forcing symbolic votes on the flag burning and gay marriage amendments, and the Dems' "cut and run" plan for Iraq. How many Republican candidates will challenge their opponents on those issues in clear and uncompromising terms? Remember, too, that in 2000 Bush's lead had been shrinking in states such as Florida when 60% of Americans bought Gore's claim that he was a moderate. When Gore's liberal credentials were plastered all over the tv screens, Bush recovered his lead in Tennessee, Florida and elsewhere. The Dems are the "L" party, with an elitist bent. What if Republicans didn't let anyone forget that?

Given Republicans' sorry track record on pork-barrel spending, the choice this year isn't as clearly between liberal and conservative, but it is, as Reagan said, between strength and "...international weakness and accommodation, and always, always, always, blame America first." Democrats have spent five years blaming Bush for 9-11, UN absurdities, fading European alliances, Iraq's slow progress and everything else without - once - offering a plan of their own to win the war. "Victory" and "winning" aren't words that pass their lips. And there's reason to believe that the Dems know - despite all their campaign chatter - that they can't win on the war issue.

No, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld didn't call the Dems "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." He didn't even refer to them when warning against the 1930s-like appeasement that has taken hold in the West. But the Dems' hair-trigger overreaction to his remarks about appeasement were worthy of a teenage girl on prom night whose dad says, "sweetie, your hair isn't quite right." The screams and hysterics bespeak a deep-seated concern. I'm betting that the Democrats have some non-public polls that show voters aren't buying their "we'll win and they can't" war talk. Thanks to Murtha, Kerry, Durbin and the whole sorry lot, they've proven that they still are what they have been since 1972: the party of retreat and defeat. Their new Labor Day plan for Iraq amounts to withdrawal and booting Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Some plan.

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