Will Democratic voters turn out and be good soldiers?
Will Presidenet Obama step up his rope-a-dope?
I'm concerned about the upcoming elections. But I'm not worried about them. This diary may contain large amounts of swoon and perhaps an element of allegiance which may be too much for some readers.
My thoughts basically stem back from the way I saw the healthcare debate unfold. We had reconciliation at our disposal the entire time... a process used for nearly every piece of healthcare legislation passed since 1982. So why was there ever any doubt that we would get something passed?
Because Obama ceded the narrative. He rope-a-doped it. Instead of pushing back against his detractors in the beginning, he let them take control and run down the clock.
Instead of pushing back against his detractors in the beginning, he let them take control and run down the clock. And as they did, they ran down their own enthusiasm. In the end, 6 months of shrieking worked against his opponents. Was HCR a net win? At the time it passed, many of us would have said 'no'. But the average American political observer has a very short memory. I myself have an excellent memory but the details of the healthcare package have fallen to the fog of time. I suspect that the average American, like myself, remembers Healthcare reform as a net plus. Imperfect in its execution, but chalk one up for the D's. They got it done.
Currently we are seeing a debate unfold on two tax cut programs. This one is going to be a little more fun, because as we cede the narrative this time we know full well how it's going to play out. The Republicans are going to stand up for policies that they ought to be openly mocked for.
G. W. Bush was the most selfish politician of my time, running a deficit on "political capital" to the complete disregard of his party and his country. I wondered how the 10 year expiration thing would play out: It's a note that can only be paid back in political capital, and right now the Republicans have none to spend. I don't think that being out of power, and severely hamstrung was a possibility that Karl Rove had accounted for when he put a lien on the GOP farm.
So I think Obama is looking forward to the next few weeks. He'll be getting a win and the voters will be reminded of the exact policies that Republicans stand for. I'm not the first to think this might translate into a plus at the polls.
And then there's the Crazy. In most states where the matchup is a sane Democrat vs. an insane Tea Partier (disguised as a Republican), the voters are siding with sanity. I see only Rand Paul as having any viable chance, and that chance will wane when we get a taste of the editorial board's endorsements from the 3 major Kentucky newspapers. During my 20 years in Kentucky, I've read some scathing candidate endorsements, and I can't imagine any reason why they would hold back on a complete assault this time around.
You can pretty much lay money on the prediction that the Louisville Courier-Journal will go with Jack Conway. The rural folk don't put much stock in that paper anyway. That leaves the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Paducah Sun. Eastern KY has coal unions to offset the conservative base, many counties actually have a majority Democratic constituency though it's not a reliable voting bloc. The Herald-Leader endorsed Paul in the R primary but I with the crazy ass things he has said, I can't imagine them endorsing him in the general; I think they will skewer him. And that leaves the Sun, which I'm calling the bellweather for Rand's hopes. If 2 or 3 of Kentucky's major newspapers present a strong case against Rand, you can consider this a statistical tie.
So the average Democrat isn't fired up for this election. Maybe that's good, because that kind of motivated water cooler talk is what gets the average Republican fired up. They may have an edge, but I think it's the fringes that are leading that edge. The Crazy is coming from the candidates and the activists, and it's got to be enough to turn some reasonable people off. I see the election playing out very much the same way as HCR and this tax debate have unfolded - with Obama giving his foes rope enough to hang themselves.
Labor day gave us a glimpse of the proactive Obama. Many of us would like to have seen more of that during the first half of his term, but enthusiasm needs a rest sometimes. After he won the election, even some of his proponents were tired of the hype. How could he have sustained that momentum all the way into the midterm elections? I don't think he could - and losing momentum just before the elections would seem to be the riskiest proposition since we know that the trendlines are the most important indicator.
I believe Obama has intentionally let this whole "Dems in trouble" meme run unchecked because it let the GOP base become complacent. He kept his foot off the gas for the last year and now I'll bet he's going to be hitting the straightaway with all he's got.
Finally, consider the independent voter. Here the polls tell us that voters think Democrats are ineffective, cowardly and self-serving. But they have a worse opinion of Republicans.