The Democrats aren't the ones falling apart, the Republicans are. The Democrats can see daylight ahead. For all their fractious fighting, they're
finally resolving their central drama. Hillary Clinton will leave, and Barack Obama will deliver a stirring acceptance speech. Then hand-to-hand in the
general, where they see their guy triumphing. You see it when you talk to them: They're busy being born.
The Republicans? Busy dying. The brightest of them see no immediate light.
They're frozen, not like a deer in the headlights but a deer in the darkness,
his ears stiff at the sound. Crunch. Twig. Hunting party.
Meanwhile, Noonan's colleague Kim Strassel also is like the horse that walks into the bar:
This anger is the best way to describe today's political landscape. Ever
since Republicans were routed in 2006, and more recently with their loss of
three special elections, the party has been in a debate about what changed in
the country and what to do in response. In the primaries, as Mike Huckabee
pitched to evangelicals, Rudy Giuliani pitched to fiscal conservatives, and Mitt
Romney pitched to anything that moved, some went so far as to declare the
"death" of the Reagan coalition.
Encouraging this panicked discussion has been a new theory that the
nation is experiencing a seismic political shift. A few short years ago, we were
supposed to be on the verge of a lasting conservative majority. Scrap that.
Do you think this is a little bit over the top? I sure do. It's quite possible that 2008 will be a big year for the Democrats. I'm going to do what I can to prevent it from happening. But I'm not convinced yet that it has to be. In fact, I think there's reason for optimism. Why? Plenty of reasons. Here are just a few:
- The Democrats aren't really any smarter than before. While Republicans have a well-deserved reputation for not learning from their mistakes, especially at the national level, there's no evidence that Democrats have learned anything, either. Tactically, they have done some smart things in terms of framing debates, but a lot of the candidates who are winning elections are running as moderates or even conservatives. Once these candidates get to Washington, they won't be able to pretend to be something they aren't, especially when they start taking marching orders from the Pelosis, Reids and Murthas of the world. When these solons return to their districts and their constituents, they will, like Lucy, have a lot of 'splainin to do.
- The headlining Democratic candidates aren't going to look as impressive in the fall as they might now. Barack Obama may be able to bluff his way through November, but he's shown real trouble dealing with anything approaching actual scrutiny. Here in Minnesota, the likely Senate nominee is Al Franken, who will bring to his campaign a very unflattering paper trail and lots of video antics that will flood YouTube and anyplace else that Republican operatives can place them. One well-connected blogger, Michael Brodkorb, has staggered the Franken campaign several times already. Norm Coleman, for all his faults, will be smart enough to bring in the operatives he needs to finish what Brodkorb has started. And Jesse Ventura won't change the equation this time. (Side note: you may have heard about Jesse's appearance the other day at the Mall of America, where he was signing copies of his book. Ol' Jesse was barking about how he wanted to take on Norm again. The MOA and Jesse had elaborate crowd control procedures in place, including issuing wristbands in advance to control an expected throng. From what I heard, they didn't need wristbands to control this throng.)
- What happens at the local level will be just as important as what happens at the national level and there are good candidates to support. I've been writing a lot about the race here in 50B and we have an excellent chance to elect Lori Grivna this fall. Incumbent Kate Knuth is no longer the fresh young face; instead, she's part of the DFL team that has already jammed the largest tax increase in Minnesota history down the throats of her constituents. And she wants to do a lot more of the same. And Lori is quite prepared to explain precisely what more of the same would mean.
- Even if the worst-case scenario takes place, there will be opportunities in the ashes. Suppose the most dire predictions come true - Obama wins and wins easily and brings 5-6 new Democratic senators (including, egad, Franken) and 20-30 new Congresscritters. What would happen? Well, you can assume that the emboldened Democrats will try to ram through their entire agenda - taking over healthcare, global warming, whatever the hell the teachers' unions want this time, etc., etc., etc. They might even get some of it passed. People will notice that, though. And people will notice that a lot of unsavory people will be wielding a lot of power; they'll notice that by giving the keys to Barack Obama, they've also unleashed the Murthas and Pelosis of the world. We can try to explain that to people all we want in this cycle, but most likely the message won't get through. Sometimes you have to experience something to learn from it. A very large percentage of the electorate doesn't remember what life was like in the 1970s. An Obama administration with large Democratic majorities in both houses would set up a replay of that time. Who thinks it will turn out better this time?
Bottom line? We have work to do. The key for those who believe in conservative ideals is to campaign forthrightly and with vigor in this cycle. We have good candidates to support and many reasonable arguments to make. It may not go our way. But if we make honest arguments and still lose because people aren't accepting the message, we'll have laid down a marker. And we'll have established something for the next campaign. As the wise man said, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And if, like Peggy Noonan, you're worried about the hunting party, don't forget that some hunting parties are led by Elmer Fudd.