Republicans Should Prepare for "October Surprises"

Carol Platt Liebau

10/4/2010 12:00:56 AM - Carol Platt Liebau

It’s an old lawyers’ cliché: If you don’t have the law on your side, use the facts. If you don’t have the facts, pound the table. Apparently, the Obama/Pelosi Democrats have decided they need to pound the table – at least figuratively. That’s why Republicans had better be ready for a series of big, ugly Democrat “October surprises.”

Last week’s New York Times piece about Democrats resorting to negative, personal attacks on their political opponents was an amazingly open admission of desperation. And there’s no doubt the desperation is warranted.

After all, Democrats don’t have “the law(s)” on their side. Their two biggest legislative initiatives – the stimulus and the federal healthcare takeover – are massively unpopular. A recent Gallup poll found that 52% of the public disapproves of the former (with 43% approving) while 56% of Americans disapproves of the latter (with 39% approving).

Nor are “the facts” in the Democrats’ favor. The $819 billion stimulus spending pushed the U.S. deficit 23% higher to a record $13.2 trillion. Since it was passed, America has lost $2.5 million jobs. Contrary to the President’s promise that the spending would keep unemployment below 8%, the national unemployment rate is 9.6% (and a whopping 16.7% including those who want, but cannot find, full-time work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Examples of waste and abuse are legion – including the $111 million in stimulus funds sent to Los Angeles to create only 55 jobs, and the payment of $250 stimulus checks to incarcerated felons.

Likewise, it’s already clear that ObamaCare keeps none of the promises the President made while advocating its passage. Contrary to Obama’s pledge that Americans satisfied with their care could keep their current plans, up to 69% of employees and 80% of small businesses could be forced to change health care plans under the law’s new regulation. And rather than slowing the acceleration of health care costs, ObamaCare means that U.S. health care spending is projected to rise 9.2% by 2014, rather than the 6.6% projected before the law took effect, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Given the spectacular failure of their legislative centerpieces – and the ongoing economic crisis fueled, in significant part, by the undisguised hostility of their leaders to private business – “table thumping,” in the form of negative campaigning, is all the Democrats have left. And they’ve taken to it like pigs to mud.

Just last week, Democrat Congressman Alan Grayson called his opponent, Daniel Webster, a member of the “Taliban” after distorting Webster's advocacy of traditional Christian values. Democrat Congressman Ron Klein sent out the social security number of his opponent, Alan West, at the top of a mass mailing. In California – using a technique eerily similar to one she employed against Arnold Schwarzenegger in the closing days of the 2003 campaign – Democrat attorney/publicity-seeker Gloria Allred trotted out an alleged “victim” to accuse the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee, Meg Whitman, of possible illegality.

Allred’s gambit may well have been just the first of many controversial allegations Democrats will launch in the hopes of repulsing just enough independent and Republican to enable incumbents to squeak through to re-election. Ironically, the party advocating government as the answer to all America’s problems seems willing to maintain its hold on power at the cost of convincing Americans that politicians themselves can’t be trusted.

But even in their desperation, perhaps Democrats have once again misjudged the mood of the country. This year, it’s not about the personalities or histories or proclivities of the people on the ballot. It’s about their policies – and the Democrats’. It’s about restoring prosperity, stopping the out-of-control spending, and firing the politicians who have demonstrated such obvious contempt for values and wishes of the mainstream American electorate.

Yes, Republicans should be prepared for the possibility of an October surprise. And Democrats, in turn, should be prepared for the possibility that it will backfire. They can “pound the table” all they want. The problem for them is that the voters may have already stopped listening to them.