During the week of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the Senate and House Minority Leaders, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, insisted on more airtime. I second that motion.
In a letter to network news presidents, Reid and Pelosi said: "We write to you today to request that if you plan to continue to devote extensive live coverage to the president's national security speeches over the next few weeks, you similarly provide substantial coverage to the national security events and statements of House and Senate Democrats."
This letter came just days after Pelosi announced that the capture of Osama bin Laden wouldn't matter in the war. "Even if he is caught tomorrow, it is five years too late. He has done more damage the longer he has been out there. But, in fact, the damage that he has done is done. And even to capture him now, I don't think makes us any safer."
In other words, she'd make a great Girl Scout: Be prepared! She's now made sure she's on record, just in case Karl Rove finds Bin Laden in time to win the November elections for the GOP.
The letter came at the same time as Reid's bogging-down of a popular, bipartisan port-security bill with an unwieldy amendment -- for the express purpose of making Republicans vote against it, so they would look bad just weeks before facing voters. "Let's see if they'll vote against this," Reid said. The letter also came on the same day that Reid and a host of Democrats and liberal commentators were blasting the president for giving an address on the evening of the 9/11 anniversary. Reid complained: "... The president spoke for his administration, not for the nation. ... This was a political move, designed to tap the overwhelming public sentiment to destroy Al Qaeda as a way to bolster sagging public support for the war in Iraq." Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., whined: "I was disappointed yesterday. This should have been a day, the fifth anniversary of 9/11 where we set the politics over on the side and really appealed to the American people to remember where we were as a nation five years ago. We were unified. We were nonpartisan. We were determined to fight terrorism. I thought the references, a few of the references the president made were unfortunate when he brought up the issue of Iraq."
Truth is, no serious leader today is going to avoid talking about the war on terror. Politics today is in significant part about war: It's our overwhelming political reality. Such is life in wartime. For Democrats to pretend anything else is to be fundamentally unserious. But if they want to keep it up and get plenty of coverage saying these kinds of things ... well, OK!
I'll be honest, I'm a geek. I've been a political junkie for years -- since, well, since longer than I care to remember. I was watching C-SPAN when I really should have been doing normal kid stuff. I cried the night Bill Clinton won. But even I can't get myself that excited about this November's elections. Even the traditional scare tactics aren't really motivating me. Nancy Pelosi for Speaker! Impeachment hearings! If even I can't get fired up by this stuff, there's little hope for others; they may just fall back on a "throw the bums out" strategy. It's a depressing reality.
Even Republicans talking about the war and explaining the stakes might not do it. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., has emerged as a valuable voice of clarity on the war. Americans are discouraged by the violence in Iraq, so talking about Iran's nuclear threat can be a bummer on the campaign trail -- but Santorum talks about it, like an adult.
What a contrast to the likes of Pelosi and her fellow Democrats. Indeed, the one thing that may break the midterm election fatigue/indifference/malaise and put Republicans in a winning position is the contrast the Democrats offer to Santorum-style maturity. Turn a microphone on some Democratic leaders: That might be what makes the difference and keeps the GOP in power in Washington. The president's Sept. 11, 2006, speech may prove to be a brilliant political move. Not directly because of anything he said -- but because of what they said afterward.