This is the kind of thing which, if it had been Republicans in the US House, would have been front page news from Miami to Seattle. As it was the Democrats in the House it was left to Roll Call newspaper to point it out.
In a front page story earlier this week, reporter Steve Kornacki wrote:
With attendance typically struggling to crack the 50-Member mark, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is cracking the whip, demanding that her fellow Democrats attend three "crucial" Caucus meetings between now and the August recess.
This lack of support for the Pelosi Show is important because it indicates there is something less than overwhelming enthusiasm for "nationalizing the election" which is what most observers here …
The phrase "observers here" is journalistic shorthand for "We were sitting in the bar last night, trying to come up with a lead and someone had this idea."
In almost every case, the "observers" who are being referenced are the reporters themselves.
… what most observers here think the Dems have to do.
Democrats will do best, the theory holds, if the election becomes a referendum on the Bush Administration - a national theme. Republicans will be best if the election is fought on a district-by-district basis.
The Congress will be leaving for its annual August recess on July 31. The Democratic leadership is trying to get their troops to have a common theme. The grand strategy which Mrs. Pelosi has come up with to accomplish this task is in the form of a slogan. The slogan is: "New Direction."
To drive up attendance outlining the "New Direction" they are plotting, Pelosi sent a letter to the 201 other Democrats in the House saying:
"The meetings are mandatory and I have asked [Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (S.C.)] to take attendance."
Whoa! Check Please! They're taking attendance?
Next headline: Dem Leader Institutes Cut Policy
The "New Direction" theme probably tested well among the Democratic faithful. After all, what's not to like about a slogan like that? Nothing. What's it stand for? Also nothing.
"New Direction" does not appear to be exciting to the very Members who are supposed to go home in a couple of weeks and spout it at county fairs and living room fundraisers.