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.
The lack of enthusiasm for the whole "New Direction" thing might be caused by the fact that, by the Democratic leadership's own admission, it is just a holding action anyway.
Roll Call's Kornacki wrote: "The New Direction agenda is separate and distinct from the campaign platform Democrats will later unveil." According to Caucus chairman Clyburn, "I think when we get back in September, we'll lay out our '06 agenda."
Well, no hurry on that '06 agenda business. Hey! Van Clyburn! When you get back on September 5 you will be precisely eight weeks from election day. And you think that's when you'll get around to laying out your '06 agenda?
The principal reason for the heightened sense of concern - if not panic - on the part of the Democratic House leadership is a grinding feeling that they needed the elections to have been held about six weeks ago when the President was at his polling low.
There is a growing sense, among observers here, that the GOP may well have weathered the worst of the election year storms and should be able to maintain control of the House in the November elections.
The chairman of the House Democratic campaign committee, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill) told the other newspaper which covers Congress, The Hill, that he "will step down from the House Democrats' campaign operation after the November elections to spend more time with his family."
Doesn't sound like someone who wants to take a victory lap after directing a Democratic takeover of the House, does it?
And Pelosi's "New Direction" scheme? As observers here are fond of saying:
If you don't know where you're going, any direction will get you there.
On the Secret Decoder Ring Page today: An excerpt from the Roll Call article, a link to the Hill article, the kind of Mullfoto which bores you, but amuses me; and a Catchy Caption of the Day.