Republican leader John Boehner (R-Oh) and his Republican House colleagues released their "Pledge to America" yesterday.
As you might have guessed, Congressional Democrats and their allies in the Popular Press came out swinging:
Too broad. Not enough specifics. No promise to cut out earmarks. Nothing new. Blah, blah … blah.
Here's what I said (I have edited this slightly to make me sound smarter than I actually was, but this is the thrust) to one of my favorite sparring partners, pollster Cornell Belcher, on CNN last night.
Cornell, in your next poll ask this question: Thinking about the Republican's "Pledge to America" are you in favor of cutting the deficit, refusing to raise taxes, reducing entitlements, and bringing a sense of fairness back to the Congress? Or, are you in favor of the status quo?
Erick Erickson, of Redstate.com, said that the "Pledge to America" was far longer than the 1994 "Contract with America;" longer, even, than the U.S. Constitution, and independents weren't going to read a document that long.
I said independents don't have to read it; they just need to know that it is there.
Bill Greener, who has been a friend, ally, and teacher for way too many decades to recount, taught me about political debate.
"If you can keep the debate at the values level," he taught me, "your opponent can't get into the game."
A value might be something like: "We need to provide every American child the best education in the world."
What's your opponent going to say, "No, we shouldn't?"
It's when you have to describe how to achieve that value that the fight starts. The deeper you go into the details of the value - the actual policies - the more fuel you provide to the debate.
The "Pledge to America" is largely written at the values level. The best Democrats can do is to complain that this is the "same old Republican rhetoric of smaller government, lower taxes, and freezing the hiring of non-security Federal employees" that they've heard before.
Yeah, well, sounds pretty good to me.
The media, in its zeal to help put up barriers against the continually rising anti-Democrat tide among American voters, spent the day yesterday trying to use tricks they learned in Journalism 113 in college to trap Republicans into sounding uninformed, unconcerned about the poor and unemployed, or ideologues interested only in pandering to the Tea Party.
As far as I have seen, no one fell into their traps, and so the tide is still running strongly toward Republicans.
In fact, a new poll released by the Pew organization shows that among likely voters the GOP has a seven percentage point lead: 50-43.