At a time when polls show 80 percent of the public (and over 60 percent of self-identified Democrats) approves of Mr. Bush's handling of the Iraq war, the Democratic activists are feeling an "exasperated ambivalence." At a time when three out of four Americans approve the job the president is doing overall as president, "every major institutional player in the Democrat's orbit" believes his presidency is "an unmitigated disaster." Putting aside what Daschle, Kerry, Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership actually think about issues, no party leadership -- of either party -- can stray too far, for too long from the strong feelings of their party's activists, contributors and special interests. In military terms, they can't outrun their supply lines -- unless they are prepared to be a guerrilla band and live off the land. And Tom "the Dakota Indoorsman" Daschle, Jack "57 Varieties" Kerry and Ted "Another Chivas" Kennedy don't strike me as natural born guerrillas.
But they are tough competitors who will carry the fight of their party's activist base to the floor of the Senate. That base doesn't want to parley or cut deals with President Bush. They want him skinned alive at the next election. Moderate Democratic senators, who might be induced to support some of the president's legislative initiatives such as tax cuts, will be pressured to the point of agony by their leadership, contributors and special interests never to support the president. The best way -- so they judge -- to beat President Bush in 2004 is to make him seem a legislative failure for the next year and a half. That, plus their devout prayers for a bum economy next spring, is their theory of victory and their reason for living for the next 18 months.
Nonetheless, President Bush and the congressional Republicans need to fight hard -- and be seen by the public to be fighting hard -- for their legislative agenda. There are 19 Democratic senators up for re-election next year. The Democratic activist base -- in their demented fury with President Bush -- is in a mood to make those senators walk the plank on popular Bush legislation all summer, fall and spring. With any luck, next November we can scoop up a large catch of Democratic Senatorial political corpses. Only thereafter, in 2005, can we expect what is left of the Congressional Democratic Party to become Syrian Democrats -- and modify their voting behavior under duress from the president. The current crop -- the Nebuchadnezzar wing of the Democratic Party -- seem intent on ignoring the president's request to give up their weapons of liberal destruction.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.