Usually, when one of our major political parties is feeling weak, the other one is feeling strong. But right at the moment, both the Republican and Democratic Parties seem to be in a synchronized funk.
Republican operatives do not currently anticipate the 2006 election to be a good time for Republican challengers. As a result, as Bob Novak and others have pointed out, it is hard to get the best Republican hopeful candidates to risk taking on even weak Democratic incumbents in the next election.
Meanwhile, Republican incumbent congressmen and senators are sending signals not to expect many heroic legislative efforts from them before the election -- which is still 15 months away. Social Security, of course, is off the Republican legislative agenda. But so, too, will be other smaller legislative efforts that might upset even small groups of voters.
I have always found it a curious, if predictable, response of legislative parties, which fear the public is not satisfied with their performance that they retreat further into inaction, rather than exert themselves to re-gain the sagging approval of their natural electors. It is the instinctive pose of the deer -- to freeze in place and hope not to be noticed.
Given that in an off election the legislators are the only federal incumbents on the ballot, hiding in plain sight may not work too well. Although it has to be conceded that unless Election Day 2006 is far worse for Republicans than it currently looks, they are not likely to lose either the House or the Senate. But when a party, hoping to only lose two or three Senate seats and a half dozen or so House seats, adopts a hunker-down policy -- they run the risk of having no strategy left to play if things are in fact worse next spring or summer.
Compounding the problem is President Bush's insistence on pushing for his guest-worker legislation this fall. Unless he agrees to a full, really-secure-the-border-first-before-addressing-guest-worker plan -- this is both political and legislative terrible news waiting to happen. If the Republicans go along with him, they further alienate the growing part of the public for whom secure borders is becoming the single issue on which they will vote. If they oppose the president, they further weaken their own party's president -- as well as upset the business and agri-business interests, which want the cheap labor and make campaign contributions.
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.