My column this week is about a big ol' case of deja vu:
I was in my hometown this weekend, a little deep-blue enclave in an otherwise healthily red state. Scattered throughout my neighborhood, nestled in well-groomed hydrangea bushes and under blooming crepe myrtles stand a handful of Kerry-Edwards campaign signs.
This weekend, they sweltered in the Carolina sun and dripped in a summer downpour, feebly whispering about a “stronger America” and “hope on the way” to many a passer-by who was more likely admiring the pink carpet the rain had shaken from the trees than the Kerry campaign’s two-year-old promises.
On a downtown corner, a handful of folks sweated under the dogwood trees, unable to escape the hot yellow glare of sun on white concrete. The tiny crowd of activists was anything but active, milling around with pale, worn poster boards, feebly proclaiming Israel’s “occupation” of various surrounding countries, America’s “occupation” of Iraq, and George Bush’s “occupation” of the White House, among other grievances.
A lot of folks are saying this could be the Democrats’ 1994, that Republicans could lose both the House and Senate. Some of the evidence is there, in low poll numbers for the president and tight races for Republican incumbents that should have been much looser.
But I can’t shake the thought that, in my hometown, in our little blue neighborhood, it looks a heck of a lot like 2004, minus the enthusiasm. The anti-Bush anger is still here, and it flares up occasionally, but it’s usually simmering in a sort of tepid resentment stew. The activists mill instead of march, and they’ve added no new calls to action to their Sharpie-penned repertoire.
Yes, poll numbers are down and races are tight, but the folks around here are offering nothing in the way of a call for reform. In order to be a fiery reform party, the Democrats must have both fire and some kind of form. They seem to have neither.
I found further evidence of the Dems' 2004-ism in a Washington Post write-up of the George Allen vs. James Webb debate:
I went into the debate write-up expecting some smart talk from Webb, perhaps an early signal that the Democrats were going to start capitalizing on Republican woes with Democrat ideas.Sure, they got nothin', but that being said, it doesn't mean Republicans can't lose this fall. It'll just be extra-humiliating and extra-detrimental if they do. In fact, just writing the column inspired me to make sure I'm doing my part in a couple of key races. Hugh has a link up on his right column for the Big 10 races he's working on.
Instead, I found that Webb wears combat boots instead of delivering a limp salute. He peppers his calls for withdrawal from Iraq with respectful references to the leadership of Ronald Reagan.
But all in all, Webb’s part of the debate sounded a heck of a lot like Kerry’s infamous “I have a plan” debate of ‘04.