For the better part of the past couple of years most pundits have been predicting huge gains for Democratic candidates in the 2006 elections. Even though the polls, from time to time, have showed bad news for the GOP, I remain unconvinced that a Republican slaughter is inevitable. Several months from the November elections, in politics, is an eternity. Most voters are still vacationing at the beach or buying their kids’ back-to-school clothes. While there are some signs and trends that do not bode well for the GOP, there are others that do provide reason for optimism. It is definitely too early for Nancy Pelosi to be collecting fabric swatches for new curtains in the Speakers’ office.
In politics, perception is it’s own reality. If Democrats and their supporters in the media are successful in creating the impression that Republicans are doomed, eventually voters will come to see them as losers and when a politician becomes perceived as a loser, an actual loss at the polls often follows.
After Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman Tuesday, netroots activist Markos Moulitsas of The Daily Kos posted a list of action items that needed to be accomplished before the election. Item number two is, “Let people know what a sore loser Lieberman is.” Whether or not Democrats are successful in painting their opponents as losers (or as corrupt, or as mean to kittens and puppies, or whatever) congressional races are not voted on a national ballot, but on a state and district wide basis. Voters in many of those states and districts are going to vote Republican, even when the national polls are not swinging that way, but there is no denying that media driven public perception of the parties has an influence on the outcome of elections nationwide.
The perception issue that I see affecting the upcoming elections more so than that of any negative image of the GOP, and the main reason I question the conventional wisdom that Democrats will prevail in 2006, is one of the best things Republicans have going for them. And it is something Democrats continue to hand them a silver platter. Call it what you choose -- the Dean factor, the loony left, or, as Michelle Malkin refers to it, “unhinged” behavior. Whatever you call it, Republicans benefit from it.
Seeing reports of the primary runoff defeat of Cynthia McKinney in Georgia might have given the impression that Democrats were purging themselves of their kooky fringe elements. It might have, that is, until the news report cut to the Lamont victory speech in Connecticut and viewers could see some members of the moonbat posse, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, in the camera shot directly over each of Lamont’s shoulders.
The blogger known as the Anchoress predicted Tuesday night one result of the Lamont victory, “The far left is going to be emboldened, beside itself and insufferable. More, insufferable, I mean. And they’ll overplay their perceived hands like mad (as they usually do).” There is already some evidence that her prediction is correct.
Michael Moore, obviously emboldened by the Lamont win, quickly issued a warning for Democrats . “Let the resounding defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman send a cold shiver down the spine of every Democrat who supported the invasion of Iraq and who continues to support, in any way, this senseless, immoral, unwinnable war… Nearly every Democrat set to run for president in 2008 is responsible for this war. They voted for it or they supported it... Payback time started last night.” He then went on to say that Kerry and Edwards’ decision to support the war, although they have now changed their positions, was a “massive error in judgment” and “proof that they are not fit for the job.” He then went on to say that only if Hillary changed her current support for the war could she hope to make it through the Democratic Presidential primary.
Michael Moore was not the only one on the left to be emboldened by the Lamont win and to potentially overplay his hand. Howard Dean, never one to disappoint (Republicans, that is) , couldn’t resist declaring that GOP party chairman, Ken Mehlman, was “going down.”
Certainly Republicans make plenty of mistakes. There have been times when watching Republican politics was a bit like watching reruns of the old Andy Griffith show – you know, the ones where Barney shots himself in the foot and eventually has to hand over his bullets. But as imperfect as Republicans have been in recent years, they have not come close to Democrats when it comes to their leaders, and especially those on the fringe of the party, making kooky comments. Premature predictions of a Democratic landslide, coupled with the Lamont win, could lull (or even embolden) Democrats into making additional unguarded, and potentially harmful, statements.
Republicans are not going to retain control of the Congress by depending on Democrats like Howard Dean, John Murtha, Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan to provide kooky quotes every news cycle though. They have to put forward good, solid candidates and offer a positive agenda. Most GOP candidates appear to be doing just that. Although quotes from some of those on the left continue to supply fodder for Republican campaign ads, it is not enough to rely on those to chart a winning strategy. Such Democrat comments are definitely something that should be used to advantage at every opportunity, though, and one more reason for me to question the conventional wisdom indicating Democrats will win big this fall.