From Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Winter Home of Grandma Galen
The first “cattle call” of the 2008 Presidential election will be held this weekend at a regional meeting of the Republican National Committee in Memphis.
National political reporters – like junkies who have been too long without a fix – have been on the phone to people like me straining to tease out the story: How fast and how far will contenders for the GOP Presidential nomination run from George W. Bush this weekend?
Two Washington political beings – Grover Norquist and me – agreed, in an LA Times article, that it was unlikely that any serious candidate would attempt to make their mark among these most loyal of GOPers by bashing George W. Bush.
But national political reporters being what they are and being who they are, will be looking for any sign of dissatisfaction with the current administration so as to claim a headline like: “Global Cooling Among GOP Faithful Toward Bush.”
That is not to say the meeting will be the political equivalent of counselors-in-training at Camp Wauwepex sitting around the Great Campfire, watching the sparks disappear into the night sky, holding hands, and swaying to the strains of Kumbaya.
But neither is it likely to be like a band of Vikings attacking, then laying siege to, England in the time of Ethelred the Unready.
In Oshkosh, Wisconsin the county GOP stalwarts filled a banquet room for their annual Lincoln Day Dinner in a blizzard – a blizzard – a couple of weeks ago. “And,” I told a reporter, “I’m pretty sure they didn’t risk life and limb just to see me.”
The strongest motivation for Republicans’ optimism is the Democrats’ pessimism.
Democrats not only can’t get their act together, they can’t decide on who should write the sketch; what it should be about; who should play which parts; nor where, when, or how the act should be staged.
In a Washington Post front pager, reporters Shailagh Murray and Chuck Babington recount a recent meeting of House and Senate Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with Democratic Governors. When the question of themes leading up to the election were being discussed:
“Reid said they had narrowed the list to six, and proceeded to talk about them. Then Pelosi offered her six – not all the same as Reid’s.”
Oh, yeah. Twelve themes will work. Along with 24 strategies, 237 tactics and 1,567 projects. Have at it.
While some Congressional Democrats are working toward constructing a positive agenda to be put in front of voters in November, our guy, Harry Reid, is quoted in the same piece as saying, “We’re not going to do a ‘Contract with America.’”
The Democrats spent months – MONTHS – working on a slogan which they hope might carry them to victory in November. The slogan they tested, refined, distilled, rewrote, retested, and finally agreed to, is:
“Together, America can do better.”
Ok. Not bad. But here’s why the Democrats are scrabbling for traction even among their rank and file:
“There is an effort afoot to drop the word ‘together.’ It tests well in focus groups and audiences … but it makes the syntax incorrect.”
Memo to Democrats: Until William Strunk and E. B. White are your Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees, don’t worry about the Elements of Style.
Back to the GOP in Memphis. Howard Fineman of Newsweek Magazine (who, I’m very happy to report, appears to be winning his fight against prostate cancer) called to asked “What’s the scuttlebutt on Rudy Giuliani?”
Noting that it is a long way from March, 2006 to November, 2008, I said, “It’s a little too early for butts to be scuttling.”
It is very, very important to be quotable.
New Topic: Congressman Bill Thomas (R-CA) announced he is retiring after nearly three decades in office.
Bill Thomas is not a saint. He fussed and fumed and berated and cried and one time called in the Capitol Police to clear his committee room of Democrats.
If I had been a Member of Congress, I would have liked to have been Bill Thomas. At a minimum, I would have tried.
On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the WashPost pieces on the Democrats’ continuing problems and on Bill Thomas’ retirement and a link to the LA Times piece; a really nice Mullfoto; and a Catchy Caption of the Day.