Like the passing traveler who can’t help but gawk at the train wreck, I looked at the Washington Post’s online Op-Eds, and learned once again why the Left continues to lose despite itself. The irony this time, was that the writer was attempting to discover the Democrat’s misstep, but repeated it himself at the very start.
In a piece titled “Precriminations”, Dana Milbank was trying to present a wry suggestion that Democrats will be unable to convert “their biggest advantage over Republicans in 14 years” into election gains, because of the public perception of up to eleven Democratic leaders, plus the now de riguer tinfoil presumption that Karl Rove is somehow directing the Democrats’ missteps. While Milbank’s piece appears to be intended as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the Democrats’ higher order strategies, it demonstrates the blindness of even the Democrats’ allies. Milbanks supposes that four “issues” in particular – “Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, Jack Abramoff and now Harry Whittington” – are potentially huge assets to the Democrats, which is just short of completely wrong. Even the polls, which themselves are less than totally accurate in measuring opinion these days for reasons of weighting, acknowledge that the average American is aware that the response to Katrina was as much a local and state blunder as it ever was a federal mistake, that Jack Abramoff had connections to high-level Democrats as well as Republicans (Harry Reid, paging Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid), and that the Whittington accident was just that – an accident which hardly rises to the level of an “issue”. As for Iraq, Americans are not happy about the cost of the conflict, but in the last two elections they made their preference clear, and it’s not ‘cut n run’ – personally, I would love for the Democrats to keep trying that tack, seeing the results it has brought thus far, though part of me really does wish the Democrats would show some of that patriotism and support for the troops they so often vow is present.
Yet even where Milbanks correctly identifies Democrats who are likely to torpedo their own party, he misses the reasons for this self-destruction. For instance, Milbanks identified Gore as a problem for falsely accusing President Bush of criminal acts, yet he completely ignored his lies and near-seditious statements made just over a week ago in Jeddah. Granted, the entire MSM seems to be keeping the lid, as best they can, on Gore’s outrageous claims, but if you want to know why Gore is hurting the Democrats, let’s at least be clear about what he is saying, and how Americans react to it.
Next up, Murtha. Milbanks claims “[n]obody doubts that Jack Murtha, a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, was acting on principle when he called for an immediate pullout from Iraq.”. Maybe on the Left that’s true Dana, but I know a lot of uniform-wearing Americans who took that demand as a cheap shot and political stunt. And that’s a really bad idea if you want Americans to see your party as in tune with the people, much less the patriots you keep claiming to be.
Yet some of Milbank’s would-be scapegoats seem ill-suited to the role. Joe Lieberman? Sure, Democrats hate him but a lot of reasonable people applauded his stand, which for once showed a Democrat with focus and principles. Yet Milbanks thinks he is a liability? As for Kerry, Biden, or Bill Clinton? Sorry Dana, but no one outside the DNC pays much attention to them. Has-beens, you know, seldom get the stage and for good reason. People laugh at these sorts, they do not take them seriously, so it’s a stretch to claim they are a factor in any real sense.
As long as Democrats don’t even recognize where their weaknesses are, they cannot hope to repair them.