Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How Do You Lead Your Party To Minus 27?

Obviously, Democrats are doing well and Republicans are doing badly. But the Gallup data showing that Democrats have a favorability rating of +16 while Republicans are at -fucking27 is still pretty striking.

It didn't have to be this way. The natural thing to do after November 2006, if you're a party being dragged down by an unpopular president, is to run away from the president and have your House and Senate leaders cut deals with Democrats to get stuff passed and take your worst issues of the table. Compromise on S-CHIP. Agree on a plan to get out of Iraq. Let vulnerable Congresspeople assert their independence by talking against the president on cable shows and straying from unpopular positions on party-line votes. If it makes the Democrats look good too, don't sweat it -- you've got 22 Senate incumbents up for election and the Democrats only have 12, so hatred of Congress hurts you more than it hurts the majority party. While I'm willing to give Mitch McConnell credit for being a devious legislative tactician, he has only himself to blame for the strategic blunders that led to Democrats getting to 58 or 59 Senate seats.

I'm sort of curious about how the GOP leadership comes out of watching Democrats win back both chambers in 2006 and keeps doing what they're doing. Is it just that the key GOP constituencies are too stupid to let you compromise? If I were a health insurance lobbyist, I would've given these guys room to bend on S-CHIP in 2008 so that I wouldn't be broken by universal health care in 2009. Or are the memories of victory in 1994 and 2004 so vivid that you can't even think about doing other things as part of a defensive strategy?
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