NEW YORK--If you're a registered Democrat like me, you're getting deluged with junk mail, both paper and electronic. The message is the same it was two years ago and four years ago: STOP THE REPUBLICANS! HELP US FIGHT BACK! (Send us money!) If Dick Morris, a Republican who is the most brilliant pollster alive, is right, the plea is working. He predicts a Democratic sweep of both the House and the Senate in November's midterm elections.
The question is: should Democratic voters care? After all, the last time the Democratic Party controlled Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court, there was precious little fighting back. Reagan-era and Bush 41-era budget cuts in education and social programs remained in force under President Clinton, whose major legislative achievements--welfare reform and the NAFTA and WTO free trade deals--were Republican-sponsored.
According to the October fundraising mailers, Democratic voters and a lot of independents and Republicans are MAD AS HELL AND NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! They're angry about the endless, costly and losing wars against Iraq and Afghanistan while Osama bin Laden releases videos more often than Britney. They're disgusted at corrupt and perverted Congressmen. They're sick and tired of hearing Republicans talk up the economy when gas is $2.50 a gallon, they can't sell their houses or find a decent job. But should they trust the Democratic Party to articulate their rage?
Democrats, reports The New York Times, have taken note of polls that show that 66 percent of Americans think we're losing in Iraq (duh) and that it's Bush's fault (double duh). Democratic challengers "have seized on Iraq as a central issue. In debates and in speeches, [Congressional and Senatorial] candidates are pummeling Republicans with accusations of a failed war."
If Republican Congressmen hadn't caused the deaths of so many people, it would almost be possible to feel sorry for them. A recent Johns Hopkins University study estimates that U.S. forces have thus far killed 600,000 Iraqis since the March 2003 invasion. (Without offering a specific critique of the survey's statistical methodology or offering a number of his own, Bush said he disagreed with the estimate. But with over a hundred bodies a day turning up bound and tortured to death in the streets of Baghdad alone, the number seems reasonable.) The lives of nearly 2,800 U.S. troops and the staggering sum of $250 billion have been wasted. Under these circumstances "stay the course"--the sole Republican strategy since the beginning--is hardly a winning sales pitch.
And it's all they have. "We can't afford to leave until the job is finished," says GOP strategist Russ Scriefer. "Stay the course means keep doing what you're doing," Bush stumbled again last week. "My attitude is, don't do what you're doing if it's not working--change. Stay the course also means don't leave before the job is done. We're going to get the job done in Iraq."
The trouble for Bush and his party is that they've been saying that for three years. Meanwhile, things in Iraq have gotten worse. "Everything's being discolored by people's view of the war and what's going on in Iraq, and as a result, you know, all of our [poll] numbers look pretty bad," House majority leader John Boehner of Ohio told Fox News. "And there's no question that there's a jet stream in our face."
So Democratic sharks are circling. They're running attack ads that mock Republicans for wanting to "stay the course" while displaying gruesome footage of car bombings and blood-splattered bodies. "For the first time in modern memory," says Matt Bennett of the centrist Democratic group Third Way, "Democrats are actually on the offensive when it comes to national security."
Of course, Democrats share the blame for those 600,000 slaughtered Iraqis. When Bush's Iraq war resolution came up for a vote in October 2002, Democrats in the Senate voted yes, 29 to 21. Even worse, they've signed onto the "stay the course" cult. As recently as June 2006, 42 House Democrats crossed party lines to vote against a measure that called for an end to the war. It's unlikely that even a "Democratic Revolution" in both houses of Congress would bring a conclusion to the bloodshed any time soon. The last thing victorious Dems would want to do two years before a presidential election is to open themselves to attacks for "cutting and running."
If the Democrats were to recapture control of the House of Representatives, they would theoretically be able to hold George W. Bush accountable for lying to Congress and the American people about, among other things, Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and tapping Americans' telephones and reading their e-mail. But Republicans who might be feeling guilty about felonious or even treasonous acts needn't worry about getting frog-marched: impeachment investigations are "off the table," assures minority leader and lead sell-out Nancy Pelosi. Republican candidates "are in such desperate shape [in the polls]," said her spokesman, "we don't want to give them anything to grab on to."
You may be mad as hell, but--even if Democrats win--they're going to take it evermore.