September is drawing to a close and it is incredibly, amazingly clear that the Democratic Party has no strategy for winning the midterm Congressional elections. Instead, the national leadership lurches from one improvisation to another while local campaigns scramble to find garbage they can dig up on their opponents in the hopes that these negative ads will suffice even though they have no message. To the extent the Democrats address the Obama agenda at all, it is to distance themselves from it, heralding their votes against Pelosi, Reid, and Obama as badges of independence and honor. Nobody is out there saying the stimulus is working or that Obamacare is good or that the economy is recovering or that they wish we had cap and trade. The legislative program of the Obama Administration is an orphan while dissent has a thousand fathers.
Symptomatic of the absence of a national Democratic message was Obama s orchestrated criticism of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R Ohio) as a tool of the lobbyists last week while this week the Administration accuses the Republican Party of having been captured by Tea Party crazies. You cannot both be the tool of monied special interests and in the grip of outraged revolutionaries. One or the other.
On the local level, Democrats are pedaling three lines of attack against their Republican opponents, one more pathetic than the next.
* Privatizing Social Security. Many Republican challengers have embraced the plan put forward by Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan reiterating the old Bush proposal that people under 55 years of age be allowed to decide for themselves how to invest up to one-third of their Social Security tax payments. This sensible idea, rejected by a Republican Congress in 2005, is being twisted into a proposal for privatization of the system. Most people support the Ryan-Bush idea so when Republicans explain the details, they usually succeed in defusing the Democratic charges.
* Imposing a 23% national sales tax. Those Republicans who have endorsed the Fair Tax proposal pioneered by talk radio host Neil Boortz and the fiscally conservative Club for Growth have been hit with supporting a national sales tax of 23%. But the Democratic ads always forget to mention that this tax has been proposed as a replacement for — not an addition to — the federal income tax. The only people who are speculating that a VAT or national sales tax might be added on top of the income tax are in the Obama Administration. Again, once Republicans point out the truth, the Democratic allegation backfires since voters rather like the prospect of a world without the IRS, tax audits, and revenue agents.
* Shipping jobs overseas. In the most convoluted of all negatives, Democrats are accusing their GOP challengers of supporting corporate loopholes which reward companies that open overseas offices with tax favors. They derive this Republican position by construing the no-new-taxes pledge most Republican candidates have taken at the behest of Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist as meaning that no corporate loopholes will be closed. Of course, once Republicans point out that the Obama Administration pushed the General Motors bailout even though two-thirds of the GM jobs were abroad, proposed cash-for-clunkers even though almost half the cars were foreign, and supported TARP bailouts for banks much of whose money went overseas, the accusations fall apart.
That is it! That is the entire Democratic Party campaign! On the strength of these tender reeds rest the entire case of the Party to keep power!
The reason for this intellectual bankruptcy is plain to see. Obama and his minions refused to read the polls that showed how unpopular their program was and gambled all on a recovery summer. When it became clear that the very spending and borrowing programs they had passed had torpedoed any recovery that might once have been underway, they had no plan B on which to rely.
So the Democrats are scrambling with only six weeks to go!