Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Opening

There’s an interesting article in today’s New York Times about the growing discontent among Bush supporters.

Many people who voted for Mr. Bush a year ago had trouble pinning their current discontent on any one thing. Many mentioned the hurricane and the indictment of a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, which some said raised doubts about the president’s candor and his judgment. But there was a sense that something had veered off course in the last few months, and the war was the one constant. Over and over, even some of Mr. Bush’s supporters raised comparisons with Vietnam.


Few people said they were following the leak scandal, which led to the indictment of I. Lewis Libby Jr., Mr. Cheney’s former aide. Some who could cite main characters and events dismissed it as little more than political theater. Even fewer said they had paid attention to other scandals preoccupying Washington: the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, the powerful Texas Republican, and the guilty plea by his former spokesman.

But several people said that the leak scandal had left them with the sense that the president was not leveling with the public about his involvement.

If I were a Democratic strategist, I would read this article not with a sense of smugness or hope but with a heightened sense of awareness that the door is open but only for a very short time. As George F. Will is fond of saying, the Democrats rarely miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. As much as I would like to wipe that smug little smirk off Mr. Will’s face, I would rather stand on the desk of Howard Dean and tell him that unless they come up with real alternatives to the Republicans and take sweeping advantage of this opening, then the 2006 mid-terms are already lost. Exploiting the opposition’s problems is one thing, but when the electorate turns to the other guy and says, “Okay, what have you got?” we’d better be ready.

We’ve made our point and it has apparently sunk in to even the Republican base; now is the time to stop bitching and start pitching.