Monday, September 20, 2010

You Fight The Fights That Need Fighting

According to this piece in The New York Times, the Democrats are trying to come up with their last stretch strategy to keep the mid-terms from going down in flames.

President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.

White House and Congressional Democratic strategists are trying to energize dispirited Democratic voters over the coming six weeks, in hopes of limiting the party’s losses and keeping control of the House and Senate. The strategists see openings to exploit after a string of Tea Party successes split Republicans in a number of states, culminating last week with developments that scrambled Senate races in Delaware and Alaska.

“We need to get out the message that it’s now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with White House advisers but requested anonymity to discuss private strategy talks.

So far so good. But wait…

Democrats are divided. The party’s House and Senate campaign committees are resistant, not wanting to do anything that smacks of nationalizing the midterm elections when high unemployment and the drop in Mr. Obama’s popularity have made the climate so hostile to Democrats. Endangered Congressional candidates want any available money to go to their localized campaigns.

Late Sunday night, White House advisers denied that a national ad campaign was being planned. “There’s been no discussion of such a thing at the White House” or the Democratic National Committee, said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser.

Argh. This is what drives people crazy. Newt Gingrich is fulminating about passing a federal law banning the use of shariah law in the courts (we already have one; it’s called the First Amendment); Christine O’Donnell, the Republican nominee for the Senate from Delaware, is deemed to be “a bit of a flake” by William Kristol (who says he would still vote for her. Of course he would); Sarah Palin is defending the use of racial epithets by radio pseudo-shrink; Sharron Angle is endorsing armed insurrection, and who knows what tomorrow may bring in the annals of right-wing batshittery. The Tea Party is delivering the Democrats campaign fodder to their door; they couldn’t have asked for it better if they had done with candy and a stripper. But the Democrats are worried about taking advantage of these gifts because they’re afraid of being attacked in a position of weakness and, as the article states further on, they want to hold their fire for the 2012 campaign.

That makes as much sense as the Tigers keeping their best pitcher out of the rotation in April because they want to save him for the World Series six months later. Trust me, he’ll be in good shape if you never use him, but then you won’t be in the World Series, either. Certainly the GOP and the Tea Party aren’t going to hold their fire because they’re afraid of exposing their weaknesses; they revel in that sort of stuff. They’re going to capitalize on Christine O’Donnell’s serial quotations as proof that she’s a genuine American with all the quirks and peccadilloes that are emblematic of what we really need in Washington instead of the career politicians who wait until they’re elected to go off the deep end.

A.J. MacInerney (The American President) said you fight the fights that need fighting, not just the ones you can win. That means you do it because it’s the right thing to do. And that also means standing up for people who are fighting for their political lives right now because they won’t be fighting for you two years from now if they’re out of office.