Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 14, 2005 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5766

Just being the alternative could give Dems a win

By Robert Robb

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Democrats are clearly licking their chops in anticipation of the 2006 election.

Is this justified or self-delusional? Probably a bit of both.

The Republicans are certainly in trouble and in disarray. Public approval ratings for President Bush are low. Too much is being read into the recent state and local elections, but they were unquestionably much better news for Democrats than for Republicans.

Nor are the Republicans likely to get their act together and improve their prospects prior to the 2006 election.

In Iraq, Bush is engaged in a mission — an unlimited military engagement in another country — that makes Americans uncomfortable. Stability in Iraq, a reduction in the troops stationed there and a clear sense that the end of the commitment was in sight would undoubtedly improve the public's view of Bush's leadership. But that requires a lot of change in that country in a short period of time. Chances are the next election will occur with the duration and extent of the U.S. engagement still uncertain, and with the Bush administration defending that ambiguity as a strategic necessity.

The economy is performing well, even bordering on remarkable given the shocks — recession, 9/11, natural disasters — it has sustained. The Gross Domestic Product has now expanded at a rate of more than 3 percent for eight quarters in a row, and often at a 4 percent to a 4.5 percent clip.

That's the longest stretch of such high growth since World War II. Ordinarily the party in charge during such a growth spurt would be given political credit, irrespective of whether actually deserved. But that's not occurring now.

Democrats say it's because incomes aren't growing. But after-tax incomes are growing, and real wages are beginning to.

Chances are it's more a sense of vulnerability resulting from much faster-paced economic change. As much as our economy is built on entrepreneurial energy, many people would trade some reward for enhanced security. Economic security is becoming increasingly scarce even in good times.

But the major reason Republicans are unlikely to recover before the 2006 election is because they have lost their principles and their nerve.

Spending has increased twice as fast under consolidated Republican rule as it did during the divided government days of Bill Clinton. The current attempts by Republicans to reduce spending growth are pathetic. The Senate bill would cut a $2.5 trillion budget by just $7 billion a year. The House is trying to up that to $10 billion. But the votes are difficult to come by.

Moreover, the cuts are politically ham-handed, falling almost exclusively on social programs and leaving less defensible corporate welfare spending untouched.

There's a case to be made that Republican tax cuts helped restart and sustain the economy. But congressional Republicans are getting cold feet about extending the cuts, much less making them permanent.

There's a tendency for those who perceive themselves to be in trouble in politics to try to reduce the grounds for criticism, a bid for support in the legendary but elusive political center. And there's a whole lot of ducking going on among congressional Republicans these days.

But that's not the way Republicans win elections. Republicans win elections by expanding and motivating their base. Social conservatives have usually been a volatile factor for Republicans. Economic conservatives may be becoming such.

Can Democrats capitalize? There's a heated debate going on in national Democratic circles over whether simply beating up the Republicans is sufficient, or whether Democrats have to offer an alternative governing agenda, as Republicans did in 1994 with the Contract with America.

The former is certainly easier than the latter. There's something in the political beast that wants not only to defeat the opponent, but to destroy him. And it sometimes leads to misdirection.

Take the Iraq war. If Democrats kept to insisting that there should be a flexible timetable for withdrawing American troops, that would resonate with the discomfit the body politic is feeling about the current policy.

Instead, they distract attention from the policy remedy by incessantly carping that Bush lied to get the country into war. That's a difficult claim to maintain, given that the Bush administration's assessment of Saddam's capabilities did not materially differ from that of the Clinton administration, of other intelligence services around the world, or of senior Democrats at the time the decision for war was made. Democrats will have an agenda when they have a new presidential candidate in 2008. Cobbling one together that moves beyond pabulum in the interim will be difficult.

The Democrats are now largely a protectionist party and they want to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the relatively affluent. Beyond that, they would have difficulty prioritizing a governing agenda. In particular, there are deep fractures in the party over foreign policy, the use of military power and fighting terrorism that shared hated and distrust of Bush have papered over.

The real problem for Democrats, however, is in the numbers. Absent a political tidal wave election such as 1994, there does not seem to be enough seats in play for them to take control of either the Senate or the House.

In the Senate, Democrats need to pick up six seats to gain control. There are currently five open seats without an incumbent running, but three of them are currently held by Democrats and a fourth belongs to an independent who caucuses with them. There are maybe seven additional seats that are likely to be competitive, and they are now primarily held by Republicans. There are a handful of other races that one party or the other hopes to make competitive.

In the House, Democrats have to win 16 new seats to take over. There are 21 open seats at this point, but only four are thought to be truly competitive between the parties. National political handicappers believe that there are somewhere around 35 congressional districts in play, but Democrats are defending in about a third of them.

In short, to take control of either body, Democrats probably need a national tidal wave election such as 1994, in which they pretty much sweep the competitive races and win a few complete surprises as well.

That may be developing. The American people sometimes just get tired of those governing them and want a change. I sense that such a sentiment is beginning to congeal about President Bush and Republican control of Congress.

Sometimes in politics, it's enough to just be the other guy.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Robert Robb is a columnist for The Arizona Republic. Comment by clicking here.

Robert Robb Archives

© 2005, The Arizona Republic

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles