What a difference time makes in politics. A little over a month ago the national press was abuzz with discussion of a possible Democratic Party take over of one or both houses of Congress in the fall elections. Those discussions have been put to rest by a spate of bad news. (Given the electoral structure of the Senate and House of Representatives the probability was low anyway.) Events of the last month have conspired to seriously undermine the Party’s efforts to achieve an electoral victory in the fall.
The first event was the announcement that a democratically elected Iraqi government, the first of its kind, had been confirmed in office, an announcement that followed almost immediately on the heels of the US military’s killing of al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, al-Zarqawi. The Democrats have unwittingly allowed themselves to become the anti-war party. So, good news for the US in Iraq is bad news for the Democratic Party.
Even more damaging to the Democrats’ cause was a second event, the ill-conceived New York Times revelation of a secret government program for monitoring international money transfers. Intended to reinforce the Democratic Party’s political argument that Bush’s anti-terrorist efforts are a threat to civil liberties, the Times story instead left the disturbing impression that liberals consider un-doing a conservative Administration more important than protecting the country from terrorists.
Worse for Democrats, the Times story re-focused the public’s attention on national security, the Party’s weak suit, rather than on the threat to civil liberties, the Administration’s supposed weak suit. The subsequent renewed focus on national security might have dissipated but for the third piece of bad news, well actually more a series of events – the North Korean missile tests, continued Iranian intransigence on their own nuclear program, and the FBI’s uncovering of two domestic terrorist plots. All of this calls for a rational, coherent program of action; but instead of presenting such a program, the Democratic Party fell prey to bickering.
While Hillary Clinton spun the internal bickering as something of which to be proud - a serious debate on national security - most Americans want a Party that offers a leadership team, not a debate team. Unfortunately, yet a fourth event, the New Jersey debacle in which “a serious debate” between a Democratic governor and a Democratic legislature led to the shutting down of the state government as well as the lucrative gambling industry, only served to paint the Party as not only unable to lead, but unable to govern as well.
Finally, there is the fifth piece of bad news. The Party’s divisiveness of which Ms. Clinton professes such pride is actually a struggle for control pitting the left and far-left. Judging by the difficulties that Joseph Lieberman has encountered in his effort to gain the Party’s nod to be its candidate to retain the Connecticut Senate seat, the far-left may well succeed. What the far-left doesn’t seem to understand is that it can not win a national election. Only a Party with room for mainstream liberals such as Senator Joseph Lieberman can do so. This may be the worst news of all in a month of bad news for the Democratic Party.