Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What COULD Democrats be doing in the House? Just telling the truth--over and over. There's no need, like Gingrich, to rely on hyperbole and outright lies. Let me quote the New Republic, Jan. 24, p.20:
If turnabout is fair play, then Democrats should charge ahead on GOP ethics. The list of credible charges against leading Republicans is beginning to look like a Washington version of Tony Soprano's rap sheet. In addition to the Ethics Committee's three recent admonishments of DeLay, there's good reason to think GOP leaders tried to bribe Representative Ned Smith into voting for a Medicare bill in exchange for contributions to his son's House campaign. . . . Other galling episodes have already been forgotten--such as the way GOP Whip Roy Blunt was caught slipping an undebated pro-tobacco provision into a budget bill. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Blunt's son and his wife are both tobacco lobbyists.)
No doubt aware of their vulnerability, Republicans have made it more difficult for Democrats to initiate ethics investigations. A new rule passed last week requires an ethics committee majority to start one, which effectively lets Republicans block future Democratic complaints. "That, in and of itself, is the story," [Chris] Bell says. "The ethics process of the House is what the Democrats should be talking about."
It's true. As Gingrich showed, ethics fights have a critical media dimension. Yet it's a lesson that still seems lost on House Democrats. After three top fund-raisers linked to DeLay were indicted last fall for improper use of corporate campaign donations, for instance, you'd think Democrats would have sprinted for the microphones to fuel the story. But their reaction was curiously muted. A Post story the following day noted that "House Democratic leaders were reluctant to pile on DeLay publicly." Why? Because Democrats--as part of their endless cycle of retooling their message--were unveiling a new legislative agenda that day and hoped to focus press attention on it. Unsurprisingly, the media largely ignored the Democrats' bland manifesto and instead fixated on the DeLay story, yet with precious few quotations from Democrats. Gingrich, of course, would never have taken a day off from prosecuting his case against Wright. If Democrats want to keep Republicans on the defensive, they shouldn't either.
House Democrats have also shown a certain lack of imagintion to ginning up headline-grabbing outrages like the House bank scandal. One Democratic aide, for instance, suggests that his party pounce on the fact that the price tag for a new underground visitors' center at the Capitol has more than doubled to over half a billion dollars. ("No one's overseeing it," he cracks with mock outrage. "It's a veritable Taj Mahal.") Washington Representative Adam Smith concurred. What kind of issue do you think that would be if it was 1992?" Smith asked. "How much would Newt Gingrich be talking about it? How much would Rush Limbaugh be talking about it? We've got to grab those issues and jam them as much as possible." . . .
The same goes for pork-barrel spending. Despite the budget-deficit, Congress--a conservative Republican Congress, remember--set an all-time record last year by spending over $23 billion on pork projects, according to a study by the Heritage Foundation. . . . Yet Democrats rarely attack pork, no doubt because they themselves are implicated.

Imagine watching the Cards on t.v., and seeing Edmonds stand there with his hands at his sides while a fly ball drops in front of him. You'd yell at the t.v., for all the good that would do, right? That's how watching mealy-mouthed Dems feels to me.


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