Come in. Make yourself comfortable. What’s that? You’re a congressional Democrat? You voted to triple the national debt; destroy a health-care system that an overwhelming majority of Americans were happy with in a way that creates a massive and infinitely complex new entitlement; bail out the banks and auto companies; and “stimulate” the economy with an $862 billion boondoggle that hasn’t created a single private-sector job? Your president is suing the state of Arizona for having the effrontery to enforce a law he wishes not to enforce (though he does have the constitutional responsibility to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed”)? The war in Afghanistan is not going well? The president’s approval ratings are under water? Congress’s approval ratings are running even with Mel Gibson’s? Naturally you’re upset.
Relax. Here, wipe your tears. The wizards at the Democratic National Committee have the answer. The strategy is one you may remember from past campaigns. They call it the Great Smoke Blower. Jimmy Carter used it against Reagan in 1980. When things are objectively bad and you can’t run on your record, you accuse the Republicans of extremism. Remember? In 1980, inflation was running at 14 percent. Interest rates were about 15 percent. American hostages were paraded on Iranian television. The economy was febrile. What did the Democrats do? They accused Reagan of being a warmonger. They said he would divide North from South, white from black, union from management, Christian from Jew. They said he would plunge the world into nuclear Armageddon. It was a reprise of the anti-Goldwater effort of 1964.
The newest ad from the DNC seeks to link the Republican party with the tea party. Flashing faces on the screen: now Rand Paul, now Paul Ryan, now Sharron Angle, now John Boehner — all distinctions are blurred. Then they present the “Republican Tea Party Contract on America,” with ten items. These, they expect, will frighten the heck out of John Q. Public:
I. Repeal Health Insurance Reform.
II. Privatize Social Security or Get Rid of It.
III. End Medicare as it Presently Exists.
IV. Extend the Bush Tax Breaks for the Wealthy and Big Oil.
V. Repeal Wall Street Reform.
VI. Protect Those Responsible for the Oil Spill.
VII. Abolish the Department of Education.
VIII. Abolish the Department of Energy.
IX. Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.
X. Repeal the 17th Amendment (ending the direct election of U.S. Senators).
Clever, right? Hey, why are you still weeping? Oh, I see. Rasmussen found that as recently as June, 58 percent of voters favored repealing the health-care behemoth? So it wouldn’t be scary if Republicans actually ran on that item.
Oh, and your opponent doesn’t favor privatizing Social Security? Not even a little? Hasn’t she ever said something like “We may have to consider changes to the retirement age”? — because that can be demagogued as wanting to privatize Social Security. Well, you make a good point. The Republicans (to the dismay of philosophical conservatives and libertarians) have been embracing Social Security as Linus did his blanket, for many an election cycle. I guess, while we’re at it, we might as well go ahead and concede that these same domesticated Republicans haven’t exactly been carrying the banner for eliminating the Departments of Energy and Education (far less the EPA!) for a really long time, though some wish they would.
There, there. Don’t fret. What? Your opponent actually is in favor of repealing the “Wall Street reform”? She says it will create 243 new regulations, just for starters, and that the federal government will now have the power to decide whether pretty much every business in America is taking too much risk. If a federal regulator decides you are making bad decisions, he can close down your shop. Besides, it completely sidestepped the biggest reason for the financial meltdown, Fannie and Freddie, because those were Democrats’ sandboxes. Hmmm.
The unemployment rate in your district is 17 percent? Twenty-five percent among the young? The expiration of the Bush tax cuts will raise taxes for small-business owners, and this will make hiring even less likely? According to the Small Business Administration (another agency principled conservatives would happily kiss goodbye), small businesses were responsible for between 60 and 80 percent of net new jobs in the past decade. But now they’re worried. They don’t know how the new financial-reform bill will affect them, and they’ve seen what the Massachusetts health-care reform did to business there, so they’re extremely nervous about the effects of the national health-care reform. They’re getting by, but they’re in no mood to hire.
In fact, they’re in a firing mood. And they’re looking at you. Here, you’re going to need these tissues after all.
— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2010 Creators Syndicate, Inc.