The Campaign Spot

Attack Ads Are the Democrats’ Admission They Can’t Win on the Issues

There is this beautiful little fairy tale that liberals tell themselves. A version of it appears in the novel Primary Colors, by Joe Klein, and I’ll offer a cleaned up version.

“The point is — EAGLETON,” Libby said. “You remember, Jack? I must have known you — what, two days, then? We hear about the electroshock, and it’s weird: That’s the first time I actually considered the possibility that we might lose to that [bad word] Nixon. Before that, I was absolutely convinced we would win. I mean, who would ever vote for Tricky? No one I knew, ‘cept the idiots I escaped from back in Partridge, Texas. Can you imagine, Henry? We were so [badwording] YOUNG. And this one, this one” — she nodded over toward Stanton — “he takes me out, we go to this little open-air Cuban joint, and I’ve got my head in my hands. Life has ended. And THEY did it — the CIA. It had to be the CIA. I couldn’t believe that Tom Eagleton would really be a nutcase. They had to have dragged him off and drugged him and made him crazy. It couldn’t have been that McGovern was just a COMPLETE [BADWORDING] AMATEUR. No, they did dirty tricks. And I said to Jack, ‘We gotta get the capability.’ You remember Jack? ‘We gotta be able to do that, too.’ And you said, ‘No. Our job is to END all that. Our job is to make it clean. Because if it’s clean, we win — because our ideas are better. You remember that, Jack?”

The fairy tale is that Americans, deep down, really agree with liberals on all of these issues and would heartily embrace their agenda if only these side issues, scandals, and manufactured distractions would just get out of the way.

This year, just about every Republican candidate is hell-bent on talking about big issues: jobs, the economy, taxes, spending, the horrific health-care legislation, securing our border, ending bailouts of powerful industries, and enacting fairly basic reforms for some minimal standards, such as having members of Congress read the farshtunkin bills they vote on. I suppose you might find a Republican or two running on scandals of the incumbent — but in the cases of Charlie Rangel, et. al, they’ve got good reason to do this!

Meanwhile . . . after telling themselves for decades that their ideas are better, and that if the election is about ideas, they win, what are liberals running on?

The DCCC is running ads about Kristi Noem’s speeding tickets, Keith Fimian’s home-inspection business, Jaime Herrera’s business-card expenses. Tennessee Democrat Lincoln Davis accuses his opponent of “a history of violent and threatening behavior.”

As we all know, Jack Conway is running an ad on the Aqua Buddha. The DSCC is running an ad saying that because Pat Toomey did work for a Chinese company, “maybe he ought to run for Senate . . . in China. (Gong noise.)” We all know how much of the DSCC attacks on Christine O’Donnell have been about her personal finances, and how much fun they had with Linda McMahon’s wacky on-camera performances as part of the WWF. And the White House, of course, is screaming from the rooftops that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce must prove their innocence over their unsupported charge of using foreign money.

Yet few if any endangered Democrats are running on health care and the stimulus, or to argue that the past two years represent serious improvement in the lives of Americans. They don’t want to talk about their ideas, or their record.

They should stop telling themselves the fairy tale that Americans, deep down, agree with the liberal agenda; Americans have had two years of the liberal agenda and are, by and large, vehemently rejecting it.

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