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Looking ahead

James Taranto over at OpinionJournal's Best of the Web has a regular feature called "You Don't Say," where he mocks newspaper headlines that state the obvious. So how about Divided Democrats Concerned About 2004. That headline could be re-used just about every two years. (Yes, if you change the date. Stop nitpicking.)

The article points out the splits between those Democrats with national aspirations, who need to worry about public opinion, and those who are content to remain in Congress, like Nancy Pelosi, who only has to appeal to her own constituents. (The one exception: Howard Dean, who for some puzzling reason thinks that the country is ready for a French president.)

But here's a comment that I'll bet someone will be disavowing shortly:

Party officials, recalling that President Bush's father lost re-election after waging a successful and popular war against Iraq in 1991, said they remained hopeful that a second Iraq war would also be eclipsed by worries about the economy, and noted that polls showed unhappiness with Mr. Bush's management of it.
I'm not saying it's untrue; I'm just saying that it's probably not a good idea, even anonymously, for party leaders to be vocally "hopeful" that the economy is in bad shape. 

So if there's any better illustration of why the Democratic Party doesn't control any branches of government, I don't know what it is. On the one hand, they have Nancy Pelosi Pollyannishly pretending that the traditional Democratic weakness on the national security issue doesn't matter:

Ms. Pelosi said she did not believe Mr. Bush could successfully use the issue against her party. "They try to convey that image of the Democrats as weak on defense," she said. "I don't think we should take that. There is no party position on the war, much to the dismay of our grass-roots constituents."
That's at a time when the only successful Democratic presidential candidate in our memory, Bill Clinton, is backing war. And on the other hand, they have people praying that the economy tanks so that Bush will be unpopular. Hardly a winning platform.


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Comments (2)

Gary Collard:

It's looked by their attempts to block any measure that might result in growth that a cornerstone of the Democratic strategy is trying to do what they can to make sure the economy stays weak. I give the unnamed party leader points for honesty.

Dave S:

David, I think you're reading more into that passage than it actually says. I'm wary of anything in the NYT these days that isn't a direct quote attributable to a named person. As you yourself have noted, the Times has been pretty good lately at projecting its own views or wishes onto quotes or facts that would seem to say the opposite, or at merely misinterpreting what the facts really seem to say.

I think it's not unlikely, for example, that the Party official was hoping that worries over the way the Bush administration has mismanaged the economy would outweight his popularity from a war--regardless of whether or not the economy suddenly rebounds right before the election. In other words, he hopes the American people will vote Democrat not because the economy is still bad in 2004, but because people remember what the economy was like in 2001-2002 and they remember their dissatisfaction with the way Bush handled it.


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