During the past summer, a female acquaintance of mine in her 70s who had been a faithful Republican during her long life was solicited by a GOP cold caller as a previous contributor to the party. Not this time. She informed the fundraiser that President Bush's position on immigration was the last straw. She would not give the Republicans another dime -- not now, maybe never. So, she told him, stop calling me!
That rebuff, commonplace in today's Republican fundraising, puts a human face on the Federal Election Commission's cold statistics. They show a commanding Democratic lead over the Republicans in raising money for the 2008 elections. Such an unusual disparity is at once a symptom and a contributing cause of the melancholy suffusing the Grand Old Party as Congress reconvenes after the August break.
As measured by offices held, Republicans have been in much worse shape during my half-century of reporting in Washington. Their party was a mere remnant after the Democratic landslides of 1958, 1964 and 1974. But never before have I seen morale within the party so low. While Republican support for an unpopular war has remained remarkably strong, almost all non-war news during the dreary August recess has been bad for the GOP. The hope is that the eventual elevation of a presidential candidate will revive the party's spirits.