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Picnics, Pig Roasts, and New "New Directions": Dems Gear Up For November

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It's just over three months to the midterm elections, and the GOP couldn't be more vulnerable -- with a wide margin of Americans more inclined to vote for Democrats than Republicans. Iraq is spiraling out of control, the fighting in Afghanistan is now "an insurgency," and the chickens of the Bush administration's clueless foreign policy are coming home to roost in the erupting Middle East.

So, naturally, Democrats spent the week pummeling the GOP on all this, driving home the point that Republicans have failed to follow through on their promise to keep us safer, right?

Wrong.

When Senate and House Democrats got together Thursday to lay out their strategy for the 100 days leading up the election, their "New Direction for America" included six key proposals -- "Six for '06," get it? (Will they add two more to make it Eight for '08?). Point one is "Real Security at Home and Overseas." The other five points are: "better jobs at better pay for the American people, college access for all, energy independence, affordable health care and life-saving science, and retirement security and dignity." All extremely worthy endeavors but, with the world threatening to explode, is this domestic policy-centric agenda the best way to capture the public's attention? Doesn't making five domestic issues the bulk of a 'New Direction" seem a little, well, misdirected?

On Saturday, 100 days before midterm voters head to the polls, Democrats will kick off their final campaign push with more than 800 events nationwide including pig roasts, picnics, phone banks and neighborhood canvasses. Pig roasts? Have they invited the president? I hear he loves to carve.

Perhaps at these picnics, in between the sack races and the egg toss, Democratic leaders will explain how they plan to pay for their "New Direction" agenda without addressing the hundreds of billions being sucked up in the black hole Iraq has become -- and without daring to mention rolling back the Bush tax cuts.

The "New Direction for America" wasn't the only road map for victory unfurled by Democrats this week. On Monday, Hillary Clinton and her fellow DLCers released their year-in-the making "American Dream Initiative" -- a let's-run-to-the-middle plan featuring proposals to make college tuition more accessible, expand the home-mortgage deduction, require employers to offer retirement plans, and make health care more available. The "American Dream Initiative" also calls for government to provide the children of low and middle-income families a $500 savings bond at birth and on their 10th birthday. Just like your Aunt Trudy.

According to the LA Times, the war in Iraq was "scarcely mentioned" during the three day meeting of the DLC. That would be too bold, I guess. Instead, the DLC Dems think they can win by offering voters a clear choice between Republican candidates and Republican-lite candidates -- or, as Tom Vilsack spun it, "practical Democrats".

Ah, yes, that particular brand of practicality was on full display in Waterbury, Connecticut earlier in the week as Bill Clinton endorsed the cratering Joe Lieberman while referring to Iraq as the "pink elephant in the living room" and trying to diminish the war in Iraq as the key issue of 2006.

For their part, Congressional Democrats, led by Rahm Emanuel and Jan Schakowsky, sucked up precious media airtime with their toothless -- and ultimately unsuccessful -- attempt to get the Iraqi Prime Minister to apologize for condemning Israel before allowing him the "high honor" of addressing Congress. Way to put symbolism over substance, guys.

Sadly, the Democrat receiving the most high-profile airtime this week was Rep. Robert Wexler who displayed a stunning lack of TV -- and political -- savvy by playing along with Stephen Colbert, and earning for himself the united derision of MSMers including Matt Lauer, Jake Tapper, AP, and USA Today.

Meanwhile, the bodies continue to pile up in Baghdad and Beirut -- and the opportunities for Democrats to hammer the Bush administration and the Republican Congress for their foreign policy and national security failures continue to swirl down the drain.

PS The New Republic's Michael Crowley took issue with my criticism of Joe Lieberman's 'I'm a real Democrat' drivel. So did Crowley let me have it by showing all the ways that Lieberman can justify preparing to run as an Independent if he loses the Democratic primary? Nope. Instead, he unleashed the earth-shattering news that I was once a Republican! Dear lord, what will I do now that the secret is finally out? My favorite part of his ludicrous post is Crowley trying to draw blood by noting that in 2000 I was critical of both parties. Indeed, that was when I organized the Shadow Conventions putting the spotlight on three issues largely unaddressed by either party: poverty, the corrupting influence of money, and the failed drug war. And, as Michael Crowley may have noticed, I continue to be critical of Democrats, convinced that if they continue to act like "real" Lieberman Democrats they will continue losing to Republicans -- with the disastrous consequences that entails.http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=69916

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