In 1984, Republicans ran a TV ad about how sunny and wonderful life was. Never mind the serious problems that Ronald Reagan was ignoring, it was daylight at last. In RepublicanLand, it was morning in America.
My, how times change.
As Election Day nears, expectations have gotten skittish Democrats holding their breath, shaking in a corner, twirling prayer beads like a baton.
But the comforting mantra to them is simple: "As nervous as you are right now, would you rather be a Republican candidate or a Democrat?"
And that, right there, capsulizes the election. The general response is, "Oh, yeah. Right."
But what brought on this angst? Is it that the election is too close? That Democrats are behind? No. It's "What will Karl Rove do??? Why is he saying he has the numbers?? Why, why, oh God, whyyyyy?!!"
I swear, it's as if he isn't Karl Rove, but Goldfinger. Or Dr. Evil. It's like they expect Karl Rove to flip a switch and take over everyone's TV, while he sits in a highback chair and announces he's going to blow up every nuclear reactor unless America makes George Bush king for life and gives S.P.E.C.T.R.E. $100 billion.
I'm not quite sure what they envision. That Rove has a button in his office set up by the Diebold company that automatically turns Democratic votes into Republican ones?
I don't trust Karl Rove either. He'll do whatever he can to win, and it'll be devious. But lest we forget, this was the chief advisor who oversaw the Iraq War and Katrina disasters, and thought privatizing Social Security and pushing Terri Schiavo were real winners.
One must be wary. But life doesn't exist in a vacuum. For example:
The vaunted Republican Get Out the Vote Steamroller is imposing. Yet as Republicans rub their hands with anticipation, they overlook that the plan has three massive flaws -
1) It ignores that Democrats have such a program, too. Perhaps not as good, but Al Gore did get more votes in 2000.
2) It ignores that those people you're so great at contacting may not want to actually vote. Because they're upset, embarrassed or morally offended by their party.
3) And most importantly, it ignores that those people you contact and who do want to vote...may not all be voting Republican this year.
Nervous? If Democrats are nervous, just imagine how Republicans feel. Last week came a report about an incredibly-safe seat in Idaho. A month ago, the Republican candidate was up 14 points. Two weeks ago, it was four points. And now, it's tied. That's Idaho. Republicans are pouring money into their safe seats to protect them; that's money not going to the seats at risk.
For the past year, since the Libby indictment, Democrats have been nervously wishing the election "was today." Yet things have kept getting worse for Republicans, even up through today. Record deaths in Iraq. More page revelations. The flip-flopping President saying we've "never been Stay the Course."
When Democrats started to get excited about this election, about 25 election were in play to take the House, and Democrats only had to win 15. But last week, pollsters from the respected Cook Report and Rothenberg Report both said on CNN that there are now about 55 seats in play, all but two or three Republican. And the Democrats still only have to win 15.
Democrats are nervous? If you were a candidate, would you rather be a Republican or Democrat?
The genius Karl Rove and his October Surprise. If anyone is waiting, it's November. The only surprise was Mark Foley. Although as surprises go, it was a good one.
It's not that it's too late for a Republican attack - it's that they have nothing to support themselves. The Republican Party is a house of cards built on a house of lies. They're a sinking ship with no ballast to throw overboard. The Republican collapse is because, after six years of watching the Bush Administration - Iraq, Katrina, Plame, Abramoff, Foley, on and on and on - people finally get it.
Republicans have imploded. Their poll numbers are utter disasters -- the President at 33%. The public against the war 64-34%. People preferring a Democratic Congressman in their own district 59-36%. The Republican Congress with a 16% approval. The public favoring Democrats on terrorism and morals! 79% think that Republican leaders played politics with the safety of teenage pages. That's why Republicans are pouring money into previously-safe races and giving up on the contested-ones.
And Democrats are nervous?
Of course Karl Rove has money and plans. And with one week to go before the election, how's all that working out for him?
Republicans are so desperate and empty that their last week of campaigning is limited to criticizing a bad joke.
Democrats must be vigilant. Democrats must be aggressive. Some races are incredibly close. This is an election, anything can happen.
But if you were a candidate, would you rather be a Republican right now? Or a Democrat?
If you were a Republican, would you be looking forward to Wednesday mourning?