Out Of Touch On The Issues
Reuters photo before the start of last night Faux News debate
NBC News watched the GOP debate yesterday, noted that the party’s leading candidates espoused positions on the war and Social Security privatization that are uniformly at odds with large segments of the American electorate, and came to the same conclusion as some in the center-left blogs. The GOP, no matter who runs on their ticket next year, has an uphill climb in the general election. Not only are the GOP candidates moving far to the right to pander to their base, thereby undermining their chance to appeal to independents and moderates in the general election, but they also have entered the gladiator phase of their race, where they willfully piss all over Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment and are now cutting each other into bloody pulps to score points with that lunatic fringe of a base. As one of them said, the debate amounted to a demolition derby amidst a now wide-open race, at a time when the Democrats’ own problems for the general election seem manageable by comparison.
For Hillary, her upcoming vote on the FISA reauthorization and the telecom immunity could be a make or break issue for many in the base, including her supporters. The Post ran an interesting piece challenging her campaign’s assertion that her cross-over appeal in upstate New York translates into the ability to woo wary voters nationally. Yet the question remains: will personal dislike for her by a large segment of the electorate if it continues automatically mean those voters will vote for a GOP candidate who doesn’t agree with them on the issues? I think not. We already know that her people are doing everything they can to neuter and manage opponents in the media while responding to attacks from her Democratic opponents.
For Obama, he doesn’t seem to have a clear position on Iran, and he and Edwards are burning through money at a higher rate than Clinton is. He and Edwards understandably need to highlight differences between themselves and Clinton every day to the base, but these efforts are born more of necessity than a difference on the issues. All three of them, and all six of the top Democrats have views on the issues that are more line with the electorate than the GOP candidates, especially moderate and independent voters, which is where the campaign will be won next year. All the Democrats will focus next year on Iraq, as well as domestic issues like health care, the middle class squeeze, college costs, and restoring a sense of hope and real opportunity to the working class, something that would be alien to the GOP field except the one GOP candidate who could peddle that message.
As the GOP focuses in the general election on scaring the voters over terrorism and taxes, will that message be enough to convince moderates and independents to vote against the Democrat even if the voters agree with the Democrats on the issues? If the voters can select between a Giuliani, Romney, or one of the other GOP stuffed shirts, and a Clinton/Clark, Obama/Richardson, or Edwards/Dodd ticket for instance, would the middle of the electorate really be scared enough on the terror/taxes message and purported dislike for the Democrat to support a GOP nominee who would spend money like a drunken sailor on Iraq, and who would be out of touch on the economy, health care, Social Security, and the environment? I think not.