September 15, 2006
The Democrats' mistake--ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush--is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They've been sucker-punched by their own animosity.Back in 1984, former VP Fritz Mondale asked his fellow Presidential candidate Gary Hart, "Where's the beef?"
"The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times," says pollster Kellyanne Conway. " 'What is your vision on Iraq?' 'Bush lied us into war.' 'Health care? 'Bush hasn't a clue.' They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own." They heighten Bush by hating him.
One of the oldest clichÃ©s in politics is, "You can't beat something with nothing." It's a clichÃ© because it's true. You have to have belief, and a program. You have to look away from the big foe and focus instead on the world and philosophy and programs you imagine.
Mr. Bush's White House loves what the Democrats are doing. They want the focus on him. That's why he's out there talking, saying Look at me.
Because familiarity doesn't only breed contempt, it can breed content. Because if you're going to turn away from him, you'd better be turning toward a plan, and the Democrats don't appear to have one.
Which leaves them unlikely to win leadership. And unworthy of it, too.
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