There have rarely been more troubled times for the Republican governing majority .... Still, many Republican strategists noted that almost immediately, perhaps as soon as Monday, the White House can dominate the political debate with the expected announcement of President Bush's second Supreme Court nominee. Some argued that an ideological showdown over that nominee could rally the party's base ...Meanwhile, what agenda are Democrats rallying around? Well, that's a hard question to answer.
White House officials say the Supreme Court justice selection is only part of a busy domestic agenda for the fall that also includes a series of budget decisions on spending cuts and taxes, plus efforts to lower energy prices and increase supply.
... And Republican leaders have scheduled a vote in the House late next week on a bill aimed at expanding refinery output and energy production, a clear response to the festering issue of gas prices.
... "We're not going to be bogged down," said Trent Duffy, the deputy White House press secretary. "The schedule is too full for that to happen."
Even as they point to Republican failings, Democrats are aware that they "have an obligation to say what we would do differently," as Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, put it.It's nice to know that Rahm Emanuel feels his party has "an obligation" to outline an agenda that is different from the Republicans, but so what? Where the hell is that alternative agenda?
In the coming weeks [Democratic leaders] plan to push forward with ethics-related legislation in both the House and the Senate.
"In the coming weeks..."? Democrats have known about the DeLay investigation for months. They've followed the sleazy details about the Indian-gaming shenanigans engineered by DeLay associate Jack Abramoff. So why is it taking Democrats this long to draft a few bills to claim ownership of the ethics issue? (Probably because most Dems in Congress don't give a damn about ethics either.)
Democratic strategists say the party is also working toward a unified agenda that it can carry through the 2006 midterms.What are we to deduce from the words "working toward"? Sounds to me as if the party may be several weeks or even months away from unveiling an agenda that it can begin articulating to the public as an alternative to GOP policies.
Besides coming forward with ethics reform legislation (something that should have been done months ago), the Dems have missed an opportunity to frame their party as more fiscally responsible than the Republicans.
Democrats are constantly slammed for being the "tax-and-spend" party. So why hasn't it occurred to Democratic leaders to unite behind a plan that would fund Katrina aid by repealing all Congressional earmarks from the notorious bill that passed the GOP-controlled House earlier this year?
In doing so, Dems could bring attention to the growing Bush budget deficit, while heading off likely efforts by GOP conservatives to fund Katrina reconstruction through cutting federal programs that are part of the economic safety net.
Instead of uniting behind a common-sense agenda, most Congressional Democrats seem deluded enough to believe that their party can just sit back and watch Republicans self-destruct.