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Election Projection: No Speaker Pelosi; No Chairman Leahy

Monday, October 2, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The Blogging Caeasar’s latest has the GOP losing a net two in the Senate and 12 in the House.  But routs are developing in California and Florida governors races where lightweight Democratic nominees may help GOP Congressmen far more than the RNC.  (Phil Angelides may get the 2006 award for worst statewide candidate in what had been expected to be a competitive race.)

Would-be Speaker Pelosi spent the weekend telling a disbelief-suspending MSM that the country was disgusted with Mark Foley (true and appropriate) and that the House GOP leadership had failed to act (not true on the evidence thus far.)  In her desperation to leverage the disgusting behavior of one former Congressman into a momentum-changer, Pelosi not only overreaches, but underscores the central weakness of the Democrats’ appeal this fall: They are not credible on the war and need something else.  The attempt to try and make Foley that something has the opposite effect: The silly party is again trying to take the spotlight off of their fecklessness on national security, but two years of obstruction and adamant demands to cut and run from Iraq can’t be ignored and won’t be by voters.  160 Dmocrats voted against the detainees trial and treatment bill, as did dozens of Senate Democrats.  The Dems know this to be a true measure of their party’s defeatist positions and they aren’t in a hurry to talk about it.

Democrats’ shrill charges that the GOP leadership knew about the Foley IMs as opposed to the original e-mail also telegraph what their return to the majority in either House would mean:  Endless hearings into fever swamp scandal-mongering.  The voters got a preview of that sort of D.C. this weekend, as the left’s deep unbalanced approach to politics unfurled itself not just with regard to Foley’s very likely criminal behavior but also by the collective seizing on the Woodward book as “new and important.”When I have finished the whole thing I’ll write more, but it is clear from the first 100 pages that the sound of axes being ground very fine indeed will define the book and deeply discount its tales, some of which were told to Woodward before his last two books but which appear only now.

It is also clear that many folks in the Pentagon hate Donald Rumsfeld.  Not even Woodward’s animus can disguise why: Rumsfeld arrived determined to transform the vast bureaucracy there, and he smashed a lot of careers and destroyed a lot of comfortable routines in doing so.  Readers who actually plunge into the book as opposed to the clips of talking heads discussing it may be surprised at how much admiration they develop for the relentless Rumsfeld.

Still, Woodward’s book is a campaign commercial for anyone who is anti-Bush, and should be accompanied by a label:  “Richard Armitage, Prince Bandar, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft and George Tenet approved of this message,” which doesn’t make the book any less fun to read, but also doesn’t make it serious.  (And there will have to be more than a few senior Saudi officials wondering about the extent of the damage Prince Bandar has done with what is obviously the Bandar version of recent D.C. history.  Telling many tales out of school isn’t the way to bank chips against the day the jihadists get through to the crucial refineries in the desert kingdom.) As the disavowals pile up the public will grow bored quickly, and Woodward will clip another set of royalty coupons and the campaign will be right back where it has been since the July arrests surrounding the London bombing plot: A choice between serious and surrender on the issues surrounding security and the war.

If you are working on a particular voter, the most effective thing you can do is send him or her a copy of The Looming Tower by the New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright. After a weekend of genuine scandal from Foley and political soft-core porn from Woodward, the war is still the central issue, and the more Americans know about the enemy, the less likely they are to trust Pelosi, Reid, Biden, Murtha and the MSM to run the war against it.

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