Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thanks to GOP Incompetence; Dems' Fortunes Looking Better in November

By Jon E. Easter

Earlier this year, all was bleak for Democrats. Then, Republicans started to self destruct.

A couple of weeks ago, we saw Congressman Joe Barton apologizing to the BP CEO and accusing the Federal Government of a shakedown after BP had essentially done in the Gulf of Mexico, its beaches, its fishing industry and now, it looks like the East Coast could be next.

Last week, we heard John Boehner compare the crisis in the financial sector to an ant. And not even a fire ant. Just a regular ant. Granted, there are ants that are pretty nasty, but it was not the right tone.

Just last week, we got another example. Republicans block an investigation of BP. A bill that passed the House with just one no vote. As you can see Democrats were beside themselves.

The Republicans are against the mainstream on issues from Don't Ask Don't Tell to health care reform. Still, they refuse to see how far away they are from reality and continue to attack Democrats on what has been a very good and, dare I say, historic session of Congress.

While Republicans continue to vilify Nancy Pelosi, she has, love her or hate her, put together a strong resume as Speaker of the House in a very uncertain time. We now have tangible progressive movement coming from the House. The Senate remains a problem. Harry Reid, in my view, is a weak majority leader, but he needs to be re-elected to the body.

With the Democrats in charge, we now have hate crimes legislation, health care, House approval of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, a major bill to curb smoking in America, movement on energy reform, and an improving situation in Iraq. Afghanistan appears to be on the front burner. These are all campaign promises that Barack Obama made.

When the tea partiers were yelling at their loudest, it seemed likely that the Democrats were going to lose control of Congress in maybe both houses. Recent polling shows that the Democrats would probably keep control of Congress if the election were held now. The "anti-incumbency movement" appears to be more and more a passing fad.

Things look like the GOP is poised to pick up seats, but it's not going to likely change the balance of power in the House or the Senate as President Obama's approval ratings continue to be stable in the high 40's to low 50's.

The continued lack of a charismatic leader is hurting GOP chances. There just isn't one titular head of the party, and there certainly isn't any room for diversity of thought. Unlike Democrats who tend to tolerate socialists like Bernie Sanders on one side and blue dogs like Evan Bayh on the other, moderate Republicans like Charlie Crist are pushed away while tea partiers are celebrated. The GOP allows Lindsey Graham to get roasted by it's local organization while he continues to be one of the few that work across the aisle. You have to wonder how the party of Ronald Reagan got to this point.

I'm not complaining. I'm also not encouraging anyone to rest on their laurels. Remember at this time in 2008, John McCain and Barack Obama were essentially neck-and-neck in the Presidential race. It took the financial collapse and McCain's poor choice of a running mate for people to really take notice of now-President Obama's message.

At this point, I'm cautiously optimistic about Democratic chances in November given stability on the national scene. Breaking news can change everything, and nothing is a given. I think Democrats will keep working hard while the Republicans continue to be the "Party of No."

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