Dems will face harder questions in November 

As a Republican nobody’s rear end prepared to make its imprint in Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, Democrats became a bit worried about November 2010.

The recent race in Massachusetts hinted at just how unsafe some “safe” Democratic enclaves are right now. It also suggested that a campaign appearance by President Barack Obama might not be the boon it once was for Democratic candidates.

In the wake of their Massachusetts debacle, Democrats are watching their marginal incumbents retire from Congress, some after many years of service. Their most promising candidates are bowing out of key races. Facing the possible loss of seven more Senate seats and perhaps 30 to 50 seats in the House, they want to right the ship now.

They have a few good ideas for doing it — not ideas for governing, but for rhetoric.

That begins with Obama’s promise of a spending freeze — a gimmick that affects less than 20 percent of the budget. And also this week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee served up a well-publicized memorandum suggesting that Democratic candidates should ask questions designed to drive a wedge between Republican candidates and the independent voters who increasingly favor them.

For example: “Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen? Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards? Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism? Do you think President Barack Obama is a socialist?”

Now that’s clever. A few crazed birthers will probably pollute the ranks of Republican candidates. You can also bet that at least a few GOP candidates will lack the restraint to avoid brandishing the “S-word.”

But the problem with the rhetorical wedge is that it can be squeezed out with mere rhetoric: “‘Socialism’ is just a red herring. The problem is big government, and under this president it’s becoming unsustainable. ... Even President Barack Obama sees huge problems with programs like Medicare. ... If you get your insurance at work, the federal government already regulates it. ... Of course Obama is a citizen, but he’s out of touch with his fellow citizens.”

In contrast, Democrats won’t have easy answers to the questions they face in this election year. They have been governing the country alone for the last 12 months. If the Massachusetts race and every poll taken since offers any clue, they’ve managed to produce little and at the same time alienate the average voter with the sheer ambition of their attempt.

Senate Republican campaigners posed a few questions of their own for Democrats this week — questions of substance instead of rhetoric: Do you believe the Obama administration made the right call when it let the underpants bomber lawyer up? Should terrorists in Guantanamo be brought to New York for civilian trials?

Did the stimulus bill work? Do you support a second one? Did you support the backroom deals for unions and for various states in the Senate health care bill? Do you support raising other Americans’ taxes to pay for those deals? If not, why did you vote for the health care bill?

If the Massachusetts Senate election is any indication, voters have pretty strong opinions about stimulus packages (64 percent believe ours was a flop), health reform (58 percent against) and the treatment of foreign terrorists (76 percent oppose giving them the same rights as accused American civilians).

Obama has been governing from the wrong side of all these issues. That’s why so many Democratic candidates are voting with their feet — bowing out months before the broader electorate gets to vote with its hands.

David Freddoso is The Examiner’s online opinion editor. He can be reached at dfreddoso@washingtonexaminer.com.

About The Author

David Freddoso

Bio:
David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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