Man Without Qualities

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Mind If I Change the Subject?

Keeping in mind that keeping a topic off the front pages is not the same as keeping it out of the mind of voters, it is still worth noting just how hard it is for Democrats to change the topic of the campaign when things like Mr. Tenet telling us we're all just as likely to be murdered now by al Qaida as on September 10 keep popping onto those front pages. Surely the hijinks at the United Nations will alone be good for a few more pre-election days of news dominance. And there's lots more after that.

And while the economy is not booming, it is by no means clear that changing the topic to that topic would be a complete and unalloyed gain for the Democrats, even if they could do it - since the stock market and corporate profits seem to be doing better recently, the unemployment rate is not bad, either, the Democrats don't seem to have a real alternative plan, they've controlled half of the Congress for the last two years so share in the responsibility for the current state of the economy, and much of the current sluggishness can be traced to policies of the Clinton Administrations. Corporate governance has turned out to be a bust for the Democrats, and there don't seem to be signs that the usual demagoguery on Social Security, prescription drugs, race or class-envy is getting a lot of traction. House Minority leader Dick Gephardt just proposed increasing the federal budget deficit by over $200 Billion - including at least $75 Billion in his own kind of tax cuts. What does that say about the Democrats being able to make a big issue over the deficit if they had the chance to talk about it in the first place? And Israeli intelligence sources may be making it harder for the Democrats to argue that Mr. Bush has failed to kill Osama bin Laden. A delicate detail.

Sometimes the best thing one can say is "me, too" - and hope for the best. In this case, the "best" may be the tendency of The Party In The White House to lose some seats in mid-term elections. That considerable force just might be the Democrats' last, best hope this time around.

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