Conventional political wisdom and 9-11

By Hugh Hewitt

It is high political season, and conventional wisdom is filling hours and hours of cable-land’s endless loop of pundits with predictions.

Two of my favorite canards are:

  1. The president’s party loses seats in the first off-year election following his election.

  2. Independents favor split government, which will benefit the Democrats’ effort to retain their Jeffords’ majority.

Both of these overused cliches would have been fair game for close analysis in any year, but they both seem weirdly irrelevant this year, especially as it is the first election following an attack on America which killed 3,000 innocents.

Pollsters are finding it harder and harder to locate fair samples. Folks simply won’t talk to them. And pundits are using models that predate any sense of American vulnerability. Neither is a particularly original bunch, however, so we are being treated to repeated analyses of what happened in the political battles of long ago.

Here’s what I think both these groups are missing: It is an era of great seriousness in which candor and strength are valued. It has been a long time since such an era dominated, so throw out the old models. It is an entirely new political environment.

And in this new era, the Democrats are tagged, justly, with being the party of deceit and weakness.

November 2002 looks like the perfect storm for Democrats. And Captain Daschle with his crew of First Mate Wellstone and Seamen McDermott, Bonior and Byrd are heading straight into the waves.

The Torricelli gambit has not helped the national Democrats even as it may have saved them from a blowout in New Jersey. They used a con to remove a con – and this is supposed to restore confidence? The West Coast troupe of crooked Dem players, led by Gray Davis, is trying hard to stay away from microphones and questions about when and where Davis raised money. The Iowa cast is pleased to announce that no criminal charges will be brought against Tom Harkin. Again, this is all happening 30 days before the country votes. The New Jersey grab has been played even at the expense of disenfranchising overseas military personnel. In wartime, no less!

The president, by contrast, gave another serious speech in Cinncy, full of hard facts and grim warnings. Does Robert Byrd not understand that the president’s arguments are compelling and Byrd’s antics repellant? Have the colleagues of this aging and rouged-up clown not whispered to him that now is not the time for his antics?

And then there are McDermott and Wellstone, cut from the same cloth, except McDermott gets higher points for candor than the term-pledge breaker from way up north. Both are opposed to taking the fight to Saddam. Both would prefer to wait for evidence that will surely be insufficient for them until the stacks of American dead are doubled and redoubled.

In Colorado, the Dems are rallying to the banner of Democratic Senate nominee Tom Strickland, who was a lobbyist for Global Crossing – the now-bankrupt piggybank for Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuiliffe. They have nominated a loud-mouth by the name of Feeley for the open seat in the 7th Congressional District, a man who calls Christian schools “Billy Bob Bible Schools,” and who labeled the vice president of the United States an “SOB.” It takes a lot to make McDermott seem stable, but Feeley has pulled it off.

In Minnesota, the Dems have stood by carpet-bagging Bill Luther, who moved in order to find half a chance at hanging onto a congressional job. But half-a-chance wasn’t good enough, so he pulled a trick from the Torricelli playbook, and one of his pals entered the race under a new party banner. The party is called the “No New Taxes” party, and it is so transparent an attempt to confuse voters that even the hard left Minneapolis Star Tribune has been obliged to scold Luther for dirty tricks. His opponent by the way, John Kline, is a retired Marine Corps colonel who commanded in Somalia before that operation went over to Clinton and went bad. Such a choice: A dirty-tricks playing, carpet-bagging Demo, or a war hero.

That’s the way it has gone for the Democrats this year. In any other year it would have been a tough sell. In 2002, against the backdrop of real threats from abroad and terrorism at home, this is a recipe for electoral disaster. The pundits may not see trouble ahead for Daschle and his gang, but ask your neighbors what they think: Do they trust Democrats to tell the truth about anything, much less to competently defend the country?