The Note: Sprint to November

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27

NEWS SUMMARY

The tools of the political reporting trade are these: luck, begging, shoe leather, experience, good hair, persistence, being on Mike Allen's lists, judgment, and (most of all) leverage.

Webster's defines "leverage" as "positional advantage; power to act effectively." (OK, whom are we kidding? Dictionary.com defines it that way.)

We bring this up because last night, when we called a Top Democratic Strategist and told her/him that we had gotten a hold of a Republican memo laying out the advice the President and Karl Rove are getting about how to ace their midterms again (Thanks, Jim Kelly.), he/she agreed to leak to us a comparable Democratic memo.

So, with no analysis necessary, on this Friday of polls galore, weak growth figures, and a POTUS TV interview -- and just days before the State of the Union rocks the political world in countless ways and just a week until the Super Bowl -- here are the two memos. They are virtual roadmaps to understanding the States of the Two Parties in this election year:

REPUBLICAN MEMO:

To: the Honorable Karl C. Rove

From: [name redacted]

Date: 1/25/2006

Re: Strong and Right

Seems pretty simple -- no metaphors required:

Faith, family, and freedom. Keep you safer. Lower taxes and less government. Reform, reform, reform. Some Democrats have a pre-9/11 mindset. Howard Dean, John Kerry, Michael Moore.

DEMOCRATIC MEMO:

To: The Honorable Senator Schumer and The Honorable Congressman Emanuel

From: Sosnik, Lockhart, and Fabiani

Date: 1/25/06

Re: The State of the Party is . . . weak (and wrong)

As The Bus -- the heart and soul of the Steel City -- gets ready to rumble over the Seahawks (Note: two Blue State teams in the Super Bowl for the second year in a row!), the Democratic Party is in need of a playbook.

So we offer just such a playbook for you, the Democratic Party's "Buses" – for you, Sen. Schumer, in your capacity as chair of the DSCC, and Rep. Emanuel, for you in your role as chair of the DCCC.

But this playbook won't do you any good if the members of our party don't have the discipline to stick to it. (We've Noticed that in spite of your best efforts, discipline among the Democrats has proved elusive in recent weeks.)

Our playbook is fairly simple, but it's also hard -- hard like converting in the red zone (only we're talking about Red States). The playbook reads like this: For the 2006 cycle, we need to start by playing tough, hard-hitting defense that will force some turnovers -- and when that's done, we need to turn right around and score on offense.

What does that mean in English? Essentially, we, as Democrats, need to stop talking about nationalizing the election – and actually do it. Here's how:

- Keep Bush's approval rating inside of the low 40's: First, appreciate that Bush is the face and image of the Republican Party nationally. Then, realize that to have a shot at winning back seats in states and districts where there are significant built-in Republicans advantages, we need to push his numbers to the low 40's. (High 30's is preferable but harder to do.) Remember, if Bush gets close to 50 we will have a 2006 that will look an awful lot like 2002.

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