WASHINGTON, June 29
As we have written before, quoting Yogi Berra, prediction is difficult, especially about the future.
So we aren't prepared to predict if Republicans will keep control of Congress after the midterms, but we can tell you that the Grand Old Party has followed a different bit of Yogi's advice in improving its prospects to do just that.
"When you reach a fork in the road, take it," the Yankee great said, and under the tripartite leadership of the White House, the Republican National Committee, and Congress, a path has been chosen.
The formula does not guarantee victory, but it looks so much like 2000, 2002, and 2004 that anyone who does not see where this is headed right now is either thick or has lost the capacity to remember:
MOLLIFY THE BASE ON TROUBLE SPOTS (line item veto, shell game on budget restraint, push immigration into the lame duck session, vote on gay marriage/flag burning/abortion, the American Values Agenda, nominate more judges, tout Roberts/Alito, hide Miers, etc)
MAKE NICE WITHIN THE INSIDE GAME (have Bush-Cheney raise abundant coin for candidates, make it clear -- quietly -- just how massive and efficient the Mehlman/RNC/NRCC/NRSC turnout operation will be, buttressed by friendly group spending on TV and targeted messaging, have Josh Bolten make Andy Card seem like a lazy ogre)
TAXES, TAXES, TAXES (just wait until the oppo unfurls on every riding-high-for-now Democratic challenger and open seat candidate)
DON'T GIVE UP ON TRYING TO GET (MORE) CREDIT FOR THE ECONOMY AND ON TRYING TO MINIMIZE THE DAMAGE FROM HIGH GAS PRICES (as Don Evans and Ron Bonjean keep saying -- and check out today's boffo GDP figures)
UNITY VERSUS DIVISION; STRONG VERSUS WEAK; ANYBODY VERSUS RANGEL AND CONYERS (for those who like their messages coded)
"SURRENDER," "RETREAT," "WHITE FLAGS," "WIMPS" (no explanation needed)
DON'T BE INTIMIDATED BY WRONG TRACK OR JOB APPROVAL NUMBERS (those don't matter in a "choice" election)
REPEAT THIS PHRASE IN VARIOUS FORMS OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL THE BASE HAS BEEN WHIPPED INTO A WE-MUST-VOTE LATHER: NANCYPELOSINEWYORKTIMESHOWARDDEANBILLKELLERHARRYREIDLIBERALLIBERALLIBERAL (if you don't instantly understand this one, get thee to some talk radio today)
FEWER SEATS IN PLAY THAN IN 1994 + WHERE THE IN PLAY SEATS ARE + THE DEMOCRATS' "MESSAGE" + BIG LABOR'S WEAKENED STATE
Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe has 45% of the answer in her column. LINK ("The Bush White House can't control the outcome in Iraq, but it can control the message in America. On the home front, it knows how to win.")
Bright Note readers, however, can figure it all out for themselves.
Or, if you need some remedial help, the Washington Post's Babington and Abramowitz look at the clear political mileage the Bush Administration and Republicans on the Hill hope to get out of criticizing the New York Times for publishing details about the surveillance of the bank records of suspected terrorists. LINK
"'This is not press-bashing. This is a clear disagreement about a decision to reveal a classified program,' White House counselor Dan Bartlett said in an e-mail exchange. 'Are we supposed to just sit back and take it?'"
(Note Note: Take what, exactly? Does Bartlett think the New York Times published the Swift banking story as a direct attack on the White House?)