WASHINGTON, Oct. 20
If you (or Ken Mehlman) thought that this would be the news cycle in which things would turn around for the Republican Party, you need to think again.
While some of the network evening newscasts paid homage to the robustish economy, and while the RNC's video press release on terror got some inexplicable "earned" media pickup, consider the iron wall into which such things run these days (based often on the Old Media's near-total inability to find upbeat Republican strategists, but also on the glee some press types feel about the current storyline).
Consider this bevy of must-read stories:
1. The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei contrast Karl Rove's confidence about the midterms with blind quotes from other GOP operatives who "said privately yesterday that they now see minimum losses of perhaps 18 seats, with 25 to 30 a more likely outcome." LINK
Note that Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) goes on the record to say that if Democrats are "successful in knocking off the three Indiana GOP lawmakers who are currently trailing in the polls" -- Republican Reps. Chris Chocola, John Hostettler, and Mike Sodrel -- "he could be washed away, too. 'This is going to be for me an all-time Republican low in this district,' he said."
2. The New York Times' David Kirkpatirck achieves must-read status with his look at the "unusually early and unusually personal" conservative implosion, full of Noteworthy interviews with the usual suspects, and including much finger pointing. LINK
The paper highlights Dick Armey's recent comments: "'The Republicans are talking about things like gay marriage and so forth, and the Democrats are talking about the things people care about, like how do I pay my bills?'"
Note the backlash from Dr. Dobson.
3. Reversing historical trends, the Democratic campaign committees for the House and Senate outraised their counterpart Republican committees, reports the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum. LINK
Note, however, that the DNC continues to lag behind the RNC.
The Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings reports that the strong Democratic showing "cut the cash-on-hand advantage Republicans had a month ago to about $10 million, or nearly half." LINK
4. Dana Milbank's Washington Post headline says it all (and will not endear him to his conservative base): "During National Character Counts Week, Bush Stumps for Philanderer." LINK
Washington Post on Foley and the priest: LINK
The New York Times' Abby Goodnough reports on Foley's contact with Rev. Anthony Mercieca too. LINK
5. Washington Post's front page headline: "General Says Mission In Baghdad Falls Short." LINK
The New York Times: "U.S. Says Violence in Baghdad Rises, Foiling Campaign" LINK
6. That news "leaves President Bush with some of the ugliest choices he has yet faced in the war," write David Sanger and David Cloud in their New York Times analysis. LINK
7. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed that runs through different options for "Plan B" in Iraq, neoconservative Prof. Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies refers to a "coup" by military modernizers that the United States quietly endorses as the "most plausible" option for the war-torn country.