The Note: Republicans as Democrats

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24

In three straight national elections and scores of legislative and public relations battles, the Bush-Rove-Mehlman political machine has rarely lost to the Democrats in over six years.

Now, on the brink of what many believe will be a midterm election in which Democrats will win big, the Republican Party finds itself in a position to which it is unaccustomed.

How is the Grand Old Party handling all this?

By either cause or effect (or, perhaps, both), Republicans are acting like Democrats.

To wit:

1. They are suffering from the classic "nothing is sticking" lack of confidence, so they are switching messages nearly as fast as they can come up with them, guaranteeing that, well, nothing will stick: "Pelosi is liberal," "Rangel is liberal," "they will raise your taxes," "they are unethical," "they will let the terrorists win," "CNN shows snipers," "Democrats won't give you energy independence," etc. If it's Thursday, it must be "Harry Reid Is Unethical Day!"

2. They are playing the intra-party blame game: the White House is blaming the Hill; congressional staffers are blaming the party's 2008 presidential candidates; the campaign committees are blaming the campaigns; the campaign strategists are blaming the White House and the candidates; the candidates are blaming everybody (but themselves).

3. They are overreacting to good poll news -- and to bad poll news.

4. They are making spending decisions with the certainty with which most Americans pick lottery numbers.

5. Their lobbyists and Gang of 500 members are not only resigned to losing, but thinking it might be better for the country and the party if they did.

6. They have forgotten what it is like to be in the minority.

7. They have forgotten that using exact language matters.

8. They keep WAITING to win two news cycles in a row, by providence, rather than executing a plan to do just that.

9. They are filling the papers with blind and on-the-record quotes predicting defeat and doing pre-game post mortems.

10. They don't know what they stand for, but promise a focused search for it.

11. They feel they would rather be the other team than themselves as far as strategic positioning is concerned.

12. They are watching helplessly as the other side hides many of its real positions with steely discipline.

13. They are seeing the opposition live more than they are by the dictum "what's mine is mine, and what's yours let's talk about" regarding groups such as rural voters, religious voters, and fiscal conservatives.

13. They are forgetting the famous Franklin axiom: We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Members of the small-but-hearty group of Republicans who are not subject to the Democratization described above will gather on this Tuesday for radio day at the White House.

Huge tents will be set up on the north lawn. Sean Hannity is scheduled to tape an interview with Vice President Cheney at 10:30 am ET for playback in his radio show which runs between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm ET. Karl Rove will also make himself available for select interviews.

President Bush attends a reception for Vern Buchanan, the Republican running against Democrat Christine Jennings for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), at 1:50 pm ET in Sarasota, FL. Bush also attends an RNC reception at a private residence at 5:00 pm ET.

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