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Fortunate to Have These Opponents

Give Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein credit. He doesn’t think much of the flap over Harry Reid’s racial remarks. He has bigger fish to fry:

But the most damning indictment to emerge from the mess was the Democrats’ relief at Reid’s survival. Our party knew of his severe limitations before we made him leader–same with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We have watched them consistently hurt the party’s image and undermine its productivity. And while much of the country is now mocking Reid’s obvious liabilities, we cheer his staying in power. Talk about tone-deafness–Reid’s is nothing compared to the Democrats who continue to uncritically accept his and Pelosi’s chronic embarrassments and ineffectiveness.

Ouch. He likes Pelosi even less, declaring that she is “more divisive.” Echoing Republican complaints, he writes:

She doesn’t even bother with the pretense that she is Speaker for the entire House of Representatives. She treats Republicans as the enemy, and they respond in kind, creating a vicious partisan cycle that practically precludes any meaningful negotiating. It also leads much of the country to discount or tune out anything she says before she opens her mouth.

He thinks Obama needs to distance himself from Congress. But the criticism that Reid and Pelosi are hyper-partisan and now subject to being tuned out applies to a large degree to the president as well. All of that poses a problem, a giant one, for Democrats on the ballot in the fall. They can proclaim their “independence,” but when they elect Reid and Pelosi as leaders and vote for the Obama agenda, it will be hard for them to differentiate themselves from the increasingly unpopular triumvirate that is the face of the Democratic party. Republicans will need an agenda and some message refinement, but they have the good fortune to be able to run against the Democratic leadership. As everyone discovered in 2006 and 2008, running against the other guy can be a very effective strategy.


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