- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

Weak strategy

“Stop measuring for drapes, Nancy,” Boston Herald columnist Virginia Buckingham writes.

“If Democrats can’t win a special election for a seat left open by the guilty plea of a senior Republican congressman for bribery in a political environment that can politely be described as more sour than milk left on the counter for a week, how can they expect to win back control of the House of Representatives, handing the speakership to Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)?

“Democrats are claiming the fact that the Republican Party had to spend $5 million to assure victory for former Rep. Brian Bilbray in California’s GOP-friendly 50th congressional district is a sign of their own strength.

“In reality, the loss is a sign of the weakness of a national strategy which hangs its hopes on the GOP’s ‘culture of corruption’ and that Viagra of politics — ‘change.’ ”

“It’s dangerous to put too much stock into one special election, especially in a state in which former Gov. Jerry Brown is selected as the Democratic nominee for attorney general on the same day Rob ‘Meathead’ Reiner’s pet cause of tax increases for universal pre-school is wiped out by 20 points,” the writer said.

“But Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean ignores the signal from California at the party’s peril: If the Dems can’t win on the corruption-and-change issue in the district of Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, who now sits in a federal prison cell, even when they are running against a former GOP member of Congress turned lobbyist, they better figure out a stronger message.

“It turned out that the issue which voters cared about in the 50th was not ‘corrupt money from Duke Cunningham and Tom DeLay’ as Democratic candidate Francine Busby and Dean hoped. It was the hot-button that plays right to the GOP’s strength — illegal immigration.”

Inconvenient result

“On Tuesday, the day of the election in California’s 50th Congressional District to replace imprisoned Republican Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, the CBS Evening News ran a story touting a potential Democratic takeover of the seat as reporter Jerry Bowen described the race ‘as a referendum on both the Republican Congress and the Republican president, whose popularity is sinking,’ ” the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker writes at www.mrc.org.

“But after the Republican won, the newscast was silent about it Wednesday night. In fact, the morning after the vote, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer declared on ‘The Early Show’ that despite the win by Republican Brian Bilbray over Democrat Francine Busby, the 49 to 45 percent victory is ‘a warning shot for Republicans.’ Busby, however, got just one point more of the district’s vote than did John Kerry in 2004,” Mr. Baker said.

“Schieffer had set up CBS’s Tuesday night story about the San Diego County race: ‘Democrats believe they have a chance to take back control of Congress from the Republicans this year, and they’re looking to a special election tonight for a sign that they may be right.’ Jerry Bowen trumpeted how ‘when disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham went off to prison for taking millions of dollars in bribes, no one predicted what just may happen today as voters in this 25-year-long Republican stronghold pick his replacement: That a Democrat, local school board member Francine Busby, could emerge the winner.’ ”

Soccer voters

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