- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 26, 2006

Media pundits have just about given this year’s election to the Democrats — at least in the House of Representatives and perhaps in the Senate as well. They might even be right, for a change.

Some say this could be like the 1994 midterm election shocker when the Republicans seized control of the House for the first time in 40 years. If so, the Democrats will win by following the exact opposite strategy of that which brought congressional Republicans to power in 1994.

The Republicans’ strategy, crafted by Newt Gingrich, was to spell out their stands on key issues and to promise to bring those issues to a vote in Congress. They called their agenda “The Contract with America.”

It is now clear to all that this year’s Democrats are deliberately avoiding spelling out any coherent policy program of their own. Their strategy is to second-guess, denigrate and undermine Republicans instead of offering an agenda. Rather than a contract with America, they seek a blank check from America. And they may get it.

How did the Republicans manage to bring themselves to this dire condition, just two years after winning both Houses of Congress, the White House, and most of the state governorships?

It wasn’t easy — and it wasn’t new. It was the same thing that caused the first President Bush to lose his bid for re-election in 1992, after sky-high approval ratings in 1991. It was betraying the trust of supporters.

Back then it was the betrayal of the “No new taxes” pledge. More recently, it was the even worse betrayal of trying to legislate amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, combined with insulting our intelligence by saying it was not amnesty.

Add to this the Republicans’ runaway spending and the fact the war in Iraq has been going badly, and you have all the ingredients of a political debacle.

One of this election’s ironies is that the Republicans in the House of Representatives seem likeliest to pay the biggest price for the disaffection of Republican voters — when in fact the House Republicans stopped both the Senate Republicans and the White House from making mass amnesty the law of the land.

Senate Republican leaders deserve whatever happens to them. If this election were about the fate of one political party rather than another, it would hardly be worth thinking about.

But elections are not about which politicians get to keep their jobs, though the media cover the news as if the political horse race is the issue. Elections are about the fate of 300 million Americans and the future of this nation.

That fate hangs grimly in the balance as two irresponsible regimes in North Korea and Iran seek to gain nuclear weapons. Neither leader of these regimes can be deterred by threats of nuclear retaliation, as the Soviet Union was deterred.

Both are like Adolf Hitler, who was willing to see his own people decimated and his own country reduced to rubble rather than quit when it was obvious to all that he could not win. If you can imagine Hitler with a few nuclear weapons to use to vent his all-consuming hatreds in a lost cause, you can see what a nuclear North Korea or a nuclear Iran would mean for America and the world.

It is obscene that our media should be obsessed with some jerk in Congress who wrote dirty e-mails to congressional pages — and was forced out of Congress for it — when this nation faces dangers of this magnitude.

It would be worse than obscene for some voters to cut off their nose to spite their faces by staying home on Election Day or actually voting a blank check for a party with a decades-long history of national-defense irresponsibility.

Even today, Democrats argue for more talks with North Korea and Iran, as if talk will stop such regimes from going nuclear, any more than talks with Hitler in the 1930s deterred him. This is no longer about hawks and doves. It is about ostriches who bury their heads in the sand — and about voters who are prepared to give a blank check to ostriches.

Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.


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