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January 26, 2010

Dems Think They Can Win On This Stuff?

If they do, then we can expect the GOP to control both the House and Senate a year from now.

Democrats are looking for someone to blame for their electoral woes — and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Menendez is working hard to make sure it’s not him.

Showing that they’ve learned the lesson of Massachusetts, Menendez and his staff will distribute a memo Tuesday advising Democratic campaign managers to frame their opponents early — and to drive a wedge between moderate voters and tea-party-style conservatives.

* * *

The memo urges Democratic candidates to force their opponents to answer a series of questions on health care, taxes and some of the favorite causes of the far right:

“Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen? Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards? Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should never have been created in the first place? Do you think President Obama is a socialist? Do you think America should return to a gold standard?”

I’d be horrified if I were not so terribly amused. The content of the memo insults most conservatives and independents, and utterly misrepresents what went on in Massachusetts last week.

Let’s look at these questions, though:

Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen? Oh, puh-leeez! The folks who accept the various forms of Birtherism constitute a small minority – and the issue didn’t play a factor at all in Massachusetts. As I’ve pointed out many times, the arguments against Obama’s citizenship are few and weak, and accepted by only a fringe.

Do you think the 10th Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum health care coverage standards? I think that most Republicans would argue that the 10th Amendment forbids the sort of expansive policy that Democrats have been pushing over the last year, the Constitution as a whole does allow the federal government some limited role in health care under the Interstate Commerce Clause. And let’s be honest – the election in Massachusetts turned in large part upon people being fed up with government expansion, so I don’t see how this issue helps them at all.

Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should never have been created in the first place? This is perhaps the one issue that could be a winner for Dems if Republicans are not careful. But a little common sense in responding makes it easy to avoid the trap – there might be room to argue about whether or not the programs were wise policy choices, but the real issue is that their constant expansion has become financially ruinous and necessitates serious reform for each. Democrats, however, have been unwilling to seriously talk about reforming either because they are beholden to special interest groups and want to expand these programs even further, despite their coming insolvency.

Do you think President Obama is a socialist? No, though I do think some of his policies lurch towards socialism. But I really don’t believe that Barack Obama has the intellectual heft or philosophical consistency to be a true socialist. Rather, I believe him to be an empty suit who will do or say anything it takes to gain more power.

Do you think America should return to a gold standard? Given the rapid inflation that has taken hold since the US quit tying the value of the dollar to certain precious metals, an argument could be made for doing so, and it might be something worth discussing. If not gold, then pegging the dollar to some durable commodity might be useful – but any such change would have to be done carefully and only with serious consideration for negative consequences.

The thing is, though, these questions don’t resonate with the average GOP primary voter – or with the public at large. And most (though not all) tea party supporters operate with a high level of sophistication and common sense, and won’t be taken in by this sort of thing.





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NAME: Greg
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