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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dem Theme for ’06: GOP’s ‘Culture of Corruption and Incompetence’

Janet Hook’s “Storm Clouds Hanging Over Republicans” in today’s LA Times reveals more GOP-nail biting overt the effect of their corruption problems in next year’s congressional elections. Hook quotes several Republican insiders:

“This vague issue of corruption hanging over Republicans is not good, because it is the one thing on which Democrats don’t have to have an alternative policy . . .I don’t want that cloud over us going into [next year’s] elections…Of all the things hanging out there, the one that Republicans are most concerned about is Abramoff, because nobody knows where it’s going to lead” – former Rep. Vin Weber
“You have Frist, DeLay, the Plame case, and you have Democrats with a theme: the culture of corruption and incompetence. [Republicans] are concerned that next year could be a bad year.” – a GOP lobbyist who requested anonymity
“This is not the environment we want to have come next year” – Republican pollster David Winston

Hook and others have reported that the tarnishing of the GOP’s image has helped to ignite a prairie fire of appealing Dem ‘outsider’ candidates for congress. But Republicans have always been particularly good at floating distractions from their internal problems and from some of their less popular policies. For an insightful discussion about the GOP’s ‘wicked genius’ for evasive action, see Christopher Hayes’ “No Right Turn ; If Americans haven’t gotten more conservative, why is the GOP in charge?” in the current issue of the Washington Monthly.
Bottom line is that the GOP’s ethics problems offer fresh hope to Dem challengers in the months ahead. But it doesn’t relieve Dem candidates of their obligation to provide credible alternatives.