For the first time since the dark days of the early 1990s, after he left Perot's campaign and before his new star Newt Gingrich had led his party out of the wilderness of a Democratic majority in the House, the prospects for his team just look dreadful:
- Hillary and Obama have raised more money in the second quarter of this year than all the announced Republican candidates for 2008 added together.
- Bush's ratings are down in Nixonian end-game territory.
- The campaign of the GOP candidate most closely associated with Bush and the defining policy of his administration, the Iraq war and occupation, is in a nosedive with three engines out.
And yet the guy keeps spinning and swinging.
His op-ed piece in the LA Times this morning leads off with this silly swipe:
All the big questions for 2008 are on the Democratic side: Can Hillary Clinton show her humanity? Does Obama have enough experience? Will Edwards find a cheaper barber?
The big questions for 2008 are on the Republican side: How much longer until the campaign of John McCain--once considered the presumptive nominee--collapses completely? Will the Christian fundamentalist base that the GOP relies upon lift a finger to help a candidate who's got a whiff of pro-choice, gay tolerance, or Mormonism about him? Can the Bush Justice Department's desperate stonewalling run out the clock before political scandal drives the GOP back into minority status for a generation?
The talent in the GOP presidential field are sporting some pretty awful comb-overs, but haircuts are the least of anyone's problems, and Luntz knows it.
Still, Luntz whistles hopefully,
a Republican victory is not impossible. Not yet. One promising indicator is the fact that Congress is at its lowest approval point in a generation — even lower than in 1994, when Republicans seized the majority in the House after 40 years of Democratic control.
The Democrats blew into Washington in 2006 as a breath of fresh air in response to Republican scandal, Republican budget mismanagement and a Republican war. But in recent weeks, that freshness has turned stale. Despite majorities in both houses, Congress is seen as having failed to set tough ethics standards, failed to stop wasteful spending and failed to fix immigration.
And those failures offer a glimmer of hope for the GOP.
Sigh. Frank, Frank, Frank. That's all you got? I don't think I've ever seen a slimmer glimmer.
The main reason that Congressional approval numbers are low is because the Democrats have been blocked at almost every turn by Senate Republicans who can muster enough votes for their reliance on the filibuster-that-dare-not-speak-its-name. Most voters, who don't closely follow the ins-and-outs of Senate parliamentary maneuvering, don't understand that bill after bill is disappearing because the Senate Republicans have been blocking cloture votes on everything from Iraq to ethics reform without being asked to pay a political price. Assuming Harry Reid can expose the GOP obstructionism for what it is--possible, but by no means certain--voters will start separating dissatisfaction with do-nothing Republicans from disappointment and impatience with the Democratically-run Congress as a whole.
Luntz wraps up: "[F]or the party to keep the White House in 2008, it will require a Herculean effort."
Deeply pitched mythological references aren't Luntz's style--too Jungian, perhaps--but one suspects he's thinking of the fifth of Hercules' twelve labors, cleaning the Augean stables in a single day. The catch (there was always a catch--the labors, as penance, were selected by the man Hercules hated most) was that these stables housed the most magnificent cattle on earth, and they crapped a magnificent amount of filth, more than any mortal could be expected to remove in only a day.
Hercules solved his problem by diverting two rivers to clean out the stables. So far, the Republicans have already diverted one river that we know of, and yet the crap overrunning the Grand Old Party is still there.