The Democrats have been getting quite antsy in recent days, as the commentators report. The national organisation has (apparently) been hoovering up any loose funds, tapping its usual contributors, and borrowing wherever possible. This is in part to counter the usual disparity of a flood of money from Big Biz to the Republicans, but it is also to finance extended campaigns in new territory — those constituencies where (up till now) the Republican incumbent was seen as impregnable.
This may not entirely be a good thing.
First, the Dems run the risk of spreading the jam too thinly. Instead of focusing on the fifteen to twenty winnable House seats (and that critical handful of Senate seats), the Dems — according to the commentators, at least — feel that at many as forty Republican seats may be vulnerable. Thank you, Mr Foley.
Second, as always, there may be unexpected long-term consequences of a Republican implosion. Today, Thursday, for example, the San Francisco Chronicle front-pages (below the fold) an article by its Washington Bureau reporter, Zachery Coile. This discusses the problem Chris Shays is having in defending his long-term seat as a Republican Congressman for a Connecticut district. Shays is a liberal Republican, with an adequate record on social policy: he is not a diehard backwoodsman. In Connecticut, the Republicans have an honourable tradition of liberalism (and the old Dems used to be horrendous sons of Tammany). He is one of the educated Republicans on Iraq: and therein lies his weakness. His constituency would be with him on the usual Republican topic of taxation (this is the New York stockbroker belt, after all). But, as always, the Iraq issue is festering, and Shays is wriggling. What happens if Shays and his like are eliminated? Their seats are not long-term holds for Democrats, and the wind will change. Are there moderate Republicans eventually to take their places, or will the trend to the Right continue? For all his partiality and partisanship, Malcolm believes there is a need for moderates in the legions of the night.
And one last thing: Malcolm has been taken by the negativism of the national Republican campaign. Karl Rove (and Malcolm assumes that was the fine Italian hand) went negative from the off. The last series of The West Wing was centred on a fictitious campaign between Santos and Vinnick, both decent, positive and honourable men. By all accounts, the audience appreciated this (as did the critics). The reality is not like that: there is a lot of down-and-dirty gutter politicking on the air-waves, and most of it is coming from the Republican side.
But, as the total death toll of US service-personnel in Vietnam nears the psychologically-critical mass of those who died on 9/11, where else is there for the Republicans to go?