After absorbing this stuff for a few days, here's how it looks to this old grizzled vet:
This year the October surprises occurred two days early. They were a one-two blockbuster, attacking the Republican party's twin strengths, traditional values and the Iraq war.
Number "one", the Foley "scandal" is an attack on the House leadership. A relatively successful (if not flawless) legislative session is over, so a good gay sex scandal is sure to cloud that essentially Republican-positive result and get the democratic base excited. The reason: it exploits the perceived weakness of Denny Hastert, who no longer has the "hammer" Delay to protect his flanks. In Denny's best days, he is not a strong manager of a crisis. Moreover, he is not a favorite of orthodox conservatives.
The Foley problem allows competitive democrats to neutralize the "family values issue, and at the same time accuse Hastert of failing to protect "the children". One misstep, and Hastert loses support in his own caucus, which would be a major advantage for democrats in contested house races. At least Pelosi keeps her caucus together would be the message from "sophisticated" pundits.
The facts showng that Democrats have in the past exhibited far worse behavior towards interns and pages (actual sexual misconduct as opposed to phone/internet sex) is beside the point to a "concerned" press. After all, the cognoscenti know that perception is reality in Washington and politics
Number "two" is the new "Woodward Book", typical of his genre, a combination of gossip and speculation sourced by those to whom the powers that be should have listened. The metamessage: This war is now badly mismanaged, and we need a change.
Again, this attack provides cover for the democrats in close contests to sew uncertainty on the Republican's bona fides in national security and the war on terror which, until this week was recovering nicely.
Here's the deal, though. Like with the John Kerry "report for duty", the Democrats' past track record and votes undermine their credibility on the issues on which they use these two surprises to attack the Republican candidates.
I am afraid fear has caused some of my usually stalwart colleagues to encourage precipitous action like Hastert's resignation.
I think that would be a mistake.
I counsel calm and calculating pragmatic politics.
The Democrats have not changed their approach to anything. Lucy Pelosi and her her buddies will hide that football every time Charley Brown tries to kick it.
From today's Lectionary: The vineyard parable
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