I love the sound of Republicans whining. It’s a pleasant change.
Democrats have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory too many times for me to get my hopes up much. In my own defense, I came by my perpetual pessimism about the Democrats honestly. McGovern supporters caucused in my family’s living room when I was but a toddler. We lived in the Deep South; our coat closet would probably have been big enough to accommodate the “crowd.” I have no memory of that event, but if that doesn’t imprint you with a certain political fatalism, I don’t know what would.
The week before the Foley scandal broke, I first realized that Republicans were whining, not about some supposed cultural catastrophe to rile up the base, but about Democratic political attacks. It was the first time I allowed myself to believe that the Dems could actually win this year. Republicans were on the run.
Then the Foley scandal exploded.
The lingering image of the Foley scandal for me won’t be Foley cruising to Morton’s in his BMW convertible with a young male page or diddling himself during a floor vote (wouldn’t want that image to linger).
It will be Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the NRCC, hiding behind children at a press conference in his district to avoid having to answer the hard questions about Foley. A reporter, concerned that the subject matter wasn’t appropriate for kids, asked Reynolds if the children would leave the room. Reynolds–a small, scared man–refused.
Pundits fret that the Dems might “overplay their hand” and push too hard on Foley. Does anyone ever worry about the GOP overplaying its hand? Republicans, as the Foley case shows, will risk the entire pot on a bluff. They can be wrong on principle, wrong on the substance, and wrong on the politics, yet no one ever wrings their hands about the Republicans overplaying theirs.
That’s not to say the Dems have been as aggressive as they should be. NPR had a report yesterday on New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid’s effort to unseat Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM). The Madrid campaign hastened to explain that the ad it began running this week touting Madrid’s record of fighting internet sex crimes was produced back in the summer and didn’t have anything to do with the Foley scandal. Well, why the hell not?
Dems seem to be getting their sea legs though. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi refused to throw Speaker Hastert a life preserver when he wanted to appoint Louis Freeh to investigate the Foley matter. What a refreshing surprise.
So let Republicans complain all they want about the timing of the Foley disclosures, the Clintons’ supposed involvement, the mysterious hidden forces trying to do the GOP in.
I love the sound of Republicans whining. It is the sound of Democratic victory.