Another mid-term election is a mere sixteen days away. Just a few weeks ago, pundits were predicting that the Republicans would take control of the Senate in January. There’s plenty of election history along with pretty charts and graphs to back that up. But, votes shouldn’t be counted before they’re cast because the electorate has a funny way of ignoring the polls.
Which party will capture the Senate? The seemingly endless campaign is pivoting on President Obama, one party running against and the other running away. The Republicans, of course, are the former. The President’s name is not on the ballot, but he does claim that his unpopular policies are indelibly stamped on it. Given his all-time low poll numbers, he just may be a closet GOP’er.
Not surprisingly, Democrats are running away from Obama with record speed. In his place, they are pushing their usual diversionary, “look over there” tactic. “Over there” is an old shelf in the DNC office. It holds dusty social wedge icons, the Tea Party voodoo doll, the climate change as “terrorism” thimble and the worn-out fear drum. This year the shelf’s lackluster contents are low on just about every voter’s radar.
The Dems did debut two new diversions this year. The first is their response to Obama’s Death Valley-low poll numbers on his war against ISIS. Voters can’t be that hard on Obama for not putting boots on the ground if the military just messes things up anyway.
Last summer the White House tried out the new bungling-military theme when it revealed the failed attempt to rescue James Foley from his ISIS captors. Foley was beheaded a few weeks later. The revelation was a two-fer. It justified not resorting to military action sooner than we did. It also embarrassed the Pentagon in retaliation for forcing Obama to act when he finally did. Without the Foley death, there would still be no ISIS opposition from the U.S.
Just last week, the New York Times published an article on chemical weapons of mass destruction found during Bush’s Iraq war. The article claimed that the Pentagon covered it up with negative fallout. Bad, bad military.
The second diversion is an instance of the fear drumbeat Dems pound out most of the time, especially in election years. Last week, they decided to blame the spread of Ebola in America on Republican budget cuts.
That false claim earned four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. It was intended to dull the criticism of the President’s initial no-big-deal response to the disease reaching American shores. His response is turning out to be very wrong. The CDC badly flubbed its management of the first cases of Ebola to develop in the U.S.
First, it grossly overstated our readiness to treat the disease when it announced, incorrectly, that any U.S. hospital can safely treat the patients. In fact, the treatment of Ebola and other similar infectious contagions requires specialized biocontainment centers. There are four in the U.S. with a total of 11 beds. Three of them are now occupied.
The CDC also failed to provide instruction on the proper treatment protocol and then blamed nurses for failing to follow it. Their union is understandably on the warpath and is now detailing just how inadequate the instruction was.
The tipping factor in the election may be the absence of a leader in the White House. One of the most irksome of Obama’s behaviors is turning every leadership challenge facing the Country into a political damage-control problem. His appointment last week of a spin doctor as the “Ebola Czar” is the kind of thing that can give the GOP control of the Senate.
Ron Klain is a long-time Democrat aid and was chief of staff to Al Gore and Joe Biden. He has no public health or medical qualifications. While the role is a management task, such a highly specialized challenge requires some degree of subject matter knowledge at the top.
Because Obama focuses on masking serious problems with claims of dirty politics, rancor abounds where bipartisanship should flourish. Unfortunately, solutions don’t materialize on their own. That fact and the superior success of the Republicans at getting out the mid-term vote may see the Dems snatching defeat this year.