Democrat meltdown begins as loss of Senate looms larger
With Republican chances improving by the day to take over the Senate, national Democrats have already begun the time honored tradition of blaming everyone but themselves for defeat.
The goal; get into the press first with your denial of responsibility and then when catastrophe strikes on election day, you can say "I told ya so" and retreat with little blame attached. It doesn't always work, but it's better than the alternative.
We saw Republicans engage in this feces flinging in the weeks before the elections of 2008 and 2012. Now, it is apparently the turn of the Democrats.
The finger pointing began in earnest last week, says The Hill:
Democrats are starting to play the blame game as they face the possibility of losing the Senate in November.
Tempers are running high a month out from Election Day, with polls showing Democratic candidates trailing in the crucial battleground states that will decide whether the Congress flips to Republican control.ADVERTISEMENT
The behind-the-scenes tension broke into the open last week when former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) questioned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) decision not to endorse Democrat Rick Weiland in South Dakota’s Senate race.
Pro-immigrant advocacy groups, meanwhile, are saying Democrats should not blame them if Hispanic voters don’t turn up to the polls on Election Day. They say President Obama made a tactical blunder by postponing an executive order easing deportations.
And grassroots organizers are grumbling about Alison Lundergan Grimes’s bid to take down Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), arguing her campaign has been disorganized.
“Yes, you’ve seen pre-emptive finger pointing in the last couple of weeks,” said Gerald Warburg, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide and assistant dean at the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
"I used to work in the Democratic Caucus and some of the toughest shootouts we ever engaged in were when we stood in a circle and fired at each other. I think you see a little bit of that now," he said.
With control of the Senate in jeopardy, some Democrats are eyeing potential scapegoats: Obama’s low approval rating; low turnout from Hispanic voters; overly centrist messaging; and the media, to name just a few.
One of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) recently said he wants to replace Reid by electing Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as majority leader. He made the comments at a fundraiser, according to audio obtained by The Washington Free Beacon.
Pryor said the “best thing that could happen” to the Senate would be if McConnell “gets beat and Harry Reid gets replaced.”
Reid is responsible for a cautious strategy that some vulnerable Democrats think is hurting their chances:
With an eye on saving his majority, Reid adopted a strategy of limiting legislative amendments to protect vulnerable colleagues from tough votes that could be used against them on the campaign trail.
Those move have at times proved controversial with fellow Democrats, such as Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), one of the party’s most endangered incumbents.
“I’ve told Sen. Reid more than once that we can’t keep up this gridlock of voting on final bills without considering amendments — which is why I chose to stand up to him today and voted against moving forward,” Begich said in July after joining with Republicans to protest his leader’s policy on amendments.
Playing it safe has its advantages, but Begich is intuitively right. Making your case to voters necessarily means drawing sharp distinctions with your opponent. All the talk by Democrats on the Hill over the summer about using the war on women, income inequality, and climate change to highlight their sharp differences with Republicans have fallen by the boards. All three issues are a bust - except no one seems to have given the memo to President Obama, who highlighted each of those issues in recent fundraisers.
Blame for a failure to hold the Senate would actually fall on one person; Barack Obama. The president is a toxic presence in red states, and even in states like Iowa and Colorado that voted for him twice, he is a drag on Democrat's electoral chances. Obama may yet save Pat Roberts in Kansas, as the national GOP is looking to tie independent Greg Orman to Obama's apron strings.
Pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show. The Democratic meltdown has begun.