An Opening for Democrats

One positive thing that might result from Bush's re-election is that Republican candidates and officeholders across the country will be irrevocably tied to his policy failures. Bush is lucky to have been up for re-election in 2004 instead of 2005 or 2006 because if it wasn't painfully clear how bad things were in 2004, it probably will be by 2006. On issues like Iraq and the economy, there is already evidence of top Republicans positioning themselves away from the President. This is particularly unusual so soon after the President won re-election and a "mandate." Two recent examples of this are Newt Gingrich and Christie Todd Whitman, both of whom have written books critical of the President, and both of whom, it seems, have Presidential ambitions. I suspect we'll see more and more of this in the next few years, especially if things continue to get worse. Things will get really interesting if someone like Bill Frist has to decide whether his continuing adherence to the Administration's every word jeopardizes his ability to win a Presidential primary. Of course, this is great news for Democrats, unless it turns out that non-Bush Republicans can do a better job of a) distancing themselves from Bush, and b) articulating a viable alternative. I don't want to get too confident that this won't happen until I see what shape the new Democratic leadership takes in the next few weeks. The election for the DNC chairperson is just around the corner, and the result will have serious implications for the Democrats' ability to shape a message and a platform over the next two to four years. If Democrats can successfully package distinct policies with a focused message, it shouldn't matter what the Republicans are saying. At the moment this is still a big if, but it is enough to be optimistic about our future prospects.