How Dems can reap the biggest gains from GOP scandals

Democratic Alchemy

Leading analysts -- and Rahm Emanuel -- sound off on how Dems can reap the biggest gains from GOP scandals.

By Greg Sargent
Web Exclusive: 01.12.06
The American Prospect

In recent days, as the Jack Abramoff story has detonated in slow motion across official Washington, Dems have been debating ways of converting the muck of the GOP scandal into political gold. The short-term strategy appears to be twofold: Argue in unison that the GOP is the party of corruption, while aggressively countering GOP efforts to cast the scandal as bipartisan by hammering away at Abramoff’s exclusively Republican donations and spotlighting the GOP-built K Street Project machine.

A few polls suggest this early strategy is yielding short-term results. But it nonetheless begs a big question: Can Dems really expect this argument to translate into the lasting gains they’re hoping for? Or should they be trying to formulate a strategy that goes beyond merely tarring the GOP as the corrupt party and looks for ways of weaving the mushrooming scandal into larger arguments about the Republican Party’s most conspicuous domestic failings?

Indeed, after a decade of Dem worshipping at the altar of Clintonian incrementalism, it’s tempting to think that the time is ripe for Dems to make a bigger case, to tell a bigger story, to weave the scandals into an overarching class-based argument. Consider the current political atmosphere. It’s dominated by, among other things, exploding deficits caused by tax cuts for the rich, growing economic insecurity as pension plans are put on the block by even healthy corporations, and even the Sago mining disaster, which has spotlighted Bush’s failure to police the mining industry even as Appalachian mine workers endure hardscrabble and dangerous lives. It’s tempting to imagine that such developments – taken together with the GOP’s failings on health care and energy, and its willingness to hand over to corporate lobbyists the keys to Congressional committee rooms -- might accumulate and reach a kind of tipping point, making both working- and middle-class Americans more receptive to the argument that Republicans have broadly failed them as a class in ways that consistently benefit the wealthy. [...] Read the whole thought-provoking article at the American Prospect web site: http://tinyurl.com/786f7

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