autopsy first, death later
The patient is still breathing, but the post-mortem analysis has already begun. On the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal-- in a column entitled Potomac Watch, which suggests that the writer has special expertise in Washington's political affairs, Kimberly Strassel tells us that the Republican Party will need to re-think its appeal to voters after the electoral defeat that is coming next Tuesday.
The problem, Strassel says, is that Republicans have devoted too much energy to campaigning on social issues like abortion and immigration.
They have? I hadn't noticed.
In the future, our Potomac Watch lady says, Republicans should focus on taxes and government spending. Have you encountered a Republican candidate anywhere who didn't focus on those issues?
But Strassel isn't finished. She tells us the main reason for the Democratic rout that she expects on Election Day. Obama will win because he has "run to the right" on social issues, she tells us. Moreover:
Democrats may also achieve big gains in the House and Senate. But their wins in 2006 were the result of the party's decision to run "conservative" candidates-- pro-life, pro-fun and populist on economics. Democratic gains this year will come via similar candidates.
Who are these marvelous Democrats, and why haven't we heard of them? Or perhaps I should ask: What alternative reality has Strassel been watching? Obama is the most radical supporter of abortion ever to seek the presidency, and she hasn't noticed. The Democrats have managed to recruit barely a dozen new pro-life congressional candidates nationwide, and she hasn't noticed the monolithic pro-abortion advocacy of the others. It's clear that Strassel doesn't watch the abortion issue. It's not too surprising, then, that she sighs with disappointment on those relatively infrequent occasions when GOP candidates mention the topic.
Whenever Republicans lose an election, there are pundits at the ready, prepared to explain that the GOP must downplay issues like abortion in order to concentrate on those sexy populist themes like cutting the capital-gains tax. The script is written before the campaign begins. If Republicans win, it is because of the appeal of capital-gains cuts and despite their opposition to abortion. If they lose, it is because of their opposition to abortion and despite the appeal of capital-gains cuts. The facts don't matter; the analysis comes before the data.
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