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Keep Your Eye On The Ball


See if you get the same reaction.  Two things struck me in Froomkin’s column yesterday — the first from Froomkin, himself: 

What’s also telling, as usual, is what Bush didn’t say yesterday, and doesn’t say, period.

He doesn’t say we won’t allow ourselves to be terrorized, and we won’t be afraid. (That would run counter to the central Republican game plan for the mid-term election.) He doesn’t say that in our zeal to fight the terrorists, we won’t give up the qualities that make America great. He acknowledges no mistakes, he calls for no sacrifice, he refuses to reach out to those who disagree with him.

And the second from Mike Allen in Time:

Thirty-five minutes after President Bush finished his surprise East Room announcement last week about plans for prosecuting some of the world’s most prominent terrorists, White House and Republican officials convened a conference call of conservative TV pundits and other allies, and later of state party leaders around the country. A participant said listeners were urged to spread the word about the aggressive speech ‘by talking about it in the context of the election.’ The message: Republicans are strong, and Democrats are weak. The White House strategy isn’t subtle.

It is an extraordinary compilation that Froomkin put together yesterday, including linking up Andrew Sullivan’s reportage on Rove’s purported "Hail Mary" strategy for the elections in November. But those two quotes in particular stood out for me for one reason alone: The GOP has fear as an election tactic, and that’s about it.

But most folks aren’t buying fear any longer.  You know why?  Because the issues they deal with day in and day out don’t give them much room around the edges to run and hide — they are too busy working two jobs, raising their kids, cutting out coupons, walking to work to save on gas, and putting on an extra sweater so the themostat stays low.

And that doesn’t leave much room for a cheery disposition for most of America.  And who do you think Mr. and Mrs. Every Day Average American are going to blame for that in November? 

The NYTimes has an extraordinary glimpse into a swing district in Colorado:

Leaving services Sunday morning at Faith Bible Chapel, an evangelical megachurch, Jim McBride, a pilot who served in Vietnam, said he was not happy with President Bush’s handling of Iraq. And he displayed little inclination to rethink his position despite the White House’s new push to focus this year’s Congressional elections on which party will keep the nation safer.

“I do have a bit of mistrust,” said Mr. McBride, who said that he twice voted for Mr. Bush but that he is now disappointed — a sentiment he said is shared by many in his Bible study group. “The whole thing about W.M.D. and that Iraq is somehow tied to 9/11, I just don’t believe it.”

Mr. Bush has plenty of supporters in this Denver suburb and the surrounding cities, an evenly divided swing district that is a bellwether in the battle for control of the House. But interviews over the last three days here found Republicans, Democrats and independents all expressing degrees of skepticism about Mr. Bush’s motives in delivering a set of high-profile speeches on terrorism and the war in Iraq two months before Election Day.

While it is too early to know whether the White House will succeed in winning over enough voters to make a difference in what is shaping up as a tight race, the interviews suggested that Mr. Bush’s newest efforts to cast his party as better suited than Democrats to defend the country had yet to overcome concern and anger among many voters about Iraq and a more generalized sense of discontent with the administration.

“I have been a Republican all my life, but we have just gotten to the point where we may need a change,” said Shannon Abote, an Arvada resident who was stopping at Starbucks for a coffee on Monday morning.

If Bush is losing the megachurch crowd, he’s in bigger trouble than I thought.  I have been hearing these same sorts of sentiments from Republicans that I know, who are lifelong conservatives, but disgusted with the Bush Administration’s lack of fiscal acumen and their shambles of a foreign and domestic policy of any kind other than "fear, fear, fear." And former military types that I know go even further with their mistrust and anger, as they have watched from the sidelines while our armed services have born the brunt of all of this idiocy — knowing first hand how difficult it was to rebuild after Vietnam, and understanding that we are looking at the same sort of scenario again.

Think about it for a moment:  Iraq is going badly.  Afghanistan isn’t going well either at the moment with a resurgence of the Taliban in a number of provinces.  And our foreign policy successes?  (hahahahahaha  Oh, good one.)

Energy prices are up — and with the election in November, Rove had better start praying now for a warm winter in a lot of close districts, because folks aren’t exactly going to be smiling as they write out those utility checks.  Or when they fill up their gas tanks (although the annual right after labor miraculous drop in prices has occurred across the board at the gas pumps — how do they do that every single year?).  Did I mention interest rates are up?  And balloon payments are coming due all across the country over the next few months.

How are things going at your kid’s school?  Crime up in your neighborhood?  How are people in the lower portion of the economic sector fareing in your town?  Spend any time talking to the folks that run local missions or homeless shelters — because where I come from, they are swamped this year. 

Most folks don’t pay attention to political discussions or much of the news — but they do pay attention to the fact that groceries are higher, and that their paychecks aren’t making it to the end of the month as easily as they used to do.

George Bush and his political pack of cronies are scared, alright — but it’s the potential for accountability, not terrorism, that has them shaking in their shoes.  Had enough?

(Illustration by Yves Hentic.)

(And, FYI, since cooler weather is approaching, it’s a great time to clean out your closet and take any coats that are in good condition but that you no longer wear much to a local shelter, mission or battered women’s shelter — kids especially need some help this time of year, and it’s a great way to put the stuff your kids have outgrown to really good use. 

Also, battered women’s shelters are often in dire need of clothing donations for both women and kids — most folks leave with only what they have on their back, for obvious reasons, and the women who go there have difficulty going to a job interview in some old sweatpants and a ripped shirt.  So please, consider a little Fall cleaning if you can spare an item or two.  I used to donate dresses and suits on occasion, and they were much appreciated by the folks who wanted to go out and get a job and stand on their own two feet — sometimes for the first time in their lives.  Did this for my clients, too, and it was always such an amazing thing to be able to give someone a little hope.) 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com