I don't often link anything by William Kristol, not because of any real problems with him, but only because I honestly don't read a whole lot of his articles. In this case, I think he's hit on something that myself and a lot of others have been trying to get across. The Democrat's focus on the Foley sideshow will backfire, especially if Republicans hold fast to the real issues. Why do you think a bunch of us outed ourselves yesterday?
"It shocks the conscience. Congressional leaders have admitted covering up the predatory behavior of a congressman who used the Internet to molest children. For over a year, they knowingly ignored the welfare of children to protect their own power. For 17 years, Patty Wetterling has fought for tougher penalties against those who harm children. That's why she's demanding a criminal investigation and the immediate expulsion of any congressman involved in this crime and coverup."
–TV ad on behalf of Patty Wetterling,
Democratic candidate in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District
"A call is placed from New York to a known terrorist in Pakistan. A terrorist plot may be unfolding. Should the government intercept that call or wait until the paperwork is filed? Nancy Johnson says: 'Act immediately. Lives may be at stake.' Liberal Chris Murphy says: 'No. Apply for a court warrant even if valuable time is lost.' Chris Murphy — wrong on security, wrong for America."
–TV ad on behalf of Nancy Johnson,
Republican candidate for reelection in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District
There you have it. These TV ads in two competitive House races tell the story. Repelled by former Republican congressman Mark Foley's sexual overtures to congressional pages and ex-pages, and by the House GOP leadership's alleged failure to move aggressively against him? Vote Democratic. Worried about the Democrats' tendency to coddle jihadists? Vote Republican.
There is a sad tendency in the Democratic party to talk down to the electorate as if they were too stupid to understand real, substantive issues. This is a horrible mistake, for the electorate is not collectively stupid. The continues attempt to make the sale of two cities is bad politics. Trying to sell the sideshow of a disgraced former Congressman as more important than everything else that is going on in the world is disastrous.
The attempt to make Foley a key issue in this fall's election is flopping. It's not credible to tar a political party with the misdeeds of one person. Did Republicans, for example, even try to link Gary Condit to other Democratic candidates in 2002? Was anyone really interested in Condit's party affiliation? Of course not.
And voters aren't in Foley's. National polls taken last week were basically unchanged from pre-Foley polls–bad for the GOP, but not irredeemable. And in the two competitive House races in Florida districts near Foley's, where there was of course saturation coverage of the story, the Republican candidates happened to gain ground last week.
The more the Democrats have their carnival barkers thrash the Foley sideshow, the worse the outcome will be for them. All the Republicans have to do is stay focused on what is really important.