Sunday, November 12, 2006

Democrat Wishful Thinking [link]

The Washington Post writes:
Within hours of trouncing Sen. Mike DeWine (R) to become the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Ohio since 1992, Rep. Sherrod Brown heard from a trio of Democratic well-wishers: Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, presidential aspirants all.

The calls were hardly surprising.

"This is an important state," Brown said. "People know that."

Political strategists girding for 2008 are already studying Ohio, which this week produced a Democratic sweep of the most important statewide offices after backing President Bush and the Republicans in 2004. No Republican has ever reached the White House without winning here.

The political climate for the GOP this year was the worst in three decades, largely because of the Iraq war and corruption scandals. But Brown and his advisers believe his populist appeal to the middle class on economic issues was central to his decisive defeat of DeWine, a two-term incumbent who lost by nearly 500,000 votes.
Does Sharrod Brown really believe this? Do other Dems believe this? If so, then they may misread public attitudes.
Although the Iraq war provided a crucial opening, Brown hammered DeWine not just for backing Bush on matters of national security but also for being part of a Republican majority that worked closely with drug and energy companies on legislation that affects average Ohioans. Early and often, he accused DeWine of betraying the middle class.
This may just be an attempt by the Washington Post to stoke up support for the Dems by pointing to the one state where they made the most gains.

In truth, Ohio was a disaster for the Republicans because of horrible mismanagement by the Republican leadership in this state. George Voinovich was sworn in as Governor in 1991 and people expected that the Republicans would take a conservative line in governing the state. Instead, we got increased spending and higher taxes...and the spending was not well done. Looking back, it seems that the Republicans were afraid that if they cut government programs that they would scare away the political center. They were afraid that the Dems would paint them as heartless spending cutters.

So, in order to deny the Dems that argument, the Reps increased spending in certain areas: social services and education. But these programs were not really important to them...or maybe they did not really believe in them...because these programs were poorly managed. The result, Ohio has become a high tax/low service state.

Kimberley A. Strassel described the situation very well in an Opinion Journal column:

Sadly, the national Reps seem to be following some of the same playbook. Witness the President's "No Child Left Behind" program and the drug benefit program for senior citizens. Republicans accepted these programs (and many conservatives opposed them) because they felt that it was window dressing necessary to make the political center feel safe with Republicans. "Gee, Eileen, thems Republicans really ain't so heartless."

Republicans did poorly nationwide for the same reason they did poorly in Ohio. In part it was because of an unpopular and expensive war. But in part, it was also because there was a feeling that Republicans just were not properly managing government business. When you have leaders promoting expensive new programs that they really don't believe in, it should come as no surprise that these programs are not well managed and the money well spent.

Brown, Strickland, and other Dem leaders believe that Ohio (and American as a whole) are coming back to the Democrat idea that big government programs are good and necessary. The Dems have the advantage of really believing in the programs they are promoting. But they have the disadvantage of not realizing that, no matter how well they are managed, these programs will never work terribly well.

Americans are not pining for more government programs. They just want a well managed government. If Dems read last Tuesday's results as a cry for new spending, they will find themselves in for a horrible Wednesday morning someday in the not so distant future.


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