Democrats Adrift

In last Tuesday's Washington Times, Ralph Hallow writes, "The terror attacks and the U.S. military response have turned the political landscape upside down for 2002. Democrats acknowledge some of their most viable candidates are bailing out." "Some of their most viable candidates are bailing out in the aftermath of the attacks and that the issues focus has switched to favor Republicans, politics is sudden impolitic." 

The Democrats learned this on Saturday, when they attacked Bush with their class warfare garbage in their radio address - then had to rally behind him when the bombs started dropping hours later. The press seems to agree here that the Democrats' most viable candidates are bailing out. "Democrats See Their Chances Take Turn for the Worse," said a headline in the twice-weekly newspaper Roll Call. "Democrat Hopes Suffer New Setbacks," said a headline in the weekly Hill newspaper. 

Now, I'm sorry to keep making this point, but I think it's crucial politically to understand just how they botched it with that radio address. I mean, if my tongue were long enough to hit this table in front of me, I could show you how much the Democrats were salivating on Saturday. They went on the move, and it just backfired, because Bush calls them Saturday night, brings the leadership in on it, and they've got it unified by Sunday. 

The Democrats' big issues were preserving the Social Security surplus - by claiming the GOP wanted to crack into the non-existent lockbox, remember? - their version of a patients' bill of rights which was written to enrich trial lawyers, and "free" prescription drugs for everyone over 65 - including Bill Gates and other wealthy people. These were front and center on the agenda. Strong Republican issues like national defense, intelligence gathering, and public safety were not. Well, now everything has been reversed after September 11th. 

Now, I really think we should never, ever forget that we're the luckiest people on earth. Never mind that our nation's at war. The vast majority of us can get up and act as though we're not. We can pursue whatever our own definition of happiness is. We have had such freedom, and we have had such prosperity. We've had lives which are basically so care free, we've had to invent our own stresses. Not that they're not real, and not that they don't stress us out, not that they don't make us uncomfortable, but we have had to invent them. 

Still, we have to invent things like cell phones while you're driving could pose a risk. We have to invent things like anything greater than 1.6 liters of water in your toilet could lead to disaster in your house. We have to invent these things. The fact that we have had the time, prosperity and freedom to worry about such things - when the rest of the world is occupied with things far more basic, like survival - is a testament to just how great a nation we are, and to just how fortunate we are. 

It was amazing how within seconds of September 11th's World Trade Center bombing, the Social Security surplus meant zero. Zip, zero, nada. What is prescription drugs now? Nothing. Can I just boil that down for you? We in America were having an argument over which of our citizens were going to pay for drugs for other of our citizens. And guess who's calling the shots? The people on the receiving end! The people getting the free drugs were leading the debate on how much they were going to be given. The people doing the giving had no say. 

Yes, the debate was on what you would pay so everyone could have free drugs at 65. You had no say in how much you would pay, and if you dared to speak up against it, you were called heartless, cruel, mean-spirited and callous and all of that. This was our society was actually debating who among us is going to pay for others to get what they want! Now, that's pretty luxurious if you ask me - and that was the center theme of the Democrat agenda. 

There's something else we haven't heard about: campaign finance reform. We haven't heard one syllable about that since this all started. The point is that these are items that a rich society in so many ways can take the time to debate. These were heated arguments we were involved in over all these things. We were hot and heavy. But compared to some of the things that people around the world have to face, they're insignificant. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it. 

Don't misunderstand - I'm not critical. I'm just trying to get you to focus on the differences and how fortunate we in this country are to be able to have that kind of prosperity and freedom that we can actually do this, whereas the rest of the world is not able to do this. They simply don't have the freedom nor do they have the prosperity. 

Now, September 11th comes along and we're in a shooting war with terrorists. We have totally abandoned these liberal issues. They're nowhere on the horizon. The Democrats tried to get them back on the table Saturday and failed. Instead, we're talking exactly the issues that are identified with Republicans - tax cuts, capital gains tax rate cut, national defense, intelligence gathering, all these sorts of things. In a moment's notice, these things change. 

But, in a moment's notice, what happened? In my estimation, we got serious. I know a lot of you, patient's bill of rights is a serious thing. But I think it's a crock. We already have a Bill of Rights. It's sort of like Family and Medical Leave Act. We invent reasons to not go to work, and then come up with reasons and ways to get paid for it. Those are the central themes of liberal issues because they, of course, want you thinking government is providing all that for you so you'll vote for the big-government guys that are providing it for you. 

It's all off the table now - with the elections so close. Some of the most-viable candidates are deciding, "I don't want to run under these conditions." They don't want to run for office if they can't talk about the patients' bill of rights, if they can't talk about free prescription drugs, if they can't talk about the Social Security surplus. They don't want to run - and just remember, what did it take? It took something serious, the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. 

(Washington Times: Political Agenda Changed After Attacks)