Desperate Dems Skip Issues, Rely on Personal Attacks

Posted on August 20, 2010


By Fred Barnes…

The Democratic strategy in the 2010 election is simple: Change the subject. And given the subject on everyone’s mind, who can blame them? That subject is the economy and related matters like spending, the deficit, debt, and President Obama. These are the last things Democrats want to talk about.

Instead, they’d like to reduce each race for the House and Senate to the personal level. Their aim is to emphasize the individual flaws of Republican candidates. In the Democratic game plan, the economy and national issues are taboo.

This microstrategy is one of pure desperation. It’s all that’s left when macro-political trends are going against you. Indeed, Democrats start with two strikes against them. A midterm election is usually a referendum on the president’s performance, and this year’s is no exception.

And the most important measure of the president’s success or failure is the condition of the economy.

Given this, the campaign is on a track that’s likely to produce a Republican landslide in November. So Democrats are eager to create a separate track, a parallel campaign aimed at minimizing their losses.

The strategy is clever in that it lures the media into playing along. Media types can’t help themselves. Those covering the campaign need new things to report on each day. And Democrats are prepared to supply or otherwise draw attention to just those things, the smaller and more marginal the better.

We saw numerous instances of this last week. When GQ magazine reported that Rand Paul, the Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky, had “kidnapped” a female student while he was in college, the story was widely disseminated by the media. Later, the “victim” came forward to explain there was no kidnapping, only a college prank that she went along with willingly. Despite its short life, the story distracted attention from bigger issues.

Then there was the Colorado primary, the results of which were interpreted by Politico as “good news for President Obama and Democrats.”