KONDRACKE (10/10/06): Right now the generic poll shows, as you showed, that the Democrats are ahead by 15 percent....Lets cut through the clutter. According to this analysis, if Democrats outpoll Republicans by seven percent, theyll break even in the House. Thats very close to the analysis offered by Krugman last April:
We're still four weeks away. But at this point, what the Democratic experts that I talked to, factoring in gerrymandering and all that, say—that if they get seven percent more than the Republicans, they pick up 15 seats, which is what they need.
KRUGMAN (4/21/06): [A] combination of accident and design has left likely Democratic voters bunched together—I'm tempted to say ghettoized—in a minority of Congressional districts, while likely Republican voters are more widely spread out. As a result, Democrats would need a landslide in the popular vote—something like an advantage of 8 to 10 percentage points over Republicans—to take control of the House of Representatives. That's a real possibility, given the current polls, but by no means a certainty.We Democrats never discuss this matter. Thats because were breath-takingly stupid.
HARRIS (10/5/06): One conclusion we made as we look at who has been effective politically is the old Nixon advice—do you remember that? You are supposed to swing to the extremes during the primary and then swing to the center during the general election. That does not work in this era. You have to get a coherent and consistent message in both the primaries and the general election. Reason? In this day, everybody has got video, everybody has got Nexis; everybody has got Google. And the worst thing you can be as a political leader in this country is weak or opportunistic. And so the old Nixon strategy would be almost a guarantee of not the way to win; it is the way to lose, by making yourself seem totally insincere, totally opportunistic.You cant get away with that now, Harris said. Why, the press corps would catch you in a Texas lege minute! If you swung to the center after the primaries, youd look insincere—opportunistic. Why, the Washington press corps would land on your bones in just about ten seconds flat!
CAIN (4/17/00): George W. Bush charged toward the political middle last week, emphasizing education, promoting health insurance for the working poor and meeting with a select group of homosexual Republicans.But then, Jay Carney was saying the same thing in Time:
As he moves toward the center, the Texas governor has proposed some costly programs intended to spur support from diverse groups.
CARNEY (4/17/00): But the future holds its own tough questions for the G.O.P. nominee as he tries hard to move to the political center.But then, everyone was saying it. Here are a few more examples out of many, many:
Ralph Hallow, Washington Times, 4/21/00: Having won the delegates he needs for the Republican presidential nomination by campaigning in the primaries as a conservative, the Texas governor seems to be moving rapidly toward the middle of the road.Trust us—we could do this all day. The notion that Bush was moving to the center was widely discussed, for several months. But guess what? Far from criticizing Bush for this move, the press corps warmly applauded him for the skill with which he was accomplishing it! At the time, the press corps was relentlessly savaging Gore for supposedly reinventing himself; indeed, they were torturing logic and fact and to invent deeply troubling examples. And that is where the humor comes in; even as they savaged Gores reinventions, they applauded Bush for the marvelous way he was moving to the center. For example, here are two statements by David Gergen from the same program—the June 2 Hardball:
Jack Germond/Jules Witcover, 4/22/00: Bush is following a time-honored strategy by moving briskly toward the political center, as both Republicans and Democrats usually do once the nomination has been settled.
Christian Miller, Los Angeles Times, 5/11/00: Coming on top of $62 billion worth of additional new proposals on education, health and housing, the new plan is the latest in a series of moderate steps intended to move Bush to the political center.
Judy Keen, USA Today, 5/19/00: [Bush] finally secured Arizona Sen. John McCain's endorsement, he's leading Vice President Gore in national polls and he's moving back to the political center with a series of proposals that sometimes put Gore on the defensive.
Roger Simon, US News, 5/22/00: So far, however, Bush has been playing a winning game, according to the polls, by moving toward the center and emphasizing large policy issues.
GERGEN (6/2/00): Al Gore—he does have wonderful advisers. Bob Shrum—he's one of the best out there. There's no question about that. But we're into, what, the seventh reinvention, the eighth reinvention of Al Gore?Gore was reinventing himself—which was bad. Bush was moving to the center—which was good. Harris consummate nonsense to the side, this is the actual way the press corps reacted to Bushs performance. Across the pond, the Economist did slam Candidate Bush for having reinvented himself—for conducting a makeover. But we dont know of a single American pundit who criticized Bushs widely-trumpeted move to the center. Sadly, embarrassingly, here was E. J. Dionne, that same day, appearing on CNNs Inside Politics:
GERGEN (6/2/00): I think [Bush has] done extremely well in moving back to the center. You know, South Carolina has almost disappeared from people's minds now. He's used all sorts of issues like the environment and education to move back to the center. And I think he is actually taking some risks on some issues and the vice president isn't.
DIONNE (6/2/00): What's interesting about the current make-over [by Gore] is that it really hearkens back to what he did in the primaries.There was no criticism for Bushs move to the center. But according to this fiery liberal, Gore was involved in a make-over. By the way, what was that alleged make-over byGore? Heres Howard Fineman, in the Newsweek report to which Dionne was referring:
I remember being in New Hampshire in a number of small towns where he did the same autobiographical thing that we just saw right now, and it's as if Gore lost the thread once the primaries were over.
Bush knew he had to move to the center. He knew he had to do some things. He got them done. Gore has been floundering, and [Gores] attacks on Bush I think while effective in the long haul perhaps—say, on Social Security—did harm his image and people weren't hearing what Gore stands for.
FINEMAN (5/29/00): Al Gore's Next MakeoverWhat was Gores next make-over? He was starting to run an (accurate) biographical ad! And by the way, the ad wasnt even new; it had aired in New Hampshire during the primaries. But so what? Simply in running this accurate ad, Gore was somehow involved in a makeover. Bush, by contrast, had moon-walked away from the religious right.
It's of course way early in the race, and the economy still is on his side. Gore's handlers are plotting yet another rollout of their candidate, this one a massive ad campaign based on the notion that he's not so much an alpha male as a thinking man with a heart: a former journalist who used his time in Congress to educate himself, and the nation, on over-the-horizon issues; a man of profound, restless intellectual curiosity—unlike a certain governor of Texas. In the meantime, even Democrats think Bush won the spring, and they worry about signs of drift in the Gore campaign. Bush, as methodical as ever, moon-walked away from the religious right, engineered photo ops with the likes of Colin Powell and unveiled surprisingly well-received proposals on Social Security and nuclear-arms control. Gore, stuck in the attack mode he used to shred Bill Bradley, counterpunched acidly, and dismissively—but not very effectively.
WEISMAN (6/11/00): At the risk of self-parody, Al Gore is trying once again this month to break out of a slump by reintroducing himself to voters. He isn't changing his clothes this time, but he is avoiding personal attacks and unveiling big policy ideas connected in some way to life stories. Yet Mr. Gore still seems unable to exploit his obvious advantages as a partner in an administration with policies that most Americans support.Why was Bush able to reposition himself with such ease? The answer was perfectly obvious then, and its perfectly obvious now. But Harris and Halperin still cant discuss it. So they handed Charlie a big pile of bull. You might call it, The Way to Spin.
Why, the candidate must wonder, can Gov. George W. Bush reposition himself as a moderate with such ease while his own reinventions draw ridicule?