The New York Times looks at the question of whether the Democrats would be better off being out of power for the next two years. The question itself is not nonsensical; being out of power means not getting the blame, and that can be advantageous. Nagourney suggests that falling just short of taking the majority might be best of all - no accountability, and a better position to take over in 2008:
Hey Democrats, Why Win?
By ADAM NAGOURNEY
DEMOCRATS are all but breaking out the Champagne. Republicans are divided and disheartened; President Bush's poll numbers seem to be in free fall. Many Democrats are talking not only about victory in November but about what they will do once Congress is in their hands.
Such talk may well be premature. Election Day is six months away, and the party has lost many a winning hand. But here is a slightly heretical question, being asked only partly in jest right now: Is it really in the best interest of the Democratic Party to win control of the House and Senate in November? Might the party's long-term fortunes actually be helped by falling short?
As strange as it might seem, there are moments when losing is winning in politics. Even as Democrats are doing everything they can to win, and believe that victory is critical for future battles over real issues, some of the party's leading figures are also speculating that November could represent one of those moments.
From this perspective, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world politically to watch the Republicans struggle through the last two years of the Bush presidency. There's the prospect of continued conflict in Iraq, high gas prices, corruption investigations, Republican infighting and a gridlocked Congress. Democrats would have a better chance of winning the presidency in 2008, by this reasoning, and for the future they enhance their stature at a time when Republicans are faltering.
Indeed, some Democrats worry that the worst-case scenario may be winning control of Congress by a slim margin, giving them responsibility without real authority. They might serve as a foil to Republicans and President Bush, who would be looking for someone to share the blame. Democrats need a net gain of 6 seats in the Senate, and 15 seats in the House. "The most politically advantageous thing for the Democrats is to pick up 11, 12 seats in the House and 3 or 4 seats in the Senate but let the Republicans continue to be responsible for government," said Tony Coelho, a former House Democratic whip. "We are heading into this period of tremendous deficit, plus all the scandals, plus all the programs that have been cut. This way, they get blamed for everything."
That's all fine and dandy. And maybe the Republicans' correct goal ought to be the same. But you know, the House Democrats in 1994 didn't want to lose the House. And the House GOP doesn't now. And to extend the analogy, Tom Daschle never asked Jim Jeffords to remain a Republican, thus keeping the Senate in GOP hands. So at the very least, it seems that the people with the levers of power seem to prefer them to 'political advantage.'
But following the idea to its logical conclusion, why doesn't the House GOP actually deputize 15 Republican representatives to vote for Nancy Pelosi for speaker? That's an even better situation than even Nagourney theorizes! They would have the power to obstruct - hell, theyd be a majority! But Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats would be 'in charge,' and thus responsible for anything that went wrong!
This is the sort of idea that earns Dick Morris the big bucks!
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