Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pelosi Acknowledges the Obvious

Nancy Pelosi says that the Democrats are shifting away from their message about the 'Culture of Corruption,' immediately after Democrats lose a special election that framed the issue. Now she says that Democrats are in danger of being painted by the GOP as too liberal to be trusted, so they need to turn to an issue agenda. Left unsaid is that it's also because a focus on Congressional corruption is fraught with danger for Democrats, who have to defend a number of cases of their own.

This does not have the look of a smoothly-planned pivot, rather a frantic rush to shore up a weakness. Democrats have been debating for months whether they need to have an agenda to sell the voters before election day. Pelosi has clearly decided that they do. But why the suddenness of the announcement? And what will Democrats do once Republicans start picking it apart?

The Democrats are looking like a party ready to squander the great opportunity they have in the midterm elections:

Pelosi: It’s definition time for Democrats
By Josephine Hearn

With Republicans seeking to define Democrats by their votes on such hot-button issues as gay marriage, the estate tax and flag burning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is arguing that Democrats need to tell voters about themselves before Republicans succeed in doing it for them.

The time to criticize the Republicans’ “culture of corruption,” a Democratic refrain for nearly a year, is at an end, Pelosi said; Democrats need to begin promoting their own vision of America.

“Now it’s time to talk about us. Enough of the Republicans. It’s time for us to talk about what are the priorities we’d like to see addressed, if we have the opportunity,” Pelosi said in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday.

Democrats have been struggling for months to devise a unified message to take to voters, debating whether to be general or detailed, to come out early or late, or to present a succinct list of points like the GOP’s 1994 Contract With America. Pelosi has been seen as favoring an early message, while Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who head up the campaign committees for House and Senate Democrats, have argued for focusing on Republican misdeeds.

Democrats are poised this week to unveil a portion of their domestic-policy agenda dealing with family economic issues.

“What we have to do is define ourselves so that Republicans do not define us. This is a define-or-be-defined business that we’re in, so you can’t leave it out in the open,” Pelosi said.

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