Monday, October 29, 2007

Barone: Both Republicans and Democrats Lack a Narrative

Barone is right, but I don't think much needs to be made of this -- at least not yet.

Neither party is presenting a narrative, as the Roosevelts and Reagan did, that takes due note of America's great strengths and achievements. Each seems to take the course, easier in a time of polarized politics, of lambasting the opposition. The Democrats suggest that all our troubles can be laid at the door of George W. Bush. The Republicans, noting Bush's low job ratings, complain about the disasters that will ensue if Hillary Clinton is elected. All these may be defensible as campaign tactics. But it is not a pudding that can successfully govern.

This is what campaigns are about -- developing the message and deciding on the plan that each party will bring to the voters. Republicans are engaged in the soul-searching and navel gazing that follows a spent presidency and an unpopular president. We're trying to determine how much of the failure was the man, and how much was the message. Which parts of the Bush agenda get tossed aside, and which get a fresh coat of paint. Ultimately the nominee will reflect the party's verdict.

The Democrats seem to be foregoing the debate however, in an effort to protect their presumed nominee from getting damaged in the primary. Oddly enough, the Left is closing ranks around Hillary to de facto make it easier for her to turn right in the general election -- since that's the result of allowing her to not spell out her positions in the primaries.

Which party will produce the winning formula? The one that offers a smarter war on terror, a restrained but effective federal government, and a change from the current tenor of debate. Oddly, it seems to be clear that that's what voters want; it's just a question of how to convince them that you're best prepared to bring that.

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