The post mortems on the election are mostly in, and a clear majority of Democrats are attributing their losses to a failure to attack President Bush aggressively enough and to distinguish themselves sufficiently from the Republicans. With only a few exceptions, the mainstream press is reporting this assessment with approval. The conventional view was neatly summed up this morning in a cartoon in the Anchorage Daily News–unfortunately not available online–that depicted a saloon with noisily celebrating elephants; two dejected donkeys sit at a table drinking “GOP Lite” beer, and one of them says, “I think I’m ready for something stronger.” Almost entirely absent from the “mainstream” commentary is any acknowledgement that most Americans like President Bush and his policies, and many were put off by the Democrats’ attacks on him, or that many Americans were repelled by the obstructionist tactics of Daschle, Leahy et al. in the Senate. It is interesting that whenever Republicans lose, the diagnosis in the mainstream press is that they lost because they were too “extreme” and need to move toward the center, i.e., become more like Democrats. (Never mind that in the days when Republicans were nearly indistinguishable from Democrats, they appeared to be on the road to extinction.) I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a mainstream press account suggesting that Republicans lost because they didn’t attack the Democrats hard enough or distinguish themselves sufficiently from Democratic policies. So: When Republicans lose, the moral is that they need to be more like Democrats; when Democrats lose, the moral is that they need to be less like Republicans.
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