Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Post-Hackett thoughts

There's not much I can introduce into the Hackett discussion that hasn't already been said in great detail. So I'll say my bit about how we should feel about the loss, and then offer a strategic point:

First, there's no denying that Hackett's loss is disappointing, since the prize if he had won would've been enormous. Having a Iraq vet in Congress who could be our party's mouthpiece on this issue and foreign policy more generally would've been awesome. It's also possible that Hackett could've held this seat for quite a while or moved up to challenge some higher opponent. So it's reasonable to have the disappointment that people have when they barely miss out on something unlikely but really wonderful.

Second, we can feel pretty good about our competitiveness in Ohio. If we can lose 52-48 in the reddest district in the state, there's a way to win anywhere else. Sure, we were running a great candidate against a mediocre one, but the point is that a lot is going to depend on particulars of the race. Giving Coingate and other scandals some time to simmer can only help us, and the fact that we'll be running against the least popular governor in the nation (19% approval, 74% disapproval in a recent poll) can only help us as far as coattails go. While Bush may have won in 2004 by making himself seem indispensable to the War On Terror, it's not clear that GOP congressmen can claim the same advantages.

Third, I'm happy about the fact that a Democratic Iraq vet got so much media attention.

I disagree with the dKossish line that Hackett succeeded by uncompromisingly yelling the Democratic line everywhere, and that moderation is a loser. Hackett did an impressive job of presenting himself as a hard-core liberal to the bloggers, but he did feature Bush fairly positively in one of his ads. Hackett's webpage only identifies him as a Democrat in third-party news stories. While it's important to make your positions clear and defend them aggressively, flaunting the symbols of Democratic partisanship can be a bad idea in some places.

1 comment:

Blue said...

Hackett did far better than I expected, and the Cincinnati-ans I know are cooing.

It doesn't help that Burke (the Hamilton county chair) is so disrespected and deservedly so. His appeals for money both current and future simply aren't respectable given his history.

I hope Dems do much better in 2006, but the state party is so weak that I really don't know who'd make a challenge. Ted Strickland? I guess, but this is the best we can do?

Something this whole election makes me feel strongly about is the need for Democrats to have more figurehead candidates. W and Reagan, were the most successful GOP candidates of the past half a century, and basically only represented a good camera face and no actual contribution to policy or administration. Democrats keep nominating actual party leaders, who actually write the policy and lead the team, and thus we have to run with less than ideal candidates. Adulters, charismatic-less flip-floppers, or whatever. Rove went into Texas, found a good smile and a good resume, and just ran with that. And if you make a race between two bland figureheads that everyone aggrees are shiny people, maybe people will have to vote about actual issues instead of personal pecadilloes.