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Aug 12, 2005 4:13 pm

Congressional Democrats and 2008

The next few months will be extremely important to congressional Democrats. They can experience the fate of congressional Democrats in 1986 and 1987 who (as a majority) failed to capitalize on President Reagan’s second term troubles--thereby doing little to advance a presidential victory in 1988--or they can aggressively lay the ground work for the 2008 presidential campaign.

It will be interesting to see which path they take. Thus far, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid have not done much to promote the party’s cause as they became bogged down in the filibuster struggle and they are now concentrating their energy on the Roberts confirmation hearings.

While both of these issues are important, in terms of political strategy, congressional Democrats need to figure out how to promote five issues on the “public” table where the Republicans are vulnerable as a result of President Bush’s record: the exit strategy for Iraq, adequate homeland defense measures, deficit reduction, the environment, and poverty.

We’ll see what the leadership has in store when Congress returns to Capitol Hill. But if the Democrats place all their chips in the Roberts confirmation hearing, I am not sure they will gain attention for the issues that will really help the next Democratic presidential candidate. The fate of Democrats in Reagan’s second term might be a useful point of reference. Today, Democrats have a window of opportunity, but it is one that can close very quickly in the next year.

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Oscar Chamberlain - 8/12/2005

I'm inclined to agree with you as well. However, the Democrats have a problem of being divided over Iraq, a division that remains a major problem. Giving Roberts "close scrutiny" could be a way of keeping the liberal base in line, and that could allow for more flexibility on Iraq and other issues where a certain moderation might be in order.

Dwight Deisen - 8/12/2005

even conservatives should want a stronger second political party.