Don't they realize they are going to lose bigtime? Then why are they so optimistic? This was the theme of a Washington Post article by staff writer Michael Abramowitz titled, "White House Upbeat About GOP Prospects." The tone of the article reminds one of a great scene from the movie Cinderella Man in which boxer Art Lasky was completely befuddled by the fact that his underrated opponent, James J. Braddock, not only remained standing after a severe beating in the ring but actually looked confident of ultimate victory. An equally befuddled Abramowitz writes:
Amid widespread panic in the Republican establishment about the coming midterm elections, there are two people whose confidence about GOP prospects strikes even their closest allies as almost inexplicably upbeat: President Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.
After scratching his head over this "inexplicably upbeat" attitude, Abramowitz then goes on to reassure us, and maybe himself, that perhaps Bush are Rove are merely self-delusional:
The official White House line of supreme self-assurance comes from the top down. Bush has publicly and privately banished any talk of losing the GOP majorities, in part to squelch any loss of nerve among his legions. Come January, he said last week, "We'll have a Republican speaker and a Republican leader of the Senate."
The question is whether this is a case of justified confidence -- based on Bush's and Rove's electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command -- or of self-delusion. Even many Republicans suspect the latter. Three GOP strategists with close ties to the White House flatly predicted the loss of the House, though they would not do so on the record for fear of offending senior Bush aides.
Despite this nervous attempt at self-assurance, Abramowitz warns that there might actually be some solid basis for GOP optimism:
To Rove and the small cadre of operatives who have been at his side throughout the administration -- including Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and White House political director Sara Taylor -- confidence flows from a conviction that a political operation that has produced three consecutive national victories is capable of one more, despite voter disaffection with Iraq and GOP scandals in Washington.
Republican officials say the three closely coordinate strategy, with constant e-mails and a daily conference call. They see this familiarity -- in many respects it is the same team leading GOP strategy as in the past two elections -- as one advantage they have over Democrats, whose leaders on Capitol Hill and national party officials have been at odds on strategy.
So far, there have been few surprises in the Bush-Rove playbook, which seems little changed over the past four years. It includes tapping the powers of incumbency, mobilizing Christian conservatives and others in the GOP base, and seeking to polarize the electorate around national security and taxes. A huge effort to raise money by Bush, Vice President Cheney and first lady Laura Bush seems to be paying off: By Taylor's calculation, the various GOP campaigns and party committees will have a $55 million money advantage in the final three weeks of the campaign.
The RNC is also planning another big get-out-the-vote drive in the final three days before the elections. Rove believes that many of the polls in individual House and Senate races understate what he expects to be a GOP advantage in turnout, according to one party strategist who has heard him discuss the midterms.
Following this downbeat (for liberals) assessment, we are then "reassured" that things are still really really bad for the Republicans:
The frustration for the White House is that, until two weeks ago, the Bush-Rove plan seemed to be having an impact. The White House used the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as an opportunity to redefine the Nov. 7 elections around the terrorism issue. A modest uptick in Bush's approval ratings followed, and GOP lawmakers began to feel better about their prospects.
But recent events combined to change the campaign conversation. These include the leak of a classified intelligence document suggesting that the Iraq war was complicating the fight against terrorism, a Bob Woodward book alleging administration deceptions about the war, and -- perhaps most critically -- the Foley scandal, which raised questions about whether the GOP tolerated the abuse of minors to protect one of its own.
Despite the somewhat hollow sounding reassurances that the Republicans are in deep electoral trouble, this article has stirred quite a big reaction in the Leftwing Blogosphere from the Democratic Underground to the Daily Kos to the Huffington Post. Here is a small sampling of their responses which range from angry to paranoid, mostly the latter:
We are dealing with crooks and liars, they are professional criminals, theft is what they do for a living. The terms "diebolding" and "swiftboating" have become part of the common english vocabulary.
The Bushites are fully capable of stealing this election, using these extremely insecure and insider hackable voting systems. To what extent they will steal the election is the only question.
Diebold - no paper trail, easily hacked..... who do you WANT to win? and Rove's answered that..... I think Rove is counting on another wussy lawyerly roll-over..... and if we let that happen we deserve what we get.....
Perhaps they intend to steal the election with rigged electronic voting equipment, and then start rounding up and imprisoning or murdering enough Dems to cow the rest into submission.
What are they planning? What do they know that we don't know? Why are these men smiling?
You ask what they have up their sleeves? We've fallen asleep at the wheel again-- VOTING FRAUD, DIEBOLD, VOTING FRAUD, DIEBOLD, VOTING FRAUD-- did your vote get counted last time? I know mine didn't, and neither did my neighbor's, my friends, or all the people I poll-watched for in Cincinnati-- these guys are SMUG AND SMILING for a very good reason-- they do not even need to campaign....
You can read much more of the panicked reaction to this Washington Post article in the Leftwing Blogosphere at the DUmmie FUnnies.