Tuesday, July 25, 2006

For One Senate Candidate, the 'R' Is a 'Scarlet Letter'

The candidate, immersed in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country, sat down to lunch yesterday with reporters at a Capitol Hill steakhouse and shared his views about this year's political currents.

On the Iraq war: "It didn't work. . . . We didn't prepare for the peace." (News Flash! They didn't prepare for the war or the peace. Then again, we don't know what peace looks like in Iraq! They STILL don't have a plan.)

On the response to Hurricane Katrina: "A monumental failure of government."
(Now that's what I call understating the obvious.)

On the national mood: "There's a palpable frustration right now in the country."
(You think? Duhhhhh. Would it be 2500+ dead American soldiers? The cost of fuel? Your party's obsession with the politics of distraction? We obviously didn't fill up the Senate seats with rocket scientists and brain surgeons.)

It's all fairly standard Democratic boilerplate -- except the candidate is a Republican . And he's getting all kinds of cooperation from the White House, the Republican National Committee and GOP congressional leaders.

Not that he necessarily wants it. "Well, you know, I don't know," the candidate said when asked if he wanted President Bush to campaign for him. Noting Bush's low standing in his home state, he finally added: "To be honest with you, probably not."

The candidate gave the luncheon briefing to nine reporters from newspapers, magazines and networks under the condition that he be identified only as a GOP Senate candidate. When he was pressed to go on the record, his campaign toyed with the idea but got cold feet. He was anxious enough to air his gripes but cautious enough to avoid a public brawl with the White House. (Oh ye of little courage. These are the people who are supposed to oversee the administrative branch? No wonder no one has kept presidential power in check if this is a reflection of what we have serving.)

Still, his willingness to speak so critically, if anonymously, about the party he will represent on Election Day points to a growing sense among Republicans that if they are to retain their majorities in Congress, they may have to throw the president under the train in all but the safest, reddest states.



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