Karl Rove spoke to Members of Congress last week, and one of the issues that came up was ethics. Bob Novak has some of the story:
Karl Rove, President Bush’s political lieutenant, told a closed-door meeting of 2008 Republican House candidates and their aides Tuesday that it was less the war in Iraq than corruption in Congress that caused their party’s defeat in the 2006 elections.
Rove’s clear advice to the candidates is to distance themselves from the culture of Washington. Specifically, Republican candidates are urged to make clear they have no connection with disgraced congressmen such as Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley. In effect, Rove was rebutting the complaint inside the party that Bush is responsible for Republican miseries by invading Iraq.
While Novak sees a political agenda in this, I think that Rove is basically right. After all, people prefer Democrats on spending, deficits, etc. Ultimately, these probably boil down to the question, "who do you trust with your money"? And right now, silly as it sounds, the answer is Democrats.
That’s why it is so important that the GOP beats up the Dems over the ethics conference report. From Roll Call:
According to sources close to the issue, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has called on Feingold to help push the bill over the goal line. Reid hopes Feingold’s progressive street credentials and reputation as a reform-minded lawmaker will help keep the left flank from bolting, particularly if Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) make controversial changes to the bill.
White House hopeful McCain, meanwhile, already has thrown in his lot with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who has attacked the secretive process Reid and Pelosi have used to rewrite the bill and has threatened to filibuster it if its earmark provisions are changed.
If anything is clear, it is that Pelosi and Reid and just doing the same-ole same-ole. If the GOP fights this successfully and makes the Dems the issue, then this could be an important turning point in 2008. We shall see.
UPDATE: On cue, TPM Election Central comes up with this:
In a new memo, the firm lays out the results of focus groups it held in a pair of Congressional district held by GOP moderates who barely survived 2006, Mark Kirk (IL) and Jim Walsh (NY).
"Democrats in Congress are given credit for wanting change and most especially for ensuring that Bush no longer has a blank check from Congress," the memo says. "But in most voters’ minds, it boils down to results; good intentions and legitimate finger-pointing aside, things simply haven’t changed under Democratic control."
The memo concludes that Dems would fare better if they worked harder to focus voter attention on the fact that the Dem leadership’s agenda is being stymied by Presidential vetors and GOP obstructionism.
Which illustrates both the good and the bad. A filibuster without good communications may not be enough.