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Dec 17

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 7:17 AM 


For a long time, I thought that trends of capitulation indicated that Islamic prayer rugs were the next must-have item for the well-outfitted white-flag-waver in the coming surrender of the West. I was wrong. First, get a gag.

From the Washington Post's "The Fix" blog by Chris Cillizza:

As the Republican National Committee continues its attempt to tie disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich to President-elect Barack Obama, more high-profile GOPers are rebelling against the strategy.

Newt Gingrich (Ga.), the former Speaker of the House and a potential candidate for president in 2012, wrote a letter to RNC Chair Mike Duncan on Tuesday condemning the Web video circulated by national Republicans over the weekend that sought to link Obama to Blagojevich.

Calling the video a "destructive distraction," Gingrich added: "This ad is a terrible signal to be sending about both the goals of the Republican Party in the midst of the nation's troubled economic times and about whether we have actually learned anything from the defeats of 2006 and 2008."

His chorus of dissent was joined later in the day by Patrick Ruffini, a prominent online voice for Republicans. (Ruffini was the e-campaign director for the RNC during the 2006 election cycle and did the same for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign.)

In a post on post on The Next Right (a new-ish online gathering place for conservatives), Ruffini wrote:

"It's fair to say that any residual connections Obama may have with Gov. Blagojevich as a result of being an Illinois Senator are not the strongest part of our argument. I can understand the desire to go at Obama. But with Obama at 76% approval for the transition, our hits against him have to be clean hits, or they will blow up in our face."

The sentiments expressed publicly by Gingrich and Ruffini are echoed privately by a number of Republican strategists who view the attempts to link Blagojevich and Obama as nothing more than a fool's errand given the lack of evidence that the public sees any real connection between the two men.

Notice it's not a lack of evidence of any real connection between the two men that is driving Gingrich, Ruffini and "a number of Republican strategists." It's a lack of evidence that the public sees any real connection between the two men. And how could they, given the media rush to exonerate Obama before even the outlines of the Blago scandal have been fully sketched? Such "evidence" of the public's failure to connect O and Blag-O, meanwhile, comes from a Post/ABC poll, coming right up in the next couple of 'graphs. (Added bonus: the Post's own blogger Chris Cillizza actually misreports his own evidence.)  

As we wrote earlier this week, the strategy adopted by the RNC poses a real risk to the party because of Obama's strength and Republicans' weakness in the eyes of voters.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll more than three in four voters approve of the way Obama has handled the transition and a majority (51 percent) of independents said he had done enough to explain any conversations his aides had with Blagojevich.

Since the Post very helpfully provided its own poll data in the link (above), I decided to take a look, particularly having noted the unusual specification that 51 percent of "independents" were of a mind that Obama had "done enough" to explain away his staff's potential involvement in the Blagojevich scandal. Here's the Post's poll question #40:

As you may know, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on charges that he sought bribes in exchange for official actions, including appointing someone to take over Obama's seat in the U.S. Senate. Obama has not been implicated in this case. Do you think Obama has or has not done enough to explain any discussions his representatives may have had with Blagojevich about the Senate seat?

Love the Obama sweetener (in bold). It's quite true the prosecutor's complaint does not mention Obama. But that's not the same as saying he has not been implicated in the case, particularly given press reports that Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did indeed have contact with the governor's office regarding Obama's Senate seat--21 times on prosecutor's tape, according to one report.

Anyhow, here's the answer to the poll question: 51 percent say "he has not" done enough to explain; 34 percent say "he has" done enough to explain; and 14 percent have no opinion.

In other words, the Postie misread his own paper's poll! Back to his story:

Compare those solid numbers [HAHA] to a new national poll from Gallup that shows just one in four adults approving of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their job while 69 percent disapprove. (In fairness, congressional Democrats' numbers weren't much better: 37 approve/55 disapprove.)

So, what should Republicans do -- given that they are out of power at the executive and legislative level?

Hmm. Le me see. Should they perhaps  grovel for better poll numbers?

Gingrich boils it down to a single sentence: "Republicans should be eager to work with [Obama] when he is right, and, when he is wrong, offer a better solution, instead of just opposing him."

In other words, YES!

Ruffini is more expansive -- offering three solutions, the savviest of which is to push the idea that Democrats are seeking to rob voters of a say in Illinois by refusing to pass legislation that would create a special election to fill Obama's Senate seat.

The RNC may be listening. Duncan released a statement Tuesday evening on the need for a special election. "We agree with President-elect Barack Obama that his Senate seat belongs to the people of Illinois," said Duncan. "The only way the people's voice will be heard and Illinois can end the taint of the Blagojevich scandal is to have a special election."

That Republicans are in the political wilderness is without dispute. As the past week illustrates, how they get out of it remains an issue of significant disagreement.

How about: Have gag, will travel?


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