OK, I admit I missed the traditional Democratic harangues against the Grand Old Party on Monday. But for the balance of the week, it appears the convention is going with an "out with the old, in with the new" approach to attracting those crucial swing voters. (Too bad so few are actually watching.) Anyway, to the topic at hand: is it just me or has the convention strategy of not directly attacking Bush backfired on them?
They have avoided doing precisely what any political party out of office should be doing: namely, explain why voters should change their rulers rather than stay the course, and this means criticize the performance of the incumbent administration (what political scientists call a "retrospective election").
In addition, and heres the kicker, instead of direct criticisms they have actually made the rhetoric of the president and the Republican Party their own. For exhibit A, see my Ashbrook Center op-ed on Barack Obama. Exhibit B, as Peter Schramm has noted in an earlier blog, was Edwardss speech last night regarding the war on terrorism: to wit, "We will destroy our enemies, Edwards says (almost quoting Bush)." Exhibit C, even Teresa Heinz-Kerry, that paragon of
opinionated independent thinking, found herself quoting a whole paragraph from Abraham Lincoln. Here is how she closed her speech:
We can and we should join together to make the most of this great gift we have been given, this gift of freedom, this gift of America. In his first inaugural, speaking to a nation on the eve of war, Abraham Lincoln said, "We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
Today, the better angels of our nature are just waiting to be summoned. We only require a leader who is willing to call on them, a leader willing to draw again on the mystic chords of our national memory and remind us of all that we, as a people, everyday leaders, can do; of all that we as a nation stand for and of all the immense possibility that still lies ahead.
Of course, she went on to say that her husband is the leader who "will give us back our faith in America." Her problem, and that of the Dems (if this strategy is maintained through November), is that the more the Democrats base their appeal upon traditional Republican principles and convictions about Americas greatness, the less the American people will see a need for a change at the top.