A few days back I said:
[O]nce in a while I would like to see the Democrats win on their own merits and not because the Republicans took a ten-meter triple lutz* into an empty swimming pool.
Despite positive noise from Nancy Pelosi I have seen few signs that the Democratic party has evolved from its neither-here-nor-there milquetoast campaigns of 2002 and 2004. Gingrich, Rove and DeLay didn’t clean Democratic clocks with pleasant appeals to bipartisanship and they didn’t hide from their genuinely radical policy agenda either. Like most I miss the era when Democratic and Republican staffers could drop their rifles long enough to play a collegial game of softball. But those days are gone and wishing won’t bring them back.
All of that said, I can only marvel at how badly I understated the scope of GOP self-destruction. Read this report by Stuart Rothenberg to get a sense of just how badly the last week has damaged the GOP’s already dim election prospects. People can go back and forth about how much of this meltdown falls in the leadership’s own lap, in my view Hastert blew his chance to save his skin when he turned his back on Foley’s behavior at least a year ago. In that vein Lanny Davis at TNR (via DKos) proposes that Hastert’s management could pass Exxon in the annals of all-time disasters in crisis management.
A triple lindy into an empty swimming pool doesn’t begin to describe what the GOP has done in the last week. Even if it usually ends badly, people occasionally walk away from that. This is skydiving without a parachute. Mingling with Alaskan brown bears wearing a meat hat. Russian roulette without an empty chamber. I don’t know whether a fall of this scope even has a parallel in American history. I just hope that, to borrow a phrase from Pete Hamill, the Democratic Party doesn’t wake up on third base and think that it hit a triple.
(*) That should have read “triple lindy.” I needed just one more to make my weekly quota of blown pop culture references.