John Fund's column this morning at OpinionJournal is right on target: Republicans are at serious risk right now of losing their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, but they may, just perhaps, be saved by the obnoxiousness of the Democrats who would replace them. The American people may have tired of Republican rule in Congress, but that doesn't mean they are eager for rule by the Democrats.
The following paragraph from John, repeating a widely reported story, sets the scene for why the Democrats may yet bail out the GOP:
So far Democrats are offering little should they take control of the House. Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, told the Washington Post last week, that she planed to launch a series of investigations, starting with the five-year old meetings of the energy task force that was convened by Vice President Dick Cheney and that the Supreme Court has already ruled was within its rights to hold secret meetings. The
Post reported that "Pelosi denied Republican allegations that a Democratic House would move quickly to impeach President Bush. But, she said of the planned investigations, 'You never know where it leads to.'" Washington
The more the Dems promise/threaten this kind of stuff, the better. The last thing the American people want is for Congress to be embroiled in more investigations of a partisan nature. One reason Congress is so unpopular right now is that Americans are sick of the petty political games and the bickering about power and process rather than principle. They want Congress to pay attention to them, the people, rather than on scoring points against fellow pols. That's one reason, by the way, why the GOP's overzealousness in 1998 (not just pro-impeachment, which was a duty in the face of perjury and obstruction of justice, but in favor of partisan-tinged rules for the impeachment inquiry that made Gingrich et al look almost as if they were acting out of not duty but bloodlust) was so counterproductive, and why the GOP lost five House seats that year when EVERYbody expected a gain of 15-25 seats: Too much inside baseball, and of a particularly nasty sort, and not enough sober and serious legislating.
So if Pelosi wants to use as a campaign tactic the threat of investigations, she can BRING IT ON. The more she talks like that, the worse the liberal Dems do.
Unfortunately, the House GOP will look only to survive, barely, and not to thrive, even if the Dems adopt such dumb tactics–because all of its mistakes and failures, outlined by John Fund and others for so long, will be difficult to overcome even if the GOP solons get their act together all at once tomorrow and do everything right from here until November. There is so much ground to make up, in terms of public approval, that it will be a long, hard slog no matter what the Dems do.