For the last generation, Republicans have been referring to their opposition as the “Democrat” (not the Democratic) Party. It is not innocent. It is a sign of contempt, and goes back at least to the 1976 vice presidential debate, when Republican Bob Dole referred derisively to “Democrat wars.”
In his column Nov. 30 in the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne wrote about the campaign for political civility being launched by former Republican Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, now chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In looking ahead to next year’s midterm elections, President Barack Obama and the Democrats would certainly like to see a reprise of 1998, when the party of the previous Democratic president gained seats in the House and held its own in the Senate.
Yes, he should. Since his inauguration, Obama has lost 10 percentage points in his job approval rating. That's one of the largest and fastest declines for any new president in the past half century. And for better or worse, there is a correlation between a president's popularity and his ability to get things done. When LBJ was moving his Great Society programs in 1965, his popularity was in the 60-70% range.
Speculation abounds these days about whether this fall's presidential election will produce a dramatically different electoral map than the virtually static one of the last two contests. Will Colorado and Virginia lead an array of longtime Republican states that might be won this time by Democrat Barack Obama? Or might Michigan and Pennsylvania be in the vanguard of Democratic strongholds picked off by Republican John McCain?