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July 17, 2005

The Problem with Scandal

When your political opponents are afflicted with scandal, the hope is that voters will hand power to you.   So the Rove scandal gives Democrats hope.

But when the public doesn't even know what Democrats stand for, why would they hand power over to people who they don't know what they'll do with it when they get it.  Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, especially in a time of fear over terrorism.  And that's what Bush and company are counting on.

Which is why it worries me that the blogosphere has become obsessed with the Rove-Plame affair almost to the point of blotting out every other substantive issue.  If the scandal is raising doubts in voters' minds about the GOP, they aren't hearing much from the opposition other than that they wouldn't have Karl Rove on payroll-- maybe a good thing but not quite enough of a platform upon which to run the country.

I'm not saying we ignore the scandal -- although the real scandal has always been the original lies in the Niger documents -- but we miss the opportunity if we think schadenfreude is enough.  All of this is ultimately so inside the Beltway that I wonder if a fight between what are just elite bureaucratic players is the best way to emphasize those lies.  We laugh at Rove trying to portray himself as a whistleblower, but if the game becomes He Said-She Said and  when his supposed victims are a Washington power couple, don't bet he and the GOP can't partially pull that rhetorical line off.

Which returns us to using the scandal not as a chance to just attack the GOP, but as a point where Bush's credibility has fallen and therefore an opening to present a much broader alternative governing approach at a time when people might listen.

Posted by Nathan at July 17, 2005 09:32 AM