The letter continued to play on two main themes of recent Democrat campaigns. The first was the tired theme of “Blame Bush”. The current administration cannot seem to avoid the siren call of Bush-bashing that is increasingly falling on deaf ears. This rhetoric certainly helped Obama get into the White House, but it is questionable nearly two years later if it will really convince any but the most diehard Obamaniacs to open their checkbooks.
Besides continuing to harp on the Bush era, the letter also attempted to paint the Republicans as obstructionist and disinterested in helping America. For instance it stated, “I [Joe Biden] have served in the Senate for 36 years and in all of that time, I have never seen more Republicans committed to permanent, unyielding obstruction.”
However, what was most interesting was a bookmark insert, included in the mailing, that outlined the “3 REPUBLICANS WE MUST DEFEAT IN 2010.” Surprisingly, the three are not exactly household names. The handout named Richard Burr (NC), the current Senator from North Carolina, Roy Blunt (MO), currently a Congressman from Missouri, and Rob Portman (OH), formerly a Congressman from Ohio, Director of the OMB, and US Trade Rep. All three are currently running for Senate.
The pitfalls of all three candidates, according to the insert, were their connections to Bush. Burr “prove[ed] his allegiance to the Bush-Cheney-Rove ideology, [by] call[ing] in Karl Rove himself to help his reelection campaign.” Blunt, the “former House Majority Whip helped turn President Bush’s disastrous agenda into law while accepting thousands of dollars in contributions from Big Oil.” Portman is “‘A Bush Guy,’… and is trying to hide his past as ‘the face of the Bush Administration on two issues – trade and the economy’ and a key architect of our nation’s economic crisis.”
It is interesting to see who the Democrats have decided to aggressively target. According to The Cook Political Report, Burr’s seat is designated “Likely Republican”. On the other hand, the seats that Blunt (currently held by Kit Bond R-MO) and Portman (currently held by George Voinovich R-OH) are running for are marked as clear toss-ups. Cook also mentions Bunning (R-KY) and Gregg (R-NH) as the other two toss-up Republican seats. Why the Democrats feel Burr is a bigger threat (or easier target) than Bunning or Gregg is unclear.
Such campaign tactics are common – on both sides of the aisle – and despite the vitriol are unsurprising. However, it is clear that the Democrats have offered little variation in their strategies over the past few years. The overused blame-Bush and obstructionist-Republican talking points continue to remain the staples. Yet, as Obama continues to length his time in office the former becomes less convincing. Likewise, the latter, while probably more effective, fails as the Republicans begin to offer more concrete ideas (for instance at the Health Care Summit). It will nevertheless be interesting to see if or how this strategy changes as November approaches.
For some of the most interesting highlights from Biden’s letter, see below:
- “After eight years of misguided leadership, our economy was in shambles….”
- “We were fighting two wars – one without reason, the other without focus….”
- “After nearly eight years of drift, the President has put in place a strategy for success in Afghanistan.”
- “And as we saw in Massachusetts, Republicans want to exact a political price for our efforts.”
- “There are only two possible motivations for their actions… Either they want to return to the destructive policies of the Bush-Cheney administration, or they think the only way they can succeed is by causing us to fail. What this cynical strategy fails to recognize is that if we fail, America fails and the American people pay the price.”
- “We simply cannot return to George W. Bush’s America."