Déjà Vu All Over Again: It's Not the Economy, Stupid!

Newsflash: According to this article in Roll Call, Congressional Democrats privately admit they really want to lose the 2006 midterm elections!

Okay, the article doesn't actually say that, but it might as well, since it is all about how Democrats have decided that the way to win in November is -- I kid you not -- to make the economy the central issue of the campaign.

"We've got to go on the offensive," explained a senior Democratic aide, "and keep our eye on the ball -- and that's the economy"

"We're not going to win 15 seats on the war in Iraq," said another Democratic staffer, insisting it is the economy that will, in the words of Roll Call, "bring the party across the goal line."

Sen. Debbie Stabenow is quoted as saying the 2006 election "is all about jobs."

And, in a memo sent to Democratic staffers, the party's Senate leadership claimed "while Iraq may be high among the concerns of the American people, it is a distant reality in comparison to the day to day challenges many families face filing their gas tanks, paying for college, saving for retirement and securing a job."

A distant reality? Oh. My. God.

In poll after poll, voters place Iraq well above the economy when asked which issue will most affect their vote this year. And when you combine concerns about the war with concerns about terrorism/national security, it's the economy that is "a distant reality."

Yet Democrats keep returning to the same domestic-issues-uber-alles thinking that cost them the elections in 2002 and 2004. They can't really believe that people are more interested in raising the minimum wage, middle class tax relief, and college affordability than they are in who's going to keep them from being blown up, can they? The Dems are like a bunch of crack addicts who know that the stuff is killing them, but keep reaching for the pipe. The closer they get to Election Day, the more they desperately crave a hit of "It's the economy, stupid!"

Or maybe they have fallen prey to the war fatigue Chris Matthews thinks is responsible for the appalling lack of Iraq coverage on TV -- and the smile on Karl Rove's face.

This is a crying shame. The 2006 election -- and with it control of the House and the power to investigate the Bush administration's abundant outrages -- is there for the taking... if only Democrats would put down the economy crack pipe and put their energy into hammering Bush and the GOP for their many tragic foreign policy and national security failures, which have combined to make America far less safe.

The numbers couldn't be any clearer. Seventy-seven percent of voters think that it's time to give new people a shot at running Congress. But while Democrats continue to hold a lead when voters are asked which party they plan to support in November, Republicans are making significant gains in convincing voters they are better able to handle national security and the war on terrorism. According to a new LA Times/Bloomberg poll, voters give the GOP a whopping 17 point advantage on the "who'll keep us safe?" question (nearly double the number who felt that way in June). At the same time, 56 percent of voters don't believe that America is making progress in Iraq. (What's more, Bush's numbers on the economy have greatly improved in the last three months).

Which is why Democrats can't take their eye off the real ball -- making the case that Iraq is not, as Bush continues to claim, the centerpiece of the war on terror, and has, in fact, compromised America's ability to combat terrorists and protect our homeland.

When asked by the New York Times/CBS which party takes the threat of terrorism more seriously, only six percent of those polled said Democrats while 22 percent gave the nod to Republicans.

Democrats need to close that chasm -- and fast. If the next 7 weeks are spent with Democrats harping on the economy and Bush acting like he's saving the world, the dream of 2006 becoming the Dem version of the GOP's 1994 landslide will quickly morph into a November nightmare.

Repeat after me: It's NOT the economy, stupid!