Dem leadership warns candidates: Don't talk about our "accomplishments" on the trail

Cosmic irony on a day when the Perpetual Campaigner’s busy crowing that the GOP spent the past year and a half politicking while his side’s been doing the heroic work of governing. What sort of heroic work, specifically? Shhhhh. We’re not supposed to talk about that.

As Democrats fan out across the country to campaign for reelection this month, many are surprisingly quiet about their hard-won accomplishments — the major bills they have passed under President Obama.

In an effort coordinated with the White House, congressional leaders are urging Democrats to focus less on bragging about what they have done — a landmark healthcare law, a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street regulation and other far-reaching policy changes — and more on efforts to fix the economy and on the perils of Republican control of Congress…

Democratic strategists privately acknowledge that their party’s legislative record, while far-reaching and popular with party regulars, has limited political benefit in swing districts and in a stubbornly sluggish economy.

“Our candidates’ job is not to sell the accomplishments of the past but to send a message that strikes a chord,” said a senior Democratic advisor who did not want to be identified while discussing strategy. “I am not one who thinks our candidates should go out and sell healthcare reform. They have to stay focused on jobs, the economy and shaking up Washington.”

If they’d stayed focused on jobs and the economy instead of spending nine months gestating an unsustainable new boondoggle, they wouldn’t need to practice omerta about their track record now. An irony to savor, though: Didn’t the nutroots heroes in the lefty blogosphere insist repeatedly at the time that passing O-Care was the only sensible electoral course of action, precisely because it would give Democrats something to boast about in the fall? Letting the bill drop and shifting to an economy agenda would depress the lefty base, we were told, which would mean total destruction for The One’s party in the fall. It was those darned wingnuts, as I recall, who warned that passing the bill would cost them votes on balance because it would alienate many more righties and independents than it would encourage liberals. Am I to take it from this LAT story that the Democratic leadership has now decided that we were right? Granted, Claire McCaskill et al. would say that it’s only because America’s troglodytic voters are too stupid to appreciate the glory that is ObamaCare, but be that as it may, electoral reality is electoral reality.

From this morning’s Today show, here’s poor sap Tim Kaine assuring America that Democratic candidates should be thrilled to campaign with Obama even though The One himself has offered to keep his distance if it’ll help them in the fall. Too bad he isn’t more serious about that: Texas gubernatorial nominee Bill White spent the day looking for a hole to crawl into while O was in-state to fundraise. Ah well. I’m glad he’s at least using his time on the trail to try out some new one-liners, even if there aren’t any local Democratic pols around to hear them.

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