Last week, national Democrats had their worst week of the 2014 campaign cycle.
In Colorado, the suddenly embattled incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) lost the support of The Denver Post due to his “obnoxious one-issue campaign” which has thus far focused primarily on issues relating to the intellectually vacuous “War on Women.”
In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes, once the Democrats great hope to unseat the perpetually unpopular Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), contorted herself into knots to avoid admitting she voted for Barack Obama. Her sloppy evasion prompted even observers like NBC’s Chuck Todd to concede she had “disqualified” herself.
In Montana, Sen. John Walsh (D-MT), a Democrat who was appointed, in part, to save that seat for Democrats when the unpopular Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) resigned to serve as the ambassador to China, was stripped of his master’s degree from the Army War College after it was revealed that much of his master’s thesis was plagiarized.
In Virginia, the formerly safe Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) has been caught up in an investigation in which he has been implicated in possibly seeking to reward a state senator with jobs for his daughter, including a federal judgeship. “This was part of an effort to keep state senator Phil Puckett from resigning and handing over control of the General Assembly to Republicans,” a local NBC News outlet reported. Suddenly, a Senate race Republicans believed was out of their reach has become competitive.
And in Texas, state Sen. Wendy Davis, the beneficiary of shortsighted hysteria on the left following her unsuccessful filibuster of a Texas law which would have restricted late-term abortions, fielded an ad which has been universally denounced by both liberal and conservative members of the pundit class. Rather than take her lumps and pull the atonal ad which criticizes her opponent, GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott, for suing after he was permanently disabled, Davis has doubled down. Today, as Allahpundit noted, Davis is defending the ad as part of a mortifying effort to save face in which she has surrounded herself with disabled supporters.
The press has largely failed to notice the Democrats’ worst week ever, but what is more egregious is that the political media has also failed to observe another fascinating phenomenon: Democrats are abandoning their own brand.
As The Weekly Standard’s Mark Hemingway observed, the Democrats have essentially admitted that their party’s brand is toxic and their only hope for retaining the Senate lies in backing candidates who bear a dubious claim to independence.
In South Dakota, Democrats have begun to sink money into a three-way race in which former Republican-turned-“independent” Sen. Larry Pressler has surged over the Democratic senatorial nominee, Rick Weiland. Following the news that Democrats were going to contest the race in South Dakota, Pressler began campaigning for Democratic support. He has claimed he would be a “friend” to Obama in the Senate and is an avowed supporter of the Affordable Care Act. Reports indicate that Pressler has been courted by Beltway Democrats and can be counted on to caucus with the majority party if he were to win in November.
“The Kansas Senate race is also instructive here,” Hemingway wrote. “Republican senator Pat Roberts is fending off a challenge from “Independent” Greg Orman. Orman previously ran against Roberts as a Democrat in 2008, and in his current race he’s hired Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffers to help run his campaign. He’s pro-choice and says he’d support the Senate’s 2013 immigration bill.”
“But Orman’s not running as a Democrat, because, again, the Democratic brand is toxic,” Hemingway added.
Hemingway also observed that Democratic candidates have taken to campaigning against their own leadership – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) — in an effort to disassociate themselves from the president’s party and the moribund job approval ratings of the party’s leadership.
But it is not merely the fact that the media has utterly failed to notice that Democrats are suffering from a terrible, self-inflicted news cycle or that the president’s party has given up on its own brand. The press is also failing to notice that Democratic partisans are growing sloppy as they succumb to their increasing desperation.
Just last week, amid a flurry of revelations about how terrifyingly poorly the Secret Service has performed in its job of protecting the president and his family – culminating in the resignation of the director of the Secret Service – Democratic partisans, and even ostensibly objective reporting outlets, began to wonder aloud whether the GOP was really that upset that Barack Obama’s life had been put in jeopardy.
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank suggested it was inconsistent for the GOP to oppose Obama and to also desire that he be protected. A New York Times story echoed similar themes, and suggested that Republicans were not concerned about the life of the President of the United States as much as they were in elevating an issue which called into question the competence of a federal agency.
Now, partisan liberals are taking that theme to a new level. In a tasteless Hail Mary play, some liberal outlets and partisan organizations are alleging that Republicans are to blame for the spread of Ebola from Africa to the United States.
Jeff Dunetz flagged a particularly egregious example of the flailing and spasmodic way in which liberal groups have attempted to leverage an issue, any issue, against Republicans in the effort to save the imperiled Senate majority.
Dunetz observed that a new 60-second ad released by the progressive group, The Agenda Project, seeks to tie conservative Republicans to the outbreak of Ebola.
It is surely just a fortuitous coincidence that this advertisement was cut and launched just hours after The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein published an interview with the head of the National Institutes of Health who made a similar, albeit less overtly partisan, claim.
NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins insisted that budget cuts to his agency which began in 2004 are largely responsible for the lack of a functioning Ebola vaccine today. The Agenda Project’s ad quotes lead vaccine researcher Dr. Anthony Fauci who testified before a congressional committee about the dangers of budget cuts. That is particularly rich given that the same Dr. Fauci told Time Magazine just two weeks ago that there was little public or private sector interest in an Ebola vaccine prior to this latest outbreak “for the obvious reasons that there was no disease around.”
The Agenda Project is the same organization which aired the embarrassingly heavy-handed ad in which Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was depicted literally dumping a wheelchair-bound grandmother over a cliff in 2012. If they are asked why they have been turning a blind eye to this latest example of liberal desperation, the members of the press might cite the Ryan ad as a reason. The Agenda Project is fringe and unrepresentative of Democrats nationally, reporters will assure their critics. They might insist that they do not need to cover an ad from a discredited organization, which conveniently absolves them of the obligation to inform their audience of this latest attack on Republicans. This advertisement will simply be a nonevent that will pass by unnoticed by all but politically active conservatives.
With just weeks to go before the midterms, it seems rather clear to any objective observer that the Democrats are imploding. It requires extraordinary exertions on the party of the political press to not notice this condition, but they are exertions that it seems the media is always willing to perform if it advances Democratic electoral prospects.
If these events were happening to Republicans, it would be obvious to the press that these are all interconnected and reflect poorly on the Republican Party as an institution. Because they are happening to Democrats, though, these events are isolated and not reflective of broader trends. It is this subtle rationalization on behalf of the left that has sapped the public of their faith in the Fourth Estate.
An earlier version of this post identified Sen. Mark Udall as Mark Warner.