I'm sympathetic to the notion that if Democrats take back Congress, they should simply focus on their own agenda, a positive one, and not on Bush. Set their own course, as it were.
But I keep coming back to something President Bill Clinton said on "The Daily Show" in 2004. Jon Stewart asked him why we keep seeing Swift Boat-style attacks. Clinton had also noted the "black baby" whispering campaign against Sen. John McCain in South Carolina in 2000.
STEWART: Is it - has it gotten to the point - do you believe that politics has gotten so dirty and so - that these kinds of tactics have become so prevalent - that this is the reason half the country doesn't vote, or, this is the reason we don't get, maybe, the officials that we deserve?So maybe it's time to stop them. For their own good, too. Aren't Republicans the ones who believe "consequences" are instructive and necessary for raising responsible children? (Applying “the board of education to the seat of learning,” right?) Doesn't it seem like a firm application of their own disciplinary theories would only be appropriate and in keeping with their values?
CLINTON: No, I think people do it because they think it works.
STEWART: That's it. Simply a strategy?
CLINTON: Absolutely. And as soon as it doesn't work, they'll stop doing it...
CLINTON: Look what they did to Max Cleland in Georgia. Here Max Cleland left two legs and an arm in Vietnam and in 2002 they ran ads against him. Again he was being opposed by a man who, like me and the President and the Vice-President, did not go to Vietnam. They ran ads comparing Max Cleland to Saddam Hussein, because he didn't vote for the Homeland Security Agency exactly as the President had drafted it. And they treated him like a traitor.
Y'know why he didn't vote for it? Because the bill removed all civil service protections from 170,000 federal employees who had nothing to do with your security. So he [said] "I didn't leave half my body in Vietnam to come home and strip 170,000 people of their job rights just for a cheap election year issue. But, they beat him with it and until we stop them, they'll keep doin' it.
(Loud cheers and clapping.)
Without suffering "consequences" they'll just keep on misbehaving and never grow into mature, responsible, self-regulating adults. Isn't that how it works?