The Democrats need to win six seats in the Senate back from Republican hands while holding on to all the ones they now have if they wish to take back the majority. Certainly Santorum's is one of the critical, "must win" races, so it comes as no surprise that the DNC is pouring a lot of time, cash and energy into Bob Casey's candidacy. The question I would like to put forward today is, how much of a victory can you call it if you put a "Democrat" like Casey into that seat?
His seat is one of the six most vulnerable Republican seats that Democrats must win to gain control of the Senate, and right now he is behind his opponent, Bob Casey Jr., the son of a popular former governor. Judging from recent polls, Santorum's deficit is between six and 18 points. Split the difference and he is 12 behind.
Twelve years ago, when he was a two-term congressman seeking a Senate seat and this columnist asked him how he would win, his pithy answer was: "Guns." Pennsylvania's swarms of deer-slayers, who in hunting season must make the state sound like the third afternoon at Gettysburg, were feeling put upon by President Bill Clinton's crime bill. But Casey, too, supports gun owners' rights -- and, like Santorum, opposes abortion.
The party leadership seems to currently be indulging in a collective overdose of Daily KOS-like mentality with a "win at any cost" mantra being the rule of the day. Yes, I understand that it's very important for your party to take control as the majority. Being the majority party, no matter how slim the margin, confers incredible power. You get to pick who is on what committee and, in many cases, stack the committees with a majority of your people. You also get to set the legislative agenda as you determine which bills make it to the floor and which languish in committee and never see the light of day. It's pretty hard to get your agenda in motion when your bills never come to a vote. Just ask the Democrats how that's been working out for them these past eight years.
But assuming we wake up on the morning of next November 8th, pop a couple of aspirin to kill the hangovers, and realize that the Democrats have seized control of at least the Senate, I have to wonder if we won't be feeling some sharp pangs of regret. In some of the "purple states" which tend to lean a bit more towards the red side, it appears that the "win at any cost" mentality has resulted in the Dems fielding candidates once again who are really nothing more than Republican-lite DINOs. And when you hold a razor slim majority (which will likely only work out to be a one seat difference if they get it at all) it doesn't take very many DINOs to ruin an otherwise good day.
If, heaven forbid, Bush gets to nominate yet another Supreme Court justice, which side of the fight will Bob Casey fall on? He's an anti-choice Democrat. Sounds to me like he'd be more than willing to toss a vote in favor of another Roberts or Alito. What are his thoughts on the minimum wage? How about when and how we get the hell out of Iraq? Being the majority is great and all, but if all of the key legislation you want to introduce winds up getting killed by some DINOs voting with a solid Republican minority, then it really wasn't that much better than never getting your bills to the floor at all, was it? It it really worth winning those seats if you just fill them with a bunch of Zell Millers and Joe Liebermans?
There are a number of races around the country where this appears to be the Democrats' strategy. Rather then coming up with a cohesive, solid, progressive platform and agenda and selling the voters on it to get them in your corner, they surrender the high ground and put up candidates who are barely distinguishable from their opponents. So be careful what you wish for, Democrats. Yes, it's nice to be the majority and all, but if you want to actually accomplish anything with that majority, you need a team of rowers who are all pulling on the same oar.