October starts tomorrow. Congress has packed up and abandoned Washington to hit the campaign trail full time. It is time for apple cider, grinning jack-o-lanterns, presidential debates, and October political surprises. As a lover of “govertainment,” I have been thinking about the surprise I’d most like to see. It’s not the names of all the Americans whose jobs Bain sent to China, nor is it photos of Stanley Ann Obama giving birth in a Kenyan hut. What I most want to see is a surprise fourth quarter assault by Democrats aimed at taking back the House of Representatives.
Unless you are a poll denier, which I hear is all the rage on the Right, you’re aware that President Obama has opened up a lead of around 5% nationally. The inclination of any campaign would be to sit on that lead. Lay low. Send out surrogates to lob grenades, while you stay on your positive message in swing states, and hope you can run out the clock before Romney/Ryan can find a campaign strategy with some traction. But there is another way to go. Go big. Do the unexpected. Use your momentum to launch a coordinated 50 state push to change the party in charge of the incredibly unpopular House of Representatives.
Wednesday is the first debate. President Obama could use his opening statement to spring this unexpected message on the country: “Don’t send me back to butt heads with a “just say no” congress for four more years. I was serious in 2008 about wanting to change Washington so it works for the American people, and I’m still serious about wanting to change Washington in 2012. The difference is, I’m a lot wiser now about what that is going to take. So I’m asking you to help. Give me a mandate. Turn the House blue, and if you do, Democrats will take it as a sign you want a new direction. I will ask Harry Reid to change the rules of the senate, so that majority rules. Then we will pass a jobs bill, and an infrastructure bill, and an immigration bill. We will begin the process for a Constitutional Amendment to repeal Citizens United, and we will repeal DOMA. We will implement Obamacare, and stop the war on women’s reproductive rights. We will make sure sequester doesn’t happen by putting in place a balanced deficit reduction plan, with both program cuts and new revenue. Finally, we will propose that congress reduce the number of Americans dependent on government assistance by adopting a living wage, so that if you have a full-time job in America, you can take care of your family. There’s no reason the American taxpayers should be picking up the tab to provide food assistance for a single mother who clerks at Staples or who makes Godfather’s pizzas. Governor Romney may not care about them, but we’re going to help the 47% of Americans who work hard every day, yet don’t earn enough to keep their families out of poverty.”
I know, it’s an impossible dream, especially the living wage part, but think about all the new voters that promise would bring to the polls. The tantalizing possibility of a Democratic coup is hanging in the political firmament this October like the big ol’ harvest moon, so close and yet so far. As the writer of political fiction, it’s hard not to imagine what might be possible if the Obama/Biden campaign used their momentum to strike at the heart of the Tea Party beast. They’re five points ahead, one month out, and the other guy is staggering. It’s time for a coup de grace – a merciful deathblow.
In an interview with Rachel Maddow last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said a lead of 7 points in the national polls will signal that there is the potential for the House to change hands. Two points are all we need! Imagine if the President and all of his surrogates suddenly begin campaigning openly and single-mindedly to change the makeup of the House that voters already hate? Think of how devastating it would be to have an up-beat, smiling President Obama campaigning for down ballot races, with a throw away, “Don’t forget to vote for me too.” at the end of his speech. Meanwhile Mitt, dismissed and ignored, jousts with windmills. I like the image of strength that would project: President Obama, acting like victory is inevitable, unworried about Mitt, who is jumping up and down saying “Look at me! Look at me!” .
Another benefit of a surprise assault? Ad time is almost all spoken for. At a minimum the Republicans would be scrambling to reallocate funds to shore up House members affected by the “Give Me A Mandate” campaign. If it starts to gain traction, the Republicans would have to decide if they should stick with Romney ads or spend their ad time answering the Democrat House attack. It’s the perfect mousetrap. It keeps everyone off stride from the debate until election day. And the pundits would be all over it. You know they would.
Though the chance of a coordinated Democratic attack is slim, there is a real possibility that momentum alone will wash away the tea leaves and change the House. There are polls that show even Michelle Bachmann and Alan West are feeling the ground shaking under their feet. Then again, I went to sleep thinking Gore, and then Kerry, had won their races, and you never get over psychic trauma like that of waking to the news George Bush is president.
Keep in mind, there’s a very good chance Romney/Ryan is planning its own October surprise, aimed at changing the direction of their political fortunes. Governor Romney is known as a turnaround artist, is he not? I’m absolutely certain we are in for a month of excellent govertainment. And as I told you earlier, I love govertainment.
Still, there is that big orange harvest moon teasing me…. Ah the possibilities!