“It’s a Jedi mind trick by a master Jedi,” agrees Simon Rosenberg, a veteran Democratic strategist who heads the New Democrat Network. One could even make a compelling argument that the Rove/October-surprise fixation has serious long-term consequences for the Democratic Party: the more time Democrats spend worrying about shady Republican tricks, the less time they spend considering their own weaknesses, like the fact that their national organization pales in comparison with the GOP’s, or that DNC chair Howard Dean may have picked a crappy time to implement his new 50-state strategy.
Even if Rove does pull something shady at the last minute, will voters take the bait? Are they really that uncritical, that malleable, that lemming-like? Steve Grossman — the former Democratic National Committee and Massachusetts Democratic Party Head — thinks otherwise. “The bottom line is, political gimmickry and political gadgetry in the hands of Karl Rove and out of the mouth of George Bush is not going to reassure the American people that this country is on the right track,” Grossman insists.
Time will tell. But Sabato, for his part, is far from convinced. “One thing I’ve learned for sure is that the American public is already cynical enough to simply assume that politics drives many of the key decisions from Washington,” he argues. “And they don’t care, as long as they like the decision and as long as the effects of the decision are positive for them, whether it’s lower taxes or lower prices at the gas pump or good news in Iraq. They don’t care. And they’ll respond to the good news.” If he’s right — and if Rove presses the right buttons over the next five weeks — all this talk of a Democratic resurgence may come to naught.
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