Friday, June 02, 2006

Strategy Memo

To: Dan Maffei, Paloma Capanna
From: The Watcher
Date: June 2nd 2006
Subject: FBI Raid Opportunity

There is a significant opportunity for strategic gain in the aftermath of the FBI raid on Congressman Jefferson’s Congressional Office and the handling of the situation by the Republican Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. The low public esteem of Congress and Congressman Walsh’s silence on the issue give a candidate ample opportunity to condemn the Speaker’s out of touch response and score valuable points.

  1. Congress is Not Above the Law – While some have recently pointed to Congressman Jefferson’s party affiliation as negating the “Republican Culture of Corruption” line. Speaker Hastert has provided plenty of cover and turned the issue into a condemnation of Congress. According to a recent ABC News poll 86% of Adults believe FBI should be allowed to search Congressional offices and 66% rate Congress’s ethics as not so good or poor.

  2. Anti-Republican or Anti-Incumbent, Walsh is Both – It does not matter if this election is a referendum on the Republican Congress or on Congress in general, Jim Walsh fits the bill for either category. But as long as Jim Walsh can keep from talking about what is going on in Washington, Walsh can separate himself from both. To win this election, it must be played on more favorable terrain; Jim Walsh must be forced to talk about what is going on in Washington. Positive or negative, talking about Washington and national issues will remind people that Walsh is a Washington insider and a Republican.

  3. Putting Walsh in a Strategic Box – By this issue being raised to the forefront locally, Jim Walsh is left with three options, none of which have a positive outcome for him. First, Walsh could choose to ignore the issue, which would give the voters the impression that he silently condones the Speaker’s out of touch response. Second, Walsh could choose to openly condone the Speaker’s out of touch response, clearly the best outcome. And finally, Walsh could come out against the Speaker’s out of touch response. This outcome would remind people of Walsh’s affiliation while further damaging the Republican image. This will also put internal pressures on Walsh. As one of Hastert’s Deputy Whips and as an appointed spending cardinal, he would face intense pressure not to publicly oppose the Speaker at risk of losing his leadership posts.

Because of Speaker Hastert’s strange reaction and Jim Walsh’s silence on the issue, Walsh left himself open for a classic flank attack, one that could put him on the defensive early in the campaign and shift the campaign onto more favorable terrain for the Democrats.


At 5:51 PM, Blogger Orangeman said...

Watcher -

All of that is interesting, but the whole Jefferson Office Raid/seperation of powers issue is, in my opinion, a hollow issue. I'd say candidates are much better off focusing their attention on things that voters actually care about -- health care that hasn't been addressed, energy costs (fuel, home heating/cooling), deficit spending, and tax cuts that seem to help everyone but people here in Central New York.

I absolutely agree that Walsh wants to spend his time talking about how his family has been in public life and worked for new York and delivered pork, blah, blah, blah. But the "culture of corruption" tactic you suggest is, to most voters, a symptom of the bigger problem -- Congress doesn't care about ME, they care about themselves, their party colleagues, and their contributors.

If you want to go after Walsh, go after the failed policies he supports in lockstep with George Bush that help other people, but hurt Central New Yorkers. He would need to bring tenfold the amount of pork back to the district to make up for the damage he's done to Central New Yorkers by advocating the national GOP policy agenda. Just look at the damage he does to everyday folks with support of CAFTA, by voting against the minimum wage, and supporting tax breaks for millionaires that borrow from our kids future and cause interest rates to go up.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger The Watcher said...

I hear what you are saying, but I disagree. The race has to be about tying Walsh to Washington and making him look out of touch ideologically with the district. CAFTA, minimum wage, and tax cuts for the richest 1% aren't issues that are going to drive people to vote against Jim Walsh. That is the "safe" strategy, but that isn't what is going to win this race.

What I am offering here is an opportunity to put Walsh on the defensive and force him onto unfriendly territory.


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