There are essentially two sides to this debate — those who think they will help the GOP and those who worry the swirling scandals around the Obama White House may actually hurt the GOP. But I’m interested in what you think…
Before voting, take a moment to consider both sides.
First, Ramesh Ponnuru lays out the argument that the scandals could hurt the GOP:
Watch the way the Republicans are handling today’s controversies and it’s easy to see how their tactics could backfire again. You would expect that Senator Lindsey Graham, who helped to lead the impeachment proceedings against Clinton, had learned to be cautious in pursuing a scandal. Yet he decided to tie the Benghazi investigation explicitly to the 2016 presidential race, saying that the controversy would doom Hillary Clinton. If Graham were a Democratic plant trying to make the investigation look like a merely partisan exercise, he couldn’t have done better. [...]
The biggest danger for Republicans in giving themselves over to scandal mania is one that the conventional retelling of the Clinton impeachment neglects. Republicans didn’t lose seats simply because they overreached on Clinton’s perjury. It is true that his impeachment was unpopular, and public approval of the Republicans sank as they pursued it. Still, only 5 percent of voters in the 1998 election told exit pollsters that the scandal had played a role in their decision, and Republicans got a majority of those voters.
The Washington Examiner‘s Philip Klein outlines 5 reasons why focus on the scandals will not hurt the GOP:
1) Clinton’s scandal involved sex
2) Clinton was more popular than Obama
3) The economy was a lot better in 1998 than it is today
4) Obamacare was not being implemented in 1998
5) Republicans have the benefit of the memory of 1998
I tend to agree with the editors of National Review who noted the Republican downfall in 1998 wasn’t so much about “overreach” when it came to Clinton’s various scandals; their mistake was assuming the American public outside the Beltway cared as much about the scandals as those inside the Beltway:
The problem was not so much that Republicans “overreached” in pursuing the impeachment of President Clinton, as the conventional wisdom has it. The Republicans that year did not really run on a promise to remove Clinton from office — or on any other agenda. Their strategy was to assume that the scandal would redound to their benefit, and that they merely had to sit back and let victory rain o’er them. It didn’t.
The current lot should not make the same mistake. Democratic scandal does not take the place of a Republican agenda. It does not reform the tax code or reduce the debt or ease regulatory burdens on small business. It cannot substitute for a strategy to replace Obamacare. By all means, Republicans should run against the president and his party — against their refusal to take the entitlement crisis seriously, against the implementation of their “train wreck” health-care law, and even against the unusually politicized executive-branch culture that contributed to the post-Benghazi cover-up. They should at the same time understand that a purely negative message, however justified, will not produce the governing majority Republicans should be aiming for in the next two elections.
Given the fact that the ongoing scandals don’t seem to be making any significant dent in the president’s overall approval rating, it’s really anyone’s guess at this point. I never would’ve previously thought 55% of Americans could believe their president was lying to them and yet 51% still give him a solid approval rating… but that’s exactly what’s going on right now. With an electorate so unpredictable, who knows where we’ll be a year from now?
What say you? Vote in our poll and leave a comment with your thoughts!