Yes, David Broder's column today is ridiculous, as it displays this oft-reused argument that virtually any development in this country, despite the historically low Presidential approval ratings and trashed Republican brand, is a positive development for the GOP. But even taking his argument at face value, he completely misses the point.
Here's the revelant portion:
So how could (NRCC Chair Tom Cole, charged with electing Republicans in the House) be reasonably satisfied with his party's prospects? The answer: The Democrats are also looking like dogs.
The approval score for their party in Congress has sunk to 38 percent -- down 10 points since a similar poll taken just before the 2006 election that gave the Democrats their first congressional majority since 1994.
Congress as a whole rated only 29 percent approval, down 14 points from its start in January. The reason: People think it has been spinning its wheels. By 82 percent to 16 percent, those polled said it has accomplished little or nothing this year. Half blame Bush and the Republicans; a quarter, the Democrats; and a separate fifth, both parties.
Cole, who admits Republicans hurt themselves in 2006 with scandals and out-of-control spending, said the poll confirmed for him a comment he heard this week from a Republican colleague. Speaking of the Democrats, he said, "My God, they're dragging themselves down to our level."
It all adds up, Cole said, to a political environment reminiscent of 1992 -- a tough year for entrenched incumbents of both parties who suddenly saw their margins shrink or disappear. "The American people are rising up in disgust," Cole said, "and incumbents will pay. It's not anti-Republican anymore. It's anti-Washington."
OK, let's assume that the environment is anti-incumbent, and to an extent I agree that it is. You'll notice that Broder never mentions the Senate in this entire post. If he did, he'd be forced to acknolwedge that Republicans have almost TWICE as many seats up for re-election as Democrats do, by a score of 22-12. If incumbents are poised for a difficult re-election year, the prospects of a larger Democratic Senate majority is almost assured. And that's clearly where the bottleneck is happening; the significant legislation being held up in the Congress is being filibustered by Republicans in the Senate. The House is pretty much a majority rules institution, and even Cole, in this story, isn't vowing to re-take Congress. The only number brought up is a net Republican gain of 10 seats, an extremely optimistic scenario, and one that would STILL not result in a GOP majority.
So under this Broderite standard, which is really only repeating a GOP talking point, Democrats would expand their legislative majority in the Senate, where all the problems are being felt. Furthermore, he admits that the majority of the country understand that the gridlock in Congress is due to Bush and the Republicans, meaning that there will be even more pressure there. Add in the fact that there are now 5 open Republican seats in the Senate, and you have the distinct possibility that even a year with everything breaking right for Tom Cole would result in a Democratic President and a better legislative outlook for them than there currently is today.
Broder considers this good news for Republicans.