With Republican leadership stumbling, bumbling and ducking for cover on issue after issue, it is difficult to conceive how the Democrats could blow the election on November 7.

Difficult, but unfortunately, not impossible.

In his “€œThe Buck Stops Here"€ speech at Batavia, Illinois, GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert joined the chorus that has implied the Dems may have had a hand in the escalation of the Foley fiasco from Capitol Hill gossip to major congressional sex scandal. It is an election year, Mr. Speaker, and the political chess match is approaching the final gambit. We’re sure Karl Rove has a few tricks up his sleeve as well.

This Foley foolishness obviously won’t play well with the GOP’€™s homophobic, sex-inhibited, radically religious right-wing base. Republican candidates in close races were already trying to distance themselves from the failures of George Bush. Now they have to find a way to look independent, isolated and insulated from the sins of party leadership.

Still it is most striking that while the Dems stand to gain much from the exposure of Republican wrongdoing, they have failed to highlight the real differences between them and their opponents across the aisle. Their strategy seems to be to let the Republicans hang themselves, and so far the Republicans are cooperating.

But now is the time for someone in the Democratic party to stand up and take the initiative. This latest sex scandal and its cover-up, the corruption of Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay and their ilk, the Plame-Wilson affair, the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the continued loss of American jobs when the stock market is booming… All of these problems emphasize that what the United States is lacking is strong, moral leadership.

And I don’€™t just mean moral as in no hanky-panky with your teenage page. I’€™m talking about the kind of leadership that can stand up to the GOP bullies in Congress and the thugs in the White House. The kind of leadership that speaks out when a US Court of Appeals says it is okay for the NSA to continue spying on American citizens after a District judge ruled this as unconstitutional.

But where are the Democrats? If they are like Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, they are standing side by side with the Republicans voting "Yes"€ when they legitimize torture. If they are like House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, they will gladly play hardball with Hastert during a sex scandal, but will refuse to pursue the two paths that would set them apart from the GOP and give them Congress on a silver platter – ending the war in Iraq and impeaching Bush and Cheney.

It’s time for someone – ANYONE in the Democratic Party to stand up and offer more than an alternative to Republican corruption and hegemony. The American people deserve more than, “at least we’re better than the other guys.”

Why? Because Anybody-But-The-Other-Guy may help bring voters to the polls during a presidential election, but it won’€™t work in the midterm. This election is too important to let slip away because the Democrats are reacting to GOP weakness instead of presenting themselves as the right women and men for the job.

With the Republican Party in power, there is much to vote AGAINST, but now it’€™s time for the Democrats to offer something that Americans should vote FOR. Otherwise, they will once again fail to mobilize their own base, and they will lose an election that, thanks to GOP errors, should be in the bag.


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