Karl Rove and his like-believers have analyzed the 2006 elections and told just about anyone who will listen that the reason Republicans were wiped out had mostly to do with corruption and very little to do with Iraq (and therefore, conveniently, little to do with President Bush). Now, I strongly believe that grim sentiment about Iraq, and by extension unhappiness with Bush, permeated the electorate and contributed mightily to Democratic victories, even though exit polls showed corruption to be the single “issue” most cited by voters. Iraq created a pall over everything Republican. And still does.
But let’s put aside the question of whether Rove’s analysis is true or false. Let’s say, moreover, that corruption was the most important factor contributing to GOP losses in 2006. That would be reassuring to Republicans if they could: a) assume that the corruption scandals that hurt them last year — Abramoff, Foley, Cunningham, DeLay — will be old news by 2008; and b) no new scandals emerge to sustain the image of a party mired in corruption. The jury is out on assumption “a”. As for “b”, the incident at Alaska Senator Ted Stevens’ home yesterday — and the involvement of Rep. Don Young — might be a problem.