I doubt that Republican Senator John Ensign gets much sleep these days. The Nevada conservative has the unenviable job of running the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has the nearly impossible task of wrestling the high chamber of Congress back to the GOP in 2008. And things could hardly be looking bleaker. With several Republican Senators - like John Warner of Virginia - giving up their seats in the next election, the GOP isn't just losing its grip on reality, but it's losing hold of any illusion that it's relevant, too.
Now, in a sure sign that Senator Ensign is grasping at straws, he and the NRSC have sent a survey to Republican voters in the former GOP stronghold state of Virginia in an attempt to stealthily discover what could be the most effective wedge issues in the 2008 campaigns. It's a list of 34 questions and - no surprise - the LGBT community is the target of two.
So let's take a look at John Ensign's 34 Questions of Desperation, and see what the right-wing has in store for 2008.
There are no questions on Ensign's list about airport restroom stings, auto-erotic asphyxiation or happy hooker hanky panky (and I'm sorry people, but give that Republican credit - his hooker is hot). There wasn't alas, even a question about the public's acceptance - or lack thereof - for lusty instant messaging. In short, the survey was a bit of let down.
But only a bit.
Following five questions (and the top five, no less) about taxes, Mr. Ensign asks his Gay Old Party about a litany of other favorite targets. Asking respondents to indicate if they "agree strongly," "agree moderately," "disagree moderately," "disagree strongly," or are "uncertain" about the '08 Republican talking points, he piles it on thick, with statements such as:
"Democrats are catering to Big Labor and other liberal interests at my expense."
"I DO NOT believe our healthcare system should be socialized."
"More needs to be done to protect Americans from uncontrolled immigration."
"Republicans have a stronger record on national defense and foreign policy than Democrats."
And then, of course, the prerequisite gay questions:
"I believe gays should not be permitted to openly serve in the military."
"I support a Constitutional Amendment to protect traditional marriage between a man and a woman."
You didn't think the Republican would forget about you, did you?
After all, desperate times call for desperate measures.
And what this tells us about the Desperate Housewives of the GOP is this:
1. They're a lot more scared of Hillary Clinton than they'll admit. (Easily, half of the 34 questions are worded in a way to almost specifically target her.)
2. They're going to use fear - of the Taliban, terrorism and taxes - to try and raise the election day alert level to code red.
3. They will try to use gays as a wedge issue . . . again.
They must seem like three safe strategies when compared to the record Republicans have to run on right now. Reality, at least for now, is not the GOP's friend.
So I'm still debating whether I should fill out the survey (given to me by a colleague who ended up on the NRSC mailing list) . . . but if I do, I think I'll include a note:
Dear Senator Ensign,
Thanks for the questionnaire. Things aren't looking so good these days for you, huh?
Here's a friendly suggestion. Why not recruit some fresh meat and run a new line-up of candidates billed as the GOP "party party" of 2008? I can certainly tell you that I'd be a lot more likely to vote for the party of Cody Castagna than I would be to vote for you.
But then again, I'm a sucker for the bad boys . . . as are most of the GOP.
They're just apparently a lot more desperate for a good man (to run) than me.