Dems targeting Cheney, Rove, Gingrich

The DNC, reveling in the opportunity to go after some old -- and unpopular -- foes, kicks off a new campaign against them.

Published April 22, 2009 2:25PM (EDT)

The lack of a real leader in the Republican Party has been a real boon for Democrats. There's the resulting disorganization within the GOP, of course, and that's plenty helpful -- but perhaps even more to the Democrats' advantage is that the power vacuum means an opening for people like former Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove to take the spotlight as the people who speak, at least semi-officially, for Republicans.

As they did with Rush Limbaugh earlier in the year, Democrats are now mounting a campaign to exploit the situation and make the three men synonymous with Republican opposition. The Democratic National Committee kicked that off Wednesday morning with a new Web ad that mocks Republicans for going back to old leaders. It begins with the text, "Introducing The New Faces of the GOP" and ends with the usual clichéd take on Pete Townshend, text reading, "Meet The New GOP, Same As The Old GOP."

Naturally, Republicans are decrying the tactic. Rick Tyler, a Gingrich spokesman, told Politico's Ben Smith, "The Democrats can’t stand on their policy, so they have to personify an enemy. It’s the politics of personal destruction.” And a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader John Boehner said, "Considering the DNC’s continuous ads against Republicans, you might think the Democrats didn’t control every lever of power in Washington, DC. But, last I checked, they do – occupying the White House, the House and Senate. So why do they keep attacking us? I’d wager, because they’d do anything to divert attention away from their bloated, costly and irresponsible agenda rather than defend it."

I'd say that's an oversimplification. It's not that Democrats are doing this in order to avoid having to defend their agenda -- it's just that it's much, much easier to defend your agenda if you can convince the public that three very unpopular men are behind the opposition.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Dick Cheney Karl Rove Newt Gingrich War Room