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Schumer Has Seen the Future, and It's Democratic

"There's a big wind at Democrats' backs," enthuses Sen. Charles Schumer hailing his party's chances in November. (By Lauren Victoria Burke -- Associated Press)

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By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Some see the glass as half empty, others as half full. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sees it as overflowing.

Briefing reporters yesterday on Democrats' prospects in the midterm elections, Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had trouble thinking of a single race Republicans will win.

How about Nevada, where Democrat Jack Carter trails Sen. John Ensign (R) by 21 points?

"Jack Carter has done a very good job. . . . Nevada is moving up on our radar screen . . . We are getting more and more enthusiastic about Nevada."

And Arizona, where a poll found Sen. Jon Kyl (R) 18 points ahead of Democrat Jim Pederson?

"We're feeling better and better. . . . Our candidate Jim Pederson is running a great race. . . . The public seems to like what he says."

Or Virginia, where no conventional poll has found Democrat James Webb leading Sen. George Allen (R)?

"We think we have a good chance of winning in Virginia. . . . We regard it as a very, very good chance of a Democratic pickup."

Those who handicap Senate races say the Democrats could gain four or five seats -- just short of the six needed to gain control of the chamber. But the irrepressible Schumer, whose position requires a certain amount of cheerleading, yesterday outlined a November conquest in which Democrats pick up nine seats. "We're doing amazingly well and better than we ever thought," he pronounced.

To judge from Schumer's presentation, the Democrats will achieve this extraordinary triumph by employing an extended series of mixed metaphors. Schumer himself may have set a record in that department yesterday as he painted the electoral landscape:

"This administration is shrugging its shoulders. . . . It's like 'The Wizard of Oz' -- it showed the man behind the screen. . . . You know which way the winds are blowing. . . . There have been very few bumps in the road. . . . The wind continues to stay at our backs. . . . The idea that there should be no check and balance, no congressional oversight, just isn't flying. They want to try to bring back the 2004 playbook. . . . They're trying to find a new rabbit to pull out of the hat, but so far they've gone back to the old chestnuts."

Chestnuts? In the same hat with rabbits? With the wind at their back on a bumpy road?


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