Political journalists discussed midterm elections and the future of the Democratic Party at an event hosted by Slate Magazine Thursday in the Jack Morton Auditorium.
Nearly 100 students attended the hour-long discussion, which highlighted several key issues influencing the November election. Slate magazine is an online publication that covers political and cultural issues.
The event was broadcast on C-SPAN television and Washington Post Radio.
Panelists included Bruce Reed, the president of the Democratic Leadership Council, Karen Tumulty, the national political correspondent for Time magazine, and Mickey Kaus, a writer for Slate magazine.
The discussion was moderated by John Dickerson, the chief political correspondent for Slate, who began by asking panelists what issues they felt were important in the upcoming election.
“I think that at this point, barring some cataclysmic event … the Senate is the big question,” said Tumulty, who added that a Democratic majority is likely to form in one of the houses of Congress this fall. “Whether it is one or two really tells us a lot about where this president goes, what he has left to do and ultimately what his mark on history will be.”
Kaus, author of the KausFiles blog, said that sudden national news stories breaking soon before the election can prove to be very significant.
“I would look for the events that might turn it around,” Kaus said. “And it wouldn’t be a cataclysmic event, but it would be the little Foley … events that would allow Rove to mobilize his base.”
When asked about specific Senate races, panelists said the most noteworthy elections are taking place in Missouri, Virginia and Tennessee.
“One of the phenomena this year is that the red state, blue state dichotomy that we’ve lived with for years is sort of breaking down,” said Kaus, referring to the Tennessee election between Bob Corker and the Democratic incumbent Harold Ford Jr. “If you live in a very conservative rural community, you’re reluctant to say ‘I’m going to vote for the black Democrat.’ But you might.”
Panelists also discussed how Democratic victories in the mid-term elections could affect the future of the Iraq War.
“If the Democrats have one House, and Republicans have another, and the White House has its views,” Reed said. “Then those three groups are going to have to sit together around a table and work it out.”
“I think that the Democrats will have a ready answer and say ‘We’re more than happy to give them money, but let’s figure out a strategy to finish this,'” Reed said.
Throughout the discussion, panelists expressed their confidence in Democratic victories this November and in the future.
“So far the White House and the American people have one thing in common, which is that they haven’t been able to come up with a good idea to vote for Republicans this fall,” said Reed, who served as domestic policy adviser for the Clinton Administration.
Reed added, however, that Democratic victories this November will not give Democrats total control.
“(The Democrats) are still going to be the opposition party trying to stop the Bush administration from doing as much damage as they would otherwise do,” Reed said.
After the formal discussion, several audience members asked panelists questions on the air. Following this, audience members spoke with the panelists at a reception in the building.
“We were delighted to partner with GW because GW has a very active, engaged student body and we know it’s a group familiar with Slate and Slate’s journalism,” said Cliff Sloan, the publisher of Slate, in an interview. “It was exactly the kind of discourse we were looking for when we partnered with GW.”
Michael Freedman, vice president for Communications at GW, said the University was glad to provide a space for the event because it “engages students.”
While he said he felt the panelists tried to be unbiased, freshmen Kevin Ducoff said he would have liked to see both sides represented more equally.
“I would have liked to have at least one more conservative analyst,” Ducoff said. “I think that when you have that balance, it does make it more credible, and it does make it multi-faceted so that you can get a bit more out of it.”