Two stories (one local and one national) underscore how Castle has misjudged the mood of the electorate.
Locally, Ron Williams picked up on Castle's intrusion into the Delaware State legislature in order to bolster his worried campaign. This is the kind of story that an incumbent needs like a hole int he head - so to defuse it Castle takes the "awe shucks folks, I'm just a goofy old codger." approach as he had when Celia Cohen broke the story two weeks ago.
The problem for Castle is that this type of incumbent power play is just the type of move that people are sick of. Why not let the race be about who has the best ideas? Why not run on your record Mike? [One reason: Bush]
The other story that shows Castle is out of touch and foundering comes from Virginia.House Republican Thinks Rumsfeld Should Resign: Virginia House Republican Jo Ann Davis Breaks With Bush "I told my husband that when (Sen.) Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) came out and said he should resign, it's probably the only thing in my life I've ever agreed with Hillary Clinton about," said Davis, R-Gloucester.
"I've made no bones about it the last two years," Davis told members of the Hampton Roads Chapter of the American Society of Military Comptrollers on Thursday. "He's probably a nice guy, but I don't think he's a great secretary of defense."
Later she amended her "nice guy" assessment by saying Rumsfeld had come across as arrogant in her dealings with him, which stretch back to committee work during her freshman term in Congress, in 2001.
And yet... Michael Castle continues to live in the Republican fantasy world in which failure is success and everything is great because Saddam has been deposed.
Is Castle's judgment that bad? Has he moved his chips "all in" playing the lousy hand the National GOP has dealt him?
Will Castle join the mass exodus of Republicans, running against the Bush administration's failed policies? At this point I think it comes down to a simple political calculation for Congressman Pocket Change. If he thinks he can keep his support for Bush's failed war under the radar for a few more months and thereby win in November without mentioning the war - he will stand pat.
If, as the Williams column leads me to believe, he is hemorrhaging 4 percentage points a month as the war swirls south - Castle will need to play the "I'm a maverick" card and blast the President no later than this September in order to slow down the bleeding and try to win back some Dems.
Of course, if he had character or morals he would blast the President out of common decency, not because his pollsters tell him to. But I've given up on the notion that he has character and morals a while back. Castle's voting record shows that he now believes in one thing and one thing only: winning.