TO HEAR THE WHITE HOUSE tell it, the Red Sox won the Series - or something like that.
The administration was wise enough not to comment on the contest between the New York National League and the Boston American League baseball teams. But Thomas F. Gibson, special assistant to the president and director of public affairs, circulated an assessment of the congressional elections earlier this month that said, in effect, the Republicans won.In case you were tuned to another channel that Tuesday night several weeks ago, listen to the administration argument:
* The GOP won a Sun Belt sweep in governor races, providing an edge for 1988 and a chance to build a strong Republican Party in many states (Alabama, South Carolina, Florida) for the first time.
* The president has raised Republican strength in every category from its pre-1980 levels: from 41 to 45 Senate seats, from 19 to 24 governors and from 159 to 176 seats in the House, where the Republican base was kept virtually intact.
That wasn't quite the way you heard it? The TV you watched and the papers you read said this year the GOP lost seats in both the House and Senate and control of the Senate? Hear the administration's rationale:
* Since World War II, the party holding the White House has lost an
average of 47 House seats in off-year elections. Popular Teddy Roosevelt lost 28 seats in the mid-term election of 1906. This year, the Republicans lost only five seats to the Democrats. This shatters historical precedent, being the smallest loss since 1866.
* In the Senate, the GOP gave up its majority status by losing six races by 2 percent of the vote or less. A switch of less than 29,000 votes in five races would have meant holding the Senate for the Republicans.
Mr. Gibson's people then did, indeed, lapse into baseball metaphor. The Republicans, they said, batted .410 but the Democrats had 22 turns at bat (Republican seats up for grabs) while the Republicans had only 12 (Democratic seats up.)
In 1988, they noted, the situation will be reversed. Some 19 Democratic senators will be up for re-election, while only 14 Republicans will face challenge.
In other words - the political equivalent of baseball's "wait for next year" - things should be good for the GOP two years hence.
Perhaps. But what Mr. Gibson and his cohorts fail to acknowledge - or even mention - is that in 1988 Mr. Reagan, upon whom the GOP has depended for so much of its gains - won't be running.