A target-rich environment

A TARGET-RICH ENVIRONMENT…. It’s not unusual to hear discussions in progressive circles about when and how Democrats should go on the offensive against Republicans. “What Dems really ought to do,” the refrain goes, “is go after [fill in the blank] with all they’ve got.”

There are always some built-in hurdles — the “megaphone gap,” for one — that make this easier said than done, but in general, there’s certainly nothing wrong with encouraging Democrats to be more aggressive and take advantage of political opportunities as moments of Republican weakness arise.

But what happens when there are too many opportunities all at once?

What Dems really ought to do is go after Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) for holding the Senate hostage until he gets a bunch of earmarks.

Or what Dems really ought to do is go after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for publicly trashing FBI and other counter-terrorism officials.

Or what Dems really ought to do is go after the House Republican leadership for cozying up to Wall Street, seeking big campaign contributions in exchange for less accountability for those who brought the economy to the brink of collapse.

Or what Dems really ought to do is go after House Republicans for a budget plan that eliminates Medicare and privatizes Social Security.

Or what Dems really ought to do is go after congressional Republicans for blatantly lying about the administration’s handling of the Abdulmutallab case.

Or what Dems really ought to do is go after congressional Republicans for standing at odds with the national security judgment of the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs.

They’re all worthy of attention, and they’re all stories major media outlets are inclined to ignore. Dems can’t very well try to raise hell about all of these controversies — all of which are just from the last few days, by the way — with equal gusto because that muddles the message.

In other words, the biggest Democratic political problem of the day is … picking among the several GOP scandals and deciding where to invest party energies.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.