By praising vulnerable Republican officeholders every chance they can for their commitment to bipartisanship. Democratic leaders should go on the Sunday talk shows talking about how helpful and constructive Sens. Collins, Grassley, McCain, McConnell, Shelby, Snowe, etc. have been on health care reform, energy policy, the stimulus, etc. Sure, they often had to vote against these things, but they've still been in there negotiating, and we're proud to claim them as friends and colleagues, etc. Maybe mention the friendly conversations they had with these folks at Christmas parties. The idea is to make Republicans seem like part of the same hypocrisy. I think Obama should devote at least a third of his state of the union address to praising Republican officeholders like "Teddy Kennedy's friend" Orrin Hatch.Except that Hatch isn't up this cycle; the idea should be to target Republicans in marginal districts or states. Grassley, Crist, McCain...those are good targets. But I absolutely love the Christmas party idea.
Now, granted, the trick is to combine that strategy with capitalizing on the other side of GOP weakness: a bunch of Republicans have cast some pretty tough votes (and palled around, as the saying goes, with some pretty unpopular people). I've been looking for an opportunity to link to this smart post from Matt Yglesias for a while, in which he points out that a lot of Republicans in marginal districts are putting themselves at risk by following a full-out rejectionist strategy. I think that's correct, and in fact I think Democrats should be doing more than they have to put Republicans on record on various issues.
I think the combination is possible. The kill-with-kindness tactic doesn't have to be over the top; just make sure that a set of appropriate quotations finds its way to the right web sites and talk show hosts. The bad votes part of it is for broadcast to ordinary swing voters. Sounds like a plan!