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Posts For: November 2, 2008

Obamacons, Real and Imagined

You could be forgiven for thinking that one of great novelties of the 2008 presidential election is the prevalence of the Obamacons — the conscientious objectors to the Republican Party who in great droves will be voting Democratic this year. I have no idea whether the number of conservative elites who have endorsed the Democratic candidate is higher this election than it was in 2000 or 2004, but it’s indisputable that such defections are like never before being turned into the stuff of media legend.

You get the feeling (or at least I do) that the instant stardom with which several Obamacons have been rewarded has less to do with their reasons for supporting Obama and a lot more to do with the desire of journalists to convince themselves that their adolescent infatuation with the Democratic candidate is perfectly warranted.

Anyway, I happened upon the latest Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll, and noticed something interesting. Here is the breakdown of support for Obama and McCain among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents (my apologies for the lack of table formatting — I couldn’t figure it out):

Obama McCain
Democrats 88 10
Republicans 11 86
Independents 50 46

Perhaps this poll has it all wrong. But I doubt it, given the simplicity of the question. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that at least among the voting public, there is no “Obamacon” effect. Obama has the support of 11 percent of Republicans, while McCain has the support of 10 percent of Democrats. That’s a one-point difference — a statistical irrelevancy. What an overwhelming trend.

You could be forgiven for thinking that one of great novelties of the 2008 presidential election is the prevalence of the Obamacons — the conscientious objectors to the Republican Party who in great droves will be voting Democratic this year. I have no idea whether the number of conservative elites who have endorsed the Democratic candidate is higher this election than it was in 2000 or 2004, but it’s indisputable that such defections are like never before being turned into the stuff of media legend.

You get the feeling (or at least I do) that the instant stardom with which several Obamacons have been rewarded has less to do with their reasons for supporting Obama and a lot more to do with the desire of journalists to convince themselves that their adolescent infatuation with the Democratic candidate is perfectly warranted.

Anyway, I happened upon the latest Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll, and noticed something interesting. Here is the breakdown of support for Obama and McCain among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents (my apologies for the lack of table formatting — I couldn’t figure it out):

Obama McCain
Democrats 88 10
Republicans 11 86
Independents 50 46

Perhaps this poll has it all wrong. But I doubt it, given the simplicity of the question. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that at least among the voting public, there is no “Obamacon” effect. Obama has the support of 11 percent of Republicans, while McCain has the support of 10 percent of Democrats. That’s a one-point difference — a statistical irrelevancy. What an overwhelming trend.

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The Second Worst American President?

In the New York Times column to which Abe refers, Nicholas Kristof pronounced George W. Bush the second worst American president.  Why was he so harsh on Dubya?  “Mr. Bush’s presidency imploded not because of any personal corruption or venality, but largely because he wrenched the United States out of the international community,” the New York Times columnist writes.  “His cowboy diplomacy ‘defriended’ the United States.  He turned a superpower into a rogue country.”  And what would Kristof recommend to President McCain or President Obama?  That’s simple: “After Tuesday, let’s rejoin the world.”

Rejoin the world?  There is, unfortunately, little left of the “world” for the United States to rejoin.  At this moment, the global financial architecture is disintegrating while the international system of geopolitics is falling apart.  Most of the assumptions we make today about the way the planet operates could-and probably will-become obsolete in a short period.

So the task for the next American leader will not be to find a way to repudiate Bush’s foreign policy.  He will, in the early days of his term, have to communicate his vision of how the globe should work and will need to go about implementing it.  This is, in short, a moment that demands greatness.

In contrast, Kristof recommends we accept the International Criminal Court and establish a “Truth Commission” on torture.  He sees the need to “rethink and refurbish” multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps we should do these things, but these proposals sound like small beer in comparison to the challenges that will confront President Bush’s successor.

Perhaps Mr. Bush will end up being considered the second worst American president, especially if the world rapidly transitions into a period of sustained recession and conflict.  Yet it is too early to make such comparative judgments-and certainly there is no time to do so.  Now, we should be figuring out how to lead the world to sustainable prosperity and stable relations among nations.  We are rapidly passing from the best moment in history and have the responsibility to avoid the worst.

In the New York Times column to which Abe refers, Nicholas Kristof pronounced George W. Bush the second worst American president.  Why was he so harsh on Dubya?  “Mr. Bush’s presidency imploded not because of any personal corruption or venality, but largely because he wrenched the United States out of the international community,” the New York Times columnist writes.  “His cowboy diplomacy ‘defriended’ the United States.  He turned a superpower into a rogue country.”  And what would Kristof recommend to President McCain or President Obama?  That’s simple: “After Tuesday, let’s rejoin the world.”

Rejoin the world?  There is, unfortunately, little left of the “world” for the United States to rejoin.  At this moment, the global financial architecture is disintegrating while the international system of geopolitics is falling apart.  Most of the assumptions we make today about the way the planet operates could-and probably will-become obsolete in a short period.

So the task for the next American leader will not be to find a way to repudiate Bush’s foreign policy.  He will, in the early days of his term, have to communicate his vision of how the globe should work and will need to go about implementing it.  This is, in short, a moment that demands greatness.

In contrast, Kristof recommends we accept the International Criminal Court and establish a “Truth Commission” on torture.  He sees the need to “rethink and refurbish” multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps we should do these things, but these proposals sound like small beer in comparison to the challenges that will confront President Bush’s successor.

Perhaps Mr. Bush will end up being considered the second worst American president, especially if the world rapidly transitions into a period of sustained recession and conflict.  Yet it is too early to make such comparative judgments-and certainly there is no time to do so.  Now, we should be figuring out how to lead the world to sustainable prosperity and stable relations among nations.  We are rapidly passing from the best moment in history and have the responsibility to avoid the worst.

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America The Cuddly

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof lays out his plan for the U.S. to “rejoin the world” under the next administration:

  • We should not only close the Guantánamo prison but also turn it into an international center for research on tropical diseases that afflict poor countries. It could thus become an example of multilateral humanitarianism.

I prefer research centers be examples of research centers. That’s how diseases are cured. If you’re after multilateral humanitarianism, you can start by having other nations pledge to put up a penny for every American dollar that reaches the sick in poor countries.

  • The new president also should signal that we will no longer confront problems just by blowing them up. The military toolbox is essential, but it shouldn’t be the first option for 21st-century challenges. You can’t bomb climate change.

It turns out, you can’t find climate change either. But Kristof’s larger point is laughable: When did the U.S. ever “confront problems just by blowing them up”? We’ve had a problem with Iran for thirty years, and now that we’re down to the use of force as the only potential solution, we’re still sitting on our hands. Syria turns Lebanon into a Hezbollah state and we dig deep into our “military toolbox” to pull out a condemnation. We pulled out another one when Russia invaded Georgia, and yet another when North Korea decided to renege on its denuclearization agreement. If anything, we confront problems by blowing them off.

  • We must cooperate with other countries on humanitarian efforts, including family planning. One of the Bush follies that has bewildered and antagonized our allies has been the vacuous refusal to support family planning through the United Nations Population Fund.

Kristof fails to mention that the Bush administration rerouted the funds allocated for the UNFPA to USAID. Which brings us back to the first point. For the $25 million we gave to USAID, other countries need to match us with $250,000 of their own. When that comes in, we can talk about the true role of America’s place in the world.

In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof lays out his plan for the U.S. to “rejoin the world” under the next administration:

  • We should not only close the Guantánamo prison but also turn it into an international center for research on tropical diseases that afflict poor countries. It could thus become an example of multilateral humanitarianism.

I prefer research centers be examples of research centers. That’s how diseases are cured. If you’re after multilateral humanitarianism, you can start by having other nations pledge to put up a penny for every American dollar that reaches the sick in poor countries.

  • The new president also should signal that we will no longer confront problems just by blowing them up. The military toolbox is essential, but it shouldn’t be the first option for 21st-century challenges. You can’t bomb climate change.

It turns out, you can’t find climate change either. But Kristof’s larger point is laughable: When did the U.S. ever “confront problems just by blowing them up”? We’ve had a problem with Iran for thirty years, and now that we’re down to the use of force as the only potential solution, we’re still sitting on our hands. Syria turns Lebanon into a Hezbollah state and we dig deep into our “military toolbox” to pull out a condemnation. We pulled out another one when Russia invaded Georgia, and yet another when North Korea decided to renege on its denuclearization agreement. If anything, we confront problems by blowing them off.

  • We must cooperate with other countries on humanitarian efforts, including family planning. One of the Bush follies that has bewildered and antagonized our allies has been the vacuous refusal to support family planning through the United Nations Population Fund.

Kristof fails to mention that the Bush administration rerouted the funds allocated for the UNFPA to USAID. Which brings us back to the first point. For the $25 million we gave to USAID, other countries need to match us with $250,000 of their own. When that comes in, we can talk about the true role of America’s place in the world.

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Ignoring Victory

This short item, buried deep inside USA Today should not go unnoticed:

October could be the first month of the Iraq war when no U.S. servicemembers will have died in combat in Baghdad.

As of Thursday, the Pentagon had reported 13 U.S. troops killed in combat and non-combat incidents this month in Iraq. If the number holds, it would tie July for the lowest monthly U.S. death toll of the 5½-year-old war.

This is, of course, very good news (which is exactly why it’s getting little attention). It also highlights the great irony of John McCain’s involvement with Iraq. Had the surge in Iraq been a disaster, McCain would not be a viable candidate. But now that Iraq is getting better – much better – nobody cares anymore. What McCain didn’t really understand when he entered this race is that no matter what happens in Iraq, the war is a political loser for him. Failure – his fault. Success – voters are moving on. Perhaps the right position on Iraq, politically speaking, was to either: oppose it, like Obama (failure – he got it right and it remains an issue very much in the news. Success – and nobody cares, so it doesn’t really hurt Obama), or ignore it (failure – it’s Bush, not me. Success? Great, lets move on).

But if that’s the lesson politicians are going to learn, who’s going to be the one supporting – actively supporting – the next war. You know, this is probably not the last one.

This short item, buried deep inside USA Today should not go unnoticed:

October could be the first month of the Iraq war when no U.S. servicemembers will have died in combat in Baghdad.

As of Thursday, the Pentagon had reported 13 U.S. troops killed in combat and non-combat incidents this month in Iraq. If the number holds, it would tie July for the lowest monthly U.S. death toll of the 5½-year-old war.

This is, of course, very good news (which is exactly why it’s getting little attention). It also highlights the great irony of John McCain’s involvement with Iraq. Had the surge in Iraq been a disaster, McCain would not be a viable candidate. But now that Iraq is getting better – much better – nobody cares anymore. What McCain didn’t really understand when he entered this race is that no matter what happens in Iraq, the war is a political loser for him. Failure – his fault. Success – voters are moving on. Perhaps the right position on Iraq, politically speaking, was to either: oppose it, like Obama (failure – he got it right and it remains an issue very much in the news. Success – and nobody cares, so it doesn’t really hurt Obama), or ignore it (failure – it’s Bush, not me. Success? Great, lets move on).

But if that’s the lesson politicians are going to learn, who’s going to be the one supporting – actively supporting – the next war. You know, this is probably not the last one.

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Mason-Dixon

If you like the  Mason-Dixon polling organization, which has a solid reputation, and you are rooting for John McCain, you might have reason to hope, just a bit today. The last batch of polls have him up narrowly in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and North , within the margin or error in Nevada and Virginia. That tells me that either all of those are wrong or the national polls with big leads for Barack Obama are off. (It is hard to imagine the popular vote going to Obama by 10 percent while McCain ekes out wins in those states.)

That suggests that the race on an electoral level at least may wind up close, with Colorado and Pennsylvania the decisive states. Or it may turn out that McCain closed fast but came up a buck short in state after after. In two days all questions will be answered.

If you like the  Mason-Dixon polling organization, which has a solid reputation, and you are rooting for John McCain, you might have reason to hope, just a bit today. The last batch of polls have him up narrowly in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and North , within the margin or error in Nevada and Virginia. That tells me that either all of those are wrong or the national polls with big leads for Barack Obama are off. (It is hard to imagine the popular vote going to Obama by 10 percent while McCain ekes out wins in those states.)

That suggests that the race on an electoral level at least may wind up close, with Colorado and Pennsylvania the decisive states. Or it may turn out that McCain closed fast but came up a buck short in state after after. In two days all questions will be answered.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Nanny-in-chief? So says Roger Kimball.

Valuable time on SNL for John McCain – self-deprecating while actually tweaking his opponents. About as well as a Republican can hope to do.

The Gray Lady’s Public Editor says the MSM shouldn’t predict or assume an Obama victory, but instead report on the campaign as it unfolds. Now he tells us. Next thing you know he’ll tell us they should have investigated the Rashid Khalidi connection or asked Obama harder questions in interviews.

Now and then Maureen Dowd asks a good question: “Why did [John McCain] allow his staff to put Palin on a couture catwalk in a tin-cup economy and then, when the price tags were exposed, trash her as a ‘diva’ and ‘whack job,’ thus becoming the rare Republican campaign devoured by Democratic-style vicious infighting?” If he doesn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat on Tuesday I bet McCain and Hillary Clinton will have plenty to commiserate over.

Just imagine if a Republican had a relative living in poverty, illegally in the U.S. and on public housing to boot. And who gave illegal campaign donations to him. You don’t think ACORN missed her in their registration drive, do you?

You mean Barack isn’t going to bar lobbyists from his administration? Really, it is amazing people bought all the New Politics hooey. Do you thing they’ll be shocked to find out that 95% of people can’t get tax cuts?

John McCain doesn’t much appreciate Obama’s comment that his faith in America was “vindicated” when he won the Iowa caucus. There is something scary about a candidate who equates his country’s virtue with his own political fortunes. This confusion between country and self is not a healthy thing.

Ross Douthat writes of the McCain camp: “It’s been worse than an evil campaign; it’s been a dumb one.” I may disagree with him as what was dumb, but the bottom line is right. True in the micro-sense (where was this for months?) and in the macro-sense (what was the economic message until Joe the Plumber showed up?).

David Frum writes: “To his credit, Biden has conscientiously worked to familiarize himself with the great questions of national policy.” Yes, but the answers are all wrong. (“Learned nothing, yet remembered everything,” as they say of the Bourbons.)

All that effort and, yet, Obama is doing a tad worse than John Kerry among weekly church goers. Gosh, maybe they don’t like his position on abortion, his view of the judiciary and his past associations. It might be that people of faith aren’t easily sold a bill of goods by someone who doesn’t agree with their values. Who would have thought?

How many politicians quote Maimonides? Not many. And Minnesota voters are having trouble deciding between him and the foul-mouthed comic who didn’t pay his taxes?

After all the issues vetted, all the debates, and all the ballots, the winner is — the poodle. By the way: Obama hasn’t gotten his kids the dog yet. It won’t be the last broken promise.

Fun pundit picks. The bright news for Republicans — no one thinks the Democrats will get to 60 in the Senate.

Nanny-in-chief? So says Roger Kimball.

Valuable time on SNL for John McCain – self-deprecating while actually tweaking his opponents. About as well as a Republican can hope to do.

The Gray Lady’s Public Editor says the MSM shouldn’t predict or assume an Obama victory, but instead report on the campaign as it unfolds. Now he tells us. Next thing you know he’ll tell us they should have investigated the Rashid Khalidi connection or asked Obama harder questions in interviews.

Now and then Maureen Dowd asks a good question: “Why did [John McCain] allow his staff to put Palin on a couture catwalk in a tin-cup economy and then, when the price tags were exposed, trash her as a ‘diva’ and ‘whack job,’ thus becoming the rare Republican campaign devoured by Democratic-style vicious infighting?” If he doesn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat on Tuesday I bet McCain and Hillary Clinton will have plenty to commiserate over.

Just imagine if a Republican had a relative living in poverty, illegally in the U.S. and on public housing to boot. And who gave illegal campaign donations to him. You don’t think ACORN missed her in their registration drive, do you?

You mean Barack isn’t going to bar lobbyists from his administration? Really, it is amazing people bought all the New Politics hooey. Do you thing they’ll be shocked to find out that 95% of people can’t get tax cuts?

John McCain doesn’t much appreciate Obama’s comment that his faith in America was “vindicated” when he won the Iowa caucus. There is something scary about a candidate who equates his country’s virtue with his own political fortunes. This confusion between country and self is not a healthy thing.

Ross Douthat writes of the McCain camp: “It’s been worse than an evil campaign; it’s been a dumb one.” I may disagree with him as what was dumb, but the bottom line is right. True in the micro-sense (where was this for months?) and in the macro-sense (what was the economic message until Joe the Plumber showed up?).

David Frum writes: “To his credit, Biden has conscientiously worked to familiarize himself with the great questions of national policy.” Yes, but the answers are all wrong. (“Learned nothing, yet remembered everything,” as they say of the Bourbons.)

All that effort and, yet, Obama is doing a tad worse than John Kerry among weekly church goers. Gosh, maybe they don’t like his position on abortion, his view of the judiciary and his past associations. It might be that people of faith aren’t easily sold a bill of goods by someone who doesn’t agree with their values. Who would have thought?

How many politicians quote Maimonides? Not many. And Minnesota voters are having trouble deciding between him and the foul-mouthed comic who didn’t pay his taxes?

After all the issues vetted, all the debates, and all the ballots, the winner is — the poodle. By the way: Obama hasn’t gotten his kids the dog yet. It won’t be the last broken promise.

Fun pundit picks. The bright news for Republicans — no one thinks the Democrats will get to 60 in the Senate.

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What About Virginia?

The Mason-Dixon poll has the race down to three points with 9% undecided. The margin of error is four points. That’s a long way of saying it is a dead heat. George Allen lost his race in 2006, losing the population-rich D.C. suburb of Fairfax county by some 65,000 votes. That doesn’t seem to be insurmountable, but it won’t be the same electorate on Tuesday as the one that turned out in 2006.

The trick here for McCain: some 200,000 new registered voters, many in Democratic strongholds, and expected high turnout in the Richmond area with a high concentration of African American voters. On McCain’s side: a large military population, a last minute push with some effective radio ads by retiring Sen. John Warner on the potential for defense budget cuts in an Obama administration, and a very robust get out the vote effort. McCain turned out a large crowd on Saturday, as he and Palin have in earlier appearances, and gave one of his better performances.

Like so many other Red states — Indiana, Ohio, Florida and Missouri — that George Bush won in 2004, Florida is now a struggle. But it doesn’t mean it is not a winnable struggle. And McCain, who has never been known for doing things the easy way, isn’t quite out of it yet.

The Mason-Dixon poll has the race down to three points with 9% undecided. The margin of error is four points. That’s a long way of saying it is a dead heat. George Allen lost his race in 2006, losing the population-rich D.C. suburb of Fairfax county by some 65,000 votes. That doesn’t seem to be insurmountable, but it won’t be the same electorate on Tuesday as the one that turned out in 2006.

The trick here for McCain: some 200,000 new registered voters, many in Democratic strongholds, and expected high turnout in the Richmond area with a high concentration of African American voters. On McCain’s side: a large military population, a last minute push with some effective radio ads by retiring Sen. John Warner on the potential for defense budget cuts in an Obama administration, and a very robust get out the vote effort. McCain turned out a large crowd on Saturday, as he and Palin have in earlier appearances, and gave one of his better performances.

Like so many other Red states — Indiana, Ohio, Florida and Missouri — that George Bush won in 2004, Florida is now a struggle. But it doesn’t mean it is not a winnable struggle. And McCain, who has never been known for doing things the easy way, isn’t quite out of it yet.

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More Questions Than Answers

John McCain and Sarah Palin often say that we don’t know enough about Barack Obama. But that grossly understates the lack of information we have about Obama and the questions that remain.

On Obama’s past, here are a few:

When did he realize Bill Ayers was a terrorist and why did he continue the relationship?

Did he agree with Ayers’s educational philosophy?

Did he personally approve grants from the Woods Fund and agree with the agendas of far Left groups (like the Arab American Action Network and ACORN) who received money?

How was it that he remained ignorant for over twenty years of Reverend Wrights’ anti-American and anti-white views ? What about Wright’s philosophy and rhetoric did he find so brilliant and compelling?

What relationship did he have with Rashid Khalidi and what did he hear and say at that 2003 celebration?

On his present views:

What’s the real definition of “rich”?

Does “fairness” and income inequality trump every other concern in economic policy?

Does he really agree with Big Labor’s committment to abolishing secret ballot elections and abandoning a bipartisan committment to free trade?

Will he do what is needed in Iraq to secure the victory?

Does he really intend to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability and, if so, what will he do about it?

Will he hike more taxes, cut spending or borrow more when his advisors tell him we can’t afford $4.3 trillion in new spending?

Does he really intend as his first act to sign the Freedom of Choice Act abolishing all abortion regulation including parental notification laws?

I have no idea what the real answers to these (and dozens others which you can think up) are and neither, I would suggest, do the vast majority of voters. Indeed, I am not sure that Obama does.

He has convinced discrete groups of voters that he is an ultra-liberal and a moderate, a hawk and a dove, an advocate of the Palestinian cause and the best friend of Israel, a reformer and a party loyalist, and an Agent of Change and a bare-knuckle Chicago pol. If he is elected, a bunch of people are going to find out they were wrong. We just don’t know which ones.

John McCain and Sarah Palin often say that we don’t know enough about Barack Obama. But that grossly understates the lack of information we have about Obama and the questions that remain.

On Obama’s past, here are a few:

When did he realize Bill Ayers was a terrorist and why did he continue the relationship?

Did he agree with Ayers’s educational philosophy?

Did he personally approve grants from the Woods Fund and agree with the agendas of far Left groups (like the Arab American Action Network and ACORN) who received money?

How was it that he remained ignorant for over twenty years of Reverend Wrights’ anti-American and anti-white views ? What about Wright’s philosophy and rhetoric did he find so brilliant and compelling?

What relationship did he have with Rashid Khalidi and what did he hear and say at that 2003 celebration?

On his present views:

What’s the real definition of “rich”?

Does “fairness” and income inequality trump every other concern in economic policy?

Does he really agree with Big Labor’s committment to abolishing secret ballot elections and abandoning a bipartisan committment to free trade?

Will he do what is needed in Iraq to secure the victory?

Does he really intend to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability and, if so, what will he do about it?

Will he hike more taxes, cut spending or borrow more when his advisors tell him we can’t afford $4.3 trillion in new spending?

Does he really intend as his first act to sign the Freedom of Choice Act abolishing all abortion regulation including parental notification laws?

I have no idea what the real answers to these (and dozens others which you can think up) are and neither, I would suggest, do the vast majority of voters. Indeed, I am not sure that Obama does.

He has convinced discrete groups of voters that he is an ultra-liberal and a moderate, a hawk and a dove, an advocate of the Palestinian cause and the best friend of Israel, a reformer and a party loyalist, and an Agent of Change and a bare-knuckle Chicago pol. If he is elected, a bunch of people are going to find out they were wrong. We just don’t know which ones.

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The Key To McCain’s Upset

If John McCain is going to shock the political world, he’ll have to do it in Pennsylvania. Trailing in Colorado and iffy in Virginia, he badly needs to “flip” Pennsylvania in order to eke out a win, if there is a win to be had. Chuck Todd asks some good questions:

Is it in play or not? The McCain folks have no choice but to believe that it is. They are hoping that party I.D. snaps back and that some sort of race component kicks in to salvage McCain. I don’t know. If George W. Bush couldn’t carry the state, why should we believe McCain can? Ironically, Republicans have a shot at winning two House seats thanks to incumbent Democratic gaffes; Both Jack Murtha and Paul Kanjorski are on the brink. Could Pennsylvania be the only state in the union where Republicans net more House seats than Democrats?

So let’s go in order. Yes, it’s in play if you believe the polls this week that have gone from double to single digits and you think the tickets wouldn’t be spending valuable time on the ground if it were in the bag for Barack Obama.

Why could McCain win what Bush could not? The real question is: why could Obama lose what Kerry did not? The answers: Bittergate (which Jack Murtha inadvertently may have rekindled by once again insulting the state’s voters), Joe Biden’s clean coal gaffe, Joe the Plumber (and the ill-advised attack on him by the MSM and Obama supporters), Sarah Palin (who seems more representative of Scranton than Joe Biden) and a whole lot of third party ads on Reverend Wright running in the final weekend.

None of this means that McCain is a shoo-in or even the favorite in Pennsylvania. But there are reasons, lots of them, why the state might slip from Obama’s grasp. And that’s why the candidates and their supporters are spending so much time and money there. If any or all of these factors tip the Keystone state to McCain, it is likely Ohio also would have fallen into McCain’s lap. (Hard to think he could win Pennsylvania and not Ohio.) This is the narrow crack which McCain must slip through. Not a huge opening, but McCain has never enjoyed much room to spare in his daredevil political career.

If John McCain is going to shock the political world, he’ll have to do it in Pennsylvania. Trailing in Colorado and iffy in Virginia, he badly needs to “flip” Pennsylvania in order to eke out a win, if there is a win to be had. Chuck Todd asks some good questions:

Is it in play or not? The McCain folks have no choice but to believe that it is. They are hoping that party I.D. snaps back and that some sort of race component kicks in to salvage McCain. I don’t know. If George W. Bush couldn’t carry the state, why should we believe McCain can? Ironically, Republicans have a shot at winning two House seats thanks to incumbent Democratic gaffes; Both Jack Murtha and Paul Kanjorski are on the brink. Could Pennsylvania be the only state in the union where Republicans net more House seats than Democrats?

So let’s go in order. Yes, it’s in play if you believe the polls this week that have gone from double to single digits and you think the tickets wouldn’t be spending valuable time on the ground if it were in the bag for Barack Obama.

Why could McCain win what Bush could not? The real question is: why could Obama lose what Kerry did not? The answers: Bittergate (which Jack Murtha inadvertently may have rekindled by once again insulting the state’s voters), Joe Biden’s clean coal gaffe, Joe the Plumber (and the ill-advised attack on him by the MSM and Obama supporters), Sarah Palin (who seems more representative of Scranton than Joe Biden) and a whole lot of third party ads on Reverend Wright running in the final weekend.

None of this means that McCain is a shoo-in or even the favorite in Pennsylvania. But there are reasons, lots of them, why the state might slip from Obama’s grasp. And that’s why the candidates and their supporters are spending so much time and money there. If any or all of these factors tip the Keystone state to McCain, it is likely Ohio also would have fallen into McCain’s lap. (Hard to think he could win Pennsylvania and not Ohio.) This is the narrow crack which McCain must slip through. Not a huge opening, but McCain has never enjoyed much room to spare in his daredevil political career.

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