Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 19, 2010

After Scott Brown, Liberals May Have Nowhere to Hide

Yes, Martha Coakley was a bad candidate. Except that she wasn’t a bad candidate when she won a huge majority running for attorney general of Massachusetts three years ago. Yes, Creigh Deeds was a bad candidate in Virginia’s governor’s race last year — except that he seemed like a very good candidate when the Washington Post championed him in the primary. And yes, Coakley’s rival Scott Brown is a good candidate, and so was Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, except both of them could easily have seemed like bad candidates under different circumstances.

One of the things that makes a candidate good is when what he says sounds sensible, calm, and reasonable by comparison to the other guy. What the (apparent) success of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, following McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey, tells us in part is that the policy criticism at the heart of their campaigns is connecting to ordinary people, to worried voters. And this is the great threat to the Democrats going forward this year and in November.

Democrats will be forced to defend and argue on behalf of policies that disturb more people than they comfort. And that is where the great danger lies. It’s one thing to speak in generalized pieties about children and health care and the needy and education, especially when the country is being governed by a president with a very different sense of what is best for America. It’s another thing to have to stand up for very specific pieces of legislation that advance very specific policies on these matters — left-liberal policies to be precise, in a country that is only one-fifth consciously and knowingly left-liberal.

Republicans learned this to their dismay when they were called to account in 2006 for the very specific policy choices made by George Bush in Iraq that were not working, and in 2008 for the policy choices that helped lead to the financial meltdown. There’s nowhere to run from a congressional vote; there’s nowhere to hide from a policy being advocated by a president from your party; there’s nowhere to turn for understanding that you’re only trying to do what’s best for America. The 40 percent who will always vote against you are going to have company among the 20 percent that bounce between the two parties when it comes to assigning responsibility for the choices you make and the party you’re a part of.

Last week I argued that the Scott Brown surge might indicate global trouble for incumbents rather than an ideological surge on the Right. I still think that’s true, but the thing is, the incumbents who can argue that they attempted to derail the policies the general public doesn’t like won’t necessarily seem like incumbents. (Coakley wasn’t an incumbent but is being treated as though she is.) If, indeed, Scott Brown prevails tonight and the repudiation of ObamaCare and other aspects of the president’s agenda deep inside Blue State territory are what is behind that victory, the political question remaining for the balance of the year as far as Democrats are concerned can only be whether things will improve dramatically enough in the economy to neutralize an unmistakable national sentiment among voters to take back what they did in 2008.

Yes, Martha Coakley was a bad candidate. Except that she wasn’t a bad candidate when she won a huge majority running for attorney general of Massachusetts three years ago. Yes, Creigh Deeds was a bad candidate in Virginia’s governor’s race last year — except that he seemed like a very good candidate when the Washington Post championed him in the primary. And yes, Coakley’s rival Scott Brown is a good candidate, and so was Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, except both of them could easily have seemed like bad candidates under different circumstances.

One of the things that makes a candidate good is when what he says sounds sensible, calm, and reasonable by comparison to the other guy. What the (apparent) success of Scott Brown in Massachusetts, following McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey, tells us in part is that the policy criticism at the heart of their campaigns is connecting to ordinary people, to worried voters. And this is the great threat to the Democrats going forward this year and in November.

Democrats will be forced to defend and argue on behalf of policies that disturb more people than they comfort. And that is where the great danger lies. It’s one thing to speak in generalized pieties about children and health care and the needy and education, especially when the country is being governed by a president with a very different sense of what is best for America. It’s another thing to have to stand up for very specific pieces of legislation that advance very specific policies on these matters — left-liberal policies to be precise, in a country that is only one-fifth consciously and knowingly left-liberal.

Republicans learned this to their dismay when they were called to account in 2006 for the very specific policy choices made by George Bush in Iraq that were not working, and in 2008 for the policy choices that helped lead to the financial meltdown. There’s nowhere to run from a congressional vote; there’s nowhere to hide from a policy being advocated by a president from your party; there’s nowhere to turn for understanding that you’re only trying to do what’s best for America. The 40 percent who will always vote against you are going to have company among the 20 percent that bounce between the two parties when it comes to assigning responsibility for the choices you make and the party you’re a part of.

Last week I argued that the Scott Brown surge might indicate global trouble for incumbents rather than an ideological surge on the Right. I still think that’s true, but the thing is, the incumbents who can argue that they attempted to derail the policies the general public doesn’t like won’t necessarily seem like incumbents. (Coakley wasn’t an incumbent but is being treated as though she is.) If, indeed, Scott Brown prevails tonight and the repudiation of ObamaCare and other aspects of the president’s agenda deep inside Blue State territory are what is behind that victory, the political question remaining for the balance of the year as far as Democrats are concerned can only be whether things will improve dramatically enough in the economy to neutralize an unmistakable national sentiment among voters to take back what they did in 2008.

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The Undervalued Commodity

In the Washington Post today we read this:

[Scott] Brown has called his effort “the politics of hope” and, like candidate Obama did, admonished campaign workers to maintain courtesies — at a Saturday stop in a call center in Worcester, he even complimented the “very respectful” behavior of the Democratic “trackers,” the fixtures of modern campaigning who record a candidate’s every move on video.Brown has called his effort “the politics of hope” and, like candidate Obama did, admonished campaign workers to maintain courtesies — at a Saturday stop in a call center in Worcester, he even complimented the “very respectful” behavior of the Democratic “trackers,” the fixtures of modern campaigning who record a candidate’s every move on video.

This is both impressive and wise. I have argued before that tone is an undervalued commodity in American politics; voters want candidates to be principled in their convictions, civil in their presentation, and likable in their demeanor.

Bob McDonnell ran a similar campaign in Virginia: he was focused on issues the voters care about, free of distracting side battles, strong in his views but not off-putting in his style.

Let the Left devour itself in its animosities and anger. In the current political environment, Republicans and conservatives can prevail by combining good policies with good manners. Our greatest political leaders have shown that convictions and civility can co-exist very easily together. (h/t: Rich Lowry, NRO)

In the Washington Post today we read this:

[Scott] Brown has called his effort “the politics of hope” and, like candidate Obama did, admonished campaign workers to maintain courtesies — at a Saturday stop in a call center in Worcester, he even complimented the “very respectful” behavior of the Democratic “trackers,” the fixtures of modern campaigning who record a candidate’s every move on video.Brown has called his effort “the politics of hope” and, like candidate Obama did, admonished campaign workers to maintain courtesies — at a Saturday stop in a call center in Worcester, he even complimented the “very respectful” behavior of the Democratic “trackers,” the fixtures of modern campaigning who record a candidate’s every move on video.

This is both impressive and wise. I have argued before that tone is an undervalued commodity in American politics; voters want candidates to be principled in their convictions, civil in their presentation, and likable in their demeanor.

Bob McDonnell ran a similar campaign in Virginia: he was focused on issues the voters care about, free of distracting side battles, strong in his views but not off-putting in his style.

Let the Left devour itself in its animosities and anger. In the current political environment, Republicans and conservatives can prevail by combining good policies with good manners. Our greatest political leaders have shown that convictions and civility can co-exist very easily together. (h/t: Rich Lowry, NRO)

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RE: But Why?

Democrats mystified about the sour mood of the public might want to stop putting their fingers in their ears and humming each time another dose of reality is offered up. In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, MSNBC tells us:

In the survey, only 33 percent say President Obama’s health-reform effort is a good idea, versus 46 percent who consider it a bad idea. That result is essentially unchanged from last month’s poll. However, the number saying that Obama’s health plan is a bad idea has increased 20 percentage points since April, when the public supported the reform effort by a 33-26 percent margin.

So it really isn’t a mystery. The Democrats made health-care reform their signature issue. It’s not the public’s primary issue; jobs and the economy are. And what the Democrats came up with is anathema to the public. So opposition builds — along with enthusiasm and, yes, anger.

But the Democratic leadership is not to be dissuaded. According to this report: “Democrats were coalescing Tuesday around a plan to force the Senate’s version of health-care reform through the House if Republican Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate seat.” Because if 46 percent of the people oppose ObamaCare (more in other polling), then ObamaCare forced through in lightning speed and with no regard for the mere whims of voters is the solution, right? Well Republicans can hardly believe their opponents’ density:

Republicans were already drawing up their lists of vulnerable Democrats in the House who they think will likely vote against any health-care bill now, even if Coakley were to win.“It seems that that brain trust in the White House made a decision last January that they were willing to march 20 more centrist Democrats through a buzz saw to pass their ideological, liberal agenda. I don’t think they figured on a public revolt — on such backlash on it so quickly,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

“The president has lost 20 points in one year because of it, and now over 50 Democrats could lose their seats because of it,” Dayspring said. “The question for House Democrats now is whether they are willing to lose the majority, lose their seats, for a bill that they probably don’t like anyway. Their game plan seems to say they are.”

 We’ll see how things look a day or two after the election results. At some point, the Democratic leadership may find there aren’t 218 members to follow them over the political cliff.

Democrats mystified about the sour mood of the public might want to stop putting their fingers in their ears and humming each time another dose of reality is offered up. In the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, MSNBC tells us:

In the survey, only 33 percent say President Obama’s health-reform effort is a good idea, versus 46 percent who consider it a bad idea. That result is essentially unchanged from last month’s poll. However, the number saying that Obama’s health plan is a bad idea has increased 20 percentage points since April, when the public supported the reform effort by a 33-26 percent margin.

So it really isn’t a mystery. The Democrats made health-care reform their signature issue. It’s not the public’s primary issue; jobs and the economy are. And what the Democrats came up with is anathema to the public. So opposition builds — along with enthusiasm and, yes, anger.

But the Democratic leadership is not to be dissuaded. According to this report: “Democrats were coalescing Tuesday around a plan to force the Senate’s version of health-care reform through the House if Republican Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate seat.” Because if 46 percent of the people oppose ObamaCare (more in other polling), then ObamaCare forced through in lightning speed and with no regard for the mere whims of voters is the solution, right? Well Republicans can hardly believe their opponents’ density:

Republicans were already drawing up their lists of vulnerable Democrats in the House who they think will likely vote against any health-care bill now, even if Coakley were to win.“It seems that that brain trust in the White House made a decision last January that they were willing to march 20 more centrist Democrats through a buzz saw to pass their ideological, liberal agenda. I don’t think they figured on a public revolt — on such backlash on it so quickly,” said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

“The president has lost 20 points in one year because of it, and now over 50 Democrats could lose their seats because of it,” Dayspring said. “The question for House Democrats now is whether they are willing to lose the majority, lose their seats, for a bill that they probably don’t like anyway. Their game plan seems to say they are.”

 We’ll see how things look a day or two after the election results. At some point, the Democratic leadership may find there aren’t 218 members to follow them over the political cliff.

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Overpraising the President

Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post is one of the great editorial-page editors in America (and not only because he occasionally runs my op-eds). He has assembled an interesting and thoughtful group of columnists for his op-ed page and turned his editorial columns into a courageous and morally farsighted champion of an internationalist foreign policy that promotes America’s ideals as well as its interests. In the process, he has not been afraid to take stands that are interpreted as conservative (e.g., backing the Iraq war and not backing down when the going got tough) while also holding President Bush accountable for his deviations from the high-minded ideals he espoused. He has continued that tradition of skepticism with President Obama. Unlike the rest of the MSM, he has not swooned over the president of hope and change, but I nevertheless think he is being a tad too kind in this column, which offers a largely positive assessment of Obama’s first year in office.

To be sure, Hiatt is right to give Obama credit for halting and reversing a financial/economic meltdown. That was the most important issue of his first year in office, and the president deserves enormous credit for getting the economy back onto a sounder footing — notwithstanding carping from both Left and Right. He also deserves a great degree of credit for largely coming out in the right place in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am less impressed than Hiatt is, however, with Obama’s handling of issues of “security and liberty.” Obama gets credit for not undoing most of Bush’s initiatives (e.g., the Patriot Act and Predator strikes in Pakistan), and I don’t even mind his plan to close Guantanamo. But by forcing all interrogations of terrorist suspects to be conducted without stress techniques and by rushing to push terrorist suspects, even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, into the criminal-justice system, I think Obama is tilting the balance against effectiveness in the war on terror. So too with decisions that Hiatt doesn’t mention — Attorney General Eric Holder’s moves to release memos describing CIA interrogation techniques and to investigate supposed CIA abuses in the past. Both have undoubtedly had a chilling effect on our counterterrorist operatives, few of whom are willing to treat high-level directives as cavalierly as Jack Bauer routinely does.

I also think that Hiatt, who is more liberal in domestic than in foreign policy, is being too kind in his treatment of Obama’s reckless attempts to take over the health-care sector and ineffectual attempts to deal with climate change. What is truly mystifying, however, is that Hiatt pens this tribute to Obama’s foreign policy: “And from Cairo to Oslo, and now to Haiti, he has sought to chart a path for America between arrogance and isolationism, neither denying nor boasting about the burdens of global leadership.”

I too applaud Obama’s efforts to help Haiti, just as I applauded his Nobel acceptance speech, but the fact remains that outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama has no foreign-policy achievements to boast of. The first year was wasted with ineffectual attempts at outreach to Iran and North Korea and Russia, not to mention his ham-handed attempts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. All these efforts have failed — something that was completely predictable. In the meantime, Obama lost a valuable chance to stand with Iranian democrats and to put real pressure on the Iranian mullahs, something the Washington Post editorial page has been eloquent in condemning. Will Obama’s first-year efforts somehow bear fruit in his second year in office? Of that there is so far no evidence. If he doesn’t change course substantially in foreign affairs (when is he going to get tough on the Iranian nuclear program as promised?), the record of his first (and only?) term is likely to be even more dismal than his first-year record.

Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post is one of the great editorial-page editors in America (and not only because he occasionally runs my op-eds). He has assembled an interesting and thoughtful group of columnists for his op-ed page and turned his editorial columns into a courageous and morally farsighted champion of an internationalist foreign policy that promotes America’s ideals as well as its interests. In the process, he has not been afraid to take stands that are interpreted as conservative (e.g., backing the Iraq war and not backing down when the going got tough) while also holding President Bush accountable for his deviations from the high-minded ideals he espoused. He has continued that tradition of skepticism with President Obama. Unlike the rest of the MSM, he has not swooned over the president of hope and change, but I nevertheless think he is being a tad too kind in this column, which offers a largely positive assessment of Obama’s first year in office.

To be sure, Hiatt is right to give Obama credit for halting and reversing a financial/economic meltdown. That was the most important issue of his first year in office, and the president deserves enormous credit for getting the economy back onto a sounder footing — notwithstanding carping from both Left and Right. He also deserves a great degree of credit for largely coming out in the right place in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am less impressed than Hiatt is, however, with Obama’s handling of issues of “security and liberty.” Obama gets credit for not undoing most of Bush’s initiatives (e.g., the Patriot Act and Predator strikes in Pakistan), and I don’t even mind his plan to close Guantanamo. But by forcing all interrogations of terrorist suspects to be conducted without stress techniques and by rushing to push terrorist suspects, even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, into the criminal-justice system, I think Obama is tilting the balance against effectiveness in the war on terror. So too with decisions that Hiatt doesn’t mention — Attorney General Eric Holder’s moves to release memos describing CIA interrogation techniques and to investigate supposed CIA abuses in the past. Both have undoubtedly had a chilling effect on our counterterrorist operatives, few of whom are willing to treat high-level directives as cavalierly as Jack Bauer routinely does.

I also think that Hiatt, who is more liberal in domestic than in foreign policy, is being too kind in his treatment of Obama’s reckless attempts to take over the health-care sector and ineffectual attempts to deal with climate change. What is truly mystifying, however, is that Hiatt pens this tribute to Obama’s foreign policy: “And from Cairo to Oslo, and now to Haiti, he has sought to chart a path for America between arrogance and isolationism, neither denying nor boasting about the burdens of global leadership.”

I too applaud Obama’s efforts to help Haiti, just as I applauded his Nobel acceptance speech, but the fact remains that outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama has no foreign-policy achievements to boast of. The first year was wasted with ineffectual attempts at outreach to Iran and North Korea and Russia, not to mention his ham-handed attempts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. All these efforts have failed — something that was completely predictable. In the meantime, Obama lost a valuable chance to stand with Iranian democrats and to put real pressure on the Iranian mullahs, something the Washington Post editorial page has been eloquent in condemning. Will Obama’s first-year efforts somehow bear fruit in his second year in office? Of that there is so far no evidence. If he doesn’t change course substantially in foreign affairs (when is he going to get tough on the Iranian nuclear program as promised?), the record of his first (and only?) term is likely to be even more dismal than his first-year record.

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China’s Clever Netizens

Google’s decision last week to stop censoring in China pointed international attention toward netizens, who have become increasingly bold in advocating for human rights and freedoms. These basement bloggers are putting a new spin on a tool long used by political reformists: music. Online music videos criticizing government corruption and censorship are successfully going viral, even as Beijing’s Internet crackdowns continue.

China Digital Times reports on one such video, “My Brother’s at the Bare Bottom,” which is conveniently translated into English on their blog. (The footnotes at the end help an English-speaking reader pick up on the nuances.)

“My Brother’s at the Bare Bottom” is primarily a criticism of Chinese censorship. But it also confronts the politicization of Chinese language. Beijing repeats its calls for “harmonious society,” a euphemistic justification for one-party rule, repression, and censorship. But the Chinese word for “harmonize” sounds the same as the word for “river crab.” This makes the buttery crustaceans irresistible to dissident mockers.

The success of these videos is enough to make Beijing’s censors … ehm, crabby. “Even the most self-censored Chinese search engine Baidu still can find over 29,000 copies of this song, including on one of the nation’s largest news and game portals, Netease,” the Digital Times writes. “If you search the title of the song on Google? Over 830,000 webpages show up.”

YouTube-genre flicks do not pretend to be catalysts for a social uprising; they’re an end in themselves. But while many feature silly cartoons and vulgar wordplay — take for instance “The Song of the Grass Mud Horse,” explained neatly by CNN here — they are not insignificant. We all remember what MTV perpetrated on the radio star.

Call it “Bare Bottom” exposure: the use of entertainment and humor can influence Chinese culture and thus, eventually, Chinese politics. The rowdy irreverence appeals to a broader, younger audience. In short, these music videos are the creation of a citizenry willing to question its government.

Such an attitude can ignite bigger changes eventually. It has happened before. Take, for instance, the trial of the band the Plastic People of the Universe in Czechoslovakia, which helped rally momentum for Vaclav Havel’s Charter 77, a precursor to Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08.

A Chinese public willing to think and act independently — even if only online — foreshadows a time when Big Brother could find itself at the bare bottom too.

Google’s decision last week to stop censoring in China pointed international attention toward netizens, who have become increasingly bold in advocating for human rights and freedoms. These basement bloggers are putting a new spin on a tool long used by political reformists: music. Online music videos criticizing government corruption and censorship are successfully going viral, even as Beijing’s Internet crackdowns continue.

China Digital Times reports on one such video, “My Brother’s at the Bare Bottom,” which is conveniently translated into English on their blog. (The footnotes at the end help an English-speaking reader pick up on the nuances.)

“My Brother’s at the Bare Bottom” is primarily a criticism of Chinese censorship. But it also confronts the politicization of Chinese language. Beijing repeats its calls for “harmonious society,” a euphemistic justification for one-party rule, repression, and censorship. But the Chinese word for “harmonize” sounds the same as the word for “river crab.” This makes the buttery crustaceans irresistible to dissident mockers.

The success of these videos is enough to make Beijing’s censors … ehm, crabby. “Even the most self-censored Chinese search engine Baidu still can find over 29,000 copies of this song, including on one of the nation’s largest news and game portals, Netease,” the Digital Times writes. “If you search the title of the song on Google? Over 830,000 webpages show up.”

YouTube-genre flicks do not pretend to be catalysts for a social uprising; they’re an end in themselves. But while many feature silly cartoons and vulgar wordplay — take for instance “The Song of the Grass Mud Horse,” explained neatly by CNN here — they are not insignificant. We all remember what MTV perpetrated on the radio star.

Call it “Bare Bottom” exposure: the use of entertainment and humor can influence Chinese culture and thus, eventually, Chinese politics. The rowdy irreverence appeals to a broader, younger audience. In short, these music videos are the creation of a citizenry willing to question its government.

Such an attitude can ignite bigger changes eventually. It has happened before. Take, for instance, the trial of the band the Plastic People of the Universe in Czechoslovakia, which helped rally momentum for Vaclav Havel’s Charter 77, a precursor to Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08.

A Chinese public willing to think and act independently — even if only online — foreshadows a time when Big Brother could find itself at the bare bottom too.

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Where the Political Discourse Is Ugly

Yesterday I wrote that if Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts election, “it’s a safe bet that in response [Democrats] and their allies will lash out in rage, angry at the perceived injustice of it all, furious at the fate that has befallen them.”

Enter the increasingly bizarre Keith Olbermann, the public face of MSNBC. In his short commentary last night, Mr. Olbermann offered these measured thoughts:

In short, in Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against woman and against politicians with whom he disagrees. In any other time in our history, this man would have been laughed off the stage as an unqualified and a disaster in the making by the most conservative of conservatives. Instead, the commonwealth of Massachusetts is close to sending this bad joke to the Senate of the United States.

This was too much for Olbermann’s colleague Joe Scarborough, who called Olbermann’s comments “reckless” and “sad.” Olbermann’s comments come after MSNBC’s Ed Schultz said on his radio program:

I tell you what, if I lived in Massachusetts I’d try to vote 10 times. I don’t know if they’d let me or not, but I’d try to. Yeah, that’s right. I’d cheat to keep these bastards out. I would. ‘Cause that’s exactly what they are.

An impressive duo, no? Any network that makes Chris Matthews appear as a rock of stability, civility, and reason has achieved something that is not easy.

MSNBC, with a few exceptions (like Scarborough), long ago became a circus act. But it’s a circus act that serves a purpose. It reflects the temper and mindset of much of the Left. It is a movement fueled by paranoia and hate, even with Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress. If Olbermann and Schultz’s comments are indicative of how the core of the Democratic Party is reacting simply in anticipation of a loss in Massachusetts, it’s hard to envision what will happen if Brown actually wins, let alone what would happen if Republicans make widespread gains in November.

Such ugliness by any political group or movement — whether from the Left or the Right — is not good for democratic discourse. It’s why each side needs to police its own ranks. But when the Left becomes as unhinged as Olbermann and some of his colleagues are — when the public gets to peer into their dark, angry, and bitter little world — it will have political ramifications, none of them good for Democrats.

Sometimes seeing ugliness on full display, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable, reveals certain realities. America can decide for itself if it wants to support an ideology that produces people like Keith Olbermann.

Yesterday I wrote that if Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts election, “it’s a safe bet that in response [Democrats] and their allies will lash out in rage, angry at the perceived injustice of it all, furious at the fate that has befallen them.”

Enter the increasingly bizarre Keith Olbermann, the public face of MSNBC. In his short commentary last night, Mr. Olbermann offered these measured thoughts:

In short, in Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against woman and against politicians with whom he disagrees. In any other time in our history, this man would have been laughed off the stage as an unqualified and a disaster in the making by the most conservative of conservatives. Instead, the commonwealth of Massachusetts is close to sending this bad joke to the Senate of the United States.

This was too much for Olbermann’s colleague Joe Scarborough, who called Olbermann’s comments “reckless” and “sad.” Olbermann’s comments come after MSNBC’s Ed Schultz said on his radio program:

I tell you what, if I lived in Massachusetts I’d try to vote 10 times. I don’t know if they’d let me or not, but I’d try to. Yeah, that’s right. I’d cheat to keep these bastards out. I would. ‘Cause that’s exactly what they are.

An impressive duo, no? Any network that makes Chris Matthews appear as a rock of stability, civility, and reason has achieved something that is not easy.

MSNBC, with a few exceptions (like Scarborough), long ago became a circus act. But it’s a circus act that serves a purpose. It reflects the temper and mindset of much of the Left. It is a movement fueled by paranoia and hate, even with Obama in the White House and Democrats in control of Congress. If Olbermann and Schultz’s comments are indicative of how the core of the Democratic Party is reacting simply in anticipation of a loss in Massachusetts, it’s hard to envision what will happen if Brown actually wins, let alone what would happen if Republicans make widespread gains in November.

Such ugliness by any political group or movement — whether from the Left or the Right — is not good for democratic discourse. It’s why each side needs to police its own ranks. But when the Left becomes as unhinged as Olbermann and some of his colleagues are — when the public gets to peer into their dark, angry, and bitter little world — it will have political ramifications, none of them good for Democrats.

Sometimes seeing ugliness on full display, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable, reveals certain realities. America can decide for itself if it wants to support an ideology that produces people like Keith Olbermann.

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What’s Missing Today in Massachusetts? Exit Polls

Here’s an interesting piece of intelligence that may have an impact on the spin of today’s special Senate election in Massachusetts: no exit polls. In a post on the New York Times’s political blog The Caucus, reporters Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny lament the absence of pollsters blanketing the state in order to give political junkies data to chew on in the aftermath of the voting. According to Zeleny, “There are no exit polls, of course, because no one anticipated this special election would turn into a real race — from the television networks that pay for the exit polls to Democratic leaders in Washington who will suffer if Martha Coakley loses. So without them, we will be left to rely on anecdotal information.”

While the Timesmen play it close to the vest on the looming prospect of a monumental Republican upset of what had been considered as safe a Democratic seat as there was in the country, the lack of polling data about why the voters are abandoning the party of the Kennedys could be significant as the party in power contemplates what went wrong. Even if Martha Coakley pulls victory from the jaws of defeat, the fact that a GOP win is a distinct possibility must be seen as an ominous sign for the Democrats. As inaccurate and misleading as exit polls can be, such a survey conducted in Massachusetts today might give us more of an idea about the motivations of voters, as well as the level of defections from the Democrats and the way independents are moving toward the Republicans.

Even more to the point, the absence of polling data — even with a dramatic shift in the only poll that actually counts — might also help keep the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress in denial about the unpopularity of their radical domestic programs. Some on the Left are actually suggesting that they might seek to delay Scott Brown’s certification or swearing in while ObamaCare is hustled through the Congress before the Democrats lose their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate. So it’s clear that the notion put forward by wise men such as Fox News’s Brit Hume that a Coakley defeat will be an opportunity for them to step back from the left-wing precipice may be a piece of good advice that the Obama administration will not heed.

The absence of exit-polling data will give the spinmeisters on the cable networks less to jaw about, even though a Republican win or even a close race will provide all the information we actually need to understand the wave of dissatisfaction and frustration with the administration that is sweeping across the country. But it may leave some of the chattering classes wondering, like the old saw about a tree falling in the forest with no one to see or hear it: if an election is held without exit polls, does it really count?

Here’s an interesting piece of intelligence that may have an impact on the spin of today’s special Senate election in Massachusetts: no exit polls. In a post on the New York Times’s political blog The Caucus, reporters Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny lament the absence of pollsters blanketing the state in order to give political junkies data to chew on in the aftermath of the voting. According to Zeleny, “There are no exit polls, of course, because no one anticipated this special election would turn into a real race — from the television networks that pay for the exit polls to Democratic leaders in Washington who will suffer if Martha Coakley loses. So without them, we will be left to rely on anecdotal information.”

While the Timesmen play it close to the vest on the looming prospect of a monumental Republican upset of what had been considered as safe a Democratic seat as there was in the country, the lack of polling data about why the voters are abandoning the party of the Kennedys could be significant as the party in power contemplates what went wrong. Even if Martha Coakley pulls victory from the jaws of defeat, the fact that a GOP win is a distinct possibility must be seen as an ominous sign for the Democrats. As inaccurate and misleading as exit polls can be, such a survey conducted in Massachusetts today might give us more of an idea about the motivations of voters, as well as the level of defections from the Democrats and the way independents are moving toward the Republicans.

Even more to the point, the absence of polling data — even with a dramatic shift in the only poll that actually counts — might also help keep the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress in denial about the unpopularity of their radical domestic programs. Some on the Left are actually suggesting that they might seek to delay Scott Brown’s certification or swearing in while ObamaCare is hustled through the Congress before the Democrats lose their filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate. So it’s clear that the notion put forward by wise men such as Fox News’s Brit Hume that a Coakley defeat will be an opportunity for them to step back from the left-wing precipice may be a piece of good advice that the Obama administration will not heed.

The absence of exit-polling data will give the spinmeisters on the cable networks less to jaw about, even though a Republican win or even a close race will provide all the information we actually need to understand the wave of dissatisfaction and frustration with the administration that is sweeping across the country. But it may leave some of the chattering classes wondering, like the old saw about a tree falling in the forest with no one to see or hear it: if an election is held without exit polls, does it really count?

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The Latest Global-Warming Baloney: Glaciergate

Those busy denying the impact of the Climategate e-mails have a new piece of damaging evidence to downplay: the much publicized claim that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030 turns out to be another global-warming fraud. The New York Times reports today that the 2007 assertion, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the group that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore that year), is based on bogus data:

But it now appears that the estimate about Himalayan glacial melt was based on a decade-old interview of one climate scientist in a science magazine, The New Scientist, and that hard scientific evidence to support that figure is lacking. The scientist, Dr. Syed Hasnain, a glacier specialist with the government of the Indian state of Sikkim and currently a fellow at the TERI research institute in Delhi, said in an e-mail message that he was “misquoted” about the 2035 estimate in The New Scientist article.

This new story comes on the heels of the Climategate e-mails, which revealed the fraud behind the global-warming movement’s efforts to suppress opposing voices. As with the data behind the exaggerated claims of increases in world temperatures, this revelation doesn’t mean that there isn’t some evidence that glaciers may be retreating. But there is a big difference between insisting that these glaciers will disappear and a more modest argument that there is evidence that they may be getting a bit smaller. The former reinforces the international hysteria that could lead to developed countries putting costly restrictions on economic activity — exactly what the Left had hoped would happen at the recent failed Copenhagen conference — while the latter would be something that would merely merit further study.

Yet what these revelations do prove, again, is that the groups and individuals attempting to sell the world the idea that “the planet is melting” are, at best, prone to wild exaggerations to scare people into accepting radical plans that would cripple economies and restrict freedom. At worst, they have, again, shown themselves capable of outright fraud in the name of their ideological commitment to cripple capitalism. Though most of the mainstream media continue to downplay or ignore Climategate, we can only hope that this latest story of global-warming baloney reinforces a growing trend of skepticism about the claims of environmental alarmists and puts a brake on damaging plans to “cap and trade” carbon, as well as other draconian measures that will do little about temperature changes but much harm to our future.

Those busy denying the impact of the Climategate e-mails have a new piece of damaging evidence to downplay: the much publicized claim that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030 turns out to be another global-warming fraud. The New York Times reports today that the 2007 assertion, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the group that shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore that year), is based on bogus data:

But it now appears that the estimate about Himalayan glacial melt was based on a decade-old interview of one climate scientist in a science magazine, The New Scientist, and that hard scientific evidence to support that figure is lacking. The scientist, Dr. Syed Hasnain, a glacier specialist with the government of the Indian state of Sikkim and currently a fellow at the TERI research institute in Delhi, said in an e-mail message that he was “misquoted” about the 2035 estimate in The New Scientist article.

This new story comes on the heels of the Climategate e-mails, which revealed the fraud behind the global-warming movement’s efforts to suppress opposing voices. As with the data behind the exaggerated claims of increases in world temperatures, this revelation doesn’t mean that there isn’t some evidence that glaciers may be retreating. But there is a big difference between insisting that these glaciers will disappear and a more modest argument that there is evidence that they may be getting a bit smaller. The former reinforces the international hysteria that could lead to developed countries putting costly restrictions on economic activity — exactly what the Left had hoped would happen at the recent failed Copenhagen conference — while the latter would be something that would merely merit further study.

Yet what these revelations do prove, again, is that the groups and individuals attempting to sell the world the idea that “the planet is melting” are, at best, prone to wild exaggerations to scare people into accepting radical plans that would cripple economies and restrict freedom. At worst, they have, again, shown themselves capable of outright fraud in the name of their ideological commitment to cripple capitalism. Though most of the mainstream media continue to downplay or ignore Climategate, we can only hope that this latest story of global-warming baloney reinforces a growing trend of skepticism about the claims of environmental alarmists and puts a brake on damaging plans to “cap and trade” carbon, as well as other draconian measures that will do little about temperature changes but much harm to our future.

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But Why?

Eugene Robinson is typical of the liberal pundits who are grudgingly acknowledging that Obama and his Democratic congressional allies are in deep trouble. However, he is less candid about the reasons.

Well there’s an “enthusiasm gap,” he says. He sneers: “Vocal opponents of the president and the Democratic congressional leadership are eager, motivated and so excited that they can’t wait to grab their ‘tea party’ signs and march around the neighborhood. Vocal supporters of the president are … well, at the moment they aren’t even particularly vocal.” But why? We’re told there are “reasons beyond the president’s control.” Ah, the Republicans (in the minority in both houses and discredited nationwide after 2008) opposed him. Really? The enthusiasm gap sprung up because the minority party opposed what he was doing? That makes no sense.

How about this one then: “The Senate bill is in many ways a breakthrough, especially in covering 31 million uninsured Americans and ensuring that no one can be denied insurance because of preexisting conditions. But progressives had to give up the idea of a public insurance option, and organized labor had to compromise on taxing ‘Cadillac’ health plans.” Well that explains why liberals aren’t very enthusiastic, but we’re not yet hearing why the other side is grabbing those signs. (Could it be what’s in that health-care bill? Could it be something the Democrats did? Nah! Press on!)

Or could it be Obama’s handling of the economy? Mai, non! “On the economy, there is probably not much more that the administration could have done to ameliorate the pain so many Americans are feeling.”

At the end of his search for reasons, Robinson tip-toes to the vicinity of the truth: “The other major reason for the enthusiasm gap is that Republicans have been winning far too many battles in the ‘message’ war — for example, turning ‘affordable health care for all’ into ‘big government takeover.'” It’s the message mind you; nothing the Democrats have done.

If you’re looking for any recognition that the Democrats have overreached, that they’ve freaked out the country, that the tea party protesters are protesting against something, that the country is in an uproar because Obama ran as a moderate and has governed (or tried to) from the Left, you’ll be disappointed. If a pending loss in Massachusetts hasn’t done the trick, it’s hard to see what might finally get through to them. I suppose crushing losses in November. We’ll find out.

Eugene Robinson is typical of the liberal pundits who are grudgingly acknowledging that Obama and his Democratic congressional allies are in deep trouble. However, he is less candid about the reasons.

Well there’s an “enthusiasm gap,” he says. He sneers: “Vocal opponents of the president and the Democratic congressional leadership are eager, motivated and so excited that they can’t wait to grab their ‘tea party’ signs and march around the neighborhood. Vocal supporters of the president are … well, at the moment they aren’t even particularly vocal.” But why? We’re told there are “reasons beyond the president’s control.” Ah, the Republicans (in the minority in both houses and discredited nationwide after 2008) opposed him. Really? The enthusiasm gap sprung up because the minority party opposed what he was doing? That makes no sense.

How about this one then: “The Senate bill is in many ways a breakthrough, especially in covering 31 million uninsured Americans and ensuring that no one can be denied insurance because of preexisting conditions. But progressives had to give up the idea of a public insurance option, and organized labor had to compromise on taxing ‘Cadillac’ health plans.” Well that explains why liberals aren’t very enthusiastic, but we’re not yet hearing why the other side is grabbing those signs. (Could it be what’s in that health-care bill? Could it be something the Democrats did? Nah! Press on!)

Or could it be Obama’s handling of the economy? Mai, non! “On the economy, there is probably not much more that the administration could have done to ameliorate the pain so many Americans are feeling.”

At the end of his search for reasons, Robinson tip-toes to the vicinity of the truth: “The other major reason for the enthusiasm gap is that Republicans have been winning far too many battles in the ‘message’ war — for example, turning ‘affordable health care for all’ into ‘big government takeover.'” It’s the message mind you; nothing the Democrats have done.

If you’re looking for any recognition that the Democrats have overreached, that they’ve freaked out the country, that the tea party protesters are protesting against something, that the country is in an uproar because Obama ran as a moderate and has governed (or tried to) from the Left, you’ll be disappointed. If a pending loss in Massachusetts hasn’t done the trick, it’s hard to see what might finally get through to them. I suppose crushing losses in November. We’ll find out.

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Only Thing “Spectacular” About Taliban Attack Is MSM Overreaction

So let me get this straight. Seven Taliban staged an attack in Kabul. They failed to blast their way into the Central Bank as intended. In the end they were hunted down by Afghan security forces. Five attackers were gunned down; two committed suicide. The entire attack apparently killed three soldiers and two civilians — far below the death toll of the Columbine massacre, to say nothing of Mumbai. And this is supposed to be a “spectacular attack” that shows the “resiliency” of the Taliban?

All it shows is their flair for publicity. True, the attack showed a fair degree of organization, but it was not terribly successful. More impressive than the attack was the Afghan response, which did not involve any American troops. Once again, the Afghan security forces showed themselves to be more proficient than the Indian security forces did in Mumbai. Unfortunately there will continue to be more such attacks as long as the Taliban know that the international news media will give  them publicity out of all proportion to their military achievements.

So let me get this straight. Seven Taliban staged an attack in Kabul. They failed to blast their way into the Central Bank as intended. In the end they were hunted down by Afghan security forces. Five attackers were gunned down; two committed suicide. The entire attack apparently killed three soldiers and two civilians — far below the death toll of the Columbine massacre, to say nothing of Mumbai. And this is supposed to be a “spectacular attack” that shows the “resiliency” of the Taliban?

All it shows is their flair for publicity. True, the attack showed a fair degree of organization, but it was not terribly successful. More impressive than the attack was the Afghan response, which did not involve any American troops. Once again, the Afghan security forces showed themselves to be more proficient than the Indian security forces did in Mumbai. Unfortunately there will continue to be more such attacks as long as the Taliban know that the international news media will give  them publicity out of all proportion to their military achievements.

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Martha, Meet Creigh Deeds

The venom directed at a failing candidate by her own party is often directly related to the margin of the anticipated defeat. If true, then Martha Coakley is going to get thumped, according to Byron York’s report:

“Everybody is scrambling and freaking out,” says one Democratic strategist of the mood among Democrats now. Coakley’s run has taught the once-triumphant party that “a lackluster, uninspiring campaign is not going to get it done, even in the bluest states.” But with feelings running deep, some Democrats are blaming Coakley in a much more personal way.

“She’s kind of aloof,” the Democrat says. “There are people who will vote for her who don’t really have a sense that they like or trust her. The Kennedys aren’t really fond of her. She basically announced her campaign the day Ted died, and didn’t give Vicki the opportunity to think about [running to replace her husband]. From the Kennedy side of the ledger, there’s no great love for Coakley. They look at her as kind of a predatory politician.”

Well, she did win a primary, after all — by nearly 20 points, in a multi-candidate race. Just a little over a month ago, the entire Democratic establishment was backing her, and the mainstream media declared her the decided favorite in the general race. Now she’s flawed, personally defective, and unloved by everyone. I’m sure Creigh Deeds can relate. He too was beloved, yet wound up the goat as Democrats realized he was headed for a big loss. He too ran a mediocre race. But neither Deeds nor Coakley would have been caught fending off incoming artillery from the Democratic spin machine had the national political environment — namely, the Obama agenda and the public’s disdain for the Reid-Pelosi-Obama leftward lurch — not turned off voters.

Don’t get me wrong — Coakley has made her share of flubs. But in any other year, a Democrat who had committed just as many flubs would still win. That looks highly unlikely now.

The venom directed at a failing candidate by her own party is often directly related to the margin of the anticipated defeat. If true, then Martha Coakley is going to get thumped, according to Byron York’s report:

“Everybody is scrambling and freaking out,” says one Democratic strategist of the mood among Democrats now. Coakley’s run has taught the once-triumphant party that “a lackluster, uninspiring campaign is not going to get it done, even in the bluest states.” But with feelings running deep, some Democrats are blaming Coakley in a much more personal way.

“She’s kind of aloof,” the Democrat says. “There are people who will vote for her who don’t really have a sense that they like or trust her. The Kennedys aren’t really fond of her. She basically announced her campaign the day Ted died, and didn’t give Vicki the opportunity to think about [running to replace her husband]. From the Kennedy side of the ledger, there’s no great love for Coakley. They look at her as kind of a predatory politician.”

Well, she did win a primary, after all — by nearly 20 points, in a multi-candidate race. Just a little over a month ago, the entire Democratic establishment was backing her, and the mainstream media declared her the decided favorite in the general race. Now she’s flawed, personally defective, and unloved by everyone. I’m sure Creigh Deeds can relate. He too was beloved, yet wound up the goat as Democrats realized he was headed for a big loss. He too ran a mediocre race. But neither Deeds nor Coakley would have been caught fending off incoming artillery from the Democratic spin machine had the national political environment — namely, the Obama agenda and the public’s disdain for the Reid-Pelosi-Obama leftward lurch — not turned off voters.

Don’t get me wrong — Coakley has made her share of flubs. But in any other year, a Democrat who had committed just as many flubs would still win. That looks highly unlikely now.

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Maybe They Should Read the Fine Print

The Democrats have long insisted that ObamaCare can be sold to the public if only the poor, uninformed masses understood what was in it. But with every revelation about the specifics of ObamaCare, one is obliged to exclaim, “How could they vote for that?” A case in point is Medicare Advantage. Jeffrey Anderson explains:

According to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, in its real first ten years (2014 to 2023), Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage benefits by $214 billion. Medicare Advantage plans vary by company and region, so cuts would vary from person to person. But, on average, Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage enrollee’s benefits by $21,000 — per person.

As Anderson notes, Medicare Advantage — which allows patients to choose their own private providers — won’t be fairly and equally administered if the Cash for Cloture backroom deals go into effect. “Thanks to the ‘Gator Aid’ deal that Sen. Harry Reid struck behind closed doors with Sen. Bill Nelson, seniors in South Florida would be exempt.” So seniors in California represented by Sen. Barbara Boxer and those in Pennsylvania who rely on Sen. Arlen Specter to look out for them will get a worse deal, and worse health-care coverage, than the Gator Aided seniors. Where’s the “reform” in that?

This deal-making tells us two things. First, the deal that California, Pennsylvania, and other non-Gator Aided seniors got is a bad one. Otherwise Bill Nelson would not have fought to get his constituents out from under the new regime. And second, any senator who voted for ObamaCare without getting a special deal was, bluntly speaking, asleep at the legislative wheel. Even if they like the idea of health care Obama-style, voters are going to want to know why their own senator wasn’t as adroit as Bill Nelson.

Now, one “solution” could be — if ObamaCare survives the Massachusetts Senate vote count — to strip out all the special deals. That would at least put everyone on the same footing. And then voters would get an inkling of just what a rotten deal ObamaCare is for seniors.

So those intent on “selling” ObamaCare to wary voters might want to read what’s in it before they go out selling. It could be that once more and more details are revealed, ObamaCare, if it manages to squeak through, will prove to be even more unpopular than it is now.

The Democrats have long insisted that ObamaCare can be sold to the public if only the poor, uninformed masses understood what was in it. But with every revelation about the specifics of ObamaCare, one is obliged to exclaim, “How could they vote for that?” A case in point is Medicare Advantage. Jeffrey Anderson explains:

According to Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections, in its real first ten years (2014 to 2023), Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage benefits by $214 billion. Medicare Advantage plans vary by company and region, so cuts would vary from person to person. But, on average, Obamacare would cut Medicare Advantage enrollee’s benefits by $21,000 — per person.

As Anderson notes, Medicare Advantage — which allows patients to choose their own private providers — won’t be fairly and equally administered if the Cash for Cloture backroom deals go into effect. “Thanks to the ‘Gator Aid’ deal that Sen. Harry Reid struck behind closed doors with Sen. Bill Nelson, seniors in South Florida would be exempt.” So seniors in California represented by Sen. Barbara Boxer and those in Pennsylvania who rely on Sen. Arlen Specter to look out for them will get a worse deal, and worse health-care coverage, than the Gator Aided seniors. Where’s the “reform” in that?

This deal-making tells us two things. First, the deal that California, Pennsylvania, and other non-Gator Aided seniors got is a bad one. Otherwise Bill Nelson would not have fought to get his constituents out from under the new regime. And second, any senator who voted for ObamaCare without getting a special deal was, bluntly speaking, asleep at the legislative wheel. Even if they like the idea of health care Obama-style, voters are going to want to know why their own senator wasn’t as adroit as Bill Nelson.

Now, one “solution” could be — if ObamaCare survives the Massachusetts Senate vote count — to strip out all the special deals. That would at least put everyone on the same footing. And then voters would get an inkling of just what a rotten deal ObamaCare is for seniors.

So those intent on “selling” ObamaCare to wary voters might want to read what’s in it before they go out selling. It could be that once more and more details are revealed, ObamaCare, if it manages to squeak through, will prove to be even more unpopular than it is now.

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When Everything Is Bleak, Attack Fox News

The Obami are nothing if not persistent. Fox News may be the fastest-growing cable news network. The White House vendetta against those so stiff-necked as to refuse to view the world through the White House’s news prism may have backfired, making the Obami look paranoid and thin-skinned. But why change? After all, the White House is riding high and has the pulse of the electorate, right? Oh well, not at all. But Fox is still to be vilified and marginalized. The Hill reports:

Leadership of the White House’s communication shop may have changed, but its new chief made clear on Monday he shares his predecessor’s concerns about Fox News. The network is “not a traditional news organization,” director Dan Pfeiffer stressed, adding he agreed with former Director Anita Dunn’s take on the network. … “We don’t feel the obligation to treat them like we would treat a CNN, or an ABC, or an NBC, or a traditional news organization, but there are times when we believe it makes sense to communicate with them,” he added, noting the White House’s decision to dispatch counter-terrorism chief John Brennan to Fox News Sunday after the Flight 253 attack was one example of that.

I suppose when you have your communications strategy wired, when every election in the past few months has gone your way, and when you have a firm grip on the independent voters who watch Fox in huge numbers, you can afford to be arrogant. But when none of those things is true and the White House has spent days scrambling to undo the damage from an embarrassingly lackluster presidential response to terrorism, the administration might want to think about reaching out beyond their spin-cocoon. They might want to try to erase the image of their being incapable of interacting with those who fail to provide reverential coverage. After all, three years is a long time to continue their current downward trajectory, which is the result of this sort of arrogance and of their insistence on ignoring those who refuse to nod approvingly, parrot the line of the day, and avoid asking impertinent questions.

The Obami are nothing if not persistent. Fox News may be the fastest-growing cable news network. The White House vendetta against those so stiff-necked as to refuse to view the world through the White House’s news prism may have backfired, making the Obami look paranoid and thin-skinned. But why change? After all, the White House is riding high and has the pulse of the electorate, right? Oh well, not at all. But Fox is still to be vilified and marginalized. The Hill reports:

Leadership of the White House’s communication shop may have changed, but its new chief made clear on Monday he shares his predecessor’s concerns about Fox News. The network is “not a traditional news organization,” director Dan Pfeiffer stressed, adding he agreed with former Director Anita Dunn’s take on the network. … “We don’t feel the obligation to treat them like we would treat a CNN, or an ABC, or an NBC, or a traditional news organization, but there are times when we believe it makes sense to communicate with them,” he added, noting the White House’s decision to dispatch counter-terrorism chief John Brennan to Fox News Sunday after the Flight 253 attack was one example of that.

I suppose when you have your communications strategy wired, when every election in the past few months has gone your way, and when you have a firm grip on the independent voters who watch Fox in huge numbers, you can afford to be arrogant. But when none of those things is true and the White House has spent days scrambling to undo the damage from an embarrassingly lackluster presidential response to terrorism, the administration might want to think about reaching out beyond their spin-cocoon. They might want to try to erase the image of their being incapable of interacting with those who fail to provide reverential coverage. After all, three years is a long time to continue their current downward trajectory, which is the result of this sort of arrogance and of their insistence on ignoring those who refuse to nod approvingly, parrot the line of the day, and avoid asking impertinent questions.

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Just Like Palin!

John Kerry gives us a peek at the psyche of the Left:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) lashed out at Scott Brown’s Massachusetts senatorial campaign on Monday for adopting “intimidation tactics” that he deemed “reminiscent of the dangerous atmosphere of Sarah Palin’s 2008 campaign rallies.”

These are the words liberals use to characterize conservative enthusiasm and activism: dangerous and intimidation. But this time, George Bush is a distant memory, John McCain is not at the top of the ticket, and the Republican is ahead in the polls.

Nevertheless, the reflexive reaction to delegitimize the opposition and associate the next political rock star on the Right with the Left’s bogeywoman is something to behold. (Imagine how the other 2012 contenders must grind their teeth when they hear that sort of stuff. Well, I suppose no one on the Left thinks supporters of Tim Pawlenty or John Thune are all that “dangerous.”)

The Democrats are, of course, in panic mode. Sam Stein tells us that “the White House, congressional Democrats and others were preparing for the fallout of an embarrassing loss on Tuesday and the implications it would have on the party’s agenda — drafting out legislative possibilities for passing health care reform and laying out arguments for who was to blame for the defeat.” One argument, as lame as it sounds, must be to blame the voters. Or if that fails, blame the newly energized grassroots movement that’s sweeping the country. We have come some way since last April, when the White House pretended not to notice the Tea Party protesters swarming across the street. Maybe they should have paid more attention.

The Democrats can pre- and post-spin all they like. The results will speak for themselves. If Brown wins, no amount of fear-mongering about those mean voters and those “dangerous” devotees of the former vice-presidential candidate will matter. But Kerry is right about one thing: incumbent Democrats should be very afraid. If Coakley loses, those angry voters, empowered by victory, will be coming after them.

John Kerry gives us a peek at the psyche of the Left:

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) lashed out at Scott Brown’s Massachusetts senatorial campaign on Monday for adopting “intimidation tactics” that he deemed “reminiscent of the dangerous atmosphere of Sarah Palin’s 2008 campaign rallies.”

These are the words liberals use to characterize conservative enthusiasm and activism: dangerous and intimidation. But this time, George Bush is a distant memory, John McCain is not at the top of the ticket, and the Republican is ahead in the polls.

Nevertheless, the reflexive reaction to delegitimize the opposition and associate the next political rock star on the Right with the Left’s bogeywoman is something to behold. (Imagine how the other 2012 contenders must grind their teeth when they hear that sort of stuff. Well, I suppose no one on the Left thinks supporters of Tim Pawlenty or John Thune are all that “dangerous.”)

The Democrats are, of course, in panic mode. Sam Stein tells us that “the White House, congressional Democrats and others were preparing for the fallout of an embarrassing loss on Tuesday and the implications it would have on the party’s agenda — drafting out legislative possibilities for passing health care reform and laying out arguments for who was to blame for the defeat.” One argument, as lame as it sounds, must be to blame the voters. Or if that fails, blame the newly energized grassroots movement that’s sweeping the country. We have come some way since last April, when the White House pretended not to notice the Tea Party protesters swarming across the street. Maybe they should have paid more attention.

The Democrats can pre- and post-spin all they like. The results will speak for themselves. If Brown wins, no amount of fear-mongering about those mean voters and those “dangerous” devotees of the former vice-presidential candidate will matter. But Kerry is right about one thing: incumbent Democrats should be very afraid. If Coakley loses, those angry voters, empowered by victory, will be coming after them.

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The Beginning of the End of Obamaism?

ABC’s Rick Klein reports that the Democrats are “game-planning a few different scenarios” if Scott Brown wins. Maybe they’ll stall on seating him. Or perhaps they’ll try to cram the Senate bill down House Democrats’ throats. It doesn’t appear that “Start over” of “Stop committing political suicide” is one of the scenarios. Maybe, however, by Wednesday, reality will sink in if Martha Coakley, the Democrats, and ObamaCare get a thumbs-down from Massachusetts voters. (What do you suppose is going through the minds of Blue Dogs and Red State senators who have many, many more Republicans back home than Coakley does?)

Meanwhile, Republicans are practically daring them to ignore the voters:

“I’d love for the Democrats to try to not seat him, and I’d like to see them rush through health care,” [Massachusetts Republican National Committeeman Ron] Kaufman told us from Boston, where he’s helping Brown’s campaign in its final stages. “If either of those things happens, we’ll have a revolution in the streets — not just here but in Washington. I think they’re smarter than that. … If you read the language of a special bill that they rammed through to get him appointed in the first place, it says that [Kirk’s] term is over tomorrow night,” Kaufman told us.

”I am convinced that if Scott Brown wins this race in a comfortable margin — in a fair margin — then the Democrats are not suicidal enough to try to prevent him from being the duly elected senator,” he said.

Perhaps. We know that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have been willing to sacrifice many in their ranks for the sake of the decades-old liberal dream of government-run health care. I don’t think that’s going to change. But what will, I suspect, is the willingness of their House and Senate colleagues to listen to political hokum (“The voters will learn to love it!”) and unsubstantiated spin (“Doing nothing is worse than passing a bill 60 percent of voters oppose”). At some point, those members at greater risk than Coakley — which, come to think of it, is virtually all of them — will say “Enough!” And then we might see the end of Obamaism — not necessarily the end of the president himself but of his experiment in ultra-liberalism in defiance of the majority of the electorate.

ABC’s Rick Klein reports that the Democrats are “game-planning a few different scenarios” if Scott Brown wins. Maybe they’ll stall on seating him. Or perhaps they’ll try to cram the Senate bill down House Democrats’ throats. It doesn’t appear that “Start over” of “Stop committing political suicide” is one of the scenarios. Maybe, however, by Wednesday, reality will sink in if Martha Coakley, the Democrats, and ObamaCare get a thumbs-down from Massachusetts voters. (What do you suppose is going through the minds of Blue Dogs and Red State senators who have many, many more Republicans back home than Coakley does?)

Meanwhile, Republicans are practically daring them to ignore the voters:

“I’d love for the Democrats to try to not seat him, and I’d like to see them rush through health care,” [Massachusetts Republican National Committeeman Ron] Kaufman told us from Boston, where he’s helping Brown’s campaign in its final stages. “If either of those things happens, we’ll have a revolution in the streets — not just here but in Washington. I think they’re smarter than that. … If you read the language of a special bill that they rammed through to get him appointed in the first place, it says that [Kirk’s] term is over tomorrow night,” Kaufman told us.

”I am convinced that if Scott Brown wins this race in a comfortable margin — in a fair margin — then the Democrats are not suicidal enough to try to prevent him from being the duly elected senator,” he said.

Perhaps. We know that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have been willing to sacrifice many in their ranks for the sake of the decades-old liberal dream of government-run health care. I don’t think that’s going to change. But what will, I suspect, is the willingness of their House and Senate colleagues to listen to political hokum (“The voters will learn to love it!”) and unsubstantiated spin (“Doing nothing is worse than passing a bill 60 percent of voters oppose”). At some point, those members at greater risk than Coakley — which, come to think of it, is virtually all of them — will say “Enough!” And then we might see the end of Obamaism — not necessarily the end of the president himself but of his experiment in ultra-liberalism in defiance of the majority of the electorate.

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The Perils of Poor Judgment

Today Barack Obama may get a rude awakening. As Jay Cost notes:

Coakley will rightly get most of the blame should Brown actually pull off what once seemed to be an impossible victory. Yet much of the responsibility will have to rest with Barack Obama, who has guided his party so poorly that it is having trouble making an appeal to voters in Massachusetts.

Cost argues that Obama made grievous errors in dumping bipartisanship, making Reid and Pelosi the de facto “prime ministers,” and coming up with an agenda ill-suited to the times. Well, we’ve come a long way. It seems like just yesterday that Obama was peddling his “judgment” in lieu of “experience,” right? It turns out that he has neither.

The judgment errors are many and serious. He misread his mandate, confused campaign rhetoric for persuasive communication, overexposed himself, refused to let go of his juvenile fixation on blaming George W. Bush for all the problems he faced, replaced bipartisanship with hyper-partisanship, and declined to take seriously early-warning signs sent by the voters in New Jersey and Virginia. The common thread through all of this: arrogance. “We won!” he pronounced early on and therefore never seemed to take seriously criticism or objections, whether from the other party, concerned Democrats, the media, or even polls. He simply plunged ahead, oblivious to the backlash that was building.

Insularity has been the order of the day. And we will soon know whether it has cost him his filibuster-proof Senate majority and his signature agenda item. Three years is a long time in politics, so it’s possible that Obama may yet recover and succeed, but only if he wakes from his political slumber and learns from his many costly misjudgments.

Today Barack Obama may get a rude awakening. As Jay Cost notes:

Coakley will rightly get most of the blame should Brown actually pull off what once seemed to be an impossible victory. Yet much of the responsibility will have to rest with Barack Obama, who has guided his party so poorly that it is having trouble making an appeal to voters in Massachusetts.

Cost argues that Obama made grievous errors in dumping bipartisanship, making Reid and Pelosi the de facto “prime ministers,” and coming up with an agenda ill-suited to the times. Well, we’ve come a long way. It seems like just yesterday that Obama was peddling his “judgment” in lieu of “experience,” right? It turns out that he has neither.

The judgment errors are many and serious. He misread his mandate, confused campaign rhetoric for persuasive communication, overexposed himself, refused to let go of his juvenile fixation on blaming George W. Bush for all the problems he faced, replaced bipartisanship with hyper-partisanship, and declined to take seriously early-warning signs sent by the voters in New Jersey and Virginia. The common thread through all of this: arrogance. “We won!” he pronounced early on and therefore never seemed to take seriously criticism or objections, whether from the other party, concerned Democrats, the media, or even polls. He simply plunged ahead, oblivious to the backlash that was building.

Insularity has been the order of the day. And we will soon know whether it has cost him his filibuster-proof Senate majority and his signature agenda item. Three years is a long time in politics, so it’s possible that Obama may yet recover and succeed, but only if he wakes from his political slumber and learns from his many costly misjudgments.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

University of Pennsylvania’s Hillel is hosting J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami. Does Hillel not know that J Street doesn’t like to be known as a “pro-Israel” organization? One wonders what those who support Hillel must be thinking.

Mitt Romney was either missing in action or responsible for Scott Brown’s success, depending on which narrative you like. If Scott Brown wins, lots of people will claim credit, but Scott Brown will be forever indebted to ObamaCare. Without that target, is there any doubt that a plain-wrap Democrat, even one as mediocre as Coakley, was going to win going away?

Martha Coakley in “free fall”? Down by 9 in one poll. And it’s a similar story in many other polls — making for one eye-opening graph.

Nate Silver also is picking Scott Brown to win.

Marty Peretz sums up: “A loss in Massachusetts for the Obami would be a disastrous event. A narrow win would be a terrible warning.”

Ruth Marcus thinks it’s a plane crash: “If the Democratic party were a plane, its captain would have gotten on the intercom and instructed passengers to brace for impact. But President Obama, in this instance, may be no Sully Sullenberger. The chances of pulling off a smooth landing seem slight. The consequences could be catastrophic. … [A] Coakley loss would not simply reflect her shortcomings; it would illustrate the desire, in Democratic Massachusetts and nationwide, to put some checks on Democratic control of the levers of government. The first victim could be the central legislative focus of Obama’s presidency.”

The Wall Street Journal editors think it’s “the classic political mistake of ideological overreach”: “Mr. Obama won the White House in part on his personal style and cool confidence amid a recession and an unpopular war. Yet liberals in Congress interpreted their victory as a mandate to repeal more or less the entire post-1980 policy era and to fulfill, at last, their dream of turning the U.S. into a cradle-to-grave entitlement state. … The lesson of Mr. Obama’s lost first year is that an economic crisis is a terrible thing to exploit. As they have each time in the last 40 years that they have had total control of Washington, Democrats are proving again that America can’t be successfully governed from the left. If that is the lesson Mr. Obama learns from Massachusetts, he might still salvage his Presidency.”

Nancy Pelosi’s not listening to a bunch of know-nothing voters. Full steam ahead! And they wonder why they’re on the verge of a political earthquake.

This suggests that a large plurality of voters want to stop ObamaCare dead in its tracks: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 49% of likely voters nationwide want Brown to win, while 34% are cheering on Coakley. Seventeen percent (17%) are undecided.”

University of Pennsylvania’s Hillel is hosting J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami. Does Hillel not know that J Street doesn’t like to be known as a “pro-Israel” organization? One wonders what those who support Hillel must be thinking.

Mitt Romney was either missing in action or responsible for Scott Brown’s success, depending on which narrative you like. If Scott Brown wins, lots of people will claim credit, but Scott Brown will be forever indebted to ObamaCare. Without that target, is there any doubt that a plain-wrap Democrat, even one as mediocre as Coakley, was going to win going away?

Martha Coakley in “free fall”? Down by 9 in one poll. And it’s a similar story in many other polls — making for one eye-opening graph.

Nate Silver also is picking Scott Brown to win.

Marty Peretz sums up: “A loss in Massachusetts for the Obami would be a disastrous event. A narrow win would be a terrible warning.”

Ruth Marcus thinks it’s a plane crash: “If the Democratic party were a plane, its captain would have gotten on the intercom and instructed passengers to brace for impact. But President Obama, in this instance, may be no Sully Sullenberger. The chances of pulling off a smooth landing seem slight. The consequences could be catastrophic. … [A] Coakley loss would not simply reflect her shortcomings; it would illustrate the desire, in Democratic Massachusetts and nationwide, to put some checks on Democratic control of the levers of government. The first victim could be the central legislative focus of Obama’s presidency.”

The Wall Street Journal editors think it’s “the classic political mistake of ideological overreach”: “Mr. Obama won the White House in part on his personal style and cool confidence amid a recession and an unpopular war. Yet liberals in Congress interpreted their victory as a mandate to repeal more or less the entire post-1980 policy era and to fulfill, at last, their dream of turning the U.S. into a cradle-to-grave entitlement state. … The lesson of Mr. Obama’s lost first year is that an economic crisis is a terrible thing to exploit. As they have each time in the last 40 years that they have had total control of Washington, Democrats are proving again that America can’t be successfully governed from the left. If that is the lesson Mr. Obama learns from Massachusetts, he might still salvage his Presidency.”

Nancy Pelosi’s not listening to a bunch of know-nothing voters. Full steam ahead! And they wonder why they’re on the verge of a political earthquake.

This suggests that a large plurality of voters want to stop ObamaCare dead in its tracks: “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 49% of likely voters nationwide want Brown to win, while 34% are cheering on Coakley. Seventeen percent (17%) are undecided.”

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