Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 21, 2010

Brown Ripples

Scott Brown is heading for the Senate. There are obvious consequences and some immediate beneficiaries and victims. The president, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and anyone who voted to support the ultra-leftist agenda are scrambling. The tea party protesters, the candidates with populist appeal (e.g., Marco Rubio), and those opposing ObamaCare are the most immediate winners. But the ripples of the Massachusetts Miracle extend further than that.

For starters, will another liberal Supreme Court justice retire this year now that there’s no longer a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority? Maybe Justice Stevens has had enough and will hang it up, even without the assurance that a sufficiently liberal replacement can be confirmed. Or perhaps he sticks it out. And should he or another Supreme Court justice leave the Court, Obama may find his choices circumscribed. An ultra-liberal or an underqualified but politically helpful selection (e.g., a demographically desirable “wise” judge) may not be able to secure the needed votes. Obama may actually have to find an eminently qualified, non-extremist for the Court.

Then there’s the impact on the 2012 presidential contenders. Recall 1992, when few Democrats entered the field, imagining that George H.W. Bush would be unstoppable. The 2012 race may be the reverse — the field will fill up with those who imagine that this is the year for a Republican victory. I expect to see a long list of viable and semi-viable candidates lining up to take their shot at Obama. What have they got to lose?

And get ready for the media to descend on tea party protesters and conservative activists like anthropologists airlifted to a remote Pacific island. What motivates these people? Who are they? As others have noted, the press is suddenly a whole lot more respectful of those who organize, express political views, draw new voters into politics, and articulate a coherent small-government philosophy. Next thing you know, they might investigate a populist rock star who sold a lot of books and has a million and a half Facebook readers.

Finally, get ready for head-spinning hypocrisy and a spate of copy-cat candidates. Scott Brown had a truck? Other candidates will too! Brown, Bob McDonnell, and Chris Christie ran against Washington D.C. — so will lawmakers who’ve been there for years. The spin doctors and political hacks will descend and tell their clients that it’s this or that finely tuned message or a particular social network that’s the key to victory. Remember that stunningly great Scott Brown ad on taxes? I bet it’ll come back. What the hacks forget is that substance matters, and voters readily discern when someone is a conviction candidate or a fraud.

We’ve run out of adjectives to describe the Brown victory. (Epic? Historic? Earth-shaking?) But whatever we call it, we’ll see its impact for months and perhaps years to come. What we still don’t know is exactly how it will affect the political landscape and how far into the future the Brown political ripples will extend.

Scott Brown is heading for the Senate. There are obvious consequences and some immediate beneficiaries and victims. The president, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and anyone who voted to support the ultra-leftist agenda are scrambling. The tea party protesters, the candidates with populist appeal (e.g., Marco Rubio), and those opposing ObamaCare are the most immediate winners. But the ripples of the Massachusetts Miracle extend further than that.

For starters, will another liberal Supreme Court justice retire this year now that there’s no longer a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority? Maybe Justice Stevens has had enough and will hang it up, even without the assurance that a sufficiently liberal replacement can be confirmed. Or perhaps he sticks it out. And should he or another Supreme Court justice leave the Court, Obama may find his choices circumscribed. An ultra-liberal or an underqualified but politically helpful selection (e.g., a demographically desirable “wise” judge) may not be able to secure the needed votes. Obama may actually have to find an eminently qualified, non-extremist for the Court.

Then there’s the impact on the 2012 presidential contenders. Recall 1992, when few Democrats entered the field, imagining that George H.W. Bush would be unstoppable. The 2012 race may be the reverse — the field will fill up with those who imagine that this is the year for a Republican victory. I expect to see a long list of viable and semi-viable candidates lining up to take their shot at Obama. What have they got to lose?

And get ready for the media to descend on tea party protesters and conservative activists like anthropologists airlifted to a remote Pacific island. What motivates these people? Who are they? As others have noted, the press is suddenly a whole lot more respectful of those who organize, express political views, draw new voters into politics, and articulate a coherent small-government philosophy. Next thing you know, they might investigate a populist rock star who sold a lot of books and has a million and a half Facebook readers.

Finally, get ready for head-spinning hypocrisy and a spate of copy-cat candidates. Scott Brown had a truck? Other candidates will too! Brown, Bob McDonnell, and Chris Christie ran against Washington D.C. — so will lawmakers who’ve been there for years. The spin doctors and political hacks will descend and tell their clients that it’s this or that finely tuned message or a particular social network that’s the key to victory. Remember that stunningly great Scott Brown ad on taxes? I bet it’ll come back. What the hacks forget is that substance matters, and voters readily discern when someone is a conviction candidate or a fraud.

We’ve run out of adjectives to describe the Brown victory. (Epic? Historic? Earth-shaking?) But whatever we call it, we’ll see its impact for months and perhaps years to come. What we still don’t know is exactly how it will affect the political landscape and how far into the future the Brown political ripples will extend.

Read Less

Who Thinks He’s Done Well?

Rasmussen reports:

Forty-seven percent (47%) of U.S. voters rate President Obama’s handling of the health care issue as poor, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Only 32% say the president has done a good or excellent job on the issue that has increasingly come to dominate the national political debate as the plan proposed by Obama and congressional Democrats struggles through Congress.

It’s a bit hard to fathom that 32 percent of voters think he’s done a good job on health care. Who are these people? They can’t be liberals, who think the president has fumbled the ball. They wouldn’t be conservatives, who believe Obama’s demagoguery and statist leanings have led Congress into a legislative cul-de-sac. And certainly independents who voted overwhelmingly for Scott Brown and who are fleeing the Democratic party nationally don’t like what Obama’s done.

Really, it’s hard to imagine how Obama could have done a worse job on a legislative goal that he described as his key domestic initiative and that liberals have dreamed of achieving for decades. After all, Obama had huge congressional majorities. How did his miss a golden opportunity like this to alter the entire landscape of domestic policy and establish a place for nationalized health care? Well, for starters, he delegated the job to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who proceeded to craft a bill that appealed to the Left but not to the vast middle of the electorate. Then Obama imagined that this was something the public actually wanted, when they’d rather get unemployment below 10 percent and not explode the deficit. Next he stood idly by as the bill became progressively worse, corrupted by backroom deals. Then his much heralded rhetorical skills failed him. (Turns out that repeating pabulum on five Sunday talk shows doesn’t carry the day.)

As a result, Obama is scrambling for Plan B, his presidency hanging in the balance. Maybe he can find some face-saving mini-health-care reforms to pass, get his signing ceremony, and declare “victory.” But pundits who thought he possessed great finesse and liberals who saw him as their political savior must be gravely disappointed. And conservatives? They’re breathing a sigh of relief that the American people have reasserted themselves and that a big-government power grab is on the verge of collapse.

Rasmussen reports:

Forty-seven percent (47%) of U.S. voters rate President Obama’s handling of the health care issue as poor, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Only 32% say the president has done a good or excellent job on the issue that has increasingly come to dominate the national political debate as the plan proposed by Obama and congressional Democrats struggles through Congress.

It’s a bit hard to fathom that 32 percent of voters think he’s done a good job on health care. Who are these people? They can’t be liberals, who think the president has fumbled the ball. They wouldn’t be conservatives, who believe Obama’s demagoguery and statist leanings have led Congress into a legislative cul-de-sac. And certainly independents who voted overwhelmingly for Scott Brown and who are fleeing the Democratic party nationally don’t like what Obama’s done.

Really, it’s hard to imagine how Obama could have done a worse job on a legislative goal that he described as his key domestic initiative and that liberals have dreamed of achieving for decades. After all, Obama had huge congressional majorities. How did his miss a golden opportunity like this to alter the entire landscape of domestic policy and establish a place for nationalized health care? Well, for starters, he delegated the job to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who proceeded to craft a bill that appealed to the Left but not to the vast middle of the electorate. Then Obama imagined that this was something the public actually wanted, when they’d rather get unemployment below 10 percent and not explode the deficit. Next he stood idly by as the bill became progressively worse, corrupted by backroom deals. Then his much heralded rhetorical skills failed him. (Turns out that repeating pabulum on five Sunday talk shows doesn’t carry the day.)

As a result, Obama is scrambling for Plan B, his presidency hanging in the balance. Maybe he can find some face-saving mini-health-care reforms to pass, get his signing ceremony, and declare “victory.” But pundits who thought he possessed great finesse and liberals who saw him as their political savior must be gravely disappointed. And conservatives? They’re breathing a sigh of relief that the American people have reasserted themselves and that a big-government power grab is on the verge of collapse.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Noemie Emery remembers Dean Barnett. Mickey Kaus adds: “This past year I would gladly have traded the entire national staffs of the New York Times, Washington Post and all four TV networks for any two of Barnett, Deborah Orin, Marjorie Williams and Cathy Seipp. They were all immune to Democratic BS.”

Obama’s TSA nominee withdraws (gets dumped?) on a busy news day.

George Will reminds us that the fallout from Obamaism could be much worse than a single congressional election: “Today, Democrats worrying about a reprise of 1994 should worry more about a rerun of the 1966 midterm elections, which began a Republican resurgence that presaged victories in seven of the next 10 presidential elections. The 2008 elections gave liberals the curse of opportunity, and they have used it to reveal themselves ruinously.”

Is Obama bending to reality? “President Barack Obama suggested he’s open to Congress passing a scaled-back health-care bill, potentially sacrificing much of his signature policy initiative as chaos engulfed Capitol Hill Wednesday. Top Democrats said they would press ahead despite growing doubts among rank-and-file members that they can pass a bill they’ve been laboring over for nearly a year. A host of ideas offered in recent days have lost favor.” Lost favor? Perhaps “melted in the aftermath of post-Brown panic” is a more precise description.

Rep. Bart Stupak seems to agree with a scaled-down health-care bill: “Tuesday’s results have created an opportunity for President Obama to deliver a final health-care reform bill. It may mean a scaled back proposal, but a proposal that focuses on the most critical needs of Americans. I remain confident that Congress will pass a health-care bill that finally grants Americans access to affordable, quality health-care coverage.”

Another non-achievement by the Obami: “Just a month after world leaders fashioned a tentative and nonbinding agreement at the climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen, the deal already appears at risk of coming undone, the top United Nations climate official warned on Wednesday.”

If Dennis Blair is on the way out, he’s going out in style, dumping on Obama’s antiterror approach: “The nation’s intelligence chief said Wednesday that the Christmas Day airline bombing suspect should have been treated as a terrorism detainee when the plane landed. That would have meant initial questioning by special interrogators. … Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he was not consulted on whether Abdulmutallab should be questioned by the recently created High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group or HIG.”

But then Blair is forced to walk it back in a late-afternoon statement: “‘The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody,’ the statement said. ‘They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI’s expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational.'” How many Friday news dumps will Blair survive?

More Democratic victims: “Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown’s upset victory over Democrat Martha Coakley Tuesday night altered the national political landscape in the health care debate and could have profound repercussions for the Democratic majority in Congress, including Arkansas’ closely-watched U.S. Senate race. … Two-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln, whose seat will be one of the most hotly contested races in the nation in 2010, continues to lose ground in her favorable ratings as well as her job performance among Arkansas voters.” Overall, only 38 percent approve of her performance, while 56 disapprove.

Noemie Emery remembers Dean Barnett. Mickey Kaus adds: “This past year I would gladly have traded the entire national staffs of the New York Times, Washington Post and all four TV networks for any two of Barnett, Deborah Orin, Marjorie Williams and Cathy Seipp. They were all immune to Democratic BS.”

Obama’s TSA nominee withdraws (gets dumped?) on a busy news day.

George Will reminds us that the fallout from Obamaism could be much worse than a single congressional election: “Today, Democrats worrying about a reprise of 1994 should worry more about a rerun of the 1966 midterm elections, which began a Republican resurgence that presaged victories in seven of the next 10 presidential elections. The 2008 elections gave liberals the curse of opportunity, and they have used it to reveal themselves ruinously.”

Is Obama bending to reality? “President Barack Obama suggested he’s open to Congress passing a scaled-back health-care bill, potentially sacrificing much of his signature policy initiative as chaos engulfed Capitol Hill Wednesday. Top Democrats said they would press ahead despite growing doubts among rank-and-file members that they can pass a bill they’ve been laboring over for nearly a year. A host of ideas offered in recent days have lost favor.” Lost favor? Perhaps “melted in the aftermath of post-Brown panic” is a more precise description.

Rep. Bart Stupak seems to agree with a scaled-down health-care bill: “Tuesday’s results have created an opportunity for President Obama to deliver a final health-care reform bill. It may mean a scaled back proposal, but a proposal that focuses on the most critical needs of Americans. I remain confident that Congress will pass a health-care bill that finally grants Americans access to affordable, quality health-care coverage.”

Another non-achievement by the Obami: “Just a month after world leaders fashioned a tentative and nonbinding agreement at the climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen, the deal already appears at risk of coming undone, the top United Nations climate official warned on Wednesday.”

If Dennis Blair is on the way out, he’s going out in style, dumping on Obama’s antiterror approach: “The nation’s intelligence chief said Wednesday that the Christmas Day airline bombing suspect should have been treated as a terrorism detainee when the plane landed. That would have meant initial questioning by special interrogators. … Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he was not consulted on whether Abdulmutallab should be questioned by the recently created High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group or HIG.”

But then Blair is forced to walk it back in a late-afternoon statement: “‘The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody,’ the statement said. ‘They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI’s expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational.'” How many Friday news dumps will Blair survive?

More Democratic victims: “Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown’s upset victory over Democrat Martha Coakley Tuesday night altered the national political landscape in the health care debate and could have profound repercussions for the Democratic majority in Congress, including Arkansas’ closely-watched U.S. Senate race. … Two-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Blanche Lincoln, whose seat will be one of the most hotly contested races in the nation in 2010, continues to lose ground in her favorable ratings as well as her job performance among Arkansas voters.” Overall, only 38 percent approve of her performance, while 56 disapprove.

Read Less




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