Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 19, 2010

Reading the Palin Tea Leaves

Reading the Palin tea leaves is about to become a daily obsession. Each visit and speech elicits a new round of speculation. She went to Iowa — she’s running! But she “spent little of her time with them. She did not appear at a rally, impromptu campaign stop or closed-door one-on-one meetings with party activists” — she’s not running! She’s making inroads with activists. (“‘She sure has a way of rallying the troops by pointing out that we need to get back to our roots, get out there and fight,’ said one.”) Nah, she’s not that electrifying. (“She did not carry the crowd with her through the entire 33-minute speech. When she talked about the beauty of the Tea Party movement, the party activists in the room barely responded.”) She’s hungry to run. (She says, “I want to get back to Iowa soon.”) Or, she’s decided she doesn’t need to. (“I know that you can make a big difference in America without even having a title.”)

It is both in her interest and the media’s to keep the suspense going. If she runs, the buildup and anticipation is invaluable; if she doesn’t, it still keeps her “brand” hot. The media loves a “How will it turn out?” story, and the left punditocracy is fixated on her. It is in no one’s interest to resolve the question quickly.

And her tea leaves are harder to read than most. If a traditional candidate is going to run, he’s going to do traditional things — meet with those activists, assemble a professional staff, and put together an Iowa or New Hampshire ground game (or revive ones from 2008). But Palin isn’t that sort of politician. It’s not clear she will, until the last possible moment (and maybe not even then), play the nitty-gritty insiders’ game. She, after all has 100 percent name identification and can command free media to an extent no other figure can. This doesn’t mean she can win with such an approach. But we’ve never seen a phenomenon like Palin. Maybe you can win the presidency without the rubber-chicken circuit and without organizing every straw poll in sight. We’ll find out. Or maybe not.

Reading the Palin tea leaves is about to become a daily obsession. Each visit and speech elicits a new round of speculation. She went to Iowa — she’s running! But she “spent little of her time with them. She did not appear at a rally, impromptu campaign stop or closed-door one-on-one meetings with party activists” — she’s not running! She’s making inroads with activists. (“‘She sure has a way of rallying the troops by pointing out that we need to get back to our roots, get out there and fight,’ said one.”) Nah, she’s not that electrifying. (“She did not carry the crowd with her through the entire 33-minute speech. When she talked about the beauty of the Tea Party movement, the party activists in the room barely responded.”) She’s hungry to run. (She says, “I want to get back to Iowa soon.”) Or, she’s decided she doesn’t need to. (“I know that you can make a big difference in America without even having a title.”)

It is both in her interest and the media’s to keep the suspense going. If she runs, the buildup and anticipation is invaluable; if she doesn’t, it still keeps her “brand” hot. The media loves a “How will it turn out?” story, and the left punditocracy is fixated on her. It is in no one’s interest to resolve the question quickly.

And her tea leaves are harder to read than most. If a traditional candidate is going to run, he’s going to do traditional things — meet with those activists, assemble a professional staff, and put together an Iowa or New Hampshire ground game (or revive ones from 2008). But Palin isn’t that sort of politician. It’s not clear she will, until the last possible moment (and maybe not even then), play the nitty-gritty insiders’ game. She, after all has 100 percent name identification and can command free media to an extent no other figure can. This doesn’t mean she can win with such an approach. But we’ve never seen a phenomenon like Palin. Maybe you can win the presidency without the rubber-chicken circuit and without organizing every straw poll in sight. We’ll find out. Or maybe not.

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A Class War or War?

The day before the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Obama was asked why there seemed to be a recent uptick in American distress about Islam. “At a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then, you know, fears can surface; suspicions, divisions can surface in a society,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don’t start turning on each other.”

What is not blamed on George W. Bush is blamed on us all. The Bible-clutching, gun-toting xenophobes Barack Obama referenced during his presidential campaign are now taking out their financial woes on innocent Muslims. Shame on them.

On the same day that the president gave his academic instruction on the roots of religious scapegoating among the American working class, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a report titled “Assessing the Terrorist Threat,” which stated, “Last year was a watershed in terrorist attacks and plots in the United States, with a record total of 11 jihadist attacks, jihadist-inspired plots, or efforts by Americans to travel overseas to obtain terrorist training.” Most gruesome among them was the attack at Fort Hood, Texas, which killed 13 people.

The BPC report is an adult answer to the question that was posed to the president. Recently, Americans have witnessed a terrorism parade. For the first time since 9/11, multiple threats and attacks on the homeland came across our TV screens. For our anguish over the loss of American lives, we were told the system worked; admonished not to jump to conclusions about the perpetrators; and, while we absorbed the blows of Islamist terrorism, told there was no such thing.

The crowning surreality was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s plan to build a community center and mosque blocks from Ground Zero. For our misgivings about that, Americans were labeled bigots.

But according to our president, the problem lies with Americans who, as he once put it, “get bitter [and] cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” not with those who get homicidal and fire their guns in the name of religion and hatred of people who are not like them.

The declarations of President Obama and of the Bipartisan Policy Center are the poles between which American national security now vacillates. We go from the real world, where gunmen scream “Allahu Akbar” and kill Americans, to the classroom, where Islamist terrorism does not exist and all conflict can be explained as a function of economic struggle.

The classroom explanation is an insult to public intelligence. So too is the concomitant disclaimer that “the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people.” Not because it is false (it is not), but because no sane person has ever asserted the counterclaim. As a people, this makes us dumber. It makes us dumber to write it and it makes us dumber to read it. It introduces illogic into our reasoning, and once illogic enters, it stays. In public debate, there is always a well-meaning justification for proceeding illogically.

As a country, it makes us vulnerable — never more so than today. The BPC report notes that more American citizens or residents associated with Islamist groups were charged or convicted of terrorism in 2009 than in any year since 9/11. “A key shift in the threat to the homeland since around the time President Barack Obama took office,” says the report, “is the increasing ‘Americanization’ of the leadership of al-Qaeda and aligned groups, and the larger numbers of Americans attaching themselves to these groups.”

The enemy is becoming an intimate part of the American landscape and less easily identifiable as a distinctly foreign phenomenon. This is precisely the time for our leaders to find an intelligent way of discussing the true nature of the fight. Officially denying that there are Muslim terrorists among us will not protect innocent Muslims; it will put them at greater risk, as a potentially traumatized citizenry becomes frustrated with leadership that refuses to take seriously the complicated threats arrayed against it. Yet at no time since 9/11 has our government been this willfully inarticulate — even insulting — about the challenges we face.

The day before the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Obama was asked why there seemed to be a recent uptick in American distress about Islam. “At a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then, you know, fears can surface; suspicions, divisions can surface in a society,” he said. “We have to make sure that we don’t start turning on each other.”

What is not blamed on George W. Bush is blamed on us all. The Bible-clutching, gun-toting xenophobes Barack Obama referenced during his presidential campaign are now taking out their financial woes on innocent Muslims. Shame on them.

On the same day that the president gave his academic instruction on the roots of religious scapegoating among the American working class, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a report titled “Assessing the Terrorist Threat,” which stated, “Last year was a watershed in terrorist attacks and plots in the United States, with a record total of 11 jihadist attacks, jihadist-inspired plots, or efforts by Americans to travel overseas to obtain terrorist training.” Most gruesome among them was the attack at Fort Hood, Texas, which killed 13 people.

The BPC report is an adult answer to the question that was posed to the president. Recently, Americans have witnessed a terrorism parade. For the first time since 9/11, multiple threats and attacks on the homeland came across our TV screens. For our anguish over the loss of American lives, we were told the system worked; admonished not to jump to conclusions about the perpetrators; and, while we absorbed the blows of Islamist terrorism, told there was no such thing.

The crowning surreality was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s plan to build a community center and mosque blocks from Ground Zero. For our misgivings about that, Americans were labeled bigots.

But according to our president, the problem lies with Americans who, as he once put it, “get bitter [and] cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” not with those who get homicidal and fire their guns in the name of religion and hatred of people who are not like them.

The declarations of President Obama and of the Bipartisan Policy Center are the poles between which American national security now vacillates. We go from the real world, where gunmen scream “Allahu Akbar” and kill Americans, to the classroom, where Islamist terrorism does not exist and all conflict can be explained as a function of economic struggle.

The classroom explanation is an insult to public intelligence. So too is the concomitant disclaimer that “the majority of Muslims are peace-loving people.” Not because it is false (it is not), but because no sane person has ever asserted the counterclaim. As a people, this makes us dumber. It makes us dumber to write it and it makes us dumber to read it. It introduces illogic into our reasoning, and once illogic enters, it stays. In public debate, there is always a well-meaning justification for proceeding illogically.

As a country, it makes us vulnerable — never more so than today. The BPC report notes that more American citizens or residents associated with Islamist groups were charged or convicted of terrorism in 2009 than in any year since 9/11. “A key shift in the threat to the homeland since around the time President Barack Obama took office,” says the report, “is the increasing ‘Americanization’ of the leadership of al-Qaeda and aligned groups, and the larger numbers of Americans attaching themselves to these groups.”

The enemy is becoming an intimate part of the American landscape and less easily identifiable as a distinctly foreign phenomenon. This is precisely the time for our leaders to find an intelligent way of discussing the true nature of the fight. Officially denying that there are Muslim terrorists among us will not protect innocent Muslims; it will put them at greater risk, as a potentially traumatized citizenry becomes frustrated with leadership that refuses to take seriously the complicated threats arrayed against it. Yet at no time since 9/11 has our government been this willfully inarticulate — even insulting — about the challenges we face.

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Liberals vs. Conservatives in Defeat

Some liberal commentators assure us they mean “no disrespect.” Others don’t even bother. They tell us Americans are confused or crazy, racist or irrational. Maybe all of these. The left punditocracy is in full meltdown, irate at the voters and annoyed at Obama. The contrast to the aftermath of the 2008 election is instructive.

After the across-the-board defeats in 2008, conservative pundits didn’t rail at the voters. You didn’t see the right blogosphere go after the voters as irrational (How could they elect someone so unqualified? They’ve gone bonkers!) with the venom that the left now displays. Instead, there was a healthy debate — what was wrong with the Republican Party and with the conservative movement more generally? We had a somewhat artificial debate between traditionalists and reformers. If anything, the anger was directly (unfairly, in my mind) against George W. Bush (whose tax cuts even many Democrats now want to extend, and whose strategy in Iraq allowed Obama to withdrawal troops in victory), and to the hapless McCain campaign (which spent the final days of the campaign ragging on its VP nominee).

This is yet another confirmation that the right and left look at America – and Americans – quite differently. The leftists view their countrymen as in dire need of supervision — by elites like them, of course. Americans are not competent to make decisions on their own, and left to their own devices,  will run amok. Wall Streeters are greedy, New Yorkers are xenophobes, and the rest of us are Bible- and gun-huggers. And here we go again — acting out and acting up. Obama, the poor dear, just can’t talk sense to us.

When things go wrong for the left, it blames the people; when things go wrong for the right, it blames the governing elites. It is not in the nature of conservatives to demean and attack fellow citizens. To the contrary, conservatives’ vision is grounded in the belief that Americans are competent, decent, and hardworking, and it is the heavy hand of government that threatens to squelch American virtues.

As a practical matter, this enables conservatives to deal more constructively with political adversity. After the mandatory circular firing squad, they generally get down to the business of rethinking and remodeling their agenda and looking for better leaders. (And occasionally, they get lucky with a Carter or Obama to open the door for a conservative resurgence). It’s neither appropriate nor productive to blame the voters. The left had better get out of its funk quickly, or the 2012 temper tantrum will make today’s bellyaching look mild.

Some liberal commentators assure us they mean “no disrespect.” Others don’t even bother. They tell us Americans are confused or crazy, racist or irrational. Maybe all of these. The left punditocracy is in full meltdown, irate at the voters and annoyed at Obama. The contrast to the aftermath of the 2008 election is instructive.

After the across-the-board defeats in 2008, conservative pundits didn’t rail at the voters. You didn’t see the right blogosphere go after the voters as irrational (How could they elect someone so unqualified? They’ve gone bonkers!) with the venom that the left now displays. Instead, there was a healthy debate — what was wrong with the Republican Party and with the conservative movement more generally? We had a somewhat artificial debate between traditionalists and reformers. If anything, the anger was directly (unfairly, in my mind) against George W. Bush (whose tax cuts even many Democrats now want to extend, and whose strategy in Iraq allowed Obama to withdrawal troops in victory), and to the hapless McCain campaign (which spent the final days of the campaign ragging on its VP nominee).

This is yet another confirmation that the right and left look at America – and Americans – quite differently. The leftists view their countrymen as in dire need of supervision — by elites like them, of course. Americans are not competent to make decisions on their own, and left to their own devices,  will run amok. Wall Streeters are greedy, New Yorkers are xenophobes, and the rest of us are Bible- and gun-huggers. And here we go again — acting out and acting up. Obama, the poor dear, just can’t talk sense to us.

When things go wrong for the left, it blames the people; when things go wrong for the right, it blames the governing elites. It is not in the nature of conservatives to demean and attack fellow citizens. To the contrary, conservatives’ vision is grounded in the belief that Americans are competent, decent, and hardworking, and it is the heavy hand of government that threatens to squelch American virtues.

As a practical matter, this enables conservatives to deal more constructively with political adversity. After the mandatory circular firing squad, they generally get down to the business of rethinking and remodeling their agenda and looking for better leaders. (And occasionally, they get lucky with a Carter or Obama to open the door for a conservative resurgence). It’s neither appropriate nor productive to blame the voters. The left had better get out of its funk quickly, or the 2012 temper tantrum will make today’s bellyaching look mild.

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Dems Still in a Funk

The latest Fox poll indicates Obama and the Democrats are continuing to slide. Obama’s approval (42 percent) and disapproval (52 percent) match the worst ratings of his presidency. The GOP generic lead is six points, and even more ominous, 22 percent of Democrats are very interested in the midterms, while 42 percent of Republicans are. Wow. (You can see why Obama is talking about the Citizens United and the evils of corporate money in his radio address — the Democrats have to engage their base, or the results will be disastrous.)

On the Bush tax cuts, the general proposition — extending the cuts — garners 63 percent approval. When asked about extending the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000, voters narrowly disapprove. The opposition comes largely from Democrats, who, by huge margins, want to soak the rich.

To sum up, Obama is losing ground, his base is dispirited, and those most likely to vote in the midterms favor extension of all the Bush tax cuts. You can understand why all the Democrats want to talk about is Christine O’Donnell.

The latest Fox poll indicates Obama and the Democrats are continuing to slide. Obama’s approval (42 percent) and disapproval (52 percent) match the worst ratings of his presidency. The GOP generic lead is six points, and even more ominous, 22 percent of Democrats are very interested in the midterms, while 42 percent of Republicans are. Wow. (You can see why Obama is talking about the Citizens United and the evils of corporate money in his radio address — the Democrats have to engage their base, or the results will be disastrous.)

On the Bush tax cuts, the general proposition — extending the cuts — garners 63 percent approval. When asked about extending the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000, voters narrowly disapprove. The opposition comes largely from Democrats, who, by huge margins, want to soak the rich.

To sum up, Obama is losing ground, his base is dispirited, and those most likely to vote in the midterms favor extension of all the Bush tax cuts. You can understand why all the Democrats want to talk about is Christine O’Donnell.

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Dems in Fantasyland

In a Washington Post symposium on the Tea Party, Bob Shrum (who never figured out how to win a presidential race), Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (who lost a gubernatorial race in Maryland), and Donna Brazile (who vouched for Obamanomics) — what, Michael Dukasis wasn’t available to share his political genius? – are in agreement: the Tea Party is great news for Obama. Seriously. Well, are they?

When Shrum writes this sort of hooey, you wonder if he believes it or if he is desperately trying to pep up the disillusioned liberal base:

The Tea Party will prove to be the best thing that’s happened to Barack Obama and the Democrats since, well, Sarah Palin, the media-hyped 2008 vice presidential nominee who turned out to be a bursting bubble, not a lasting bounce, for the McCain campaign.

Raising the bogeywoman of the left, I suppose, suggests he’s in the base-boosting business.

Townsend is practically unintelligible:

So the Tea Party may help the president not only in this election but, most interestingly, with policy. By constantly raising the issue of the long-term deficit, it is forcing a discussion on how we pay for programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which take up a large part of the federal budget. During the Bush years, these questions went unanswered. A drug benefit was given without paying for it. In fact, taxes were cut, creating a $1.3 trillion hole.

Of course, Bush was an amateur on spending compared to Obama; but more to the point, how does focusing on spending help Obama?

Weighing in on the side of sanity, Ed Rogers explains:

The Democrats and some of their media elite allies seem to believe that the Tea Party’s rise has diminished Republican prospects in the midterm elections this fall. In fact, the Tea Party is a big problem for President Obama and his party this year and probably through 2012.

Think of the Tea Partyers as the tip of an iceberg. The visible part. … The much larger, submerged part is the roughly two-thirds of the electorate who think America is headed in the wrong direction, disapprove of Congress and believe the president is handling the economy poorly. The Democrats are about to hit the whole iceberg.

I wonder what Shrum, Brazile, and Townsend will have to say on election day. When the results come in, how will they explain that the Tea Party was really good news for Obama? They’ll no doubt move on to another explanation. Americans are crazy. Or Obama wasn’t liberal enough. It’s always something — except a repudiation of liberalism.

In a Washington Post symposium on the Tea Party, Bob Shrum (who never figured out how to win a presidential race), Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (who lost a gubernatorial race in Maryland), and Donna Brazile (who vouched for Obamanomics) — what, Michael Dukasis wasn’t available to share his political genius? – are in agreement: the Tea Party is great news for Obama. Seriously. Well, are they?

When Shrum writes this sort of hooey, you wonder if he believes it or if he is desperately trying to pep up the disillusioned liberal base:

The Tea Party will prove to be the best thing that’s happened to Barack Obama and the Democrats since, well, Sarah Palin, the media-hyped 2008 vice presidential nominee who turned out to be a bursting bubble, not a lasting bounce, for the McCain campaign.

Raising the bogeywoman of the left, I suppose, suggests he’s in the base-boosting business.

Townsend is practically unintelligible:

So the Tea Party may help the president not only in this election but, most interestingly, with policy. By constantly raising the issue of the long-term deficit, it is forcing a discussion on how we pay for programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which take up a large part of the federal budget. During the Bush years, these questions went unanswered. A drug benefit was given without paying for it. In fact, taxes were cut, creating a $1.3 trillion hole.

Of course, Bush was an amateur on spending compared to Obama; but more to the point, how does focusing on spending help Obama?

Weighing in on the side of sanity, Ed Rogers explains:

The Democrats and some of their media elite allies seem to believe that the Tea Party’s rise has diminished Republican prospects in the midterm elections this fall. In fact, the Tea Party is a big problem for President Obama and his party this year and probably through 2012.

Think of the Tea Partyers as the tip of an iceberg. The visible part. … The much larger, submerged part is the roughly two-thirds of the electorate who think America is headed in the wrong direction, disapprove of Congress and believe the president is handling the economy poorly. The Democrats are about to hit the whole iceberg.

I wonder what Shrum, Brazile, and Townsend will have to say on election day. When the results come in, how will they explain that the Tea Party was really good news for Obama? They’ll no doubt move on to another explanation. Americans are crazy. Or Obama wasn’t liberal enough. It’s always something — except a repudiation of liberalism.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Good advice to conservative pundits from Michael Gerson (in defending Karl Rove): “[A commentator] owes his readers or viewers his best judgment — which means he cannot simply be a tool of someone else’s ideological agenda. Some conservatives have adopted the Bolshevik approach to information and the media: Every personal feeling, every independent thought, every inconvenient fact, must be subordinated to the party line — the Tea Party line.” Read the whole thing.

Good time, actually, for those ferocious Rove critics to apologize. It seems she is a loon: “The story of Christine O’Donnell’s past got a little stranger Friday. Bill Maher — on whose former show, ‘Politically Incorrect,’ O’Donnell appeared repeatedly in the late 1990s — showed a previously unaired clip from Oct. 29, 1999, on his current HBO program, ‘Real Time,’ in which the GOP Senate nominee from Delaware said she ‘dabbled into witchcraft.”’

Good line from Mitt Romney at the Value Voters Summit: “Welcome to the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid-President Obama farewell party. This has been a pretty tough year for those three—their numbers have gone down the chute faster than a Jet Blue flight attendant.” And a good speech on Obamanomics.

Good critique of the problem(s) with Newt Gingrich: “Like the former and would-be next California governor [Jerry Brown], Gingrich talks big, but has no loyalty to his ideas. He was for tax cuts before he was against them. He supported a $35,000 congressional pay raise and leaner government. Like Brown, Gingrich’s real skill has been in seeing a trend early and jumping on it, unencumbered by any past positions. … The last time Gingrich set out to save America, he ended up burning his career. He taught a college course called ‘Renewing American Civilization.’ That would not have been a problem except that this modern-day John Adams felt the need to raise $300,000 and $450,000 to bankroll his discourses on American ‘core values.’ That’s a long pricey schlep from the log cabin.”

Good move. “Since General Petraeus took on the commander’s job in June, several aides said, the president has struck a more deferential tone toward him than he used with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, General Petraeus’s predecessor. Often during pauses in meetings, one White House official said, Mr. Obama will stop and say, ‘Dave, what do you think?’” Less Axelrod and Emanuel and more Petraeus, and we might win this.

Good golly. “Two Los Angeles departments have received $111 million in federal stimulus funds yet have created only 55 jobs so far, according to a pair of reports issued Thursday by City Controller Wendy Greuel.”

Good luck to Tom Joscelyn trying to explain to David Ignatius (and the Obami): “For the umpteenth time, Iran is not on our side in Afghanistan. They are currently allied with the Taliban, the mullahs’ one-time enemy. Iran is not going to help us ‘undermine the Taliban.’ They are working with the Taliban to undermine the U.S.-led coalition.”

Good job, Madam Speaker! Now 38 Democrats favor full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Maybe more: “Other Democrats have indicated privately that they prefer an extension instead of allowing rates to expire for top earners, and Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who heads Democratic campaign efforts, has argued behind closed doors for taking a political issue off the table by giving a short reprieve to wealthy folks before the midterm elections.”

Good for her. “A politically vulnerable Democratic lawmaker blasted her party’s House leadership as she demanded a vote to cut the salaries of lawmakers by $8,700 next year. In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) pressured Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to hold a vote on her bill to cut congressional pay by five percent and save taxpayers $4.7 million next year before Congress breaks for its fall recess.”

Good for him. Greg Sargent rises above partisan cheerleading: “It isn’t every day that Democrats target Latino challengers with nasty anti-immigrant ads, but these are apparently desperate times for certain embattled Dems. … [Rep. Walt] Minnick apparently sees the need to run an ad that stinks of fear and desperation. Quite a specimen.”

Good news for Republicans in the Hoosier state: “The Indiana Senate seat now held by Democrat Evan Bayh remains a likely Republican pickup on Election Day. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Indiana finds Republican Dan Coats leading Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth 50% to 34% in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Goodbye, Charlie: “Gov. Charlie Crist and the disgraced former chairman of the Florida Republican Party took family vacations on party money, an audit released Friday shows. The two men and their families vacationed at Disney World in June 2009 and put the $13,435.99 bill on the party’s American Express credit card, the audit found. Greer also took three personal vacations to fashionable Fisher Island near Miami Beach, one including Crist, at a cost of $10,992.17, auditors reported.”

Good advice to conservative pundits from Michael Gerson (in defending Karl Rove): “[A commentator] owes his readers or viewers his best judgment — which means he cannot simply be a tool of someone else’s ideological agenda. Some conservatives have adopted the Bolshevik approach to information and the media: Every personal feeling, every independent thought, every inconvenient fact, must be subordinated to the party line — the Tea Party line.” Read the whole thing.

Good time, actually, for those ferocious Rove critics to apologize. It seems she is a loon: “The story of Christine O’Donnell’s past got a little stranger Friday. Bill Maher — on whose former show, ‘Politically Incorrect,’ O’Donnell appeared repeatedly in the late 1990s — showed a previously unaired clip from Oct. 29, 1999, on his current HBO program, ‘Real Time,’ in which the GOP Senate nominee from Delaware said she ‘dabbled into witchcraft.”’

Good line from Mitt Romney at the Value Voters Summit: “Welcome to the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid-President Obama farewell party. This has been a pretty tough year for those three—their numbers have gone down the chute faster than a Jet Blue flight attendant.” And a good speech on Obamanomics.

Good critique of the problem(s) with Newt Gingrich: “Like the former and would-be next California governor [Jerry Brown], Gingrich talks big, but has no loyalty to his ideas. He was for tax cuts before he was against them. He supported a $35,000 congressional pay raise and leaner government. Like Brown, Gingrich’s real skill has been in seeing a trend early and jumping on it, unencumbered by any past positions. … The last time Gingrich set out to save America, he ended up burning his career. He taught a college course called ‘Renewing American Civilization.’ That would not have been a problem except that this modern-day John Adams felt the need to raise $300,000 and $450,000 to bankroll his discourses on American ‘core values.’ That’s a long pricey schlep from the log cabin.”

Good move. “Since General Petraeus took on the commander’s job in June, several aides said, the president has struck a more deferential tone toward him than he used with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, General Petraeus’s predecessor. Often during pauses in meetings, one White House official said, Mr. Obama will stop and say, ‘Dave, what do you think?’” Less Axelrod and Emanuel and more Petraeus, and we might win this.

Good golly. “Two Los Angeles departments have received $111 million in federal stimulus funds yet have created only 55 jobs so far, according to a pair of reports issued Thursday by City Controller Wendy Greuel.”

Good luck to Tom Joscelyn trying to explain to David Ignatius (and the Obami): “For the umpteenth time, Iran is not on our side in Afghanistan. They are currently allied with the Taliban, the mullahs’ one-time enemy. Iran is not going to help us ‘undermine the Taliban.’ They are working with the Taliban to undermine the U.S.-led coalition.”

Good job, Madam Speaker! Now 38 Democrats favor full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Maybe more: “Other Democrats have indicated privately that they prefer an extension instead of allowing rates to expire for top earners, and Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who heads Democratic campaign efforts, has argued behind closed doors for taking a political issue off the table by giving a short reprieve to wealthy folks before the midterm elections.”

Good for her. “A politically vulnerable Democratic lawmaker blasted her party’s House leadership as she demanded a vote to cut the salaries of lawmakers by $8,700 next year. In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) pressured Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to hold a vote on her bill to cut congressional pay by five percent and save taxpayers $4.7 million next year before Congress breaks for its fall recess.”

Good for him. Greg Sargent rises above partisan cheerleading: “It isn’t every day that Democrats target Latino challengers with nasty anti-immigrant ads, but these are apparently desperate times for certain embattled Dems. … [Rep. Walt] Minnick apparently sees the need to run an ad that stinks of fear and desperation. Quite a specimen.”

Good news for Republicans in the Hoosier state: “The Indiana Senate seat now held by Democrat Evan Bayh remains a likely Republican pickup on Election Day. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Indiana finds Republican Dan Coats leading Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth 50% to 34% in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Goodbye, Charlie: “Gov. Charlie Crist and the disgraced former chairman of the Florida Republican Party took family vacations on party money, an audit released Friday shows. The two men and their families vacationed at Disney World in June 2009 and put the $13,435.99 bill on the party’s American Express credit card, the audit found. Greer also took three personal vacations to fashionable Fisher Island near Miami Beach, one including Crist, at a cost of $10,992.17, auditors reported.”

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