Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 3, 2010

Obama After the Fall

After watching President Obama’s press conference, Democrats who are still left standing must have been mortified. The depth of his self-delusion was stunning.

To put things in perspective: the Democratic Party just suffered the worst repudiation any political party has since before the middle of the last century. The defeat was staggering in the House (where Republicans will net more than 60 seats), in the Senate (+6 for the GOP), and in races for governorships (where the GOP has a net gain of six, with a couple of contests still outstanding). Republicans also took control of at least 19 legislative chambers and gained more than 500 legislative seats. No region in America, not even the Northeast, was untouched by the Republican wave.

If you listened to the president, though, the “shellacking” was because of process rather than substance. ObamaCare, he assured us, is a sparkling, wondrous law; the only downside to it was the horse-trading that went on to secure its passage. They would be “misreading the election,” the president helpfully informed Republicans, if they decide to “relitigate the arguments of the last two years.”

The message from the voters, according to Obama, is that The Car (to use his beloved, overused analogy), while still in the ditch, is undeniably moving in the right direction. We just have to go faster than we are. Democratic losses can be explained because they lost the optics war: in pursuing so many wise and prudent policies all at once, you see, the hyperactive president and his administration only appeared as if they were profligate spenders and champions of big government. And what Mr. Obama most needs to do, we learned, is to get out of “the bubble” (read: Washington) more than he has. A few more trips to Idaho and Wyoming, it seems, and all would be right with the world once more.

And what set of Obama remarks would be complete without the requisite lecturing — in this case, on the importance of “civility in our discourse” and the importance of being able to “disagree without being disagreeable.” This admonition comes after Obama, during the last few days of the campaign, referred to his opponents as “enemies,” hinted that the Tea Party Movement is tinged with racism, charged Republicans with being dishonest, and accused, without a shred of evidence, the Chamber of Commerce of using illegal money to support Republican candidates across the country. But never mind. After his victory in 2008, Obama’s message to Republicans was: “I won.” Today, after his party was throttled, Obama’s message is: “Come let us reason together.”

What we saw today was less a president than a dogmatist — a man who appears to have an extraordinary capacity to hermetically seal off events and evidence that call into question his governing philosophy, his policies, and his wisdom. The election yesterday was above all a referendum on the president’s policies, yet his big takeaway was not to relitigate his agenda. He speaks as if he’s a lawyer rather than a lawmaker.

There was, to be sure, a concession here and there, around this edge and that. But one could not come away from Obama’s press conference without feeling that there isn’t anything substantive he would change about the past two years — that at the core of his problems is the inability of the polity to more fully apprehend his greatness.

“During my four years at Oxford I read hard, and finished with a considerable stock of miscellaneous knowledge,” Lord Tweedsmuir wrote in his memoirs. “That mattered little, but the trend which my mind acquired mattered much. … More and more I became skeptical of dogmas, looking upon them as questions rather than answers. … The limited outlook of my early youth had broadened.”

It is the trend of Obama’s mind — rigid, ideological, and self-justifying — that should worry Democrats. The author of one of the worst political debacles in American history seems to have learned almost nothing from it.

After watching President Obama’s press conference, Democrats who are still left standing must have been mortified. The depth of his self-delusion was stunning.

To put things in perspective: the Democratic Party just suffered the worst repudiation any political party has since before the middle of the last century. The defeat was staggering in the House (where Republicans will net more than 60 seats), in the Senate (+6 for the GOP), and in races for governorships (where the GOP has a net gain of six, with a couple of contests still outstanding). Republicans also took control of at least 19 legislative chambers and gained more than 500 legislative seats. No region in America, not even the Northeast, was untouched by the Republican wave.

If you listened to the president, though, the “shellacking” was because of process rather than substance. ObamaCare, he assured us, is a sparkling, wondrous law; the only downside to it was the horse-trading that went on to secure its passage. They would be “misreading the election,” the president helpfully informed Republicans, if they decide to “relitigate the arguments of the last two years.”

The message from the voters, according to Obama, is that The Car (to use his beloved, overused analogy), while still in the ditch, is undeniably moving in the right direction. We just have to go faster than we are. Democratic losses can be explained because they lost the optics war: in pursuing so many wise and prudent policies all at once, you see, the hyperactive president and his administration only appeared as if they were profligate spenders and champions of big government. And what Mr. Obama most needs to do, we learned, is to get out of “the bubble” (read: Washington) more than he has. A few more trips to Idaho and Wyoming, it seems, and all would be right with the world once more.

And what set of Obama remarks would be complete without the requisite lecturing — in this case, on the importance of “civility in our discourse” and the importance of being able to “disagree without being disagreeable.” This admonition comes after Obama, during the last few days of the campaign, referred to his opponents as “enemies,” hinted that the Tea Party Movement is tinged with racism, charged Republicans with being dishonest, and accused, without a shred of evidence, the Chamber of Commerce of using illegal money to support Republican candidates across the country. But never mind. After his victory in 2008, Obama’s message to Republicans was: “I won.” Today, after his party was throttled, Obama’s message is: “Come let us reason together.”

What we saw today was less a president than a dogmatist — a man who appears to have an extraordinary capacity to hermetically seal off events and evidence that call into question his governing philosophy, his policies, and his wisdom. The election yesterday was above all a referendum on the president’s policies, yet his big takeaway was not to relitigate his agenda. He speaks as if he’s a lawyer rather than a lawmaker.

There was, to be sure, a concession here and there, around this edge and that. But one could not come away from Obama’s press conference without feeling that there isn’t anything substantive he would change about the past two years — that at the core of his problems is the inability of the polity to more fully apprehend his greatness.

“During my four years at Oxford I read hard, and finished with a considerable stock of miscellaneous knowledge,” Lord Tweedsmuir wrote in his memoirs. “That mattered little, but the trend which my mind acquired mattered much. … More and more I became skeptical of dogmas, looking upon them as questions rather than answers. … The limited outlook of my early youth had broadened.”

It is the trend of Obama’s mind — rigid, ideological, and self-justifying — that should worry Democrats. The author of one of the worst political debacles in American history seems to have learned almost nothing from it.

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Two Big Losers: Obama and Gerrymandering

The president took it on the chin big time last night, but so did the odious, uniquely American practice of gerrymandering. It is named for Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who first altered district lines for political advantage when he was governor of Massachusetts. (His name is pronounced with a hard G — as in get – but the eponymous practice is not.)

But last night in both California and Florida, propositions passed that abolish the practice. Florida’s amendment leaves the task of redistricting to the legislature but requires that

Legislative districts or districting plans should not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or linguistic minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as possible, and, when feasible, must make use of existing city, county, and geographical boundaries. It needed a 60-percent vote to become part of the state constitution and it got 62.54 percent.

In California, the power to redistrict state legislative lines was taken away from the legislature two years ago and given to a nonpartisan commission. Yesterday, Proposition 20 passed, taking away the power to redistrict congressional lines as well. A competing proposition, No. 27, would have abolished the commission and returned redistricting to the legislature. It went down in flames.

How bad was the gerrymandering in California? After the spectacular gerrymander following the 2000 census, there have been 692 Congressional and state legislative elections in California. Only five — o.7 percent — resulted in a change of party. It will be fascinating to see what the turnover is in 2012.

This makes four states — the other two are Iowa and Arizona — that have gotten rid of gerrymandering. Only 46 to go.

The president took it on the chin big time last night, but so did the odious, uniquely American practice of gerrymandering. It is named for Elbridge Gerry, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who first altered district lines for political advantage when he was governor of Massachusetts. (His name is pronounced with a hard G — as in get – but the eponymous practice is not.)

But last night in both California and Florida, propositions passed that abolish the practice. Florida’s amendment leaves the task of redistricting to the legislature but requires that

Legislative districts or districting plans should not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or linguistic minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as possible, and, when feasible, must make use of existing city, county, and geographical boundaries. It needed a 60-percent vote to become part of the state constitution and it got 62.54 percent.

In California, the power to redistrict state legislative lines was taken away from the legislature two years ago and given to a nonpartisan commission. Yesterday, Proposition 20 passed, taking away the power to redistrict congressional lines as well. A competing proposition, No. 27, would have abolished the commission and returned redistricting to the legislature. It went down in flames.

How bad was the gerrymandering in California? After the spectacular gerrymander following the 2000 census, there have been 692 Congressional and state legislative elections in California. Only five — o.7 percent — resulted in a change of party. It will be fascinating to see what the turnover is in 2012.

This makes four states — the other two are Iowa and Arizona — that have gotten rid of gerrymandering. Only 46 to go.

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It’s a Start

John Boehner, the presumptive speaker-elect, had to fight a rather extended choking-up episode in his victory speech last night. What got to him was talking about his own humble origins and how far he had come, to be standing where he was on Election Day 2010. He was unable to turn in a polished performance on that topic — and I have to say, that resonated with me more than it made me uncomfortable.

For one thing, Boehner’s personal emotion — welling up, it appeared, somewhat unexpectedly — was in fact personal. He didn’t perceive himself or his party to have achieved a “sociological triumph,” of the kind attributed by columnist David Corn, in his election-eve piece, to the Obama win in 2008. For Boehner, there is still a wary, hard-headed Midwestern distinction between the personal and the political, and it’s the personal that can make him cry.

This, in turn, gets at something David Brooks called for in his election-eve column: an attitude of “modesty” from triumphant Republicans about their prospects for turning the ship of state. I thought at the time that the noun Brooks picked was the wrong one, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Boehner’s low-key speech last night clarified it for me. I’m not convinced that modesty — as Brooks conceives it — is universally appropriate for applying principles of governance; some of the principles, at least, must be held to without temporizing, caveat, or the soft defeatism of low expectations about their performance. If modesty about such principles were an unbreachable principle in itself, there would be no Bill of Rights attached to our Constitution.

But an attitude of humility will go a very long way — and that’s what I saw in Boehner last night. Unlike Obama, unlike Nancy Pelosi, he did not perceive himself as a victorious “type,” using the vehicle of electoral politics to achieve sociological triumphs. I don’t think his voters see politics or government in that light either.  There is a profound humility in observing the distinction between the personal and the political, and that quality continues to resonate with a core constituency of Americans. As a people, we have resisted being herded into heroic ideological schemes; we don’t elect our government to disrupt our lives or transform us.

We will see in the next two years how this native skepticism holds out against President Obama’s utterly ideological approach. There are no guarantees with humility alone. But humility is a start.

John Boehner, the presumptive speaker-elect, had to fight a rather extended choking-up episode in his victory speech last night. What got to him was talking about his own humble origins and how far he had come, to be standing where he was on Election Day 2010. He was unable to turn in a polished performance on that topic — and I have to say, that resonated with me more than it made me uncomfortable.

For one thing, Boehner’s personal emotion — welling up, it appeared, somewhat unexpectedly — was in fact personal. He didn’t perceive himself or his party to have achieved a “sociological triumph,” of the kind attributed by columnist David Corn, in his election-eve piece, to the Obama win in 2008. For Boehner, there is still a wary, hard-headed Midwestern distinction between the personal and the political, and it’s the personal that can make him cry.

This, in turn, gets at something David Brooks called for in his election-eve column: an attitude of “modesty” from triumphant Republicans about their prospects for turning the ship of state. I thought at the time that the noun Brooks picked was the wrong one, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why. Boehner’s low-key speech last night clarified it for me. I’m not convinced that modesty — as Brooks conceives it — is universally appropriate for applying principles of governance; some of the principles, at least, must be held to without temporizing, caveat, or the soft defeatism of low expectations about their performance. If modesty about such principles were an unbreachable principle in itself, there would be no Bill of Rights attached to our Constitution.

But an attitude of humility will go a very long way — and that’s what I saw in Boehner last night. Unlike Obama, unlike Nancy Pelosi, he did not perceive himself as a victorious “type,” using the vehicle of electoral politics to achieve sociological triumphs. I don’t think his voters see politics or government in that light either.  There is a profound humility in observing the distinction between the personal and the political, and that quality continues to resonate with a core constituency of Americans. As a people, we have resisted being herded into heroic ideological schemes; we don’t elect our government to disrupt our lives or transform us.

We will see in the next two years how this native skepticism holds out against President Obama’s utterly ideological approach. There are no guarantees with humility alone. But humility is a start.

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Obama Presser

He wasn’t arrogant but he was disingenuous. He understands that he’s presided over a massacre in his party, but he’s not willing to fundamentally alter his agenda. That was the message that came through. He’s sad so many good Democrats lost and wonders, oh gosh, is there something I could have done? (Hmm. Not spill so much red ink? Not pass an unpopular health-care bill?) He’s willing to show the American people that there can be consensus, but he’s only interested in tweaking ObamaCare. Because, no one wants to see them all re-argue the same old stuff. OK, on one level, it’s head-shaking. But what did you expect?

He takes responsibility for not overseeing quicker growth, but seems clueless or defiant about the connection between his policies and the anemic recovery. He says he got a shellacking. But why? What, you thought he’d admit that health care was loaded with taxes, mandates, and fees that have freaked out employers? Puleeze. The most he is going to do is the sort of non-apology apology: I can see why the voters were upset. You know, it might look like they were guilty of overreach.

This is a man convinced of his own wisdom, who has just been knocked to the canvas by the country. So if he looked more lost than usual, somewhat subdued, and gave an entirely unintelligible answer on the extension of the Bush tax cuts (something about taking money out for the middle class), you can understand why. For the first time in his professional life, he’s experiencing a massive failure and rejection. Did he bring this entirely on himself? Of course. Is he capable of doing more than changing atmospherics? I didn’t hear that today. But then, he’s yet to talk to what’s left of the Democratic Senate and House contingent, who might be a wee bit nervous about his political judgment.

The most telling point: Obama looked crestfallen and fell into campaign nostalgia when asked if the election didn’t reflect on his disconnect from the American people. The best word to describe him is forlorn. I can’t imagine his base is going to be thrilled with the down-in-the-dumps presidential demeanor. But the good news is that after calling us scared and unreasoned he concedes that the American people are decent. It’s a start.

He wasn’t arrogant but he was disingenuous. He understands that he’s presided over a massacre in his party, but he’s not willing to fundamentally alter his agenda. That was the message that came through. He’s sad so many good Democrats lost and wonders, oh gosh, is there something I could have done? (Hmm. Not spill so much red ink? Not pass an unpopular health-care bill?) He’s willing to show the American people that there can be consensus, but he’s only interested in tweaking ObamaCare. Because, no one wants to see them all re-argue the same old stuff. OK, on one level, it’s head-shaking. But what did you expect?

He takes responsibility for not overseeing quicker growth, but seems clueless or defiant about the connection between his policies and the anemic recovery. He says he got a shellacking. But why? What, you thought he’d admit that health care was loaded with taxes, mandates, and fees that have freaked out employers? Puleeze. The most he is going to do is the sort of non-apology apology: I can see why the voters were upset. You know, it might look like they were guilty of overreach.

This is a man convinced of his own wisdom, who has just been knocked to the canvas by the country. So if he looked more lost than usual, somewhat subdued, and gave an entirely unintelligible answer on the extension of the Bush tax cuts (something about taking money out for the middle class), you can understand why. For the first time in his professional life, he’s experiencing a massive failure and rejection. Did he bring this entirely on himself? Of course. Is he capable of doing more than changing atmospherics? I didn’t hear that today. But then, he’s yet to talk to what’s left of the Democratic Senate and House contingent, who might be a wee bit nervous about his political judgment.

The most telling point: Obama looked crestfallen and fell into campaign nostalgia when asked if the election didn’t reflect on his disconnect from the American people. The best word to describe him is forlorn. I can’t imagine his base is going to be thrilled with the down-in-the-dumps presidential demeanor. But the good news is that after calling us scared and unreasoned he concedes that the American people are decent. It’s a start.

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RE: How Did the Jewish Groups Do?

Josh Block, a long-time Democratic, pro-Israel activist and former AIPAC spokesman, e-mails: “Of 25 competitive races in which Jstreet endorsed, their candidates lost in 14 races, including in all three Senate races.” And then he unloads:

Being associated with a group that helped [Richard] Goldstone slander Israel on the Hill, that refuses to condemn his report and accusation that the leadership of Israel PURPOSEFULLY targeted civilians in Gaza,  that says there’s no difference between Israel defending itself and Hamas terrorism, that lies about their secret money from anti-Israel George Soros, and derives half their budget from Hong Kong — not from American Jews as they claim — and that lies again and again, even twisting the arm of a former Israeli MK to lie for them after she is on tape exposing their ties to Goldstone, is HAZARDOUS for one’s pro-Israel reputation. … The question candidates in competitive races will be asking themselves is this: Is it worth it to lie down with dogs if all you get is flees!? The answer, I predict, will increasingly be no, it’s not worth it. Unless of course, you’re not pro-Israel.

Block, mind you, is a partisan Democrat. His advice should serve as a warning to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — vote however you like and associate yourself with whomever you wish, but be prepared to be confronted on your record.

Josh Block, a long-time Democratic, pro-Israel activist and former AIPAC spokesman, e-mails: “Of 25 competitive races in which Jstreet endorsed, their candidates lost in 14 races, including in all three Senate races.” And then he unloads:

Being associated with a group that helped [Richard] Goldstone slander Israel on the Hill, that refuses to condemn his report and accusation that the leadership of Israel PURPOSEFULLY targeted civilians in Gaza,  that says there’s no difference between Israel defending itself and Hamas terrorism, that lies about their secret money from anti-Israel George Soros, and derives half their budget from Hong Kong — not from American Jews as they claim — and that lies again and again, even twisting the arm of a former Israeli MK to lie for them after she is on tape exposing their ties to Goldstone, is HAZARDOUS for one’s pro-Israel reputation. … The question candidates in competitive races will be asking themselves is this: Is it worth it to lie down with dogs if all you get is flees!? The answer, I predict, will increasingly be no, it’s not worth it. Unless of course, you’re not pro-Israel.

Block, mind you, is a partisan Democrat. His advice should serve as a warning to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle — vote however you like and associate yourself with whomever you wish, but be prepared to be confronted on your record.

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The Latest Trend in Delegitimizing Israel

The ongoing delegitimization campaign against Israel has recently started featuring a bizarre new argument: Israel isn’t really a democracy, because its Arab citizens lack basic civil rights. Good examples include last month’s New York Times column by Ahmad Tibi and today’s Jerusalem Post column by Ray Hanania.

Tibi urged the international community to demand that “in any political agreement, Israel would be required to grant full political and civil equality to Palestinian citizens of Israel. American mediators such as George Mitchell and Dennis Ross, rather than pushing the supremacist notion of a Jewish state, should be pressing Israel to provide equal rights and fair treatment to the Palestinian minority in its midst.” The obvious conclusion is that currently, Israeli Arabs lack civil rights.

That conclusion is somewhat marred by the final line: “Ahmad Tibi, an Arab Israeli, is deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament.” Neither Tibi nor the Times bothers explaining how a country that denies its Arab citizens “political and civil equality” has an Arab as deputy speaker of its parliament — let alone one who uses this prestigious position mainly to slander his country.

But anyone who didn’t read this tagline, or missed its implications, would come away thinking that Israeli Arabs don’t enjoy “political and civil equality.”

Then there’s Hanania, a self-proclaimed “award-winning columnist,” peace activist, and Chicago radio talk-show host.

“Criticism is a hallmark of true democracies,” he proclaims. “The more Israel tries to silence Arab critics, the more it exposes the limits of its democracy.” Specifically, “the backlash against Arabs citizens challenging Israeli policies started with Azmi Bishara, a Knesset member who was very critical.” Now Israel is persecuting the equally critical MK Haneen Zoabi: “Jewish Knesset members have called for her to be prosecuted and stripped of the immunity that Knesset members enjoy … Zoabi symbolizes a crack that continues to grow in the wall of Israel’s claim to the ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’”

In reality, the “backlash” wasn’t against these MKs’ views but their actions. Bishara was indicted for passing information to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War. Zoabi’s potential indictment (should Israel’s independent prosecution decide to file one) is for trying to run her own country’s blockade of an enemy with which it’s at war. In short, both allegedly tried to aid an enemy during wartime. That’s not voicing “criticism”; it’s a crime in every democracy on the planet.

Yet Hanania implies that Zoabi’s presence on May’s Turkish-sponsored flotilla to Gaza was a mere peaceful protest, while the charges against Bishara were simply trumped up, a crude attempt to silence a critical voice. And uninformed readers might well believe him. They wouldn’t know, for instance, that Bishara himself was acquitted on unrelated charges just a year earlier — meaning he preferred flight and exile to standing trial, not because “critical” Arabs stand no chance in Israeli courts, but because this time the evidence against him was solid.

It’s hard to believe a slander as demonstrably false as that Israeli Arabs lack civil rights could gain traction. But clearly, it has. Otherwise, two such eminently mainstream newspapers wouldn’t have printed it.

The ongoing delegitimization campaign against Israel has recently started featuring a bizarre new argument: Israel isn’t really a democracy, because its Arab citizens lack basic civil rights. Good examples include last month’s New York Times column by Ahmad Tibi and today’s Jerusalem Post column by Ray Hanania.

Tibi urged the international community to demand that “in any political agreement, Israel would be required to grant full political and civil equality to Palestinian citizens of Israel. American mediators such as George Mitchell and Dennis Ross, rather than pushing the supremacist notion of a Jewish state, should be pressing Israel to provide equal rights and fair treatment to the Palestinian minority in its midst.” The obvious conclusion is that currently, Israeli Arabs lack civil rights.

That conclusion is somewhat marred by the final line: “Ahmad Tibi, an Arab Israeli, is deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament.” Neither Tibi nor the Times bothers explaining how a country that denies its Arab citizens “political and civil equality” has an Arab as deputy speaker of its parliament — let alone one who uses this prestigious position mainly to slander his country.

But anyone who didn’t read this tagline, or missed its implications, would come away thinking that Israeli Arabs don’t enjoy “political and civil equality.”

Then there’s Hanania, a self-proclaimed “award-winning columnist,” peace activist, and Chicago radio talk-show host.

“Criticism is a hallmark of true democracies,” he proclaims. “The more Israel tries to silence Arab critics, the more it exposes the limits of its democracy.” Specifically, “the backlash against Arabs citizens challenging Israeli policies started with Azmi Bishara, a Knesset member who was very critical.” Now Israel is persecuting the equally critical MK Haneen Zoabi: “Jewish Knesset members have called for her to be prosecuted and stripped of the immunity that Knesset members enjoy … Zoabi symbolizes a crack that continues to grow in the wall of Israel’s claim to the ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’”

In reality, the “backlash” wasn’t against these MKs’ views but their actions. Bishara was indicted for passing information to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War. Zoabi’s potential indictment (should Israel’s independent prosecution decide to file one) is for trying to run her own country’s blockade of an enemy with which it’s at war. In short, both allegedly tried to aid an enemy during wartime. That’s not voicing “criticism”; it’s a crime in every democracy on the planet.

Yet Hanania implies that Zoabi’s presence on May’s Turkish-sponsored flotilla to Gaza was a mere peaceful protest, while the charges against Bishara were simply trumped up, a crude attempt to silence a critical voice. And uninformed readers might well believe him. They wouldn’t know, for instance, that Bishara himself was acquitted on unrelated charges just a year earlier — meaning he preferred flight and exile to standing trial, not because “critical” Arabs stand no chance in Israeli courts, but because this time the evidence against him was solid.

It’s hard to believe a slander as demonstrably false as that Israeli Arabs lack civil rights could gain traction. But clearly, it has. Otherwise, two such eminently mainstream newspapers wouldn’t have printed it.

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How Did the Jewish Groups Do?

We have seen, to the chagrin of the left, more attention in an off-year election on Israel than we get in most presidential races. The Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition have reasons to crow. ECI made Joe Sestak its top priority, featured him in its debut ad, and remained a thorn in his side throughout the race. The RJC spent an unprecedented amount of money on the race. These groups didn’t target Joe Sestak by accident or pick an easy race. Sestak was the quintessential faux pro-Israel liberal — touting his support for the Jewish state but signing onto the Gaza 54 letter, headlining for CAIR, and refusing to break with the president on his offensive against the Jewish state. For precisely these reasons, J Street made him its top priority. Sestak lost in a tough race. Was Israel a factor? In a close race, it is hard to say it wasn’t. The question for liberal Democrats is this: why take on the baggage of J Street for such little help and so many headaches?

J Street’s other Senate endorsees lost as well (Robin Carnahan and Russ Feingold). In the House races, their endorsees lost in 11 races. Shoe-in Democrats won in seven races that were not in doubt. However, once ECI targeted the NJ-12, that safe Dem seat became competitive, with Democratic Rep. Rush Holt eventually winning by seven points. Several races are still outstanding.

The election demonstrated two things. First, J Street is a weight around the necks of its selected candidates. Second, the voters, Jewish and not, heard more about Israel than in an ordinary midterm and dumped some of the worst Israel-bashers in the House, including Mary Jo Kilroy and Kathy Dahlkemper. The takeaway: voters remain overwhelmingly pro-Israel, and should candidates want to avoid the impression that they are not, they’d do well to steer clear of the foreign-funded J Street.

We have seen, to the chagrin of the left, more attention in an off-year election on Israel than we get in most presidential races. The Emergency Committee for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition have reasons to crow. ECI made Joe Sestak its top priority, featured him in its debut ad, and remained a thorn in his side throughout the race. The RJC spent an unprecedented amount of money on the race. These groups didn’t target Joe Sestak by accident or pick an easy race. Sestak was the quintessential faux pro-Israel liberal — touting his support for the Jewish state but signing onto the Gaza 54 letter, headlining for CAIR, and refusing to break with the president on his offensive against the Jewish state. For precisely these reasons, J Street made him its top priority. Sestak lost in a tough race. Was Israel a factor? In a close race, it is hard to say it wasn’t. The question for liberal Democrats is this: why take on the baggage of J Street for such little help and so many headaches?

J Street’s other Senate endorsees lost as well (Robin Carnahan and Russ Feingold). In the House races, their endorsees lost in 11 races. Shoe-in Democrats won in seven races that were not in doubt. However, once ECI targeted the NJ-12, that safe Dem seat became competitive, with Democratic Rep. Rush Holt eventually winning by seven points. Several races are still outstanding.

The election demonstrated two things. First, J Street is a weight around the necks of its selected candidates. Second, the voters, Jewish and not, heard more about Israel than in an ordinary midterm and dumped some of the worst Israel-bashers in the House, including Mary Jo Kilroy and Kathy Dahlkemper. The takeaway: voters remain overwhelmingly pro-Israel, and should candidates want to avoid the impression that they are not, they’d do well to steer clear of the foreign-funded J Street.

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Exits

The morning after an election is always a field day for data hounds. The exit polls provide part of the fodder for the politically addicted. Using the House national exit polls, some interesting details emerge. The GOP eradicated the gender gap, splitting the female vote 48 to 49 percent. Among various age groups, Obama carried only the 18-29 bracket, but they were only 11 percent of the electorate. Obama carried the undereducated (no high school) and the overeducated (post-graduate) but no other group defined by education level.

Independents went for the GOP by a huge margin of 55 to 39 percent. The GOP carried 77 percent of the evangelical vote. Those who voted disapprove of Obama’s handling of his job by a 54 to 45 percent margin. Thirty-seven percent said their House vote was a vote against Obama, the same percentage said Obama wasn’t a factor, and 24 percent said it was meant to express support for Obama. By a narrow 39 to 37 percent margin, those who voted favor an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, not just those making less than $250,000. Obama carried big and small cities (the so-called urban vote), while the GOP took the suburbs, small towns, and rural areas.

In sum, the Democrats carried blacks, city dwellers, young voters, uneducated and super-educated people, and the less well-off. That is enough to win in Chicago but not in the country as a whole.

The morning after an election is always a field day for data hounds. The exit polls provide part of the fodder for the politically addicted. Using the House national exit polls, some interesting details emerge. The GOP eradicated the gender gap, splitting the female vote 48 to 49 percent. Among various age groups, Obama carried only the 18-29 bracket, but they were only 11 percent of the electorate. Obama carried the undereducated (no high school) and the overeducated (post-graduate) but no other group defined by education level.

Independents went for the GOP by a huge margin of 55 to 39 percent. The GOP carried 77 percent of the evangelical vote. Those who voted disapprove of Obama’s handling of his job by a 54 to 45 percent margin. Thirty-seven percent said their House vote was a vote against Obama, the same percentage said Obama wasn’t a factor, and 24 percent said it was meant to express support for Obama. By a narrow 39 to 37 percent margin, those who voted favor an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, not just those making less than $250,000. Obama carried big and small cities (the so-called urban vote), while the GOP took the suburbs, small towns, and rural areas.

In sum, the Democrats carried blacks, city dwellers, young voters, uneducated and super-educated people, and the less well-off. That is enough to win in Chicago but not in the country as a whole.

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Sad and Infuriating News from New York State

In the end, Jimmy McMillan, the viral Internet sensation as the head of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, scored fewer than 40,000 votes; had it hit 50,000, it would have automatically been on the ballot in the next election. The troubling news from New York state is that the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, went out with a concession speech for which the word “psychotic” would seem to be an understatement. He was more than a disaster; Paladino was an enormous drag at the top of the ticket, losing by nearly 28 points and in doing so, embarrassing himself and his party so much that good GOP candidates like Randy Altschuler in Suffolk County went down to defeat when they really ought to have won.

In the end, Jimmy McMillan, the viral Internet sensation as the head of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, scored fewer than 40,000 votes; had it hit 50,000, it would have automatically been on the ballot in the next election. The troubling news from New York state is that the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino, went out with a concession speech for which the word “psychotic” would seem to be an understatement. He was more than a disaster; Paladino was an enormous drag at the top of the ticket, losing by nearly 28 points and in doing so, embarrassing himself and his party so much that good GOP candidates like Randy Altschuler in Suffolk County went down to defeat when they really ought to have won.

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The GOP Did Better, Proportionately, in the Senate

The prospect of an eight or nine or 10 Senate-seat pickup for the GOP has skewed the punditry. You have to keep in mind that the whole House was up for re-election, but the entire Senate wasn’t. Only 37 seats were at issue. Let’s say Ken Buck pulls through. The percentage of seats picked up by the GOP would then be 18.9 percent (seven of 37). In the context of the whole House, this would be the equivalent of an 83-seat pickup. Put differently, given the number of seats up and the fact that there were so many Blue States in play, the GOP’s haul is by any measure an extraordinary achievement. And in the Senate, if Lisa Murkowski wins and caucuses with the GOP, there won’t be single lost seat for the Republicans. In the House, there are three losses so far.

This is not to say that the GOP couldn’t have done better. Would Mike Castle and Sue Lowden have been able to take Nevada and Delaware, respectively? Almost certainly that would have been the case in Delaware, and quite possibly in Nevada. That said, the Tea Party critics should keep in mind that the Tea Partiers are also responsible for two potential GOP stars getting through the primary and winning big — Marco Rubio and Ron Johnson. They also helped fuel House, Senate, and gubernatorial wins. It would be nice for a party to pick only nominees who can win general elections, but that happens only in the imagination of eager partisans.

The prospect of an eight or nine or 10 Senate-seat pickup for the GOP has skewed the punditry. You have to keep in mind that the whole House was up for re-election, but the entire Senate wasn’t. Only 37 seats were at issue. Let’s say Ken Buck pulls through. The percentage of seats picked up by the GOP would then be 18.9 percent (seven of 37). In the context of the whole House, this would be the equivalent of an 83-seat pickup. Put differently, given the number of seats up and the fact that there were so many Blue States in play, the GOP’s haul is by any measure an extraordinary achievement. And in the Senate, if Lisa Murkowski wins and caucuses with the GOP, there won’t be single lost seat for the Republicans. In the House, there are three losses so far.

This is not to say that the GOP couldn’t have done better. Would Mike Castle and Sue Lowden have been able to take Nevada and Delaware, respectively? Almost certainly that would have been the case in Delaware, and quite possibly in Nevada. That said, the Tea Party critics should keep in mind that the Tea Partiers are also responsible for two potential GOP stars getting through the primary and winning big — Marco Rubio and Ron Johnson. They also helped fuel House, Senate, and gubernatorial wins. It would be nice for a party to pick only nominees who can win general elections, but that happens only in the imagination of eager partisans.

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Recap

What happened? First the body count. The GOP picked up 64, lost three, and has a net pickup so far of 61. However, about a dozen seats are still undecided. The final total is likely to be in the high 60s. In the Senate, the GOP has six pickups, no losses. Lisa Murkowski seems headed for the win to hold Alaska for the GOP. (Those wily insiders in the Senate were perhaps wise not to dump her from her committees; she will caucus with the GOP.) Ken Buck is deadlocked in Colorado, with Denver all counted. Patty Murray is leading by fewer than 15,000 votes, but much of King County, a Democratic stronghold, is only 55 percent counted. The GOP will have six to seven pickups. In the gubernatorial races, the GOP nearly ran the table. So far, it has picked up seven and lost two (in California and Hawaii), is leading Florida by about 50,000 votes and in Oregon by 2 percent, and is trailing narrowly in Illinois and Minnesota.

Did Obama help anyone? Probably not. He fundraised for Barbara Boxer, but the race turned out to be not close. California seems determined to pursue liberal statism to its logical conclusion (bankruptcy). He made multiple visits to Ohio, and Democrats lost the Senate, the governorship, and five House seats. He went to Wisconsin. Russ Feingold lost, as did Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett and two House Democrats. A slew of moderate Democrats who walked the plank for him and his agenda also lost. Those House and Senate candidates who managed to avoid the tsunami — Joe Manchin, for example — will be extremely wary of following Obama if the president continues on his leftist jaunt.

What does it mean? This is a win of historic proportions, the largest in the House since World War II. There is no spinning this one; Nancy Pelosi presided over the destruction of her Democratic majority because she failed to appreciate that not every place is San Francisco. The Senate results should signal to the GOP that picking candidates who can win is not the same as picking candidates who have the least experience and the hottest rhetoric. As one GOP insider said to me last night of Nevada and Delaware, “Thanks very much, Tea Party express.” But before the GOP establishment gets too full of itself, it should recall that the Tea Party ginned up enthusiasm and made many of those big House and gubernatorial wins possible. And finally, the story of the night that had largely evaded discussion before the election is the sweep in gubernatorial races. Key battleground states in 2012 will have Republican governors. About 10 more states will now probably experience what GOP reformist government looks like, and a whole bunch of states may now opt out of the individual mandate in ObamaCare. Oh, and redistricting just got a whole lot easier for the GOP.

You’ll hear that this was a throw-the-bums-out year. But only a few Republicans were tossed. You’ll hear that this is good for Obama; don’t believe it. He and his aggressive, left-leaning agenda have been rebuked. And you’ll hear that Obama is a goner in 2012 and that the GOP has rebounded; that part is poppycock, too. Obama can rescue himself, if he is able and willing. The Republicans can do themselves in if they are not smart and disciplined. And finally,  we are remined that politics is a serious game played by real candidates in actual races. And that’s what makes it so unpredictable and so wondrously fun.

What happened? First the body count. The GOP picked up 64, lost three, and has a net pickup so far of 61. However, about a dozen seats are still undecided. The final total is likely to be in the high 60s. In the Senate, the GOP has six pickups, no losses. Lisa Murkowski seems headed for the win to hold Alaska for the GOP. (Those wily insiders in the Senate were perhaps wise not to dump her from her committees; she will caucus with the GOP.) Ken Buck is deadlocked in Colorado, with Denver all counted. Patty Murray is leading by fewer than 15,000 votes, but much of King County, a Democratic stronghold, is only 55 percent counted. The GOP will have six to seven pickups. In the gubernatorial races, the GOP nearly ran the table. So far, it has picked up seven and lost two (in California and Hawaii), is leading Florida by about 50,000 votes and in Oregon by 2 percent, and is trailing narrowly in Illinois and Minnesota.

Did Obama help anyone? Probably not. He fundraised for Barbara Boxer, but the race turned out to be not close. California seems determined to pursue liberal statism to its logical conclusion (bankruptcy). He made multiple visits to Ohio, and Democrats lost the Senate, the governorship, and five House seats. He went to Wisconsin. Russ Feingold lost, as did Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett and two House Democrats. A slew of moderate Democrats who walked the plank for him and his agenda also lost. Those House and Senate candidates who managed to avoid the tsunami — Joe Manchin, for example — will be extremely wary of following Obama if the president continues on his leftist jaunt.

What does it mean? This is a win of historic proportions, the largest in the House since World War II. There is no spinning this one; Nancy Pelosi presided over the destruction of her Democratic majority because she failed to appreciate that not every place is San Francisco. The Senate results should signal to the GOP that picking candidates who can win is not the same as picking candidates who have the least experience and the hottest rhetoric. As one GOP insider said to me last night of Nevada and Delaware, “Thanks very much, Tea Party express.” But before the GOP establishment gets too full of itself, it should recall that the Tea Party ginned up enthusiasm and made many of those big House and gubernatorial wins possible. And finally, the story of the night that had largely evaded discussion before the election is the sweep in gubernatorial races. Key battleground states in 2012 will have Republican governors. About 10 more states will now probably experience what GOP reformist government looks like, and a whole bunch of states may now opt out of the individual mandate in ObamaCare. Oh, and redistricting just got a whole lot easier for the GOP.

You’ll hear that this was a throw-the-bums-out year. But only a few Republicans were tossed. You’ll hear that this is good for Obama; don’t believe it. He and his aggressive, left-leaning agenda have been rebuked. And you’ll hear that Obama is a goner in 2012 and that the GOP has rebounded; that part is poppycock, too. Obama can rescue himself, if he is able and willing. The Republicans can do themselves in if they are not smart and disciplined. And finally,  we are remined that politics is a serious game played by real candidates in actual races. And that’s what makes it so unpredictable and so wondrously fun.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

How’d they do it? By being the party of no: “It began in late January 2009, when Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a quick vote on an economic-stimulus package and Mr. Cantor helped engineer a unanimous Republican ‘no’ vote. … [T]he unified vote signaled to previously rattled Republicans that they didn’t have to go along with the big Democratic majority and the highly popular new president. The vote also set a pattern that would be repeated time and again over the next two years, with House Republicans solidly opposing one Democratic initiative after another. The strategy infuriated the White House and ran the risk Republicans would be damaged by the ‘party of no’ label.”

How’d they lose it? “A Congressional majority is a terrible thing to waste, as Rahm Emanuel might say, and yesterday the public took that lesson to heart. … Yes, the economy was the dominant issue and the root of much voter worry and frustration with Washington. But make no mistake, this was also an ideological repudiation of the Democratic agenda of the last two years. Independents turned with a vengeance on the same Democrats they had vaulted into the majority in the waning George W. Bush years, rejecting the economy-killing trio of $812 billion in stimulus spending, cap and tax and ObamaCare.”

How’d the governors do? The GOP picked up at least 10 seats.

How’d Republican New Yorkers do? They picked up five House seats, remarkable considering how badly the top of the ticket ran.

How’d they make history? “South Carolina voters have elected the first black Republican to Congress from the Deep South since Reconstruction.”

How’d it work out when he ignored the Tea Party? Obama really doesn’t like to experience bad news, but it might do him some good to hear directly what the media are saying about him. “Aides say the President received updates on races from his staff, but didn’t sit in front of the television watching the election returns himself.”

How’d Mitt Romney want you to reflect on the election? With a morning-after op-ed by him, touting his free-market credentials. A sample: “If the president is to become serious about spending, borrowing and deficits, he must subject government to the two budgeting rules employed by every well-run business and home.” Welcome to the 2012 GOP primary.

How’d you expect Maureen Dowd to react? Uh, not well: “Even though it was predicted, it was still a shock to see voters humiliate a brilliant and spellbinding young president, who’d had such a Kennedy-like beginning, while electing a lot of conservative nuts and promoting this central-casting congressman as the face of the future: a Republican who had vowed in a written pledge to restore America to old-fashioned values, returning to a gauzy ‘Leave It to Beaver’ image that never existed even on the set of ‘Leave It to Beaver.'” Was she really shocked? She should stop doing research in New York taxicabs. But, hey, she got the humiliation part right.

How’d they do it? By being the party of no: “It began in late January 2009, when Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a quick vote on an economic-stimulus package and Mr. Cantor helped engineer a unanimous Republican ‘no’ vote. … [T]he unified vote signaled to previously rattled Republicans that they didn’t have to go along with the big Democratic majority and the highly popular new president. The vote also set a pattern that would be repeated time and again over the next two years, with House Republicans solidly opposing one Democratic initiative after another. The strategy infuriated the White House and ran the risk Republicans would be damaged by the ‘party of no’ label.”

How’d they lose it? “A Congressional majority is a terrible thing to waste, as Rahm Emanuel might say, and yesterday the public took that lesson to heart. … Yes, the economy was the dominant issue and the root of much voter worry and frustration with Washington. But make no mistake, this was also an ideological repudiation of the Democratic agenda of the last two years. Independents turned with a vengeance on the same Democrats they had vaulted into the majority in the waning George W. Bush years, rejecting the economy-killing trio of $812 billion in stimulus spending, cap and tax and ObamaCare.”

How’d the governors do? The GOP picked up at least 10 seats.

How’d Republican New Yorkers do? They picked up five House seats, remarkable considering how badly the top of the ticket ran.

How’d they make history? “South Carolina voters have elected the first black Republican to Congress from the Deep South since Reconstruction.”

How’d it work out when he ignored the Tea Party? Obama really doesn’t like to experience bad news, but it might do him some good to hear directly what the media are saying about him. “Aides say the President received updates on races from his staff, but didn’t sit in front of the television watching the election returns himself.”

How’d Mitt Romney want you to reflect on the election? With a morning-after op-ed by him, touting his free-market credentials. A sample: “If the president is to become serious about spending, borrowing and deficits, he must subject government to the two budgeting rules employed by every well-run business and home.” Welcome to the 2012 GOP primary.

How’d you expect Maureen Dowd to react? Uh, not well: “Even though it was predicted, it was still a shock to see voters humiliate a brilliant and spellbinding young president, who’d had such a Kennedy-like beginning, while electing a lot of conservative nuts and promoting this central-casting congressman as the face of the future: a Republican who had vowed in a written pledge to restore America to old-fashioned values, returning to a gauzy ‘Leave It to Beaver’ image that never existed even on the set of ‘Leave It to Beaver.'” Was she really shocked? She should stop doing research in New York taxicabs. But, hey, she got the humiliation part right.

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LIVE BLOG: Great Moments in Speechifying

“I’m really into this politics thing” — Jerry Brown, upon winning the governorship of California after serving 30 years ago in the same job, then running for president, then mayor of Oakland, then the state attorney general.

“I’m really into this politics thing” — Jerry Brown, upon winning the governorship of California after serving 30 years ago in the same job, then running for president, then mayor of Oakland, then the state attorney general.

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LIVE BLOG: Unprecedented Lack of Huge Change?

Among the many features of this unprecedented year: The apparent ability of some Democratic Senatorial candidates to dissociate themselves with the national wave. This is leading to the anomalous situation of the biggest House pickup in 70 years for Republicans but a Senate pickup of 6 or 7, about what the GOP gained in 2002. One of the many ways in which this election is going to rewrite what we think are the ironclad rules governing nationalized elections.

Among the many features of this unprecedented year: The apparent ability of some Democratic Senatorial candidates to dissociate themselves with the national wave. This is leading to the anomalous situation of the biggest House pickup in 70 years for Republicans but a Senate pickup of 6 or 7, about what the GOP gained in 2002. One of the many ways in which this election is going to rewrite what we think are the ironclad rules governing nationalized elections.

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LIVE BLOG: You Want Surprises?

In early returns, the “total write-ins” are winning in Alaska. If this holds and nearly all are for Lisa Murkowski (with correct spelling), it would be the first time in history a write-in won for the Senate. And should Joe Miller join Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in the loser column, the critics of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party will have a field day.

And another surprise: Joe Trippi on Fox News says Obama should reflect on this: a slew of Democrats lost because of him and his agenda. Yeah, Joe Trippi said it.

In early returns, the “total write-ins” are winning in Alaska. If this holds and nearly all are for Lisa Murkowski (with correct spelling), it would be the first time in history a write-in won for the Senate. And should Joe Miller join Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in the loser column, the critics of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party will have a field day.

And another surprise: Joe Trippi on Fox News says Obama should reflect on this: a slew of Democrats lost because of him and his agenda. Yeah, Joe Trippi said it.

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LIVE BLOG: Larry Sabato Gives Us Two Reminders

Larry Sabato on Fox News just reminded us that when a party wins big, “they don’t win them all.” So we have a wipe-out in the House, Republicans elected in Blue States, and Harry Reid returned to the Senate. Sabato also reminded us that “polarization goes both ways.” The Blue Dogs were wiped out, leaving a much more liberal Democratic House caucus. Ironically, in the Senate, the defeat of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell suggests that at least in the Senate there will be a far more cohesive and manageable caucus for Sen. Mitch McConnell to lead.

Larry Sabato on Fox News just reminded us that when a party wins big, “they don’t win them all.” So we have a wipe-out in the House, Republicans elected in Blue States, and Harry Reid returned to the Senate. Sabato also reminded us that “polarization goes both ways.” The Blue Dogs were wiped out, leaving a much more liberal Democratic House caucus. Ironically, in the Senate, the defeat of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell suggests that at least in the Senate there will be a far more cohesive and manageable caucus for Sen. Mitch McConnell to lead.

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LIVE BLOG: Chalk One Up for Haley Barbour

The Republicans’ Governors Association has taken up the slack from the mess that is the RNC under Michael Steele. Its chairman is taking  a bow in a just-released statement:

“Four years ago Republicans controlled just 22 governorships. The fact that we’ve already reached a majority tonight is a testimony to the four-year plan our governors and staff developed and executed,” said RGA Chairman Haley Barbour.  “Any other committee would be happy securing the majority because it is a major accomplishment, but we are hoping for more because Republican governors are so important to the future of our Party, and more importantly, America.”

Don’t think his stock didn’t just go up with the GOP base. Is he a viable presidential candidate? I think we’ll find out. The implicit message of a potential Barbour candidacy: maybe an experienced governor with the ability to raise gobs of money and showcase winning candidates wouldn’t be the worse choice for the party’s nominee.

The Republicans’ Governors Association has taken up the slack from the mess that is the RNC under Michael Steele. Its chairman is taking  a bow in a just-released statement:

“Four years ago Republicans controlled just 22 governorships. The fact that we’ve already reached a majority tonight is a testimony to the four-year plan our governors and staff developed and executed,” said RGA Chairman Haley Barbour.  “Any other committee would be happy securing the majority because it is a major accomplishment, but we are hoping for more because Republican governors are so important to the future of our Party, and more importantly, America.”

Don’t think his stock didn’t just go up with the GOP base. Is he a viable presidential candidate? I think we’ll find out. The implicit message of a potential Barbour candidacy: maybe an experienced governor with the ability to raise gobs of money and showcase winning candidates wouldn’t be the worse choice for the party’s nominee.

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LIVE BLOG: Lots of Upset People

Sens. Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer are bummed. They were already fighting over the majority leader’s seat. Also upset, Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers, who have seen a second, untested outsider beat more electable GOP establishment types — and then lose in winnable states. Don’t think Palin’s potential 2012 opponents won’t be making hay out of this one.

But you know, there are worse things for the GOP than to have Harry Reid as an ongoing symbol of the Democratic Party.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer are bummed. They were already fighting over the majority leader’s seat. Also upset, Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers, who have seen a second, untested outsider beat more electable GOP establishment types — and then lose in winnable states. Don’t think Palin’s potential 2012 opponents won’t be making hay out of this one.

But you know, there are worse things for the GOP than to have Harry Reid as an ongoing symbol of the Democratic Party.

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LIVE BLOG: Nevada

It appears that Harry Reid has managed an amazing comeback from a double-digit deficit to beat Republican challenger Sharron Angle. What this means is simple: This was Angle’s race to lose, and boy, she lost it. She was the worst major Republican candidate in the country — who talked rather freely over a long political career on unusual and peculiar topics — and only went under the media radar in September because Christine O’Donnell emerged in Delaware. Reid turned the race into a referendum on Angle, and took it.

It appears that Harry Reid has managed an amazing comeback from a double-digit deficit to beat Republican challenger Sharron Angle. What this means is simple: This was Angle’s race to lose, and boy, she lost it. She was the worst major Republican candidate in the country — who talked rather freely over a long political career on unusual and peculiar topics — and only went under the media radar in September because Christine O’Donnell emerged in Delaware. Reid turned the race into a referendum on Angle, and took it.

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LIVE BLOG: Obama’s Seat Goes to the GOP

If Ted Kennedy’s seat can go to Scott Brown, then Obama’s seat can go to Mark Kirk. And it did. It is, to put it mildly, an embarrassment to the president and his party. The Democrats selected an ethically flawed candidate. Could a better candidate have won? Maybe. But recall that the Illinois Democratic Party largely did this to themselves. Sen. Roland Burris will become the answer to a trivia question. The party hemmed and hawed, couldn’t find a way to boot him out and refused to have an early special election when Obama’s standing was higher.  And ultimately the president could not save even his former seat for his party. This was a seat highly coveted by the Republicans. The total Senate haul for the GOP is now 6. Nevada, Colorado and Washington are still to be determined. Yes, Harry Reid’s demise would be bigger than Illinois. But make no mistake, the GOP is especially delighted to snatch this one from the Dems.

If Ted Kennedy’s seat can go to Scott Brown, then Obama’s seat can go to Mark Kirk. And it did. It is, to put it mildly, an embarrassment to the president and his party. The Democrats selected an ethically flawed candidate. Could a better candidate have won? Maybe. But recall that the Illinois Democratic Party largely did this to themselves. Sen. Roland Burris will become the answer to a trivia question. The party hemmed and hawed, couldn’t find a way to boot him out and refused to have an early special election when Obama’s standing was higher.  And ultimately the president could not save even his former seat for his party. This was a seat highly coveted by the Republicans. The total Senate haul for the GOP is now 6. Nevada, Colorado and Washington are still to be determined. Yes, Harry Reid’s demise would be bigger than Illinois. But make no mistake, the GOP is especially delighted to snatch this one from the Dems.

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