Commentary Magazine


Topic: Charlie Cook

Obama’s Biggest Challenge: Reselling Himself and His Party

In his column Charlie Cook writes, “Many Democrats seem to take solace in the idea that stubbornly high unemployment and the terrible economy are to blame for their midterm election losses. They are unwilling to acknowledge that there were some more fundamental factors at work, ones that may be too unpleasant for them to face.”

Among the fundamental factors at work, according to Cook, is the public’s view of government. He calls attention to one classic poll question: “Do you think that government should do more to solve problems, or is government trying to do too many things that would be better left to businesses and individuals?” (The wording of the question varies from pollster to pollster.)

In the 2008 national exit poll, 51 percent of voters surveyed said government should do more to solve problems, while 43 percent said government was trying to do too much. In 2010, only 38 percent thought government should do more, while 56 percent said government was trying to do too much. That’s a 26-point swing in just two years.

Set aside for now the reasons for why the public has turned against government; there’s simply no disputing the fact that they have. And because Barack Obama personifies Big Government in a way no other figure since Lyndon Johnson has, he and his party have suffered mightily.

President Obama’s challenge over the next two years is either to revivify the public’s faith in government or to change people’s impressions of him as the embodiment of a modern, activist liberal. Given his record over the last two years, that won’t be easy. What also complicates matters is that Obama is instinctively and intellectually a man of the left. That is apparent even in the deal he supports to cut tax rates for all Americans, including top income earners. The president cannot help but (repeatedly) express his disdain for key elements of a deal he himself is championing.

The task Mr. Obama faces over the next two years isn’t an impossible one, but it is formidable. He has to remake and resell himself (and his party) after two years of nearly unchecked liberalism. Having cemented this impression with the public, Obama now has the unenviable task of having to employ a political jackhammer to break it apart. Doing so is never easy or pretty.

In his column Charlie Cook writes, “Many Democrats seem to take solace in the idea that stubbornly high unemployment and the terrible economy are to blame for their midterm election losses. They are unwilling to acknowledge that there were some more fundamental factors at work, ones that may be too unpleasant for them to face.”

Among the fundamental factors at work, according to Cook, is the public’s view of government. He calls attention to one classic poll question: “Do you think that government should do more to solve problems, or is government trying to do too many things that would be better left to businesses and individuals?” (The wording of the question varies from pollster to pollster.)

In the 2008 national exit poll, 51 percent of voters surveyed said government should do more to solve problems, while 43 percent said government was trying to do too much. In 2010, only 38 percent thought government should do more, while 56 percent said government was trying to do too much. That’s a 26-point swing in just two years.

Set aside for now the reasons for why the public has turned against government; there’s simply no disputing the fact that they have. And because Barack Obama personifies Big Government in a way no other figure since Lyndon Johnson has, he and his party have suffered mightily.

President Obama’s challenge over the next two years is either to revivify the public’s faith in government or to change people’s impressions of him as the embodiment of a modern, activist liberal. Given his record over the last two years, that won’t be easy. What also complicates matters is that Obama is instinctively and intellectually a man of the left. That is apparent even in the deal he supports to cut tax rates for all Americans, including top income earners. The president cannot help but (repeatedly) express his disdain for key elements of a deal he himself is championing.

The task Mr. Obama faces over the next two years isn’t an impossible one, but it is formidable. He has to remake and resell himself (and his party) after two years of nearly unchecked liberalism. Having cemented this impression with the public, Obama now has the unenviable task of having to employ a political jackhammer to break it apart. Doing so is never easy or pretty.

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RE: Independent Voters Turn Right

As Pete pointed out yesterday, the midterm elections did not turn merely on the enthusiasm gap. Independent voters — the Holy Grail of politics — turned decisively against the Democrats. Charlie Cook explains:

Beyond the symbolism and images, big mistakes were made and Democrats seem happy to blame President Obama and the economy and not accept responsibility for pursuing an agenda that turned independent voters, who had voted by an 18-point margin in 2006 for Democrats, to vote for Republicans by an 18-point margin in 2010, according to exit polls.

This huge shift from one midterm election to the next, by a group that constitutes 26 percent of the electorate, is seismic. It is not a matter of turnout or partisan intensity; it is a clear indication that Democrats alienated voters in the middle who saw an agenda in 2009 and 2010 that was quite different and much more ideological that the one described in 2006 and 2008.

But it would be a mistake for Republicans to assume, just as it was for Democrats following the 2008 election, that they now have this large and decisive group in their grasp. You want proof? Try Senate races in Nevada, Delaware, and Colorado. The danger for the GOP is that while independents have been dislodged from the Democratic coalition, they can easily be turned off by Republican candidates.

The challenge for the GOP, as it is in each presidential election, is to form a center-right coalition that can gin up enthusiasm among the base but also reach out to those not automatically within the fold. Part of the challenge is to define policy objectives, and part is persona. The GOP has made strides in formulating the former, but the latter — the search for the “hot but not too hot” salesperson — has yet to begin in earnest. The dramatic swing in the independent vote should remain a cautionary tale: it’s easier to lose the independents than to keep them moored to your party.

As Pete pointed out yesterday, the midterm elections did not turn merely on the enthusiasm gap. Independent voters — the Holy Grail of politics — turned decisively against the Democrats. Charlie Cook explains:

Beyond the symbolism and images, big mistakes were made and Democrats seem happy to blame President Obama and the economy and not accept responsibility for pursuing an agenda that turned independent voters, who had voted by an 18-point margin in 2006 for Democrats, to vote for Republicans by an 18-point margin in 2010, according to exit polls.

This huge shift from one midterm election to the next, by a group that constitutes 26 percent of the electorate, is seismic. It is not a matter of turnout or partisan intensity; it is a clear indication that Democrats alienated voters in the middle who saw an agenda in 2009 and 2010 that was quite different and much more ideological that the one described in 2006 and 2008.

But it would be a mistake for Republicans to assume, just as it was for Democrats following the 2008 election, that they now have this large and decisive group in their grasp. You want proof? Try Senate races in Nevada, Delaware, and Colorado. The danger for the GOP is that while independents have been dislodged from the Democratic coalition, they can easily be turned off by Republican candidates.

The challenge for the GOP, as it is in each presidential election, is to form a center-right coalition that can gin up enthusiasm among the base but also reach out to those not automatically within the fold. Part of the challenge is to define policy objectives, and part is persona. The GOP has made strides in formulating the former, but the latter — the search for the “hot but not too hot” salesperson — has yet to begin in earnest. The dramatic swing in the independent vote should remain a cautionary tale: it’s easier to lose the independents than to keep them moored to your party.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Bill Clinton’s main task is getting people to drop out of Senate races. “Charlie Crist personally called a top adviser to Bill Clinton and asked if the former president would discuss with Kendrick Meek the possibility of dropping out of the Florida Senate race, according to a source close to Clinton.”

The Democrats’ main problem: their side is depressed, and their opponents are fired up. “The latest absentee ballot statistics released this afternoon by the state of Pennsylvania show a strong Republican tilt in the Keystone State, a bad sign for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. According to the secretary of state’s office, 53,226 absentee ballots have been returned by registered Republicans in Pennsylvania compared with 37,631 by registered Democrats.”

The Dems’ main enemy has been their own agenda. “Regardless of whether the stimulus bill has helped the economy, or even prevented further losses, voters don’t believe the mammoth spending and tax cut bill has helped. And because no House Republicans voted for the bill, the perceived failure is wholly owned by Democrats. But a failed stimulus may have been forgivable, if Democrats had done something else to turn around the jobs picture. Instead, the party moved on to cap and trade and health care. … The party sealed its fate when Democrats cast a Sunday vote to pass health care reform, effectively alienating seniors and male voters. In the end, the 111th Congress has been one of the most effective in recent history. That efficiency, and their accomplishments, will cost them seats.”

Republicans’ main lesson from 2010 should be about candidate selection. Or, as Bill Kristol observed, it “would be nice to have Delaware.”

J Street’s main activity is whining now. Too much partisanship on Israel! Sort of odd for a group that spends its time (when not running interference for Richard Goldstone) attacking AIPAC and conservative pro-Israel supporters. Funny, though its policy director can’t manage to explain what’s wrong with “the Republican Jewish Coalition’s ad against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, claiming that she ‘remained silent as the Obama administration pressured Israel and supported Israel’s enemies.'” B0xer hasn’t exactly stood up to the administration on anything, let alone Israel.

The Dems’ main mantra – not Bush! — is problematic. A new poll by Democrat Doug Schoen finds that by a 48-to-43 percent margin, voters think George W. Bush was a better president than Obama. (Umm, Jeb, are you listening?) Nothing like Obama to make the country appreciate his predecessor(s).

The main takeaway from Charlie Cook (subscription required): the House Dems are toast. “It’s now clear that this is largest House playing field since 1994 and Democrats’ losses may well exceed the 52 seats they lost that year. … Democrats can’t blame their losses on money. Democratic messages simply aren’t staving off GOP candidates. Democrats’ strategy of endlessly exploiting opponents’ personal baggage has failed to disqualify Republicans like retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West. … Democratic attempts to portray GOP foes as proponents of three different third rails — outsourcing, the Fair Tax, and Social Security privatization — have had limited success in isolated cases, but have likewise failed to salvage races across the board.”

The White House’s main dilemma: where can Obama do more good than harm? “They could send him to Wisconsin, but the Senate seat appeared to be slipping away despite a recent presidential visit. Maybe Colorado? The Senate contest there was much closer, but it wasn’t clear – given the state’s changing political sentiments – whether a visit by Obama would help. Washington, California and Nevada were out, given that he had just campaigned out West. The advisers easily eliminated West Virginia and Kentucky, two states that were hostile to Obama in the presidential race and have grown even more so.”

Bill Clinton’s main task is getting people to drop out of Senate races. “Charlie Crist personally called a top adviser to Bill Clinton and asked if the former president would discuss with Kendrick Meek the possibility of dropping out of the Florida Senate race, according to a source close to Clinton.”

The Democrats’ main problem: their side is depressed, and their opponents are fired up. “The latest absentee ballot statistics released this afternoon by the state of Pennsylvania show a strong Republican tilt in the Keystone State, a bad sign for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket. According to the secretary of state’s office, 53,226 absentee ballots have been returned by registered Republicans in Pennsylvania compared with 37,631 by registered Democrats.”

The Dems’ main enemy has been their own agenda. “Regardless of whether the stimulus bill has helped the economy, or even prevented further losses, voters don’t believe the mammoth spending and tax cut bill has helped. And because no House Republicans voted for the bill, the perceived failure is wholly owned by Democrats. But a failed stimulus may have been forgivable, if Democrats had done something else to turn around the jobs picture. Instead, the party moved on to cap and trade and health care. … The party sealed its fate when Democrats cast a Sunday vote to pass health care reform, effectively alienating seniors and male voters. In the end, the 111th Congress has been one of the most effective in recent history. That efficiency, and their accomplishments, will cost them seats.”

Republicans’ main lesson from 2010 should be about candidate selection. Or, as Bill Kristol observed, it “would be nice to have Delaware.”

J Street’s main activity is whining now. Too much partisanship on Israel! Sort of odd for a group that spends its time (when not running interference for Richard Goldstone) attacking AIPAC and conservative pro-Israel supporters. Funny, though its policy director can’t manage to explain what’s wrong with “the Republican Jewish Coalition’s ad against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, claiming that she ‘remained silent as the Obama administration pressured Israel and supported Israel’s enemies.'” B0xer hasn’t exactly stood up to the administration on anything, let alone Israel.

The Dems’ main mantra – not Bush! — is problematic. A new poll by Democrat Doug Schoen finds that by a 48-to-43 percent margin, voters think George W. Bush was a better president than Obama. (Umm, Jeb, are you listening?) Nothing like Obama to make the country appreciate his predecessor(s).

The main takeaway from Charlie Cook (subscription required): the House Dems are toast. “It’s now clear that this is largest House playing field since 1994 and Democrats’ losses may well exceed the 52 seats they lost that year. … Democrats can’t blame their losses on money. Democratic messages simply aren’t staving off GOP candidates. Democrats’ strategy of endlessly exploiting opponents’ personal baggage has failed to disqualify Republicans like retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West. … Democratic attempts to portray GOP foes as proponents of three different third rails — outsourcing, the Fair Tax, and Social Security privatization — have had limited success in isolated cases, but have likewise failed to salvage races across the board.”

The White House’s main dilemma: where can Obama do more good than harm? “They could send him to Wisconsin, but the Senate seat appeared to be slipping away despite a recent presidential visit. Maybe Colorado? The Senate contest there was much closer, but it wasn’t clear – given the state’s changing political sentiments – whether a visit by Obama would help. Washington, California and Nevada were out, given that he had just campaigned out West. The advisers easily eliminated West Virginia and Kentucky, two states that were hostile to Obama in the presidential race and have grown even more so.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Terrible news: Carly Fiorina is hospitalized.

Rotten outlook for the Dems from Charlie Cook: “The Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook is a Democratic net loss of 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible. A turnover of just 39 seats would tip majority status into Republican hands. The midterm maelstrom pulling House Democrats under shows no signs of abating, if anything it has intensified.”

Dismal outlook for Virginia Democrats: Dick Boucher may be denied his 16th term.

Noxious moral equivalence from the UN: “‘Israeli officials slammed UN special envoy Robert Serry’s comments Tuesday equating alleged settler vandalism against olive trees to terrorism, saying such an equation was “absurd” and “reprehensible.” As for the use of the word “terror,” does he want to make believe that there are Israeli suicide bombers attacking Palestinians buses?’ [Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor] said.  ‘One cannot understand this absurd equation. The Israeli government has acted with determination against violence directed against Palestinians, with a number of offenders brought to trial and an unambiguous approach by the Israeli justice system to this problem.'”

On the good-news front, many sharp GOP foreign policy gurus will have new prominence in Congress. Josh Rogin has the rundown.

Fabulous entertainment value ahead: “Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will likely represent himself at his mid-November ethics trial, setting up a potential spectacle less than two weeks after what’s expected to be a disappointing — if not devastating — election for Democrats.”

A positive development for conservative Hoosiers: “House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence  of Indiana is considering stepping down from his post in the GOP leadership in preparation for a possible bid for president or governor in 2012. Pence, a darling of the conservative movement, would leave the leadership job with a blunt explanation to colleagues that he can’t commit to a two-year term in House leadership, a source familiar with his deliberations told POLITICO Tuesday.”

Terrible news: Carly Fiorina is hospitalized.

Rotten outlook for the Dems from Charlie Cook: “The Cook Political Report’s pre-election House outlook is a Democratic net loss of 48 to 60 seats, with higher losses possible. A turnover of just 39 seats would tip majority status into Republican hands. The midterm maelstrom pulling House Democrats under shows no signs of abating, if anything it has intensified.”

Dismal outlook for Virginia Democrats: Dick Boucher may be denied his 16th term.

Noxious moral equivalence from the UN: “‘Israeli officials slammed UN special envoy Robert Serry’s comments Tuesday equating alleged settler vandalism against olive trees to terrorism, saying such an equation was “absurd” and “reprehensible.” As for the use of the word “terror,” does he want to make believe that there are Israeli suicide bombers attacking Palestinians buses?’ [Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor] said.  ‘One cannot understand this absurd equation. The Israeli government has acted with determination against violence directed against Palestinians, with a number of offenders brought to trial and an unambiguous approach by the Israeli justice system to this problem.'”

On the good-news front, many sharp GOP foreign policy gurus will have new prominence in Congress. Josh Rogin has the rundown.

Fabulous entertainment value ahead: “Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will likely represent himself at his mid-November ethics trial, setting up a potential spectacle less than two weeks after what’s expected to be a disappointing — if not devastating — election for Democrats.”

A positive development for conservative Hoosiers: “House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence  of Indiana is considering stepping down from his post in the GOP leadership in preparation for a possible bid for president or governor in 2012. Pence, a darling of the conservative movement, would leave the leadership job with a blunt explanation to colleagues that he can’t commit to a two-year term in House leadership, a source familiar with his deliberations told POLITICO Tuesday.”

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Will Obama Learn Anything from the Midterms?

Michael Gerson conducts a must-read interview with Charlie Cook. In addition to predictions of a massive GOP wave, there is this discussion about Obama and the Democratic agenda:

Question: What lessons should Obama’s aides take away from these likely political reverses?

“It was the political aides,” counters Cook, “who lost the arguments. Rahm [Emanuel] knew they should cut a deal on health care, get to the economy.” But Obama held a different view of himself and his presidency. “He had already been first at everything. He wanted to be something other than the first — to be historical, game-changing, to have grand influence like FDR or LBJ. But he missed out on the day job,” which was jobs and economic growth.

Some, Cook says, “are told all their lives that they are the most brilliant people on the planet. They don’t get less bright, but hubris kicks in. [Obama] just assumed that he was going to be a success, as he had always been in life.”

According to Cook, this reflects a lack of experience. “Experience is not an end, it is a means to an end: judgment.” Cook said that a few years in the Senate “don’t give an understanding of institutions and their dynamics. If [Obama] had been in the Senate six or eight years, he might have accumulated the wisdom to match the intelligence.”

That’s about as devastating a critique as you are going to get from a neutral observer. Obama’s arrogance got the better of him; he knew better than everyone and will now pay the price.

But there was more going on than simply picking the wrong agenda items or refusing to temper his own ego. Obama’s ideological rigidity and policy preferences ran headlong into Americans’ skepticism about big government and their sense of moral outrage. The Tea Party is a movement grounded in the belief in limited government. But it was also born out of a sense that we have lost track of fundamental values — thrift, discipline, and humility, for starters — and as a result are seeing irresponsible spending, massive debt, and liberal statism.

Obama did not listen to the health-care town-hall attendees or to the voters of New Jersey, Virginia, or Massachusetts. Why should he? He didn’t pay attention to more sober-minded aides, polls, or his own nervous congressional allies. His absolute certainty in his own vision combined with his lack of understanding of the American polity and substantive policy (from economics to the Middle East). As his poll ratings and party’s electoral prospects continue to dive, he reacts with annoyance at the rubes in America who fail to appreciate his brilliance. Will such a president actually reverse course after an election? I have my doubts.

Michael Gerson conducts a must-read interview with Charlie Cook. In addition to predictions of a massive GOP wave, there is this discussion about Obama and the Democratic agenda:

Question: What lessons should Obama’s aides take away from these likely political reverses?

“It was the political aides,” counters Cook, “who lost the arguments. Rahm [Emanuel] knew they should cut a deal on health care, get to the economy.” But Obama held a different view of himself and his presidency. “He had already been first at everything. He wanted to be something other than the first — to be historical, game-changing, to have grand influence like FDR or LBJ. But he missed out on the day job,” which was jobs and economic growth.

Some, Cook says, “are told all their lives that they are the most brilliant people on the planet. They don’t get less bright, but hubris kicks in. [Obama] just assumed that he was going to be a success, as he had always been in life.”

According to Cook, this reflects a lack of experience. “Experience is not an end, it is a means to an end: judgment.” Cook said that a few years in the Senate “don’t give an understanding of institutions and their dynamics. If [Obama] had been in the Senate six or eight years, he might have accumulated the wisdom to match the intelligence.”

That’s about as devastating a critique as you are going to get from a neutral observer. Obama’s arrogance got the better of him; he knew better than everyone and will now pay the price.

But there was more going on than simply picking the wrong agenda items or refusing to temper his own ego. Obama’s ideological rigidity and policy preferences ran headlong into Americans’ skepticism about big government and their sense of moral outrage. The Tea Party is a movement grounded in the belief in limited government. But it was also born out of a sense that we have lost track of fundamental values — thrift, discipline, and humility, for starters — and as a result are seeing irresponsible spending, massive debt, and liberal statism.

Obama did not listen to the health-care town-hall attendees or to the voters of New Jersey, Virginia, or Massachusetts. Why should he? He didn’t pay attention to more sober-minded aides, polls, or his own nervous congressional allies. His absolute certainty in his own vision combined with his lack of understanding of the American polity and substantive policy (from economics to the Middle East). As his poll ratings and party’s electoral prospects continue to dive, he reacts with annoyance at the rubes in America who fail to appreciate his brilliance. Will such a president actually reverse course after an election? I have my doubts.

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Cook: House in the Bag, Senate Up for Grabs

Charlie Cook writes:

It’s easy to look at what appears to be a gigantic Republican 2010 midterm election wave in the House and feel a little slack-jawed, but not so much surprised. There were plenty signs well over a year ago that Democrats were facing grave danger, but even when expecting an onslaught, one can still be shocked at its size and unrelenting force. It would be a surprise if this wave doesn’t match the 52-seat gain on Election Night in 1994, and it could be substantially more.

On the other hand, the Senate picture is incredibly confused. There is no clear narrative in the Senate, just bizarre ups and downs. Republicans could easily find themselves picking up as “few” as seven or as many as 10 seats.

That view matches the take of many conservative analysts and activists. Why is the Senate so much closer? For one thing, the seats that could tip the Senate majority to the Republicans are in Blue States — Washington, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, etc. It is remarkable that these are competitive and that they may, in fact, go to the GOP. Second, senators are simply more distinct figures than House members, with the ability to differentiate themselves. Harry Reid can’t, because he is the Senate majority leader and therefore is joined at the hip with the White House. But in places like Colorado and West Virginia, Democrats are making the case that they are not rubber stamps for the Obama administration. And yes, the Republicans blew a seat in Delaware. But, again, that is only one seat.

It is a measure of how far we have come in two years that the “ray of sunshine” for the Dems is that they may lose only eight Senate seats.

Charlie Cook writes:

It’s easy to look at what appears to be a gigantic Republican 2010 midterm election wave in the House and feel a little slack-jawed, but not so much surprised. There were plenty signs well over a year ago that Democrats were facing grave danger, but even when expecting an onslaught, one can still be shocked at its size and unrelenting force. It would be a surprise if this wave doesn’t match the 52-seat gain on Election Night in 1994, and it could be substantially more.

On the other hand, the Senate picture is incredibly confused. There is no clear narrative in the Senate, just bizarre ups and downs. Republicans could easily find themselves picking up as “few” as seven or as many as 10 seats.

That view matches the take of many conservative analysts and activists. Why is the Senate so much closer? For one thing, the seats that could tip the Senate majority to the Republicans are in Blue States — Washington, Wisconsin, Illinois, California, etc. It is remarkable that these are competitive and that they may, in fact, go to the GOP. Second, senators are simply more distinct figures than House members, with the ability to differentiate themselves. Harry Reid can’t, because he is the Senate majority leader and therefore is joined at the hip with the White House. But in places like Colorado and West Virginia, Democrats are making the case that they are not rubber stamps for the Obama administration. And yes, the Republicans blew a seat in Delaware. But, again, that is only one seat.

It is a measure of how far we have come in two years that the “ray of sunshine” for the Dems is that they may lose only eight Senate seats.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

There’s an understatement: “Juan Williams said Friday morning that NPR fired him this week because the radio network had become ‘vindictive’ over his appearances on Fox News.” Exhibit A: “NPR CEO Vivian Schiller on Thursday said that Williams should have kept his comments between himself and ‘his psychiatrist or his publicist.’ Schiller later apologized for the comment.” As a recovering labor lawyer, I can tell you that’s a plaintiff’s dream come true.

There’s a signal here: “The average of these states show that early voting has shifted from a D+16.6 partisan split to a D+1.7 partisan split for a Republican gain of +14.9% since 2008.” So many voters operating with the lizard brain, aren’t there?

There’s another reason to repeal ObamaCare. “Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf said Friday that ObamaCare includes work disincentives likely to shrink the amount of labor used in the economy.”

There’s no indication as to how they feel about Juan Williams. “Al-Qaeda Troubled by Helen Thomas’s Firing.”

There’s no indication that Jews agree with the tut-tutters that Israel is too “divisive” a campaign issue. JTA reports: “The National Jewish Democratic Council is running a ‘Day of Action,’ a get out the vote effort, nationwide on Sunday. The Republican Jewish Coalition is  chockablock with events in the coming days, including an appearance by former Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleischer in Chicago, where a lot of RJC attention has been focused, backing candidates Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) for the Senate and Joel Pollak and Bob Dold for the House. The RJC is running TV ads in the Philadelphia area targeting Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), the candidate for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat — not for J Street deviations from dogma, as in the past, but for backing civilian trials for terrorists.”

There’s not a single one predicting the Democrats will hold the House (number of predicted losses are in parenthesis): Larry Sabato (47), RCP (“up to 57″), Charlie Cook (52), Jay Cost (61), and Nate Silver (51).

There’s a headline for Peter Sellers’s fans: “Not Even Clouseau Could Make Panthers Disappear.” Quin Hillyer cites the Washington Post front-page story from yesterday and explains, “[Eric] Holder’s stonewalling can’t work. The truth will out. The truth appears to involve a pattern of race-based enforcement decisions at DOJ. Such a policy is unlawful. Period.” Actually, “Exclamation point!”

There’s no hotter Republican than Chris Christie. “He quickly has positioned himself as a politician in tune with an angry and impatient electorate, and he’s already mentioned as a 2012 presidential candidate. He’s well aware that the fate of his fight with the teachers union could determine his own. ‘If I wanted to be sure I’d be re-elected, I’d cozy up with the teachers union. … But I want far-reaching, not incremental, change.'”

There’s a lot of hype in the reporting on the WikiLeaks documents, says Tom Joscelyn. But, he explains, the documents do confirm “that Iran was, and remains, a principal sponsor of Shia extremist groups in Iraq. These same groups helped bring Iraq to the brink of chaos — along with al-Qaeda, which was also happy to fuel the sectarian violence. … They killed far more civilians than the American-led coalition ever did.”

There’s probably been a more counterproductive ad than Jack Conway’s attack on Rand Paul’s religion. But I just can’t think of one.

There’s an understatement: “Juan Williams said Friday morning that NPR fired him this week because the radio network had become ‘vindictive’ over his appearances on Fox News.” Exhibit A: “NPR CEO Vivian Schiller on Thursday said that Williams should have kept his comments between himself and ‘his psychiatrist or his publicist.’ Schiller later apologized for the comment.” As a recovering labor lawyer, I can tell you that’s a plaintiff’s dream come true.

There’s a signal here: “The average of these states show that early voting has shifted from a D+16.6 partisan split to a D+1.7 partisan split for a Republican gain of +14.9% since 2008.” So many voters operating with the lizard brain, aren’t there?

There’s another reason to repeal ObamaCare. “Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf said Friday that ObamaCare includes work disincentives likely to shrink the amount of labor used in the economy.”

There’s no indication as to how they feel about Juan Williams. “Al-Qaeda Troubled by Helen Thomas’s Firing.”

There’s no indication that Jews agree with the tut-tutters that Israel is too “divisive” a campaign issue. JTA reports: “The National Jewish Democratic Council is running a ‘Day of Action,’ a get out the vote effort, nationwide on Sunday. The Republican Jewish Coalition is  chockablock with events in the coming days, including an appearance by former Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleischer in Chicago, where a lot of RJC attention has been focused, backing candidates Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) for the Senate and Joel Pollak and Bob Dold for the House. The RJC is running TV ads in the Philadelphia area targeting Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), the candidate for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat — not for J Street deviations from dogma, as in the past, but for backing civilian trials for terrorists.”

There’s not a single one predicting the Democrats will hold the House (number of predicted losses are in parenthesis): Larry Sabato (47), RCP (“up to 57″), Charlie Cook (52), Jay Cost (61), and Nate Silver (51).

There’s a headline for Peter Sellers’s fans: “Not Even Clouseau Could Make Panthers Disappear.” Quin Hillyer cites the Washington Post front-page story from yesterday and explains, “[Eric] Holder’s stonewalling can’t work. The truth will out. The truth appears to involve a pattern of race-based enforcement decisions at DOJ. Such a policy is unlawful. Period.” Actually, “Exclamation point!”

There’s no hotter Republican than Chris Christie. “He quickly has positioned himself as a politician in tune with an angry and impatient electorate, and he’s already mentioned as a 2012 presidential candidate. He’s well aware that the fate of his fight with the teachers union could determine his own. ‘If I wanted to be sure I’d be re-elected, I’d cozy up with the teachers union. … But I want far-reaching, not incremental, change.'”

There’s a lot of hype in the reporting on the WikiLeaks documents, says Tom Joscelyn. But, he explains, the documents do confirm “that Iran was, and remains, a principal sponsor of Shia extremist groups in Iraq. These same groups helped bring Iraq to the brink of chaos — along with al-Qaeda, which was also happy to fuel the sectarian violence. … They killed far more civilians than the American-led coalition ever did.”

There’s probably been a more counterproductive ad than Jack Conway’s attack on Rand Paul’s religion. But I just can’t think of one.

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Who Knew? A Landslide!

Remember the Democratic “comeback”? Well, forget it. Poof, things — just this weekend — took a turn for the worse, pronounces Politico:

More bad polls. More bad fundraising numbers. More dreary talk on the Sunday shows. It added up to a brutal weekend for Democrats, as the consensus among election analysts, already bearish on the party’s prospects, took a turn for the worse over the past 48 hours.

In the eyes of the experts, the House Democratic majority most likely won’t survive Nov. 2, with political handicappers expanding their predictions to envision the possibility of a Democratic wipeout.

Analyst Stu Rothenberg pegs the number of competitive seats at 100. Charlie Cook says it’s 97. Virtually all of those seats are held by Democrats.

OK, so maybe the comeback storyline was as contrived as the president’s attack on the Chamber of Commerce. It’s now time for the media to cover their bets, adjust their headlines, and make sure that they are not left with egg on their collective face when the votes pour in on Election Day.

Actually, the analysts have been steadily increasing their projections for weeks now, and the fundraising bonanza for Republican candidates has been evident for some time. But the election coverage wouldn’t be complete without the faux Democratic revival, swiftly followed by the “Oh my, it’s a landslide!” recognition.

Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing that Sarah Palin is a great judge of political talent, the electorate is fed up with big government, the Tea Party is the most effective grassroots political movement in decades, and Obama’s incapable of shouldering blame for his party’s demise. This is all terribly startling to those who’ve chosen to put their fingers in their ears and hum whenever signs appeared that the Obama era has been a debacle for the left. But election results as decisive as those expected in two weeks are hard to ignore, even for a media as Democratic-friendly as this. So now’s the time to get those final predictions in, which, wouldn’t you know it, are pretty much what conservative analysts have been saying for weeks, if not months.

Remember the Democratic “comeback”? Well, forget it. Poof, things — just this weekend — took a turn for the worse, pronounces Politico:

More bad polls. More bad fundraising numbers. More dreary talk on the Sunday shows. It added up to a brutal weekend for Democrats, as the consensus among election analysts, already bearish on the party’s prospects, took a turn for the worse over the past 48 hours.

In the eyes of the experts, the House Democratic majority most likely won’t survive Nov. 2, with political handicappers expanding their predictions to envision the possibility of a Democratic wipeout.

Analyst Stu Rothenberg pegs the number of competitive seats at 100. Charlie Cook says it’s 97. Virtually all of those seats are held by Democrats.

OK, so maybe the comeback storyline was as contrived as the president’s attack on the Chamber of Commerce. It’s now time for the media to cover their bets, adjust their headlines, and make sure that they are not left with egg on their collective face when the votes pour in on Election Day.

Actually, the analysts have been steadily increasing their projections for weeks now, and the fundraising bonanza for Republican candidates has been evident for some time. But the election coverage wouldn’t be complete without the faux Democratic revival, swiftly followed by the “Oh my, it’s a landslide!” recognition.

Next thing you know, we’ll be hearing that Sarah Palin is a great judge of political talent, the electorate is fed up with big government, the Tea Party is the most effective grassroots political movement in decades, and Obama’s incapable of shouldering blame for his party’s demise. This is all terribly startling to those who’ve chosen to put their fingers in their ears and hum whenever signs appeared that the Obama era has been a debacle for the left. But election results as decisive as those expected in two weeks are hard to ignore, even for a media as Democratic-friendly as this. So now’s the time to get those final predictions in, which, wouldn’t you know it, are pretty much what conservative analysts have been saying for weeks, if not months.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The Chamber of Commerce gambit is a bust. So Jonathan Chait tries: “Hear me now and believe me later: If Republicans win and maintain control of the House of Representatives, they are going to impeach President Obama.” OK, that’s just pathetic.

A Ben Smith reader also thinks it’s a loser.Why not run against the VFW, Knights of Columbus, or maybe the Lions Club? The ‘Chamber of Congress’ does not exactly conjure up a nefarious image to voters in the middle of the spectrum. Further, it just makes Obama’s anti-business tag stick even harder. I’m not quite sure what the Democrats hope to gain by demonizing these folks, the money is not going to stop and the Democrats’ attacks make for pretty bad optics, unless one is simply very anti-business.”

The liberal meme that the Tea Partiers are racists is fizzling. “A new analysis of political signs displayed at a tea party rally in Washington last month reveals that the vast majority of activists expressed narrow concerns about the government’s economic and spending policies and steered clear of the racially charged anti-Obama messages that have helped define some media coverage of such events.”

The Dems’ “comeback” storyline is a dud, too. Charlie Cook has 92 seats in play. Eighty-five of them are held by Democrats.

Obama’s base-rousing efforts have bombed. “In a punctuation mark to what is shaping up to be a tough political year for the Democrats, Obama’s approval rating dropped to 43 percent from 47 percent last month, with 53 percent disapproving of the way he is handling his job. Obama’s handling of the economy was a leading cause of the drop. And much of this decline came from his own Democrats. The poll found Democrats’ approval rating of Obama has dropped to 70 percent this month from 78 percent last month.”

New evidence every day that Obama’s Middle East policy is a total flop. “Israel’s stance, which has been clearly expressed over recent days, is that Ahmadinejad’s visit proves that Lebanon is becoming more extreme, on its way to becoming an Iranian outpost. ‘Lebanon has joined the axis of extreme nations which object to the peace process and support terror,’ said a senior Israeli official involved in preparations for the two-day visit. … Iran’s president is visiting Lebanon like a commander coming to inspect his troops — Hezbollah terrorists — who serve as a wing of Iran’s military in the region.” This is Iran without the bomb. Imagine when the regime gets nukes.

Obamamania is kaput. “An Associated Press-mtvU poll found college students cooling in their support for President Barack Obama, a fresh sign of trouble for Democrats struggling to rekindle enthusiasm among many of these newest voters for the crucial midterm elections in three weeks. Forty-four percent of students approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 27 percent are unhappy with his stewardship, according to the survey conducted late last month. … [H]is diminished backing from college students raises further questions about whether the Democrats’ efforts to rally them — and other loyal supporters such as blacks and union members — will be enough to prevent Republicans from winning control of Congress in the Nov. 2 elections.”

The Chamber of Commerce gambit is a bust. So Jonathan Chait tries: “Hear me now and believe me later: If Republicans win and maintain control of the House of Representatives, they are going to impeach President Obama.” OK, that’s just pathetic.

A Ben Smith reader also thinks it’s a loser.Why not run against the VFW, Knights of Columbus, or maybe the Lions Club? The ‘Chamber of Congress’ does not exactly conjure up a nefarious image to voters in the middle of the spectrum. Further, it just makes Obama’s anti-business tag stick even harder. I’m not quite sure what the Democrats hope to gain by demonizing these folks, the money is not going to stop and the Democrats’ attacks make for pretty bad optics, unless one is simply very anti-business.”

The liberal meme that the Tea Partiers are racists is fizzling. “A new analysis of political signs displayed at a tea party rally in Washington last month reveals that the vast majority of activists expressed narrow concerns about the government’s economic and spending policies and steered clear of the racially charged anti-Obama messages that have helped define some media coverage of such events.”

The Dems’ “comeback” storyline is a dud, too. Charlie Cook has 92 seats in play. Eighty-five of them are held by Democrats.

Obama’s base-rousing efforts have bombed. “In a punctuation mark to what is shaping up to be a tough political year for the Democrats, Obama’s approval rating dropped to 43 percent from 47 percent last month, with 53 percent disapproving of the way he is handling his job. Obama’s handling of the economy was a leading cause of the drop. And much of this decline came from his own Democrats. The poll found Democrats’ approval rating of Obama has dropped to 70 percent this month from 78 percent last month.”

New evidence every day that Obama’s Middle East policy is a total flop. “Israel’s stance, which has been clearly expressed over recent days, is that Ahmadinejad’s visit proves that Lebanon is becoming more extreme, on its way to becoming an Iranian outpost. ‘Lebanon has joined the axis of extreme nations which object to the peace process and support terror,’ said a senior Israeli official involved in preparations for the two-day visit. … Iran’s president is visiting Lebanon like a commander coming to inspect his troops — Hezbollah terrorists — who serve as a wing of Iran’s military in the region.” This is Iran without the bomb. Imagine when the regime gets nukes.

Obamamania is kaput. “An Associated Press-mtvU poll found college students cooling in their support for President Barack Obama, a fresh sign of trouble for Democrats struggling to rekindle enthusiasm among many of these newest voters for the crucial midterm elections in three weeks. Forty-four percent of students approve of the job Obama is doing as president, while 27 percent are unhappy with his stewardship, according to the survey conducted late last month. … [H]is diminished backing from college students raises further questions about whether the Democrats’ efforts to rally them — and other loyal supporters such as blacks and union members — will be enough to prevent Republicans from winning control of Congress in the Nov. 2 elections.”

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The Swing Seats Will Be a Bloodbath

According to the latest findings by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies:

The generic ballot shows Republicans leading 44%-39%. Besides all of the usual regional crosstabs, we also broke it out by the type of district. We looked at the sample in the 66 Democratic INCUMBENT districts that Charlie Cook lists as either toss-up or leaning Democratic at the time of the survey.  In that key crosstab of Swing Democratic Incumbent Seats, the Republican lead grows to 49%-31% on the generic ballot. That is a very powerful crosstab that says the wave is coming.

Among the remaining Democratic districts (Likely/Safe Dem, and open seats), the generic ballot is an unsurprisingly 33% GOP/51% Dem — a sign that the historically safe Dem seat will remain so, while the swing seats will be a bloodbath. By the way, all of in the GOP held seats, the generic is the reverse of the base Dem seats — 52% GOP/32% Dem. Very few, if any, Republican incumbents will be defeated.

Likewise, President Obama’s numbers with likely voters are similar to the national average — 46% approve/51% disapprove. However, in the Swing Democratic Incumbent Seats. he has a much worse 40% approve/57% disapprove.  (Keep in mind, many of these Swing Seats are held by Democrats despite the fact that John McCain either won the district in 2008, or, even if losing, outperformed his national result.)

If Democrats sustain as much damage in the swing seats as Bolger anticipates, it could more than wipe out the gains Democrats made in the House in both the 2006 and 2008 elections. And that would be nothing short of remarkable.

According to the latest findings by Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies:

The generic ballot shows Republicans leading 44%-39%. Besides all of the usual regional crosstabs, we also broke it out by the type of district. We looked at the sample in the 66 Democratic INCUMBENT districts that Charlie Cook lists as either toss-up or leaning Democratic at the time of the survey.  In that key crosstab of Swing Democratic Incumbent Seats, the Republican lead grows to 49%-31% on the generic ballot. That is a very powerful crosstab that says the wave is coming.

Among the remaining Democratic districts (Likely/Safe Dem, and open seats), the generic ballot is an unsurprisingly 33% GOP/51% Dem — a sign that the historically safe Dem seat will remain so, while the swing seats will be a bloodbath. By the way, all of in the GOP held seats, the generic is the reverse of the base Dem seats — 52% GOP/32% Dem. Very few, if any, Republican incumbents will be defeated.

Likewise, President Obama’s numbers with likely voters are similar to the national average — 46% approve/51% disapprove. However, in the Swing Democratic Incumbent Seats. he has a much worse 40% approve/57% disapprove.  (Keep in mind, many of these Swing Seats are held by Democrats despite the fact that John McCain either won the district in 2008, or, even if losing, outperformed his national result.)

If Democrats sustain as much damage in the swing seats as Bolger anticipates, it could more than wipe out the gains Democrats made in the House in both the 2006 and 2008 elections. And that would be nothing short of remarkable.

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Brooks and the Tea Party

David Brooks steps forward to defend the Tea Party movement. He writes:

Many of my liberal friends are convinced that the Republican Party has a death wish. It is sprinting to the right-most fever swamps of American life. It will end up alienating the moderate voters it needs to win elections. There’s only one problem with this theory. There is no evidence to support it. …

I asked the election guru Charlie Cook if there were signs that the Tea Party was scaring away the independents. “I haven’t seen any,” he replied. I asked another Hall of Fame pollster, Peter Hart, if there were Republican or independent voters so alarmed by the Tea Party that they might alter their votes. He ran the numbers and found very few potential defectors.

Brooks is dead on when he observes that “as the Tea Party has surged, so has the G.O.P.” This does not mean that every Tea Party candidate is going to win in the general election, and some have serious issues. (Although, as Brooks notes, even a “weak” candidate like Sharron Angle is deadlocked with the majority leader.) But is that the standard for success in American politics — that you win every race? Certainly not.

Brooks then feels compelled — this is the New York Times, you know — to deride the movement for “some of the worst excesses of modern American culture: a narcissistic sense of victimization, an egomaniacal belief in one’s own rightness and purity, a willingness to distort the truth so that every conflict becomes a contest of pure good versus pure evil.” The evidence for this? He doesn’t say, but he does chide others for “untethered assertions.” It is hard for pundits, I think, to cope with a grassroots movement that has no single leader and no official platform; while individuals who seek to associate themselves with the movement may be subject to these faults, is a movement of millions, then, guilty as a group? Are millions of Americans playing the victim card? And by the way, that list of defects does aptly describe one political figure: the president.

In the end, Brooks backtracks, claiming that “the Tea Party doesn’t matter.” It’s the economy and objection to “one-party Democratic control” that are the deciding factors. Well, the Tea Party is either the key to the GOP’s success or irrelevant — take your pick. From my vantage point, it is both a result of one-party Democratic rule and the best thing to happen to the GOP since Ronald Reagan. That doesn’t mean its candidates will all win, but when the GOP picks up oodles of seats, much of the credit will go to the Tea Partiers.

David Brooks steps forward to defend the Tea Party movement. He writes:

Many of my liberal friends are convinced that the Republican Party has a death wish. It is sprinting to the right-most fever swamps of American life. It will end up alienating the moderate voters it needs to win elections. There’s only one problem with this theory. There is no evidence to support it. …

I asked the election guru Charlie Cook if there were signs that the Tea Party was scaring away the independents. “I haven’t seen any,” he replied. I asked another Hall of Fame pollster, Peter Hart, if there were Republican or independent voters so alarmed by the Tea Party that they might alter their votes. He ran the numbers and found very few potential defectors.

Brooks is dead on when he observes that “as the Tea Party has surged, so has the G.O.P.” This does not mean that every Tea Party candidate is going to win in the general election, and some have serious issues. (Although, as Brooks notes, even a “weak” candidate like Sharron Angle is deadlocked with the majority leader.) But is that the standard for success in American politics — that you win every race? Certainly not.

Brooks then feels compelled — this is the New York Times, you know — to deride the movement for “some of the worst excesses of modern American culture: a narcissistic sense of victimization, an egomaniacal belief in one’s own rightness and purity, a willingness to distort the truth so that every conflict becomes a contest of pure good versus pure evil.” The evidence for this? He doesn’t say, but he does chide others for “untethered assertions.” It is hard for pundits, I think, to cope with a grassroots movement that has no single leader and no official platform; while individuals who seek to associate themselves with the movement may be subject to these faults, is a movement of millions, then, guilty as a group? Are millions of Americans playing the victim card? And by the way, that list of defects does aptly describe one political figure: the president.

In the end, Brooks backtracks, claiming that “the Tea Party doesn’t matter.” It’s the economy and objection to “one-party Democratic control” that are the deciding factors. Well, the Tea Party is either the key to the GOP’s success or irrelevant — take your pick. From my vantage point, it is both a result of one-party Democratic rule and the best thing to happen to the GOP since Ronald Reagan. That doesn’t mean its candidates will all win, but when the GOP picks up oodles of seats, much of the credit will go to the Tea Partiers.

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Jonathan Chait, Delusional Regarding ObamaCare

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait continues his indefatigable political defense of ObmamCare. One of his recent efforts, “Health Care as Political Scapegoat,” can be found here. He writes, as proof of his thesis, that “a recent Gallup poll shows that Democrats fare about evenly (+1) versus Republicans on health care — it’s one of the only issues where they don’t have a disadvantage.”

Now what might be missing from Chait’s analysis? Context.

As I pointed out here, in October 2006, the Democrats held a 64-percent v. 25-percent advantage over Republicans regarding health care. Today the lead is 44 percent v. 43 percent — a 38-point swing in favor of the GOP. That is a substantially larger swing than we’ve seen on combating terrorism (29 points), the economy (27 points), and handling corruption in government (26 points).

There is no other issue, in fact, over which Democrats have lost as much ground as quickly as over health care. What was once the strongest issue in the Democratic arsenal — an issue on which Democrats enjoyed public support for generations — has now turned politically neutral with respect to the support each party enjoys on it. Politico reports that it appears as though no Democratic incumbent in the House or in the Senate has run a pro-health-care reform TV ad since April, while a handful of House Democrats are making health-care reform an election-year issue — by running against it. Senator Ron Wyden, one of the Democratic Party’s leading experts on health care, recently wrote a letter to Bruce Goldberg, the director of the Oregon health authority, encouraging Oregon to seek a waiver from the individual mandate, which is a fundamental feature of Obama’s health-care overhaul (Wyden is running for reelection). And last month more than 70 percent of Missouri primary voters rejected ObamaCare’s individual mandate. It’s no wonder that Charlie Cook declared that pushing ObamaCare was a “colossal miscalculation” for Democrats.

Given the weight of the evidence, it is bordering on delusional to argue that ObamaCare hasn’t damaged Obama or the Democrats politically.

Dogmatists such as Chait seem unable to rethink their views in light of reality; instead, they are contorting their arguments to defend flawed premises (ObamaCare would be a success and viewed by the public as a success). Mr. Chait wouldn’t be the first to do such a thing. But it is a transparent effort – and, at this stage, a discrediting one.

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait continues his indefatigable political defense of ObmamCare. One of his recent efforts, “Health Care as Political Scapegoat,” can be found here. He writes, as proof of his thesis, that “a recent Gallup poll shows that Democrats fare about evenly (+1) versus Republicans on health care — it’s one of the only issues where they don’t have a disadvantage.”

Now what might be missing from Chait’s analysis? Context.

As I pointed out here, in October 2006, the Democrats held a 64-percent v. 25-percent advantage over Republicans regarding health care. Today the lead is 44 percent v. 43 percent — a 38-point swing in favor of the GOP. That is a substantially larger swing than we’ve seen on combating terrorism (29 points), the economy (27 points), and handling corruption in government (26 points).

There is no other issue, in fact, over which Democrats have lost as much ground as quickly as over health care. What was once the strongest issue in the Democratic arsenal — an issue on which Democrats enjoyed public support for generations — has now turned politically neutral with respect to the support each party enjoys on it. Politico reports that it appears as though no Democratic incumbent in the House or in the Senate has run a pro-health-care reform TV ad since April, while a handful of House Democrats are making health-care reform an election-year issue — by running against it. Senator Ron Wyden, one of the Democratic Party’s leading experts on health care, recently wrote a letter to Bruce Goldberg, the director of the Oregon health authority, encouraging Oregon to seek a waiver from the individual mandate, which is a fundamental feature of Obama’s health-care overhaul (Wyden is running for reelection). And last month more than 70 percent of Missouri primary voters rejected ObamaCare’s individual mandate. It’s no wonder that Charlie Cook declared that pushing ObamaCare was a “colossal miscalculation” for Democrats.

Given the weight of the evidence, it is bordering on delusional to argue that ObamaCare hasn’t damaged Obama or the Democrats politically.

Dogmatists such as Chait seem unable to rethink their views in light of reality; instead, they are contorting their arguments to defend flawed premises (ObamaCare would be a success and viewed by the public as a success). Mr. Chait wouldn’t be the first to do such a thing. But it is a transparent effort – and, at this stage, a discrediting one.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Nothing in common with Shakespeare except comic genius.

Nothing matches the Joe Sestak campaign for sheer incompetence. Now he’s changing his tune on a $350,000 earmark. Boy, must Arlen Specter be grinding his teeth. There is an art to flip-flops, you know!

Nothing is leaning Democratic these days: “In 10 matchups this year by Rasmussen Reports between three-term Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi, the two have never been further than 4 points apart. Now, with Rossi moving to a 2 point lead, the pollster has changed its rating of the race from ‘leans Democratic’ to ‘toss-up.’ … Polling analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has calculated a 46 percent probability that the Democrats will lose the seat.”

Nothing but bad news for the Democrats from Charlie Cook: “[A] look at the 37 Senate races on the ballot shows some deterioration for Democrats in some of the 19 seats they are defending, while Republicans’ prospects have stayed the same or improved slightly in their most competitive seats. As such, it is now likely that Republicans will score a net gain of between seven and nine seats.”

Nothing but Red in California: SurveyUSA shows Meg Whitman up by seven and Carly Fiorina up by two.

Nothing in doubt in this race: “Robert Hurt (R) now leads [Virginia Democrat] Perriello by a whopping 61% to 35%.”

Nothing like a mosque at Ground Zero to wake up New York Jews. “As the fight over the center escalated from a zoning dispute into a battle in the culture wars, it has splintered New Yorkers along party lines. Seventy-four percent of Republicans are opposed; Democrats are split, with 43 percent for and 44 percent against. … More than half, 53 percent, of city residents with incomes over $100,000 back the center; only 31 percent of those with incomes under $50,000 agree. Protestants are evenly divided, while most Catholics and Jewish New Yorkers oppose the center.”

Nothing like a Cliff May piece on Muslim terror — and excoriating Fareed Zakaria. Read the whole thing — a few times.

Nothing in common with Shakespeare except comic genius.

Nothing matches the Joe Sestak campaign for sheer incompetence. Now he’s changing his tune on a $350,000 earmark. Boy, must Arlen Specter be grinding his teeth. There is an art to flip-flops, you know!

Nothing is leaning Democratic these days: “In 10 matchups this year by Rasmussen Reports between three-term Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican challenger Dino Rossi, the two have never been further than 4 points apart. Now, with Rossi moving to a 2 point lead, the pollster has changed its rating of the race from ‘leans Democratic’ to ‘toss-up.’ … Polling analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has calculated a 46 percent probability that the Democrats will lose the seat.”

Nothing but bad news for the Democrats from Charlie Cook: “[A] look at the 37 Senate races on the ballot shows some deterioration for Democrats in some of the 19 seats they are defending, while Republicans’ prospects have stayed the same or improved slightly in their most competitive seats. As such, it is now likely that Republicans will score a net gain of between seven and nine seats.”

Nothing but Red in California: SurveyUSA shows Meg Whitman up by seven and Carly Fiorina up by two.

Nothing in doubt in this race: “Robert Hurt (R) now leads [Virginia Democrat] Perriello by a whopping 61% to 35%.”

Nothing like a mosque at Ground Zero to wake up New York Jews. “As the fight over the center escalated from a zoning dispute into a battle in the culture wars, it has splintered New Yorkers along party lines. Seventy-four percent of Republicans are opposed; Democrats are split, with 43 percent for and 44 percent against. … More than half, 53 percent, of city residents with incomes over $100,000 back the center; only 31 percent of those with incomes under $50,000 agree. Protestants are evenly divided, while most Catholics and Jewish New Yorkers oppose the center.”

Nothing like a Cliff May piece on Muslim terror — and excoriating Fareed Zakaria. Read the whole thing — a few times.

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Democrats Fade

Virtually every pollster has remarked upon the growing erosion in Democrats’ midterm election prospects. Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, and many political reporters have noticed that things are getting worse for the Democrats. So we shouldn’t be surprised any longer to see polling results like these:

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state shows Republican challenger Dino Rossi attracting 48% of the vote while Democratic Senator Patty Murray earns support from 46%. Three percent (3%) prefer a different candidate, and three percent (3%) are undecided.

Earlier this month, Murray had a slight edge. However, the race has been very close all along.

Listen, if that is Washington State — think about Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and other less-Blue states. I think “wipeout” is a distinct possibility at this stage.

Virtually every pollster has remarked upon the growing erosion in Democrats’ midterm election prospects. Larry Sabato, Charlie Cook, and many political reporters have noticed that things are getting worse for the Democrats. So we shouldn’t be surprised any longer to see polling results like these:

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state shows Republican challenger Dino Rossi attracting 48% of the vote while Democratic Senator Patty Murray earns support from 46%. Three percent (3%) prefer a different candidate, and three percent (3%) are undecided.

Earlier this month, Murray had a slight edge. However, the race has been very close all along.

Listen, if that is Washington State — think about Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and other less-Blue states. I think “wipeout” is a distinct possibility at this stage.

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Worse and Worse

Gallup reports:

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans saying the Republicans in Congress would do a better job than the Democrats in Congress of handling seven of nine key election issues. The parties are essentially tied on health care, with the environment being the lone Democratic strength.

As Gallup points out, “The Democrats’ advantage on the issue of the environment is likely not something the party can leverage to improve its 2010 electoral fortunes, as Americans rank it at the bottom of the list in terms of its importance to their vote. Rather, economic concerns are paramount, with a majority of Americans rating the economy, jobs, and federal spending (along with government corruption) as extremely important.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Cook is ready to pronounce the last rites over the Democrats’ House majority:

There are few signs of any meaningful recovery, and indeed there is more talk of a double-dip recession, plunging the country back into economic trouble between now and the end of the year. Unemployment seems stuck at 9.5 percent, reinforcing the view that last year would have been better spent focusing on the economy than on health care reform. …

Simply put, Democrats find themselves heading into a midterm election that looks as grisly as any the party has faced in decades. It isn’t hard to find Democratic pollsters who privately concede that the numbers they are looking at now are worse than what they saw in 1994.

Yes, it really is that grim for the Democrats. The recriminations will be fierce.

Gallup reports:

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds Americans saying the Republicans in Congress would do a better job than the Democrats in Congress of handling seven of nine key election issues. The parties are essentially tied on health care, with the environment being the lone Democratic strength.

As Gallup points out, “The Democrats’ advantage on the issue of the environment is likely not something the party can leverage to improve its 2010 electoral fortunes, as Americans rank it at the bottom of the list in terms of its importance to their vote. Rather, economic concerns are paramount, with a majority of Americans rating the economy, jobs, and federal spending (along with government corruption) as extremely important.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Cook is ready to pronounce the last rites over the Democrats’ House majority:

There are few signs of any meaningful recovery, and indeed there is more talk of a double-dip recession, plunging the country back into economic trouble between now and the end of the year. Unemployment seems stuck at 9.5 percent, reinforcing the view that last year would have been better spent focusing on the economy than on health care reform. …

Simply put, Democrats find themselves heading into a midterm election that looks as grisly as any the party has faced in decades. It isn’t hard to find Democratic pollsters who privately concede that the numbers they are looking at now are worse than what they saw in 1994.

Yes, it really is that grim for the Democrats. The recriminations will be fierce.

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Obama the Ideologue

Things have gotten so bad for the Democrats in the wake of the mosque/Ground Zero controversy that respected political observers like Charlie Cook are speculating that Obama’s actions might only be explained by a strange indifference to his re-election. According to Cook:

Just over a year ago, a Democratic congressional leadership staffer who had sat in on a number of closed-door meetings between President Obama and Democratic members of Congress told me something to the effect of, “I know this isn’t true and sounds naïve, but listening to the president in these meetings, you’d think he really doesn’t care if he gets re-elected or not.”

While I acknowledge that someone who gets elected to the U.S. Senate and the presidency is by definition extremely competitive and has a healthy desire to win, the words of that staffer have frequently come back to mind. Most recently, I thought of them following the president’s decision to weigh in on the proposal to build a Muslim mosque and cultural center in lower Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero.

Cook goes on to write:

At the risk of sounding like an unlicensed psychoanalyst, it seems that President Obama is so supremely self-confident, so self-assured of the righteousness of his positions, that perhaps he believes if he does what he thinks is best and lets the chips fall where they may, everything will eventually work out. And, if it doesn’t, well, he’ll still think he did the right thing anyway.

This is the most favorable gloss that can be put on this interpretation; and when stated like this, there’s something to be admired in Obama’s approach. But there is also danger in it as well. For right now, everything is not working out; in fact, things are getting worse on almost every front. Yet Obama appears to be too ideological, too set in his ways, to adjust to events and to reality. He appears to have boundless faith in himself and his worldview; he is convinced he will succeed, come what may. Call it a Faith-Based Presidency.

The president, therefore, seems unable to process the (massive) incoming evidence that his approach is not working. He is a great, world-historical figure — and yet our situation is fraying. This is creating a form of cognitive dissonance. And so he and his aides and supporters must blame others — his predecessor, the GOP, cable news, “structural factors,” a “communications problem,” our political culture, our political system, and even the American people. As his presidency skids, Obama has become obsessed with finding scapegoats.

True conservatism, it has been said, is the negation of ideology. Obama’s brand of liberalism is the epitome of it. He may not bend — but the Democrats, about to be administered an epic comeuppance, eventually will. At some point soon, they will conclude that enough of them have been sacrificed at the altar of Obamaism.

Things have gotten so bad for the Democrats in the wake of the mosque/Ground Zero controversy that respected political observers like Charlie Cook are speculating that Obama’s actions might only be explained by a strange indifference to his re-election. According to Cook:

Just over a year ago, a Democratic congressional leadership staffer who had sat in on a number of closed-door meetings between President Obama and Democratic members of Congress told me something to the effect of, “I know this isn’t true and sounds naïve, but listening to the president in these meetings, you’d think he really doesn’t care if he gets re-elected or not.”

While I acknowledge that someone who gets elected to the U.S. Senate and the presidency is by definition extremely competitive and has a healthy desire to win, the words of that staffer have frequently come back to mind. Most recently, I thought of them following the president’s decision to weigh in on the proposal to build a Muslim mosque and cultural center in lower Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero.

Cook goes on to write:

At the risk of sounding like an unlicensed psychoanalyst, it seems that President Obama is so supremely self-confident, so self-assured of the righteousness of his positions, that perhaps he believes if he does what he thinks is best and lets the chips fall where they may, everything will eventually work out. And, if it doesn’t, well, he’ll still think he did the right thing anyway.

This is the most favorable gloss that can be put on this interpretation; and when stated like this, there’s something to be admired in Obama’s approach. But there is also danger in it as well. For right now, everything is not working out; in fact, things are getting worse on almost every front. Yet Obama appears to be too ideological, too set in his ways, to adjust to events and to reality. He appears to have boundless faith in himself and his worldview; he is convinced he will succeed, come what may. Call it a Faith-Based Presidency.

The president, therefore, seems unable to process the (massive) incoming evidence that his approach is not working. He is a great, world-historical figure — and yet our situation is fraying. This is creating a form of cognitive dissonance. And so he and his aides and supporters must blame others — his predecessor, the GOP, cable news, “structural factors,” a “communications problem,” our political culture, our political system, and even the American people. As his presidency skids, Obama has become obsessed with finding scapegoats.

True conservatism, it has been said, is the negation of ideology. Obama’s brand of liberalism is the epitome of it. He may not bend — but the Democrats, about to be administered an epic comeuppance, eventually will. At some point soon, they will conclude that enough of them have been sacrificed at the altar of Obamaism.

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Charlie Cook: GOP Will Win the House

Charlie Cook, one of the more cautious and respected pollsters and political analysts, is now saying the Democrats will lose the House. Gerald Seib reports:

“I think Republicans are going to get the House back,” he said flatly in a conversation taped for WSJ.com’s “Big Interview” segment, which will be posted on the site Friday morning.

To be precise, Republicans need to win 39 Democratic seats to get control of the House, and Mr. Cook’s current estimate is that they are in line for a 35- to 45-seat gain. “But frankly, I think we’re being very conservative with that,” he added. “The odds of it being higher than that range are a lot better than lower.”

As Seib notes, maybe the Democrats finally will gin up their base. Perhaps, he offers, “Democrats might figure out how to do a better job convincing the nation of the wisdom of their policies.” Is that likely? No. And as we’ve seen this week with another round of awful jobs numbers and the Ground Zero debacle, things could very well get even worse.

Charlie Cook, one of the more cautious and respected pollsters and political analysts, is now saying the Democrats will lose the House. Gerald Seib reports:

“I think Republicans are going to get the House back,” he said flatly in a conversation taped for WSJ.com’s “Big Interview” segment, which will be posted on the site Friday morning.

To be precise, Republicans need to win 39 Democratic seats to get control of the House, and Mr. Cook’s current estimate is that they are in line for a 35- to 45-seat gain. “But frankly, I think we’re being very conservative with that,” he added. “The odds of it being higher than that range are a lot better than lower.”

As Seib notes, maybe the Democrats finally will gin up their base. Perhaps, he offers, “Democrats might figure out how to do a better job convincing the nation of the wisdom of their policies.” Is that likely? No. And as we’ve seen this week with another round of awful jobs numbers and the Ground Zero debacle, things could very well get even worse.

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How Is the Ground Zero Mosque Playing in NYC?

It takes a perfect storm for the Republicans to win a congressional seat in Manhattan. But there is a storm brewing, so is it possible? Well, it’s not likely, but stranger things have happened.

The NY-14 (the East Side and part of Queens) is rated by Charlie Cook as “solidly Democratic.” Carolyn Maloney was elected in 1992 and really hasn’t faced serious opposition since. However, this year she has a primary challenge and, if she prevails, will face an energetic, likable Republican opponent, Ryan Brumberg. At least on one issue Maloney is badly out of step with her constituents. Unlike several other Democratic colleagues, she’s come out in support of the Ground Zero mosque. In fact, she’s being pushed by her primary challenger to be more vocal in her support. (What is she to do beyond cheerleading — donate money?)

For now, Maloney is trying to change the topic and talk about a bill for additional compensation for 9/11 responders. Brumberg is trying to keep the issue front and center and has been clear in his opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. In a brief e-mail exchange, Brumberg tells me: “I oppose the building of a mosque on ground zero because the Imam refuses to condemn Hamas as a terror organization, and claims that America was partially to blame in the September 11th attacks.”  He explains,”Just as the First Amendment grants Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf the right to build his mosque, it also gives us the right to protest its construction. Maloney’s actions are emblematic of a worrisome trend among hardcore liberals: that we need to go beyond granting those we disagree with the right to act, to actively supporting their endeavors and ideology.”

Well, his stance on the Ground Zero mosque is the same as that of Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and 60 percent of New Yorkers. Will it be a key issue in the race? Brumberg argues, “Yes, the September 11th attacks touched the lives of every citizen in this district, and yet Maloney’s support for this Imam shows how out of touch she is.”

On other foreign-policy issues, Brumberg cites the danger of “nuclear proliferation posed by Iran and North Korea” and also the threat posed by “yawning trade deficits and the increasing American dependence on Chinese capital.” As for domestic policy, he dismisses the idea that we are in a recovery. “The reality of our country’s present economic situation is that as long as Washington continues to waste our precious resources, our economy will never truly recover. We need to unchain America’s economic potential — create jobs and pay down the debt.”

It is not clear that the district is winnable by a Republican. But if there is any year it might be done, this is it. And Brumberg certainly has an opening now that Maloney is providing fodder for the argument that she is out of touch, too liberal even for New York City.

It takes a perfect storm for the Republicans to win a congressional seat in Manhattan. But there is a storm brewing, so is it possible? Well, it’s not likely, but stranger things have happened.

The NY-14 (the East Side and part of Queens) is rated by Charlie Cook as “solidly Democratic.” Carolyn Maloney was elected in 1992 and really hasn’t faced serious opposition since. However, this year she has a primary challenge and, if she prevails, will face an energetic, likable Republican opponent, Ryan Brumberg. At least on one issue Maloney is badly out of step with her constituents. Unlike several other Democratic colleagues, she’s come out in support of the Ground Zero mosque. In fact, she’s being pushed by her primary challenger to be more vocal in her support. (What is she to do beyond cheerleading — donate money?)

For now, Maloney is trying to change the topic and talk about a bill for additional compensation for 9/11 responders. Brumberg is trying to keep the issue front and center and has been clear in his opposition to the Ground Zero mosque. In a brief e-mail exchange, Brumberg tells me: “I oppose the building of a mosque on ground zero because the Imam refuses to condemn Hamas as a terror organization, and claims that America was partially to blame in the September 11th attacks.”  He explains,”Just as the First Amendment grants Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf the right to build his mosque, it also gives us the right to protest its construction. Maloney’s actions are emblematic of a worrisome trend among hardcore liberals: that we need to go beyond granting those we disagree with the right to act, to actively supporting their endeavors and ideology.”

Well, his stance on the Ground Zero mosque is the same as that of Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and 60 percent of New Yorkers. Will it be a key issue in the race? Brumberg argues, “Yes, the September 11th attacks touched the lives of every citizen in this district, and yet Maloney’s support for this Imam shows how out of touch she is.”

On other foreign-policy issues, Brumberg cites the danger of “nuclear proliferation posed by Iran and North Korea” and also the threat posed by “yawning trade deficits and the increasing American dependence on Chinese capital.” As for domestic policy, he dismisses the idea that we are in a recovery. “The reality of our country’s present economic situation is that as long as Washington continues to waste our precious resources, our economy will never truly recover. We need to unchain America’s economic potential — create jobs and pay down the debt.”

It is not clear that the district is winnable by a Republican. But if there is any year it might be done, this is it. And Brumberg certainly has an opening now that Maloney is providing fodder for the argument that she is out of touch, too liberal even for New York City.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama’s baddest critic warns him about flip-floppery on the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Obama, you are not the mayor of Podunk arguing with the City Council over sewer versus septic; you are the president of the United States of America , the greatest country in the world! It may be that your utterances are sounding like indefensible rubbish to more and more of us, but at the very least you, the presidential enunciator of them, ought to have the courage to defend them —especially when they’re already in writing.”

Greg Sargent warns anti-Israel Democrats that the Emergency Committee for Israel is putting them “on notice that if they criticize Israel, they can expect to be targeted, too.” Or, to put it differently, it will be harder to fake being pro-Israel.

Charlie Cook warns Democrats that the Connecticut Senate race will tighten. And sure enough: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Connecticut Voters finds that Democrat Richard Blumenthal has slipped below the 50% mark of support this month against Republican Linda McMahon in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Bill Kristol warns the left to get a grip: “The ‘f*ck tea’ movement [the real name of a new leftist undertaking] — that’s what the left has come to. They can’t defend the results of Obama’s policies or the validity of Krugman’s arguments. They know it’s hard to sustain an antidemocratic ethos in a democracy. They realize they’ve degenerated into pro-am levels of whining and squabbling. So they curse their opponents.”

The Gray Lady warns politicians to avoid Michelle Obama’s vacation gaffe: “Forget the lush beaches of Bora Bora or the Campari-soaked cafes along the Côte d’Azur. And don’t even think about Rome or Paris. Astute Washington politicians have long known that when it comes to politically palatable summer vacations, it is best not to cross any oceans. Or even seas. Michelle Obama violated one of this city’s most sacrosanct unwritten rules when she went to Spain — during a recession, no less — with her daughter and a few friends.”

Senate Republicans warn the administration that its pick for ambassador to Turkey is a no-go: “The nomination of Frank Ricciardone to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey is being held up in the Senate and the GOP has no intention of allowing a vote on the nomination any time soon. … The administration might be wary of spending its limited political capital to push through the Ricciardone nomination to a floor debate in the Senate because it could open up a broader public discussion of Turkey policy the White House might not think is useful given the delicate diplomatic environment.”

Douglas Schoen warns fellow Democrats: “The recent discouraging economic news is a watershed for the Obama administration — at least as far as the midterms are concerned. It discredits one of the administration’s few remaining positive arguments: that the administration ushered in an economic recovery that otherwise might not have occurred.”

Bibi warns the world, explains George Will: “If Iran were to ‘wipe the Zionist entity off the map,’ as it vows to do, it would, Netanyahu believes, achieve a regional ‘dominance not seen since Alexander.’ … He says that 1948 meant this: ‘For the first time in 2,000 years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend itself against attack.’ And he says: ‘The tragic history of the powerlessness of our people explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.’ If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned.” Nor will it be able to say that, by leaving the job to Israel, Obama fufilled his role as leader of the Free World.

Obama’s baddest critic warns him about flip-floppery on the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Obama, you are not the mayor of Podunk arguing with the City Council over sewer versus septic; you are the president of the United States of America , the greatest country in the world! It may be that your utterances are sounding like indefensible rubbish to more and more of us, but at the very least you, the presidential enunciator of them, ought to have the courage to defend them —especially when they’re already in writing.”

Greg Sargent warns anti-Israel Democrats that the Emergency Committee for Israel is putting them “on notice that if they criticize Israel, they can expect to be targeted, too.” Or, to put it differently, it will be harder to fake being pro-Israel.

Charlie Cook warns Democrats that the Connecticut Senate race will tighten. And sure enough: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Connecticut Voters finds that Democrat Richard Blumenthal has slipped below the 50% mark of support this month against Republican Linda McMahon in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Bill Kristol warns the left to get a grip: “The ‘f*ck tea’ movement [the real name of a new leftist undertaking] — that’s what the left has come to. They can’t defend the results of Obama’s policies or the validity of Krugman’s arguments. They know it’s hard to sustain an antidemocratic ethos in a democracy. They realize they’ve degenerated into pro-am levels of whining and squabbling. So they curse their opponents.”

The Gray Lady warns politicians to avoid Michelle Obama’s vacation gaffe: “Forget the lush beaches of Bora Bora or the Campari-soaked cafes along the Côte d’Azur. And don’t even think about Rome or Paris. Astute Washington politicians have long known that when it comes to politically palatable summer vacations, it is best not to cross any oceans. Or even seas. Michelle Obama violated one of this city’s most sacrosanct unwritten rules when she went to Spain — during a recession, no less — with her daughter and a few friends.”

Senate Republicans warn the administration that its pick for ambassador to Turkey is a no-go: “The nomination of Frank Ricciardone to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey is being held up in the Senate and the GOP has no intention of allowing a vote on the nomination any time soon. … The administration might be wary of spending its limited political capital to push through the Ricciardone nomination to a floor debate in the Senate because it could open up a broader public discussion of Turkey policy the White House might not think is useful given the delicate diplomatic environment.”

Douglas Schoen warns fellow Democrats: “The recent discouraging economic news is a watershed for the Obama administration — at least as far as the midterms are concerned. It discredits one of the administration’s few remaining positive arguments: that the administration ushered in an economic recovery that otherwise might not have occurred.”

Bibi warns the world, explains George Will: “If Iran were to ‘wipe the Zionist entity off the map,’ as it vows to do, it would, Netanyahu believes, achieve a regional ‘dominance not seen since Alexander.’ … He says that 1948 meant this: ‘For the first time in 2,000 years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend itself against attack.’ And he says: ‘The tragic history of the powerlessness of our people explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.’ If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned.” Nor will it be able to say that, by leaving the job to Israel, Obama fufilled his role as leader of the Free World.

Read Less

The New Republic’s Keith Olbermann

In a story in the Washington Examiner, Stephen Hess, an expert on the presidency at the Brookings Institution, said Robert Gibbs’ remarks attacking the “professional left” shows how “unprepared” many in the Obama administration were for the rigors of the White House. “A lot of things had come too easy for them — a substantial election victory, and an almost messianic moment with the inauguration,” Hess said. “Governing is hard.”

The governing-is-hard theme is something some of us warned about a long time ago. And charting some of Obama’s early missteps caused commentators on the left, such as the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, enormous irritation. In May 2009 he wrote:

In anticipation of his prophesy coming true, [Wehner’s] blogging for Commentary has become a gleeful chronicle of Obama’s imagined descent into dysfunction and popular repudiation.

Well, now. The “imagined descent” into popular repudiation (and dysfunction, for that matter) is no longer imagined, is it?

Popular repudiation is precisely what Obama and Democrats are experiencing on a scale that is extremely rare — one the may prove to be unprecedented — for a president who has been in office for less than two years.

William Galston, who served in the Clinton administration, has warned his party that it might not only lose the House; its majority in the Senate is endangered, too. And the polarization some of us highlighted early on in Obama’s presidency was in fact on the mark. Chait dismissed the observation at the time, but then came (for Chait) a rather unfortunate Gallup survey released in January 2010, which reported that Barack Obama was the most polarizing first-year president in recorded history.

Now we should keep in mind that Chait is the same individual who, in December 2008, assured his readers that “undiluted liberalism” in the area of health care was hugely popular and that the path to political dominance for Obama and Democrats; and who, in February 2007, wrote that there was “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who supported President Bush’s surge strategy in Iraq. “It is not just that they are wrong,” our modern-day Metternich insisted. “It’s that they are completely detached from reality.”

Such detached-from-reality insights continue apace. Earlier this year, for example, Chait wrote:

The perception has formed, perhaps indelibly, that the reason Democrats will get hammered in the 2010 elections is that the party moved too far left in general and tried to reform health care in particular. This perception owes itself, above all, to the habit that political analysts in the media and other outposts of mainstream thought have of ignoring structural factors.

Of course; health-care reform has nothing to do with Obama’s plight or that of the Democratic Party. So sayeth The Great Chait.

Never mind that Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, analyzes the empirical data and declares that “the health overhaul remains a political loser in most of the country.” Or that Democratic pollster Doug Schoen writes that “recent polling shows that the [health care] bill has been a disaster for the party. … There may well be no single initiative as unpopular as the administration’s health care reform bill.” Or that Charlie Cook, who specializes in election forecasts and political trends, declared earlier this year that from a political perspective, pushing health care was a “colossal miscalculation.” Yet Chait – who doesn’t specialize in election forecasts or political trends – knows better.

And what should we make of the fact that by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, voters in Missouri voters rejected a key provision of President Obama’s health-care law? Easy. “Missouri is not a ‘bellwether’ state right now,” Chait cheerfully informs us. Missouri, you see, has suddenly become Utah. And the individual mandate never was popular, don’t you know?

Chait has been reduced to arguing (ad nauseam) that Obama’s unpopularity has virtually nothing to do with Obama’s policies or his liberal ideology; it has to do with the very bad economy and those darn “structural factors.” Barack Obama is a fantastic president, you see; it’s just too bad the conditions in the country are miserable.

Jonathan has become something of an amusing read. It is not simply watching him try to twist reality to fit his ideological presuppositions, which is amusing enough; it is the whole packaged deal – the adolescent rage, exemplified in his “I hate Bush” rant, the playground taunts, the pretense of governing and policy expertise.

And there is the matter of Chait’s slightly peculiar personal obsessions. For example, he admits that one of his “guilty pleasures” is a “morbid fascination” with me and that one of his “shameful hobbies” is watching the “almost sensual pleasure” taken by me at the coming November elections – with the latter written under the headline “Wehner Throbs with Anticipation.” Now this doesn’t particularly bother me, but perhaps it should bother Mrs. Chait.

The New Republic was once the professional home to some of the nation’s preeminent intellectuals, public figures, and journalists. Today it provides a perch to Jonathan Chait, TNR’s version of Keith Olbermann

In a story in the Washington Examiner, Stephen Hess, an expert on the presidency at the Brookings Institution, said Robert Gibbs’ remarks attacking the “professional left” shows how “unprepared” many in the Obama administration were for the rigors of the White House. “A lot of things had come too easy for them — a substantial election victory, and an almost messianic moment with the inauguration,” Hess said. “Governing is hard.”

The governing-is-hard theme is something some of us warned about a long time ago. And charting some of Obama’s early missteps caused commentators on the left, such as the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, enormous irritation. In May 2009 he wrote:

In anticipation of his prophesy coming true, [Wehner’s] blogging for Commentary has become a gleeful chronicle of Obama’s imagined descent into dysfunction and popular repudiation.

Well, now. The “imagined descent” into popular repudiation (and dysfunction, for that matter) is no longer imagined, is it?

Popular repudiation is precisely what Obama and Democrats are experiencing on a scale that is extremely rare — one the may prove to be unprecedented — for a president who has been in office for less than two years.

William Galston, who served in the Clinton administration, has warned his party that it might not only lose the House; its majority in the Senate is endangered, too. And the polarization some of us highlighted early on in Obama’s presidency was in fact on the mark. Chait dismissed the observation at the time, but then came (for Chait) a rather unfortunate Gallup survey released in January 2010, which reported that Barack Obama was the most polarizing first-year president in recorded history.

Now we should keep in mind that Chait is the same individual who, in December 2008, assured his readers that “undiluted liberalism” in the area of health care was hugely popular and that the path to political dominance for Obama and Democrats; and who, in February 2007, wrote that there was “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who supported President Bush’s surge strategy in Iraq. “It is not just that they are wrong,” our modern-day Metternich insisted. “It’s that they are completely detached from reality.”

Such detached-from-reality insights continue apace. Earlier this year, for example, Chait wrote:

The perception has formed, perhaps indelibly, that the reason Democrats will get hammered in the 2010 elections is that the party moved too far left in general and tried to reform health care in particular. This perception owes itself, above all, to the habit that political analysts in the media and other outposts of mainstream thought have of ignoring structural factors.

Of course; health-care reform has nothing to do with Obama’s plight or that of the Democratic Party. So sayeth The Great Chait.

Never mind that Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, analyzes the empirical data and declares that “the health overhaul remains a political loser in most of the country.” Or that Democratic pollster Doug Schoen writes that “recent polling shows that the [health care] bill has been a disaster for the party. … There may well be no single initiative as unpopular as the administration’s health care reform bill.” Or that Charlie Cook, who specializes in election forecasts and political trends, declared earlier this year that from a political perspective, pushing health care was a “colossal miscalculation.” Yet Chait – who doesn’t specialize in election forecasts or political trends – knows better.

And what should we make of the fact that by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, voters in Missouri voters rejected a key provision of President Obama’s health-care law? Easy. “Missouri is not a ‘bellwether’ state right now,” Chait cheerfully informs us. Missouri, you see, has suddenly become Utah. And the individual mandate never was popular, don’t you know?

Chait has been reduced to arguing (ad nauseam) that Obama’s unpopularity has virtually nothing to do with Obama’s policies or his liberal ideology; it has to do with the very bad economy and those darn “structural factors.” Barack Obama is a fantastic president, you see; it’s just too bad the conditions in the country are miserable.

Jonathan has become something of an amusing read. It is not simply watching him try to twist reality to fit his ideological presuppositions, which is amusing enough; it is the whole packaged deal – the adolescent rage, exemplified in his “I hate Bush” rant, the playground taunts, the pretense of governing and policy expertise.

And there is the matter of Chait’s slightly peculiar personal obsessions. For example, he admits that one of his “guilty pleasures” is a “morbid fascination” with me and that one of his “shameful hobbies” is watching the “almost sensual pleasure” taken by me at the coming November elections – with the latter written under the headline “Wehner Throbs with Anticipation.” Now this doesn’t particularly bother me, but perhaps it should bother Mrs. Chait.

The New Republic was once the professional home to some of the nation’s preeminent intellectuals, public figures, and journalists. Today it provides a perch to Jonathan Chait, TNR’s version of Keith Olbermann

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