Commentary Magazine


Topic: Chris Cillizza

Senate Spin

Chris Cillizza’s column is headlined “In 2010 Obama’s poll numbers less of an asset for congressional Democrats.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. In fact, the president’s a millstone, right?

Despite the headline, the column is actually about Senate Democrats. The only mention of the House, where substantial losses are now expected by everyone but Joe Biden, is this: “Historically, Senate races tend to be less heavily influenced by the direction — and strength — of the national political winds than House races in which the candidates are less well known to the electorate and on which the national parties typically spend less money.” As for the Senate, the most Cillizza will concede is that “the president’s numbers could make a difference at the margins — where a handful of races are typically decided.”

It’s the sort of analysis — GOP wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Delaware, and the rest would not be a reflection on Obama — that likely induces approving nods and smiles in the White House. And, in case we did not appreciate the Obamaphile view of things, Cillizza adds: “White House allies argue that in the handful of Senate races widely regarded as those that Republicans must win to take back the chamber, the president isn’t a neutral or negative force but a positive one.” So why are Senate contests in Washington, Wisconsin, and California so close — would Democrats actually be trailing if not for the alleged “positive” Obama effect?

A less Obama-friendly analysis would go like this: Losing the Senate Majority is no longer out of the question. (Al Hunt is now confessing: “Republicans have a real shot at taking control of the Senate, as well as the House, in the U.S. midterm elections. … Even with [the Bush] card it’s an uphill struggle to match the Republicans’ anger and energy, as evidenced by the higher turnouts in primaries around the country.”) Obama’s economy, the disaffection of independent voters, and the populist backlash against Obama’s left-leaning agenda have put into play states that usually aren’t (e.g., California, Wisconsin) and shifted into the GOP column states that two years ago were won by Obama (Pennsylvania, Colorado). The results will probably induce a monstrous game of finger-pointing, and Senate Democrats who survive and those who are up in 2012 will be disinclined to rubber-stamp what remains of his agenda.

I suspect that the more sober-minded in the Democratic Party with agree with that take and will be advising 2012 candidates to look after their own political fortunes and pay close attention to their constituents. Otherwise, they will join the ranks of the 2010 Obama victims.

Chris Cillizza’s column is headlined “In 2010 Obama’s poll numbers less of an asset for congressional Democrats.” Well, that’s one way of putting it. In fact, the president’s a millstone, right?

Despite the headline, the column is actually about Senate Democrats. The only mention of the House, where substantial losses are now expected by everyone but Joe Biden, is this: “Historically, Senate races tend to be less heavily influenced by the direction — and strength — of the national political winds than House races in which the candidates are less well known to the electorate and on which the national parties typically spend less money.” As for the Senate, the most Cillizza will concede is that “the president’s numbers could make a difference at the margins — where a handful of races are typically decided.”

It’s the sort of analysis — GOP wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Colorado, Delaware, and the rest would not be a reflection on Obama — that likely induces approving nods and smiles in the White House. And, in case we did not appreciate the Obamaphile view of things, Cillizza adds: “White House allies argue that in the handful of Senate races widely regarded as those that Republicans must win to take back the chamber, the president isn’t a neutral or negative force but a positive one.” So why are Senate contests in Washington, Wisconsin, and California so close — would Democrats actually be trailing if not for the alleged “positive” Obama effect?

A less Obama-friendly analysis would go like this: Losing the Senate Majority is no longer out of the question. (Al Hunt is now confessing: “Republicans have a real shot at taking control of the Senate, as well as the House, in the U.S. midterm elections. … Even with [the Bush] card it’s an uphill struggle to match the Republicans’ anger and energy, as evidenced by the higher turnouts in primaries around the country.”) Obama’s economy, the disaffection of independent voters, and the populist backlash against Obama’s left-leaning agenda have put into play states that usually aren’t (e.g., California, Wisconsin) and shifted into the GOP column states that two years ago were won by Obama (Pennsylvania, Colorado). The results will probably induce a monstrous game of finger-pointing, and Senate Democrats who survive and those who are up in 2012 will be disinclined to rubber-stamp what remains of his agenda.

I suspect that the more sober-minded in the Democratic Party with agree with that take and will be advising 2012 candidates to look after their own political fortunes and pay close attention to their constituents. Otherwise, they will join the ranks of the 2010 Obama victims.

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Even More Confirmation of Dems in Trouble

To add to what you said, Jen, Chris Cillizza, in an entry in the Washington Post different from the one you link to, writes this:

The simple truth is that over the past six to nine months, the Senate playing field has expanded to the point where there are now (at least) 15 races where a party switch is a real possibility — if not a probability.

Most of that expansion has benefited Republicans, who have effectively taken advantage of a national playing field tilted in their favor to take previously non-competitive races like Washington and Wisconsin and put them on the target list.

Cillizza points out that the Cook Political Report now rates “a whopping 18 races as either likely to switch, leaning switch or straight tossups” while the Rothenberg Political Report ranks 15 races with the potential to switch sides. And my hunch is that for Democrats, the political environment in November will be at least as bad as, and perhaps worse than, it is right now.

The pieces are in place for a repudiation of Obama, his party, and liberalism unlike anything we have ever seen, at least for a midterm election.

To add to what you said, Jen, Chris Cillizza, in an entry in the Washington Post different from the one you link to, writes this:

The simple truth is that over the past six to nine months, the Senate playing field has expanded to the point where there are now (at least) 15 races where a party switch is a real possibility — if not a probability.

Most of that expansion has benefited Republicans, who have effectively taken advantage of a national playing field tilted in their favor to take previously non-competitive races like Washington and Wisconsin and put them on the target list.

Cillizza points out that the Cook Political Report now rates “a whopping 18 races as either likely to switch, leaning switch or straight tossups” while the Rothenberg Political Report ranks 15 races with the potential to switch sides. And my hunch is that for Democrats, the political environment in November will be at least as bad as, and perhaps worse than, it is right now.

The pieces are in place for a repudiation of Obama, his party, and liberalism unlike anything we have ever seen, at least for a midterm election.

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Meltdown Ahead

Chris Cillizza reports:

Some neutral observers and senior strategists within the party have begun to believe that the national political environment is not only similar to what they saw in 1994 — when Democrats lost control of the House and Senate — but could in fact be worse by Election Day. …

Combine the similarities between 1994 and 2010 on the generic ballot and presidential approval with a clear intensity gap between the Republican base (fired up to vote) and the Democratic base (less so), and Democratic strategists are worried that they are watching history repeat itself.

Sort of like conservative outlets have been explaining for months now, I suppose.

As Pete has aptly detailed, this in part explains the unhinged quality of the left’s rhetoric. Members of the left are infuriated and bewildered that the grand shift to a center-left nation proved as illusory as Obama’s political brilliance. But in voicing their fury, do they depress the base even more? Perhaps. But they will certainly poison the atmosphere for any potential for moderation and compromise by the surviving Democrats after November. “How can they co-operate with the crazy, Islamophobe cosnervatives?!” the left will rail.

The meltdown may not simply be electoral for liberals. They will need to figure out how to regroup and cope with a country so stiff-necked as to reject what they are peddling.

Chris Cillizza reports:

Some neutral observers and senior strategists within the party have begun to believe that the national political environment is not only similar to what they saw in 1994 — when Democrats lost control of the House and Senate — but could in fact be worse by Election Day. …

Combine the similarities between 1994 and 2010 on the generic ballot and presidential approval with a clear intensity gap between the Republican base (fired up to vote) and the Democratic base (less so), and Democratic strategists are worried that they are watching history repeat itself.

Sort of like conservative outlets have been explaining for months now, I suppose.

As Pete has aptly detailed, this in part explains the unhinged quality of the left’s rhetoric. Members of the left are infuriated and bewildered that the grand shift to a center-left nation proved as illusory as Obama’s political brilliance. But in voicing their fury, do they depress the base even more? Perhaps. But they will certainly poison the atmosphere for any potential for moderation and compromise by the surviving Democrats after November. “How can they co-operate with the crazy, Islamophobe cosnervatives?!” the left will rail.

The meltdown may not simply be electoral for liberals. They will need to figure out how to regroup and cope with a country so stiff-necked as to reject what they are peddling.

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Making Some Noise in Missouri

A new poll in Missouri – a key swing state – shows President Obama’s numbers tanking. According to the Post-Dispatch/KMOV poll results, Obama’s approval-disapproval numbers are 34 v. 57 – a 23 point gap. Among independents, the numbers are even worse: 27 percent approve of the job Obama is doing, while 63 percent disapprove. And on the most important issue in the minds of the voters, the economy, Obama’s approval ratings are even worse: 33-61 overall and 25-68 among independents. (Eight percent of independents in Missouri approve of the job Congress is doing.)

So it’s no wonder  – as Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post points out – that Missouri Representative Roy Blunt (R) is running a new ad against his opponent for the open Senate seat, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D). In it, he describes her as a “rubber stamp” for Obama’s agenda and quotes Obama, who said that financial regulatory reform “would’ve already been done if I had Robin Carnahan there.”

Barack Obama is now one of the best issues the GOP has on its side.

But remember: Obama’s policies and performance have nothing at all to do with any of this. At least that is what some bloggers/former Journolisters never tire of telling us. Let’s be compassionate conservatives, though. It’s been a difficult 18 months for them, so let’s not shake them out of their slumber and their self-delusion. Obama is in terrific shape, he’s doing just the right things, his policies are wildly popular, he’s terrifically competent, and the polls are simply “white noise.”

Sure they are.

A new poll in Missouri – a key swing state – shows President Obama’s numbers tanking. According to the Post-Dispatch/KMOV poll results, Obama’s approval-disapproval numbers are 34 v. 57 – a 23 point gap. Among independents, the numbers are even worse: 27 percent approve of the job Obama is doing, while 63 percent disapprove. And on the most important issue in the minds of the voters, the economy, Obama’s approval ratings are even worse: 33-61 overall and 25-68 among independents. (Eight percent of independents in Missouri approve of the job Congress is doing.)

So it’s no wonder  – as Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post points out – that Missouri Representative Roy Blunt (R) is running a new ad against his opponent for the open Senate seat, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D). In it, he describes her as a “rubber stamp” for Obama’s agenda and quotes Obama, who said that financial regulatory reform “would’ve already been done if I had Robin Carnahan there.”

Barack Obama is now one of the best issues the GOP has on its side.

But remember: Obama’s policies and performance have nothing at all to do with any of this. At least that is what some bloggers/former Journolisters never tire of telling us. Let’s be compassionate conservatives, though. It’s been a difficult 18 months for them, so let’s not shake them out of their slumber and their self-delusion. Obama is in terrific shape, he’s doing just the right things, his policies are wildly popular, he’s terrifically competent, and the polls are simply “white noise.”

Sure they are.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Worst press secretary in recent memory? Chris Cillizza says he is at least the winner of the “worst week” designation: “It took only 17 words ['there is no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control' of the House] for White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to set off the circular firing squad. … Republicans, meanwhile, could barely contain their glee at seeing their message — ‘We can take the House back, really, we can’ — seconded by the official White House mouthpiece.”

Worst Middle East diplomacy rebuke to date? “Fatah spokesperson Muhammad Dahlan announced that Fatah had rejected the U.S.’s offer Saturday to broker direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Worst political advice to Obama? Mark Penn suggests: “Between now and the midterms, the administration has to focus on what it can do to provide a sense of economic recovery. Perhaps the best arena for that is in an energy bill that creates a wide array of incentives to produce new forms of energy.” You understand how Hillary lost the nomination.

Worst column ever from James Fallows? He hopes Dick Cheney recovers so he can change his mind and undermine all his prior views.

Worst political problem for Obama? Howard Fineman says it’s the loss of independent voters: “The Democrats’ support among this group has fallen to as low as 35 percent in some polls. The reasons are clear. They do not believe that Obama’s actions have produced results — and for these practical voters, nothing else matters. The $787 billion stimulus bill is widely regarded as an expensive, unfocused dud, even when measured against the cautious claims the Obama camp originally made for it. Health-care reform remains, for most voters, a 2,000-page, impenetrable, and largely irrelevant mystery. The BP oil spill has hurt Obama’s ability to fend off GOP charges that he’s ineffective as a leader.”

Worst thing Israel could do regarding Iran? In a definitive analysis of Israel’s options, Reuel Marc Gerecht argues it would be to do nothing: “Without a raid, if the Iranians get the bomb, Europe’s appeasement reflex will kick in and the EU sanctions regime will collapse, leaving the Americans alone to contain the Islamic Republic. Most of the Gulf Arabs will probably kowtow to Persia, having more fear of Iran than confidence in the defensive assurances of the United States. And Sunni Arabs who don’t view an Iranian bomb as a plus for the Muslim world will, at daunting speed, become much more interested in ‘nuclear energy’; the Saudis, who likely helped Islamabad go nuclear, will just call in their chits with the Pakistani military.” The best option, of course, would be for the U.S. to act, but that seems unlikely.

Worst time to have an electoral wipe-out? In a Census year: “Big Republican gains in November [in state legislative races] could have lasting consequences. Legislators elected in the fall will redraw congressional boundaries next year. Control over the redistricting process could sway outcomes in dozens of districts over the next decade. ‘If you’re going to have a good year, have it in a year that ends in zero,’ says Ed Gillespie, a former Republican Party chairman who is heading up the GOP’s state-level efforts this year.”

Worst Justice Department in history? No contest. The latest: “One of the nation’s leading producers of X-rated videos, John Stagliano, was acquitted on federal obscenity charges Friday afternoon after a series of stumbles by the prosecution. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the acquittal of Stagliano and two companies related to his Evil Angel studio on a defense motion before the defense presented any rebuttal to several days of evidence from the Justice Department. Leon called the government’s case ‘woefully lacking’ or ‘woefully inadequate,’ depending on whose account you follow.”

Worst press secretary in recent memory? Chris Cillizza says he is at least the winner of the “worst week” designation: “It took only 17 words ['there is no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control' of the House] for White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to set off the circular firing squad. … Republicans, meanwhile, could barely contain their glee at seeing their message — ‘We can take the House back, really, we can’ — seconded by the official White House mouthpiece.”

Worst Middle East diplomacy rebuke to date? “Fatah spokesperson Muhammad Dahlan announced that Fatah had rejected the U.S.’s offer Saturday to broker direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Worst political advice to Obama? Mark Penn suggests: “Between now and the midterms, the administration has to focus on what it can do to provide a sense of economic recovery. Perhaps the best arena for that is in an energy bill that creates a wide array of incentives to produce new forms of energy.” You understand how Hillary lost the nomination.

Worst column ever from James Fallows? He hopes Dick Cheney recovers so he can change his mind and undermine all his prior views.

Worst political problem for Obama? Howard Fineman says it’s the loss of independent voters: “The Democrats’ support among this group has fallen to as low as 35 percent in some polls. The reasons are clear. They do not believe that Obama’s actions have produced results — and for these practical voters, nothing else matters. The $787 billion stimulus bill is widely regarded as an expensive, unfocused dud, even when measured against the cautious claims the Obama camp originally made for it. Health-care reform remains, for most voters, a 2,000-page, impenetrable, and largely irrelevant mystery. The BP oil spill has hurt Obama’s ability to fend off GOP charges that he’s ineffective as a leader.”

Worst thing Israel could do regarding Iran? In a definitive analysis of Israel’s options, Reuel Marc Gerecht argues it would be to do nothing: “Without a raid, if the Iranians get the bomb, Europe’s appeasement reflex will kick in and the EU sanctions regime will collapse, leaving the Americans alone to contain the Islamic Republic. Most of the Gulf Arabs will probably kowtow to Persia, having more fear of Iran than confidence in the defensive assurances of the United States. And Sunni Arabs who don’t view an Iranian bomb as a plus for the Muslim world will, at daunting speed, become much more interested in ‘nuclear energy’; the Saudis, who likely helped Islamabad go nuclear, will just call in their chits with the Pakistani military.” The best option, of course, would be for the U.S. to act, but that seems unlikely.

Worst time to have an electoral wipe-out? In a Census year: “Big Republican gains in November [in state legislative races] could have lasting consequences. Legislators elected in the fall will redraw congressional boundaries next year. Control over the redistricting process could sway outcomes in dozens of districts over the next decade. ‘If you’re going to have a good year, have it in a year that ends in zero,’ says Ed Gillespie, a former Republican Party chairman who is heading up the GOP’s state-level efforts this year.”

Worst Justice Department in history? No contest. The latest: “One of the nation’s leading producers of X-rated videos, John Stagliano, was acquitted on federal obscenity charges Friday afternoon after a series of stumbles by the prosecution. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the acquittal of Stagliano and two companies related to his Evil Angel studio on a defense motion before the defense presented any rebuttal to several days of evidence from the Justice Department. Leon called the government’s case ‘woefully lacking’ or ‘woefully inadequate,’ depending on whose account you follow.”

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Nikki Fever

In the end, it wasn’t even close. Nikki Haley trounced her opponent by 30 points in the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary. She overcame smears about infidelity — which were never proven and seemed to make her all the more sympathetic. She weathered nasty attacks on her religion. She now is poised to become the state’s first woman governor. Chris Cillizza sounds like he’s starting a “Draft Nikki” campaign:

Even before Haley had officially become the nominee, the Republican Governors Association had all-but-endorsed her — recognizing that an Indian-American woman as their nominee was a terrific national storyline. Given Haley’s background and the primacy of South Carolina in the 2012 Republican presidential primary process, she will almost certainly become a national figure in short order.

She was endorsed and greatly aided by Sarah Palin, whose treatment by the media should serve as a warning. Beautiful conservative women are not treated well by the mainstream media. And Haley should keep in mind that liberals and their mainstream-media allies generally treat minorities who are conservative especially roughly. If they happen to be devout Christians, well then, they really need to watch out.

Haley should be wary, but she also has the benefit of others’ examples. The way for Haley to disarm the media and beat back the political attacks is, of course, to be at the top of her game. Although Chris Christie may be the un-Haley in outward appearance, his  approach is the right one: be the happy warrior, apply conservative values, reject the entreaties to “get along” with the political establishment, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It’s harder than it sounds. But in the end, the media can’t bring down a competent, likable politician — nor, as we have learned in the last 17 months, can they keep afloat an incompetent, snippy one.

In the end, it wasn’t even close. Nikki Haley trounced her opponent by 30 points in the South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary. She overcame smears about infidelity — which were never proven and seemed to make her all the more sympathetic. She weathered nasty attacks on her religion. She now is poised to become the state’s first woman governor. Chris Cillizza sounds like he’s starting a “Draft Nikki” campaign:

Even before Haley had officially become the nominee, the Republican Governors Association had all-but-endorsed her — recognizing that an Indian-American woman as their nominee was a terrific national storyline. Given Haley’s background and the primacy of South Carolina in the 2012 Republican presidential primary process, she will almost certainly become a national figure in short order.

She was endorsed and greatly aided by Sarah Palin, whose treatment by the media should serve as a warning. Beautiful conservative women are not treated well by the mainstream media. And Haley should keep in mind that liberals and their mainstream-media allies generally treat minorities who are conservative especially roughly. If they happen to be devout Christians, well then, they really need to watch out.

Haley should be wary, but she also has the benefit of others’ examples. The way for Haley to disarm the media and beat back the political attacks is, of course, to be at the top of her game. Although Chris Christie may be the un-Haley in outward appearance, his  approach is the right one: be the happy warrior, apply conservative values, reject the entreaties to “get along” with the political establishment, and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It’s harder than it sounds. But in the end, the media can’t bring down a competent, likable politician — nor, as we have learned in the last 17 months, can they keep afloat an incompetent, snippy one.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Elections have consequences: “The White House was slow to embrace the movement — so much so that protesters held up signs last year asking President Obama, ‘Are you with them or with us?’ Lately, Mr. Obama has made some stronger statements, including one on Thursday that was delivered in his name by an aide before the National Endowment for Democracy, which gave its annual award to the Green Movement. But as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pointed out in a powerful speech before the group also on Thursday, the president has hesitated to ‘unleash America’s full moral power to support the Iranian people.’ Mr. Obama clings to the hope that the radical clique in Tehran will eventually agree to negotiate in good faith — ‘an assumption,’ Mr. McCain noted, that ‘seems totally at odds with the character of this Iranian regime.’”

The House Democrats have a shellacking coming their way. Realclearpolitics shows 201 “safe” or “leans Democratic” seats for Nancy Pelosi and company, 199 “safe” or “leans Republican” for the GOP, and 35 toss-ups.

Labor bosses have nothing to show — first, for their expensive efforts on card check, and now, in the Arkansas Democratic primary. On the latter, Chris Cillizza writes: “Organized labor, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.” When do you think union members will insist their hard-earned dollars not be wasted on these political larks?

The EU countries have every reason to go after Israel if the U.S. isn’t standing up for the Jewish state: “Spain will propose the European Union exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, the country’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Saturday. The Spanish prime minister said at a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Spain wants to ‘forge a strong common position’ with EU countries in the face of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

Republican establishment types have none of the influence of Sarah Palin in a GOP primary: “[Nikki] Haley’s attacks on the party caught Palin’s attention last summer. A fan sent Palin a YouTube clip of the candidate speaking at a July 4 tea party rally. ‘Who is that?’ Palin asked, according to a Haley adviser. ‘I want to help her.’ Palin kept an eye on Haley’s progress and then flew last month to Columbia, where she appeared on the steps of the Capitol with Haley and gave the candidate her blessing. … Palin’s endorsement worked: Haley’s poll numbers jumped.”

We have a means of thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions: “Some in Washington seem resigned to letting Israel take action. But a U.S. failure to act in response to what is perhaps the greatest threat to American interests in decades would be irresponsible. Israel, moreover, lacks our full capabilities to do the job. Despite our global commitments and our engagement in two ongoing wars, the U.S. military is fully able to carry out such a mission. Indeed, the success of President Bush’s 2007 surge of forces into Iraq and of President Obama’s sending additional resources to Afghanistan means we are on better footing to deal with Iran’s nuclear program than we were a few years ago.” What we don’t have is a president with the will to do it.

The mainstream news outlets have standards, unlike the blogospheric riffraff, they keep telling us. From its own ombudsman: “Too often it seems The [Washington] Post grants anonymity at the drop of a hat. … By casually agreeing to conceal the identities of those who provide non-critical information, the Post erodes its credibility and perpetuates Washington’s insidious culture of anonymity.”

Elections have consequences: “The White House was slow to embrace the movement — so much so that protesters held up signs last year asking President Obama, ‘Are you with them or with us?’ Lately, Mr. Obama has made some stronger statements, including one on Thursday that was delivered in his name by an aide before the National Endowment for Democracy, which gave its annual award to the Green Movement. But as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pointed out in a powerful speech before the group also on Thursday, the president has hesitated to ‘unleash America’s full moral power to support the Iranian people.’ Mr. Obama clings to the hope that the radical clique in Tehran will eventually agree to negotiate in good faith — ‘an assumption,’ Mr. McCain noted, that ‘seems totally at odds with the character of this Iranian regime.’”

The House Democrats have a shellacking coming their way. Realclearpolitics shows 201 “safe” or “leans Democratic” seats for Nancy Pelosi and company, 199 “safe” or “leans Republican” for the GOP, and 35 toss-ups.

Labor bosses have nothing to show — first, for their expensive efforts on card check, and now, in the Arkansas Democratic primary. On the latter, Chris Cillizza writes: “Organized labor, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.” When do you think union members will insist their hard-earned dollars not be wasted on these political larks?

The EU countries have every reason to go after Israel if the U.S. isn’t standing up for the Jewish state: “Spain will propose the European Union exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, the country’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Saturday. The Spanish prime minister said at a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Spain wants to ‘forge a strong common position’ with EU countries in the face of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”

Republican establishment types have none of the influence of Sarah Palin in a GOP primary: “[Nikki] Haley’s attacks on the party caught Palin’s attention last summer. A fan sent Palin a YouTube clip of the candidate speaking at a July 4 tea party rally. ‘Who is that?’ Palin asked, according to a Haley adviser. ‘I want to help her.’ Palin kept an eye on Haley’s progress and then flew last month to Columbia, where she appeared on the steps of the Capitol with Haley and gave the candidate her blessing. … Palin’s endorsement worked: Haley’s poll numbers jumped.”

We have a means of thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions: “Some in Washington seem resigned to letting Israel take action. But a U.S. failure to act in response to what is perhaps the greatest threat to American interests in decades would be irresponsible. Israel, moreover, lacks our full capabilities to do the job. Despite our global commitments and our engagement in two ongoing wars, the U.S. military is fully able to carry out such a mission. Indeed, the success of President Bush’s 2007 surge of forces into Iraq and of President Obama’s sending additional resources to Afghanistan means we are on better footing to deal with Iran’s nuclear program than we were a few years ago.” What we don’t have is a president with the will to do it.

The mainstream news outlets have standards, unlike the blogospheric riffraff, they keep telling us. From its own ombudsman: “Too often it seems The [Washington] Post grants anonymity at the drop of a hat. … By casually agreeing to conceal the identities of those who provide non-critical information, the Post erodes its credibility and perpetuates Washington’s insidious culture of anonymity.”

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Re: The Democrats’ Obama-Induced Fury

The Evan Bayh announcement is a downer for Democrats. In the “losers” category, Chris Cillizza puts “Democratic morale.” He’s got a point:

In the month (or so) since Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) special election victory in Massachusetts, Democratic strategists had argued that the party — and the president — had found their footing a bit, pointing to the aggressive approach by Obama in a tete a tete with House Republicans as evidence of their morale makeover. Bayh’s decision saps that optimism badly. “It is like getting turned down repeatedly for dates,” explained one Democratic consultant of the series of retirement decisions in the party in recent months.”In the end you start worrying whether there is something wrong with you.” The unanswerable question for Democrats is whether Bayh’s decision — coming on the heels of the retirement of North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan — makes other vulnerable Senators or House members reconsider their plans.White House: The White House’s hopes of building momentum in advance of next week’s bipartisan health care summit were quashed with Bayh’s indictment of the political atmosphere in Washington. Bayh’s decision is also likely to dominate a significant chunk of the political coverage in the coming days, making it harder for other events — like the President’s energy event today in Maryland today — to break through. For a White House that has struggled badly with staying on message, the Bayh news is a further complication.

And if that’s not depressing enough for Democrats, the latest Rasmussen poll shows a nine-point advantage for Republicans in generic congressional polling. It’s quite a fall for Obama – the once-considered savior of the Democratic party (and the nation, we were told), now the source of such angst. The health summit already was a bit of a smoke-and-mirrors routine, and now it has been blown away by some cold, hard facts. Obama is losing his grip, not only on the country but also on his own party. The mask of bipartisanship pasted together over the last few weeks has been ripped off. And panic is again sweeping through the ranks.

We keep hearing about that civil war breaking out among Republicans. Tea partiers and country-club conservatives are supposed to fight it out. Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist were going to have a blood feud. There is little evidence of that. But there sure is a huge storm brewing on the Democratic side, although the mainstream media is slow to catch on. Dump Obama’s agenda or double down? Forget health care and revive that bipartisan jobs bill that helped drive Bayh into retirement? That’s where the action is. And the defections, retirements, and backbiting have only just begun, I think.

The Evan Bayh announcement is a downer for Democrats. In the “losers” category, Chris Cillizza puts “Democratic morale.” He’s got a point:

In the month (or so) since Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) special election victory in Massachusetts, Democratic strategists had argued that the party — and the president — had found their footing a bit, pointing to the aggressive approach by Obama in a tete a tete with House Republicans as evidence of their morale makeover. Bayh’s decision saps that optimism badly. “It is like getting turned down repeatedly for dates,” explained one Democratic consultant of the series of retirement decisions in the party in recent months.”In the end you start worrying whether there is something wrong with you.” The unanswerable question for Democrats is whether Bayh’s decision — coming on the heels of the retirement of North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan — makes other vulnerable Senators or House members reconsider their plans.White House: The White House’s hopes of building momentum in advance of next week’s bipartisan health care summit were quashed with Bayh’s indictment of the political atmosphere in Washington. Bayh’s decision is also likely to dominate a significant chunk of the political coverage in the coming days, making it harder for other events — like the President’s energy event today in Maryland today — to break through. For a White House that has struggled badly with staying on message, the Bayh news is a further complication.

And if that’s not depressing enough for Democrats, the latest Rasmussen poll shows a nine-point advantage for Republicans in generic congressional polling. It’s quite a fall for Obama – the once-considered savior of the Democratic party (and the nation, we were told), now the source of such angst. The health summit already was a bit of a smoke-and-mirrors routine, and now it has been blown away by some cold, hard facts. Obama is losing his grip, not only on the country but also on his own party. The mask of bipartisanship pasted together over the last few weeks has been ripped off. And panic is again sweeping through the ranks.

We keep hearing about that civil war breaking out among Republicans. Tea partiers and country-club conservatives are supposed to fight it out. Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist were going to have a blood feud. There is little evidence of that. But there sure is a huge storm brewing on the Democratic side, although the mainstream media is slow to catch on. Dump Obama’s agenda or double down? Forget health care and revive that bipartisan jobs bill that helped drive Bayh into retirement? That’s where the action is. And the defections, retirements, and backbiting have only just begun, I think.

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That’s What They Need — A Campaign Manager!

It is only fitting that Obama’s first significant personnel change in the wake of the Massachusetts debacle is to hire back his campaign manager. No, really. Chris Cillizza reports:

Daivd Plouffe, the man who managed President Barack Obama’s campaign, will be taking on an expanded role as an outside adviser to the White House, according to sources familiar with the plan, a move that comes just days after a stunning defeat for Democrats in a Massachusetts Senate special election.

Not a new economic team. Not a new chief of staff. Not even a new national security staff to replace the gang that dropped the ball on the Christmas Day bomber. No, with the Obami, it is never about substance or getting the policy right. It’s not about governance. It is about the perpetual campaign. So the campaign manager gets the emergency call.

Plouffe, not coincidentally, authors an op-ed in Cillizza’s paper arguing that ObamaCare was a fine idea, just misunderstood. (“It’s a good plan that’s become a demonized caricature.”) He says Democrats better pass it, or the public won’t understand how wrong Sarah Palin was. (I’m not making that up: “Only if the plan becomes law will the American people see that all the scary things Sarah Palin and others have predicted — such as the so-called death panels — were baseless.”) Where are the votes going to come from? What about the legitimate complaints from the Left and Right that the bill is an incoherent jumble? Sorry – Plouffe is in the campaign business, not the policy business. (Republicans shouldn’t get their hopes up that anyone in Congress other than Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid buys this stuff.)

It gets worse after that. He also thinks Democrats should create jobs. (Who knew you could get paid for coming up with this stuff?)  And Democrats should defend the stimulus plan. (Do we think this is a Karl Rove mind-trick game?) Democrats shouldn’t listen to complaints about spending because voters will be impressed by blaming the other party. Work on the corruption issue. (Reps. Murtha, Rangel, etc., don’t agree, I suspect.) And “run great campaigns.” (Who’d have thought?)

You see the problem. This is what passes for inspired advice, and this is the personnel slot that Obama fills first. It’s hard to believe that the candidate who ran against stale politics is now, a year into his presidency, a hackneyed pol happy to push this sort of pablum on an already disgusted public. Well, it sure does explain how Obama wound up in his current predicament.

It is only fitting that Obama’s first significant personnel change in the wake of the Massachusetts debacle is to hire back his campaign manager. No, really. Chris Cillizza reports:

Daivd Plouffe, the man who managed President Barack Obama’s campaign, will be taking on an expanded role as an outside adviser to the White House, according to sources familiar with the plan, a move that comes just days after a stunning defeat for Democrats in a Massachusetts Senate special election.

Not a new economic team. Not a new chief of staff. Not even a new national security staff to replace the gang that dropped the ball on the Christmas Day bomber. No, with the Obami, it is never about substance or getting the policy right. It’s not about governance. It is about the perpetual campaign. So the campaign manager gets the emergency call.

Plouffe, not coincidentally, authors an op-ed in Cillizza’s paper arguing that ObamaCare was a fine idea, just misunderstood. (“It’s a good plan that’s become a demonized caricature.”) He says Democrats better pass it, or the public won’t understand how wrong Sarah Palin was. (I’m not making that up: “Only if the plan becomes law will the American people see that all the scary things Sarah Palin and others have predicted — such as the so-called death panels — were baseless.”) Where are the votes going to come from? What about the legitimate complaints from the Left and Right that the bill is an incoherent jumble? Sorry – Plouffe is in the campaign business, not the policy business. (Republicans shouldn’t get their hopes up that anyone in Congress other than Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid buys this stuff.)

It gets worse after that. He also thinks Democrats should create jobs. (Who knew you could get paid for coming up with this stuff?)  And Democrats should defend the stimulus plan. (Do we think this is a Karl Rove mind-trick game?) Democrats shouldn’t listen to complaints about spending because voters will be impressed by blaming the other party. Work on the corruption issue. (Reps. Murtha, Rangel, etc., don’t agree, I suspect.) And “run great campaigns.” (Who’d have thought?)

You see the problem. This is what passes for inspired advice, and this is the personnel slot that Obama fills first. It’s hard to believe that the candidate who ran against stale politics is now, a year into his presidency, a hackneyed pol happy to push this sort of pablum on an already disgusted public. Well, it sure does explain how Obama wound up in his current predicament.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Odd that Saudi Arabia isn’t contributing anything to Haiti, or even covering it on English-language state news. “It seems it was God’s little joke to hand the greatest supplies of oil and natural gas to a people who part with their riches for their own ends only.”

House Democrats are saying they aren’t voting for the Senate health-care bill. Maybe they won’t vote again for the House bill.

Democratic pollster and strategist Douglas Schoen: “The defeat of Martha Coakley represents a complete repudiation of President Obama’s domestic agenda, going well beyond health care. Massachusetts voters made it clear tonight with the decisive victory they gave to Republican Scott Brown that they want and expect the administration to pursue a dramatically different approach.” And he’s a Democrat.

Sen. Jim Webb is calling foul on the gamesmanship: “It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.” Could it be that the White House has lost control of the process?

Lanny Davis is pleading for sanity: “Liberal Democrats might attempt to spin the shocking victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts by claiming that the loss was a result of a poor campaign by Martha Coakley. Would that it were so. This was a defeat not of the messenger, but of the message—and the sooner progressive Democrats face up to that fact, the better. It’s the substance, stupid! … The question is, will we stop listening to the strident, purist base of our party who seem to prefer defeat to winning elections and no change at all if they don’t get all the change they want. Stay tuned.”

Michael Gerson chides the see-no-danger Democrats: “So, a Republican has convincingly won Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat. After opposing health reform. And supporting the waterboarding of terrorists. And appearing as a nude centerfold. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by three to one. And where Republicans haven’t won a Senate election since 1972. After a high-profile visit by President Obama. Who won the state by 26 points last year. But who now carries no political weight in the bluest state in the country. With vicious, public recriminations starting among Democrats even before election day. Following major losses in Virginia and New Jersey. All of which led one popular Democratic blog to argue: ‘Why Massachusetts doesn’t matter.’”

Hard to argue that: “This is the first time in years that David Gergen has helped elect a Republican.” The line “This is the people’s seat” is going to go down with “I paid for this microphone” in campaign lore.

Chris Cillizza observes: “With the Coakley loss now in the rear view mirror, the attention of the political world will now quickly turn to the question of whether or not congressional Democrats — particularly those in swing areas — will start jumping ship.” I think the only question is how many jump. “Several Democratic operatives acknowledged privately over the past few days that a Coakley defeat could put control of the House in play if enough targeted members head for the hills. It remains to be seen whether those doomsday predictions come to pass but it’s now clear that Democrats must work day in and day out to avoid broad losses outside of the historic norms for a first term, midterm election.”

Hans von Spakovsky looks for clues to White House meddling in the New Black Panther Party case: “Perhaps the single most important question that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the White House are refusing to answer in the growing scandal (for the stonewalling and subpoena violations make it a scandal) is which political appointees were involved in the obviously wrongful decision to dismiss the lawsuit — a civil suit filed under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Newly released White House visitor records present strong circumstantial evidence of White House involvement in what should have been an independent and impartial law-enforcement decision.”

Before the returns were in last night, from Stuart Rothenberg: “If Brown wins, and he may, it will be the biggest political upset of my adult life. Some have compared a possible Republican win to Democrat Harris Wofford’s 1991 Pennsylvania special election Senate victory over Republican Dick Thornburgh, who was U.S. attorney general. But to me, a Brown win would be much bigger.” Yes, it is.

Odd that Saudi Arabia isn’t contributing anything to Haiti, or even covering it on English-language state news. “It seems it was God’s little joke to hand the greatest supplies of oil and natural gas to a people who part with their riches for their own ends only.”

House Democrats are saying they aren’t voting for the Senate health-care bill. Maybe they won’t vote again for the House bill.

Democratic pollster and strategist Douglas Schoen: “The defeat of Martha Coakley represents a complete repudiation of President Obama’s domestic agenda, going well beyond health care. Massachusetts voters made it clear tonight with the decisive victory they gave to Republican Scott Brown that they want and expect the administration to pursue a dramatically different approach.” And he’s a Democrat.

Sen. Jim Webb is calling foul on the gamesmanship: “It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.” Could it be that the White House has lost control of the process?

Lanny Davis is pleading for sanity: “Liberal Democrats might attempt to spin the shocking victory of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts by claiming that the loss was a result of a poor campaign by Martha Coakley. Would that it were so. This was a defeat not of the messenger, but of the message—and the sooner progressive Democrats face up to that fact, the better. It’s the substance, stupid! … The question is, will we stop listening to the strident, purist base of our party who seem to prefer defeat to winning elections and no change at all if they don’t get all the change they want. Stay tuned.”

Michael Gerson chides the see-no-danger Democrats: “So, a Republican has convincingly won Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat. After opposing health reform. And supporting the waterboarding of terrorists. And appearing as a nude centerfold. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by three to one. And where Republicans haven’t won a Senate election since 1972. After a high-profile visit by President Obama. Who won the state by 26 points last year. But who now carries no political weight in the bluest state in the country. With vicious, public recriminations starting among Democrats even before election day. Following major losses in Virginia and New Jersey. All of which led one popular Democratic blog to argue: ‘Why Massachusetts doesn’t matter.’”

Hard to argue that: “This is the first time in years that David Gergen has helped elect a Republican.” The line “This is the people’s seat” is going to go down with “I paid for this microphone” in campaign lore.

Chris Cillizza observes: “With the Coakley loss now in the rear view mirror, the attention of the political world will now quickly turn to the question of whether or not congressional Democrats — particularly those in swing areas — will start jumping ship.” I think the only question is how many jump. “Several Democratic operatives acknowledged privately over the past few days that a Coakley defeat could put control of the House in play if enough targeted members head for the hills. It remains to be seen whether those doomsday predictions come to pass but it’s now clear that Democrats must work day in and day out to avoid broad losses outside of the historic norms for a first term, midterm election.”

Hans von Spakovsky looks for clues to White House meddling in the New Black Panther Party case: “Perhaps the single most important question that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the White House are refusing to answer in the growing scandal (for the stonewalling and subpoena violations make it a scandal) is which political appointees were involved in the obviously wrongful decision to dismiss the lawsuit — a civil suit filed under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Newly released White House visitor records present strong circumstantial evidence of White House involvement in what should have been an independent and impartial law-enforcement decision.”

Before the returns were in last night, from Stuart Rothenberg: “If Brown wins, and he may, it will be the biggest political upset of my adult life. Some have compared a possible Republican win to Democrat Harris Wofford’s 1991 Pennsylvania special election Senate victory over Republican Dick Thornburgh, who was U.S. attorney general. But to me, a Brown win would be much bigger.” Yes, it is.

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Margins Matter

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post reports on a major ad buy by a third-party group, The American Future Fund, on behalf of GOP senate candidate Scott Brown:

“Call Martha Coakley and tell her we can’t afford more taxes,” urges the ad’s narrator. The commercial, which will cost the group $400,000 for a five-day statewide buy, is the first of several planned ads hitting Coakley in advance of her Jan. 19 special election race against state Sen. Scott Brown, according to a source familiar with AFF’s strategy. The ad buy is welcome news for Brown who has been drastically outraised by Coakley and will be outspent badly on television in the closing days of the campaign. The AFF ads land as the race has begun to draw some national attention for the fact that some within the GOP believe Brown might be able to win.

Well, yes he might. If the margin is really only two points among those certain to vote, this is hardly in the bag for Coakley. And in fact, she’s had to go on the air with her own ads, a sign that those polls are narrowing. Cillizza remains skeptical that Brown can win, and in a Massachusetts race to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, there is good reason to be so. But then he gives away the game: “Margin may matter here; Republicans will almost certainly declare victory if Brown loses by single digits.” Indeed they will, given that Obama won the state in 2008 by a 62 to 37 percent margin.

Brown has made the race a referendum on Obama’s policies; the Democrats are having a run of retirements; the GOP is basking in reports of good recruitment; and the media seem poised for a new storyline (“Is Obama in trouble?”). This means a close race is likely to be read as one more data point in the trend – further evidence of the Democrats’ political meltdown. (Cillizza notes Charlie Cook now puts the chances at 50-50 of the Democrats’ numbers sinking to 55 in the Senate.) So, yes, Brown could in fact win – and the GOP can win by losing.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post reports on a major ad buy by a third-party group, The American Future Fund, on behalf of GOP senate candidate Scott Brown:

“Call Martha Coakley and tell her we can’t afford more taxes,” urges the ad’s narrator. The commercial, which will cost the group $400,000 for a five-day statewide buy, is the first of several planned ads hitting Coakley in advance of her Jan. 19 special election race against state Sen. Scott Brown, according to a source familiar with AFF’s strategy. The ad buy is welcome news for Brown who has been drastically outraised by Coakley and will be outspent badly on television in the closing days of the campaign. The AFF ads land as the race has begun to draw some national attention for the fact that some within the GOP believe Brown might be able to win.

Well, yes he might. If the margin is really only two points among those certain to vote, this is hardly in the bag for Coakley. And in fact, she’s had to go on the air with her own ads, a sign that those polls are narrowing. Cillizza remains skeptical that Brown can win, and in a Massachusetts race to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, there is good reason to be so. But then he gives away the game: “Margin may matter here; Republicans will almost certainly declare victory if Brown loses by single digits.” Indeed they will, given that Obama won the state in 2008 by a 62 to 37 percent margin.

Brown has made the race a referendum on Obama’s policies; the Democrats are having a run of retirements; the GOP is basking in reports of good recruitment; and the media seem poised for a new storyline (“Is Obama in trouble?”). This means a close race is likely to be read as one more data point in the trend – further evidence of the Democrats’ political meltdown. (Cillizza notes Charlie Cook now puts the chances at 50-50 of the Democrats’ numbers sinking to 55 in the Senate.) So, yes, Brown could in fact win – and the GOP can win by losing.

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Is He Joking?

Chris Cillizza, a political writer for the Washington Post, compiles a list of the winners and losers in the health-care deal. Perhaps it’s a typo or the effect of staying up too late to follow a secretive middle-of-the-night vote, but he puts Sen. Ben Nelson in the winner column, waxing lyrical that the “Nebraska senator played the legislative process like a virtuoso, not only getting stricter language about abortion funding included in the final bill but also scoring another huge plum — the promise of full federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid in the Cornhusker State.” He must be joking, right?

The right-to-life community is up in arms and is likely to abandon Nelson. His other main constituency in Nebraska, which stuck with him in the past, the Chamber of Commerce,  now could well do the same. His “deal” is now labeled the Cornhusker Kickback, a symbol of corruption in a secretive legislative process. Nelson’s inability to answer simple questions about his rather lamely constructed agreement suggests that he either didn’t understand what he negotiated or is embarrassed to admit it.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that this will be his last term in the Senate and that Republicans will be tripping over themselves to oppose him when he is up for re-election in 2012. Remember, more than 60 percent of his constituents are opposed to the bill, which he had the power to stop.

This is a winner? Well, it’s true he’ll keep his seat longer than some of his Democratic colleagues.

Chris Cillizza, a political writer for the Washington Post, compiles a list of the winners and losers in the health-care deal. Perhaps it’s a typo or the effect of staying up too late to follow a secretive middle-of-the-night vote, but he puts Sen. Ben Nelson in the winner column, waxing lyrical that the “Nebraska senator played the legislative process like a virtuoso, not only getting stricter language about abortion funding included in the final bill but also scoring another huge plum — the promise of full federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid in the Cornhusker State.” He must be joking, right?

The right-to-life community is up in arms and is likely to abandon Nelson. His other main constituency in Nebraska, which stuck with him in the past, the Chamber of Commerce,  now could well do the same. His “deal” is now labeled the Cornhusker Kickback, a symbol of corruption in a secretive legislative process. Nelson’s inability to answer simple questions about his rather lamely constructed agreement suggests that he either didn’t understand what he negotiated or is embarrassed to admit it.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict that this will be his last term in the Senate and that Republicans will be tripping over themselves to oppose him when he is up for re-election in 2012. Remember, more than 60 percent of his constituents are opposed to the bill, which he had the power to stop.

This is a winner? Well, it’s true he’ll keep his seat longer than some of his Democratic colleagues.

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Fleeing the Scene?

In an e-mail update, the Cook Political Report describes the latest Democratic retirement: “Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon’s decision to retire from a district that is 13 points more Republican than the national average presents House Democrats with their most problematic open seat yet. It is the fourth troublesome retirement for Democrats in as many weeks, bringing the total number of open seats in marginal or GOP-leaning districts to seven.” It’s officially a trend. As Chris Cillizza observes: “Democratic strategists have insisted that the series of retirements are isolated cases not indicative of a broader fear among Members of Congress that the political environment is shaping up badly for their party in 2010. It may be more difficult to make that argument now.”

Or even impossible. It’s pretty hard to make the case that things are going well for the Democrats. Obama has hit a new low in Rasmussen, at 44 percent, creating tweezer-like graphs. And the congressional generic polling looks very red. Things can change, of course. But the danger for the Democrats in the meantime is that the retirements pile up, better GOP candidates enter the race, donors on the Democratic side get depressed, and the polling becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Democratic Public Policy Polling outfit explains the concern:

“Republicans are more and more in position to pick up a lot of Congressional seats next year,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “The tide continues to turn against the Democrats and that’s putting some districts that haven’t been close in quite a while into the competitive category.”

Congress could stop annoying the voters, of course: end the frenzied search for a magic formula to take over health care, work on some common-sense job-creation ideas, dial back on the spending binge, and find popular, bipartisan measures to champion (on education, for example). But it seems that’s not yet the game plan. Maybe some more retirements will do the trick.

In an e-mail update, the Cook Political Report describes the latest Democratic retirement: “Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon’s decision to retire from a district that is 13 points more Republican than the national average presents House Democrats with their most problematic open seat yet. It is the fourth troublesome retirement for Democrats in as many weeks, bringing the total number of open seats in marginal or GOP-leaning districts to seven.” It’s officially a trend. As Chris Cillizza observes: “Democratic strategists have insisted that the series of retirements are isolated cases not indicative of a broader fear among Members of Congress that the political environment is shaping up badly for their party in 2010. It may be more difficult to make that argument now.”

Or even impossible. It’s pretty hard to make the case that things are going well for the Democrats. Obama has hit a new low in Rasmussen, at 44 percent, creating tweezer-like graphs. And the congressional generic polling looks very red. Things can change, of course. But the danger for the Democrats in the meantime is that the retirements pile up, better GOP candidates enter the race, donors on the Democratic side get depressed, and the polling becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Democratic Public Policy Polling outfit explains the concern:

“Republicans are more and more in position to pick up a lot of Congressional seats next year,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “The tide continues to turn against the Democrats and that’s putting some districts that haven’t been close in quite a while into the competitive category.”

Congress could stop annoying the voters, of course: end the frenzied search for a magic formula to take over health care, work on some common-sense job-creation ideas, dial back on the spending binge, and find popular, bipartisan measures to champion (on education, for example). But it seems that’s not yet the game plan. Maybe some more retirements will do the trick.

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