Commentary Magazine


Topic: Dan Balz

Comparing the Obama and Palin Speeches

The ridiculous media reaction to the speeches made by President Obama and Sarah Palin yesterday is just a glimpse of the type of coverage we’ll see if Palin becomes the Republican nominee for 2012. Today’s theme is obviously that Obama is a post-partisan unifier/masterful orator and Palin is a divisive megalomaniac. And so far, the message has been quite extensive in its reach.

Politico picked it up this morning in a headline story. “At sunrise in the East on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest — or capacity — in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics,” wrote Jonathan Martin. “And at sundown in the West, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation.”

The New York Times and the Washington Post also piled on. “Obama has proven to be a polarizing figure in office, but on Wednesday he sought to unify,” wrote the Post’s Dan Balz. “Palin ended up dividing. On a day of scripted messages, presumably carefully considered, Obama made the most of his. Palin did not.”

And then the “tone” — which seems to be the word of the week — of the criticism disintegrated quickly from there.

“What America has witnessed in the last 24 hours is a president of the United States who acted like a president of the United States, a Speaker of the House who acted like a Speaker of the House — and Sarah Palin, a pretender to the presidency who acted like a divisive, selfish, small-minded self-promoter,” wrote Brent Budowsky at the Hill.

Radio host Bill Press, in a column that could have been excellent satire if it wasn’t written in earnest, wrote that Obama’s speech “was one of the most powerful speeches I’ve heard any president give. Like the Gettysburg Address in its lasting message.”

“What a contrast with the sickening, self-serving video released the same day by the dropout governor of Alaska,” Press continued. “In his remarks, President Obama expressed the hope that some good will come out of the tragedy in Tucson. If we’re lucky, one good thing will be the end of the already-too-long political career of Sarah Palin. She can make plenty of money at Fox News. That’s where she belongs, not with the rest of America.”

So Sarah Palin’s “divisive” speech was so sickening that she (and Fox News) shouldn’t be allowed to belong with the rest of America. Got it. Read More

The ridiculous media reaction to the speeches made by President Obama and Sarah Palin yesterday is just a glimpse of the type of coverage we’ll see if Palin becomes the Republican nominee for 2012. Today’s theme is obviously that Obama is a post-partisan unifier/masterful orator and Palin is a divisive megalomaniac. And so far, the message has been quite extensive in its reach.

Politico picked it up this morning in a headline story. “At sunrise in the East on Wednesday, Sarah Palin demonstrated that she has little interest — or capacity — in moving beyond her brand of grievance-based politics,” wrote Jonathan Martin. “And at sundown in the West, Barack Obama reminded even his critics of his ability to rally disparate Americans around a message of reconciliation.”

The New York Times and the Washington Post also piled on. “Obama has proven to be a polarizing figure in office, but on Wednesday he sought to unify,” wrote the Post’s Dan Balz. “Palin ended up dividing. On a day of scripted messages, presumably carefully considered, Obama made the most of his. Palin did not.”

And then the “tone” — which seems to be the word of the week — of the criticism disintegrated quickly from there.

“What America has witnessed in the last 24 hours is a president of the United States who acted like a president of the United States, a Speaker of the House who acted like a Speaker of the House — and Sarah Palin, a pretender to the presidency who acted like a divisive, selfish, small-minded self-promoter,” wrote Brent Budowsky at the Hill.

Radio host Bill Press, in a column that could have been excellent satire if it wasn’t written in earnest, wrote that Obama’s speech “was one of the most powerful speeches I’ve heard any president give. Like the Gettysburg Address in its lasting message.”

“What a contrast with the sickening, self-serving video released the same day by the dropout governor of Alaska,” Press continued. “In his remarks, President Obama expressed the hope that some good will come out of the tragedy in Tucson. If we’re lucky, one good thing will be the end of the already-too-long political career of Sarah Palin. She can make plenty of money at Fox News. That’s where she belongs, not with the rest of America.”

So Sarah Palin’s “divisive” speech was so sickening that she (and Fox News) shouldn’t be allowed to belong with the rest of America. Got it.

But back to the more substantive articles. While I wouldn’t go so far as to compare Obama’s speech with the Gettysburg Address, it deserves all the praise that it’s gotten from the media. It was emotional, inspiring, and comforting. In sum, it was everything a presidential speech should be in the aftermath of such a tragedy.

Palin’s speech, in comparison, didn’t seem as presidential. And so what? She’s not the president — and moreover, she wasn’t speaking at a memorial service — so there was no reason why she should have pretended otherwise.

Abe has already pointed to Jonah Goldberg’s post at the Corner; Goldberg also makes an apt point about Palin’s lack of a presidential demeanor:

I think the president was more presidential in no small part because he is the president. Palin’s video statement was something else because she is not the president. And the criticism that she should have turned the other cheek and not defended herself at all strikes me as beyond absurd. The woman was being accused of being a willful co-conspirator in murder. It is just unfair and flatly dishonest to expect her not to address that.

I second his other point as well. It’s particularly sleazy for the media to level false charges at Palin and then scold her for having the nerve to defend herself. Moreover, she barely even made any references to the criticisms leveled at her. The address struck me as more of a defense of free speech in general, something that is much more important to a democratic society than the protection of civil “tone.”

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False Hope

It happens about a month out before a wave election. The party about to be washed out sees a glimmer of hope — or thinks it does. The base gets a bit more engaged, but it really doesn’t amount to much. Hotline notes:

Democratic strategists have recently started experiencing a new feeling of optimism. There are indications, they say, that the party is showing the smallest signs of a turnaround, and that rumors of their electoral demise have been premature.

But instead of a comeback, Democrats are only experiencing the benefits of a base that is finally engaging. That base will help some Democratic candidates, but in total, the party still faces serious rehabilitation work with independent voters. The party’s major problems are most evident in three prominent races that are slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward Republicans.

As Stuart Rothenberg points out, trouble abounds for the Dems:

Delaware’s Republican primary may well have lulled Democrats into a sense of complacency about their ability to hold the Senate after November’s elections. They would be wise to wake up if they want to avoid a nasty surprise on election night.

Tea party activists did indeed do Democrats a huge favor in selecting Christine O’Donnell (R) to oppose New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) in the fall. …

O’Donnell’s primary victory notwithstanding, Republicans are still headed for major Senate gains, and a 10-seat gain isn’t impossible. With a month to go until Nov. 2, Republicans have a clear advantage in five seats held by Democrats, with another five seats still in play. Unless things change, Republicans will likely hold all 18 of their seats up this cycle. No GOP incumbent is in any trouble — even Sens. Richard M. Burr (N.C.) and David Vitter (La.), who seemed at some risk early on, look headed for comfortable victories — and Republican open seats appear to be at limited risk.

Rothenberg reels off the same list of at-risk Democratic seats that we and others have noted — West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, etc.

Part of the “Dems’ comeback” meme is pushed by the media, which are anxious to give their Democratic friends a boost and to keep some suspense going. At Conventional Wisdom Central, Dan Balz of the Washington Post, the “comeback” storyline is supported by such concrete evidence as an e-mail from a Democratic strategist. (“I definitely have seen Democrats starting to come home and feel more strongly about the importance of preventing a Republican takeover of the Congress.”) But even his heart isn’t in it. He’s compelled to acknowledge for every pollyanaish Democratic strategist, there is a realist. (“One strategist who was in the thick of the battle in 1994 said nothing the Democrats tried that fall had an impact on the voters.”) And he confesses the false optimism reminds him of 2006. (“What’s eerie is that Republicans then were saying some of the same things Democrats are saying now.”)

Until we see real signs of movement in generic polling and key Democratic races, it’s safe to say that the Dems are in for a shellacking.

It happens about a month out before a wave election. The party about to be washed out sees a glimmer of hope — or thinks it does. The base gets a bit more engaged, but it really doesn’t amount to much. Hotline notes:

Democratic strategists have recently started experiencing a new feeling of optimism. There are indications, they say, that the party is showing the smallest signs of a turnaround, and that rumors of their electoral demise have been premature.

But instead of a comeback, Democrats are only experiencing the benefits of a base that is finally engaging. That base will help some Democratic candidates, but in total, the party still faces serious rehabilitation work with independent voters. The party’s major problems are most evident in three prominent races that are slowly, but inexorably, sliding toward Republicans.

As Stuart Rothenberg points out, trouble abounds for the Dems:

Delaware’s Republican primary may well have lulled Democrats into a sense of complacency about their ability to hold the Senate after November’s elections. They would be wise to wake up if they want to avoid a nasty surprise on election night.

Tea party activists did indeed do Democrats a huge favor in selecting Christine O’Donnell (R) to oppose New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D) in the fall. …

O’Donnell’s primary victory notwithstanding, Republicans are still headed for major Senate gains, and a 10-seat gain isn’t impossible. With a month to go until Nov. 2, Republicans have a clear advantage in five seats held by Democrats, with another five seats still in play. Unless things change, Republicans will likely hold all 18 of their seats up this cycle. No GOP incumbent is in any trouble — even Sens. Richard M. Burr (N.C.) and David Vitter (La.), who seemed at some risk early on, look headed for comfortable victories — and Republican open seats appear to be at limited risk.

Rothenberg reels off the same list of at-risk Democratic seats that we and others have noted — West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nevada, etc.

Part of the “Dems’ comeback” meme is pushed by the media, which are anxious to give their Democratic friends a boost and to keep some suspense going. At Conventional Wisdom Central, Dan Balz of the Washington Post, the “comeback” storyline is supported by such concrete evidence as an e-mail from a Democratic strategist. (“I definitely have seen Democrats starting to come home and feel more strongly about the importance of preventing a Republican takeover of the Congress.”) But even his heart isn’t in it. He’s compelled to acknowledge for every pollyanaish Democratic strategist, there is a realist. (“One strategist who was in the thick of the battle in 1994 said nothing the Democrats tried that fall had an impact on the voters.”) And he confesses the false optimism reminds him of 2006. (“What’s eerie is that Republicans then were saying some of the same things Democrats are saying now.”)

Until we see real signs of movement in generic polling and key Democratic races, it’s safe to say that the Dems are in for a shellacking.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama may not be good for America, but he’s been a gold mine for conservative humor.

You will keep your insurance and your doctor! Remember that promise from Obama? Apparently, he was just kidding: “As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country’s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals.” We did try this before back in the “H.M.O. days,” but “[t]he concept was largely abandoned after the consumer backlash persuaded both employers and health plans that Americans were simply not willing to sacrifice choice.” I’m sure it’ll be totally different this time.

I don’t think Dan Balz meant to be funny. But this certainly is: “White House and House officials see a path for holding the House, unless the wave of reaction against the president’s policies and unrest over the economy swamps even the smartest and best prepared of embattled incumbents — which is what happened in 1994.” Yeah, like what are the chances of that?

No joke — for a mere $30,400, you can attend a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraising retreat. Do you think they throw in free breakfasts? But Obama assures us that the Republicans are the party of the rich.

Many Virginians are giddy over the prospect of privatizing state liquor stores: “For the drinking-age public, a privatized system could mean many more liquor stores, a much wider variety of libations and lower prices. Like beer and wine, liquor could be sold in grocery stores, big-box stores such as Wal-Mart or anywhere else a licensed dealer chooses to locate. … For the state’s ailing transportation network, it would mean a jolt of fresh cash that [Gov. Bob] McDonnell (R) urgently needs as part of his plan to fix roads. … And for McDonnell, who opposes government-run liquor stores on free-market principles, bringing Democrats and Republicans together on a major issue would show that he can deliver on his promises and be the kind of bipartisan leader he has pledged to be.” Naturally, many Democrats oppose the plan.

This is no laughing matter: “Canadians may have achieved what Americans still long for, a turn up in the national mood, and a job machine that hums. In fact, Canada’s job creation engine is on a tear, last month producing 10,000 more jobs than the U.S. This despite having a population and stimulus program roughly one-tenth the size of the U.S. … ‘Canada is coming back better than the U.S.,’ says labor economist Alan Blinder of Princeton University. ‘I’m losing a bit of the confidence I previously had.’” In the Obama era, it doesn’t pay to be a starry-eyed optimist.

This advice from Matthew Dowd probably sounds silly to the Obami: “[T]he administration should get off the partisan campaign trail (when your job-approval rating is in the 40s, being there isn’t helping anyone anyway), focus on what the president can do to change the tone in Washington and begin to speak to his own mistakes in adding to the political fighting.” Right advice, wrong president.

Hysterical: From one of the Beagle Blogger’s minions: “Can anyone think of other times of where one side of a debate projects their own preferences upon their opponents?” I would think reading his own blog would be part of the job.

Obama may not be good for America, but he’s been a gold mine for conservative humor.

You will keep your insurance and your doctor! Remember that promise from Obama? Apparently, he was just kidding: “As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country’s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals.” We did try this before back in the “H.M.O. days,” but “[t]he concept was largely abandoned after the consumer backlash persuaded both employers and health plans that Americans were simply not willing to sacrifice choice.” I’m sure it’ll be totally different this time.

I don’t think Dan Balz meant to be funny. But this certainly is: “White House and House officials see a path for holding the House, unless the wave of reaction against the president’s policies and unrest over the economy swamps even the smartest and best prepared of embattled incumbents — which is what happened in 1994.” Yeah, like what are the chances of that?

No joke — for a mere $30,400, you can attend a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraising retreat. Do you think they throw in free breakfasts? But Obama assures us that the Republicans are the party of the rich.

Many Virginians are giddy over the prospect of privatizing state liquor stores: “For the drinking-age public, a privatized system could mean many more liquor stores, a much wider variety of libations and lower prices. Like beer and wine, liquor could be sold in grocery stores, big-box stores such as Wal-Mart or anywhere else a licensed dealer chooses to locate. … For the state’s ailing transportation network, it would mean a jolt of fresh cash that [Gov. Bob] McDonnell (R) urgently needs as part of his plan to fix roads. … And for McDonnell, who opposes government-run liquor stores on free-market principles, bringing Democrats and Republicans together on a major issue would show that he can deliver on his promises and be the kind of bipartisan leader he has pledged to be.” Naturally, many Democrats oppose the plan.

This is no laughing matter: “Canadians may have achieved what Americans still long for, a turn up in the national mood, and a job machine that hums. In fact, Canada’s job creation engine is on a tear, last month producing 10,000 more jobs than the U.S. This despite having a population and stimulus program roughly one-tenth the size of the U.S. … ‘Canada is coming back better than the U.S.,’ says labor economist Alan Blinder of Princeton University. ‘I’m losing a bit of the confidence I previously had.’” In the Obama era, it doesn’t pay to be a starry-eyed optimist.

This advice from Matthew Dowd probably sounds silly to the Obami: “[T]he administration should get off the partisan campaign trail (when your job-approval rating is in the 40s, being there isn’t helping anyone anyway), focus on what the president can do to change the tone in Washington and begin to speak to his own mistakes in adding to the political fighting.” Right advice, wrong president.

Hysterical: From one of the Beagle Blogger’s minions: “Can anyone think of other times of where one side of a debate projects their own preferences upon their opponents?” I would think reading his own blog would be part of the job.

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Obama’s “False Narrative”

Dan Balz of the Washington Post has written an article on President Obama’s dismal standing among independents (it stands at 38 percent approval according to Gallup, an 18-point difference from a year ago). Balz quotes both Republican and Democratic strategists in searching for the reason for this perilous polling condition: high unemployment, an unpopular health-care law, bigger government, a liberal governing agenda, lack of bipartisanship, and the inability to change the culture of Washington. And then we find this:

White House senior adviser David Axelrod said that the criticism of Obama as a big-spending liberal grows out of decisions the president felt he had to make to prevent a depression. “We were forced to do things from the start to deal with this economic crisis that helped create a false narrative about spending and deficits that’s had some impact on independent voters,” Axelrod said. “And that’s something we have to work on.”

Ah, yes, there’s that darn False Narrative again.

According to the True Narrative, Obama the Great acted with wisdom and courage to forestall another Great Depression. The charges of profligate spending have been manufactured out of thin air. The stimulus package has been a spectacular success. ObamaCare will bend the cost curve down. The economy is doing swimmingly. The outreach to the Muslim world has led to unprecedented breakthroughs. Nation after nation — Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, Brazil, Venezuela — are bending to Obama’s will. And all the problems America faces — from nearly 10 percent unemployment to polarization to acne among teens — are owing to Obama’s predecessor.

Yet because the Forces of Darkness so thoroughly and completely control the media and dominate the messaging wars — because Republicans have such fantastic spokesmen as RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Democrats have no bully pulpits available to them — Obama has become massively unpopular among independents. The White House, you see, has a message problem, but no other. Once they get their message out better, Obama will once again stride atop the political world.

Within the walls of the White House, it seems, Barack Obama is still viewed by people like Mr. Axelrod as a near-mythical figure. To much of the rest of the nation, he appears to be presiding over a failing presidency. If Obama and his top advisers persist in their self-delusion — which is unusual even for those working in a profession (politics) prone to self-delusion — they and their party are going to face, sooner or later, a brutal awakening.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post has written an article on President Obama’s dismal standing among independents (it stands at 38 percent approval according to Gallup, an 18-point difference from a year ago). Balz quotes both Republican and Democratic strategists in searching for the reason for this perilous polling condition: high unemployment, an unpopular health-care law, bigger government, a liberal governing agenda, lack of bipartisanship, and the inability to change the culture of Washington. And then we find this:

White House senior adviser David Axelrod said that the criticism of Obama as a big-spending liberal grows out of decisions the president felt he had to make to prevent a depression. “We were forced to do things from the start to deal with this economic crisis that helped create a false narrative about spending and deficits that’s had some impact on independent voters,” Axelrod said. “And that’s something we have to work on.”

Ah, yes, there’s that darn False Narrative again.

According to the True Narrative, Obama the Great acted with wisdom and courage to forestall another Great Depression. The charges of profligate spending have been manufactured out of thin air. The stimulus package has been a spectacular success. ObamaCare will bend the cost curve down. The economy is doing swimmingly. The outreach to the Muslim world has led to unprecedented breakthroughs. Nation after nation — Iran, Turkey, Russia, China, Brazil, Venezuela — are bending to Obama’s will. And all the problems America faces — from nearly 10 percent unemployment to polarization to acne among teens — are owing to Obama’s predecessor.

Yet because the Forces of Darkness so thoroughly and completely control the media and dominate the messaging wars — because Republicans have such fantastic spokesmen as RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Democrats have no bully pulpits available to them — Obama has become massively unpopular among independents. The White House, you see, has a message problem, but no other. Once they get their message out better, Obama will once again stride atop the political world.

Within the walls of the White House, it seems, Barack Obama is still viewed by people like Mr. Axelrod as a near-mythical figure. To much of the rest of the nation, he appears to be presiding over a failing presidency. If Obama and his top advisers persist in their self-delusion — which is unusual even for those working in a profession (politics) prone to self-delusion — they and their party are going to face, sooner or later, a brutal awakening.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The Washington Post discovers that Charlie Crist is toast: “One day it is 2008, and you’re a popular governor whose Republican admirers are talking you up for the veep spot on your party’s national ticket. Then, suddenly, you’ve infuriated party conservatives, what you’re being fitted for is a political coffin, and you’re deciding whether to leave the GOP and run as an independent. … Now, targeted for extinction by ‘tea party’ activists and the right wing of his party, he is behind by more than 20 points to challenger Marco Rubio.” He’s not actually targeted for “extinction” — the Republican primary voters just despise him.

The Post‘s Dan Balz discovers that the Tea Party movement is a good thing for Republicans. “The tea party movement is a reaction against Obama and the Democrats’ agenda. Sarah Palin may be trying to become the movement’s most prominent voice, but the real motivating force is the president and his policies. That’s the good news for Republicans. At a time when the establishment of the party was demoralized and divided, the tea party activists rose up in opposition to the administration, energizing a conservative movement flat on its back. That energy presents a clear and present threat to the Democrats in November.” Who knew?

Newt Gingrich discovers that Obama’s linguistic revisions (“rogue state” is out, “outliers” is in) are a dangerous thing: “‘This administration believes it can replace reality with words. And if it has the right words in the right order things will happen. … It’s almost like a medieval, philosophical argument, like alchemy, that if I can just work all these things out right, the world will transform itself to the world I want to live in.” Joe Lieberman is more succinct: “This is not honest. … Three thousand Americans were killed not by some amorphous group of violent extremists or environmental extremists or white supremacist extremists. They were violent Islamist extremists motivated and organized by the ideology preached by Osama bin Laden.”

Another pro-Israel group discovers Obama’s Israel animus.

John McCain discovers that he’s not really a maverick. But, didn’t he … oh, never mind.

George Pataki discovers the need to give a speech in Iowa.

Clark Hoyt discovers — oh my! — that the New York Times misuses and overuses anonymous sources: “Despite written ground rules to the contrary and promises by top editors to do better, The Times continues to use anonymous sources for information available elsewhere on the record. It allows unnamed people to provide quotes of marginal news value and to remain hidden with little real explanation of their motives, their reliability, or the reasons why they must be anonymous.” Almost like they have an agenda they want to push.

Bill Clinton discovers that Bob Rubin and Larry Summers messed up: “On derivatives, yeah I think they were wrong and I think I was wrong to take [their advice] because the argument on derivatives was that these things are expensive and sophisticated and only a handful of investors will buy them and they don’t need any extra protection, and any extra transparency. The money they’re putting up guarantees them transparency.” So why is Summers in Obama’s Cabinet of geniuses?

The Washington Post discovers that Charlie Crist is toast: “One day it is 2008, and you’re a popular governor whose Republican admirers are talking you up for the veep spot on your party’s national ticket. Then, suddenly, you’ve infuriated party conservatives, what you’re being fitted for is a political coffin, and you’re deciding whether to leave the GOP and run as an independent. … Now, targeted for extinction by ‘tea party’ activists and the right wing of his party, he is behind by more than 20 points to challenger Marco Rubio.” He’s not actually targeted for “extinction” — the Republican primary voters just despise him.

The Post‘s Dan Balz discovers that the Tea Party movement is a good thing for Republicans. “The tea party movement is a reaction against Obama and the Democrats’ agenda. Sarah Palin may be trying to become the movement’s most prominent voice, but the real motivating force is the president and his policies. That’s the good news for Republicans. At a time when the establishment of the party was demoralized and divided, the tea party activists rose up in opposition to the administration, energizing a conservative movement flat on its back. That energy presents a clear and present threat to the Democrats in November.” Who knew?

Newt Gingrich discovers that Obama’s linguistic revisions (“rogue state” is out, “outliers” is in) are a dangerous thing: “‘This administration believes it can replace reality with words. And if it has the right words in the right order things will happen. … It’s almost like a medieval, philosophical argument, like alchemy, that if I can just work all these things out right, the world will transform itself to the world I want to live in.” Joe Lieberman is more succinct: “This is not honest. … Three thousand Americans were killed not by some amorphous group of violent extremists or environmental extremists or white supremacist extremists. They were violent Islamist extremists motivated and organized by the ideology preached by Osama bin Laden.”

Another pro-Israel group discovers Obama’s Israel animus.

John McCain discovers that he’s not really a maverick. But, didn’t he … oh, never mind.

George Pataki discovers the need to give a speech in Iowa.

Clark Hoyt discovers — oh my! — that the New York Times misuses and overuses anonymous sources: “Despite written ground rules to the contrary and promises by top editors to do better, The Times continues to use anonymous sources for information available elsewhere on the record. It allows unnamed people to provide quotes of marginal news value and to remain hidden with little real explanation of their motives, their reliability, or the reasons why they must be anonymous.” Almost like they have an agenda they want to push.

Bill Clinton discovers that Bob Rubin and Larry Summers messed up: “On derivatives, yeah I think they were wrong and I think I was wrong to take [their advice] because the argument on derivatives was that these things are expensive and sophisticated and only a handful of investors will buy them and they don’t need any extra protection, and any extra transparency. The money they’re putting up guarantees them transparency.” So why is Summers in Obama’s Cabinet of geniuses?

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Media Spin: GOP at War!

You have to hand it to the mainstream media. They are nothing if not consistent and dogged in their efforts to push the “Republicans are at each other’s throats” meme — at the very moment that Democrats are rushing for the retirement home and attacking one another over the pro-insurance-company health-care “reform” bill. Dan Balz of the Washington Post is a case in point. He writes this odd account under the subheading “The GOP’s Internal War”:

Were it not for the news of the Democratic retirements, Tuesday might have received more attention as a day when the GOP’s internal wars counted another victim, this time the party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer. Greer, an ally of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), got caught up in the nasty Senate primary contest between Crist and former state House speaker Marco Rubio, a darling of conservatives.

Florida’s GOP primary is, writ large, a replay of what happened in New York’s 23rd Congressional District in November, when Sarah Palin and other conservatives spurned the Republican nominee in a House special election and sided with the Conservative Party candidate. The upshot was that Democrats won a seat that the GOP had held for more than a century.

This is nonsense on multiple counts. First, the “internal war” appears to consist of the removal of an unpopular state party chairman and a primary race in one state. Is the Democratic party in an “internal war” because there’s a primary to fill Obama’s old seat or because Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak are facing off in Pennsylvania? Really, primaries are pretty much par for the course, the mechanism by which real voters pick strong candidates and eliminate weak ones. Second, none of this has much to do with the NY-23. There the GOP didn’t have a primary. And it turned into a giant mess with a weak, unpopular candidate who ultimately had to drop out.

For now, the GOP is enjoying an embarrassment of political riches — an energized base, plenty of candidates, and plenty of targets (e.g., ObamaCare, Nancy Pelosi, the Cash for Cloture deal). If all the Democrats have is a false narrative spun by their media cheerleaders, it may be a very bad year for them indeed.

You have to hand it to the mainstream media. They are nothing if not consistent and dogged in their efforts to push the “Republicans are at each other’s throats” meme — at the very moment that Democrats are rushing for the retirement home and attacking one another over the pro-insurance-company health-care “reform” bill. Dan Balz of the Washington Post is a case in point. He writes this odd account under the subheading “The GOP’s Internal War”:

Were it not for the news of the Democratic retirements, Tuesday might have received more attention as a day when the GOP’s internal wars counted another victim, this time the party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer. Greer, an ally of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), got caught up in the nasty Senate primary contest between Crist and former state House speaker Marco Rubio, a darling of conservatives.

Florida’s GOP primary is, writ large, a replay of what happened in New York’s 23rd Congressional District in November, when Sarah Palin and other conservatives spurned the Republican nominee in a House special election and sided with the Conservative Party candidate. The upshot was that Democrats won a seat that the GOP had held for more than a century.

This is nonsense on multiple counts. First, the “internal war” appears to consist of the removal of an unpopular state party chairman and a primary race in one state. Is the Democratic party in an “internal war” because there’s a primary to fill Obama’s old seat or because Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak are facing off in Pennsylvania? Really, primaries are pretty much par for the course, the mechanism by which real voters pick strong candidates and eliminate weak ones. Second, none of this has much to do with the NY-23. There the GOP didn’t have a primary. And it turned into a giant mess with a weak, unpopular candidate who ultimately had to drop out.

For now, the GOP is enjoying an embarrassment of political riches — an energized base, plenty of candidates, and plenty of targets (e.g., ObamaCare, Nancy Pelosi, the Cash for Cloture deal). If all the Democrats have is a false narrative spun by their media cheerleaders, it may be a very bad year for them indeed.

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Obama Confesses: Healthcare Is a Loser

Dan Balz suggests that the Obami actually do realize the health-care debate has been a loser for them. He writes:

Like Democrats everywhere, White House officials are keenly aware that, after two elections in which the party made significant gains, losses will be inevitable in November. The health-care debate has damaged the president’s approval ratings and the cohesiveness of the coalition that elected him. The question is how significant.

It seems then that congressional Democrats have been sold a bill of goods by the White House, which despite horrible polling on its signature legislation, insisted that passing a health-care bill was essential to the Democrats’ political survival. Now we learn that the exercise is to assess how disastrous it has been.

But Balz’s analysis reveals a fundamental flaw in the thinking of political insiders and the administration specifically. Balz explains that now that health care is a nearly done deal, Obama can worry about the economy, unemployment, the deficit and spending. But wait. Health-care reform, at least in its current form, is likely to impact adversely each of these items. Isn’t the mammoth tax-and-spend bill and the Ponzi scheme (which resorts to politically untenable Medicare cuts to fund a new mammoth entitlement program) going to impact the economy, unemployment, the deficit, and spending?

This is a now familiar pattern — the disinclination of the Obama administration to see that its central policy proposal will adversely impact private-sector growth, risk taking and hiring. Labeling health care “social welfare legislation” and everything else “economic policy” is a misnomer. They are part and parcel of a legislative agenda that helps create an environment hostile to employers, which will retard the economic recovery. If conservatives are going to be successful in offering an alternative, they would do well to point this out to voters and explain how preventing Obama’s signature “social welfare legislation” is the best thing we could do to prevent further damage to a still frail economy.

Dan Balz suggests that the Obami actually do realize the health-care debate has been a loser for them. He writes:

Like Democrats everywhere, White House officials are keenly aware that, after two elections in which the party made significant gains, losses will be inevitable in November. The health-care debate has damaged the president’s approval ratings and the cohesiveness of the coalition that elected him. The question is how significant.

It seems then that congressional Democrats have been sold a bill of goods by the White House, which despite horrible polling on its signature legislation, insisted that passing a health-care bill was essential to the Democrats’ political survival. Now we learn that the exercise is to assess how disastrous it has been.

But Balz’s analysis reveals a fundamental flaw in the thinking of political insiders and the administration specifically. Balz explains that now that health care is a nearly done deal, Obama can worry about the economy, unemployment, the deficit and spending. But wait. Health-care reform, at least in its current form, is likely to impact adversely each of these items. Isn’t the mammoth tax-and-spend bill and the Ponzi scheme (which resorts to politically untenable Medicare cuts to fund a new mammoth entitlement program) going to impact the economy, unemployment, the deficit, and spending?

This is a now familiar pattern — the disinclination of the Obama administration to see that its central policy proposal will adversely impact private-sector growth, risk taking and hiring. Labeling health care “social welfare legislation” and everything else “economic policy” is a misnomer. They are part and parcel of a legislative agenda that helps create an environment hostile to employers, which will retard the economic recovery. If conservatives are going to be successful in offering an alternative, they would do well to point this out to voters and explain how preventing Obama’s signature “social welfare legislation” is the best thing we could do to prevent further damage to a still frail economy.

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Eating Crow

It wasn’t enough for me to predict, as I did on Monday, that Barack Obama would defeat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Noooo. I had to predict that Obama would sink the Clinton campaign and end the Clinton Era. I even provided a eulogy. About predictions and punditry I can only say, echoing the emotional words of Senator Clinton from earlier this week, “It’s not easy.” But in the best pundit tradition, I’ll simply plow ahead, chastened but unbowed.

Some thoughts, then, on last night:

1. Hillary Clinton’s comeback was at least as impressive as what her husband did 16 years ago (he came in second in New Hampshire). A campaign that by all accounts, including her own staff, was collapsing not only stopped the free-fall; it emerged with a victory. One Clinton adviser told the Washington Post’s Dan Balz that no one in the campaign foresaw the result. And so a race that most observers thought was going to provide clarity is now as fluid (if less fractured) than the Republican race. Hillary Clinton won among women, seniors, low-income Americans and union voters; Obama won among men, young voters, high-income earners, and independents. And almost one-fifth of Democratic voters made up their mind on whom to vote for on the final day (the figure was only slightly less for Republicans). This is an indicator of just how unstable things are.

2. The Obama loss shocked almost everyone who follows politics in part, I think, because the enthusiasm for him in New Hampshire was real (the snaking lines of people waiting to hear his speeches were not imaginary)–and he made no apparent errors or missteps which would explain why his momentum came to a skidding halt.

3. Obama supporters, having had a decisive victory within their grasp, must be crestfallen. To let an opportunity like that slip away can haunt a campaign. But Obama is still well positioned. After two attempted coronations–-first hers and then his–the Democratic race is a toss up. And if you’re a Democrat this year it’s worth avoiding, at all costs, the appellation “front runner.”

4. The Obama loss will now put new and intense scrutiny on him. Clinton absorbed an enormous blow in Iowa and recovered. Will he? It’ll be fascinating to see how Obama, as well as the newly aggressive and negative Clinton campaign, wil respond.

5. The two candidates who emerged victorious last night, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, both had been declared finished–McCain in the summer of ’07 and Clinton after her loss in Iowa last week. This is a year of political resurrections.

6. Whatever flaws he has, and he does have them, McCain early on tied his campaign to the success of the surge and the success of America at war. That was admirable–and if you’re going to win a primary, being on the right side of the war is a pretty good reason to do so.

7. Based on the Democratic results in New Hampshire, we can say with high confidence that political polling–at least in New Hampshire, among Democrats–is about as reliable as our National Intelligence Estimates of Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs.

Last night Democrats could have turned the page on the Clinton Era. The voters of New Hampshire politely and emphatically declined. Time will tell if that was a wise decision or not. But for now, they’re baaack.


It wasn’t enough for me to predict, as I did on Monday, that Barack Obama would defeat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Noooo. I had to predict that Obama would sink the Clinton campaign and end the Clinton Era. I even provided a eulogy. About predictions and punditry I can only say, echoing the emotional words of Senator Clinton from earlier this week, “It’s not easy.” But in the best pundit tradition, I’ll simply plow ahead, chastened but unbowed.

Some thoughts, then, on last night:

1. Hillary Clinton’s comeback was at least as impressive as what her husband did 16 years ago (he came in second in New Hampshire). A campaign that by all accounts, including her own staff, was collapsing not only stopped the free-fall; it emerged with a victory. One Clinton adviser told the Washington Post’s Dan Balz that no one in the campaign foresaw the result. And so a race that most observers thought was going to provide clarity is now as fluid (if less fractured) than the Republican race. Hillary Clinton won among women, seniors, low-income Americans and union voters; Obama won among men, young voters, high-income earners, and independents. And almost one-fifth of Democratic voters made up their mind on whom to vote for on the final day (the figure was only slightly less for Republicans). This is an indicator of just how unstable things are.

2. The Obama loss shocked almost everyone who follows politics in part, I think, because the enthusiasm for him in New Hampshire was real (the snaking lines of people waiting to hear his speeches were not imaginary)–and he made no apparent errors or missteps which would explain why his momentum came to a skidding halt.

3. Obama supporters, having had a decisive victory within their grasp, must be crestfallen. To let an opportunity like that slip away can haunt a campaign. But Obama is still well positioned. After two attempted coronations–-first hers and then his–the Democratic race is a toss up. And if you’re a Democrat this year it’s worth avoiding, at all costs, the appellation “front runner.”

4. The Obama loss will now put new and intense scrutiny on him. Clinton absorbed an enormous blow in Iowa and recovered. Will he? It’ll be fascinating to see how Obama, as well as the newly aggressive and negative Clinton campaign, wil respond.

5. The two candidates who emerged victorious last night, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, both had been declared finished–McCain in the summer of ’07 and Clinton after her loss in Iowa last week. This is a year of political resurrections.

6. Whatever flaws he has, and he does have them, McCain early on tied his campaign to the success of the surge and the success of America at war. That was admirable–and if you’re going to win a primary, being on the right side of the war is a pretty good reason to do so.

7. Based on the Democratic results in New Hampshire, we can say with high confidence that political polling–at least in New Hampshire, among Democrats–is about as reliable as our National Intelligence Estimates of Saddam Hussein’s WMD programs.

Last night Democrats could have turned the page on the Clinton Era. The voters of New Hampshire politely and emphatically declined. Time will tell if that was a wise decision or not. But for now, they’re baaack.


Read Less




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