Commentary Magazine


Topic: Democratic National Committee

White House Wages War on One Woman

For the past three years, Democrats have been talking a lot about a supposed war on women being waged by Republicans. But while that charge has been partisan fear mongering, one particular woman has good reason to complain about the war that is being waged on her. As anyone who reads today’s story in Politico knows, the woman is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the folks attacking her are fellow Democrats and, in particular, the White House, which is looking for a convenient scapegoat for an anticipated Democrat defeat this year.

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For the past three years, Democrats have been talking a lot about a supposed war on women being waged by Republicans. But while that charge has been partisan fear mongering, one particular woman has good reason to complain about the war that is being waged on her. As anyone who reads today’s story in Politico knows, the woman is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the folks attacking her are fellow Democrats and, in particular, the White House, which is looking for a convenient scapegoat for an anticipated Democrat defeat this year.

The Politico feature comes on the heels of a similar piece  just published in Buzzfeed that is also highly critical of the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Both articles appear to be the result of a calculated campaign of leaks from DWS critics in the White House and senior levels of the Democratic Party. She is accused of being a lousy DNC chair, of getting the party into needless controversies, of being hyper-ambitious and solely interested in feathering her own nest (a shocking accusation about any politician), and even—shades of Sarah Palin—buying expensive clothes and then trying to get the party to pay the bill.

I am no fan of Wasserman Schultz, who is, in my opinion, one of the most repellent figures in contemporary politics. But no matter what you think of her, this orchestrated attack on her position by people she has served ably and loyally is Washington politics at its worst and a rather obvious illustration of the misogyny that is part of the culture of this White House. Rather than reminding us of her numerous faults, it is a cowardly attack that tells us far more about the vile nature of her associates and allies than anything about DWS.

It’s impossible to read either story without walking away thinking that DWS is deeply disliked in the highest echelons of her party. But, of course, this isn’t news to anyone who’s followed Washington politics in recent years. The same people who dished on her to Politico and Buzzfeed have been doing the same thing since 2012 when most people assumed President Obama would can her at the DNC. But unlike that election year, which brought victory to the Democrats, this midterm is shaping up to be a disaster for the president’s party. If there is any national factor that can be blamed for this, the most obvious candidate is the president. Obama’s job approval ratings are now down to George W. Bush levels and his calamitous handling of foreign affairs and indecisive war leadership, as well as his handling of a lackluster economy and immigration, are helping to sink Democrats. But rather than admit that his second-term blues are, unsurprisingly hurting the party in power, the White House is looking to put the goat’s horns on Wassermann Schultz.

This is, to put it mildly, more than a bit unfair. DWS took over the DNC in the spring of 2011 in the wake of the Democrats’ shellacking in the 2010 midterms. Since then her handling of the two major tasks any party chair must do—fundraising and being the party’s attack dog—has been nothing short of brilliant. The DNC has flourished under her leadership as Democrats have matched or exceeded their Republican counterparts in fundraising throughout the last two election cycles. Just as importantly, DWS has been a ubiquitous partisan battler, regularly engaging in the most outrageous and often mendacious attacks on the GOP.

But almost from the start of her term at the DNC, it’s been clear that she isn’t exactly the president’s cup of tea. While Republicans have good reason to despise her, the snark thrown in her direction in the last three years has been just as likely to come from Democrats as it has from her partisan antagonists. Indeed, the personal nature of the jibes, including derogatory remarks about her personal appearance and voice (both perhaps too New York and too Jewish-sounding for the tastes of some highly placed Democrats) speaks more about a clash of individual tastes than the ideological divide between DWS and her Republican opponents.

How has she managed to stay on so long in a job where she serves at the pleasure of the president? It mostly has to do with that war on women Democrats are always yapping about. Having campaigned so hard on the issue of the mistreatment of women, it was difficult for the president to take down one of the most highly placed women in Washington for what appears to be nothing more than the sin of being an obnoxious partisan. That’s especially true since, as we know, this is a White House where women are scarce in top positions and are paid far less on average, than men. Though DWS appears to be the bête noire of the boys club in the West Wing, they were sufficiently cognizant of the bad optics of firing her after so much partisan blather about women being treated unfairly, so she survived.

But with an election defeat looming, the knives are out and it appears that the DNC chair is being set up for the fall. To do that, the West Wing boys club is pulling out all the stops, including circulating the story about Wasserman Schultz spending months trying to get the party to pay for the fancy clothing she wore to its 2012 convention and then the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner. According to Politico, numerous sources attest to the truth of the allegations despite DWS’s denials.

Let me confess that, without any direct knowledge of the matter myself, I’d bet that DWS is not telling the truth. After all, she has a well-earned reputation for being an adept barefaced liar. But does anyone really think such practices are unique to Wasserman Schultz? And, like the similarly unscrupulous leaks attacking Sarah Palin for the same offense, would anyone leak embarrassing stories to this effect if the object of the leaks were not someone the White House was setting up to take the fall for the midterms?

The same applies to stories being recycled now about DWS turning her coat during the 2008 primaries and embracing Obama after being a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton. There truly is no honor among thieves in the Democratic Party.

DWS is tough to take. She is an aggressive, nasty partisan brawler who will say or do anything to get her way or to further her career. But while Republicans should be forgiven for disliking the DNC chair for her outrageous attacks on them and her success at their expense, the only reasons Democrats have to hate her are strictly personal. Though it is difficult to sympathize with Wasserman Schultz, it is impossible not to feel her allies are treating her unfairly. This is a genuine war on a woman who deserved better from her party. They ought to be ashamed.

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Wasserman Schultz to Get DNC Encore

Dan Halper flags a Roll Call report that says Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to stay on for another two-year term as DNC chair, since Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn aren’t likely to give up their top leadership positions:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida will reportedly stay on as Democratic National Committee chief for another two-year term.

“The House Democratic leadership mold continues to harden, as Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida are expected to remain in their current positions, which are effectively out of the upper echelon of caucus leadership ranks,” reports Roll Call.

That decision might be a little strange, since it was thought Wasserman Schultz was a weak surrogate for Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. “Internal polling rates her the least effective of all Obama campaign surrogates,” Politico reported during the campaign.

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Dan Halper flags a Roll Call report that says Debbie Wasserman Schultz is expected to stay on for another two-year term as DNC chair, since Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn aren’t likely to give up their top leadership positions:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida will reportedly stay on as Democratic National Committee chief for another two-year term.

“The House Democratic leadership mold continues to harden, as Reps. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida are expected to remain in their current positions, which are effectively out of the upper echelon of caucus leadership ranks,” reports Roll Call.

That decision might be a little strange, since it was thought Wasserman Schultz was a weak surrogate for Barack Obama during the presidential campaign. “Internal polling rates her the least effective of all Obama campaign surrogates,” Politico reported during the campaign.

DWS is the gift that keeps on giving (for Republicans), so if she’s staying put it must be because she has no other options or nobody better wants the job. Based on the Roll Call article, Democrats seem to figure that she’ll do less damage where she is than she might in a top House leadership role. Ed Morrissey explains the logic:

In some sense, this is a vote of no confidence in the next generation of House Democratic leadership, or at least no confidence yet.

Given Wasserman Schultz’ performance as DNC chair, that doesn’t seem irrational, either.  She started off by accusing Republicans of wanting to bring back Jim Crow, and ended up marginalized as a surrogate for Team Obama, with plenty of embarrassments along the way.  (Getting reamed by Anderson Cooper for lying was one of the most prominent examples.)  Three months ago, Politico’s Glenn Thrush revealed conflicts between Wasserman Schultz and the White House in his e-book, and Politico reported that their polling showed her the least effective of their surrogates.

As bad as Wasserman Schultz was, it didn’t seem to hold Democrats back this election. They even made small gains in the House and Senate. As long as the party is willing to keep her in the position, and there’s nowhere better for her to go, why not stay on for another term? Certainly Republicans can’t complain, given her penchant for saying ridiculous things.

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Is Assault on Romney’s Small Business Record a Wise Move?

BuzzFeed reports the Democratic National Committee is planning to go “nuclear” over the attacks on President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech, and launch a major assault on Mitt Romney’s small business record:

DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse outlined an all-out response to Mitt Romney’s attack on President Obama over his “You didn’t build this” line — which the president and independent fact checkers have said has been taken out of context.

“In conjunction with OFA, we’re going to turn the page tomorrow on Mitt Romney’s trumped up, out of context fact-checked-to-death BS about the president and small business and set the record straight on how Mitt Romney has a horrible record on small business,” Woodhouse said in a memo sent to BuzzFeed, saying there will be on-the-ground events across the country — including in Massachusetts — to rebut Romney’s attack.

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BuzzFeed reports the Democratic National Committee is planning to go “nuclear” over the attacks on President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech, and launch a major assault on Mitt Romney’s small business record:

DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse outlined an all-out response to Mitt Romney’s attack on President Obama over his “You didn’t build this” line — which the president and independent fact checkers have said has been taken out of context.

“In conjunction with OFA, we’re going to turn the page tomorrow on Mitt Romney’s trumped up, out of context fact-checked-to-death BS about the president and small business and set the record straight on how Mitt Romney has a horrible record on small business,” Woodhouse said in a memo sent to BuzzFeed, saying there will be on-the-ground events across the country — including in Massachusetts — to rebut Romney’s attack.

You can tell this is a moment of desperation for the DNC, because Obama has plenty of weaknesses in his own small business record. Let’s not even get into the fact that the tax cuts for small businesses that he always touts are actually far less than meets the eye. Hasn’t Obama been arguing for months that the tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 should be allowed to expire? The Heritage Foundation crunched the numbers and found that small business owners in that income bracket could end up paying an average of $24,888 in additional taxes under Obama’s proposals:

They are right to be concerned. According to calculations by The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis (CDA), the average American with $250,000 or more in income can expect an average $24,888 tax increase next year under Obama’s proposed policies.

The $24,888 figure is often enough for a salary, and despite what some proponents of the tax hike have argued, many of these successful small businesses do have employees. According to the Treasury Department, 1.2 million small businesses both had employees and earned more than $200,000 in 2007. So the president is putting about 1.2 million jobs—perhaps even more—at risk with this tax hike.

Then there’s Obama’s health care law, which is expected to increase health care costs and the regulatory burden for small businesses. The cost of complying with government regulations is a growing problem under the Obama administration, as the Fiscal Times has reported:

The Business Roundtable just released a list of 60 major new pending rules and regulations from the federal government – all of which may dampen economic activity. The NFIB is so worried about the uncertainty created by Obama’s legislative tsunami that it is supporting the Regulatory Freeze for Jobs Act, a bill that would prohibit important new regulations from taking effect before the unemployment rate drops to 6 percent or for two years, whichever is shorter. Embracing such a “time-out” would be an excellent move for the embattled White House, and most definitely for the country.

The Obama campaign is obviously anxious to get back on offense, but picking this particular fight is only going to end up emphasizing Obama’s own weaknesses.

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Dems Waving the White Flag in Wisconsin?

With polls showing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pulling away from his challenger in the June 5 recall election, the Democratic National Committee may be waving the white flag in a race that state liberals thought they had in the bag a few months ago. Politico reports that both the DNC and President Obama’s re-election campaign have yet to kick in a dime to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s effort to knock off one of the Republicans’ chief heroes of the midterm landslide. Though Barrett faces a huge fundraising disadvantage in what turns out to be rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial election, the national party seems to have decided against wasting any resources on a lost cause. By contrast, the national Republican Party is all in to help Walker turn what was once a toss-up into a GOP romp.

Though DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is supposed to host a fundraiser for Barrett, the party has yet to respond to a request from Wisconsin Democrats for a quick half million, but the check is apparently still in the mail. The Democratic Governors Association has already spent $2 million helping their union allies to push for a recall, but it’s not clear if they’re going to be throwing more good after bad.

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With polls showing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pulling away from his challenger in the June 5 recall election, the Democratic National Committee may be waving the white flag in a race that state liberals thought they had in the bag a few months ago. Politico reports that both the DNC and President Obama’s re-election campaign have yet to kick in a dime to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s effort to knock off one of the Republicans’ chief heroes of the midterm landslide. Though Barrett faces a huge fundraising disadvantage in what turns out to be rematch of the 2010 gubernatorial election, the national party seems to have decided against wasting any resources on a lost cause. By contrast, the national Republican Party is all in to help Walker turn what was once a toss-up into a GOP romp.

Though DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is supposed to host a fundraiser for Barrett, the party has yet to respond to a request from Wisconsin Democrats for a quick half million, but the check is apparently still in the mail. The Democratic Governors Association has already spent $2 million helping their union allies to push for a recall, but it’s not clear if they’re going to be throwing more good after bad.

Democratic optimists point out that with three weeks left before the recall, Walker’s lead is too small for anyone to consider the recall a lost cause. But unless the DNC and other sources of cash start ponying up to help Barrett make up his financial deficit, it’s going to be difficult for the Democrat to make up ground on the incumbent.

To be fair to the DNC, the recall wasn’t their idea. It was the brainchild of Wisconsin’s state worker unions and their liberal allies. The unions were still smarting from their defeat in the legislature after Walker fulfilled his 2010 promises to enact a fundamental reform of the state budget. After failing to physically intimidate Republican legislators who were intent on passing changes in the collective bargaining laws that would stop unions from holding the state hostage, Walker’s foes conceived of a recall effort to reverse the verdict of the voters. But now that the voters are faced with the same choice the parties offered them two years ago, it looks like they haven’t changed their minds about Walker.

Unfortunately for President Obama and the DNC, it’s too late to cancel the recall effort. If, as now seems likely, Walker survives the recall, it will do more than just strengthen the rising GOP star. It will be rightly seen as a harbinger of other, even more significant defeats for the Democrats later this year. That’s why the DNC and the president are now bailing out of a Wisconsin fight that may turn out to be a huge mistake for the left.

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Was Rosen Speaking for Obama Campaign?

The firestorm over Hilary Rosen’s Ann Romney comments spilled over into a conference call with Republican congresswomen this morning, as they shot back at the Democratic strategist and claimed the Obama campaign bears some responsibility for her remarks.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February Rosen was brought on as a consultant for Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. According to Romney-backer Rep. Cynthia Lummis, Rosen gave no indication that she was “freelancing” when she attacked Ann Romney’s work record on “Anderson Cooper 360″ last night.

“Clearly [the Obama campaign is] using surrogate women, including Hilary Rosen who is a paid spokesperson, to deliver messages about Republicans that the president does not want to deliver himself for fear of the backlash,” she said.

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The firestorm over Hilary Rosen’s Ann Romney comments spilled over into a conference call with Republican congresswomen this morning, as they shot back at the Democratic strategist and claimed the Obama campaign bears some responsibility for her remarks.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February Rosen was brought on as a consultant for Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. According to Romney-backer Rep. Cynthia Lummis, Rosen gave no indication that she was “freelancing” when she attacked Ann Romney’s work record on “Anderson Cooper 360″ last night.

“Clearly [the Obama campaign is] using surrogate women, including Hilary Rosen who is a paid spokesperson, to deliver messages about Republicans that the president does not want to deliver himself for fear of the backlash,” she said.

The DNC denied the two-month-old Wall Street Journal report today, saying it had no relationship with Rosen. Spokesperson Bob Woodhouse told the Miami Herald that the DNC’s contract “is exclusively with Anita Dunn.” Rosen works at Dunn’s firm, SKDKnickerbocker, so that elucidation doesn’t really mean much (fun fact: SKDKnickerbocker is also the firm that represents Sandra Fluke).

This is a critical moment for the Obama campaign as it attempts to publicly define Mitt Romney as uncaring, out-of-touch, weird, awkward, and far right-wing. Ann Romney helps counter all of that. She’s widely liked, charming, and down-to-earth, and she’s been playing a major role in softening her husband’s image and reaching out to women voters. In other words, she’s a threat to Obama’s reelection chances. While the Obama campaign can’t chip away at her image directly, it can have ostensible outsiders do it for them. Whether that’s what happened in this case is yet to be determined, but judging from DWS’s apologetic tweet today, the DNC is trying to untangle itself from this damaging controversy as quickly as possible.

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Don’t Think of a Tsunami

George Lakoff is a linguistics professor at Berkeley who made a name for himself in left-liberal circles by claiming the problem with left-liberalism was its failure to “reframe” the discussion in a way that would make Americans think well of left-liberalism. His book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, was particularly popular. Today, on Politico, Lakoff diagnoses the primary problem that plagued Democrats on Tuesday as a “massive communications failure” owing to its refusal to understand properly that

[C]onservatives have an extensive, but not obvious communications system, with many think tanks, framing experts, training institutes, a system of spokespeople linked by talking points, and bookers booking their people not just on radio and TV, but in lots of civic venues. This system is active not only in elections, but 24/7/365. Democrats have no comparable system.

This is a perfect summary of a certain way of thinking on the Left that is so insular it must look to reasons other than policy choices to explain away the American people’s frustrating unwillingness to go along mutely with whatever the Left wants. In the Lakoff worldview, liberal ideas can’t get to the people who should want them because conservatives have formed such an impregnable wall. In his worldview, the forces arrayed loosely to promote liberal ideas are as nothing, notwithstanding the fact that they are:  NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the editorial boards and reportorial staffs of most news organizations, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockefeller Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Center for American Progress, Media Matters for America, the press staffs of nearly 300 Democratic House and Senate members, the White House press office, the Democratic National Committee, the liberal blogsphere, CNN, MSNBC, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund…

There’s more nonsense later in the piece, but I stopped reading after Lakoff “reframed” independent voters as “biconceptuals.”

George Lakoff is a linguistics professor at Berkeley who made a name for himself in left-liberal circles by claiming the problem with left-liberalism was its failure to “reframe” the discussion in a way that would make Americans think well of left-liberalism. His book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, was particularly popular. Today, on Politico, Lakoff diagnoses the primary problem that plagued Democrats on Tuesday as a “massive communications failure” owing to its refusal to understand properly that

[C]onservatives have an extensive, but not obvious communications system, with many think tanks, framing experts, training institutes, a system of spokespeople linked by talking points, and bookers booking their people not just on radio and TV, but in lots of civic venues. This system is active not only in elections, but 24/7/365. Democrats have no comparable system.

This is a perfect summary of a certain way of thinking on the Left that is so insular it must look to reasons other than policy choices to explain away the American people’s frustrating unwillingness to go along mutely with whatever the Left wants. In the Lakoff worldview, liberal ideas can’t get to the people who should want them because conservatives have formed such an impregnable wall. In his worldview, the forces arrayed loosely to promote liberal ideas are as nothing, notwithstanding the fact that they are:  NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the editorial boards and reportorial staffs of most news organizations, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment, the Rockefeller Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Center for American Progress, Media Matters for America, the press staffs of nearly 300 Democratic House and Senate members, the White House press office, the Democratic National Committee, the liberal blogsphere, CNN, MSNBC, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund…

There’s more nonsense later in the piece, but I stopped reading after Lakoff “reframed” independent voters as “biconceptuals.”

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With a Whimper

Obama, like all pols, is wrapping up the midterm campaign season. He’s not exactly ending on a high note. As this report observes:

President Barack Obama closed out his 2010 campaign season here with a mocking rebuke of Republicans, in stark contrast to the lofty, hopeful rhetoric that marked his 2008 campaign. With Democrats facing potentially big losses on Election Day Tuesday, Mr. Obama has projected a rougher tone than he did two years ago. The bad economy? Blame Republicans, he said. Bipartisanship to solve problems? No, the president said, the GOP has no interest.

The inspiration is gone. So are the big crowds. The New York Times tells us:

President Obama wrapped up a weekend of last-minute campaigning in Ohio on Sunday, addressing Democrats in an indoor arena that, in a sign of the “enthusiasm gap” that the president is working so hard to close, was little more than half full. About 8,000 people attended the Democratic National Committee’s Moving America Forward’ rally at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, a hall where the capacity is 13,000. The rafters were largely empty. Organizers noted the president was competing on a Sunday afternoon with church, football and Halloween.

Halloween? What Obama doesn’t lack are excuses.

He has two years to get his act together. Step one: find a more appealing demeanor to display in times of political adversity. The current one really isn’t cutting it.

Obama, like all pols, is wrapping up the midterm campaign season. He’s not exactly ending on a high note. As this report observes:

President Barack Obama closed out his 2010 campaign season here with a mocking rebuke of Republicans, in stark contrast to the lofty, hopeful rhetoric that marked his 2008 campaign. With Democrats facing potentially big losses on Election Day Tuesday, Mr. Obama has projected a rougher tone than he did two years ago. The bad economy? Blame Republicans, he said. Bipartisanship to solve problems? No, the president said, the GOP has no interest.

The inspiration is gone. So are the big crowds. The New York Times tells us:

President Obama wrapped up a weekend of last-minute campaigning in Ohio on Sunday, addressing Democrats in an indoor arena that, in a sign of the “enthusiasm gap” that the president is working so hard to close, was little more than half full. About 8,000 people attended the Democratic National Committee’s Moving America Forward’ rally at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center, a hall where the capacity is 13,000. The rafters were largely empty. Organizers noted the president was competing on a Sunday afternoon with church, football and Halloween.

Halloween? What Obama doesn’t lack are excuses.

He has two years to get his act together. Step one: find a more appealing demeanor to display in times of political adversity. The current one really isn’t cutting it.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

So Abbas is threatening to quit – again? It’s unclear, however, whether he will keep his promise if the talks fail because of his own walkout.

So the courts can mind their own business (and leave it to the democratic process)? “Forty-two percent of respondents said they favor same-sex marriage, up 5 percentage points from 2009 and the highest number registered since Pew began asking the question in 1996. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed opposed same-sex marriage, 6 percentage points lower than in 2009 and the lowest total measure by Pew.”

So the national parties are irrelevant? “When comparing the RNC to the Democratic National Committee, the 93 GOP Insiders who responded to the poll this week were withering in their assessment and 73% said that the DNC was out-performing the RNC. Only 15% said that the RNC was besting the DNC and 12% said neither committee had stood out.” Maybe, but Michael Steele is still going to get fired after the midterms.

So another Democrat with a shaky record on Israel is in danger? Rep. Jim Himes is in a statistical tie with his GOP challenger in the CT-4.

So the swamp is still full? “Most voters think Congress’s ethics have gotten worse in the past two years, according to a new poll in key battleground districts. … The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm Election Poll finds that 57 percent of likely voters in 12 competitive districts believe that the ethical situation on Capitol Hill has deteriorated since President Obama took office.”

So now liberals are reduced to hunting for silver linings in expectation of a drubbing? “It would raise the profile of the party’s legislative leadership, particularly would-be Speaker John Boehner and would-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. I don’t have specific polling information on either man’s popularity. [So why is he writing on this?] But I feel pretty comfortable suggesting that neither man is a great party spokesman.” OK, it’s a rationalization in progress. I feel comfortable suggesting they’ll come up with better ones than that.

So maybe he shouldn’t have voted with them on ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, and the stimulus bill? “The combination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama is casting a colossal shadow over Democrat John Spratt’s reelection campaign, and the 28-year House veteran all but acknowledges that, as a result, he is facing the toughest election test of his career.”

So a 38 percent approval in a poll of random adults (not even registered voters) is like 20 percent among likely voters? “The public is divided on the overall job he is doing now: 44 percent say they approve, while 45 percent disapprove in a new CBS News poll — virtually unchanged from last month. The president’s rating on the economy, however, has taken a further plunge in the poll. Now, only 38 percent say they approve of the job he is doing handling the issue – which has been the problem weighing most heavily on the nation’s collective mind for months. Half of those questioned (50 percent) say they disapprove of his work on the economy.”

So Abbas is threatening to quit – again? It’s unclear, however, whether he will keep his promise if the talks fail because of his own walkout.

So the courts can mind their own business (and leave it to the democratic process)? “Forty-two percent of respondents said they favor same-sex marriage, up 5 percentage points from 2009 and the highest number registered since Pew began asking the question in 1996. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed opposed same-sex marriage, 6 percentage points lower than in 2009 and the lowest total measure by Pew.”

So the national parties are irrelevant? “When comparing the RNC to the Democratic National Committee, the 93 GOP Insiders who responded to the poll this week were withering in their assessment and 73% said that the DNC was out-performing the RNC. Only 15% said that the RNC was besting the DNC and 12% said neither committee had stood out.” Maybe, but Michael Steele is still going to get fired after the midterms.

So another Democrat with a shaky record on Israel is in danger? Rep. Jim Himes is in a statistical tie with his GOP challenger in the CT-4.

So the swamp is still full? “Most voters think Congress’s ethics have gotten worse in the past two years, according to a new poll in key battleground districts. … The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm Election Poll finds that 57 percent of likely voters in 12 competitive districts believe that the ethical situation on Capitol Hill has deteriorated since President Obama took office.”

So now liberals are reduced to hunting for silver linings in expectation of a drubbing? “It would raise the profile of the party’s legislative leadership, particularly would-be Speaker John Boehner and would-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. I don’t have specific polling information on either man’s popularity. [So why is he writing on this?] But I feel pretty comfortable suggesting that neither man is a great party spokesman.” OK, it’s a rationalization in progress. I feel comfortable suggesting they’ll come up with better ones than that.

So maybe he shouldn’t have voted with them on ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, and the stimulus bill? “The combination of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama is casting a colossal shadow over Democrat John Spratt’s reelection campaign, and the 28-year House veteran all but acknowledges that, as a result, he is facing the toughest election test of his career.”

So a 38 percent approval in a poll of random adults (not even registered voters) is like 20 percent among likely voters? “The public is divided on the overall job he is doing now: 44 percent say they approve, while 45 percent disapprove in a new CBS News poll — virtually unchanged from last month. The president’s rating on the economy, however, has taken a further plunge in the poll. Now, only 38 percent say they approve of the job he is doing handling the issue – which has been the problem weighing most heavily on the nation’s collective mind for months. Half of those questioned (50 percent) say they disapprove of his work on the economy.”

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Using Sherrod to Undermine the New Black Panther Case

While Andrew Breitbart’s release of a misleading edited version of the now-famous Shirley Sherrod speech on race has led him to rightly note that he has become “public enemy number one,” the left is using the controversy he engendered to knock down a wide array of right-wing targets. Not surprising, they hope to drown the outrage over the New Black Panther Party case along with Breitbart.

That’s the not-so-subtle message of a New York Times feature published yesterday, which claims, as its headline insists, “When Race Is the Issue, Misleading Coverage Sets Off an Uproar.” Though the piece leads with Breitbart’s on-target charge that the left is seeking to brand everyone on the right as racist no matter what the facts of the case might be, the subject quickly changes to one the paper is more comfortable with: the idea that accusations of reverse racism (as the Sherrod speech was initially and wrongly thought to be) are all false. As reporter Brian Stelter puts it: “It is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion.”

And what, other than the Breitbart/Sherrod fiasco, can the Times produce to prove this thesis? None other than the New Black Panther case, in which an African-American hate group engaged in voter intimidation at the polls on Election Day in 2008. The fact that Fox News pursued the story of this crime, which went unpunished by local Philadelphia authorities and which the Justice Department has been reluctant to take up as a violation of civil rights, is presented by the Times as proof that Fox and its news anchor Megyn Kelly engaged in racist coverage.

As Jennifer has written, the mainstream media has been painfully slow to cover this story, which, as many others have said, would have been front-page news if, say, the equally small remnants of the Ku Klux Klan had stood outside of voting places threatening poll watchers and voters with sticks. But despite the fact that the Times itself did eventually get around to printing a story about the case and the allegations that a reluctance to prosecute a black group for offenses that were once solely the avocation of white racists is the reason why the crime is still unpunished, Stelter merely repeats without demurral the dismissal of the entire topic by liberal ideologues like Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. Whatever one may think about whether the Justice Department has grounds to take on the New Black Panthers and those who have protected them from prosecution, there is nothing “obscure and misleading” about the uproar over what appears to be an outrageous miscarriage of justice.

While Breitbart is still taking a drubbing for his role in the Sherrod story, with Stelter’s piece, the Times more or less proves his point — that the liberal media’s goal is not truth or responsible journalism but rather the advancement of their own brand of partisan smear mongering.

While Andrew Breitbart’s release of a misleading edited version of the now-famous Shirley Sherrod speech on race has led him to rightly note that he has become “public enemy number one,” the left is using the controversy he engendered to knock down a wide array of right-wing targets. Not surprising, they hope to drown the outrage over the New Black Panther Party case along with Breitbart.

That’s the not-so-subtle message of a New York Times feature published yesterday, which claims, as its headline insists, “When Race Is the Issue, Misleading Coverage Sets Off an Uproar.” Though the piece leads with Breitbart’s on-target charge that the left is seeking to brand everyone on the right as racist no matter what the facts of the case might be, the subject quickly changes to one the paper is more comfortable with: the idea that accusations of reverse racism (as the Sherrod speech was initially and wrongly thought to be) are all false. As reporter Brian Stelter puts it: “It is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion.”

And what, other than the Breitbart/Sherrod fiasco, can the Times produce to prove this thesis? None other than the New Black Panther case, in which an African-American hate group engaged in voter intimidation at the polls on Election Day in 2008. The fact that Fox News pursued the story of this crime, which went unpunished by local Philadelphia authorities and which the Justice Department has been reluctant to take up as a violation of civil rights, is presented by the Times as proof that Fox and its news anchor Megyn Kelly engaged in racist coverage.

As Jennifer has written, the mainstream media has been painfully slow to cover this story, which, as many others have said, would have been front-page news if, say, the equally small remnants of the Ku Klux Klan had stood outside of voting places threatening poll watchers and voters with sticks. But despite the fact that the Times itself did eventually get around to printing a story about the case and the allegations that a reluctance to prosecute a black group for offenses that were once solely the avocation of white racists is the reason why the crime is still unpunished, Stelter merely repeats without demurral the dismissal of the entire topic by liberal ideologues like Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. Whatever one may think about whether the Justice Department has grounds to take on the New Black Panthers and those who have protected them from prosecution, there is nothing “obscure and misleading” about the uproar over what appears to be an outrageous miscarriage of justice.

While Breitbart is still taking a drubbing for his role in the Sherrod story, with Stelter’s piece, the Times more or less proves his point — that the liberal media’s goal is not truth or responsible journalism but rather the advancement of their own brand of partisan smear mongering.

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They Don’t Have George W. Bush to Kick Around Anymore

To a greater extent than any administration that preceded it, the Obama team has obsessively blamed its predecessor for everything and anything. The public, however, has not been distracted. Americans have a president, only one, who is responsible for domestic and foreign policy. Regardless of whether they consider George W. Bush at fault for some of our current ills, they are no less annoyed with Obama’s performance. (Similarly, blaming BP for the Gulf oil spill hasn’t gotten Obama a free pass from the voters. They can be mad at both.)

Recent polling shows that there is no mileage left in the “Bush did it” strategy:

New polling shows that Bush’s standing among the electorate remains weak, and that voters for the most part still fault him for the nation’s ailing economy. But as President Obama’s popularity has stagnated, Democratic strategists say that drawing simple comparisons between the two leaders is not a surefire strategy to move voters their way.

Our current data brings into question the notion that you can run against Bush and win,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Obviously Bush is not popular. The question is: Does it help Obama to run against the past in debating the future?”

The answer seems to be no. For one thing, Bush isn’t that much less popular than Obama:

A survey from Gallup released last week found that Bush’s personal favorability rating had increased 10 points since the last such poll in 2009. At 45%, it was just 7 points behind Obama’s, bringing into question whether attacking the Bush legacy would be very effective.

Moreover, with each passing month, Obama’s policies — from Israel to relations with allies to national security to taxes — compare unfavorably to Bush’s. If you take away the names and ask: “Close or keep open Gitmo?” or “Embrace or put daylight between the U.S. and Israel?” or “Raise or cut taxes?” the public doesn’t favor the policies of Obama. And by a wide margin:

A recent survey from Benenson Strategy Group, which has polled for the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, specifically tested the potency of the Bush message. When asked to choose between a candidate who would support the Obama economic policies or one who “will start from scratch with new ideas to shrink government, cut taxes and grow the economy,” respondents preferred the latter by more than a 2-1 ratio.

It was, from the get-go, unseemly for Obama to blame his predecessor whenever his own policies didn’t turn out as advertised. (Maybe that is why no previous president resorted to this tactic for over a year into his term.) Now that it also has proven to be an ineffective tactic, we can only hope that Obama finally will stop employing it.

One final note: many conservatives have been miffed by Bush’s silence since he left office and by his steadfast refusal to defend his own record and that of those who worked long and hard for him. But perhaps there was great wisdom in that. The public needed time and distance to reacquaint themselves with Bush’s many positive attributes and accomplishments. (And Dick Cheney more than picked up the slack.) With the foil of the not-Bush president — one lacking in warmth for his fellow citizens, loyalty to allies, and magnanimity to foes —  the public has, in fact, grown fonder of Bush, the 43th president.

That is altogether fitting and deserved for a president who endured endless attacks and who was willing to sacrifice popularity for victory in war. It should also give some encouragement to those intrigued by the prospect of Bush the 45th president (Jeb). Maybe the Bush name isn’t so much of a liability after all.

To a greater extent than any administration that preceded it, the Obama team has obsessively blamed its predecessor for everything and anything. The public, however, has not been distracted. Americans have a president, only one, who is responsible for domestic and foreign policy. Regardless of whether they consider George W. Bush at fault for some of our current ills, they are no less annoyed with Obama’s performance. (Similarly, blaming BP for the Gulf oil spill hasn’t gotten Obama a free pass from the voters. They can be mad at both.)

Recent polling shows that there is no mileage left in the “Bush did it” strategy:

New polling shows that Bush’s standing among the electorate remains weak, and that voters for the most part still fault him for the nation’s ailing economy. But as President Obama’s popularity has stagnated, Democratic strategists say that drawing simple comparisons between the two leaders is not a surefire strategy to move voters their way.

Our current data brings into question the notion that you can run against Bush and win,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Obviously Bush is not popular. The question is: Does it help Obama to run against the past in debating the future?”

The answer seems to be no. For one thing, Bush isn’t that much less popular than Obama:

A survey from Gallup released last week found that Bush’s personal favorability rating had increased 10 points since the last such poll in 2009. At 45%, it was just 7 points behind Obama’s, bringing into question whether attacking the Bush legacy would be very effective.

Moreover, with each passing month, Obama’s policies — from Israel to relations with allies to national security to taxes — compare unfavorably to Bush’s. If you take away the names and ask: “Close or keep open Gitmo?” or “Embrace or put daylight between the U.S. and Israel?” or “Raise or cut taxes?” the public doesn’t favor the policies of Obama. And by a wide margin:

A recent survey from Benenson Strategy Group, which has polled for the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, specifically tested the potency of the Bush message. When asked to choose between a candidate who would support the Obama economic policies or one who “will start from scratch with new ideas to shrink government, cut taxes and grow the economy,” respondents preferred the latter by more than a 2-1 ratio.

It was, from the get-go, unseemly for Obama to blame his predecessor whenever his own policies didn’t turn out as advertised. (Maybe that is why no previous president resorted to this tactic for over a year into his term.) Now that it also has proven to be an ineffective tactic, we can only hope that Obama finally will stop employing it.

One final note: many conservatives have been miffed by Bush’s silence since he left office and by his steadfast refusal to defend his own record and that of those who worked long and hard for him. But perhaps there was great wisdom in that. The public needed time and distance to reacquaint themselves with Bush’s many positive attributes and accomplishments. (And Dick Cheney more than picked up the slack.) With the foil of the not-Bush president — one lacking in warmth for his fellow citizens, loyalty to allies, and magnanimity to foes —  the public has, in fact, grown fonder of Bush, the 43th president.

That is altogether fitting and deserved for a president who endured endless attacks and who was willing to sacrifice popularity for victory in war. It should also give some encouragement to those intrigued by the prospect of Bush the 45th president (Jeb). Maybe the Bush name isn’t so much of a liability after all.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

So much for honoring America’s commitments: “As Israel’s prime minister prepares for his fifth official meeting with President Obama this week, the White House has declined to publicly affirm commitments made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 on the final borders of the Jewish state.”

So much for walking back the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal deadline. Joe Biden says, “This is the policy.”

So much for the Democratic 2010 strategy. Chis Cillizza writes: “the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters. The DNC’s plan is ambitious, to say the least: In the space of a few months, the strategists hope to change the composition of a midterm electorate that, if history is any guide, tends to be older and whiter than in a presidential-election year. Put that way, it sounds crazy — and it has drawn considerable skepticism from independent observers.”

So much for Obama’s salesmanship: “Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the recently passed health care law, including 49% who Strongly Favor repeal. … This is the 16th weekly poll conducted on repeal since the health care law was passed. A majority of voters has favored repeal each and every week. Support for repeal has ranged from a low of 52% to a high of 63%.”

So much for the “permanent” Democratic majority. Charlie Cook writes: “Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. … Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge. To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. … Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections.”

So much for Obama’s Syrian engagement. The headline reads, “Assad: US administration is weak.” Well, he’s a brutal despot, but he’s not a bad political analyst.

So much for Obamanomics: “Just when they might be needed the most, the rescue ropes that hauled the nation out of the Great Recession have become badly frayed. A much-feared ‘double dip’ economic downturn would find interest rates already slashed to near zero by the Federal Reserve and lawmakers leery of voting for billions of stimulus dollars as they face re-election.”

So much for the prospects of a two-state solution. Barry Rubin: “Why should Israel give up territory and security to the PA merely because it prosecutes corrupt leaders (don’t hold your breath) and is more prosperous? What it needs to know is that the conflict won’t continue, that there won’t be cross-border raids, that Hamas won’t take over and that Palestine won’t invite in Syrian or Iranian military forces, to cite some examples.” And other than the deluded Obami, who really thinks that is happening any time soon?

So much for the notion that Fareed Zakaria is to be taken seriously (even by the Obama administration): “Fareed Zakaria criticized the Afghanistan war in unusually harsh terms on his CNN program Sunday, saying that ‘the whole enterprise in Afghanistan feels disproportionate, a very expensive solution to what is turning out to be a small but real problem.'”

So much for honoring America’s commitments: “As Israel’s prime minister prepares for his fifth official meeting with President Obama this week, the White House has declined to publicly affirm commitments made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 on the final borders of the Jewish state.”

So much for walking back the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal deadline. Joe Biden says, “This is the policy.”

So much for the Democratic 2010 strategy. Chis Cillizza writes: “the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters. The DNC’s plan is ambitious, to say the least: In the space of a few months, the strategists hope to change the composition of a midterm electorate that, if history is any guide, tends to be older and whiter than in a presidential-election year. Put that way, it sounds crazy — and it has drawn considerable skepticism from independent observers.”

So much for Obama’s salesmanship: “Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the recently passed health care law, including 49% who Strongly Favor repeal. … This is the 16th weekly poll conducted on repeal since the health care law was passed. A majority of voters has favored repeal each and every week. Support for repeal has ranged from a low of 52% to a high of 63%.”

So much for the “permanent” Democratic majority. Charlie Cook writes: “Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. … Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge. To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. … Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections.”

So much for Obama’s Syrian engagement. The headline reads, “Assad: US administration is weak.” Well, he’s a brutal despot, but he’s not a bad political analyst.

So much for Obamanomics: “Just when they might be needed the most, the rescue ropes that hauled the nation out of the Great Recession have become badly frayed. A much-feared ‘double dip’ economic downturn would find interest rates already slashed to near zero by the Federal Reserve and lawmakers leery of voting for billions of stimulus dollars as they face re-election.”

So much for the prospects of a two-state solution. Barry Rubin: “Why should Israel give up territory and security to the PA merely because it prosecutes corrupt leaders (don’t hold your breath) and is more prosperous? What it needs to know is that the conflict won’t continue, that there won’t be cross-border raids, that Hamas won’t take over and that Palestine won’t invite in Syrian or Iranian military forces, to cite some examples.” And other than the deluded Obami, who really thinks that is happening any time soon?

So much for the notion that Fareed Zakaria is to be taken seriously (even by the Obama administration): “Fareed Zakaria criticized the Afghanistan war in unusually harsh terms on his CNN program Sunday, saying that ‘the whole enterprise in Afghanistan feels disproportionate, a very expensive solution to what is turning out to be a small but real problem.'”

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Lying with Statistics Again

Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was on Fox News Sunday this morning, along with his Republican counterpart Michael Steele. Both men, of course, are in the job of boosting their parties, not giving non-tendentious analysis of the current political situation or honest predictions regarding the upcoming election. They’re in the rosy scenario business.

But Governor Kaine came up with a doozy of an example of lying with statistics. He said (as best I remember it, the transcript is not yet on-line): “Within the next few months the Obama administration will have created more jobs in 2010 than were created during the entire Bush presidency.” Let’s leave aside the fact that it’s the American economy that creates jobs, not administrations. The idea that a president is 100 percent responsible for the American economy is so stupid that only a member of the Washington press corps could believe it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been so far in 2010 a net creation of 573,000 jobs. In the Bush years there was a net creation of 1,086,000 jobs. So if there is an average of at least 65,000 net new jobs created per month through December, Governor Kaine’s prediction will be “true” in a strictly mathematical sense.

But there’s a reason Benjamin Disraeli divided mendacity into three categories: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Tim Kaine chooses his base lines dishonestly. Yes, there has been a net of 573,000 jobs created so far in 2010. But in the last 11 months of 2009 — while Obama was president, in other words — there were 3,961,000 jobs lost. So Obama is still in the hole to the tune of 3,388,000 jobs lost on his watch. In other words, Kaine starts the job clock running for Obama only after he had been president for more than 11 months, but George Bush’s job clock started the day he took the oath of office.

Of course, the Obama administration has been blaming George Bush for everything bad that happens on Obama’s watch. But if Obama is not responsible for the job losses in his first 11 months, then, surely, the job losses in the first 11 months of the Bush administration must be Bill Clinton’s fault. Those losses amounted to 1,746,000 jobs.  That would make Bush’s net job creation 2,832,000, still far above what is likely to be achieved in 2010.

It is fortunate for Democrats, who don’t mind bamboozling easily bamboozled Washington reporters (at least when numbers are concerned) with phony statistics, that the Bush administration started just as the recession of 2000-2001 was beginning and ended just as the recession of 2007 was kicking in big time. This allows them to bury the impressive job growth of the mid-Bush years (87,000 in 2003, 2,047,000 in 2004, 2,496,000 in 2005, 2,060,000 in 2006, 1,084,000 in 2007) beneath the job losses of the beginning and end of his term. To have two serious recessions during his presidency and still have a net job growth of over a million is, in fact, rather impressive.

What could have caused it? Well, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart on monthly unemployment shows, the unemployment rate in the Bush years began to decline in mid-2003 and continued to ratchet steadily downward for four years, until the housing bubble began to collapse. What happened in mid-2003 was that the Bush tax cuts kicked in.

That, of course, could be coincidence — not causation. But I doubt it.

Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was on Fox News Sunday this morning, along with his Republican counterpart Michael Steele. Both men, of course, are in the job of boosting their parties, not giving non-tendentious analysis of the current political situation or honest predictions regarding the upcoming election. They’re in the rosy scenario business.

But Governor Kaine came up with a doozy of an example of lying with statistics. He said (as best I remember it, the transcript is not yet on-line): “Within the next few months the Obama administration will have created more jobs in 2010 than were created during the entire Bush presidency.” Let’s leave aside the fact that it’s the American economy that creates jobs, not administrations. The idea that a president is 100 percent responsible for the American economy is so stupid that only a member of the Washington press corps could believe it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been so far in 2010 a net creation of 573,000 jobs. In the Bush years there was a net creation of 1,086,000 jobs. So if there is an average of at least 65,000 net new jobs created per month through December, Governor Kaine’s prediction will be “true” in a strictly mathematical sense.

But there’s a reason Benjamin Disraeli divided mendacity into three categories: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Tim Kaine chooses his base lines dishonestly. Yes, there has been a net of 573,000 jobs created so far in 2010. But in the last 11 months of 2009 — while Obama was president, in other words — there were 3,961,000 jobs lost. So Obama is still in the hole to the tune of 3,388,000 jobs lost on his watch. In other words, Kaine starts the job clock running for Obama only after he had been president for more than 11 months, but George Bush’s job clock started the day he took the oath of office.

Of course, the Obama administration has been blaming George Bush for everything bad that happens on Obama’s watch. But if Obama is not responsible for the job losses in his first 11 months, then, surely, the job losses in the first 11 months of the Bush administration must be Bill Clinton’s fault. Those losses amounted to 1,746,000 jobs.  That would make Bush’s net job creation 2,832,000, still far above what is likely to be achieved in 2010.

It is fortunate for Democrats, who don’t mind bamboozling easily bamboozled Washington reporters (at least when numbers are concerned) with phony statistics, that the Bush administration started just as the recession of 2000-2001 was beginning and ended just as the recession of 2007 was kicking in big time. This allows them to bury the impressive job growth of the mid-Bush years (87,000 in 2003, 2,047,000 in 2004, 2,496,000 in 2005, 2,060,000 in 2006, 1,084,000 in 2007) beneath the job losses of the beginning and end of his term. To have two serious recessions during his presidency and still have a net job growth of over a million is, in fact, rather impressive.

What could have caused it? Well, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart on monthly unemployment shows, the unemployment rate in the Bush years began to decline in mid-2003 and continued to ratchet steadily downward for four years, until the housing bubble began to collapse. What happened in mid-2003 was that the Bush tax cuts kicked in.

That, of course, could be coincidence — not causation. But I doubt it.

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Obama Pleads for His Base to Turn Out

This report tells us a lot about where Obama stands politically and the degree to which he has frittered away the promise of his candidacy:

The Democratic National Committee this morning released this clip of the president rallying the troops, if rather coolly, for 2010. Obama’s express goal: “reconnecting” with the voters who voted for the first time in 2008, but who may not plan to vote in the lower-profile Congressional elections this year.

Obama speaks with unusual demographic frankness about his coalition in his appeal to “young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again.”

Several things are noteworthy. First, so much for the post-racial presidency. We are back to naked pleas for racial solidarity. This comes from a man who told us that there were no Blue States or Red States, and that we should stop carving up the electorate into ethnic and racial groups. It was moving and appropriate and now it’s inoperative.

Second, this also suggests that just about everyone else in the electorate is a lost cause — whites, men, independents, and older voters. The Obama coalition has fractured — a little later than Hillary Clinton predicted, but it has. It seems he is reduced to the core left, not a recipe for successful governance or re-election.

And finally, the Democrats are in big, big trouble if they are banking on casual voters, especially young people, to turn out in large numbers in a midterm election. I’ll go out on a limb (I really don’t have to, because you can look at the turnout in New Jersey and Virginia) — the electorate in 2010 is not going to resemble the 20o8 electorate. It will be older and more conservative. In other words, the Democrats are throwing a Hail Mary.

This report tells us a lot about where Obama stands politically and the degree to which he has frittered away the promise of his candidacy:

The Democratic National Committee this morning released this clip of the president rallying the troops, if rather coolly, for 2010. Obama’s express goal: “reconnecting” with the voters who voted for the first time in 2008, but who may not plan to vote in the lower-profile Congressional elections this year.

Obama speaks with unusual demographic frankness about his coalition in his appeal to “young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again.”

Several things are noteworthy. First, so much for the post-racial presidency. We are back to naked pleas for racial solidarity. This comes from a man who told us that there were no Blue States or Red States, and that we should stop carving up the electorate into ethnic and racial groups. It was moving and appropriate and now it’s inoperative.

Second, this also suggests that just about everyone else in the electorate is a lost cause — whites, men, independents, and older voters. The Obama coalition has fractured — a little later than Hillary Clinton predicted, but it has. It seems he is reduced to the core left, not a recipe for successful governance or re-election.

And finally, the Democrats are in big, big trouble if they are banking on casual voters, especially young people, to turn out in large numbers in a midterm election. I’ll go out on a limb (I really don’t have to, because you can look at the turnout in New Jersey and Virginia) — the electorate in 2010 is not going to resemble the 20o8 electorate. It will be older and more conservative. In other words, the Democrats are throwing a Hail Mary.

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Faking Bipartisanship

Word is leaking out: Obama is not a very sincere guy. It seems the Los Angeles Times has let on that the health-care summit is one big setup. “In a flurry of recent public appearances, Obama has sent a message that he is prepared to embrace Republican ideas. But he is also signaling that if Republicans balk at compromise, he’ll exact a political price.” And sure enough, Republicans have figured out that the health-care summit, following the unveiling of ObamaCare II (to be slammed through by reconciliation), isn’t on the level.

And a White House official cited by the Los Angeles Times demonstrates the depth of the cynicism: “The Massachusetts election obliterated the argument that we could [govern] all on our own. … What we’re doing now is actively reaching out and demonstrating our interest in bipartisanship — but not passively standing by if Republicans are not willing to meet us halfway.” In other words: do it our way, or we’ll use parliamentary tricks and try to make you other guys look intransigent.

Then the New York Times questions Rep. Paul Ryan and gets some candid answers:

Your “Road Map,” we should explain, is a somewhat alarming document that proposes, in 600-plus pages, erasing the federal deficit by radically restricting the government’s role in social programs like Social Security and Medicare. The president described it as “a serious proposal.”

Right. And then the next day his budget director starts ripping me and then the day after that the entire Democratic National Committee political machine starts launching demagogic attacks on me and my plan. So when you hear the word “bipartisanship” come from the president and then you see his political machine get in full-force attack mode, it comes across as very insincere.

He seems genuinely pained by what he has called the “obstinacy” of Congressional Republicans and their just-say-no obstructionism.

You know, casting the other side as somehow nefarious and evil and poorly intended is the oldest trick in the book.

Obama is simply doing what he always does — substituting political tactics for smart policy and at all costs avoiding any rethinking of his agenda. It’s always some new ploy with him. In the first year, Obama tried to convince us he was a moderate while pushing a very radical agenda. Now in the second year, he’s trying to convince us he’s discovered bipartisanship while resorting to some fairly blatant partisan stunts. In both cases, he imagines the voters won’t catch on. But they are smarter, I suspect, than Obama thinks. Otherwise, Year One’s trick would have worked, and we wouldn’t need the Year-Two gambit.


Word is leaking out: Obama is not a very sincere guy. It seems the Los Angeles Times has let on that the health-care summit is one big setup. “In a flurry of recent public appearances, Obama has sent a message that he is prepared to embrace Republican ideas. But he is also signaling that if Republicans balk at compromise, he’ll exact a political price.” And sure enough, Republicans have figured out that the health-care summit, following the unveiling of ObamaCare II (to be slammed through by reconciliation), isn’t on the level.

And a White House official cited by the Los Angeles Times demonstrates the depth of the cynicism: “The Massachusetts election obliterated the argument that we could [govern] all on our own. … What we’re doing now is actively reaching out and demonstrating our interest in bipartisanship — but not passively standing by if Republicans are not willing to meet us halfway.” In other words: do it our way, or we’ll use parliamentary tricks and try to make you other guys look intransigent.

Then the New York Times questions Rep. Paul Ryan and gets some candid answers:

Your “Road Map,” we should explain, is a somewhat alarming document that proposes, in 600-plus pages, erasing the federal deficit by radically restricting the government’s role in social programs like Social Security and Medicare. The president described it as “a serious proposal.”

Right. And then the next day his budget director starts ripping me and then the day after that the entire Democratic National Committee political machine starts launching demagogic attacks on me and my plan. So when you hear the word “bipartisanship” come from the president and then you see his political machine get in full-force attack mode, it comes across as very insincere.

He seems genuinely pained by what he has called the “obstinacy” of Congressional Republicans and their just-say-no obstructionism.

You know, casting the other side as somehow nefarious and evil and poorly intended is the oldest trick in the book.

Obama is simply doing what he always does — substituting political tactics for smart policy and at all costs avoiding any rethinking of his agenda. It’s always some new ploy with him. In the first year, Obama tried to convince us he was a moderate while pushing a very radical agenda. Now in the second year, he’s trying to convince us he’s discovered bipartisanship while resorting to some fairly blatant partisan stunts. In both cases, he imagines the voters won’t catch on. But they are smarter, I suspect, than Obama thinks. Otherwise, Year One’s trick would have worked, and we wouldn’t need the Year-Two gambit.


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A Whiff of Desperation in Massachusetts

Byron York relates this amusing account of the latest pull-out-all-the-stops frantic effort by Democrats in Massachusetts:

Frantic over the possibility that a Democrat might lose the race to replace Sen. Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts, the Democratic National Committee has sent its top spinner, Hari Sevugan, to the aid of Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, who appears to be rapidly losing ground to Republican Scott Brown. But what can Sevugan do to shore up Coakley’s struggling campaign? Well, he spent his first day on the job trying to tie Brown to Sarah Palin.

Early Monday afternoon, Sevugan sent out an email to reporters featuring a link to a story on the lefty website TPM. The headline: “Is Sarah Palin Avoiding Mass Senate Race?” The story quoted a Democratic strategist saying that “it’s interesting” that Palin is “nowhere to be found in this race.” TPM conceded that GOP sources say there has been “no talk” about Palin visiting Massachusetts. But that didn’t stop Sevugan, who is quoted declaring that Palin’s supporters “are anxious for her to weigh in.” At the top of his email to journalists, Sevugan wrote, “Come on, Sarah, why are you being so shy?”

And that was just the beginning, it seems, of Sevugan’s “scare the voters with Sarah” e-mails. So what does this tells us? Perhaps that the race is in fact much closer than Democrats, already smarting from a run of bad news, can take. Maybe that they’re reduced to high school tactics because the party, a mere year into the presidency of the man who was to revolutionize politics, is mired is sleazy old-school politics and is largely bereft of ideas other than “spend more money and raise taxes.” It might also signify that George W. Bush is about to be replaced by Palin as the Left’s favorite bogey-person. Not that the Left isn’t planning on running against the “Bush economy” this November, but when they need to go to the well to force their netroots off their couches and out of their moms’ basements, Bush may be losing his usefulness.

Now there’s good reason for Democrats not to talk about issues. In the debate, Martha Coakley managed a “Poland is not controlled by the Soviet Union” gaffe. It concerned her opposition to the surge in Afghanistan:

I am not sure there is a way to succeed. If the goal was and the vision in Afghanistan was to go in because we believe the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists, we supported that, I supported that goal. They are gone, they are not there anymore, they are in apparently Yemen and Pakistan. Let’s focus our efforts on where Al Qaeda is.

I think even Joe Biden knows there are al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, and of course the president supports the surge. But if the goal is to maximize the ultra-Left vote, then I suppose this, too, will get a few netroots off the couch and to the polls.  But then again, conservatives and independents who think the Christmas Day bombing was a wake-up call to get serious about the worldwide threat of Islamic fundamentalists might be charged up too.

We’ll know next week if Coakley’s cynical campaign can stumble across the finish line. If she manages to win by the standard double-digit margin in Massachusetts, all this will fade into memory. If not, Democrats will be in high panic, although it at least might get Harry Reid off the front pages.

Byron York relates this amusing account of the latest pull-out-all-the-stops frantic effort by Democrats in Massachusetts:

Frantic over the possibility that a Democrat might lose the race to replace Sen. Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts, the Democratic National Committee has sent its top spinner, Hari Sevugan, to the aid of Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, who appears to be rapidly losing ground to Republican Scott Brown. But what can Sevugan do to shore up Coakley’s struggling campaign? Well, he spent his first day on the job trying to tie Brown to Sarah Palin.

Early Monday afternoon, Sevugan sent out an email to reporters featuring a link to a story on the lefty website TPM. The headline: “Is Sarah Palin Avoiding Mass Senate Race?” The story quoted a Democratic strategist saying that “it’s interesting” that Palin is “nowhere to be found in this race.” TPM conceded that GOP sources say there has been “no talk” about Palin visiting Massachusetts. But that didn’t stop Sevugan, who is quoted declaring that Palin’s supporters “are anxious for her to weigh in.” At the top of his email to journalists, Sevugan wrote, “Come on, Sarah, why are you being so shy?”

And that was just the beginning, it seems, of Sevugan’s “scare the voters with Sarah” e-mails. So what does this tells us? Perhaps that the race is in fact much closer than Democrats, already smarting from a run of bad news, can take. Maybe that they’re reduced to high school tactics because the party, a mere year into the presidency of the man who was to revolutionize politics, is mired is sleazy old-school politics and is largely bereft of ideas other than “spend more money and raise taxes.” It might also signify that George W. Bush is about to be replaced by Palin as the Left’s favorite bogey-person. Not that the Left isn’t planning on running against the “Bush economy” this November, but when they need to go to the well to force their netroots off their couches and out of their moms’ basements, Bush may be losing his usefulness.

Now there’s good reason for Democrats not to talk about issues. In the debate, Martha Coakley managed a “Poland is not controlled by the Soviet Union” gaffe. It concerned her opposition to the surge in Afghanistan:

I am not sure there is a way to succeed. If the goal was and the vision in Afghanistan was to go in because we believe the Taliban was giving harbor to terrorists, we supported that, I supported that goal. They are gone, they are not there anymore, they are in apparently Yemen and Pakistan. Let’s focus our efforts on where Al Qaeda is.

I think even Joe Biden knows there are al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, and of course the president supports the surge. But if the goal is to maximize the ultra-Left vote, then I suppose this, too, will get a few netroots off the couch and to the polls.  But then again, conservatives and independents who think the Christmas Day bombing was a wake-up call to get serious about the worldwide threat of Islamic fundamentalists might be charged up too.

We’ll know next week if Coakley’s cynical campaign can stumble across the finish line. If she manages to win by the standard double-digit margin in Massachusetts, all this will fade into memory. If not, Democrats will be in high panic, although it at least might get Harry Reid off the front pages.

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I, Wexler

All day yesterday, the Democratic National Committee deliberated on how to resolve the dispute over seating delegates in Florida and Michigan.  The process was choreographed to look like a better-attended Senate hearing, with a panel of DNC big shots hearing testimony from superdelegates affiliated with both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns.  (Appropriately, CNN’s kindly but profoundly uninspired Wolf Blitzer covered the proceedings with exuberance befitting late-night C-SPAN programming.)

The Obama and Clinton campaigns were divided as to how the delegate dispute should be resolved. Clinton’s supporters demanded that the results of both states’ primaries be counted, and that delegates be awarded in full. Obama’s supporters disagreed, arguing that Obama had followed the party’s rules against counting Florida and Michigan’s early primaries when he declined to campaign in either state.  Still, “party unity” remained the all-important catchphrase of the day, and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) thus offered an “extraordinary concession” on behalf of the Obama campaign: that Florida’s delegation be seated at half-strength, which was the solution that the DNC ultimately adopted for both disputed states.

Of course, this was the most reasonable solution-as well as identical to the approach that Republicans adopted five months ago when confronted with Florida and Michigan‘s rule-breaking early primaries.  But somewhere within Wexler’s screaming “testimony,” the topic of discussion veered from how to resolve the delegate dispute to a show of maniacal self-aggrandizement:

We’ve talked today about voters’ rights.  No one in the state of Florida has championed voters’ rights more than I.  The irony … this voter-verifiable bill that has been talked about today, there was one person respectfully in the state of Florida who for five years fought for the right of Floridians to have their vote counted and verified and you’re looking at him.  And when I lost, when I got beat, when I got beat by that same Republican legislature and that governor Jeb Bush in Florida, I took my case to court, every way up the state court, every way up the federal court, and we didn’t prevail.  And finally, when we had a new governor, I prevailed on that new Republican governor to give Floridians to the right to have their vote counted by a voter-verified paper trail.  There is nobody more committed to that than me.  That, respectfully, may be one of the reasons why Senator Obama chose me to be here today. . .

This is only the latest in Rep. Wexler’s long history of making every issue in which he becomes involved all about him.

All day yesterday, the Democratic National Committee deliberated on how to resolve the dispute over seating delegates in Florida and Michigan.  The process was choreographed to look like a better-attended Senate hearing, with a panel of DNC big shots hearing testimony from superdelegates affiliated with both the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns.  (Appropriately, CNN’s kindly but profoundly uninspired Wolf Blitzer covered the proceedings with exuberance befitting late-night C-SPAN programming.)

The Obama and Clinton campaigns were divided as to how the delegate dispute should be resolved. Clinton’s supporters demanded that the results of both states’ primaries be counted, and that delegates be awarded in full. Obama’s supporters disagreed, arguing that Obama had followed the party’s rules against counting Florida and Michigan’s early primaries when he declined to campaign in either state.  Still, “party unity” remained the all-important catchphrase of the day, and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) thus offered an “extraordinary concession” on behalf of the Obama campaign: that Florida’s delegation be seated at half-strength, which was the solution that the DNC ultimately adopted for both disputed states.

Of course, this was the most reasonable solution-as well as identical to the approach that Republicans adopted five months ago when confronted with Florida and Michigan‘s rule-breaking early primaries.  But somewhere within Wexler’s screaming “testimony,” the topic of discussion veered from how to resolve the delegate dispute to a show of maniacal self-aggrandizement:

We’ve talked today about voters’ rights.  No one in the state of Florida has championed voters’ rights more than I.  The irony … this voter-verifiable bill that has been talked about today, there was one person respectfully in the state of Florida who for five years fought for the right of Floridians to have their vote counted and verified and you’re looking at him.  And when I lost, when I got beat, when I got beat by that same Republican legislature and that governor Jeb Bush in Florida, I took my case to court, every way up the state court, every way up the federal court, and we didn’t prevail.  And finally, when we had a new governor, I prevailed on that new Republican governor to give Floridians to the right to have their vote counted by a voter-verified paper trail.  There is nobody more committed to that than me.  That, respectfully, may be one of the reasons why Senator Obama chose me to be here today. . .

This is only the latest in Rep. Wexler’s long history of making every issue in which he becomes involved all about him.

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Hillary, Apologize to the People of Zimbabwe

Here’s what Hillary Clinton said yesterday, speaking of the Democratic National Committee’s refusal to seat delegates elected in the rogue Florida and Michigan Democratic primaries:

“We’re seeing that right now in Zimbabwe,” Clinton explained. “Tragically, an election was held, the president lost, they refused to abide by the will of the people,” Clinton told the crowd of senior citizens at a retirement community in south Florida.

Last time I checked, dozens of Clinton supporters had not been murdered, thousands had not been driven from their homes, and Clinton has neither survived three assassination attempts nor is she living in exile in fear of encountering another. Also, Obama (who reads as Robert Mugabe in this account) has not in any sense lost the Democratic nomination–he’s the presumed nominee, fair and square.

This really is a new low in Hillary Clinton’s public life. The failure of state and national party officers to to resolve a bureaucratic mishap, however stubborn these individuals may be, does not in any sense compare to the eight-year campaign of forced starvation, destruction, murder, and outright election theft that has transpired under the regime of Robert Mugabe, particularly in the last two months. Even Clinton’s most passionate defenders must feel dismayed at how utterly pathetic their candidate has become.

Here’s what Hillary Clinton said yesterday, speaking of the Democratic National Committee’s refusal to seat delegates elected in the rogue Florida and Michigan Democratic primaries:

“We’re seeing that right now in Zimbabwe,” Clinton explained. “Tragically, an election was held, the president lost, they refused to abide by the will of the people,” Clinton told the crowd of senior citizens at a retirement community in south Florida.

Last time I checked, dozens of Clinton supporters had not been murdered, thousands had not been driven from their homes, and Clinton has neither survived three assassination attempts nor is she living in exile in fear of encountering another. Also, Obama (who reads as Robert Mugabe in this account) has not in any sense lost the Democratic nomination–he’s the presumed nominee, fair and square.

This really is a new low in Hillary Clinton’s public life. The failure of state and national party officers to to resolve a bureaucratic mishap, however stubborn these individuals may be, does not in any sense compare to the eight-year campaign of forced starvation, destruction, murder, and outright election theft that has transpired under the regime of Robert Mugabe, particularly in the last two months. Even Clinton’s most passionate defenders must feel dismayed at how utterly pathetic their candidate has become.

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Playing Not To Lose

Michigan has joined Florida in failing to reach an agreement on a re-vote. It’s obvious why: the Obama camp has no interest in any solution which could give Hillary Clinton more states and delegates. Clinton is in full outrage mode, declaring during a campaign stop in Indiana:

I do not see how two of our largest and most significant states can be disenfranchised and left out of the process of picking our nominee without raising serious questions about the legitimacy of that nominee. So again, I would call on Senator Obama to join me in supporting the rights of the people of Michigan and Florida to have their voices and their votes counted. I have, as the Democratic National Committee has, come out in favor of an effort for a re-vote in Michigan. I do not understand what Senator Obama is afraid of, but it is going to hurt our party and our chances in November and so I would call on him, once again, to join me in giving the people of Florida and Michigan the chance to be counted as we move forward in this nominating process.

She is right that Obama is taking a risk, in essence betting that the superdelegates and regular voters won’t perceive this as a sign of tremendous anxiety about his electability. He is also betting that neither state’s voters will care when the general election rolls around. If the logjam is not resolved Clinton will no doubt continue to press her case to the DNC. If she succeeds in knocking down Obama’s pledged delegate lead by a few dozen, she will then contend that the critical superdelegates should no longer consider Obama “ahead.” The argument will go: they cannot “follow the people’s votes” if all the people aren’t voting. In short, she will try to convince the superdelegates that Obama’s pledged delegate lead is artificial and illegitimate. Will they buy it? It depends on how many states she wins between now and then and how far he sinks in the polls, I think.

Will Florida and Michigan hold a grudge in November if Obama is the nominee? Given that Michigan insists on re-electing Democrats, no matter how incompetent and adverse to their economic interests, it is unlikely it will make much of a difference there. Florida is another story: McCain–who already has a foothold among Hispanics, seniors, and military voters–would, I suspect, like nothing better that to campaign against a candidate who snubbed the state.

Michigan has joined Florida in failing to reach an agreement on a re-vote. It’s obvious why: the Obama camp has no interest in any solution which could give Hillary Clinton more states and delegates. Clinton is in full outrage mode, declaring during a campaign stop in Indiana:

I do not see how two of our largest and most significant states can be disenfranchised and left out of the process of picking our nominee without raising serious questions about the legitimacy of that nominee. So again, I would call on Senator Obama to join me in supporting the rights of the people of Michigan and Florida to have their voices and their votes counted. I have, as the Democratic National Committee has, come out in favor of an effort for a re-vote in Michigan. I do not understand what Senator Obama is afraid of, but it is going to hurt our party and our chances in November and so I would call on him, once again, to join me in giving the people of Florida and Michigan the chance to be counted as we move forward in this nominating process.

She is right that Obama is taking a risk, in essence betting that the superdelegates and regular voters won’t perceive this as a sign of tremendous anxiety about his electability. He is also betting that neither state’s voters will care when the general election rolls around. If the logjam is not resolved Clinton will no doubt continue to press her case to the DNC. If she succeeds in knocking down Obama’s pledged delegate lead by a few dozen, she will then contend that the critical superdelegates should no longer consider Obama “ahead.” The argument will go: they cannot “follow the people’s votes” if all the people aren’t voting. In short, she will try to convince the superdelegates that Obama’s pledged delegate lead is artificial and illegitimate. Will they buy it? It depends on how many states she wins between now and then and how far he sinks in the polls, I think.

Will Florida and Michigan hold a grudge in November if Obama is the nominee? Given that Michigan insists on re-electing Democrats, no matter how incompetent and adverse to their economic interests, it is unlikely it will make much of a difference there. Florida is another story: McCain–who already has a foothold among Hispanics, seniors, and military voters–would, I suspect, like nothing better that to campaign against a candidate who snubbed the state.

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Evaluating Edwards’s End

Dan Gerstein, a former political adviser to Senator Joe Lieberman, had an illuminating column over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal about the demise of John Edwards’s presidential campaign. He described the former North Carolina Senator as “the angry spear carrier of the hard-line left, running on a dark, conspiratorial form of populism,” one of the best characterizations of Edwards I’ve read. Gerstein’s thesis is that the failure of Edwards’s campaign sounds the death knell for the liberal netroots’ influence on our national discussion. It is the end, as he puts it, of the “politics of Kos.”

Would that it were so. While it’s no doubt true that the implosion of the second Edwards presidential candidacy spelled a stunning defeat for the netleft, (which had invested hopes in Edwards from the start and whose rhetoric most matched their own), the netroots have faced seemingly more significant defeats in the past and still overcome them. Howard Dean, whom Gerstein neglects to mention, was the candidate of this constituency. Yet his failure to win the nomination did not prevent his ascension to Democratic National Committee Chairman. Nor did it temper the attitude of the angry left or the emergence of an angry left candidate the next time around. As Charles Krauthammer brilliantly documented last week, Edwards’s campaign was the apotheosis of shamelessness, as the man reversed himself on nearly every significant political issue in order to appeal to the resentful wing of the Democratic Party. “He is angry,” Krauthammer wrote, “embodying the familiar zeal of the convert, ready to immolate anyone who benightedly holds to any revelation other than the zealot’s very latest.” The same could be said of the Kos crowd.

Gerstein trumpets the simultaneous rise of Barack Obama, with his emphasis on reconciliation and unity, as further indication of the death of the angry left. It’s true that Obama never had a warm relationship with the netroots, as my colleague Brad Plumer reports in the current New Republic. This was a wise tactical decision on Obama’s part. But while  Obama has certainly appealed to some conservatives with his message of “hope,” he is still a political neophyte whom it’s too early to assume won’t prove Gerstein wrong: last week, he welcomed the endorsement of MoveOn.org (just as much a part of the angry left blogosphere as the Daily Kos). The end of John Edwards’s presidential campaign represents a temporary defeat for the angry left. But it’s premature to conclude that this political temperament has expired.

Dan Gerstein, a former political adviser to Senator Joe Lieberman, had an illuminating column over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal about the demise of John Edwards’s presidential campaign. He described the former North Carolina Senator as “the angry spear carrier of the hard-line left, running on a dark, conspiratorial form of populism,” one of the best characterizations of Edwards I’ve read. Gerstein’s thesis is that the failure of Edwards’s campaign sounds the death knell for the liberal netroots’ influence on our national discussion. It is the end, as he puts it, of the “politics of Kos.”

Would that it were so. While it’s no doubt true that the implosion of the second Edwards presidential candidacy spelled a stunning defeat for the netleft, (which had invested hopes in Edwards from the start and whose rhetoric most matched their own), the netroots have faced seemingly more significant defeats in the past and still overcome them. Howard Dean, whom Gerstein neglects to mention, was the candidate of this constituency. Yet his failure to win the nomination did not prevent his ascension to Democratic National Committee Chairman. Nor did it temper the attitude of the angry left or the emergence of an angry left candidate the next time around. As Charles Krauthammer brilliantly documented last week, Edwards’s campaign was the apotheosis of shamelessness, as the man reversed himself on nearly every significant political issue in order to appeal to the resentful wing of the Democratic Party. “He is angry,” Krauthammer wrote, “embodying the familiar zeal of the convert, ready to immolate anyone who benightedly holds to any revelation other than the zealot’s very latest.” The same could be said of the Kos crowd.

Gerstein trumpets the simultaneous rise of Barack Obama, with his emphasis on reconciliation and unity, as further indication of the death of the angry left. It’s true that Obama never had a warm relationship with the netroots, as my colleague Brad Plumer reports in the current New Republic. This was a wise tactical decision on Obama’s part. But while  Obama has certainly appealed to some conservatives with his message of “hope,” he is still a political neophyte whom it’s too early to assume won’t prove Gerstein wrong: last week, he welcomed the endorsement of MoveOn.org (just as much a part of the angry left blogosphere as the Daily Kos). The end of John Edwards’s presidential campaign represents a temporary defeat for the angry left. But it’s premature to conclude that this political temperament has expired.

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McCain in Michigan

Independents are a huge factor in Michigan, and the reason why I think John McCain will win there next week. The Democratic primary is non-existent this year. When Michigan ignored the Democratic National Committee and moved up its primary date to January, the DNC punished it by taking away its 156 delegates from the convention.  The only names on the Democratic ballot will be Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd. Barack Obama is not even contesting there. Like New Hampshire, Michigan allows its registered independents to vote in either primary. That means they go to McCain (who won the state in 2000 in part due to an independent vote) in what would otherwise be a tight race for GOP voters among McCain, Huckabee, and Romney.

Independents are a huge factor in Michigan, and the reason why I think John McCain will win there next week. The Democratic primary is non-existent this year. When Michigan ignored the Democratic National Committee and moved up its primary date to January, the DNC punished it by taking away its 156 delegates from the convention.  The only names on the Democratic ballot will be Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd. Barack Obama is not even contesting there. Like New Hampshire, Michigan allows its registered independents to vote in either primary. That means they go to McCain (who won the state in 2000 in part due to an independent vote) in what would otherwise be a tight race for GOP voters among McCain, Huckabee, and Romney.

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