Commentary Magazine


Topic: Indiana

Flotsam and Jetsam

A sharp observer has figured out how to cut through the Palestinian-Israel impasse.

Someone else has figured out that George Mitchell was fibbing when he extolled all that progress in the non-peace talks. “What was your reaction last month when you heard how well the talks had gone between Israel and the ‘Palestinians’? Did you flinch? Did you snicker? Did you doubt the reports? Whatever your reaction was, I have what should be unsurprising news for you. The talks did not go well. … Five Israeli and foreign diplomats, who were briefed about the Netanyahu-Abbas meetings by one of the parties or by senior American officials, said prospects for progress in the talks remained gloomy, even if the construction crisis were solved.”

The AP has figured out that ObamaCare is a bust. “It’s a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable. But the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn’t living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own “high-risk pools” have pointed out potential problems.”

The Democrats have figured out that the Senate seats in North Dakota, Indiana, and Arkansas are lost.

Mara Liasson has figured out that it is a “bad, bad landscape” for the Democrats.

I don’t suppose the Democrats have figured out that Robert Gibbs’s sneering demeanor and contempt for ordinary Americans are unattractive. They now want to make him the face of the Democratic Party. In a way, it’s appropriate.

David Aaron Miller has figured out that direct negotiations aren’t the key to peace in the Middle East, settlements aren’t the stumbling block to a peace deal, and pressuring Israel isn’t the way to get one either. What’s more, he says: “Arab-Israeli peace will not stabilize Afghanistan or facilitate an extrication of U.S. forces from there. It will not create a viable political contract among Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. It will not stop Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon. It will not force Arab states to respect human rights.” With apologies to the late and great Irving Kristol, I suppose a neocon is a peace processor who’s been mugged by reality.

By now, you’d think that ABC execs would have figured out what an unmitigated disaster Christiane Amanpour is as host of This Week.

Yuval Levin explains that once younger voters have fully figured out Obamanomics, they won’t be just apathetic; they’ll be angry. “[I]t is precisely younger Americans who should be most distressed by Obama’s agenda and governing choices as president: Their future is at stake, and they are on the losing end of his key policies. … The fact is that the implicit ideal of the left—the European-style social-democratic welfare state—is hostile to the young and to future generations. It prioritizes present benefits over future growth, present retirees over productive workers, and the present generation over those to come. No society can remain wealthy and strong with such distorted priorities.”

A sharp observer has figured out how to cut through the Palestinian-Israel impasse.

Someone else has figured out that George Mitchell was fibbing when he extolled all that progress in the non-peace talks. “What was your reaction last month when you heard how well the talks had gone between Israel and the ‘Palestinians’? Did you flinch? Did you snicker? Did you doubt the reports? Whatever your reaction was, I have what should be unsurprising news for you. The talks did not go well. … Five Israeli and foreign diplomats, who were briefed about the Netanyahu-Abbas meetings by one of the parties or by senior American officials, said prospects for progress in the talks remained gloomy, even if the construction crisis were solved.”

The AP has figured out that ObamaCare is a bust. “It’s a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health care remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable. But the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan started this summer isn’t living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own “high-risk pools” have pointed out potential problems.”

The Democrats have figured out that the Senate seats in North Dakota, Indiana, and Arkansas are lost.

Mara Liasson has figured out that it is a “bad, bad landscape” for the Democrats.

I don’t suppose the Democrats have figured out that Robert Gibbs’s sneering demeanor and contempt for ordinary Americans are unattractive. They now want to make him the face of the Democratic Party. In a way, it’s appropriate.

David Aaron Miller has figured out that direct negotiations aren’t the key to peace in the Middle East, settlements aren’t the stumbling block to a peace deal, and pressuring Israel isn’t the way to get one either. What’s more, he says: “Arab-Israeli peace will not stabilize Afghanistan or facilitate an extrication of U.S. forces from there. It will not create a viable political contract among Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. It will not stop Iran from acquiring enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon. It will not force Arab states to respect human rights.” With apologies to the late and great Irving Kristol, I suppose a neocon is a peace processor who’s been mugged by reality.

By now, you’d think that ABC execs would have figured out what an unmitigated disaster Christiane Amanpour is as host of This Week.

Yuval Levin explains that once younger voters have fully figured out Obamanomics, they won’t be just apathetic; they’ll be angry. “[I]t is precisely younger Americans who should be most distressed by Obama’s agenda and governing choices as president: Their future is at stake, and they are on the losing end of his key policies. … The fact is that the implicit ideal of the left—the European-style social-democratic welfare state—is hostile to the young and to future generations. It prioritizes present benefits over future growth, present retirees over productive workers, and the present generation over those to come. No society can remain wealthy and strong with such distorted priorities.”

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How the GOP Gets to 10 Without Delaware

The GOP’s Senate prospects are looking up. New polling shows Republicans with solid leads in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Add to those Indiana, Arkansas, and North Dakota, which look like they’re in the bag for the GOP. West Virginia is now looking very gettable for the GOP as well. That’s seven. The Senate majority flips if the GOP snags three more from among the next batch of most-viable pickups: Illinois, Nevada, Washington, Connecticut, and California. That is quite doable. And should the GOP fall one short, might Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman switch sides?

The Democrats whooped it up after Delaware, convinced that Christine O’Donnell’s victory would somehow turn off voters in other states. It hasn’t happened. And now Delaware may not even be essential to a Republican takeover of the Senate.

The GOP’s Senate prospects are looking up. New polling shows Republicans with solid leads in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Add to those Indiana, Arkansas, and North Dakota, which look like they’re in the bag for the GOP. West Virginia is now looking very gettable for the GOP as well. That’s seven. The Senate majority flips if the GOP snags three more from among the next batch of most-viable pickups: Illinois, Nevada, Washington, Connecticut, and California. That is quite doable. And should the GOP fall one short, might Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman switch sides?

The Democrats whooped it up after Delaware, convinced that Christine O’Donnell’s victory would somehow turn off voters in other states. It hasn’t happened. And now Delaware may not even be essential to a Republican takeover of the Senate.

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False Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Senate Slipping Away from the Dems

Liberals got very excited when Delaware Republicans made an imprudent selection in the Senate primary. They proclaimed the Senate was now “safe.” Not so fast.

Today we see that Richard Blumenthal’s lead has been cut to three points in Connecticut (voters in this solid Blue state disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 51-to-45 margin), Republican John Raese has moved ahead in West Virginia, and Russ Feingold now trails by eight points. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Ken Buck leads Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet by four points, Mark Kirk narrowly leads (42 to 40 percent) in Illinois, and Dino Rossi is only one point back in Washington.

There are no Republican Senate seats that look at risk at this point. (Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Alaska, and New Hampshire look safe for the GOP.) Here are the list of Democratic seats in which the GOP challenger is ahead or within the margin of error in recent polling: Arkansas, North Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, West Virginia, and Washington. Meanwhile, the races in California and New York remain competitive. Put another way, there are less than 50 safe Democratic seats at this point. Of the 13 Republican seats I have listed, the GOP can lose three and still win the Senate. The GOP sure would have liked to have Delaware in the bag, but it may not be necessary.

Liberals got very excited when Delaware Republicans made an imprudent selection in the Senate primary. They proclaimed the Senate was now “safe.” Not so fast.

Today we see that Richard Blumenthal’s lead has been cut to three points in Connecticut (voters in this solid Blue state disapprove of Obama’s performance by a 51-to-45 margin), Republican John Raese has moved ahead in West Virginia, and Russ Feingold now trails by eight points. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Ken Buck leads Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet by four points, Mark Kirk narrowly leads (42 to 40 percent) in Illinois, and Dino Rossi is only one point back in Washington.

There are no Republican Senate seats that look at risk at this point. (Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Alaska, and New Hampshire look safe for the GOP.) Here are the list of Democratic seats in which the GOP challenger is ahead or within the margin of error in recent polling: Arkansas, North Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, West Virginia, and Washington. Meanwhile, the races in California and New York remain competitive. Put another way, there are less than 50 safe Democratic seats at this point. Of the 13 Republican seats I have listed, the GOP can lose three and still win the Senate. The GOP sure would have liked to have Delaware in the bag, but it may not be necessary.

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How to Get to 10

The Democrats have been throwing confetti since the nomination of Christine O’Donnell. And, sure enough, she is down by double digits relative to her Democratic opponent. But there is, as Public Policy Polling points out, more than one path to a GOP takeover of the Senate:

John Raese [is] up 46-43 on Joe Manchin, a result within the poll’s margin of error.The contest provides a fascinating choice for voters in the state who love their Democratic Governor but hate the party’s ranks in Washington DC that he would be joining. … Barack Obama’s approval rating in the state is just 30% with 64% of voters disapproving of him. Even within his own party barely half of voters, at 51%, like the job he’s doing.

Today PPP, the new pollster at Daily Kos (the last one was fired and sued), adds this startling poll result:

An enormous enthusiasm gap, coupled with a Republican nominee fresh from a decisive primary win and unsullied by the primary process, has catapulted Republican nominee Ron Johnson to a double-digit advantage over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold [52 to 1 percent], according to PPP’s poll of the state on behalf of Daily Kos.

And in California, Carly Fiorina is deadlocked with Barbara Boxer. We also learn that Joe Miller is well ahead of his Democratic opponent and sore loser Lisa Murkowski.

Here then is the way to 10: Indiana, North Dakota, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, California, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado. At this point, Washington is a possibility but looks the diciest for the GOP. But, heck, even if the Republicans got to nine, maybe Joe Lieberman would consider switching his party. Or Ben Nelson. Is it likely that the GOP will run the table? No. But if either of the parties has a reason to celebrate, it is the GOP.

The Democrats have been throwing confetti since the nomination of Christine O’Donnell. And, sure enough, she is down by double digits relative to her Democratic opponent. But there is, as Public Policy Polling points out, more than one path to a GOP takeover of the Senate:

John Raese [is] up 46-43 on Joe Manchin, a result within the poll’s margin of error.The contest provides a fascinating choice for voters in the state who love their Democratic Governor but hate the party’s ranks in Washington DC that he would be joining. … Barack Obama’s approval rating in the state is just 30% with 64% of voters disapproving of him. Even within his own party barely half of voters, at 51%, like the job he’s doing.

Today PPP, the new pollster at Daily Kos (the last one was fired and sued), adds this startling poll result:

An enormous enthusiasm gap, coupled with a Republican nominee fresh from a decisive primary win and unsullied by the primary process, has catapulted Republican nominee Ron Johnson to a double-digit advantage over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold [52 to 1 percent], according to PPP’s poll of the state on behalf of Daily Kos.

And in California, Carly Fiorina is deadlocked with Barbara Boxer. We also learn that Joe Miller is well ahead of his Democratic opponent and sore loser Lisa Murkowski.

Here then is the way to 10: Indiana, North Dakota, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, California, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado. At this point, Washington is a possibility but looks the diciest for the GOP. But, heck, even if the Republicans got to nine, maybe Joe Lieberman would consider switching his party. Or Ben Nelson. Is it likely that the GOP will run the table? No. But if either of the parties has a reason to celebrate, it is the GOP.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Good advice to conservative pundits from Michael Gerson (in defending Karl Rove): “[A commentator] owes his readers or viewers his best judgment — which means he cannot simply be a tool of someone else’s ideological agenda. Some conservatives have adopted the Bolshevik approach to information and the media: Every personal feeling, every independent thought, every inconvenient fact, must be subordinated to the party line — the Tea Party line.” Read the whole thing.

Good time, actually, for those ferocious Rove critics to apologize. It seems she is a loon: “The story of Christine O’Donnell’s past got a little stranger Friday. Bill Maher — on whose former show, ‘Politically Incorrect,’ O’Donnell appeared repeatedly in the late 1990s — showed a previously unaired clip from Oct. 29, 1999, on his current HBO program, ‘Real Time,’ in which the GOP Senate nominee from Delaware said she ‘dabbled into witchcraft.”’

Good line from Mitt Romney at the Value Voters Summit: “Welcome to the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid-President Obama farewell party. This has been a pretty tough year for those three—their numbers have gone down the chute faster than a Jet Blue flight attendant.” And a good speech on Obamanomics.

Good critique of the problem(s) with Newt Gingrich: “Like the former and would-be next California governor [Jerry Brown], Gingrich talks big, but has no loyalty to his ideas. He was for tax cuts before he was against them. He supported a $35,000 congressional pay raise and leaner government. Like Brown, Gingrich’s real skill has been in seeing a trend early and jumping on it, unencumbered by any past positions. … The last time Gingrich set out to save America, he ended up burning his career. He taught a college course called ‘Renewing American Civilization.’ That would not have been a problem except that this modern-day John Adams felt the need to raise $300,000 and $450,000 to bankroll his discourses on American ‘core values.’ That’s a long pricey schlep from the log cabin.”

Good move. “Since General Petraeus took on the commander’s job in June, several aides said, the president has struck a more deferential tone toward him than he used with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, General Petraeus’s predecessor. Often during pauses in meetings, one White House official said, Mr. Obama will stop and say, ‘Dave, what do you think?'” Less Axelrod and Emanuel and more Petraeus, and we might win this.

Good golly. “Two Los Angeles departments have received $111 million in federal stimulus funds yet have created only 55 jobs so far, according to a pair of reports issued Thursday by City Controller Wendy Greuel.”

Good luck to Tom Joscelyn trying to explain to David Ignatius (and the Obami): “For the umpteenth time, Iran is not on our side in Afghanistan. They are currently allied with the Taliban, the mullahs’ one-time enemy. Iran is not going to help us ‘undermine the Taliban.’ They are working with the Taliban to undermine the U.S.-led coalition.”

Good job, Madam Speaker! Now 38 Democrats favor full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Maybe more: “Other Democrats have indicated privately that they prefer an extension instead of allowing rates to expire for top earners, and Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who heads Democratic campaign efforts, has argued behind closed doors for taking a political issue off the table by giving a short reprieve to wealthy folks before the midterm elections.”

Good for her. “A politically vulnerable Democratic lawmaker blasted her party’s House leadership as she demanded a vote to cut the salaries of lawmakers by $8,700 next year. In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) pressured Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to hold a vote on her bill to cut congressional pay by five percent and save taxpayers $4.7 million next year before Congress breaks for its fall recess.”

Good for him. Greg Sargent rises above partisan cheerleading: “It isn’t every day that Democrats target Latino challengers with nasty anti-immigrant ads, but these are apparently desperate times for certain embattled Dems. … [Rep. Walt] Minnick apparently sees the need to run an ad that stinks of fear and desperation. Quite a specimen.”

Good news for Republicans in the Hoosier state: “The Indiana Senate seat now held by Democrat Evan Bayh remains a likely Republican pickup on Election Day. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Indiana finds Republican Dan Coats leading Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth 50% to 34% in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Goodbye, Charlie: “Gov. Charlie Crist and the disgraced former chairman of the Florida Republican Party took family vacations on party money, an audit released Friday shows. The two men and their families vacationed at Disney World in June 2009 and put the $13,435.99 bill on the party’s American Express credit card, the audit found. Greer also took three personal vacations to fashionable Fisher Island near Miami Beach, one including Crist, at a cost of $10,992.17, auditors reported.”

Good advice to conservative pundits from Michael Gerson (in defending Karl Rove): “[A commentator] owes his readers or viewers his best judgment — which means he cannot simply be a tool of someone else’s ideological agenda. Some conservatives have adopted the Bolshevik approach to information and the media: Every personal feeling, every independent thought, every inconvenient fact, must be subordinated to the party line — the Tea Party line.” Read the whole thing.

Good time, actually, for those ferocious Rove critics to apologize. It seems she is a loon: “The story of Christine O’Donnell’s past got a little stranger Friday. Bill Maher — on whose former show, ‘Politically Incorrect,’ O’Donnell appeared repeatedly in the late 1990s — showed a previously unaired clip from Oct. 29, 1999, on his current HBO program, ‘Real Time,’ in which the GOP Senate nominee from Delaware said she ‘dabbled into witchcraft.”’

Good line from Mitt Romney at the Value Voters Summit: “Welcome to the Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid-President Obama farewell party. This has been a pretty tough year for those three—their numbers have gone down the chute faster than a Jet Blue flight attendant.” And a good speech on Obamanomics.

Good critique of the problem(s) with Newt Gingrich: “Like the former and would-be next California governor [Jerry Brown], Gingrich talks big, but has no loyalty to his ideas. He was for tax cuts before he was against them. He supported a $35,000 congressional pay raise and leaner government. Like Brown, Gingrich’s real skill has been in seeing a trend early and jumping on it, unencumbered by any past positions. … The last time Gingrich set out to save America, he ended up burning his career. He taught a college course called ‘Renewing American Civilization.’ That would not have been a problem except that this modern-day John Adams felt the need to raise $300,000 and $450,000 to bankroll his discourses on American ‘core values.’ That’s a long pricey schlep from the log cabin.”

Good move. “Since General Petraeus took on the commander’s job in June, several aides said, the president has struck a more deferential tone toward him than he used with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, General Petraeus’s predecessor. Often during pauses in meetings, one White House official said, Mr. Obama will stop and say, ‘Dave, what do you think?'” Less Axelrod and Emanuel and more Petraeus, and we might win this.

Good golly. “Two Los Angeles departments have received $111 million in federal stimulus funds yet have created only 55 jobs so far, according to a pair of reports issued Thursday by City Controller Wendy Greuel.”

Good luck to Tom Joscelyn trying to explain to David Ignatius (and the Obami): “For the umpteenth time, Iran is not on our side in Afghanistan. They are currently allied with the Taliban, the mullahs’ one-time enemy. Iran is not going to help us ‘undermine the Taliban.’ They are working with the Taliban to undermine the U.S.-led coalition.”

Good job, Madam Speaker! Now 38 Democrats favor full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Maybe more: “Other Democrats have indicated privately that they prefer an extension instead of allowing rates to expire for top earners, and Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who heads Democratic campaign efforts, has argued behind closed doors for taking a political issue off the table by giving a short reprieve to wealthy folks before the midterm elections.”

Good for her. “A politically vulnerable Democratic lawmaker blasted her party’s House leadership as she demanded a vote to cut the salaries of lawmakers by $8,700 next year. In a letter sent Thursday afternoon, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) pressured Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to hold a vote on her bill to cut congressional pay by five percent and save taxpayers $4.7 million next year before Congress breaks for its fall recess.”

Good for him. Greg Sargent rises above partisan cheerleading: “It isn’t every day that Democrats target Latino challengers with nasty anti-immigrant ads, but these are apparently desperate times for certain embattled Dems. … [Rep. Walt] Minnick apparently sees the need to run an ad that stinks of fear and desperation. Quite a specimen.”

Good news for Republicans in the Hoosier state: “The Indiana Senate seat now held by Democrat Evan Bayh remains a likely Republican pickup on Election Day. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Indiana finds Republican Dan Coats leading Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth 50% to 34% in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Goodbye, Charlie: “Gov. Charlie Crist and the disgraced former chairman of the Florida Republican Party took family vacations on party money, an audit released Friday shows. The two men and their families vacationed at Disney World in June 2009 and put the $13,435.99 bill on the party’s American Express credit card, the audit found. Greer also took three personal vacations to fashionable Fisher Island near Miami Beach, one including Crist, at a cost of $10,992.17, auditors reported.”

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The Playing Field Shifts

Delaware may not be doable for the Republicans, but take a look at Wisconsin: “After a decisive win in Tuesday’s Republican Primary, businessman Ron Johnson now holds a seven-point lead over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race.” This may be part of a post-primary-vote bump, but still.

The Republicans need 10 seats to take the Senate. (I will put aside the possibility of a Joe Lieberman party switch.) Here are nine: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Add either Washington or West Virginia and the GOP gets to 10. Hard? Yes. Impossible? Hardly.

Delaware may not be doable for the Republicans, but take a look at Wisconsin: “After a decisive win in Tuesday’s Republican Primary, businessman Ron Johnson now holds a seven-point lead over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race.” This may be part of a post-primary-vote bump, but still.

The Republicans need 10 seats to take the Senate. (I will put aside the possibility of a Joe Lieberman party switch.) Here are nine: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Add either Washington or West Virginia and the GOP gets to 10. Hard? Yes. Impossible? Hardly.

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Um, Delaware Is a Really Blue State

While the GOP may have blown a single Senate seat, there’s no doubt which party is sitting pretty right now. A sea of Red in the RealClearPolitics polls and new polling from CNN confirms that Democrats stand to lose big in the Senate. Yes, it is a ray of sunshine when the Democrats think they have a good shot to keep Delaware in the Blue, but, guys, that’s akin to Republicans celebrating because they now have a good feeling about Mississippi.

Other than Nancy Pelosi voicing the mandatory optimism about the House, there seems to be no one predicting that can be saved. In fact, the media are largely ignoring the House contests, a surefire sign things are going badly for the Democrats. Not waiting for the Christmas rush, moderate Democrats are refusing to embrace the Obama stimulus, and one of Pelosi’s members is even backing repeal of ObamaCare.

The basic narrative of the election is set. The question remains how extensive the damage to the Democrats will be. And that does depend on the talent of individual candidates. Christine O’Donnell isn’t likely to make it, but before they pop open the champagne, Democrats might want to consider what is going on in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In not a single one does the Democrat have a lead outside the margin of error. In a number, the Republican has a commanding lead. In others such as Colorado, the Tea Party–endorsed candidate is starting to pull away. It’s obvious which party is in a commanding position.

While the GOP may have blown a single Senate seat, there’s no doubt which party is sitting pretty right now. A sea of Red in the RealClearPolitics polls and new polling from CNN confirms that Democrats stand to lose big in the Senate. Yes, it is a ray of sunshine when the Democrats think they have a good shot to keep Delaware in the Blue, but, guys, that’s akin to Republicans celebrating because they now have a good feeling about Mississippi.

Other than Nancy Pelosi voicing the mandatory optimism about the House, there seems to be no one predicting that can be saved. In fact, the media are largely ignoring the House contests, a surefire sign things are going badly for the Democrats. Not waiting for the Christmas rush, moderate Democrats are refusing to embrace the Obama stimulus, and one of Pelosi’s members is even backing repeal of ObamaCare.

The basic narrative of the election is set. The question remains how extensive the damage to the Democrats will be. And that does depend on the talent of individual candidates. Christine O’Donnell isn’t likely to make it, but before they pop open the champagne, Democrats might want to consider what is going on in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. In not a single one does the Democrat have a lead outside the margin of error. In a number, the Republican has a commanding lead. In others such as Colorado, the Tea Party–endorsed candidate is starting to pull away. It’s obvious which party is in a commanding position.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Not even Dana Milbank can make excuses for Imam Abdul Rauf: “He claims he wishes to improve the standing of Muslims in the United States, to build understanding between religions, and to enhance the reputation of America in the Muslim world. But in the weeks since he — unintentionally, he says — set off an international conflagration over his plans to build an Islamic center near the scene of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York, he has set back all three of his goals.”

Not even Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen is advocating a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts. “If [Republicans] were to come back and say, ‘hey, let’s just do one year for the top 2 percent, and permanent for the middle class,’ that would be something that obviously people would have to think about,’ Van Hollen said in an interview with Bloomberg this past weekend. Van Hollen’s suggestion partially mirrors a plan outlined by former White House budget director Peter Orszag, who argued that Democrats and Republicans should back a fixed two year extension of all the tax cuts and then end them altogether.”

Not even Senate Democrats want to end the Bush tax cuts: “[T]he list of Senate Democrats in favor of an extension is now up to five. Evan Bayh (Indiana), Kent Conrad (North Dakota) and Ben Nelson (Warren Buffett) were already on board, and this week Connecticut Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman and Virginia’s Jim Webb came around.”

Not even Connecticut is safe for the Democrats. “Pres. Obama’s poll numbers have plummeted in Connecticut, a state he carried by an overwhelming margin 2 years ago. A majority of likely voters — 52% — in the Quinnipiac poll disapprove of how Obama is handling his job as president. Only 45% approve of his performance. The Quinnipiac survey found Blumenthal leading former WWE CEO Linda McMahon by 6 points — 51% to 45%.” Hey, if Scott Brown can win “Ted Kennedy’s seat” then McMahon can win ” Chris Dodd’s seat.”

Not even competent, says Mona Charen, of the president: “The president himself doesn’t at all concede that government is attempting to do too much (and failing at most of it). On the contrary, his vanity (and it is a common one for left-wingers) is that he believes his particular ideas on business investment, medical procedures, housing, and thousands of other matters are the solutions to our woes, but ‘politics’ keeps getting in the way.” All that Ivy League education did, it seems, is convince Obama of his own brilliance.

Not even Imam Abdul Rauf may be able to resist pressure to move the Ground Zero mosque. Now he’s telling us it is all about serving Lower Manhattan’s Muslim residents. Gosh, seems like there already are mosques in the neighborhood.

Not even second place for Charlie Crist if this trend continues: “The independent Senate bid of Florida Governor Charlie Crist is in serious trouble, according to a new Fox News poll. Crist drew 27 percent of likely voters in the poll of the three-way race. Republican Marco Rubio registered 43 percent support. Democrat Kendrick Meek came in third with 21 percent.” Republican Senate candidates also lead in the Fox poll in Nevada (by one point), Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Barbara Boxer is up by only 2 points.

Not even Dana Milbank can make excuses for Imam Abdul Rauf: “He claims he wishes to improve the standing of Muslims in the United States, to build understanding between religions, and to enhance the reputation of America in the Muslim world. But in the weeks since he — unintentionally, he says — set off an international conflagration over his plans to build an Islamic center near the scene of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York, he has set back all three of his goals.”

Not even Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen is advocating a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts. “If [Republicans] were to come back and say, ‘hey, let’s just do one year for the top 2 percent, and permanent for the middle class,’ that would be something that obviously people would have to think about,’ Van Hollen said in an interview with Bloomberg this past weekend. Van Hollen’s suggestion partially mirrors a plan outlined by former White House budget director Peter Orszag, who argued that Democrats and Republicans should back a fixed two year extension of all the tax cuts and then end them altogether.”

Not even Senate Democrats want to end the Bush tax cuts: “[T]he list of Senate Democrats in favor of an extension is now up to five. Evan Bayh (Indiana), Kent Conrad (North Dakota) and Ben Nelson (Warren Buffett) were already on board, and this week Connecticut Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman and Virginia’s Jim Webb came around.”

Not even Connecticut is safe for the Democrats. “Pres. Obama’s poll numbers have plummeted in Connecticut, a state he carried by an overwhelming margin 2 years ago. A majority of likely voters — 52% — in the Quinnipiac poll disapprove of how Obama is handling his job as president. Only 45% approve of his performance. The Quinnipiac survey found Blumenthal leading former WWE CEO Linda McMahon by 6 points — 51% to 45%.” Hey, if Scott Brown can win “Ted Kennedy’s seat” then McMahon can win ” Chris Dodd’s seat.”

Not even competent, says Mona Charen, of the president: “The president himself doesn’t at all concede that government is attempting to do too much (and failing at most of it). On the contrary, his vanity (and it is a common one for left-wingers) is that he believes his particular ideas on business investment, medical procedures, housing, and thousands of other matters are the solutions to our woes, but ‘politics’ keeps getting in the way.” All that Ivy League education did, it seems, is convince Obama of his own brilliance.

Not even Imam Abdul Rauf may be able to resist pressure to move the Ground Zero mosque. Now he’s telling us it is all about serving Lower Manhattan’s Muslim residents. Gosh, seems like there already are mosques in the neighborhood.

Not even second place for Charlie Crist if this trend continues: “The independent Senate bid of Florida Governor Charlie Crist is in serious trouble, according to a new Fox News poll. Crist drew 27 percent of likely voters in the poll of the three-way race. Republican Marco Rubio registered 43 percent support. Democrat Kendrick Meek came in third with 21 percent.” Republican Senate candidates also lead in the Fox poll in Nevada (by one point), Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Barbara Boxer is up by only 2 points.

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Lending the GOP a Helping Hand

It’s becoming apparent that Obama’s latest economic plan has not won over even his own party. The latest Democrat to ditch the president is Sen. Ben Nelson, who is hinting he’d join a filibuster:

“It would be very hard for me to support that,” Nelson told reporters outside the Senate chamber before a vote this evening.

The list is growing:

“I don’t think we ought to be drawing a distinction at $250K,” Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told Fox News.

Separately, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats, also expressed strong support for temporarily extending all of the tax cuts to aid the economic recovery.

“I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through,” he said. “The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be.”

In the House, several rank-and-file Democrats are urging their leaders to back an extension of all of the tax cuts. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has staked out the same position as Obama, that tax cuts should only be extended for the middle class.

“Given the continued fragility of our economy and slow pace of recovery, we share their concerns,” stated a draft letter being circulated by Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and other Democrats.

Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), and Evan Bayh (Ind.) previously have questioned the wisdom of raising taxes during one of the roughest recessions on record.

One wonders exactly what the White House had in mind when they tossed this out. Did the brain trust imagine they could successfully play the class-warfare game as the economy is sinking into the abyss? Did they not understand that they have asked their congressional allies to walk the plank one too many times?

Rather than provide a rallying cry for his party, Obama has tossed yet another grenade into his own ranks. He certainly is the GOP’s greatest asset this election cycle.

It’s becoming apparent that Obama’s latest economic plan has not won over even his own party. The latest Democrat to ditch the president is Sen. Ben Nelson, who is hinting he’d join a filibuster:

“It would be very hard for me to support that,” Nelson told reporters outside the Senate chamber before a vote this evening.

The list is growing:

“I don’t think we ought to be drawing a distinction at $250K,” Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told Fox News.

Separately, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with Democrats, also expressed strong support for temporarily extending all of the tax cuts to aid the economic recovery.

“I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through,” he said. “The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be.”

In the House, several rank-and-file Democrats are urging their leaders to back an extension of all of the tax cuts. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has staked out the same position as Obama, that tax cuts should only be extended for the middle class.

“Given the continued fragility of our economy and slow pace of recovery, we share their concerns,” stated a draft letter being circulated by Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and other Democrats.

Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), and Evan Bayh (Ind.) previously have questioned the wisdom of raising taxes during one of the roughest recessions on record.

One wonders exactly what the White House had in mind when they tossed this out. Did the brain trust imagine they could successfully play the class-warfare game as the economy is sinking into the abyss? Did they not understand that they have asked their congressional allies to walk the plank one too many times?

Rather than provide a rallying cry for his party, Obama has tossed yet another grenade into his own ranks. He certainly is the GOP’s greatest asset this election cycle.

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Democrats Fade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Now It’s Conventional Wisdom

For months and months it has seemed that the Senate was “safe” for Democrats. After all, states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and California would all have to be in play. And the Democrats who were threatening Republican seats in Ohio, Florida, and Missouri would all have to fade. Guess what? That’s where we are.

Even NPR concedes:

Democrats knew they had trouble in states where their elected incumbents had resigned (Illinois, Delaware, Colorado), retired (Indiana, North Dakota) or lost the primary (Pennsylvania). They knew they had two more incumbents staggering under terrible poll numbers (Nevada, Arkansas).

But even if all eight of these seats were to be lost, and even if they were to capture no new seats from the GOP, the Democrats reasoned they could still hold the majority. That “firewall theory” was based on the belief that the rest of the majority’s current 59 seats would remain in the hands of Democrats or affiliated independents.

But now Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, and Patty Murray are all in danger of losing their seats. NPR — after a year of parroting White House spin that Obama had “accomplished” so much — now lets on that he’s made a big old mess of things:

President Obama is still struggling to bring the economy all the way back from the near-collapse of 2008. Iraq is a smaller war, but Afghanistan is a larger one. Congress has been an unlovely mess, and the bills the Senate did manage to pass have yet to win much favor with the public. The political marketplace is brimming with radical ideas from the right.

To go with these underlying issues, the firewall incumbents find themselves with unusually daunting opponents.

Suddenly we learn that the GOP isn’t nominating a bunch of loony extremists but has found candidates who appeal to independents. For example, “Boxer faces by far her best-funded challenger yet in Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, who has been through a bruising primary and still has the GOP united behind her. So long as that unity holds, she can reach out to independents and offer the fresh look of a first-time candidate in a state where unemployment is still over 12 percent and the Democratic base is restive.”

If you get the feeling that the media are racing to catch up to political trends that have been evident for some time, I think you’re on to it.  Two years of cheerleading and concealing bad news will be forgotten — they hope — if the last month or so of the campaign approximates reality. Well, it’s long in coming, but at least the media have arrived at the conclusion the rest of us grasped long ago: all their shilling may have helped elect Obama (once), but the object of their affections has proved to be a disaster for the Democratic Party and the agenda they pined for so long.

For months and months it has seemed that the Senate was “safe” for Democrats. After all, states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and California would all have to be in play. And the Democrats who were threatening Republican seats in Ohio, Florida, and Missouri would all have to fade. Guess what? That’s where we are.

Even NPR concedes:

Democrats knew they had trouble in states where their elected incumbents had resigned (Illinois, Delaware, Colorado), retired (Indiana, North Dakota) or lost the primary (Pennsylvania). They knew they had two more incumbents staggering under terrible poll numbers (Nevada, Arkansas).

But even if all eight of these seats were to be lost, and even if they were to capture no new seats from the GOP, the Democrats reasoned they could still hold the majority. That “firewall theory” was based on the belief that the rest of the majority’s current 59 seats would remain in the hands of Democrats or affiliated independents.

But now Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, and Patty Murray are all in danger of losing their seats. NPR — after a year of parroting White House spin that Obama had “accomplished” so much — now lets on that he’s made a big old mess of things:

President Obama is still struggling to bring the economy all the way back from the near-collapse of 2008. Iraq is a smaller war, but Afghanistan is a larger one. Congress has been an unlovely mess, and the bills the Senate did manage to pass have yet to win much favor with the public. The political marketplace is brimming with radical ideas from the right.

To go with these underlying issues, the firewall incumbents find themselves with unusually daunting opponents.

Suddenly we learn that the GOP isn’t nominating a bunch of loony extremists but has found candidates who appeal to independents. For example, “Boxer faces by far her best-funded challenger yet in Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, who has been through a bruising primary and still has the GOP united behind her. So long as that unity holds, she can reach out to independents and offer the fresh look of a first-time candidate in a state where unemployment is still over 12 percent and the Democratic base is restive.”

If you get the feeling that the media are racing to catch up to political trends that have been evident for some time, I think you’re on to it.  Two years of cheerleading and concealing bad news will be forgotten — they hope — if the last month or so of the campaign approximates reality. Well, it’s long in coming, but at least the media have arrived at the conclusion the rest of us grasped long ago: all their shilling may have helped elect Obama (once), but the object of their affections has proved to be a disaster for the Democratic Party and the agenda they pined for so long.

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Senate Spin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Flotsam and Jetsam

This is presidential. This is a mensch.

Blago is right: “Well, I think the question ought to be to the prosecutor, ‘How much money of taxpayers dollars did you spend on this trial?’ I would guess tens of millions of dollars, to get a guy you targeted for — you know, for six years. And then when we didn’t even put a defense on, you could not show any corruption. And you couldn’t because it didn’t exist. The next question should be why would that person use taxpayer dollars to bring another prosecution again. The Wall Street Journal had said that this is or the Washington Post had said this has turned from a prosecution to a persecution, and should the taxpayers have to pay for a prosecutor who’s out to get somebody?”

Mitch McConnell is optimistic: “‘If the election were tomorrow, we’d have a very good day,’ the Kentucky senator said on NBC’s Meet the Press. ‘There are at least 12 seats in the Senate where Democrats are on defense. That’s pretty unusual.’ McConnell did add, however, that he does worry about ‘irrational exuberance.'”

The White House is delusional: “Throughout this long year, President Obama’s advisers have sometimes looked to Ronald Reagan for comparison and inspiration. If the Gipper could survive a deep recession, low approval ratings and an adverse midterm election in his first two years and win reelection handily two years later, then Obama could easily do the same, they reason.” Perhaps if Obama did a 180 on his agenda and started expressing affection for Americans and their values, he too could be popular again.

Howard Dean is partially correct: “I don’t think this is true of the president, but I do think his people, his political people, have got to go out and spend some time outside Washington for a while.”

Douglas Schoen is unpopular with his fellow Democrats for saying things like this: “The Obama administration’s policies and programs are not producing real, long lasting results, and there has been no real growth. Put another way, an unprecedented degree of federal government spending and intervention vis-à-vis the $787 billion dollar economic stimulus package, the $81 billion dollar bailouts of GM and Chrysler, and the enactment of health care and financial regulatory and reform bills have done nothing to stimulate our anemic recovery and have fundamentally failed at creating private sector jobs, or generating economic growth necessary for a sustainable, healthy recovery.”

Obama is toxic to his own party. Stephen Hayes on Fox News Sunday: “Well, what matters most is what Democrats are doing on the ground in individual districts in the states. And I was in Wisconsin this week in Menomonee Falls for President Obama’s speech there to an energy company. You know who didn’t show up? Tom Barrett, the Democrat running for governor. Didn’t want to be seen with the president.  … You have [Joe] Donnelly in Indiana who ran an ad taking a shot at the president, taking a shot at Nancy Pelosi. And that, it seems to me, tells us a lot more about what Democrats are thinking than some ad the DNC is doing against George W. Bush.”

Richard Blumenthal is “hopeless, doomed, toast.” Connecticut Democrats have only themselves to blame.

This is presidential. This is a mensch.

Blago is right: “Well, I think the question ought to be to the prosecutor, ‘How much money of taxpayers dollars did you spend on this trial?’ I would guess tens of millions of dollars, to get a guy you targeted for — you know, for six years. And then when we didn’t even put a defense on, you could not show any corruption. And you couldn’t because it didn’t exist. The next question should be why would that person use taxpayer dollars to bring another prosecution again. The Wall Street Journal had said that this is or the Washington Post had said this has turned from a prosecution to a persecution, and should the taxpayers have to pay for a prosecutor who’s out to get somebody?”

Mitch McConnell is optimistic: “‘If the election were tomorrow, we’d have a very good day,’ the Kentucky senator said on NBC’s Meet the Press. ‘There are at least 12 seats in the Senate where Democrats are on defense. That’s pretty unusual.’ McConnell did add, however, that he does worry about ‘irrational exuberance.'”

The White House is delusional: “Throughout this long year, President Obama’s advisers have sometimes looked to Ronald Reagan for comparison and inspiration. If the Gipper could survive a deep recession, low approval ratings and an adverse midterm election in his first two years and win reelection handily two years later, then Obama could easily do the same, they reason.” Perhaps if Obama did a 180 on his agenda and started expressing affection for Americans and their values, he too could be popular again.

Howard Dean is partially correct: “I don’t think this is true of the president, but I do think his people, his political people, have got to go out and spend some time outside Washington for a while.”

Douglas Schoen is unpopular with his fellow Democrats for saying things like this: “The Obama administration’s policies and programs are not producing real, long lasting results, and there has been no real growth. Put another way, an unprecedented degree of federal government spending and intervention vis-à-vis the $787 billion dollar economic stimulus package, the $81 billion dollar bailouts of GM and Chrysler, and the enactment of health care and financial regulatory and reform bills have done nothing to stimulate our anemic recovery and have fundamentally failed at creating private sector jobs, or generating economic growth necessary for a sustainable, healthy recovery.”

Obama is toxic to his own party. Stephen Hayes on Fox News Sunday: “Well, what matters most is what Democrats are doing on the ground in individual districts in the states. And I was in Wisconsin this week in Menomonee Falls for President Obama’s speech there to an energy company. You know who didn’t show up? Tom Barrett, the Democrat running for governor. Didn’t want to be seen with the president.  … You have [Joe] Donnelly in Indiana who ran an ad taking a shot at the president, taking a shot at Nancy Pelosi. And that, it seems to me, tells us a lot more about what Democrats are thinking than some ad the DNC is doing against George W. Bush.”

Richard Blumenthal is “hopeless, doomed, toast.” Connecticut Democrats have only themselves to blame.

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It Would Have Helped if They Hadn’t Been Rubber Stamps

The Washington Post headline pronounces: “Some Democratic candidates distance themselves from Obama.” Well, at least those who aren’t politically suicidal. Yes, as always, the party’s leaders warn that if they don’t embrace Obama, they’ll lose their seats (worse than they otherwise would?). But then this was the same crowd that told Democrats that ObamaCare was their insurance against an electoral wipeout. Not surprisingly, many Democrats are ignoring the advice of the party big shots and trying to save their own skins:

Indiana, Rep. Joe Donnelly is running a television ad in which he details his generally conservative stance on immigration while images of Obama and Pelosi are shown on screen. “That may not be what the Washington crowd wants, but I don’t work for them,” Donnelly says in the ad. “I work for you.”

Rep. Travis Childers, who represents a district in northern Mississippi where Obama won just 38 percent of the vote in 2008, takes a similar approach in his TV advertising — promoting the fact that he has “voted against every big budget” since winning a special election two years ago.

You know how bad things are when the political operatives start dishing like this on background:

One senior Democratic consultant suggested that the distance candidates are seeking to put between themselves and Obama is reflective of the ascendance of economic issues in voters’ minds. “Barack Obama’s economic policy of spending our way out of recession is seen as a failure at best and harmful at worst,” the source said. “That should tell candidates in competitive jurisdictions all they need to know about running with the president.”

Ouch. Unfortunately for themselves, nearly all incumbent Democrats have to date failed to demonstrate any ideological independence from the president. It’s hard for a pol to convince voters that what he says in the last three months of a campaign should supersede 18 months of voting in lockstep with Obama-Pelosi-Reid. And for those Democratic challengers pledging independence from the extremist agenda of their party leaders, the voters have reason to doubt that, once in office, they will be any more moderate than the current crop, who capitulated on virtually everything that was tossed their way, be it the now widely derided stimulus plan, ObamaCare, Supreme Court nominees, or tax hikes. In short, the key to convincing voters you will exercise moderation and independent judgment is to point to some evidence that you’ve done so in the past, an impossibility for the vast number of Democrats on the ballot this year.

The Washington Post headline pronounces: “Some Democratic candidates distance themselves from Obama.” Well, at least those who aren’t politically suicidal. Yes, as always, the party’s leaders warn that if they don’t embrace Obama, they’ll lose their seats (worse than they otherwise would?). But then this was the same crowd that told Democrats that ObamaCare was their insurance against an electoral wipeout. Not surprisingly, many Democrats are ignoring the advice of the party big shots and trying to save their own skins:

Indiana, Rep. Joe Donnelly is running a television ad in which he details his generally conservative stance on immigration while images of Obama and Pelosi are shown on screen. “That may not be what the Washington crowd wants, but I don’t work for them,” Donnelly says in the ad. “I work for you.”

Rep. Travis Childers, who represents a district in northern Mississippi where Obama won just 38 percent of the vote in 2008, takes a similar approach in his TV advertising — promoting the fact that he has “voted against every big budget” since winning a special election two years ago.

You know how bad things are when the political operatives start dishing like this on background:

One senior Democratic consultant suggested that the distance candidates are seeking to put between themselves and Obama is reflective of the ascendance of economic issues in voters’ minds. “Barack Obama’s economic policy of spending our way out of recession is seen as a failure at best and harmful at worst,” the source said. “That should tell candidates in competitive jurisdictions all they need to know about running with the president.”

Ouch. Unfortunately for themselves, nearly all incumbent Democrats have to date failed to demonstrate any ideological independence from the president. It’s hard for a pol to convince voters that what he says in the last three months of a campaign should supersede 18 months of voting in lockstep with Obama-Pelosi-Reid. And for those Democratic challengers pledging independence from the extremist agenda of their party leaders, the voters have reason to doubt that, once in office, they will be any more moderate than the current crop, who capitulated on virtually everything that was tossed their way, be it the now widely derided stimulus plan, ObamaCare, Supreme Court nominees, or tax hikes. In short, the key to convincing voters you will exercise moderation and independent judgment is to point to some evidence that you’ve done so in the past, an impossibility for the vast number of Democrats on the ballot this year.

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Sticking with a Losing Economic Plan

Stephen Hayes reminds us that none other than Obama once warned us of the folly of raising taxes in a recession:

Barack Obama understands that it’s bad economics to raise taxes in a recession. It’s “the last thing you want to do,” he said almost exactly one year ago. … Obama was blunt: “Well — first of all, he’s right. Normally you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to [Elkhart, Indiana resident] Scott [Ferguson] is — his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”

But the Obama team insists, contrary to much available evidence, that we’re in the midst of a recovery — so we can tolerate the liberals’ mischief-making:

When he was asked specifically about raising taxes on top income earners, as is scheduled to happen on January 1, 2011, [Tim] Geithner said, “The country can withstand that. The economy can withstand that. I think it’s good policy.”

It was an interesting word choice: “withstand” a tax hike? So the U.S. economy is strong enough to endure the additional constraints the Obama administration wants to place on it in pursuit of its redistributionist goals? This is the triumph of ideology over economics.

Obama and his brain trust not only ignore their own country’s experience and struggling economy, but also turn a blind eye toward the counter-example in Germany, which resisted Obama’s exhortations to get the government to spend (actually, borrow in order to spend) its nation out of the recession. Germany’s economic recovery (on track for 9 percent annual growth) should serve as a lesson to those still enamored of Obamanomics:

Germany has sparred with its European partners over how to respond to the financial crisis, argued with the United States over the benefits of stimulus versus austerity, and defiantly pursued its own vision of how to keep its economy strong. … By paring unemployment benefits, easing rules for hiring and firing, and management and labor’s working together to keep a lid on wages, Germany ensured that it could again export its way to growth with competitive, nimble companies producing the cars and machine tools the world’s economies — emerging and developed alike — demanded.

When Paul Krugman comes out of hiding, I look forward to his explanation of this one.

Maybe some restraints on spending, some pro-growth and pro-job-creation policies, and a halt to tax increases might be in order. Nah, the Obami insist they have everything under control.

Stephen Hayes reminds us that none other than Obama once warned us of the folly of raising taxes in a recession:

Barack Obama understands that it’s bad economics to raise taxes in a recession. It’s “the last thing you want to do,” he said almost exactly one year ago. … Obama was blunt: “Well — first of all, he’s right. Normally you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to [Elkhart, Indiana resident] Scott [Ferguson] is — his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”

But the Obama team insists, contrary to much available evidence, that we’re in the midst of a recovery — so we can tolerate the liberals’ mischief-making:

When he was asked specifically about raising taxes on top income earners, as is scheduled to happen on January 1, 2011, [Tim] Geithner said, “The country can withstand that. The economy can withstand that. I think it’s good policy.”

It was an interesting word choice: “withstand” a tax hike? So the U.S. economy is strong enough to endure the additional constraints the Obama administration wants to place on it in pursuit of its redistributionist goals? This is the triumph of ideology over economics.

Obama and his brain trust not only ignore their own country’s experience and struggling economy, but also turn a blind eye toward the counter-example in Germany, which resisted Obama’s exhortations to get the government to spend (actually, borrow in order to spend) its nation out of the recession. Germany’s economic recovery (on track for 9 percent annual growth) should serve as a lesson to those still enamored of Obamanomics:

Germany has sparred with its European partners over how to respond to the financial crisis, argued with the United States over the benefits of stimulus versus austerity, and defiantly pursued its own vision of how to keep its economy strong. … By paring unemployment benefits, easing rules for hiring and firing, and management and labor’s working together to keep a lid on wages, Germany ensured that it could again export its way to growth with competitive, nimble companies producing the cars and machine tools the world’s economies — emerging and developed alike — demanded.

When Paul Krugman comes out of hiding, I look forward to his explanation of this one.

Maybe some restraints on spending, some pro-growth and pro-job-creation policies, and a halt to tax increases might be in order. Nah, the Obami insist they have everything under control.

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A Sign of the Times

Representative Joe Donnelly, a sophomore Blue Dog Democrat from Indiana’s 2nd district, released a new campaign ad (on the subject of immigration) targeting not George W. Bush or Donnelly’s opponent, Jackie Walorski, but rather “the Washington crowd,” with the ad panning a photograph of President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader John Boehner. “I don’t work for them. I work for you,” Donnelly says. (H/T: TalkingPointsMemo)

Indiana, it’s worth recalling, voted for Obama in 2008. Now, less than two years later, Democrats are (implicitly) running against him and the Democratic Speaker. I imagine that Donnelly won’t be the last Democrat to do this between now and November.

Representative Joe Donnelly, a sophomore Blue Dog Democrat from Indiana’s 2nd district, released a new campaign ad (on the subject of immigration) targeting not George W. Bush or Donnelly’s opponent, Jackie Walorski, but rather “the Washington crowd,” with the ad panning a photograph of President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader John Boehner. “I don’t work for them. I work for you,” Donnelly says. (H/T: TalkingPointsMemo)

Indiana, it’s worth recalling, voted for Obama in 2008. Now, less than two years later, Democrats are (implicitly) running against him and the Democratic Speaker. I imagine that Donnelly won’t be the last Democrat to do this between now and November.

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Democratic Lawmakers, an Endangered Species

Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey in 13 states with competitive U.S. Senate races as defined by the Cook Report. This survey, Public Opinion Strategies points out, is not the same as a generic ballot. It tested the specific candidates by name and party in every state but Colorado (where there are no clear primary front runners), in which case it tested the “Republican” versus the “Democratic” candidate. (In Florida, it included Charlie Crist as a candidate of no party affiliation.)

The results foreshadow enormous trouble for the Democrats in the midterm election, including these:

(1) The Republican candidate leads on the ballot 47%-39% across the 13 Battleground Senate states. The lead is 45%-37% in the Republican-held states (Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio), and 47%-40% in Democratic-held states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington).

(2) Independents are voting Republican by 47%-25% across the Battleground states.

(3) In the four states John McCain won in 2008, the GOPer leads 46%-36%. In the nine states Barack Obama won, the GOPer still leads 47%-40%, including 50%-38% in the five states Obama won with less than 55%, and 43%-42% in the four Obama 55%+ states.

(4) There is a 21-point gender gap. Men are voting GOP 52%-33% while women split 42% GOP/44% Democratic.

(5) Democratic candidates face a wide disparity in terms of enthusiasm. Republicans lead 52%-36% among high-interest voters.

(6) Among Independents, only 21% say the nation is in the right direction, while 68% say it’s on the wrong track.

The bottom line from the survey?

Voters in the 13 Battleground Senate seats — five held by Republicans, eight by Democrats — want to vote for Republicans. Voters in the four seats held by Democratic incumbents are unhappy with those incumbents and are in a mood for change. Delving into the survey, the crosstab data shows even more of an opportunity for Republicans to make major gains in these U.S. Senate seats than even the positive topline data indicates. Independents are breaking heavily to the Republican candidates, and high interest voters provide significantly more support to the Republican candidates than the electorate overall. Democrats in these Battleground Senate races are not only facing an enthusiasm gap, they are also facing a message gap. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that they can make up for with money what they are losing on turnout interest and on message. But, as recent elections have once again shown, when voters are unhappy with the party running Washington, problems of message and turnout trump financial advantages. While some of the Democratic candidates in these thirteen Battleground Senate states may survive, given the way the electorate is moving against them, most of them will not.

Democratic lawmakers in the Age of Obama are becoming, in many instances and in many places, an endangered species. Change is coming; it’s just not the type of change liberals imagined.

Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey in 13 states with competitive U.S. Senate races as defined by the Cook Report. This survey, Public Opinion Strategies points out, is not the same as a generic ballot. It tested the specific candidates by name and party in every state but Colorado (where there are no clear primary front runners), in which case it tested the “Republican” versus the “Democratic” candidate. (In Florida, it included Charlie Crist as a candidate of no party affiliation.)

The results foreshadow enormous trouble for the Democrats in the midterm election, including these:

(1) The Republican candidate leads on the ballot 47%-39% across the 13 Battleground Senate states. The lead is 45%-37% in the Republican-held states (Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio), and 47%-40% in Democratic-held states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington).

(2) Independents are voting Republican by 47%-25% across the Battleground states.

(3) In the four states John McCain won in 2008, the GOPer leads 46%-36%. In the nine states Barack Obama won, the GOPer still leads 47%-40%, including 50%-38% in the five states Obama won with less than 55%, and 43%-42% in the four Obama 55%+ states.

(4) There is a 21-point gender gap. Men are voting GOP 52%-33% while women split 42% GOP/44% Democratic.

(5) Democratic candidates face a wide disparity in terms of enthusiasm. Republicans lead 52%-36% among high-interest voters.

(6) Among Independents, only 21% say the nation is in the right direction, while 68% say it’s on the wrong track.

The bottom line from the survey?

Voters in the 13 Battleground Senate seats — five held by Republicans, eight by Democrats — want to vote for Republicans. Voters in the four seats held by Democratic incumbents are unhappy with those incumbents and are in a mood for change. Delving into the survey, the crosstab data shows even more of an opportunity for Republicans to make major gains in these U.S. Senate seats than even the positive topline data indicates. Independents are breaking heavily to the Republican candidates, and high interest voters provide significantly more support to the Republican candidates than the electorate overall. Democrats in these Battleground Senate races are not only facing an enthusiasm gap, they are also facing a message gap. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that they can make up for with money what they are losing on turnout interest and on message. But, as recent elections have once again shown, when voters are unhappy with the party running Washington, problems of message and turnout trump financial advantages. While some of the Democratic candidates in these thirteen Battleground Senate states may survive, given the way the electorate is moving against them, most of them will not.

Democratic lawmakers in the Age of Obama are becoming, in many instances and in many places, an endangered species. Change is coming; it’s just not the type of change liberals imagined.

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Eric Cantor v. Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan

Eric Cantor is asked a perfectly reasonable question in this interview (h/t: Andrew Sullivan): if the entitlement crisis is anything like you argue (which it is), what entitlement cuts are you, Cantor, willing to embrace? He doesn’t give an answer, which is a problem. It comes across as what it is: double-speak and a lack of candor and political courage on the part of the GOP leadership. Cantor wants to paint an apocalyptic scenario — but doesn’t want to speak about any of the tough but inevitable steps we need to embrace. At the same time, Speaker Boehner is chatting up the idea of changing the 14th amendment to deny children of illegal immigrants citizenship, which is at best a distraction and will never see the light of day.

Representative Cantor is usually pretty good on television; this clip, then, exposes what a key GOP vulnerability is.

To his credit, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was willing to be specific in his interview on Fox News Sunday regarding entitlement cuts. In addition, Cantor’s colleague Paul Ryan has put out a very specific plan — one’s he’s eager to talk about with just about anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The Daniels-Ryan approach is far better because it’s more honest, more serious, and more responsible. My sense is that in most moments in American politics, that is what the public is longing for.

Republicans won’t get away with this Cantor-like dodge for long. They will lose, and they should lose, credibility with the public if they can’t be far more specific than Mr. Cantor.

Eric Cantor is asked a perfectly reasonable question in this interview (h/t: Andrew Sullivan): if the entitlement crisis is anything like you argue (which it is), what entitlement cuts are you, Cantor, willing to embrace? He doesn’t give an answer, which is a problem. It comes across as what it is: double-speak and a lack of candor and political courage on the part of the GOP leadership. Cantor wants to paint an apocalyptic scenario — but doesn’t want to speak about any of the tough but inevitable steps we need to embrace. At the same time, Speaker Boehner is chatting up the idea of changing the 14th amendment to deny children of illegal immigrants citizenship, which is at best a distraction and will never see the light of day.

Representative Cantor is usually pretty good on television; this clip, then, exposes what a key GOP vulnerability is.

To his credit, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was willing to be specific in his interview on Fox News Sunday regarding entitlement cuts. In addition, Cantor’s colleague Paul Ryan has put out a very specific plan — one’s he’s eager to talk about with just about anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The Daniels-Ryan approach is far better because it’s more honest, more serious, and more responsible. My sense is that in most moments in American politics, that is what the public is longing for.

Republicans won’t get away with this Cantor-like dodge for long. They will lose, and they should lose, credibility with the public if they can’t be far more specific than Mr. Cantor.

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Richard Cohen: Obama Is No Reagan

My how the bloom is off the Obama rose. Richard Cohen sounds, well, like a CONTENTIONS blogger:

No one is accusing Obama of being likable. He is not unlikable, but he lacks Reagan’s (or Bill Clinton’s) warmth. What’s more, his career has been brief. He led no movement, was spokesman for no ideology and campaigned like a Nike sneaker — change instead of swoosh. He seems distant. No Irish jokes from him. For the average voter, he casts no shadow.

Reagan, by contrast, had been around forever. He was not defined solely by gauzy campaign ads but by countless speeches, two contentious and highly controversial terms as California governor, and a previous race for the presidency. There was never a question about who Reagan was and what he stood for. Not so Obama. About all he shares with Reagan at this point are low ratings.

I confess I am always baffled when pundits and voters say they like Obama but not his policies. What has been ingratiating about him? He’s thin-skinned, prickly, and robotic. He’s unduly nasty to political opponents. He doesn’t seem to like us (especially ordinary Americans who have taken to the streets and town halls), so why should we like him?

I suspect the canned response (“Oh sure, we like him, just not his handling of [fill in the blank]”) is a form of politeness, perhaps even wariness of expressing personal distaste for our first African American president. The idea of Obama has proved infinitely more attractive than the reality. Not even liberals like him anymore.

But Cohen’s not done:

What has come to be called the Obama Paradox is not a paradox at all. Voters lack faith in him making the right economic decisions because, as far as they’re concerned, he hasn’t. He went for health-care reform, not jobs. He supported the public option, then he didn’t. He’s been cold to Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu and then all over him like a cheap suit. Americans know Obama is smart. But we still don’t know him. Before Americans can give him credit for what he’s done, they have to know who he is. We’re waiting.

Or perhaps they know who he is (the prototypical Ivy League leftist) and still don’t like him. I will leave to others to debate whether he is “smart” or merely glib. (At the health-care summit, did he seem as smart as Paul Ryan?) What we do know is that he hasn’t been smart on politics (ask Nancy Pelosi), on the economy, or on the war on terror (how smart is it to excise the name of our enemy?).

The degree to which the entire debate has shifted is striking. We know how he has enraged and motivated conservatives. But now the left makes little or no effort to defend their once-messianic figure and seems to parrot many of the right’s complaints. If this is how Cohen, a rather reliable liberal voice, feels about Obama, imagine what independent voters in Ohio and Indiana and California must be thinking. We’ll get a hint this November.

My how the bloom is off the Obama rose. Richard Cohen sounds, well, like a CONTENTIONS blogger:

No one is accusing Obama of being likable. He is not unlikable, but he lacks Reagan’s (or Bill Clinton’s) warmth. What’s more, his career has been brief. He led no movement, was spokesman for no ideology and campaigned like a Nike sneaker — change instead of swoosh. He seems distant. No Irish jokes from him. For the average voter, he casts no shadow.

Reagan, by contrast, had been around forever. He was not defined solely by gauzy campaign ads but by countless speeches, two contentious and highly controversial terms as California governor, and a previous race for the presidency. There was never a question about who Reagan was and what he stood for. Not so Obama. About all he shares with Reagan at this point are low ratings.

I confess I am always baffled when pundits and voters say they like Obama but not his policies. What has been ingratiating about him? He’s thin-skinned, prickly, and robotic. He’s unduly nasty to political opponents. He doesn’t seem to like us (especially ordinary Americans who have taken to the streets and town halls), so why should we like him?

I suspect the canned response (“Oh sure, we like him, just not his handling of [fill in the blank]”) is a form of politeness, perhaps even wariness of expressing personal distaste for our first African American president. The idea of Obama has proved infinitely more attractive than the reality. Not even liberals like him anymore.

But Cohen’s not done:

What has come to be called the Obama Paradox is not a paradox at all. Voters lack faith in him making the right economic decisions because, as far as they’re concerned, he hasn’t. He went for health-care reform, not jobs. He supported the public option, then he didn’t. He’s been cold to Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu and then all over him like a cheap suit. Americans know Obama is smart. But we still don’t know him. Before Americans can give him credit for what he’s done, they have to know who he is. We’re waiting.

Or perhaps they know who he is (the prototypical Ivy League leftist) and still don’t like him. I will leave to others to debate whether he is “smart” or merely glib. (At the health-care summit, did he seem as smart as Paul Ryan?) What we do know is that he hasn’t been smart on politics (ask Nancy Pelosi), on the economy, or on the war on terror (how smart is it to excise the name of our enemy?).

The degree to which the entire debate has shifted is striking. We know how he has enraged and motivated conservatives. But now the left makes little or no effort to defend their once-messianic figure and seems to parrot many of the right’s complaints. If this is how Cohen, a rather reliable liberal voice, feels about Obama, imagine what independent voters in Ohio and Indiana and California must be thinking. We’ll get a hint this November.

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