Commentary Magazine


Topic: Larry Sabato

Whoa, Obama’s Not Down for the Count Yet!

Larry Sabato, who is not given to wild predictions, writes:

Obama may be able to count on the 200 electoral votes in the Democratic states, but if his reelection had been scheduled last week, he might well have lost every swing state—all of which he won in 2008. After all, most Republican candidates for top offices did quite well in every swing state on November 2. If you combine the 158 electoral votes in these swing states with the 180 votes in the solidly Republican states, the GOP nominee would have 338, far more than the 270 needed for election. (The chart’s electoral votes are based on the new expected allocation from the 2010 Census.) … There’s only one logical conclusion to be drawn: President Barack Obama is down for the count, will have an early lame duck presidency, and will be out of the White House in two years.

OK, I’m not going there yet. Obama could, for example, embrace radical spending cuts, win a standoff with Iran, and see unemployment drop to low single digits. Well, he could. Or the Republicans could nominate someone so objectionable that they alienate independent voters. (Hence, the effort to find Mr. Right — Chris Christie? Paul Ryan?)

Sabato’s answer is that Obama can’t realign himself to become acceptable again to a majority of voters. (“Barack Obama lacks the political skills necessary to adjust to the new realities of divided government. Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama is an inflexible liberal who couldn’t find the center with both hands, even if his career depended on it.”)

To all this, conservatives can only say “Amen.” But before they start ordering a rug to replace the history-challenged one on the Oval Office floor, they should keep in mind two things. First, the GOP is entirely capable of nominating candidates that turn off key swing voters. Harry Reid, Michael Bennet, and Chris Coons suddenly became highly electable when their opponents proved problematic. Second, I wouldn’t yet underestimate Obama. He’s already talking compromise on the Bush tax cuts and erasing the Afghanistan-war troop deadline.

Sabato may be correct, but we won’t know for a while. And Republicans, unless they want to spend another term outside the White House, had better find the most principled conservative who is electable. The lesson of 2010 is that not every Republican is.

UPDATE: Larry Sabato says it’s all a parody. Well, the danger for Republicans is that they take this talk all too seriously.

Larry Sabato, who is not given to wild predictions, writes:

Obama may be able to count on the 200 electoral votes in the Democratic states, but if his reelection had been scheduled last week, he might well have lost every swing state—all of which he won in 2008. After all, most Republican candidates for top offices did quite well in every swing state on November 2. If you combine the 158 electoral votes in these swing states with the 180 votes in the solidly Republican states, the GOP nominee would have 338, far more than the 270 needed for election. (The chart’s electoral votes are based on the new expected allocation from the 2010 Census.) … There’s only one logical conclusion to be drawn: President Barack Obama is down for the count, will have an early lame duck presidency, and will be out of the White House in two years.

OK, I’m not going there yet. Obama could, for example, embrace radical spending cuts, win a standoff with Iran, and see unemployment drop to low single digits. Well, he could. Or the Republicans could nominate someone so objectionable that they alienate independent voters. (Hence, the effort to find Mr. Right — Chris Christie? Paul Ryan?)

Sabato’s answer is that Obama can’t realign himself to become acceptable again to a majority of voters. (“Barack Obama lacks the political skills necessary to adjust to the new realities of divided government. Unlike Bill Clinton, Obama is an inflexible liberal who couldn’t find the center with both hands, even if his career depended on it.”)

To all this, conservatives can only say “Amen.” But before they start ordering a rug to replace the history-challenged one on the Oval Office floor, they should keep in mind two things. First, the GOP is entirely capable of nominating candidates that turn off key swing voters. Harry Reid, Michael Bennet, and Chris Coons suddenly became highly electable when their opponents proved problematic. Second, I wouldn’t yet underestimate Obama. He’s already talking compromise on the Bush tax cuts and erasing the Afghanistan-war troop deadline.

Sabato may be correct, but we won’t know for a while. And Republicans, unless they want to spend another term outside the White House, had better find the most principled conservative who is electable. The lesson of 2010 is that not every Republican is.

UPDATE: Larry Sabato says it’s all a parody. Well, the danger for Republicans is that they take this talk all too seriously.

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LIVE BLOG: Larry Sabato Gives Us Two Reminders

Larry Sabato on Fox News just reminded us that when a party wins big, “they don’t win them all.” So we have a wipe-out in the House, Republicans elected in Blue States, and Harry Reid returned to the Senate. Sabato also reminded us that “polarization goes both ways.” The Blue Dogs were wiped out, leaving a much more liberal Democratic House caucus. Ironically, in the Senate, the defeat of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell suggests that at least in the Senate there will be a far more cohesive and manageable caucus for Sen. Mitch McConnell to lead.

Larry Sabato on Fox News just reminded us that when a party wins big, “they don’t win them all.” So we have a wipe-out in the House, Republicans elected in Blue States, and Harry Reid returned to the Senate. Sabato also reminded us that “polarization goes both ways.” The Blue Dogs were wiped out, leaving a much more liberal Democratic House caucus. Ironically, in the Senate, the defeat of Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell suggests that at least in the Senate there will be a far more cohesive and manageable caucus for Sen. Mitch McConnell to lead.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No Sale on Obama’s Middle East Policy

The reaction to the AJC’s recent poll suggests that Obama is losing all but the hard-core Israel-haters. As this report explains, Stephen Walt sees the growing opposition to Obama’s policies and concern over a nuclear-armed Iran as the result of “the drumbeat of Islamophobia in the American media, the constant pounding on the Iran threat by Israeli politicians and their supporters here.” Well, as we saw, those supporters of Israel happen to be a majority of Americans, the vast majority of which are non-Jews.

But outside the realm of anti-Israel conspiracy theorists, the implications of the AJC survey are clear:

It was released just three weeks before mid-term elections in which Republicans, whose leadership has strongly assailed Obama over his sometimes rocky relations with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his efforts to engage Iran diplomatically, are expected to regain control of at least one of the two houses of Congress.

AJC president David Harris appeared to echo those Republican themes Tuesday, claiming that “the nervousness of American Jews about two of our nation’s top foreign policy issues and how our leadership is responding” was “the most disturbing” of the survey’s findings.

Or, as Larry Sabato put it, “A 50 percent positive rating for a Democratic president among Jews is, frankly, terrible.”

As for the Obama team’s obsession with non-direct, non-peace, non-talking negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, there is now evidence that “for at least some U.S. Jews, Obama may have emerged as the loser in his contretemps with Netanyahu over settlements earlier this year. In addition to the 45 percent of Jews who expressed disapproval of his handling of U.S.-Israeli relations, the survey found that approval of Netanyahu’s handling of bilateral ties has risen — from 57 percent in March to 62 percent.” Approval for Obama’s Iran policy is also cratering. (“While a plurality of 47 percent approved of his performance last March, a 46-percent plurality now disapprove.”)

The Obama presidency has been an interesting, albeit dangerous, test case: is there an appetite for a reversal of America’s traditional warm relationship with Israel and its forceful presence in the Middle East? The answer is emphatically no.

The reaction to the AJC’s recent poll suggests that Obama is losing all but the hard-core Israel-haters. As this report explains, Stephen Walt sees the growing opposition to Obama’s policies and concern over a nuclear-armed Iran as the result of “the drumbeat of Islamophobia in the American media, the constant pounding on the Iran threat by Israeli politicians and their supporters here.” Well, as we saw, those supporters of Israel happen to be a majority of Americans, the vast majority of which are non-Jews.

But outside the realm of anti-Israel conspiracy theorists, the implications of the AJC survey are clear:

It was released just three weeks before mid-term elections in which Republicans, whose leadership has strongly assailed Obama over his sometimes rocky relations with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his efforts to engage Iran diplomatically, are expected to regain control of at least one of the two houses of Congress.

AJC president David Harris appeared to echo those Republican themes Tuesday, claiming that “the nervousness of American Jews about two of our nation’s top foreign policy issues and how our leadership is responding” was “the most disturbing” of the survey’s findings.

Or, as Larry Sabato put it, “A 50 percent positive rating for a Democratic president among Jews is, frankly, terrible.”

As for the Obama team’s obsession with non-direct, non-peace, non-talking negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, there is now evidence that “for at least some U.S. Jews, Obama may have emerged as the loser in his contretemps with Netanyahu over settlements earlier this year. In addition to the 45 percent of Jews who expressed disapproval of his handling of U.S.-Israeli relations, the survey found that approval of Netanyahu’s handling of bilateral ties has risen — from 57 percent in March to 62 percent.” Approval for Obama’s Iran policy is also cratering. (“While a plurality of 47 percent approved of his performance last March, a 46-percent plurality now disapprove.”)

The Obama presidency has been an interesting, albeit dangerous, test case: is there an appetite for a reversal of America’s traditional warm relationship with Israel and its forceful presence in the Middle East? The answer is emphatically no.

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RE: Dems Sinking

Confirming the polling we have seen and the analysis of independent analysts such as Larry Sabato, the Cook Report (subscription required) tells us:

For the first time, our internal race-by-race model estimates a GOP gain of over 40 seats. We are revising our House forecast to a Republican gain of at least 40 seats, the minimum to give them majority status, and very possibly substantially more. …

Even Democrats in districts that gave President Obama 50 to 60 percent of the vote can’t be considered safe; in fact, as Obama’s approval has slid disproportionately in swing seats, many are in tough predicaments. By the time we release new House ratings this week, eight Democratic open seats will be in the Lean or Likely Republican columns, 45 Democratic seats will be in the Toss Up column, and 30 seats will be in the Lean Democratic column, for a total of over 80 Democratic seats at substantial risk.

This should come as no surprise, actually, if you have been following the generic congressional polling. With the addition of Rasmussen (GOP +12) and CNN (GOP +7), the RealClearPolitics.com average now shows an 8.4-percent advantage for the Republicans. Get out your thesaurus (wave, a tsunami, deluge) — there are a lot of Democrats who are about to get swept out of Congress.

Confirming the polling we have seen and the analysis of independent analysts such as Larry Sabato, the Cook Report (subscription required) tells us:

For the first time, our internal race-by-race model estimates a GOP gain of over 40 seats. We are revising our House forecast to a Republican gain of at least 40 seats, the minimum to give them majority status, and very possibly substantially more. …

Even Democrats in districts that gave President Obama 50 to 60 percent of the vote can’t be considered safe; in fact, as Obama’s approval has slid disproportionately in swing seats, many are in tough predicaments. By the time we release new House ratings this week, eight Democratic open seats will be in the Lean or Likely Republican columns, 45 Democratic seats will be in the Toss Up column, and 30 seats will be in the Lean Democratic column, for a total of over 80 Democratic seats at substantial risk.

This should come as no surprise, actually, if you have been following the generic congressional polling. With the addition of Rasmussen (GOP +12) and CNN (GOP +7), the RealClearPolitics.com average now shows an 8.4-percent advantage for the Republicans. Get out your thesaurus (wave, a tsunami, deluge) — there are a lot of Democrats who are about to get swept out of Congress.

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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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Latest New Lows

I suspect it’s going to get worse for Obama after the full impact of his Ground Zero debacle is measured but he’s hitting new lows in approval nearly every day. Today is the trifecta at RealClearPolitics — a new low (44.4 percent) in approval, a new high in disapproval (50.8 percent), and a new record for the difference between the two (6.4 percent).

But if you think things are dicey now, wait until all the Democrats on the ballot are forced to take a stand. (Unlike Chuck Schumer, who has gone into hiding, those who are running this year do have to go out in public.) They can either side with Obama, sinking themselves, or oppose him and highlight how badly out of step Obama is, even among Democrats. Larry Sabato remarks:

A lot of endangered congressional Democrats must be wondering why President Obama waded into this hot controversy when it was both politically foolish and unnecessary. … The political damage is done and now all Democrats will have to take a stand on this “local issue” that Obama has nationalized.

The consolation for Democrats is that voters have resisted a long list of other distractions (the BP oil spill, immigration, gay marriage) to focus heavily on the rotten economy. Come to think of it, that isn’t much of a consolation.

No, it’s not. But there is a whole lot of political karma for a president and party who have spent a year and a half ignoring and ridiculing voters.

I suspect it’s going to get worse for Obama after the full impact of his Ground Zero debacle is measured but he’s hitting new lows in approval nearly every day. Today is the trifecta at RealClearPolitics — a new low (44.4 percent) in approval, a new high in disapproval (50.8 percent), and a new record for the difference between the two (6.4 percent).

But if you think things are dicey now, wait until all the Democrats on the ballot are forced to take a stand. (Unlike Chuck Schumer, who has gone into hiding, those who are running this year do have to go out in public.) They can either side with Obama, sinking themselves, or oppose him and highlight how badly out of step Obama is, even among Democrats. Larry Sabato remarks:

A lot of endangered congressional Democrats must be wondering why President Obama waded into this hot controversy when it was both politically foolish and unnecessary. … The political damage is done and now all Democrats will have to take a stand on this “local issue” that Obama has nationalized.

The consolation for Democrats is that voters have resisted a long list of other distractions (the BP oil spill, immigration, gay marriage) to focus heavily on the rotten economy. Come to think of it, that isn’t much of a consolation.

No, it’s not. But there is a whole lot of political karma for a president and party who have spent a year and a half ignoring and ridiculing voters.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Indiana tilts Red: “Indiana still has the look of a likely Republican Senate pickup, with former Senator Dan Coats remaining comfortably ahead of his Democratic opponent Brad Ellsworth. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state finds Coats with 51% support, while Ellsworth earns 30% of the vote, his poorest showing to date.”

Media moguls are blue about the economy: “Lingering anxiety over the state of the economy colored the proceedings at the annual Sun Valley media and tech mogul gathering, which wrapped during the weekend. On the sidelines of the Allen & Co. camp, execs predicted a long and slow U.S. recovery, which could also affect the advertising market. A few expressed fears of a double-dip recession.” All that money donated to the Obama campaign was the worst investment they ever made.

Orin Hatch explains why Elena Kagan shouldn’t don the black robes: “Over the Supreme Court’s long history, justices who were nominated without past judicial experience have had an average of 21 years of legal practice. Ms. Kagan has two. Her experience is instead academic and political. … I asked for her own views, but she instead told me what Congress said, what she argued before the Court, and what the Court held. … She would not even admit that she had in fact written the 1996 memo about partial-birth abortion that not only bore her name but included her handwritten notes. After three attempts, all she would say is that it was in her handwriting; I suppose that left open the possibility that it had been forged.” And then there’s her judicial philosophy, such as it is.

Sen. Brown caves: “U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.) said in a written statement Monday he plans to support the financial-overhaul bill, taking the White House and Democrats to the verge of the support needed to pass the bill.”

Marco Rubio hauls in the greenbacks: “Marco Rubio raised more than $4.5 million in the second quarter, his campaign said, beating rival Charlie Crist’s previous record. Crist raised $4.3 million in his first fundraising quarter of the race, back when he was a Republican, a national record for the cycle.”

A golden opportunity for the GOP: “Republicans are set up to gain a large number of governorships nationwide. At a minimum, the GOP could gain eight, giving the party 32, but larger gains are very possible.”

A silver lining for Obama, says Larry Sabato: “A GOP House would be a godsend in one way: it would give Obama someone to blame for everything, and presidents almost always look better by comparison to Congress. In that sense, it would help his reelection bid.” And a bonanza for the American people: “[I]t would also signal the end of an ambitious Obama legislative program. With Democrats now guaranteed to lose lots of Senate and House seats — even if they maintain narrow control — Obama’s salad days are over for this term.”

Greg Sargent of the Plum Line (yeah, plum is a color) argues that the Tea Party movement is “being widely doted upon as a genuine political movement even though it’s built largely on pure fantasy.” Well, this is a dreamy year for conservatives.

Indiana tilts Red: “Indiana still has the look of a likely Republican Senate pickup, with former Senator Dan Coats remaining comfortably ahead of his Democratic opponent Brad Ellsworth. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state finds Coats with 51% support, while Ellsworth earns 30% of the vote, his poorest showing to date.”

Media moguls are blue about the economy: “Lingering anxiety over the state of the economy colored the proceedings at the annual Sun Valley media and tech mogul gathering, which wrapped during the weekend. On the sidelines of the Allen & Co. camp, execs predicted a long and slow U.S. recovery, which could also affect the advertising market. A few expressed fears of a double-dip recession.” All that money donated to the Obama campaign was the worst investment they ever made.

Orin Hatch explains why Elena Kagan shouldn’t don the black robes: “Over the Supreme Court’s long history, justices who were nominated without past judicial experience have had an average of 21 years of legal practice. Ms. Kagan has two. Her experience is instead academic and political. … I asked for her own views, but she instead told me what Congress said, what she argued before the Court, and what the Court held. … She would not even admit that she had in fact written the 1996 memo about partial-birth abortion that not only bore her name but included her handwritten notes. After three attempts, all she would say is that it was in her handwriting; I suppose that left open the possibility that it had been forged.” And then there’s her judicial philosophy, such as it is.

Sen. Brown caves: “U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.) said in a written statement Monday he plans to support the financial-overhaul bill, taking the White House and Democrats to the verge of the support needed to pass the bill.”

Marco Rubio hauls in the greenbacks: “Marco Rubio raised more than $4.5 million in the second quarter, his campaign said, beating rival Charlie Crist’s previous record. Crist raised $4.3 million in his first fundraising quarter of the race, back when he was a Republican, a national record for the cycle.”

A golden opportunity for the GOP: “Republicans are set up to gain a large number of governorships nationwide. At a minimum, the GOP could gain eight, giving the party 32, but larger gains are very possible.”

A silver lining for Obama, says Larry Sabato: “A GOP House would be a godsend in one way: it would give Obama someone to blame for everything, and presidents almost always look better by comparison to Congress. In that sense, it would help his reelection bid.” And a bonanza for the American people: “[I]t would also signal the end of an ambitious Obama legislative program. With Democrats now guaranteed to lose lots of Senate and House seats — even if they maintain narrow control — Obama’s salad days are over for this term.”

Greg Sargent of the Plum Line (yeah, plum is a color) argues that the Tea Party movement is “being widely doted upon as a genuine political movement even though it’s built largely on pure fantasy.” Well, this is a dreamy year for conservatives.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Senate candidate Dan Coats thinks Obama is getting ready for a containment strategy for Iran, and he doesn’t like it: “Coats said the ‘only option’ left to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is the threat of military action. Coats said most Americans agree that Iran must not be allowed to have such weapons, even though Iranian leaders continue to press forward with their nuclear program. … ‘If it’s unacceptable, what are we going to do? … And now it seems we’re being asked to accept the unacceptable.’”

Democrats tried going after the CIA again, determined to criminalize interrogation techniques: “If this Act becomes law (it may have already been killed in Congress at the time of this writing), it will surely cause confusion for interrogators who want to know where the line is, precisely, lest they be thrown in jail. This creates risk aversion among interrogators where none is warranted.”

Liz Cheney objected: “American intelligence officers do not deserve this kind of treatment from the government they honorably serve. Day in and day out, they protect our country and make difficult decisions–at times in matters of life and death. In return for their service the government rewards them with little pay and no acknowledgement of their heroic actions. Democrats in Congress now want to threaten them with criminal prosecutions and deprive them of valuable tactics that protect America.”

And Democrats pulled the bill.

Larry Sabato (h/t Jim Geraghty): “The Crystal Ball moves five Democratic seats from a “safe” rating onto our list of competitive races: KY-6 (Ben Chandler), MA-10 (Bill Delahunt), OH-13 (Betty Sutton), SC-5 (John Spratt), and VA-9 (Rick Boucher). In addition, two already competitive races for Democrats look even worse than before—IA-3 (Leonard Boswell) and IN-8 (OPEN, Brad Ellsworth)—and two Republican incumbents have improved their reelection prospects—AL-3 (Mike Rogers) and CA-44 (Ken Calvert).”

The Orthodox Union is upset with the Obama administration for criticizing the Heritage Plan, under which Israel will invest $100 million in rehabilitating historic and religious sites throughout Israel. Netanyahu included among the sites the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. Palestinians objected, and then the State Department chimed in and called the inclusion of such sites “provocative.” The OU responded: “It is not ‘provocative’ to invest in and rehabilitate holy/historic sites — that are open to both Jews and Muslims. Nothing PM Netanyahu has proposed precludes a peace agreement. It is provocative for the Palestinians to assert that there is no Jewish connection to these sites and for them to use this as yet another false basis for refusal to engage in peace negotiations.”

Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: “In equating high-risk pools to racial segregation, Senator Harkin not only betrays his ignorance of history and his tone-deafness, but a disconcerting obliviousness to the contents of the Democrats’ own health-care plan. In fact, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has sent two letters to Congress and the president detailing the various discriminatory provisions in the Democrats’ health-care plan. It’s often said that the party who first invokes Hitler has lost the argument. In this case, the party who first invoked racial discrimination has lost perspective, if not his senses.”

Part of Obama’s problem: “At the very same hour as Obama is talking about his beloved healthcare plan, out come surprising new federal numbers showing that last week new J-O-B-L-E-S-S claims unexpectedly went up — as in more of them — to nearly a half-million, 22,000 more than the previous week. And nearly 8% higher than the expected 460,000 new claims.”

Politico on Tom Campbell’s Sami Al-Arian problem: “A bespectacled former college professor who has pleaded guilty to aiding the group Palestinian Islamic Jihad helped tip the balance in a 2004 Senate contest in Florida. Now, six years later, Sami Al-Arian could be on the verge of doing it again, this time in California. Republican Senate hopeful Tom Campbell, a former congressman, has come under sustained attack on conservative websites and from his rivals in recent days for taking a campaign donation from Al-Arian in 2000, for backing legislation Al-Arian was lobbying for at the time and for allegedly being a less-than-steadfast supporter of Israel.”

JTA is into it too, noting how inappropriate it is for Campbell to use a selective quote from a letter of the late and very great friend of Israel Tom Lantos: “Using Lantos’ letter to bolster Campbell’s case is really icky.”

Senate candidate Dan Coats thinks Obama is getting ready for a containment strategy for Iran, and he doesn’t like it: “Coats said the ‘only option’ left to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is the threat of military action. Coats said most Americans agree that Iran must not be allowed to have such weapons, even though Iranian leaders continue to press forward with their nuclear program. … ‘If it’s unacceptable, what are we going to do? … And now it seems we’re being asked to accept the unacceptable.’”

Democrats tried going after the CIA again, determined to criminalize interrogation techniques: “If this Act becomes law (it may have already been killed in Congress at the time of this writing), it will surely cause confusion for interrogators who want to know where the line is, precisely, lest they be thrown in jail. This creates risk aversion among interrogators where none is warranted.”

Liz Cheney objected: “American intelligence officers do not deserve this kind of treatment from the government they honorably serve. Day in and day out, they protect our country and make difficult decisions–at times in matters of life and death. In return for their service the government rewards them with little pay and no acknowledgement of their heroic actions. Democrats in Congress now want to threaten them with criminal prosecutions and deprive them of valuable tactics that protect America.”

And Democrats pulled the bill.

Larry Sabato (h/t Jim Geraghty): “The Crystal Ball moves five Democratic seats from a “safe” rating onto our list of competitive races: KY-6 (Ben Chandler), MA-10 (Bill Delahunt), OH-13 (Betty Sutton), SC-5 (John Spratt), and VA-9 (Rick Boucher). In addition, two already competitive races for Democrats look even worse than before—IA-3 (Leonard Boswell) and IN-8 (OPEN, Brad Ellsworth)—and two Republican incumbents have improved their reelection prospects—AL-3 (Mike Rogers) and CA-44 (Ken Calvert).”

The Orthodox Union is upset with the Obama administration for criticizing the Heritage Plan, under which Israel will invest $100 million in rehabilitating historic and religious sites throughout Israel. Netanyahu included among the sites the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. Palestinians objected, and then the State Department chimed in and called the inclusion of such sites “provocative.” The OU responded: “It is not ‘provocative’ to invest in and rehabilitate holy/historic sites — that are open to both Jews and Muslims. Nothing PM Netanyahu has proposed precludes a peace agreement. It is provocative for the Palestinians to assert that there is no Jewish connection to these sites and for them to use this as yet another false basis for refusal to engage in peace negotiations.”

Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights: “In equating high-risk pools to racial segregation, Senator Harkin not only betrays his ignorance of history and his tone-deafness, but a disconcerting obliviousness to the contents of the Democrats’ own health-care plan. In fact, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has sent two letters to Congress and the president detailing the various discriminatory provisions in the Democrats’ health-care plan. It’s often said that the party who first invokes Hitler has lost the argument. In this case, the party who first invoked racial discrimination has lost perspective, if not his senses.”

Part of Obama’s problem: “At the very same hour as Obama is talking about his beloved healthcare plan, out come surprising new federal numbers showing that last week new J-O-B-L-E-S-S claims unexpectedly went up — as in more of them — to nearly a half-million, 22,000 more than the previous week. And nearly 8% higher than the expected 460,000 new claims.”

Politico on Tom Campbell’s Sami Al-Arian problem: “A bespectacled former college professor who has pleaded guilty to aiding the group Palestinian Islamic Jihad helped tip the balance in a 2004 Senate contest in Florida. Now, six years later, Sami Al-Arian could be on the verge of doing it again, this time in California. Republican Senate hopeful Tom Campbell, a former congressman, has come under sustained attack on conservative websites and from his rivals in recent days for taking a campaign donation from Al-Arian in 2000, for backing legislation Al-Arian was lobbying for at the time and for allegedly being a less-than-steadfast supporter of Israel.”

JTA is into it too, noting how inappropriate it is for Campbell to use a selective quote from a letter of the late and very great friend of Israel Tom Lantos: “Using Lantos’ letter to bolster Campbell’s case is really icky.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Robert Gibbs thinks the administration made the right call Mirandizing the Christmas Day bomber. Dennis Blair said no one really thought it through. One of them is off the reservation. Unfortunately, I think in this case it’s Blair. The Obami never make errors, don’t you know?

Not even on health care. Gibbs also says that the Massachusetts election doesn’t prove nuthin’ about nuthin’. (Democrats have to be praying that this is an act and that the White House doesn’t truly believe this.)

Back on planet Earth, Sen. Evan Bayh “gets cold feet” about pushing unpopular health-care legislation through Congress using parliamentary tricks on a party-line vote. It’s not clear whether he’s an outlier or the beginning of a trend toward political sanity in his party.

In a similar vein, Allahpundit catches Chris Matthews being sane, arguing for “reality” and against reconciliation to pass health care. Well, he was going up against Alan Grayson.

Noemie Emery thinks there’s a split on the Left: “Those edging their way toward the lifeboats are those members of the House and Senate who sooner or later have to be in touch with the voters. Those who want the bill passed (i.e., pushed down the throats of the howling public) are White House officials and pundits, bloggers, academicians, talk show hosts, and others who don’t face reelection in this year or any, and will even find their business improving if the bill passes and all hell breaks loose. The pundits, who have no skin in this game since they will not get fired, have transferred their soaring contempt for the American people to their beleaguered House members. ‘Jump! Jump!’ they cry to the quivering congressfolk. No sacrifice is too great for others to make for their dreams.” Unfortunately for the Democrats, the White House so far is with the “Jump! Jump!” crowd, raising the question as to whether Obama really wants a second term or simply thinks he’s immune to the same forces that are knocking down fellow Democrats one by one.

If the elections were held today, Larry Sabato and Nate Silver think the Democratic majority would shrink to 52 seats in the Senate (h/t Michael Barone). But the elections aren’t being held today, and lots can change in 10 months.

It’s Republican confidence and the loss of all those seats that may spare the country any more noxious legislation. The Washington Post agrees: “Obama’s biggest priorities — overhauling health care, expanding college aid, reducing climate change — are now in limbo, facing dim prospects as Republicans show little interest in cooperating, and Democrats brace for a 2010 midterm election year potentially as volatile as 1994, when the GOP captured the Senate and the House two years after Bill Clinton was elected president.” Probably didn’t help that, as Democrats now complain, Obama was “too hands-off, too absent.” Or that the country tuned him out.

Mickey Kaus points out that “comparative effectiveness” research is a crock. Obama, Kaus argues, either “has an average President’s shallow understanding of the subject,” is trying to make “bending the cost curve” look painless when it really involves making value judgments to deny care, or is practicing willful ignorance. Could be some combination of all three, of course.

In California, front-runner Meg Whitman is narrowing the gap with Jerry Brown in the gubernatorial race. Hey, if Massachusetts is in play, California is in play.

Robert Gibbs thinks the administration made the right call Mirandizing the Christmas Day bomber. Dennis Blair said no one really thought it through. One of them is off the reservation. Unfortunately, I think in this case it’s Blair. The Obami never make errors, don’t you know?

Not even on health care. Gibbs also says that the Massachusetts election doesn’t prove nuthin’ about nuthin’. (Democrats have to be praying that this is an act and that the White House doesn’t truly believe this.)

Back on planet Earth, Sen. Evan Bayh “gets cold feet” about pushing unpopular health-care legislation through Congress using parliamentary tricks on a party-line vote. It’s not clear whether he’s an outlier or the beginning of a trend toward political sanity in his party.

In a similar vein, Allahpundit catches Chris Matthews being sane, arguing for “reality” and against reconciliation to pass health care. Well, he was going up against Alan Grayson.

Noemie Emery thinks there’s a split on the Left: “Those edging their way toward the lifeboats are those members of the House and Senate who sooner or later have to be in touch with the voters. Those who want the bill passed (i.e., pushed down the throats of the howling public) are White House officials and pundits, bloggers, academicians, talk show hosts, and others who don’t face reelection in this year or any, and will even find their business improving if the bill passes and all hell breaks loose. The pundits, who have no skin in this game since they will not get fired, have transferred their soaring contempt for the American people to their beleaguered House members. ‘Jump! Jump!’ they cry to the quivering congressfolk. No sacrifice is too great for others to make for their dreams.” Unfortunately for the Democrats, the White House so far is with the “Jump! Jump!” crowd, raising the question as to whether Obama really wants a second term or simply thinks he’s immune to the same forces that are knocking down fellow Democrats one by one.

If the elections were held today, Larry Sabato and Nate Silver think the Democratic majority would shrink to 52 seats in the Senate (h/t Michael Barone). But the elections aren’t being held today, and lots can change in 10 months.

It’s Republican confidence and the loss of all those seats that may spare the country any more noxious legislation. The Washington Post agrees: “Obama’s biggest priorities — overhauling health care, expanding college aid, reducing climate change — are now in limbo, facing dim prospects as Republicans show little interest in cooperating, and Democrats brace for a 2010 midterm election year potentially as volatile as 1994, when the GOP captured the Senate and the House two years after Bill Clinton was elected president.” Probably didn’t help that, as Democrats now complain, Obama was “too hands-off, too absent.” Or that the country tuned him out.

Mickey Kaus points out that “comparative effectiveness” research is a crock. Obama, Kaus argues, either “has an average President’s shallow understanding of the subject,” is trying to make “bending the cost curve” look painless when it really involves making value judgments to deny care, or is practicing willful ignorance. Could be some combination of all three, of course.

In California, front-runner Meg Whitman is narrowing the gap with Jerry Brown in the gubernatorial race. Hey, if Massachusetts is in play, California is in play.

Read Less




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