Commentary Magazine


Topic: Majority Leader

Reid Heading for Defeat

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid remains in deep trouble:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attracts just 39% to 42% of the Nevada vote when matched against three Republican opponents. Two of his potential opponents now top the 50% level of support.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey in the state also shows that 62% of Nevada’s voters support repealing the recently passed health care law. That’s a bit higher than support for repeal naitonally.

It is hard enough for the average Senate Democrat who rubber-stamped ObamaCare to escape the ire of voters, but it’s simply impossible for Reid, who steamrolled the bill through the Senate, to put any distance between himself and all the noxious elements of the bill that have enraged voters. He is, in some sense, the poster boy for the Democrats who lurched Left, facilitated the extreme Obama agenda, ran up the tab, and forgot that their constituents are considerably less liberal than agenda the Obami is pushing.

No wonder, then, that Nevada has become the target of a massive Tea Party effort to unseat Reid. As the New York Times explains:

In a matter of weeks, this state has become ground zero for Tea Party members, who understand that as a symbol of the movement’s power, you cannot get much bigger than beating the Senate’s top Democrat. … There is no doubting the anti-Reid sentiment here. Above Searchlight looms a billboard almost as big as some nearby homes reading “Will Rogers never met Harry Reid,” a play on a famous saying by Rogers that he never met a man he did not like.

Yes, there is the potential for vote-splitting with tea party activists and other independent candidates, but make no mistake: Reid has a mountain of opposition to overcome. It is not easy to hold your seat when only 23 percent of the voters have a favorable opinion of you.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid remains in deep trouble:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attracts just 39% to 42% of the Nevada vote when matched against three Republican opponents. Two of his potential opponents now top the 50% level of support.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey in the state also shows that 62% of Nevada’s voters support repealing the recently passed health care law. That’s a bit higher than support for repeal naitonally.

It is hard enough for the average Senate Democrat who rubber-stamped ObamaCare to escape the ire of voters, but it’s simply impossible for Reid, who steamrolled the bill through the Senate, to put any distance between himself and all the noxious elements of the bill that have enraged voters. He is, in some sense, the poster boy for the Democrats who lurched Left, facilitated the extreme Obama agenda, ran up the tab, and forgot that their constituents are considerably less liberal than agenda the Obami is pushing.

No wonder, then, that Nevada has become the target of a massive Tea Party effort to unseat Reid. As the New York Times explains:

In a matter of weeks, this state has become ground zero for Tea Party members, who understand that as a symbol of the movement’s power, you cannot get much bigger than beating the Senate’s top Democrat. … There is no doubting the anti-Reid sentiment here. Above Searchlight looms a billboard almost as big as some nearby homes reading “Will Rogers never met Harry Reid,” a play on a famous saying by Rogers that he never met a man he did not like.

Yes, there is the potential for vote-splitting with tea party activists and other independent candidates, but make no mistake: Reid has a mountain of opposition to overcome. It is not easy to hold your seat when only 23 percent of the voters have a favorable opinion of you.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

All Republican challengers are within single digits of Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Dana Perino on the parliamentary hanky-panky Democrats may use to pass ObamaCare: “There is another way to win passage of legislation — the old-fashioned, bipartisan discussion, school-house rock kind of way. The Bush Administration managed that even at the lowest of approval ratings — FISA reauthorization in July of ’08 comes to mind. Imagine the hootin’ and hollerin’ if George W. Bush had tried to ram through a bill like health care reform using parliamentary tricks — the left would be screaming bloody murder.”

Among its foreign-policy debacles: “In the U.S., the Obama Administration’s Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration faces bipartisan criticism for his approach to the Khartoum government headed by Umar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes.” Learn more if you are in the D.C. area at the Foreign Policy Initiative’s April 13 program.

Well, he is best at campaigning. Jeffrey Goldberg on Obama’s gambit: “I think it’s fair to say that Obama is not trying to destroy America’s relations with Israel; he’s trying to organize Tzipi Livni’s campaign for prime minister, or at least for her inclusion in a broad-based centrist government.”

Obama’s pollster says a plurality of voters oppose ObamaCare.

Charles Krauthammer on the Slaughter Rule: “You have an issue of democratic decency: It is rare enough, unusual enough, and really indecent enough to change a sixth of the American economy with a bill that has not a single support from Republicans. But to do it by a procedure which doesn’t even approve of the bill itself is simply staggering.”

Democrats are saying pretty much the same thing: “A plan that would allow House Democrats to bypass a direct vote on the Senate’s healthcare bill is causing ‘discomfort,’ a key centrist Democrat said Tuesday. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), a member of the Blue Dog and New Democrat Coalitions, said that the plan to pass the plan using the so-called ‘deem and pass’ procedure is ‘wrong’ and unpopular among his constituents. ‘There’s a lot of discomfort with the reconciliation process, the self-implementing rule, where you wouldn’t have a formal vote on maybe the most important policy of the past 40 years,’ he said on Fox Business Network. ‘I have a big issue with the way they’re doing the process. I think it’s wrong and my constituents don’t like it.'”

Oops. More bad news for the Democrats (subscription required): “House Democratic leaders are still struggling to produce a final health care overhaul bill at an acceptable official cost estimate, but Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday they continue to plan a final vote this week. House leaders were to huddle late Tuesday afternoon, following a noon session of the full Democratic Caucus. There were reports they are having trouble drafting a bill that meets their budgetary targets. … Rank-and-file Democrats did not talk about the details, but said that the CBO scores had come up short. ‘They were less than expected’ in terms of deficit reduction, said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, who plans to vote for the bill.” (And he still plans to vote for it?) Sounds kinda chaotic.

All Republican challengers are within single digits of Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Dana Perino on the parliamentary hanky-panky Democrats may use to pass ObamaCare: “There is another way to win passage of legislation — the old-fashioned, bipartisan discussion, school-house rock kind of way. The Bush Administration managed that even at the lowest of approval ratings — FISA reauthorization in July of ’08 comes to mind. Imagine the hootin’ and hollerin’ if George W. Bush had tried to ram through a bill like health care reform using parliamentary tricks — the left would be screaming bloody murder.”

Among its foreign-policy debacles: “In the U.S., the Obama Administration’s Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration faces bipartisan criticism for his approach to the Khartoum government headed by Umar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and war crimes.” Learn more if you are in the D.C. area at the Foreign Policy Initiative’s April 13 program.

Well, he is best at campaigning. Jeffrey Goldberg on Obama’s gambit: “I think it’s fair to say that Obama is not trying to destroy America’s relations with Israel; he’s trying to organize Tzipi Livni’s campaign for prime minister, or at least for her inclusion in a broad-based centrist government.”

Obama’s pollster says a plurality of voters oppose ObamaCare.

Charles Krauthammer on the Slaughter Rule: “You have an issue of democratic decency: It is rare enough, unusual enough, and really indecent enough to change a sixth of the American economy with a bill that has not a single support from Republicans. But to do it by a procedure which doesn’t even approve of the bill itself is simply staggering.”

Democrats are saying pretty much the same thing: “A plan that would allow House Democrats to bypass a direct vote on the Senate’s healthcare bill is causing ‘discomfort,’ a key centrist Democrat said Tuesday. Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), a member of the Blue Dog and New Democrat Coalitions, said that the plan to pass the plan using the so-called ‘deem and pass’ procedure is ‘wrong’ and unpopular among his constituents. ‘There’s a lot of discomfort with the reconciliation process, the self-implementing rule, where you wouldn’t have a formal vote on maybe the most important policy of the past 40 years,’ he said on Fox Business Network. ‘I have a big issue with the way they’re doing the process. I think it’s wrong and my constituents don’t like it.'”

Oops. More bad news for the Democrats (subscription required): “House Democratic leaders are still struggling to produce a final health care overhaul bill at an acceptable official cost estimate, but Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday they continue to plan a final vote this week. House leaders were to huddle late Tuesday afternoon, following a noon session of the full Democratic Caucus. There were reports they are having trouble drafting a bill that meets their budgetary targets. … Rank-and-file Democrats did not talk about the details, but said that the CBO scores had come up short. ‘They were less than expected’ in terms of deficit reduction, said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, who plans to vote for the bill.” (And he still plans to vote for it?) Sounds kinda chaotic.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

A pattern? “Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t tell the Senate Judiciary Committee about seven Supreme Court amicus briefs he prepared or supported, his office acknowledged in a letter Friday, including two urging the court to reject the Bush administration’s attempt to try Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant.”
Jamie Fly is worried that the Obama administration won’t stick it out until the job is done in Iraq: “This is a troubling sign that ‘one of the great achievements of this administration’ might be squandered if the going gets tough in Iraq. This seems shortsighted given the thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars the United States has sacrificed in setting Iraq on the path to a secure democratic future. Even setting aside the scale of the U.S. commitment thus far, the United States has a strategic interest in ensuring Iraq’s success and in continuing to remain involved in Iraq’s security.”

The Beagle Blogger is an ignoramus when it comes to the Middle East, according to blogmate Jeffrey Goldberg: “Andrew Sullivan should be thankful that The Atlantic’s fact-checking department has no purview over the magazine’s website. … Andrew is free to publish malicious nonsense, such as the series of maps he published yesterday, maps which purport to show how Jews stole Palestinian land. Andrew does not tell us the source of these maps (in a magazine with standards, the source would be identified), but they were drawn to cast Jews in the most terrible light possible. … ‘Andrew has so many opinions to ventilate, and so little time to think about them’ that the publication of this absurd map on his blog could simply have been a mistake.”

A bad week for Tony Rezko’s former banker: “Democrat candidate Alexi Giannoulias faced a new political hassle in his bid for President Obama’s former Senate seat after a major contributor was arrested Thursday on charges of defrauding banks by writing bad checks.”

A sign of the Red wave from the Democratic Public Policy Polling: “Neither of the top candidates for Governor of Florida is particularly well known or liked but with the national political winds blowing in a Republican direction Bill McCollum has the solid early lead. McCollum’s currently at 44% to 31% for Alex Sink. He leads her 38-25 with independent voters and is winning 20% of the Democratic vote while holding Sink to just 11% of the Republican vote.”

Rep. Bart Stupak on the House leadership’s determination to protect abortion subsidies in ObamaCare: “The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue.”

They better have a bunch of votes in reserve: “House Democrats are ready to ‘forge ahead’ on healthcare without a deal on abortion, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Friday. Hoyer said hopes for a deal have all but evaporated with a dozen Democrats who want tougher restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion services than are included in the Senate’s healthcare bill.”

Hillary Clinton joins the Israel-bashing extravaganza — because really, U.S.-Israeli relations aren’t strained enough.

A pattern? “Attorney General Eric Holder didn’t tell the Senate Judiciary Committee about seven Supreme Court amicus briefs he prepared or supported, his office acknowledged in a letter Friday, including two urging the court to reject the Bush administration’s attempt to try Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant.”
Jamie Fly is worried that the Obama administration won’t stick it out until the job is done in Iraq: “This is a troubling sign that ‘one of the great achievements of this administration’ might be squandered if the going gets tough in Iraq. This seems shortsighted given the thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars the United States has sacrificed in setting Iraq on the path to a secure democratic future. Even setting aside the scale of the U.S. commitment thus far, the United States has a strategic interest in ensuring Iraq’s success and in continuing to remain involved in Iraq’s security.”

The Beagle Blogger is an ignoramus when it comes to the Middle East, according to blogmate Jeffrey Goldberg: “Andrew Sullivan should be thankful that The Atlantic’s fact-checking department has no purview over the magazine’s website. … Andrew is free to publish malicious nonsense, such as the series of maps he published yesterday, maps which purport to show how Jews stole Palestinian land. Andrew does not tell us the source of these maps (in a magazine with standards, the source would be identified), but they were drawn to cast Jews in the most terrible light possible. … ‘Andrew has so many opinions to ventilate, and so little time to think about them’ that the publication of this absurd map on his blog could simply have been a mistake.”

A bad week for Tony Rezko’s former banker: “Democrat candidate Alexi Giannoulias faced a new political hassle in his bid for President Obama’s former Senate seat after a major contributor was arrested Thursday on charges of defrauding banks by writing bad checks.”

A sign of the Red wave from the Democratic Public Policy Polling: “Neither of the top candidates for Governor of Florida is particularly well known or liked but with the national political winds blowing in a Republican direction Bill McCollum has the solid early lead. McCollum’s currently at 44% to 31% for Alex Sink. He leads her 38-25 with independent voters and is winning 20% of the Democratic vote while holding Sink to just 11% of the Republican vote.”

Rep. Bart Stupak on the House leadership’s determination to protect abortion subsidies in ObamaCare: “The House Democratic leaders think they have the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care bill without us. At this point, there is no doubt that they’ve been able to peel off one or two of my twelve. And even if they don’t have the votes, it’s been made clear to us that they won’t insert our language on the abortion issue.”

They better have a bunch of votes in reserve: “House Democrats are ready to ‘forge ahead’ on healthcare without a deal on abortion, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Friday. Hoyer said hopes for a deal have all but evaporated with a dozen Democrats who want tougher restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion services than are included in the Senate’s healthcare bill.”

Hillary Clinton joins the Israel-bashing extravaganza — because really, U.S.-Israeli relations aren’t strained enough.

Read Less

Radical Move for a Radical Bill

Does she have the votes? Can she get them? That’s what everyone is wondering. “She” is Nancy Pelosi, and the votes will decide not only the fate of ObamaCare but also of Obama’s presidency. Michael Barone explores whether the votes are there to pass the Senate version of health care, as that’s what it’s come down to. (Let’s all assume for the sake of argument that reconciliation is a flimflam.) He tells us:

As of today, it’s clear there aren’t. House Democratic leaders have brushed aside White House calls to bring the bill forward by March 18, when President Barack Obama heads to Asia. Nevertheless, analysts close to the Democratic leadership tell me they’re confident the leadership will find some way to squeeze out the 216 votes needed for a majority.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indeed shown mastery at amassing majorities. But it’s hard to see how she’ll do so on this one. The arithmetic as I see it doesn’t add up.

There are Bart Stupak’s pro-life Democrats. There’s the dicey matter of voting for all those sweetheart deals. (“Voting for the Senate bill means voting for the Cornhusker kickback and the Louisiana purchase — the price Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid paid for the votes of Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu. It’s not hard to imagine the ads Republicans could run attacking House members for sending money to Nebraska and Louisiana but not their home states.”) Then there are the House Democrats in especially vulnerable districts:

More than 40 House Democrats represent districts which John McCain carried. Most voted no in November and would presumably be hurt by switching to yes now. Moreover, Mr. Obama’s job approval now hovers around 48%, five points lower than his winning percentage in 2008. His approval on health care is even lower.

Another 32 House Democrats represent districts where Mr. Obama won between 50% and 54% of the vote, and where his approval is likely to be running under 50% now. That leaves just 176 House Democrats from districts where Mr. Obama’s approval rating is not, to borrow a real-estate term, under water. That’s 40 votes less than the 216 needed.

This isn’t to say that Pelosi can’t pull it off. But if she comes up short, she and Obama will suffer a devastating blow. And if she squeaks by, the Republicans have their campaign slogan and a single, overarching issue: Repeal ObamaCare.

Obama is risking his presidency — for what will be left of his political capital and credibility if he fails? — on a monstrous tax-and-spend measure that a significant majority of voters oppose, and vehemently so. Pretty radical stuff for a candidate billed as a moderate.

Does she have the votes? Can she get them? That’s what everyone is wondering. “She” is Nancy Pelosi, and the votes will decide not only the fate of ObamaCare but also of Obama’s presidency. Michael Barone explores whether the votes are there to pass the Senate version of health care, as that’s what it’s come down to. (Let’s all assume for the sake of argument that reconciliation is a flimflam.) He tells us:

As of today, it’s clear there aren’t. House Democratic leaders have brushed aside White House calls to bring the bill forward by March 18, when President Barack Obama heads to Asia. Nevertheless, analysts close to the Democratic leadership tell me they’re confident the leadership will find some way to squeeze out the 216 votes needed for a majority.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indeed shown mastery at amassing majorities. But it’s hard to see how she’ll do so on this one. The arithmetic as I see it doesn’t add up.

There are Bart Stupak’s pro-life Democrats. There’s the dicey matter of voting for all those sweetheart deals. (“Voting for the Senate bill means voting for the Cornhusker kickback and the Louisiana purchase — the price Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid paid for the votes of Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu. It’s not hard to imagine the ads Republicans could run attacking House members for sending money to Nebraska and Louisiana but not their home states.”) Then there are the House Democrats in especially vulnerable districts:

More than 40 House Democrats represent districts which John McCain carried. Most voted no in November and would presumably be hurt by switching to yes now. Moreover, Mr. Obama’s job approval now hovers around 48%, five points lower than his winning percentage in 2008. His approval on health care is even lower.

Another 32 House Democrats represent districts where Mr. Obama won between 50% and 54% of the vote, and where his approval is likely to be running under 50% now. That leaves just 176 House Democrats from districts where Mr. Obama’s approval rating is not, to borrow a real-estate term, under water. That’s 40 votes less than the 216 needed.

This isn’t to say that Pelosi can’t pull it off. But if she comes up short, she and Obama will suffer a devastating blow. And if she squeaks by, the Republicans have their campaign slogan and a single, overarching issue: Repeal ObamaCare.

Obama is risking his presidency — for what will be left of his political capital and credibility if he fails? — on a monstrous tax-and-spend measure that a significant majority of voters oppose, and vehemently so. Pretty radical stuff for a candidate billed as a moderate.

Read Less

No Up or Down Vote?

To its credit, the Washington Post‘s editorial board has been after Obama and the Democratic Congress over their unseemly effort to sink the D.C. school-voucher program, which allows thousands of poor kids to go to the same schools that the president and many members of Congress send their children to. They write that that the Democratic Senate leadership doesn’t want a vote taken — because that would reveal just how atrocious the effort is to let the popular and effective scholarship program die:

For months, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), leader of a bipartisan coalition seeking to continue the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, has been trying to get floor time. He’s reminded Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) that a commitment was made to allow a vote, and he tried to cooperate with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, who said he was open to finding a way to let the program proceed. Both efforts came to naught, so Mr. Lieberman Tuesday tried to offer an amendment to the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act. That effort, too, was thwarted: “Not germane” is the explanation offered to us by spokesmen for Mr. Reid and Mr. Durbin.

An up or down vote — why not? The president says he likes those when it comes to health care. But don’t hold your breath. As the editors note: “What possible explanation could Democrats devise for killing something that has been so crucial in the lives of thousands of poor D.C. children? How would it look? No, better to do nothing and hope the issue goes away.”

Lieberman and others can attach the measure as an amendment to a variety of bills. He and the other senators who put the education of D.C. schoolchildren above the interests of Big Labor (in maintaining their near monopoly on education, even after decades of putrid results) should keep at it.

To its credit, the Washington Post‘s editorial board has been after Obama and the Democratic Congress over their unseemly effort to sink the D.C. school-voucher program, which allows thousands of poor kids to go to the same schools that the president and many members of Congress send their children to. They write that that the Democratic Senate leadership doesn’t want a vote taken — because that would reveal just how atrocious the effort is to let the popular and effective scholarship program die:

For months, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), leader of a bipartisan coalition seeking to continue the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, has been trying to get floor time. He’s reminded Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) that a commitment was made to allow a vote, and he tried to cooperate with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, who said he was open to finding a way to let the program proceed. Both efforts came to naught, so Mr. Lieberman Tuesday tried to offer an amendment to the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act. That effort, too, was thwarted: “Not germane” is the explanation offered to us by spokesmen for Mr. Reid and Mr. Durbin.

An up or down vote — why not? The president says he likes those when it comes to health care. But don’t hold your breath. As the editors note: “What possible explanation could Democrats devise for killing something that has been so crucial in the lives of thousands of poor D.C. children? How would it look? No, better to do nothing and hope the issue goes away.”

Lieberman and others can attach the measure as an amendment to a variety of bills. He and the other senators who put the education of D.C. schoolchildren above the interests of Big Labor (in maintaining their near monopoly on education, even after decades of putrid results) should keep at it.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams on the selective indignation over Liz Cheney’s criticism of Justice Department lawyers who previously worked for al-Qaeda clients: “Where were all these principled folk when [John] Yoo and [Jay] Bybee were being attacked for giving a legal opinion? As Ted Olson said, why is it fine to protect a terrorist client but not the client called the USA? I refused to join those who want to push half the argument- and then excommunicate those on the other half. That’s left-right politics, not a principled argument.” And it’s perfectly legitimate to explore whether those lawyers have a conflict of interest because of past representation.

Scott Johnson lays out the tick-tock on Sami al-Arian and concludes that “Tom Campbell flunks the al-Arian test.”

The Ohio Senate seat looks safe for the Republicans: “None of the top contenders for the U.S. Senate in Ohio are gaining ground at this point, with Republican Rob Portman still holding a modest lead. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Portman leading Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher 44% to 39%.”

The president obsessed with campaigning rails against the Washington scene, which is “obsessed with the sport of politics.”

Because you can never have too many foolish blabbermouths: “Biden Brings Chris Matthews to Israel.”

Roger Clegg on the Obami’s idea of “civil rights” in education policy: searching for evidence of disparate impact in school discipline policies. “The disparate-impact approach will also pressure school systems who are not engaged in actual discrimination to get their numbers right, so they won’t be investigated. And how will they do that? There are two ways: Either they will start to discipline, say, Asian students who are not really deserving of such discipline, or they will forego disciplining, say, black students who really ought to be disciplined. The former is merely unfair; the latter, which is the more likely outcome, will be disastrous for all children in the school system, of whatever color.”

Chris Buckley supports Warren Buffett on health care (scrap it!): “I, for one, would sleep very soundly if Warren Buffett were president of the United States, or speaker of the House, or Senate majority leader, or chairman of the Joint Chiefs, yeah.” Alas, he told everyone to vote for Obama, whose monstrous health-care plan Buffett wants to dump.

Two more pro-life Democrats say “no” to ObamaCare without the Stupak anti-abortion-subsidy language.

The buzzards are circling the Charlie Crist campaign: “National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Cornyn said Monday that his endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida’s GOP Senate primary was ‘selfish’ and that the committee will not stand in Marco Rubio’s way. Cornyn (R-Texas) said he stuck by the endorsement, but he also began minimizing it, now that it looks like Crist may well lose the primary. Recent polls have shown Rubio stealing virtually all the momentum in the race and opening a lead over Crist.”

More buzzards, via Ben Smith: “Alexi Giannoulias — an old Obama ally, but not his preferred candidate — will be by the White House for Greek Independence Day tomorrow. … I’m told he’s likely to stop in and chat with political aides like Axelrod and Patrick Gaspard, part of a running effort to convince national Democrats not to write the race off.” Or look for a replacement.

Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams on the selective indignation over Liz Cheney’s criticism of Justice Department lawyers who previously worked for al-Qaeda clients: “Where were all these principled folk when [John] Yoo and [Jay] Bybee were being attacked for giving a legal opinion? As Ted Olson said, why is it fine to protect a terrorist client but not the client called the USA? I refused to join those who want to push half the argument- and then excommunicate those on the other half. That’s left-right politics, not a principled argument.” And it’s perfectly legitimate to explore whether those lawyers have a conflict of interest because of past representation.

Scott Johnson lays out the tick-tock on Sami al-Arian and concludes that “Tom Campbell flunks the al-Arian test.”

The Ohio Senate seat looks safe for the Republicans: “None of the top contenders for the U.S. Senate in Ohio are gaining ground at this point, with Republican Rob Portman still holding a modest lead. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Portman leading Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher 44% to 39%.”

The president obsessed with campaigning rails against the Washington scene, which is “obsessed with the sport of politics.”

Because you can never have too many foolish blabbermouths: “Biden Brings Chris Matthews to Israel.”

Roger Clegg on the Obami’s idea of “civil rights” in education policy: searching for evidence of disparate impact in school discipline policies. “The disparate-impact approach will also pressure school systems who are not engaged in actual discrimination to get their numbers right, so they won’t be investigated. And how will they do that? There are two ways: Either they will start to discipline, say, Asian students who are not really deserving of such discipline, or they will forego disciplining, say, black students who really ought to be disciplined. The former is merely unfair; the latter, which is the more likely outcome, will be disastrous for all children in the school system, of whatever color.”

Chris Buckley supports Warren Buffett on health care (scrap it!): “I, for one, would sleep very soundly if Warren Buffett were president of the United States, or speaker of the House, or Senate majority leader, or chairman of the Joint Chiefs, yeah.” Alas, he told everyone to vote for Obama, whose monstrous health-care plan Buffett wants to dump.

Two more pro-life Democrats say “no” to ObamaCare without the Stupak anti-abortion-subsidy language.

The buzzards are circling the Charlie Crist campaign: “National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Cornyn said Monday that his endorsement of Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida’s GOP Senate primary was ‘selfish’ and that the committee will not stand in Marco Rubio’s way. Cornyn (R-Texas) said he stuck by the endorsement, but he also began minimizing it, now that it looks like Crist may well lose the primary. Recent polls have shown Rubio stealing virtually all the momentum in the race and opening a lead over Crist.”

More buzzards, via Ben Smith: “Alexi Giannoulias — an old Obama ally, but not his preferred candidate — will be by the White House for Greek Independence Day tomorrow. … I’m told he’s likely to stop in and chat with political aides like Axelrod and Patrick Gaspard, part of a running effort to convince national Democrats not to write the race off.” Or look for a replacement.

Read Less

No Chaos Here, Just Move Along

This headline probably isn’t what the White House and congressional Democrats want to see: “Pelosi Hits Rough Patch, Denies ‘Chaos.'” Well, yes, if you have to deny it, then that’s probably a sign things are not well in paradise. The gist of the report is that Nancy Pelosi (not unlike the White House) is out of touch and in far-Left field:

Last week’s threatened Democratic defections in support of a planned GOP resolution concerning New York Rep. Charles Rangel’s ethical problems, a mini-insurrection over who should take over Rangel’s Ways and Means Committee gavel, and Pelosi’s weirdly detached admission to being left out of the loop about harassment charges against Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y., left even some House Democrats wincing.

All of this did little to soothe the nerves of Caucus members already jittery over predictions of a Democratic free-fall in the upcoming midterm elections. It’s a fear described by one senior House Democrat as “palpable and pervasive.”

A bad week? Pelosi acknowledged as much herself at her weekly briefing Thursday when asked if she felt like she was now leading “a party in crisis.”
“Some of the issues that you reference in terms of the issues that transpired in the last few days, they are behind us,” she said.

But the week’s events represented a highly visible — if not embarrassing — bit of unraveling of the cohesion within the Democratic Caucus that Pelosi has, for the most part, tightly controlled since taking the speaker’s gavel in 2007.

The problem seems to be that many moderate Democrats fear she is in the grip of the far Left in her caucus:

“Across the Caucus, there is growing dissatisfaction and resentment — not so much directed at Pelosi — but with her cadre of California liberals seen as continually driving her House agenda, regardless of the hits the rest of us will have to take,” said one House Democrat. … “She seems to only be listening to this small cadre, and the rank and file are expected to simply fall in line,” complained a senior Democrat; he said this is contributing to Caucus animosity over the prospect of being asked once again to walk the plank on a healthcare bill, after already passing a bill last year, on top of climate legislation establishing a cap-and-trade emissions program.

This is nothing new. What is new is that those members who aren’t in safe seats (a growing group thanks to the Obami) now see their political future imperiled by Pelosi’s extremism. And they’ve also come to acknowledge that she’s less than competent in both representing the House Democrats to the public and draining that swamp she promised to take care of when she assumed the speakership. The result is that her credibility erodes, the arm-twisting is less effective, and it’s every member for himself. That’s probably wise for the endangered members who can get themselves better aligned with their constituents. It’s not so good, however, for ObamaCare’s prospects. Meanwhile, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer must be licking his chops. After November, his colleagues would be wise to look for new leadership.

This headline probably isn’t what the White House and congressional Democrats want to see: “Pelosi Hits Rough Patch, Denies ‘Chaos.'” Well, yes, if you have to deny it, then that’s probably a sign things are not well in paradise. The gist of the report is that Nancy Pelosi (not unlike the White House) is out of touch and in far-Left field:

Last week’s threatened Democratic defections in support of a planned GOP resolution concerning New York Rep. Charles Rangel’s ethical problems, a mini-insurrection over who should take over Rangel’s Ways and Means Committee gavel, and Pelosi’s weirdly detached admission to being left out of the loop about harassment charges against Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y., left even some House Democrats wincing.

All of this did little to soothe the nerves of Caucus members already jittery over predictions of a Democratic free-fall in the upcoming midterm elections. It’s a fear described by one senior House Democrat as “palpable and pervasive.”

A bad week? Pelosi acknowledged as much herself at her weekly briefing Thursday when asked if she felt like she was now leading “a party in crisis.”
“Some of the issues that you reference in terms of the issues that transpired in the last few days, they are behind us,” she said.

But the week’s events represented a highly visible — if not embarrassing — bit of unraveling of the cohesion within the Democratic Caucus that Pelosi has, for the most part, tightly controlled since taking the speaker’s gavel in 2007.

The problem seems to be that many moderate Democrats fear she is in the grip of the far Left in her caucus:

“Across the Caucus, there is growing dissatisfaction and resentment — not so much directed at Pelosi — but with her cadre of California liberals seen as continually driving her House agenda, regardless of the hits the rest of us will have to take,” said one House Democrat. … “She seems to only be listening to this small cadre, and the rank and file are expected to simply fall in line,” complained a senior Democrat; he said this is contributing to Caucus animosity over the prospect of being asked once again to walk the plank on a healthcare bill, after already passing a bill last year, on top of climate legislation establishing a cap-and-trade emissions program.

This is nothing new. What is new is that those members who aren’t in safe seats (a growing group thanks to the Obami) now see their political future imperiled by Pelosi’s extremism. And they’ve also come to acknowledge that she’s less than competent in both representing the House Democrats to the public and draining that swamp she promised to take care of when she assumed the speakership. The result is that her credibility erodes, the arm-twisting is less effective, and it’s every member for himself. That’s probably wise for the endangered members who can get themselves better aligned with their constituents. It’s not so good, however, for ObamaCare’s prospects. Meanwhile, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer must be licking his chops. After November, his colleagues would be wise to look for new leadership.

Read Less

Jumping When Unions Holler

Obama’s promise of  a better, cleaner, and more transparent brand of politics has not been fulfilled. Not by a long shot. The president appoints the SEIU boss to the deficit commission. Congress behind closed doors churns out colorfully named sweetheart deals on ObamaCare. And then they really reveal the depths of their dependence on special-interest patrons.

Writing in the Washington Post, Kelly Amis and Joseph E. Robert Jr. explain that the $450 billion spending bill last year “effectively dismantled a small, successful education program benefiting low-income children in the nation’s capital.” All hope is not lost that a scholarship reviled by Big Labor as a threat to its education monopoly may disappear. But we’re getting close. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) is trying to restore the program. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may prevent the Senate from even voting on the measure. He has, it seems, little support from Democrats:

Who wants to vote against an effective program serving poor minority children?

Congress needed only to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program — as the local community asked it to do and as the research should have compelled it to do — but the members who mattered ignored the families outside their white marble offices, even rescinding scholarships to hundreds of hopeful students.

Where is Obama in all this? Nowhere to be found. They write:

Obama could have stood up for these children, who only want the same opportunities that he had and that his daughters now have. Instead, his education secretary, Arne Duncan, proffered an argument that would be funny if it weren’t so sad: Scholarships for poor students aren’t worth supporting because not enough of them are given out.

Note to Duncan: You could give out more.

The mayor and school chancellor support the scholarship plan but not the Democratic leadership. (“Unfortunately, congressional leaders — especially Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) — crumpled before teachers union threats, led by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, who declared everything open to negotiation ‘except vouchers.'”) Vouchers, of course, threaten to send students to schools with no teacher unions, and teacher unions are in the business of sustaining their unions, not in maximizing educational opportunities for students. So the union squawks, the Democrats jump, and the D.C. kids get the short end of the stick.

Amis and Robert note that there is a bipartisan group — which includes Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and John Ensign (R-Nev.) — seeking to save the program. But what the D.C. schoolchildren and their parents need is the president and Senate and House Democratic leadership. Too bad they’ve got Big Labor patrons to mollify.

Obama’s promise of  a better, cleaner, and more transparent brand of politics has not been fulfilled. Not by a long shot. The president appoints the SEIU boss to the deficit commission. Congress behind closed doors churns out colorfully named sweetheart deals on ObamaCare. And then they really reveal the depths of their dependence on special-interest patrons.

Writing in the Washington Post, Kelly Amis and Joseph E. Robert Jr. explain that the $450 billion spending bill last year “effectively dismantled a small, successful education program benefiting low-income children in the nation’s capital.” All hope is not lost that a scholarship reviled by Big Labor as a threat to its education monopoly may disappear. But we’re getting close. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) is trying to restore the program. Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may prevent the Senate from even voting on the measure. He has, it seems, little support from Democrats:

Who wants to vote against an effective program serving poor minority children?

Congress needed only to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program — as the local community asked it to do and as the research should have compelled it to do — but the members who mattered ignored the families outside their white marble offices, even rescinding scholarships to hundreds of hopeful students.

Where is Obama in all this? Nowhere to be found. They write:

Obama could have stood up for these children, who only want the same opportunities that he had and that his daughters now have. Instead, his education secretary, Arne Duncan, proffered an argument that would be funny if it weren’t so sad: Scholarships for poor students aren’t worth supporting because not enough of them are given out.

Note to Duncan: You could give out more.

The mayor and school chancellor support the scholarship plan but not the Democratic leadership. (“Unfortunately, congressional leaders — especially Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) — crumpled before teachers union threats, led by American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, who declared everything open to negotiation ‘except vouchers.'”) Vouchers, of course, threaten to send students to schools with no teacher unions, and teacher unions are in the business of sustaining their unions, not in maximizing educational opportunities for students. So the union squawks, the Democrats jump, and the D.C. kids get the short end of the stick.

Amis and Robert note that there is a bipartisan group — which includes Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), and John Ensign (R-Nev.) — seeking to save the program. But what the D.C. schoolchildren and their parents need is the president and Senate and House Democratic leadership. Too bad they’ve got Big Labor patrons to mollify.

Read Less

RE: Like 2006 All Over Again

Rep. Eric Massa denies the allegation of sexual harassment and says he’s leaving due to health concerns. Politico reports that the issue is an allegation that “the New York Democrat, who is married with two children, made unwanted advances toward a junior male staffer. ” The ethics committee is said to have already interviewed another Massa staffer who brought the issue forward.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released a statement:

The week of February 8th, a member of Rep. Massa’s staff brought to the attention of Mr. Hoyer’s staff allegations of misconduct that had been made against Mr. Massa. Mr. Hoyer’s staff immediately informed him of what they had been told. Mr. Hoyer instructed his staff that if Mr. Massa or his staff did not bring the matter to the attention of the bipartisan Ethics Committee within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer would do so. Within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer received confirmation from both the Ethics Committee staff and Mr. Massa’s staff that the Ethics Committee had been contacted and would review the allegations. Mr. Hoyer does not know whether the allegations are true or false, but wanted to ensure that the bipartisan committee charged with overseeing conduct of Members was immediately involved to determine the facts.

Some insist it’s just preposterous to bring Mark Foley into this (“But let’s get one thing straight: Massa is not Mark Foley. … Foley was forced to resign in ’06 after he admitted making inappropriate sexual advances to underage House pages”). Well, yes, it could always be worse. But it was Hoyer who knew what everyone was thinking and tried his best to make this a bipartisan matter: “I don’t think it helps anybody in the institution, any one of us on either side of the aisle. It certainly didn’t help Mr. Foley. … When there were allegations about Mr. Foley or others, I think the institution suffers.” Actually, the Republicans suffered mightily, in no small part because they didn’t quite have their act together about who knew what and what they did about it. Perhaps the Democrats have less vulnerability there.

But let’s be clear: every moment Democrats spend making the argument that their ethics sex scandal isn’t as damaging as the Republicans’ because their guy’s male victim wasn’t a minor is probably a bad one. Sure, it doesn’t have much to do with Charlie Rangel or health care or the other reasons Congress’s approval rating is in the teens. But in 2006 Foley’s scandal didn’t have anything to do with the Iraq war or voters’ upset over fiscal sloth (which seems innocuous compared with today’s runaway spending train). Then, as now, it was just one more reason for disgusted voters to say “Enough!” And lots of them will.

Rep. Eric Massa denies the allegation of sexual harassment and says he’s leaving due to health concerns. Politico reports that the issue is an allegation that “the New York Democrat, who is married with two children, made unwanted advances toward a junior male staffer. ” The ethics committee is said to have already interviewed another Massa staffer who brought the issue forward.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released a statement:

The week of February 8th, a member of Rep. Massa’s staff brought to the attention of Mr. Hoyer’s staff allegations of misconduct that had been made against Mr. Massa. Mr. Hoyer’s staff immediately informed him of what they had been told. Mr. Hoyer instructed his staff that if Mr. Massa or his staff did not bring the matter to the attention of the bipartisan Ethics Committee within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer would do so. Within 48 hours, Mr. Hoyer received confirmation from both the Ethics Committee staff and Mr. Massa’s staff that the Ethics Committee had been contacted and would review the allegations. Mr. Hoyer does not know whether the allegations are true or false, but wanted to ensure that the bipartisan committee charged with overseeing conduct of Members was immediately involved to determine the facts.

Some insist it’s just preposterous to bring Mark Foley into this (“But let’s get one thing straight: Massa is not Mark Foley. … Foley was forced to resign in ’06 after he admitted making inappropriate sexual advances to underage House pages”). Well, yes, it could always be worse. But it was Hoyer who knew what everyone was thinking and tried his best to make this a bipartisan matter: “I don’t think it helps anybody in the institution, any one of us on either side of the aisle. It certainly didn’t help Mr. Foley. … When there were allegations about Mr. Foley or others, I think the institution suffers.” Actually, the Republicans suffered mightily, in no small part because they didn’t quite have their act together about who knew what and what they did about it. Perhaps the Democrats have less vulnerability there.

But let’s be clear: every moment Democrats spend making the argument that their ethics sex scandal isn’t as damaging as the Republicans’ because their guy’s male victim wasn’t a minor is probably a bad one. Sure, it doesn’t have much to do with Charlie Rangel or health care or the other reasons Congress’s approval rating is in the teens. But in 2006 Foley’s scandal didn’t have anything to do with the Iraq war or voters’ upset over fiscal sloth (which seems innocuous compared with today’s runaway spending train). Then, as now, it was just one more reason for disgusted voters to say “Enough!” And lots of them will.

Read Less

ObamaCare and Political Theater

The health-care summit on Thursday will garner a huge amount of media attention — and its effect on the health-care debate will be negligible to nonexistent. It is simple political theater, a transparent public-relations game. No one believes anything important will be done, any serious negotiations will take place, any concessions will be given, any significant compromises struck. All it will do is place a debate we’ve been engaged in for the better part of a year on another stage.

The important news from this week has to do not with political “summits” but political substance — and the Obama administration’s stunning decision to double down on health care. I say stunning because ObamaCare is doing to the Democratic party what a wrecking ball does to a condemned building.

ObamaCare is, for one thing, hugely unpopular. David Brooks reports that if you average the last 10 polls, 38 percent of voters support the reform plans and 53 percent oppose. Obama’s reform is more unpopular than Bill Clinton’s was as it died, Brooks points out. And of course the intensity of opposition to the plan is far more than the intensity of support. Health care also set the context for Democratic losses in New Jersey, in Virginia, and in Massachusetts. Yet, according to press reports, “after initially reeling from the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate in Massachusetts, Obama’s chief political strategists came to believe that voters would punish Democrats more severely in this year’s elections for failing to try [to pass health care legislation], they said.”

Liberals like E.J. Dionne Jr. and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post argue that if Obama fails to pass health-care reform, his presidency will be crippled — but if he passes reform, it will be salvaged. “This week will determine the shape of American politics for the next three years,” Dionne wrote on Monday. “No, that’s not one of those journalistic exaggerations intended to catch your attention. … It’s an accurate description of the stakes at the health care summit President Obama has called for Thursday. The issue is whether the summit proves to be the turning point in a political year that, at the moment, is moving decisively in the Republicans’ direction. If the summit fails to shake things up and does not lead to the passage of a comprehensive health care bill, Democrats and Obama are in for a miserable time for the rest of his term.”

This strikes me as perfectly wrong. After a year of intense debate, the public has reacted to ObamaCare the way the human body reacts to food poisoning. It is rejecting it, utterly and completely. For Obama and the White House to convince themselves to ram through legislation that is, if anything, worse than the original House and Senate bills is an act of madness.

I rather doubt it will succeed. For one thing, there are now at least three people who voted for the House version of the bill who will not vote for a reconciliation bill (the late John Murtha, Bart Stupak, and Joseph Cao). For another, the Democrats plan is more unpopular now than it was when it passed in the House last year (by a vote of 220-215). We are also in an election year, when the Democrats are desperate to turn attention from health care to jobs. And finally, we live in a post–Scott Brown election world. Democrats have seen that ObamaCare is political hemlock. It is a cup Democrats would rather have pass from their lips.

No one is arguing that not passing Obama’s signature domestic initiative would reflect well on the president. A failure of this magnitude will undoubtedly damage him. But in this instance, with the White House having acted so ineptly, failing to pass ObamaCare is the best of bad options. Obstinacy on behalf of a bad and unpopular idea is a road to political ruin.

In redoubling his efforts to pass health-care legislation, Obama will be rejected — not simply by Republicans and the public but also, I suspect, by members of his own party. This in turn will further weaken his political standing. He will have looked obsessively out of touch, selfish, and narcissistic. But in the highly unlikely event that Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid succeed in passing health-care legislation through the reconciliation process — if Democrats in the House are foolish enough to hitch their hopes to this liberal troika — there will be an even more fearsome political price to pay.

Some Democrats may believe things can’t possibly get worse, so they may as well pass ObamaCare. They are wrong. As one of my least favorite political philosophers, Mao Zedong, said, “It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.”

The health-care summit on Thursday will garner a huge amount of media attention — and its effect on the health-care debate will be negligible to nonexistent. It is simple political theater, a transparent public-relations game. No one believes anything important will be done, any serious negotiations will take place, any concessions will be given, any significant compromises struck. All it will do is place a debate we’ve been engaged in for the better part of a year on another stage.

The important news from this week has to do not with political “summits” but political substance — and the Obama administration’s stunning decision to double down on health care. I say stunning because ObamaCare is doing to the Democratic party what a wrecking ball does to a condemned building.

ObamaCare is, for one thing, hugely unpopular. David Brooks reports that if you average the last 10 polls, 38 percent of voters support the reform plans and 53 percent oppose. Obama’s reform is more unpopular than Bill Clinton’s was as it died, Brooks points out. And of course the intensity of opposition to the plan is far more than the intensity of support. Health care also set the context for Democratic losses in New Jersey, in Virginia, and in Massachusetts. Yet, according to press reports, “after initially reeling from the surprise election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate in Massachusetts, Obama’s chief political strategists came to believe that voters would punish Democrats more severely in this year’s elections for failing to try [to pass health care legislation], they said.”

Liberals like E.J. Dionne Jr. and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post argue that if Obama fails to pass health-care reform, his presidency will be crippled — but if he passes reform, it will be salvaged. “This week will determine the shape of American politics for the next three years,” Dionne wrote on Monday. “No, that’s not one of those journalistic exaggerations intended to catch your attention. … It’s an accurate description of the stakes at the health care summit President Obama has called for Thursday. The issue is whether the summit proves to be the turning point in a political year that, at the moment, is moving decisively in the Republicans’ direction. If the summit fails to shake things up and does not lead to the passage of a comprehensive health care bill, Democrats and Obama are in for a miserable time for the rest of his term.”

This strikes me as perfectly wrong. After a year of intense debate, the public has reacted to ObamaCare the way the human body reacts to food poisoning. It is rejecting it, utterly and completely. For Obama and the White House to convince themselves to ram through legislation that is, if anything, worse than the original House and Senate bills is an act of madness.

I rather doubt it will succeed. For one thing, there are now at least three people who voted for the House version of the bill who will not vote for a reconciliation bill (the late John Murtha, Bart Stupak, and Joseph Cao). For another, the Democrats plan is more unpopular now than it was when it passed in the House last year (by a vote of 220-215). We are also in an election year, when the Democrats are desperate to turn attention from health care to jobs. And finally, we live in a post–Scott Brown election world. Democrats have seen that ObamaCare is political hemlock. It is a cup Democrats would rather have pass from their lips.

No one is arguing that not passing Obama’s signature domestic initiative would reflect well on the president. A failure of this magnitude will undoubtedly damage him. But in this instance, with the White House having acted so ineptly, failing to pass ObamaCare is the best of bad options. Obstinacy on behalf of a bad and unpopular idea is a road to political ruin.

In redoubling his efforts to pass health-care legislation, Obama will be rejected — not simply by Republicans and the public but also, I suspect, by members of his own party. This in turn will further weaken his political standing. He will have looked obsessively out of touch, selfish, and narcissistic. But in the highly unlikely event that Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Harry Reid succeed in passing health-care legislation through the reconciliation process — if Democrats in the House are foolish enough to hitch their hopes to this liberal troika — there will be an even more fearsome political price to pay.

Some Democrats may believe things can’t possibly get worse, so they may as well pass ObamaCare. They are wrong. As one of my least favorite political philosophers, Mao Zedong, said, “It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.”

Read Less

The Democrats’ Obama-Induced Fury

Charles Lane does not mince words:

Millions of Americans long to tell their bosses “take this job and shove it.” Hardly any have the power and money to do so, especially in these recessionary times. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, however, is the exception. His stunning retirement from the Senate is essentially a loud and emphatic “screw you” to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. For months now, Bayh has been screaming at the top of his voice that the party needs to reorient toward a more popular, centrist agenda — one that emphasizes jobs and fiscal responsibility over health care and cap and trade. Neither the White House nor the Senate leadership has given him the response he wanted. Their bungling of what should have been a routine bipartisan jobs bill last week seems to have been the last straw.

Lane seems to think there’s a possible Bayh primary challenge for 2012, which I find questionable. (I don’t sense that primary-voting Democrats are starved for a Clintonian Third Wave, minus the Clintons.) Less debatable however is his suspicion that Bayh’s seat is now ripe for a GOP pickup and that “if present trends continue, November could turn into a Republican rout.”

Lane also touches on the subtext here: the anger and disappointment of many Democrats who now look upon Obama as not a “sort of God” but rather as a curse. He has not merely failed to advance their decades-old agenda but is now perpetrating a Marx Brothers–like farce, racing around the political landscape, wrecking havoc on all of them. How annoyed, if not furious, must all those Democratic officeholders be? They are going to be out of jobs — while Obama declares himself to be content with one term and sneers at those in his party who are concerned with such mundane trifles as getting re-elected.

Wins by Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell last year were the first rumblings of trouble. Scott Brown was one political earthquake, and Evan Bayh may be a second. But the 10 on the Richter scale has not, I suspect, come. We’ll have to wait until November, when lots and lots of Democrats experience what it’s really like to run for office in the age of Obama. Is it any wonder that Bayh and so many other Democrats are choosing to forgo the experience?

Charles Lane does not mince words:

Millions of Americans long to tell their bosses “take this job and shove it.” Hardly any have the power and money to do so, especially in these recessionary times. Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, however, is the exception. His stunning retirement from the Senate is essentially a loud and emphatic “screw you” to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. For months now, Bayh has been screaming at the top of his voice that the party needs to reorient toward a more popular, centrist agenda — one that emphasizes jobs and fiscal responsibility over health care and cap and trade. Neither the White House nor the Senate leadership has given him the response he wanted. Their bungling of what should have been a routine bipartisan jobs bill last week seems to have been the last straw.

Lane seems to think there’s a possible Bayh primary challenge for 2012, which I find questionable. (I don’t sense that primary-voting Democrats are starved for a Clintonian Third Wave, minus the Clintons.) Less debatable however is his suspicion that Bayh’s seat is now ripe for a GOP pickup and that “if present trends continue, November could turn into a Republican rout.”

Lane also touches on the subtext here: the anger and disappointment of many Democrats who now look upon Obama as not a “sort of God” but rather as a curse. He has not merely failed to advance their decades-old agenda but is now perpetrating a Marx Brothers–like farce, racing around the political landscape, wrecking havoc on all of them. How annoyed, if not furious, must all those Democratic officeholders be? They are going to be out of jobs — while Obama declares himself to be content with one term and sneers at those in his party who are concerned with such mundane trifles as getting re-elected.

Wins by Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell last year were the first rumblings of trouble. Scott Brown was one political earthquake, and Evan Bayh may be a second. But the 10 on the Richter scale has not, I suspect, come. We’ll have to wait until November, when lots and lots of Democrats experience what it’s really like to run for office in the age of Obama. Is it any wonder that Bayh and so many other Democrats are choosing to forgo the experience?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

The latest Rasmussen poll provides a warning for incumbent Democratic lawmakers: “Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans say the size of the federal budget deficit is due more to the unwillingness of politicians to cut government spending than to the reluctance of taxpayers to pay more in taxes. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just nine percent (9%) of adults put more blame on the unwillingness of taxpayers to pay more in taxes.”

Sen. Ben Nelson may wind up as the only Democrat without a special deal on health care: “With the exception of Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson’s ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ which alienated independent voters and came to symbolize an out-of-touch Washington, none of the other narrow provisions that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid inserted into the bill appear to be in any kind of danger as Democrats try to figure out the way ahead.”  But then ObamaCare isn’t likely to go anywhere, and that will spare Nelson further embarrassment.

I suppose she’s nervous: “Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) defended her role in the $300 million ‘Louisiana Purchase’ Thursday, saying she attached it to the healthcare bill at Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R-La.) request and that it was not a condition of her support for the bill. Landrieu used a floor speech, press conference and private e-mails from Jindal to fire back against critics of the $300 million-plus in Medicaid funds that became known as the ‘Louisiana Purchase.'” I think when reporters repeat “Louisiana Purchase” three times in a short news account, Landrieu’s got an uphill battle.

From the Cook Political Report: “Charlie Cook agrees with House Editor David Wasserman’s assessment of a 25-35 seat pickup for the GOP in the House, but sets his personal line for the Senate at a 5-7 seat switch for Republicans. For the first time this cycle, he sees a mathematical, although still highly unlikely possibility, of a ten-seat gain and majority change in the Senate.”

Steven Calabresi: “I think the Tea Party movement is going to be and deserves to be a big factor in the 2010 midterm elections because it rejects both the socialism of the Obama Administration and the Big Government conservatism of many Republican officeholders between 2000 and 2008.”

Obama is down to 46 percent favorable/47 percent unfavorable in the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. Voters have an equally favorable view of the Democratic and Republican parties (both 42 percent approval). More people have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement (35 percent) than of Nancy Pelosi (24 percent).

Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union explains one reason why Orthodox Jews dislike Obama so: “In the context of the Orthodox where the majority in the community identify with the settlement movement in Israel, there’s a great deal of tension, let alone opposition, to the president’s efforts last year to push Israel to undertake a settlement freeze.” (h/t Ben Smith)

I don’t think the Obami are going to win this fight: “The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., dismissed the White House’s call for him to apologize for alleging that the administration leaked information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutalab for political reasons. ‘After telling me to keep my mouth shut, the White House discloses sensitive information in an effort to defend a dangerous and unpopular decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab and I’m supposed to apologize?’ Sen. Bond said in a paper statement today.

Oops. Fellas, always check the rap sheet: “On the same day Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn officially claimed the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, he found out that his newly-minted running mate has a rap sheet that includes alleged domestic battery and tax evasion. The revelation has shocked Democrats, leading to worries that his presence could taint the entire statewide ticket.”

The latest Rasmussen poll provides a warning for incumbent Democratic lawmakers: “Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans say the size of the federal budget deficit is due more to the unwillingness of politicians to cut government spending than to the reluctance of taxpayers to pay more in taxes. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that just nine percent (9%) of adults put more blame on the unwillingness of taxpayers to pay more in taxes.”

Sen. Ben Nelson may wind up as the only Democrat without a special deal on health care: “With the exception of Nebraska Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson’s ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ which alienated independent voters and came to symbolize an out-of-touch Washington, none of the other narrow provisions that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid inserted into the bill appear to be in any kind of danger as Democrats try to figure out the way ahead.”  But then ObamaCare isn’t likely to go anywhere, and that will spare Nelson further embarrassment.

I suppose she’s nervous: “Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) defended her role in the $300 million ‘Louisiana Purchase’ Thursday, saying she attached it to the healthcare bill at Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R-La.) request and that it was not a condition of her support for the bill. Landrieu used a floor speech, press conference and private e-mails from Jindal to fire back against critics of the $300 million-plus in Medicaid funds that became known as the ‘Louisiana Purchase.'” I think when reporters repeat “Louisiana Purchase” three times in a short news account, Landrieu’s got an uphill battle.

From the Cook Political Report: “Charlie Cook agrees with House Editor David Wasserman’s assessment of a 25-35 seat pickup for the GOP in the House, but sets his personal line for the Senate at a 5-7 seat switch for Republicans. For the first time this cycle, he sees a mathematical, although still highly unlikely possibility, of a ten-seat gain and majority change in the Senate.”

Steven Calabresi: “I think the Tea Party movement is going to be and deserves to be a big factor in the 2010 midterm elections because it rejects both the socialism of the Obama Administration and the Big Government conservatism of many Republican officeholders between 2000 and 2008.”

Obama is down to 46 percent favorable/47 percent unfavorable in the latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. Voters have an equally favorable view of the Democratic and Republican parties (both 42 percent approval). More people have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement (35 percent) than of Nancy Pelosi (24 percent).

Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union explains one reason why Orthodox Jews dislike Obama so: “In the context of the Orthodox where the majority in the community identify with the settlement movement in Israel, there’s a great deal of tension, let alone opposition, to the president’s efforts last year to push Israel to undertake a settlement freeze.” (h/t Ben Smith)

I don’t think the Obami are going to win this fight: “The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., dismissed the White House’s call for him to apologize for alleging that the administration leaked information about Umar Farouk Abdulmutalab for political reasons. ‘After telling me to keep my mouth shut, the White House discloses sensitive information in an effort to defend a dangerous and unpopular decision to Mirandize Abdulmutallab and I’m supposed to apologize?’ Sen. Bond said in a paper statement today.

Oops. Fellas, always check the rap sheet: “On the same day Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn officially claimed the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, he found out that his newly-minted running mate has a rap sheet that includes alleged domestic battery and tax evasion. The revelation has shocked Democrats, leading to worries that his presence could taint the entire statewide ticket.”

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Katie Couric will interview Obama live from the Super Bowl because we haven’t seen enough of him, and what he really needs is to communicate more with the American people. Well, that’s apparently what they think inside the White House cocoon. More cowbell!

Mickey Kaus thinks Obama’s excuse mongering about the health-care bill (“we were just about to clean those up [objections to the bill], and then Massachusetts’ election happened”) is a “stunning admission of incompetence.” So maybe the president does have a communications problem, after all. If you can’t read a calendar or follow election polls, you should keep it to yourself.

The Hill: “The House is unlikely to extend President George W. Bush’s cuts for taxpayers earning more than $250,000, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday. … Allowing the tax breaks to expire at the end of the year will spark election-year criticism that Democrats are raising taxes. Congress approved the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Democrats are worried about losing seats in November’s midterm election, but Hoyer discounted the idea of his party losing seats solely because of a tax increase.” Well, he’s right — there is also all the red ink, ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, and the sleazy backroom dealings.

Foaming at the mouth and comparing Republicans to Hitler is not such a winning TV-ratings combination anymore. Andrew Malcolm tells us: “Olbermann’s showboat is sinking. Listing in you-know-which direction. It’s as if he thinks talking LOUDER will keep his low cell battery from dying. Worst, Olbermann’s network president, Phil Griffin, is publicly praising him, always an ominous sign in television.”

Dana Perino reminds us: “The context in which the Bush administration was operating is important. President Bush authorized detaining terrorists as enemy combatants in November 2001, two months or so after 9/11. The Shoe Bomber was arrested in December 2001, only a month after President Bush’s order. At that point, there was no system in place to handle enemy combatants. … Perhaps the more interesting context is how months after the administration announced a High Value Detainee Interrogation Group they could not meet after Abdulmutallab’s attempt because … it hadn’t even been set up yet.”

Karl Rove points out: “The budget is filled with gimmicks. For example, the president is calling for a domestic, nonsecurity, discretionary spending freeze. But that freeze doesn’t apply to a $282 billion proposed second stimulus package. It also doesn’t apply to the $519 billion that has yet to be spent from the first stimulus bill. The federal civilian work force is also not frozen. It is projected to rise to 1.43 million employees in 2010, up from 1.2 million in 2008.” And it seems that the mainstream media and the public are increasingly on to this sort of stunt. That may account for all the Democratic retirements: “Democrats are in the midst of the painful realization: Mr. Obama’s words cannot save them from the power of bad ideas.”

But Obama is telling Senate Democrats that “I think the natural political instinct is to tread lightly, keep your head down and to play it safe.” Translation: go ahead, pass ObamaCare, and join Martha Coakley, Jon Corzine, Creigh Deeds, Chris Dodd, and Byron Dorgan. The president tells them “the answer is not to do nothing.” I think “nothing” is looking like the best of bad options for the beleaguered Senate Democrats, who are now contemplating a serious reduction in their ranks.

The gamesmanship finally ends: “Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown will be sworn in Thursday, according to Jim Manley, the spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Brown’s lawyer today asked that the election results in his state be immediately certified so that he can be sworn in right away. Initially Brown was scheduled to take office next week, but has since decided he wants to vote on upcoming nominations for solicitor general, the General Services Administration and the National Labor Relations Board.” That probably means that Harold Craig Becker’s nomination is in trouble.

Katie Couric will interview Obama live from the Super Bowl because we haven’t seen enough of him, and what he really needs is to communicate more with the American people. Well, that’s apparently what they think inside the White House cocoon. More cowbell!

Mickey Kaus thinks Obama’s excuse mongering about the health-care bill (“we were just about to clean those up [objections to the bill], and then Massachusetts’ election happened”) is a “stunning admission of incompetence.” So maybe the president does have a communications problem, after all. If you can’t read a calendar or follow election polls, you should keep it to yourself.

The Hill: “The House is unlikely to extend President George W. Bush’s cuts for taxpayers earning more than $250,000, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday. … Allowing the tax breaks to expire at the end of the year will spark election-year criticism that Democrats are raising taxes. Congress approved the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Democrats are worried about losing seats in November’s midterm election, but Hoyer discounted the idea of his party losing seats solely because of a tax increase.” Well, he’s right — there is also all the red ink, ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, and the sleazy backroom dealings.

Foaming at the mouth and comparing Republicans to Hitler is not such a winning TV-ratings combination anymore. Andrew Malcolm tells us: “Olbermann’s showboat is sinking. Listing in you-know-which direction. It’s as if he thinks talking LOUDER will keep his low cell battery from dying. Worst, Olbermann’s network president, Phil Griffin, is publicly praising him, always an ominous sign in television.”

Dana Perino reminds us: “The context in which the Bush administration was operating is important. President Bush authorized detaining terrorists as enemy combatants in November 2001, two months or so after 9/11. The Shoe Bomber was arrested in December 2001, only a month after President Bush’s order. At that point, there was no system in place to handle enemy combatants. … Perhaps the more interesting context is how months after the administration announced a High Value Detainee Interrogation Group they could not meet after Abdulmutallab’s attempt because … it hadn’t even been set up yet.”

Karl Rove points out: “The budget is filled with gimmicks. For example, the president is calling for a domestic, nonsecurity, discretionary spending freeze. But that freeze doesn’t apply to a $282 billion proposed second stimulus package. It also doesn’t apply to the $519 billion that has yet to be spent from the first stimulus bill. The federal civilian work force is also not frozen. It is projected to rise to 1.43 million employees in 2010, up from 1.2 million in 2008.” And it seems that the mainstream media and the public are increasingly on to this sort of stunt. That may account for all the Democratic retirements: “Democrats are in the midst of the painful realization: Mr. Obama’s words cannot save them from the power of bad ideas.”

But Obama is telling Senate Democrats that “I think the natural political instinct is to tread lightly, keep your head down and to play it safe.” Translation: go ahead, pass ObamaCare, and join Martha Coakley, Jon Corzine, Creigh Deeds, Chris Dodd, and Byron Dorgan. The president tells them “the answer is not to do nothing.” I think “nothing” is looking like the best of bad options for the beleaguered Senate Democrats, who are now contemplating a serious reduction in their ranks.

The gamesmanship finally ends: “Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown will be sworn in Thursday, according to Jim Manley, the spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Brown’s lawyer today asked that the election results in his state be immediately certified so that he can be sworn in right away. Initially Brown was scheduled to take office next week, but has since decided he wants to vote on upcoming nominations for solicitor general, the General Services Administration and the National Labor Relations Board.” That probably means that Harold Craig Becker’s nomination is in trouble.

Read Less

Pole Vaulting into the Minority

So how’s health-care reform going? When last we left Nancy Pelosi, she was pole-vaulting over the fence of public opinion, proclaiming her devotion to ObamaCare — or at least putting up a good face. But out in the country, not that far out really, not even Democrats can stomach the central pillar of ObamaCare — the requirement that Americans be forced to buy insurance they don’t want and/or can’t afford from Big Insurance. In Virginia, where the governor has declared that he’s not taking the KSM trial, Democrats joined Republicans in the state Senate in announcing that they aren’t taking ObamaCare either. The Washington Post reports:

Virginia’s Democratically controlled state Senate passed measures Monday that would make it illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance, a direct challenge to the party’s efforts in Washington to reform health care.

The bills, a top priority of Virginia’s “tea party” movement, were approved 23 to 17 as five Democrats who represent swing areas of the state joined all 18 Republicans in the chamber in backing the legislation.

The votes came less than a week after President Obama implored Democrats in Washington not to abandon their health-care efforts, urging them in his State of the Union address not to “run for the hills” on the issue.

Well, if not running for the hills, they’re certainly taking a stand. You can imagine how nervous House and Senate Democrats inside the Beltway must feel as they fret that Nancy Pelosi might be serious about venturing into another career-ending round of health-care negotiations. In fact, you don’t have to imagine it. One of the four at-risk Virginia House Democrats is already feeling the heat:

“It doesn’t make it easier,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, who voted for health-care legislation and is one of several Virginia Democrats who faces a strong challenge this year. Each of three similar bills that passed the state Senate on Monday would run counter to legislation passed by both chambers of Congress, which would require all individuals to purchase health care.

It doesn’t make it easier to pass ObamaCare — or for Connolly to keep his seat. It seems that Democrats in state office have now adopted the arguments of House and Senate Republicans, not to mention some conservative legal scholars. (“‘I don’t believe someone should be forced to buy something they don’t want to,’ said Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat who represents rural Russell County and backed the measures. ‘It’s un-American. And it might be unconstitutional.'”) At the very least, it’s one more indication that ObamaCare has become a nonstarter for Democrats in any locale less “safe” than Massachusetts.

And in case the Democratic leadership needed any more bad news, the Post tells us that there are similar measures pending in 29 state legislatures.

There are two ways to read the ongoing rumblings from Democratic congressional leadership and the White House that health-care reform isn’t dead yet. One, they really are out to lunch and will eventually face an embarrassing replay of 1994, when then Senate Majority leader George Mitchell had to pull HillaryCare from the floor because the votes just were not there. The alternative is that Pelosi is just biding her time, afraid to confess to the netroot Left that, in fact, the work does not go on, the cause (of universal health care) does not endure, the hope doesn’t live, and the dream for now is dead. And since that would not be well received in San Francisco or among liberal donors, she will continue her Olympian efforts to revive health-care reform. And all those Democratic lawmakers from places like Virginia will just have to fend for themselves.

So how’s health-care reform going? When last we left Nancy Pelosi, she was pole-vaulting over the fence of public opinion, proclaiming her devotion to ObamaCare — or at least putting up a good face. But out in the country, not that far out really, not even Democrats can stomach the central pillar of ObamaCare — the requirement that Americans be forced to buy insurance they don’t want and/or can’t afford from Big Insurance. In Virginia, where the governor has declared that he’s not taking the KSM trial, Democrats joined Republicans in the state Senate in announcing that they aren’t taking ObamaCare either. The Washington Post reports:

Virginia’s Democratically controlled state Senate passed measures Monday that would make it illegal to require individuals to purchase health insurance, a direct challenge to the party’s efforts in Washington to reform health care.

The bills, a top priority of Virginia’s “tea party” movement, were approved 23 to 17 as five Democrats who represent swing areas of the state joined all 18 Republicans in the chamber in backing the legislation.

The votes came less than a week after President Obama implored Democrats in Washington not to abandon their health-care efforts, urging them in his State of the Union address not to “run for the hills” on the issue.

Well, if not running for the hills, they’re certainly taking a stand. You can imagine how nervous House and Senate Democrats inside the Beltway must feel as they fret that Nancy Pelosi might be serious about venturing into another career-ending round of health-care negotiations. In fact, you don’t have to imagine it. One of the four at-risk Virginia House Democrats is already feeling the heat:

“It doesn’t make it easier,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, who voted for health-care legislation and is one of several Virginia Democrats who faces a strong challenge this year. Each of three similar bills that passed the state Senate on Monday would run counter to legislation passed by both chambers of Congress, which would require all individuals to purchase health care.

It doesn’t make it easier to pass ObamaCare — or for Connolly to keep his seat. It seems that Democrats in state office have now adopted the arguments of House and Senate Republicans, not to mention some conservative legal scholars. (“‘I don’t believe someone should be forced to buy something they don’t want to,’ said Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, a Democrat who represents rural Russell County and backed the measures. ‘It’s un-American. And it might be unconstitutional.'”) At the very least, it’s one more indication that ObamaCare has become a nonstarter for Democrats in any locale less “safe” than Massachusetts.

And in case the Democratic leadership needed any more bad news, the Post tells us that there are similar measures pending in 29 state legislatures.

There are two ways to read the ongoing rumblings from Democratic congressional leadership and the White House that health-care reform isn’t dead yet. One, they really are out to lunch and will eventually face an embarrassing replay of 1994, when then Senate Majority leader George Mitchell had to pull HillaryCare from the floor because the votes just were not there. The alternative is that Pelosi is just biding her time, afraid to confess to the netroot Left that, in fact, the work does not go on, the cause (of universal health care) does not endure, the hope doesn’t live, and the dream for now is dead. And since that would not be well received in San Francisco or among liberal donors, she will continue her Olympian efforts to revive health-care reform. And all those Democratic lawmakers from places like Virginia will just have to fend for themselves.

Read Less

Is ObamaCare Dead?

The New York Times delivers the bad news to the Left. It seems that ObamaCare is dead:

With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying that they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.” He added, “There is no rush,” and noted that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House.

With unintended hilarity, the Times notes that the White House “would support that approach.” Well, because no one would pay attention if they insisted that Congress keep laboring on the potentially career-ending ObamaCare. (And, yes, “approach” means “abandoning a sinking ship” or “doing nothing,” in D.C. parlance.) As if to rub it in, the reporter adds: “The comments by lawmakers also served to lower expectations for the president’s State of the Union speech on Wednesday. Lawmakers said they did not expect Mr. Obama to lay out a specific strategy.” (Again, Obama never had a specific strategy, but now everyone is allowed to say it.)

Well, are they just “taking a breather”? Again, in break-the-news-gently-to-the-liberal-readership mode, the Times confesses that once you take a breather, the entire endeavor simply disappears into the ether:

Some Democrats said that they did not expect any action on health care legislation until late February at earliest, perhaps after Congress returns from a weeklong recess. But the Democrats stand to lose momentum, and every day closer to the November election that the issue remains unresolved may reduce the chances of passing a far-reaching bill.

So it seems that the doubling-down on ObamaCare crowd exists mostly in the punditocracy. Congress wants to move on. Who knows if this is what Obama “wants.” He is, in a sense, a bystander to the wreckage of his own failed first year. The survivors are walking away from the crash, bruised and battered. Whether he acknowledges this failure tonight remains to be seen. But it matters not at all what he says on the subject. The country has spoken, the Congress is finally listening, and the jig is up. ObamaCare is dead.

The New York Times delivers the bad news to the Left. It seems that ObamaCare is dead:

With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying that they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.” He added, “There is no rush,” and noted that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House.

With unintended hilarity, the Times notes that the White House “would support that approach.” Well, because no one would pay attention if they insisted that Congress keep laboring on the potentially career-ending ObamaCare. (And, yes, “approach” means “abandoning a sinking ship” or “doing nothing,” in D.C. parlance.) As if to rub it in, the reporter adds: “The comments by lawmakers also served to lower expectations for the president’s State of the Union speech on Wednesday. Lawmakers said they did not expect Mr. Obama to lay out a specific strategy.” (Again, Obama never had a specific strategy, but now everyone is allowed to say it.)

Well, are they just “taking a breather”? Again, in break-the-news-gently-to-the-liberal-readership mode, the Times confesses that once you take a breather, the entire endeavor simply disappears into the ether:

Some Democrats said that they did not expect any action on health care legislation until late February at earliest, perhaps after Congress returns from a weeklong recess. But the Democrats stand to lose momentum, and every day closer to the November election that the issue remains unresolved may reduce the chances of passing a far-reaching bill.

So it seems that the doubling-down on ObamaCare crowd exists mostly in the punditocracy. Congress wants to move on. Who knows if this is what Obama “wants.” He is, in a sense, a bystander to the wreckage of his own failed first year. The survivors are walking away from the crash, bruised and battered. Whether he acknowledges this failure tonight remains to be seen. But it matters not at all what he says on the subject. The country has spoken, the Congress is finally listening, and the jig is up. ObamaCare is dead.

Read Less

The Demise of Harry Reid

The latest atrocious polling news for the Democrats tells us:

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman continues to outpoll Nevada Sen. Harry Reid when matched up against potential Republican general election foes, according to a new Daily Kos/Research2000 poll (Jan. 18-20, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%). Goodman leads former state GOP chair Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, son of the famed UNLV basketball coach, while Reid trails both by an average of 10 points. Reid’s favorable rating is upside down (34% fav/55% unfav), as is President Obama’s (45% fav/50% unfav).

This is the second Democrat-phile polling outfit (Public Policy Polling was the first) to show both Reid cratering and Goodman as a potential, more viable alternative. The hints are being dropped, you see: dump Reid. At this point, it makes a lot of sense for the Democrats to try to push him out. The Left (infuriated that he “blew” health-care reform) would be pleased, the Democrats could cast him as the villain at the center of the corruption/backdoor dealing, and the seat could possibly be saved. Sure, it would set off another round of gloom-and-doom headlines, but that’s par for the course right now for the Democrats.

Come to think of it, the Democrats were probably not wise to have circled the wagons when Reid’s “light-skinned”/”Negro dialect” comments were revealed. They didn’t have to make him out to be a racist. All they could and should have said is the obvious: the Democrats can do better. But they were in knee-jerk defensive mode and failed to see their opening. Now they’ll have their hands full wrestling him off the stage. He’s a tenacious man and, unlike Dodd, may refuse to go quietly.

The Democrats will then have a choice: watch a bloody primary race against their own majority leader or lose the seat. That frankly could be said of many a Democratic Senate incumbent. It’s that kind of year.

The latest atrocious polling news for the Democrats tells us:

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman continues to outpoll Nevada Sen. Harry Reid when matched up against potential Republican general election foes, according to a new Daily Kos/Research2000 poll (Jan. 18-20, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%). Goodman leads former state GOP chair Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, son of the famed UNLV basketball coach, while Reid trails both by an average of 10 points. Reid’s favorable rating is upside down (34% fav/55% unfav), as is President Obama’s (45% fav/50% unfav).

This is the second Democrat-phile polling outfit (Public Policy Polling was the first) to show both Reid cratering and Goodman as a potential, more viable alternative. The hints are being dropped, you see: dump Reid. At this point, it makes a lot of sense for the Democrats to try to push him out. The Left (infuriated that he “blew” health-care reform) would be pleased, the Democrats could cast him as the villain at the center of the corruption/backdoor dealing, and the seat could possibly be saved. Sure, it would set off another round of gloom-and-doom headlines, but that’s par for the course right now for the Democrats.

Come to think of it, the Democrats were probably not wise to have circled the wagons when Reid’s “light-skinned”/”Negro dialect” comments were revealed. They didn’t have to make him out to be a racist. All they could and should have said is the obvious: the Democrats can do better. But they were in knee-jerk defensive mode and failed to see their opening. Now they’ll have their hands full wrestling him off the stage. He’s a tenacious man and, unlike Dodd, may refuse to go quietly.

The Democrats will then have a choice: watch a bloody primary race against their own majority leader or lose the seat. That frankly could be said of many a Democratic Senate incumbent. It’s that kind of year.

Read Less

Elections Matter

For all the tough political talk, there is a certain reality that sinks in after a historic loss for a political party. The spin the day before the race no longer seems sustainable, and the members can no longer repeat the same talking points. Elections matter. And the one last night really did. Politico reports:

Republican Scott Brown’s upset win in Massachusetts Tuesday threatened to derail any hopes of passing a health reform bill this year, as the White House and Democratic leaders faced growing resistance from rank-and-file members to pressing ahead with a bill following the Bay State backlash.

Sure the White House political team is keeping up pretenses, but lawmakers are a different story. They’re on the ballot this year and have no desire to be the next victim of ObamaCare. So it shouldn’t be surprising that “several House members said Tuesday night that they had no interest in pursuing the most likely scenario for moving ahead with a bill — approving the already-passed Senate version of health reform in the House — and some said President Barack Obama should step back and start over.” The leaders suddenly find fewer to lead:

In fact, early signs of split emerged as the polls closed in Massachusetts — between leaders like House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who said “the Senate bill is better than nothing,” and individual members who didn’t want to swallow the Senate’s version of health reform whole.

The risk for the White House is to see itself isolated and criticized by Democrats. Rahm Emanuel matters less than Evan Bayh and Bart Stupak. The latter are essential to passage of any health-care measure. And frankly, Obama matters less today than he did yesterday. His political coattails are nonexistent, and his agenda is toxic. When he implores congressmen to follow his lead, why should they listen?

In the next week we’ll find out if Obama is as “practical” as his spinners keep saying. A practical president would assess the situation, listen to his fellow Democrats, adjust course, and try to regain his political viability. An ideologue, an inexperienced and arrogant one, would push forward. We’ll find out which Obama is.

For all the tough political talk, there is a certain reality that sinks in after a historic loss for a political party. The spin the day before the race no longer seems sustainable, and the members can no longer repeat the same talking points. Elections matter. And the one last night really did. Politico reports:

Republican Scott Brown’s upset win in Massachusetts Tuesday threatened to derail any hopes of passing a health reform bill this year, as the White House and Democratic leaders faced growing resistance from rank-and-file members to pressing ahead with a bill following the Bay State backlash.

Sure the White House political team is keeping up pretenses, but lawmakers are a different story. They’re on the ballot this year and have no desire to be the next victim of ObamaCare. So it shouldn’t be surprising that “several House members said Tuesday night that they had no interest in pursuing the most likely scenario for moving ahead with a bill — approving the already-passed Senate version of health reform in the House — and some said President Barack Obama should step back and start over.” The leaders suddenly find fewer to lead:

In fact, early signs of split emerged as the polls closed in Massachusetts — between leaders like House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who said “the Senate bill is better than nothing,” and individual members who didn’t want to swallow the Senate’s version of health reform whole.

The risk for the White House is to see itself isolated and criticized by Democrats. Rahm Emanuel matters less than Evan Bayh and Bart Stupak. The latter are essential to passage of any health-care measure. And frankly, Obama matters less today than he did yesterday. His political coattails are nonexistent, and his agenda is toxic. When he implores congressmen to follow his lead, why should they listen?

In the next week we’ll find out if Obama is as “practical” as his spinners keep saying. A practical president would assess the situation, listen to his fellow Democrats, adjust course, and try to regain his political viability. An ideologue, an inexperienced and arrogant one, would push forward. We’ll find out which Obama is.

Read Less

Harry Reid Steps in It Again

Among Harry Reid’s many problems is Joe Lieberman, or more particularly, the tick-tock of events from December in which Lieberman objected to Reid’s last-minute Medicare buy-in. Politico recounts:

The New York Times Magazine posted a preview of Sunday’s profile on Reid that quoted the Nevada Democrat as saying Lieberman “double-crossed” him by suggesting he’d support a Reid-brokered compromise that he later opposed. The story cited unnamed associates of the majority leader who said Reid was so enraged he briefly considered scuttling the whole bill before consenting to Lieberman’s demand.

Yesterday, I am informed by Senate aides, Reid called Lieberman to deny the account. But of course taking issue with the New York Times, the Holy Grail of the Left, is dicey. So Reid put out a mild and carefully worded statement that tried to sidestep the particulars of the incident but make peace with Lieberman, whose vote is still critical for passage of the Democrats’ agenda. Reid’s statement read: “Sen. Lieberman and I have a very open and honest working relationship. On issues ranging from foreign policy to health care, even when we disagree, he has always been straightforward with me.” But Reid couldn’t bring himself to walk back the specific quote.

Lieberman in turn put out a statement concerning the paper that could not be named by Reid:

I appreciate Sen. Reid’s statement in response to the comments attributed to him in The New York Times Magazine. As Sen. Reid indicated in his statement, he believes, as do I, that we have always been honest with each other, and any suggestion otherwise is simply false and contrary to the truth.

At that point, Reid’s staff cried uncle and said they’d have no further comment. All this only goes to show just how ham-handed Reid has become. Each public comment turns into another kerfuffle and another day of explanation. Democrats must surely be coming to the conclusion that he’s more trouble than he’s worth. At the very least, perhaps he’d do well to stay away from the media, even outlets as sycophantic to the Democrats as the Gray Lady.

Among Harry Reid’s many problems is Joe Lieberman, or more particularly, the tick-tock of events from December in which Lieberman objected to Reid’s last-minute Medicare buy-in. Politico recounts:

The New York Times Magazine posted a preview of Sunday’s profile on Reid that quoted the Nevada Democrat as saying Lieberman “double-crossed” him by suggesting he’d support a Reid-brokered compromise that he later opposed. The story cited unnamed associates of the majority leader who said Reid was so enraged he briefly considered scuttling the whole bill before consenting to Lieberman’s demand.

Yesterday, I am informed by Senate aides, Reid called Lieberman to deny the account. But of course taking issue with the New York Times, the Holy Grail of the Left, is dicey. So Reid put out a mild and carefully worded statement that tried to sidestep the particulars of the incident but make peace with Lieberman, whose vote is still critical for passage of the Democrats’ agenda. Reid’s statement read: “Sen. Lieberman and I have a very open and honest working relationship. On issues ranging from foreign policy to health care, even when we disagree, he has always been straightforward with me.” But Reid couldn’t bring himself to walk back the specific quote.

Lieberman in turn put out a statement concerning the paper that could not be named by Reid:

I appreciate Sen. Reid’s statement in response to the comments attributed to him in The New York Times Magazine. As Sen. Reid indicated in his statement, he believes, as do I, that we have always been honest with each other, and any suggestion otherwise is simply false and contrary to the truth.

At that point, Reid’s staff cried uncle and said they’d have no further comment. All this only goes to show just how ham-handed Reid has become. Each public comment turns into another kerfuffle and another day of explanation. Democrats must surely be coming to the conclusion that he’s more trouble than he’s worth. At the very least, perhaps he’d do well to stay away from the media, even outlets as sycophantic to the Democrats as the Gray Lady.

Read Less

ObamaCare Supporters Sink in the Polls

There is more unspinnable bad news for Obama, as Nate Silver would say:

A new Quinnipiac national survey shows the public evenly split on President Obama’s job approval rating. The 45% job approval is his lowest to date in the Quinnipiac poll, and his 45% disapproval rating is his highest.Overall, Obama’s job approval is now 47.6% in the RCP Average and his disapproval is at 45.8%. The public is equally split at 45/45 on the question of whether President Obama’s first year in office was “mainly” a success or a failure. Among the crucial group of registered Independents, 40% view Obama’s first year as a success while 47% view it as a failure.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that at least part of his problem has to do with the health-care bill he is pushing. In the same survey voters disapprove of his handling of health care by a 35-to-58 percent margin.

And speaking of bad news, more of those for Harry Reid: “Support among Nevada voters for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection has fallen even further following disclosure in a new book of remarks he made about Barack Obama during Election 2008.A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Nevada finds Reid earning just 36% of the vote against his two top Republican challengers.” And again, Reid is not only the most visible tone-deaf politician, but also among the most visible allies of Obama’s on health care:

“Reid’s difficulties stem directly from the fact that he is the Majority Leader of the United States Senate,” according to Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “His responsibilities as leader of the Senate Democrats have placed him in a very visible position promoting an agenda that is viewed with some skepticism by Nevada voters.”

With only 39 percent of Nevada voters supporting ObamaCare (and 80-89 percent of those favoring one of Reid’s GOP opponents), it isn’t hard to see why Reid’s seat is now imperiled.

One would think that nervous House and Senate Democrats could figure this out. There is an uncanny correlation — maybe even a relationship of cause and effect! — between a candidate’s support for ObamaCare and his or her collapse in the polls. Really, why risk it? Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel will get very, very mad if ObamaCare stalls out, but it might be the only thing that could save dozens of House Democrats and a handful of Red State senators.

There is more unspinnable bad news for Obama, as Nate Silver would say:

A new Quinnipiac national survey shows the public evenly split on President Obama’s job approval rating. The 45% job approval is his lowest to date in the Quinnipiac poll, and his 45% disapproval rating is his highest.Overall, Obama’s job approval is now 47.6% in the RCP Average and his disapproval is at 45.8%. The public is equally split at 45/45 on the question of whether President Obama’s first year in office was “mainly” a success or a failure. Among the crucial group of registered Independents, 40% view Obama’s first year as a success while 47% view it as a failure.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that at least part of his problem has to do with the health-care bill he is pushing. In the same survey voters disapprove of his handling of health care by a 35-to-58 percent margin.

And speaking of bad news, more of those for Harry Reid: “Support among Nevada voters for embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s reelection has fallen even further following disclosure in a new book of remarks he made about Barack Obama during Election 2008.A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Nevada finds Reid earning just 36% of the vote against his two top Republican challengers.” And again, Reid is not only the most visible tone-deaf politician, but also among the most visible allies of Obama’s on health care:

“Reid’s difficulties stem directly from the fact that he is the Majority Leader of the United States Senate,” according to Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports. “His responsibilities as leader of the Senate Democrats have placed him in a very visible position promoting an agenda that is viewed with some skepticism by Nevada voters.”

With only 39 percent of Nevada voters supporting ObamaCare (and 80-89 percent of those favoring one of Reid’s GOP opponents), it isn’t hard to see why Reid’s seat is now imperiled.

One would think that nervous House and Senate Democrats could figure this out. There is an uncanny correlation — maybe even a relationship of cause and effect! — between a candidate’s support for ObamaCare and his or her collapse in the polls. Really, why risk it? Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel will get very, very mad if ObamaCare stalls out, but it might be the only thing that could save dozens of House Democrats and a handful of Red State senators.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Stuart Rothenberg moves the Nevada Senate race to “lean takeover.” (No wonder Republicans have stopped calling for Harry Reid to step down. Mitch McConnell doesn’t want Reid to go anywhere.) As for Massachusetts, he says: “We continue to believe that [Martha] Coakley will win, though her margin could be so narrow as to cause more jitters on the Democratic side.”

John Fund sure thinks Harry Reid is toast: “In the end, I don’t believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will run for re-election. Whether or not the health care bill he muscled through the Senate becomes law, the 70-year-old will bow out of his race for a fifth term. The major reason has nothing to do with his many verbal gaffes, the latest of which exploded over the weekend. The simple fact is that he probably can’t win re-election — almost no incumbent senator as far down in the polls has come back to win. Asked if Mr. Reid is finished, NBC Political Director Chuck Todd said yesterday, ‘I think so. I do — absolutely.'”

Scott Rasmussen has the race in Massachusetts down to a 2-point margin. Here’s the kicker (and another sign of momentum for Scott Brown): “All polling indicates that a lower turnout is better for the Republican. The new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Brown is ahead by two percentage points among those who are absolutely certain they will vote. A week ago, he trailed by two among those certain to vote.”

David Gergen, who moderated the Massachusetts Senate debate, tips his hat to Scott Brown for his sharp retort: “Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

You can understand why they’re jittery: “It’s hard for some Democrats to believe that the candidate running to replace Ted Kennedy is being attacked over health care reform — in one of the bluest states in the union, no less. But Republican Scott Brown has got Democrats nervous — not just for his opponent Martha Coakley but about the fact that a loss in Massachusetts would be a body blow to Democratic reform efforts in Washington.”

They should be, considering the Democrat’s campaign, says James Taranto: “Coakley and her Washington insiders are running a campaign that can only be described as incredibly stupid.” Between the negativity, the insistence on carting around the independent candidate to debates, and misspelling the state’s name in an ad, it’s hard to quibble with that conclusion. Plus: “All the talk about enacting ObamaCare as some sort of twisted tribute to Ted Kennedy is beginning to seem a bit reminiscent of the freakish Paul Wellstone funeral service in 2002–a spectacle that cost the Democrats a Senate seat they weren’t supposed to lose.”

John McCormack is apparently the designated punching bag for failing candidates. First, Dede Scozzafava’s husband calls the cops on him, and now Coakley’s flunky shoves him into a railing. Charlie Crist’s people better be on the lookout!

Michael Gerson: “Obama’s rhetorical challenge runs deeper than the recession. In the most unexpected development of his presidency, what was once universally recognized as Obama’s greatest political strength — his oratory — now seems a serious weakness. … People want their president to be both the father and the mother of his country — a talent shared by politicians as diverse as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (whose speeches I once helped write). Obama’s model, instead, is the coolness of Coolidge. It is old-fashioned. It may even be admirable. It is hard to call it effective. With every speech, a realization grows: A president lacking in drama may also be lacking in inspiration.”

On the way out, finally some honesty from Jon Corzine, who “acknowledged his inability to solve the state’s mounting fiscal problems.”

Stuart Rothenberg moves the Nevada Senate race to “lean takeover.” (No wonder Republicans have stopped calling for Harry Reid to step down. Mitch McConnell doesn’t want Reid to go anywhere.) As for Massachusetts, he says: “We continue to believe that [Martha] Coakley will win, though her margin could be so narrow as to cause more jitters on the Democratic side.”

John Fund sure thinks Harry Reid is toast: “In the end, I don’t believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will run for re-election. Whether or not the health care bill he muscled through the Senate becomes law, the 70-year-old will bow out of his race for a fifth term. The major reason has nothing to do with his many verbal gaffes, the latest of which exploded over the weekend. The simple fact is that he probably can’t win re-election — almost no incumbent senator as far down in the polls has come back to win. Asked if Mr. Reid is finished, NBC Political Director Chuck Todd said yesterday, ‘I think so. I do — absolutely.'”

Scott Rasmussen has the race in Massachusetts down to a 2-point margin. Here’s the kicker (and another sign of momentum for Scott Brown): “All polling indicates that a lower turnout is better for the Republican. The new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that Brown is ahead by two percentage points among those who are absolutely certain they will vote. A week ago, he trailed by two among those certain to vote.”

David Gergen, who moderated the Massachusetts Senate debate, tips his hat to Scott Brown for his sharp retort: “Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

You can understand why they’re jittery: “It’s hard for some Democrats to believe that the candidate running to replace Ted Kennedy is being attacked over health care reform — in one of the bluest states in the union, no less. But Republican Scott Brown has got Democrats nervous — not just for his opponent Martha Coakley but about the fact that a loss in Massachusetts would be a body blow to Democratic reform efforts in Washington.”

They should be, considering the Democrat’s campaign, says James Taranto: “Coakley and her Washington insiders are running a campaign that can only be described as incredibly stupid.” Between the negativity, the insistence on carting around the independent candidate to debates, and misspelling the state’s name in an ad, it’s hard to quibble with that conclusion. Plus: “All the talk about enacting ObamaCare as some sort of twisted tribute to Ted Kennedy is beginning to seem a bit reminiscent of the freakish Paul Wellstone funeral service in 2002–a spectacle that cost the Democrats a Senate seat they weren’t supposed to lose.”

John McCormack is apparently the designated punching bag for failing candidates. First, Dede Scozzafava’s husband calls the cops on him, and now Coakley’s flunky shoves him into a railing. Charlie Crist’s people better be on the lookout!

Michael Gerson: “Obama’s rhetorical challenge runs deeper than the recession. In the most unexpected development of his presidency, what was once universally recognized as Obama’s greatest political strength — his oratory — now seems a serious weakness. … People want their president to be both the father and the mother of his country — a talent shared by politicians as diverse as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (whose speeches I once helped write). Obama’s model, instead, is the coolness of Coolidge. It is old-fashioned. It may even be admirable. It is hard to call it effective. With every speech, a realization grows: A president lacking in drama may also be lacking in inspiration.”

On the way out, finally some honesty from Jon Corzine, who “acknowledged his inability to solve the state’s mounting fiscal problems.”

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.