Commentary Magazine


Topic: Michael Barone

Moynihan on Democracy

Yesterday I quoted Ronald Reagan on the central role freedom and human rights should play in American foreign policy. Today I want to follow up with a quote from the man Michael Barone called “the nation’s best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson.”

Writing in the May 1974 issue of COMMENTARY (subscription required), Daniel Patrick Moynihan said this:

There will be no struggle for personal liberty (or national independence or national survival) anywhere in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America which will not affect American politics. In that circumstance, I would argue that there is only one course likely to make the internal strains of consequent conflict endurable, and that is for the United States deliberately and consistently to bring its influence to bear on behalf of those regimes which promise the largest degree of personal and national liberty. …. We stand for liberty, for the expansion of liberty. Anything else risks the contraction of liberty: our own included.

Moynihan went on to warn about those “who know too much to believe anything in particular and opt instead for accommodations of reasonableness and urbanity that drain our world position of moral purpose.”

I certainly didn’t agree with Moynihan on everything — but whenever I read him, even when I disagree with him, I’m reminded just how much we miss him.

Yesterday I quoted Ronald Reagan on the central role freedom and human rights should play in American foreign policy. Today I want to follow up with a quote from the man Michael Barone called “the nation’s best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson.”

Writing in the May 1974 issue of COMMENTARY (subscription required), Daniel Patrick Moynihan said this:

There will be no struggle for personal liberty (or national independence or national survival) anywhere in Europe, in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America which will not affect American politics. In that circumstance, I would argue that there is only one course likely to make the internal strains of consequent conflict endurable, and that is for the United States deliberately and consistently to bring its influence to bear on behalf of those regimes which promise the largest degree of personal and national liberty. …. We stand for liberty, for the expansion of liberty. Anything else risks the contraction of liberty: our own included.

Moynihan went on to warn about those “who know too much to believe anything in particular and opt instead for accommodations of reasonableness and urbanity that drain our world position of moral purpose.”

I certainly didn’t agree with Moynihan on everything — but whenever I read him, even when I disagree with him, I’m reminded just how much we miss him.

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The 2010 Midterm Election in Perspective

In shifting through the fine analysis that emerged in the aftermath of last week’s midterm elections, a few data points are particularly noteworthy:

  • Republicans picked up more House seats than in any election since 1938. Republicans now control the most House seats, and Democrats now have the smallest number of House seats, since 1946.
  • Fifty incumbent Democratic congressmen were defeated, while only two incumbent House Republicans lost.
  • Independents comprised 28 percent of the electorate and supported Republican congressional candidates by a margin of 56 to 38 percent. That represents a 36-point turnaround from the last midterm election, in 2006, when independents supported Democratic congressional candidates by 57 to 39 percent. In addition, independents trust Republicans to do a better job than Democrats by a margin of 23 points on jobs and employment, 23 points on the economy, 27 points on government spending, and 31 points on taxes.
  • Voters support repealing/replacing ObamaCare by 51 to 42 percent. Democrats oppose repeal by 80 to 16 percent — but both independents (by 57 to 31 percent) and Republicans (by 87 to 7 percent) want to repeal and replace it.
  • Sixty-five percent of voters said that the stimulus bill either hurt the economy or did no good — and those voters overwhelmingly favored the GOP.
  • Fifty-four percent of those voting said they were dissatisfied with the performance of Barack Obama — and they broke 85-11 for the Republicans. Read More

In shifting through the fine analysis that emerged in the aftermath of last week’s midterm elections, a few data points are particularly noteworthy:

  • Republicans picked up more House seats than in any election since 1938. Republicans now control the most House seats, and Democrats now have the smallest number of House seats, since 1946.
  • Fifty incumbent Democratic congressmen were defeated, while only two incumbent House Republicans lost.
  • Independents comprised 28 percent of the electorate and supported Republican congressional candidates by a margin of 56 to 38 percent. That represents a 36-point turnaround from the last midterm election, in 2006, when independents supported Democratic congressional candidates by 57 to 39 percent. In addition, independents trust Republicans to do a better job than Democrats by a margin of 23 points on jobs and employment, 23 points on the economy, 27 points on government spending, and 31 points on taxes.
  • Voters support repealing/replacing ObamaCare by 51 to 42 percent. Democrats oppose repeal by 80 to 16 percent — but both independents (by 57 to 31 percent) and Republicans (by 87 to 7 percent) want to repeal and replace it.
  • Sixty-five percent of voters said that the stimulus bill either hurt the economy or did no good — and those voters overwhelmingly favored the GOP.
  • Fifty-four percent of those voting said they were dissatisfied with the performance of Barack Obama — and they broke 85-11 for the Republicans.
  • Republicans have captured the seats in at least 57 of the 83 Democratic-held districts in which Obama won less than 55 percent of the vote.
  • Democrats hold a majority of the congressional delegation in only three states — Iowa, New Mexico, and Vermont — that don’t directly touch an ocean. Republicans similarly routed Democrats in gubernatorial races across the Midwest and the border states, from Ohio and Tennessee to Wisconsin and Iowa.
  • Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, the most in the modern era. In the 1994 GOP wave, Republicans picked up 472 seats. The previous record was in the post-Watergate election of 1974, when Democrats picked up 628 seats. The GOP gained majorities in at least 19 state house chambers. They now have unified control — meaning both chambers — of 26 state legislatures. And across the country, Republicans now control 55 chambers, Democrats have 38, and two are tied. (The Nebraska legislature is unicameral.)
  • Republicans have not enjoyed this much power in state capitals since the 1920s.
  • Voters who identified as ideologically conservative accounted for 41 percent of the turnout, an increase from the 34 percent figure in 2008 and the highest level recorded for any election since 1976.

Politico called the midterm elections a “bloodbath of a night for Democrats.” National Journal’s Ron Brownstein wrote, “If the U.S. genuinely used a parliamentary system, Tuesday’s result … would have represented a vote of no confidence in the president and the governing party.” And the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone says that “you could argue that this is the best Republican showing ever.”

Apart from all that, it was a splendid midterm election for President Obama and his party.

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A Straw in the Wind?

One of the best predictors of elections over the years has been the mock elections held in schools. Most school kids only reflect what their parents think and, unlike parents avoiding pollsters and unwanted telephone calls, have no reason to either lie or clam up.

Michael Barone reports that in Washington state, 15,400 K-12 students voted, and Republican Dino Rossi won the Senate race 53 percent to 47 percent over Democratic incumbent Patty Murray. That’s comfortably beyond the margin within which Washington’s political establishment could fiddle with the votes to produce a favored outcome, which might well have happened in Rossi’s first, whisker-close run for governor in 2004.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the job-killing proposal to tax the incomes of the rich, ending Washington’s income-tax-free status, passed in the mock election. Pushed by Bill Gates and his father (like they care about an additional few percentage points in taxes), the main force behind it has been the teachers’ unions, whose members will be the prime beneficiaries. Let’s hope, for the state of Washington’s economy, that the kids were more influenced by their teachers than their parents will be on Tuesday.

One of the best predictors of elections over the years has been the mock elections held in schools. Most school kids only reflect what their parents think and, unlike parents avoiding pollsters and unwanted telephone calls, have no reason to either lie or clam up.

Michael Barone reports that in Washington state, 15,400 K-12 students voted, and Republican Dino Rossi won the Senate race 53 percent to 47 percent over Democratic incumbent Patty Murray. That’s comfortably beyond the margin within which Washington’s political establishment could fiddle with the votes to produce a favored outcome, which might well have happened in Rossi’s first, whisker-close run for governor in 2004.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the job-killing proposal to tax the incomes of the rich, ending Washington’s income-tax-free status, passed in the mock election. Pushed by Bill Gates and his father (like they care about an additional few percentage points in taxes), the main force behind it has been the teachers’ unions, whose members will be the prime beneficiaries. Let’s hope, for the state of Washington’s economy, that the kids were more influenced by their teachers than their parents will be on Tuesday.

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Why the Dems’ Campaign Is So Bad

Karl Rove writes:

Last Saturday at a West Newton, Mass., fund-raiser, the president said, “facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning … because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared.”

Memo to White House: Calling voters stupid is not a winning strategy.

The economy and jobs are the No. 1 issue in every poll. Yet Mr. Obama of late has talked about immigration reform and weighed in (unprompted) on the Ground Zero mosque. He devoted Labor Day to an ineffective Mideast peace initiative. He demeans large blocs of voters and now is ending his midterm pitch with attacks on nonexistent foreign campaign contributions and weird assertions that “the Empire is striking back.”

Meanwhile, Republicans have talked about little else than the economy—drawing attention to lackluster job growth, the failed stimulus, out-of-control spending, escalating deficits and the dangers of ObamaCare.

To a large degree, this is a reversal of the 2008 election. There Obama let his opponent flail away, appearing reasonable simply by pointing to the lackluster economy and showing himself to be less flighty than the more experienced Republican. Now Obama and his party are on the defensive and desperately trying to change the subject to a host of non-issues. Obama is incoherent because he can’t effectively defend his record.

As Michael Barone notes:

What has struck me this year is that so-called tea party candidates turn out, when you take a look at them, to have considerably more in the way of good political instincts than the usual run of Republican candidates. And some of them who have been derided in mainstream media, like Sherron Angle, manage to beat a 40-year political veteran like Harry Reid in debate. I was somewhat surprised … because candidates who have had a couple of terms in a state legislature representing a small rural district seldom manage to hold their own, much less prevail, in a debate with a major officeholder whose political career spans 40 years.

For some time now, conservative critics (and some candid liberal ones as well) have observed that Obama was great at campaigning but lousy at governing. (Juan Williams declared that you wouldn’t want to rely on Obama in a crisis.) It turns out that being lousy at governing makes for a lousy campaign. It turns out that for an incumbent, campaigning is not some all-purpose talent that can be pulled off the shelf to rescue unpopular policies. You actually have to convince voters that your record deserves their stamp of approval.

That is why Obama is suddenly so ineffective, and why a Sharron Angle can best Harry Reid. You try defending the Dems’ record. It isn’t easy, is it?

Karl Rove writes:

Last Saturday at a West Newton, Mass., fund-raiser, the president said, “facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning … because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared.”

Memo to White House: Calling voters stupid is not a winning strategy.

The economy and jobs are the No. 1 issue in every poll. Yet Mr. Obama of late has talked about immigration reform and weighed in (unprompted) on the Ground Zero mosque. He devoted Labor Day to an ineffective Mideast peace initiative. He demeans large blocs of voters and now is ending his midterm pitch with attacks on nonexistent foreign campaign contributions and weird assertions that “the Empire is striking back.”

Meanwhile, Republicans have talked about little else than the economy—drawing attention to lackluster job growth, the failed stimulus, out-of-control spending, escalating deficits and the dangers of ObamaCare.

To a large degree, this is a reversal of the 2008 election. There Obama let his opponent flail away, appearing reasonable simply by pointing to the lackluster economy and showing himself to be less flighty than the more experienced Republican. Now Obama and his party are on the defensive and desperately trying to change the subject to a host of non-issues. Obama is incoherent because he can’t effectively defend his record.

As Michael Barone notes:

What has struck me this year is that so-called tea party candidates turn out, when you take a look at them, to have considerably more in the way of good political instincts than the usual run of Republican candidates. And some of them who have been derided in mainstream media, like Sherron Angle, manage to beat a 40-year political veteran like Harry Reid in debate. I was somewhat surprised … because candidates who have had a couple of terms in a state legislature representing a small rural district seldom manage to hold their own, much less prevail, in a debate with a major officeholder whose political career spans 40 years.

For some time now, conservative critics (and some candid liberal ones as well) have observed that Obama was great at campaigning but lousy at governing. (Juan Williams declared that you wouldn’t want to rely on Obama in a crisis.) It turns out that being lousy at governing makes for a lousy campaign. It turns out that for an incumbent, campaigning is not some all-purpose talent that can be pulled off the shelf to rescue unpopular policies. You actually have to convince voters that your record deserves their stamp of approval.

That is why Obama is suddenly so ineffective, and why a Sharron Angle can best Harry Reid. You try defending the Dems’ record. It isn’t easy, is it?

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RE: Surprise: The Tea Party Is Important!

As a follow-up, Ken Buck, running for Senate in Colorado, has a beautiful ad in which he discusses how the elite ignored the Tea Party as long as it possibly could. But as Buck says at the close, “on November 2nd, they will ignore us no more.” (h/t Michael Barone)

As a follow-up, Ken Buck, running for Senate in Colorado, has a beautiful ad in which he discusses how the elite ignored the Tea Party as long as it possibly could. But as Buck says at the close, “on November 2nd, they will ignore us no more.” (h/t Michael Barone)

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Why the November Election Will Be Unprecedented

Gallup just released its weekly “generic” poll, and for the second week in a row it is forecasting a colossal wipeout for Democrats — with likely voters voting Republican by a margin between 12 and 17 points. Rasmussen, widely and unfairly considered biased towards Republicans, has shown a markedly smaller Republican lead, but this week its likely-voter number has Republicans besting Democrats by 8 percent. Meanwhile, statewide and district-wide polls suggest that a minor surge by Democrats at the end of September seems either to have evaporated or was never all that real in the first place.

The potential for a GOP landslide has been much-discussed. One thing that has been less noted is the extraordinarily dramatic nature of the voter turnaround here. In 1992, the election that preceded the one in November 1994, the non-Democratic vote for president nationwide was 57 percent (Bush + Perot), and  Republicans actually picked up 9 seats in the House. It is true that the 1994 elections came as a huge surprise, but that was in part due to an odd misreading of the election results in 1992 by pundits and pollsters and Bill Clinton, who staked his first two years on a massive government health-care plan rather than taking account of the fact that 19 percent of Americans had just voted for a lunatic single-issue candidate who spent a year yelling and screaming about the size of the deficit. Those Perot voters took a look at Clinton and simply integrated themselves into the GOP electorate.

The story of America since 2006 is radically different. In the two elections preceding this one, Democratsoutperformed Republicans nationally by a margin of 53-46 both in the 2006 midterm and the 2008 Obama triumph. The results in 2010, if they go as it appears they will, are unlike those in 1992 because there was nothing in 2008 that anticipated them.

An 8-t0-15 point Republican margin in 2010, which seems increasingly possible, will represent a partisan and ideological turnaround of 15 to 24 percent. That is without precedent in the modern era. At the presidential level, Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980 was a landslide but still featured a shift away from Carter of 11 points among the electorate (Carter dropped from 51 percent in 1976 to 40 percent). George W. Bush did increase his own vote total by 22 percent between 2000 and 2004, but that was an affirmation of what was taken to be a successful first term, not a repudiation of the party in power (and John Kerry increased the Democratic vote total over 2000 by 15 percent).

Michael Barone has described the current political dynamic as suggestive of a new “open-field politics” in which every election is any party’s to win. Certainly, the fact that the majority of the vote went from center-left in 2000 (Gore+Nader=53 percent) to center-right in 2002 and 2004 to liberal left in 2006 and 2008 demonstrates a far greater ideological and partisan fluidity than we’ve ever seen. But Barone’s term doesn’t quite get at the vertiginous effect of a shift as extreme as the one we may be seeing in 2010.

There’s no reason to think that independents and disaffected Democrats are going to become Republicans, the way the Perotistas did. But the goings-on after Barack Obama’s inauguration may have created a new swing-voting camp of anti-liberals, at least as far as Democratic party orthodoxy defines “liberal,” and how this new camp views the post-November political dynamic will define American politics for the next decade.

Gallup just released its weekly “generic” poll, and for the second week in a row it is forecasting a colossal wipeout for Democrats — with likely voters voting Republican by a margin between 12 and 17 points. Rasmussen, widely and unfairly considered biased towards Republicans, has shown a markedly smaller Republican lead, but this week its likely-voter number has Republicans besting Democrats by 8 percent. Meanwhile, statewide and district-wide polls suggest that a minor surge by Democrats at the end of September seems either to have evaporated or was never all that real in the first place.

The potential for a GOP landslide has been much-discussed. One thing that has been less noted is the extraordinarily dramatic nature of the voter turnaround here. In 1992, the election that preceded the one in November 1994, the non-Democratic vote for president nationwide was 57 percent (Bush + Perot), and  Republicans actually picked up 9 seats in the House. It is true that the 1994 elections came as a huge surprise, but that was in part due to an odd misreading of the election results in 1992 by pundits and pollsters and Bill Clinton, who staked his first two years on a massive government health-care plan rather than taking account of the fact that 19 percent of Americans had just voted for a lunatic single-issue candidate who spent a year yelling and screaming about the size of the deficit. Those Perot voters took a look at Clinton and simply integrated themselves into the GOP electorate.

The story of America since 2006 is radically different. In the two elections preceding this one, Democratsoutperformed Republicans nationally by a margin of 53-46 both in the 2006 midterm and the 2008 Obama triumph. The results in 2010, if they go as it appears they will, are unlike those in 1992 because there was nothing in 2008 that anticipated them.

An 8-t0-15 point Republican margin in 2010, which seems increasingly possible, will represent a partisan and ideological turnaround of 15 to 24 percent. That is without precedent in the modern era. At the presidential level, Ronald Reagan’s victory over Jimmy Carter in 1980 was a landslide but still featured a shift away from Carter of 11 points among the electorate (Carter dropped from 51 percent in 1976 to 40 percent). George W. Bush did increase his own vote total by 22 percent between 2000 and 2004, but that was an affirmation of what was taken to be a successful first term, not a repudiation of the party in power (and John Kerry increased the Democratic vote total over 2000 by 15 percent).

Michael Barone has described the current political dynamic as suggestive of a new “open-field politics” in which every election is any party’s to win. Certainly, the fact that the majority of the vote went from center-left in 2000 (Gore+Nader=53 percent) to center-right in 2002 and 2004 to liberal left in 2006 and 2008 demonstrates a far greater ideological and partisan fluidity than we’ve ever seen. But Barone’s term doesn’t quite get at the vertiginous effect of a shift as extreme as the one we may be seeing in 2010.

There’s no reason to think that independents and disaffected Democrats are going to become Republicans, the way the Perotistas did. But the goings-on after Barack Obama’s inauguration may have created a new swing-voting camp of anti-liberals, at least as far as Democratic party orthodoxy defines “liberal,” and how this new camp views the post-November political dynamic will define American politics for the next decade.

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Widening Conservatives’ Vision

Matt Continetti makes an extraordinarily smart point about conservatives’ agenda:

Numbercrunching is a valuable skill, but it also has a tendency to crimp the political imagination. So Republicans must be careful as they trim expenses. Otherwise they’ll fall into the austerity trap.

In the austerity trap, Republican congressmen get so outraged over earmarks to fund studies of the mating patterns of red-bellied newts, they neglect legislation that would foster long-term growth. Deficit anxiety causes conservative lawmakers to rule out sensible policies like a payroll tax cut. A myopic focus on government spending causes Republican leaders to short-change the defense budget and renege on America’s global responsibilities. The entitlement nightmare frightens GOP candidates into framing their economic agenda in strictly negative terms.

To a degree, we have already seen this in the preliminary rounds of the 2012 campaign. As Michael Barone points out, Mitch Daniels is gaining visibility as a sober-minded skinflint. No one has a better command of numbers or can come up with more creative ways of taming entitlements. But he also exhibits the danger signs that Matt enumerates. When I asked Daniels about foreign policy, it was apparent that he regarded this as a line item. He cautioned that we need to prune defense spending and also that we the need to cut back on our overseas commitments. (Which ones?)

Matt suggests one way to avoid the “austerity trap”: “The best place to combine fiscal rectitude and pro-growth economics is the tax code. After repealing Obama-care, the second agenda item for the new GOP Congress is extending current tax rates. Then, go for tax reform.”

And there is something else that is needed: a positive message centered on faith in the common man, love of liberty, and restoration of America’s greatness. Americans may be overdosed on charisma and lofty messages, you say. But perhaps it’s just substanceless rhetoric that has worn out its welcome. Conservatism needs both the notes and the melody — smart policies combined with a reminder that the rationale for limited government isn’t found in accounting manuals, but in the Preamble to the Constitution.

Matt Continetti makes an extraordinarily smart point about conservatives’ agenda:

Numbercrunching is a valuable skill, but it also has a tendency to crimp the political imagination. So Republicans must be careful as they trim expenses. Otherwise they’ll fall into the austerity trap.

In the austerity trap, Republican congressmen get so outraged over earmarks to fund studies of the mating patterns of red-bellied newts, they neglect legislation that would foster long-term growth. Deficit anxiety causes conservative lawmakers to rule out sensible policies like a payroll tax cut. A myopic focus on government spending causes Republican leaders to short-change the defense budget and renege on America’s global responsibilities. The entitlement nightmare frightens GOP candidates into framing their economic agenda in strictly negative terms.

To a degree, we have already seen this in the preliminary rounds of the 2012 campaign. As Michael Barone points out, Mitch Daniels is gaining visibility as a sober-minded skinflint. No one has a better command of numbers or can come up with more creative ways of taming entitlements. But he also exhibits the danger signs that Matt enumerates. When I asked Daniels about foreign policy, it was apparent that he regarded this as a line item. He cautioned that we need to prune defense spending and also that we the need to cut back on our overseas commitments. (Which ones?)

Matt suggests one way to avoid the “austerity trap”: “The best place to combine fiscal rectitude and pro-growth economics is the tax code. After repealing Obama-care, the second agenda item for the new GOP Congress is extending current tax rates. Then, go for tax reform.”

And there is something else that is needed: a positive message centered on faith in the common man, love of liberty, and restoration of America’s greatness. Americans may be overdosed on charisma and lofty messages, you say. But perhaps it’s just substanceless rhetoric that has worn out its welcome. Conservatism needs both the notes and the melody — smart policies combined with a reminder that the rationale for limited government isn’t found in accounting manuals, but in the Preamble to the Constitution.

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Journolisters Risked Their Integrity

When you read those who were part of the now infamous Journolist group — hundreds of mostly liberal journalists and academics who joined an online listserv — they present their discussions as inoffensive, unexceptional, and even high-minded. Here’s how Time‘s Joe Klein describes Journolist:

[Ezra Klein and I] became friends and he asked me to join his list-serve–which, he said, would be the kind of place to have the sort of creative discussion we’d had over breakfast. It turned out to be exactly that…and more, a place to chat about music and sports, a place to meet some spectacularly smart academics I’d not met before–and, not least, a chance to interact with the latest generation of opinion journalists, most of whom didn’t have a very high opinion of me…. These conversations were private, as most good ones are. We were taking risks, testing our ideas against others…

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When you read those who were part of the now infamous Journolist group — hundreds of mostly liberal journalists and academics who joined an online listserv — they present their discussions as inoffensive, unexceptional, and even high-minded. Here’s how Time‘s Joe Klein describes Journolist:

[Ezra Klein and I] became friends and he asked me to join his list-serve–which, he said, would be the kind of place to have the sort of creative discussion we’d had over breakfast. It turned out to be exactly that…and more, a place to chat about music and sports, a place to meet some spectacularly smart academics I’d not met before–and, not least, a chance to interact with the latest generation of opinion journalists, most of whom didn’t have a very high opinion of me…. These conversations were private, as most good ones are. We were taking risks, testing our ideas against others…

It sounds positively Platonic: great minds gathering to discuss great issues of the day. Iron sharpening iron. Who could object? And then, thanks to the groundbreaking work of the Daily Caller, we have the chance to read what Journolisters actually wrote. Creative and spectacularly smart things like this:

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there a** to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, THE NEW YORKER: As a side note, does anyone know what prompted Michael Barone to go insane?

MATT DUSS: LEDEEN.

SPENCER ACKERMAN: Let’s just throw Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the f*** up, as with most bullies.

JOE KLEIN, TIME: Pete Wehner…these sort of things always end badly.

ERIC ALTERMAN, AUTHOR, WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA: F****** Nascar retards…

Ah, but there’s more.

NPR producer Sarah Spitz wrote that that if Rush Limbaugh went into cardiac arrest, she would “laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.

Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Jeremiah Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote — “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Bloomberg’s Ryan Donmoyer adds this: “You know, at the risk of violating Godwin’s law, is anyone starting to see parallels here between the teabaggers and their tactics and the rise of the Brownshirts? Esp. Now that it’s getting violent? Reminds me of the Beer Hall fracases of the 1920s.”

And, of course, there is Fox News. “I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised. In order to have even a semblance of control, you need a tought legal framework.”

“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time. “[Roger] Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organizations. You can’t hurt Fox by saying it gets it wrong, if Ailes just uses the criticism to deepen the tribal identity.”

I understand people speaking candidly in e-mail exchanges and wanting to create a group of like-minded people to exchange ideas. And I accept that Journolist was started with good intentions. But somewhere along the line, it slipped off track.

What we had were journalists creating a “community” in which we see expressions of hatred that are both comically adolescent and almost psychopathic. We have them endorsing slander of innocent people simply because they hold a different point of view, comparing the Tea Party movement to Nazism, and participating in a post thread with the subject, “The line on Palin.” And we have journalists endorsing a “tough legal framework” to control what a news organization says.

What we have, in short, is intellectual corruption of a fairly high order. From what we have seen and from what those like Tucker Carlson and his colleagues (who have read the exchanges in detail) say, Journolist was — at least in good measure — a hotbed of hatred, political hackery, banality, and juvenile thuggery. It is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from troubled, towel-snapping junior high boys. (It’s worth pointing out that if a principal got a hold of e-mails like the ones produced by Journolist, he would punish and probably suspend the offending eighth graders.)

Journolist provides a window into the mindset of the journalistic and academic left in this country. It is not a pretty sight. The demonization and dehumanization of critics is arresting. Those who hold contrary views to the Journolist crowd aren’t individuals who have honest disagreements; they are evil, malignant, and their voices need to be eliminated from the public square. It is illiberal in the extreme.

Some Journolist defenders argue that what has been published doesn’t capture the true nature of what went on at Journolist and that the published exchanges were taken out of context. The Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson has a reasonable response:

So why don’t we publish whatever portions of the Journolist archive we have and end the debate? Because a lot of them have no obvious news value, for one thing. Gather 400 lefty reporters and academics on one listserv and it turns out you wind up with a strikingly high concentration of bitchiness. Shocking amounts, actually. So while it might be amusing to air threads theorizing about the personal and sexual shortcomings of various NewRepublic staffers, we’ve decided to pull back…. Anyone on Journolist who claims we quoted him “out of context” can reveal the context himself.

That is a fair challenge. If Journolist turns out to differ substantially from its portrayal, Journolisters should release the full exchanges. Ezra Klein, David Corn, Jonathan Chait, and Joe Klein have all offered defenses, though their efforts range from feeble to pathetic. (It was really and merely “an argument between moderate and left-wing journalists,” Chait assures us.) Assuming that Journolisters cannot provide a stronger defense, other members of the fourth estate should be troubled by what has been uncovered. After all, it is the probity of their profession that is being stripped away.

Those who participated in Journolist undoubtedly hope this story will fade away and be forgotten. I rather doubt it will. It is another episode in the long, downward slide of modern journalism. “We were taking risks,” Joe Klein writes in his own defense. And the Journolist participants surely were — not intellectual risks but risks with their integrity — and several of them have been caught dead-to-rights. “Broken eggs cannot be mended,” Lincoln said. Neither can some broken reputations.

In many respects, the whole thing is dispiriting. On the other hand, it has had a clarifying effect. It turns out that the worst caricatures of liberal journalists were not, at least in the case of some, a caricature at all.

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A Game of JournoList Chicken

Tucker Carlson at the Daily Caller is sitting in the catbird’s seat. He has reams of JournoList e-mails revealing how vicious the blogospheric left is. They wish their opponents dead (Rush Limbaugh). Their contempt for conservatives runneth over. And they plainly are all on the same “team” — plotting, delegating, and coordinating their cheerleading for the Obami, as well as attacks on Obama’s opponents. Moreover, we now have a great mystery, a sort of D.C. parlor game: what else does Carlson have?

“Journalists” — what do we call such people (undercover activists)? — and their editors are waiting for shoes to drop. A case in point: Ben Smith ran a story on the potential involvement of Politico reporters. I then spotted in one of the Daily Caller’s releases the name Laura Rozen, who covers foreign policy for Politico. Her use of a blind quote to relate an accusation of “dual loyalty” against Dennis Ross was widely criticized in a range of Jewish and conservative publications.

A sample via Daily Caller:

Nov. 5

ALYSSA ROSENBERG, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE: I’ve gotta be all non-partisan on GovExec, so I hope you’ll all indulge me a minute here. On Monday night in Manassas, the band warming up the crowd before Obama arrived played “I Need You To Survive.” I think the core lyrics are pretty good statement of principles for progressives, especially going forward from a victory like this one:

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

I pray for you, You pray for me.
I love you, I need you to survive.
I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.
I love you, I need you to survive.

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

A lot of horribly ugly stuff got repudiated tonight. But it doesn’t end here. We need to keep making the case to the folks who disagreed with us, the folks who booed McCain during his concession speech tonight.

MATT DUSS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: [Mccain aide] Randy Scheunemann Fired [last week]

LAURA ROZEN, MOTHER JONES (NOW POLITICO): Can you imagine if these bozos had won?

Nov. 7

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there ass to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

I e-mailed Ben and asked if Rozen didn’t “count” because these comments predated her employment by Politico. He promptly answered that he hadn’t seen this particular e-mail and would have included it and asked his editor about it if he had. He directed me to Jim VanderHei, who asked if I had seen any Rozen JournoList comments after she was hired by Politico. I answered that we were all dealing with what Daily Caller was doling out. He provided this explanation of Politico’s  approach to this issue:

We have an unmistakably clear rule that anyone hired here check their ideology at the door. That means no political contributions or activism — and no partisan comments on air, on Twitter, on Facebook, in print, anywhere. We recognize the people we hire are not dull, blank slates — and that everyone has personal opinions. What we demand is that those opinions remain personal (and private) once hired — and that they fully understand we are a nonpartisan media outlet. We have hired some people with partisan backgrounds and had great success in getting them to go through ideological detox and become straight news reporters. The Laura Rozen emails the Daily Caller reported on pre-dated her work here. I have not seen any emails she wrote as a POLITICO employee that trouble me.

This raises at least two issues. First, it seems that the JournoList participants now have a very high standard of objectivity to maintain, especially if they now want to act as real reporters. Are they really checking their ideology at the door, or are they tipping the scales? The problem with baring one’s partisan views — especially ones so personally vindictive — is that it creates a cloud of doubt about everything you write. Second, VandeHei and every other editor with a JournoList participant is now waiting to see if there are any other e-mails that “trouble” them. If more pop up, will heads roll?

I use Rozen as an example, but the problem is far wider. The Washington Post has been mute. What if anything do they do about Ezra Klein? (Maybe if they were aware of his hyper-nasty attacks on the right, the Post editors wouldn’t have taken his recommendation on Dave Weigel.) The JournoList crowd have done a bang-up job of undermining not only their own credibility but also that of their employers. (Even those who are opinion writers are revealed not to be principled purveyors of ideas but meanspirited attack dogs.) How widespread the damage is has yet to be determined.

Tucker Carlson at the Daily Caller is sitting in the catbird’s seat. He has reams of JournoList e-mails revealing how vicious the blogospheric left is. They wish their opponents dead (Rush Limbaugh). Their contempt for conservatives runneth over. And they plainly are all on the same “team” — plotting, delegating, and coordinating their cheerleading for the Obami, as well as attacks on Obama’s opponents. Moreover, we now have a great mystery, a sort of D.C. parlor game: what else does Carlson have?

“Journalists” — what do we call such people (undercover activists)? — and their editors are waiting for shoes to drop. A case in point: Ben Smith ran a story on the potential involvement of Politico reporters. I then spotted in one of the Daily Caller’s releases the name Laura Rozen, who covers foreign policy for Politico. Her use of a blind quote to relate an accusation of “dual loyalty” against Dennis Ross was widely criticized in a range of Jewish and conservative publications.

A sample via Daily Caller:

Nov. 5

ALYSSA ROSENBERG, GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE: I’ve gotta be all non-partisan on GovExec, so I hope you’ll all indulge me a minute here. On Monday night in Manassas, the band warming up the crowd before Obama arrived played “I Need You To Survive.” I think the core lyrics are pretty good statement of principles for progressives, especially going forward from a victory like this one:

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

I pray for you, You pray for me.
I love you, I need you to survive.
I won’t harm you with words from my mouth.
I love you, I need you to survive.

It is his will, that every need be supplied.
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

A lot of horribly ugly stuff got repudiated tonight. But it doesn’t end here. We need to keep making the case to the folks who disagreed with us, the folks who booed McCain during his concession speech tonight.

MATT DUSS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: [Mccain aide] Randy Scheunemann Fired [last week]

LAURA ROZEN, MOTHER JONES (NOW POLITICO): Can you imagine if these bozos had won?

Nov. 7

LAURA ROZEN: People we no longer have to listen to: would it be unwise to start a thread of people we are grateful we no longer have to listen to? If not, I’ll start off: Michael Rubin.

MICHAEL COHEN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: Mark Penn and Bob Shrum. Anyone who uses the expression “Real America.” We should send there ass to Gitmo!

JESSE TAYLOR, PANDAGON.NET: Michael Barone?  Please?

LAURA ROZEN: Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich (afraid it’s not true), Drill Here Drill Now, And David Addington, John Yoo, we’ll see you in court?

I e-mailed Ben and asked if Rozen didn’t “count” because these comments predated her employment by Politico. He promptly answered that he hadn’t seen this particular e-mail and would have included it and asked his editor about it if he had. He directed me to Jim VanderHei, who asked if I had seen any Rozen JournoList comments after she was hired by Politico. I answered that we were all dealing with what Daily Caller was doling out. He provided this explanation of Politico’s  approach to this issue:

We have an unmistakably clear rule that anyone hired here check their ideology at the door. That means no political contributions or activism — and no partisan comments on air, on Twitter, on Facebook, in print, anywhere. We recognize the people we hire are not dull, blank slates — and that everyone has personal opinions. What we demand is that those opinions remain personal (and private) once hired — and that they fully understand we are a nonpartisan media outlet. We have hired some people with partisan backgrounds and had great success in getting them to go through ideological detox and become straight news reporters. The Laura Rozen emails the Daily Caller reported on pre-dated her work here. I have not seen any emails she wrote as a POLITICO employee that trouble me.

This raises at least two issues. First, it seems that the JournoList participants now have a very high standard of objectivity to maintain, especially if they now want to act as real reporters. Are they really checking their ideology at the door, or are they tipping the scales? The problem with baring one’s partisan views — especially ones so personally vindictive — is that it creates a cloud of doubt about everything you write. Second, VandeHei and every other editor with a JournoList participant is now waiting to see if there are any other e-mails that “trouble” them. If more pop up, will heads roll?

I use Rozen as an example, but the problem is far wider. The Washington Post has been mute. What if anything do they do about Ezra Klein? (Maybe if they were aware of his hyper-nasty attacks on the right, the Post editors wouldn’t have taken his recommendation on Dave Weigel.) The JournoList crowd have done a bang-up job of undermining not only their own credibility but also that of their employers. (Even those who are opinion writers are revealed not to be principled purveyors of ideas but meanspirited attack dogs.) How widespread the damage is has yet to be determined.

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Social Security in the Hole

Social Security is in the hole this year, five years ahead of when it was expected to develop a negative cash flow. As Michael Barone points out, Social Security in the first half of 2009 took in $366 billion and dispersed $334.3 billion. In the first six months of this year, it will be $346.9 in, $347.3 out.

If the economy recovers well from the recession, Social Security will go back into the black for a few years, but the coming wave of baby-boomer retirements will put it in the red permanently (under current law) by the middle of the coming decade.

That’s why the idea that the intra-governmental portion of the debt doesn’t matter is so pernicious. Vincent Fernando at Business Insider argues that:

The U.S. government’s net debt is not about to reach 100% of GDP. Hysteria about the U.S. debt/GDP ratio breaking 100% is due to a misconception regarding which figure to calculate Federal debt. You can’t count money the Federal government owed to itself . …

The national debt, as of June 10, is $8.5 trillion owed to the public and $4.7 trillion owed to branches of the federal government. Fernando argues that the intra-governmental debt doesn’t count because, while a debit at the Treasury, it is an asset at the Social Security Administration and elsewhere within the government and therefore nets out to zero, as does a debt owed by a subsidiary of a corporation to the parent company.

This is nonsense. The negative cash flow this year will be financed by the Social Security Administration’s taking federal bonds it holds to the Treasury (they cannot be sold to the public) to be redeemed for the needed cash. The Treasury will sell bonds in the market place to get the money. When Social Security goes permanently into a negative cash flow, more and more of the intra-governmental debt will be converted into public debt. (Unless, of course, Congress either reduces Social Security payments to current retirees, cuts spending elsewhere, or raises Social Security taxes. The first two of those possibilities are, to put it mildly, highly unlikely.)

So what is now intra-governmental debt will inexorably become public debt and so should be counted in calculating the total national debt. That sum is now $13.041 trillion. GDP was $14.256 trillion in 2009. That works out to 91.48 percent of GDP, which is close enough to 100 percent for government work.

Social Security is in the hole this year, five years ahead of when it was expected to develop a negative cash flow. As Michael Barone points out, Social Security in the first half of 2009 took in $366 billion and dispersed $334.3 billion. In the first six months of this year, it will be $346.9 in, $347.3 out.

If the economy recovers well from the recession, Social Security will go back into the black for a few years, but the coming wave of baby-boomer retirements will put it in the red permanently (under current law) by the middle of the coming decade.

That’s why the idea that the intra-governmental portion of the debt doesn’t matter is so pernicious. Vincent Fernando at Business Insider argues that:

The U.S. government’s net debt is not about to reach 100% of GDP. Hysteria about the U.S. debt/GDP ratio breaking 100% is due to a misconception regarding which figure to calculate Federal debt. You can’t count money the Federal government owed to itself . …

The national debt, as of June 10, is $8.5 trillion owed to the public and $4.7 trillion owed to branches of the federal government. Fernando argues that the intra-governmental debt doesn’t count because, while a debit at the Treasury, it is an asset at the Social Security Administration and elsewhere within the government and therefore nets out to zero, as does a debt owed by a subsidiary of a corporation to the parent company.

This is nonsense. The negative cash flow this year will be financed by the Social Security Administration’s taking federal bonds it holds to the Treasury (they cannot be sold to the public) to be redeemed for the needed cash. The Treasury will sell bonds in the market place to get the money. When Social Security goes permanently into a negative cash flow, more and more of the intra-governmental debt will be converted into public debt. (Unless, of course, Congress either reduces Social Security payments to current retirees, cuts spending elsewhere, or raises Social Security taxes. The first two of those possibilities are, to put it mildly, highly unlikely.)

So what is now intra-governmental debt will inexorably become public debt and so should be counted in calculating the total national debt. That sum is now $13.041 trillion. GDP was $14.256 trillion in 2009. That works out to 91.48 percent of GDP, which is close enough to 100 percent for government work.

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The Reviews Are in

On the op-ed page of a certain famous mass-circulation newspaper, the editors declare:

The country is frustrated and apprehensive and still waiting for Mr. Obama to put his vision into action.The president cannot plug the leak or magically clean up the fouled Gulf of Mexico. But he and his administration need to do a lot more to show they are on top of this mess, and not perpetually behind the curve. …

Americans need to know that Mr. Obama, whose coolness can seem like detachment, is engaged. This is not a mere question of presentation or stagecraft, although the White House could do better at both. (We cringed when he told the “Today” show that he had spent important time figuring out “whose ass to kick” about the spill. Everyone knew that answer on Day 2.)

One of the paper’s top columnist’s writes:

The former constitutional lawyer now in the White House understands that the press has a role in the democracy. But he is an elitist, too, as well as thin-skinned and controlling. So he ends up regarding scribes as intrusive, conveying a distaste for what he sees as the fundamental unseriousness of a press driven by blog-around-the-clock deadlines. … It hurts Obama to be a crybaby about it, and to blame the press and the “old Washington game” for his own communication failures. . . Now that Obama has been hit with negative press, he’s even more contemptuous. “He’s never needed to woo the press,” says the NBC White House reporter Chuck Todd. “He’s never really needed us.” So, as The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz writes, the more press-friendly, emotionally accessible, if gaffe-prone Biden has become “the administration’s top on-air spokesman.”

The Wall Street Journal and William McGurn? The Washington Examiner and Michael Barone? No, the New York Times and Maureen Dowd. It’s one more sign that the bottom is dropping out of Obama’s support, and the unraveling of his presidency is picking up steam. Unless he gets a grip and finds some grown-ups from whom he is willing to take advice, this is not going to improve.

On the op-ed page of a certain famous mass-circulation newspaper, the editors declare:

The country is frustrated and apprehensive and still waiting for Mr. Obama to put his vision into action.The president cannot plug the leak or magically clean up the fouled Gulf of Mexico. But he and his administration need to do a lot more to show they are on top of this mess, and not perpetually behind the curve. …

Americans need to know that Mr. Obama, whose coolness can seem like detachment, is engaged. This is not a mere question of presentation or stagecraft, although the White House could do better at both. (We cringed when he told the “Today” show that he had spent important time figuring out “whose ass to kick” about the spill. Everyone knew that answer on Day 2.)

One of the paper’s top columnist’s writes:

The former constitutional lawyer now in the White House understands that the press has a role in the democracy. But he is an elitist, too, as well as thin-skinned and controlling. So he ends up regarding scribes as intrusive, conveying a distaste for what he sees as the fundamental unseriousness of a press driven by blog-around-the-clock deadlines. … It hurts Obama to be a crybaby about it, and to blame the press and the “old Washington game” for his own communication failures. . . Now that Obama has been hit with negative press, he’s even more contemptuous. “He’s never needed to woo the press,” says the NBC White House reporter Chuck Todd. “He’s never really needed us.” So, as The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz writes, the more press-friendly, emotionally accessible, if gaffe-prone Biden has become “the administration’s top on-air spokesman.”

The Wall Street Journal and William McGurn? The Washington Examiner and Michael Barone? No, the New York Times and Maureen Dowd. It’s one more sign that the bottom is dropping out of Obama’s support, and the unraveling of his presidency is picking up steam. Unless he gets a grip and finds some grown-ups from whom he is willing to take advice, this is not going to improve.

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A Sea Change on Spending

One of the reasons I’m sanguine about the elections this year is that I sense a sea change in the political climate against spending. I’m hardly the only one. Just for instance, there’s E. Thomas McClanahan of the Kansas City Star. The election of Chris Christie and Scott Brown in deeply blue states argues the same thing. So does the success of the tea parties.

But the Democrats and, especially, the Obama administration are deeply committed to ever greater spending. Even the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, supposedly fiscal hawks, mostly signed on to ObamaCare, which, if fully implemented, will increase federal spending the way the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is increasing pollution.

More, the Obama administration is joined at the hip to the biggest engine of spending in town, the public employees’ unions. Mort Zuckerman details just how destructive the nexus between politicians and public employees’ unions has become. Michael Barone points out that the administration is pushing Congress to spend an additional $23 billion to prevent teacher layoffs this year. This is in addition to the one-third of last year’s stimulus bill that went to prevent layoffs of government workers.

Might this largesse have anything to do with the fact that labor unions gave Democrats $400 million in the last election cycle? Might the Pope be a Catholic? That’s why only Republicans can ride this tide of public anger at spending and public employees’ unions. If they do, it will lead on to fortune.

One of the reasons I’m sanguine about the elections this year is that I sense a sea change in the political climate against spending. I’m hardly the only one. Just for instance, there’s E. Thomas McClanahan of the Kansas City Star. The election of Chris Christie and Scott Brown in deeply blue states argues the same thing. So does the success of the tea parties.

But the Democrats and, especially, the Obama administration are deeply committed to ever greater spending. Even the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, supposedly fiscal hawks, mostly signed on to ObamaCare, which, if fully implemented, will increase federal spending the way the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is increasing pollution.

More, the Obama administration is joined at the hip to the biggest engine of spending in town, the public employees’ unions. Mort Zuckerman details just how destructive the nexus between politicians and public employees’ unions has become. Michael Barone points out that the administration is pushing Congress to spend an additional $23 billion to prevent teacher layoffs this year. This is in addition to the one-third of last year’s stimulus bill that went to prevent layoffs of government workers.

Might this largesse have anything to do with the fact that labor unions gave Democrats $400 million in the last election cycle? Might the Pope be a Catholic? That’s why only Republicans can ride this tide of public anger at spending and public employees’ unions. If they do, it will lead on to fortune.

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November Is the Cruelest Month

Patrick Ruffini, in mulling over the November midterm elections, writes this:

All in all, I don’t think a 70 seat gain is out of the question.

Michael Barone’s comments on Ruffini’s analysis can be found here. Democrats should read this, and weep. The midterm elections may not be as bad as Ruffini predicts — but they will very, very bad. Virtually every bit of polling data points to an epic loss by Democrats.

Mr. Obama may indeed be a political miracle worker — but for Republicans, not Democrats.

Patrick Ruffini, in mulling over the November midterm elections, writes this:

All in all, I don’t think a 70 seat gain is out of the question.

Michael Barone’s comments on Ruffini’s analysis can be found here. Democrats should read this, and weep. The midterm elections may not be as bad as Ruffini predicts — but they will very, very bad. Virtually every bit of polling data points to an epic loss by Democrats.

Mr. Obama may indeed be a political miracle worker — but for Republicans, not Democrats.

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Republican Resurrection

Michael Barone is a person with extraordinary knowledge about politics. So his statement in the American Enterprise Institute’s blog, The American, caught my attention: “Recent polls tell me that the Democratic Party is in the worst shape I have seen during my 50 years of following politics closely.”

Barone devotes his article to looking back at the biggest GOP victory of the last 80 years – the off-year election of 1946, in which Republicans won 13 Senate seats and 55 seats in the House – and explores the similarities and differences today.

Speaking of today, Obama’s approval rating in the latest CBS poll is at an all-time low of 44 percent, a staggering 24 points below where it was just a year ago. When it comes to health care, the President’s approval rating is even lower: only 34 percent approved, while 55 percent said they disapproved.

Republicans now lead on the congressional generic ballot in both the Gallup survey (+3) and the Rasmussen survey (+9). Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on nine out of 10 key issues – including on health care, which is nearly unprecedented. Following the passage of the health care bill, 53 percent now say they trust Republicans on the issue of health care, versus 37 percent who place their trust in Democrats. And according to a Marist poll, since ObamaCare passed, 53 percent of those polled said their opinion of the president has not changed. But 29 percent said their opinion of Obama has gotten worse. And only 18 percent — fewer than two in 10 — said their opinion of Obama has gotten better. To add salt to the wound: among independents, Tea Partiers’ views are preferred to Obama’s by a 50 percent to 38 percent margin.

This erosion of support for the Democratic party in such a compressed period of time is unlike anything I can recall. Democrats continue to hope that things will turn around between now and the mid-term elections. But with every passing month, this wish appears fanciful. Democrats like Bill Clinton predicted Obama and his party’s approval ratings would jump in the aftermath ObamaCare’s passage; many of us said the opposite. So far, the opposite is happening. Nor is opposition to Obama and Democrats likely to recede much between now and November; in fact it may well intensify.

Early last year, the GOP was bloodied and on the ropes, and out came the epitaphs. Sam Tanenhaus wrote a book titled The Death of Conservatism. Democrats like James Carville were saying, “A Democratic majority is emerging, and it’s my hypothesis, one I share with a great many others, that this majority will guarantee the Democrats remain in power for the next 40 years.” Today, after 15 months of Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, it looks like Democrats may fall around 38 years short of that prediction. And Mr. Tanenhaus might want to get used to the concept of resurrection. Because that is what is unfolding before our eyes.

The strong wind at the backs of Republicans will at some point shift; that is the nature of American politics. For now, though, everyone agrees that November will be bad for Democrats. The only question is just how bad. At this juncture, I would say: very bad.

Michael Barone is a person with extraordinary knowledge about politics. So his statement in the American Enterprise Institute’s blog, The American, caught my attention: “Recent polls tell me that the Democratic Party is in the worst shape I have seen during my 50 years of following politics closely.”

Barone devotes his article to looking back at the biggest GOP victory of the last 80 years – the off-year election of 1946, in which Republicans won 13 Senate seats and 55 seats in the House – and explores the similarities and differences today.

Speaking of today, Obama’s approval rating in the latest CBS poll is at an all-time low of 44 percent, a staggering 24 points below where it was just a year ago. When it comes to health care, the President’s approval rating is even lower: only 34 percent approved, while 55 percent said they disapproved.

Republicans now lead on the congressional generic ballot in both the Gallup survey (+3) and the Rasmussen survey (+9). Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on nine out of 10 key issues – including on health care, which is nearly unprecedented. Following the passage of the health care bill, 53 percent now say they trust Republicans on the issue of health care, versus 37 percent who place their trust in Democrats. And according to a Marist poll, since ObamaCare passed, 53 percent of those polled said their opinion of the president has not changed. But 29 percent said their opinion of Obama has gotten worse. And only 18 percent — fewer than two in 10 — said their opinion of Obama has gotten better. To add salt to the wound: among independents, Tea Partiers’ views are preferred to Obama’s by a 50 percent to 38 percent margin.

This erosion of support for the Democratic party in such a compressed period of time is unlike anything I can recall. Democrats continue to hope that things will turn around between now and the mid-term elections. But with every passing month, this wish appears fanciful. Democrats like Bill Clinton predicted Obama and his party’s approval ratings would jump in the aftermath ObamaCare’s passage; many of us said the opposite. So far, the opposite is happening. Nor is opposition to Obama and Democrats likely to recede much between now and November; in fact it may well intensify.

Early last year, the GOP was bloodied and on the ropes, and out came the epitaphs. Sam Tanenhaus wrote a book titled The Death of Conservatism. Democrats like James Carville were saying, “A Democratic majority is emerging, and it’s my hypothesis, one I share with a great many others, that this majority will guarantee the Democrats remain in power for the next 40 years.” Today, after 15 months of Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, it looks like Democrats may fall around 38 years short of that prediction. And Mr. Tanenhaus might want to get used to the concept of resurrection. Because that is what is unfolding before our eyes.

The strong wind at the backs of Republicans will at some point shift; that is the nature of American politics. For now, though, everyone agrees that November will be bad for Democrats. The only question is just how bad. At this juncture, I would say: very bad.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Michael Barone explains young Americans’ economic outlook in the Obama era: “The programs of the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership will increase government’s share of the economy and will tend to choke off private sector economic growth. We’ve already lost 8 million private sector jobs but no public sector jobs. We’ll probably create more public sector jobs. … But a nation with an ever larger public sector and an inhibited-growth private sector is a nation with fewer openings for people who want work that will benefit others. Fewer opportunities for young people who want to choose their future, just as they choose their iPod playlists and Facebook friends. Fewer opportunities for people to choose their future.”

Bill Kristol explains the economic-growth outlook in the Obama era: “Can you have a serious recovery when your — when taxes are being raised quite a lot, interest rates are going up, and the regulatory burden’s getting heavier? Those are just facts. I mean, taxes are going up. Interest rates are going up, intermediate and long-term rates, and they’re going to keep on going up because of the deficit. And the regulatory burden is getting heavier. That — I don’t know what economic theory tells you get good growth with those things going on.”

The farce of nuclear disarmament in the Obama era: “Iran said on Sunday it will host a nuclear disarmament conference this month to be attended by China, which has been resisting new sanctions against Tehran over its atomic ambitions. ‘This is an international conference and Iran, which advocates nuclear disarmament, is calling on all nations to disarm,’ Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told the official IRNA news agency.”

Syria-Israel relations in the Obama era (which look an awful lot like they always have): “A report submitted a few weeks ago to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by two of his top diplomats concludes that there is no chance to renew substantial negotiations between Israel and Syria in the near future, Haaretz has learned. The officials had visited the Middle East recently to investigate the possibility of French mediation between the two countries.” Agreeing to return our ambassador to Damascus apparently accomplished nothing.

Non-leadership on human rights in the Obama era: “Other nations should make clear that Burma would indeed be welcomed back — but only if it frees all political prisoners and ceases its war crimes against national minorities. … Together, these nations could exert real influence. They could tighten financial sanctions to really pinch top leaders and the entities they control; they could push the machinery of the United Nations to investigate the regime’s crimes, such as forced labor and mass rape. Now would be a good moment, in other words, to unite and use the leverage that is lying unused on the table.”

Another competitive Blue State in the Obama era: “As soon as former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced that he was running for governor, the race was seen by national Republicans as another possible high-profile pickup, a view almost immediately shared by political prognosticators. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report adjusted its rating of the race Thursday from solidly Democratic to one short of ‘Toss Up’ — saying Ehrlich is expected to run a ‘competitive’ contest against Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).”

Another prominent Blue State Democratic governor is in trouble in the Obama era: “Few politicians are as close to Obama as the Massachusetts Democratic governor, or have deeper ties to the president and his core team of advisers. And almost no one faces a tougher re-election battle this year than [Deval] Patrick, whose disapproval ratings would be considered near-terminal if not for the three-way race that he currently finds himself in.”

Not-at-all-smart diplomacy in the Obama era: “Barack Obama is in danger of reversing all the progress his predecessors, including George W. Bush, made in forging closer U.S. ties with India. Preoccupied with China and the Middle East, the Obama administration has allotted little room on its schedule for India, and failed to get much done in the short time it did make. Hosting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the November state visit, the administration managed to produce cordial photo ops, but the agreements reached on education, energy cooperation, and the like dealt with trivia.”

The voice of sanity in the Obama era: “The head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that several domestic threats against the government are “real” but not as great as dangers posed by foreign terrorists. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) emphasized that the government is taking seriously the arrest of militia members and threats to lawmakers and governors but cautioned that people should not ‘overstate’ them.”

Michael Barone explains young Americans’ economic outlook in the Obama era: “The programs of the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional leadership will increase government’s share of the economy and will tend to choke off private sector economic growth. We’ve already lost 8 million private sector jobs but no public sector jobs. We’ll probably create more public sector jobs. … But a nation with an ever larger public sector and an inhibited-growth private sector is a nation with fewer openings for people who want work that will benefit others. Fewer opportunities for young people who want to choose their future, just as they choose their iPod playlists and Facebook friends. Fewer opportunities for people to choose their future.”

Bill Kristol explains the economic-growth outlook in the Obama era: “Can you have a serious recovery when your — when taxes are being raised quite a lot, interest rates are going up, and the regulatory burden’s getting heavier? Those are just facts. I mean, taxes are going up. Interest rates are going up, intermediate and long-term rates, and they’re going to keep on going up because of the deficit. And the regulatory burden is getting heavier. That — I don’t know what economic theory tells you get good growth with those things going on.”

The farce of nuclear disarmament in the Obama era: “Iran said on Sunday it will host a nuclear disarmament conference this month to be attended by China, which has been resisting new sanctions against Tehran over its atomic ambitions. ‘This is an international conference and Iran, which advocates nuclear disarmament, is calling on all nations to disarm,’ Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili told the official IRNA news agency.”

Syria-Israel relations in the Obama era (which look an awful lot like they always have): “A report submitted a few weeks ago to French President Nicolas Sarkozy by two of his top diplomats concludes that there is no chance to renew substantial negotiations between Israel and Syria in the near future, Haaretz has learned. The officials had visited the Middle East recently to investigate the possibility of French mediation between the two countries.” Agreeing to return our ambassador to Damascus apparently accomplished nothing.

Non-leadership on human rights in the Obama era: “Other nations should make clear that Burma would indeed be welcomed back — but only if it frees all political prisoners and ceases its war crimes against national minorities. … Together, these nations could exert real influence. They could tighten financial sanctions to really pinch top leaders and the entities they control; they could push the machinery of the United Nations to investigate the regime’s crimes, such as forced labor and mass rape. Now would be a good moment, in other words, to unite and use the leverage that is lying unused on the table.”

Another competitive Blue State in the Obama era: “As soon as former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced that he was running for governor, the race was seen by national Republicans as another possible high-profile pickup, a view almost immediately shared by political prognosticators. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report adjusted its rating of the race Thursday from solidly Democratic to one short of ‘Toss Up’ — saying Ehrlich is expected to run a ‘competitive’ contest against Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).”

Another prominent Blue State Democratic governor is in trouble in the Obama era: “Few politicians are as close to Obama as the Massachusetts Democratic governor, or have deeper ties to the president and his core team of advisers. And almost no one faces a tougher re-election battle this year than [Deval] Patrick, whose disapproval ratings would be considered near-terminal if not for the three-way race that he currently finds himself in.”

Not-at-all-smart diplomacy in the Obama era: “Barack Obama is in danger of reversing all the progress his predecessors, including George W. Bush, made in forging closer U.S. ties with India. Preoccupied with China and the Middle East, the Obama administration has allotted little room on its schedule for India, and failed to get much done in the short time it did make. Hosting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the November state visit, the administration managed to produce cordial photo ops, but the agreements reached on education, energy cooperation, and the like dealt with trivia.”

The voice of sanity in the Obama era: “The head of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said Sunday that several domestic threats against the government are “real” but not as great as dangers posed by foreign terrorists. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) emphasized that the government is taking seriously the arrest of militia members and threats to lawmakers and governors but cautioned that people should not ‘overstate’ them.”

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Whom Do You Trust More?

Last month Berkshire Hathaway sold two-year bonds that yield less than federal notes of the same maturity, according to Bloomberg (h/t: Michael Barone).

That is a truly astonishing fact. The interest the market demands on a bond is determined by 1) the present cost of money, 2) the expected inflation over the life of the bond, and 3) the risk of the bond issuer defaulting. The first two affect every bond equally, so differences in interest rates on similar securities reflect the market’s judgment on the possibility of default.

For a century and more, the securities of the United States Government have been, almost by definition, the safest investment one could make. Even in the depths of the Great Depression no one doubted that the federal government would make good on its debts. Indeed, in the fall of 1932, as the American economy was falling off a cliff, interest rates on treasury bills (the shortest-term federal debt) went negative. Treasury bills are sold at a discount and mature at par rather than pay interest. But in 1932, demand for them pushed the price over par. Investors, in other words, paid for the privilege of investing in the safest possible investments, the short-term paper of the United States.

So the market now has more faith that Warren Buffett (and Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson too, by the way) will pay off their bonds than that the federal government will do so – just two years down the road.

Thanks, President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Thanks very much.

Last month Berkshire Hathaway sold two-year bonds that yield less than federal notes of the same maturity, according to Bloomberg (h/t: Michael Barone).

That is a truly astonishing fact. The interest the market demands on a bond is determined by 1) the present cost of money, 2) the expected inflation over the life of the bond, and 3) the risk of the bond issuer defaulting. The first two affect every bond equally, so differences in interest rates on similar securities reflect the market’s judgment on the possibility of default.

For a century and more, the securities of the United States Government have been, almost by definition, the safest investment one could make. Even in the depths of the Great Depression no one doubted that the federal government would make good on its debts. Indeed, in the fall of 1932, as the American economy was falling off a cliff, interest rates on treasury bills (the shortest-term federal debt) went negative. Treasury bills are sold at a discount and mature at par rather than pay interest. But in 1932, demand for them pushed the price over par. Investors, in other words, paid for the privilege of investing in the safest possible investments, the short-term paper of the United States.

So the market now has more faith that Warren Buffett (and Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson too, by the way) will pay off their bonds than that the federal government will do so – just two years down the road.

Thanks, President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Thanks very much.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Wondering where the American Jewish community is on Obama’s Israel-bash-a-thon? Well, being a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, whose fidelity, financial and electoral, all Dem administrations can and do take fully for granted” has its drawbacks.” But perhaps, just perhaps, some in the community are starting to notice “the ill wind blowing toward Israel from Mr. Obama’s office.”

Wondering why the House hasn’t voted on ObamaCare yet? “House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that Democrats don’t have the House votes to pass the healthcare bill. ‘If she had 216 votes this bill would be long gone,’ Boehner said of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’” (Rep. James Clyburn admitted that they don’t yet have the votes.)

Wondering if the Obama terror policy is losing steam? David Axelrod seemed less than vigorous about closing Guantanamo. (“We have made good progress. You know, when we got there, the legal status of many of the people there was unclear. We had to go through a process of really sorting all of these cases out. We are beginning to work those cases.”) Boehner was blunt: “I don’t think the Congress will appropriate one dime to move those prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States.”

Wondering if Virginia Democrats are nervous about going down with the Obama ship? “U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., said Friday he could not support health care reform legislation that includes heavy cuts to Medicare, a position he has held since his first vote against the package and his party’s move to push legislation through Congress.” Boucher, an at-risk Democrat, seems unwilling to sacrifice himself for the greater glory of Obama.

Wondering why the media and Democrats are so anxious to discredit the Tea Partiers? Michael Barone says there’s their “energy, political creativity and enthusiasm into a moribund and dejected political party, like the Democrats of 1968 and the Republicans of 2008.” And also this: “The Republicans for the last two decades have been a party whose litmus tests have been cultural issues, especially abortion. The tea partiers have helped to change their focus to issues of government overreach and spending. That may be a helpful pivot, given the emergence of a millennial generation uncomfortable with crusading cultural conservatism.”

Wondering just how inane the Obami’s argument is against political free speech? Axelrod: “Under the ruling of the Supreme Court, any lobbyist could go in to any legislator and say, `If you don’t vote our way on this bill, we’re going to run a million-dollar campaign against you in your district.’ And that is a threat to our democracy.” Threatening legislators with ads! What’s next — citizen protests?

Wondering how that “Republican civil war” is going? It isn’t. At the GOP state convention, Carly Fiorina: “Conservatives, independents, moderates, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, Libertarians – all of us now belong to one party: The ‘Had Enough Party.’ We have had enough, and we are at a critical point in history – in Ronald Reagan’s words: ‘a time for choosing.’ You and I will choose to make a difference this year. Not separately but together.” That was how Bob McDonnell did it. But Fiorina has a primary first.

Wondering where the American Jewish community is on Obama’s Israel-bash-a-thon? Well, being a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, whose fidelity, financial and electoral, all Dem administrations can and do take fully for granted” has its drawbacks.” But perhaps, just perhaps, some in the community are starting to notice “the ill wind blowing toward Israel from Mr. Obama’s office.”

Wondering why the House hasn’t voted on ObamaCare yet? “House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday that Democrats don’t have the House votes to pass the healthcare bill. ‘If she had 216 votes this bill would be long gone,’ Boehner said of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’” (Rep. James Clyburn admitted that they don’t yet have the votes.)

Wondering if the Obama terror policy is losing steam? David Axelrod seemed less than vigorous about closing Guantanamo. (“We have made good progress. You know, when we got there, the legal status of many of the people there was unclear. We had to go through a process of really sorting all of these cases out. We are beginning to work those cases.”) Boehner was blunt: “I don’t think the Congress will appropriate one dime to move those prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States.”

Wondering if Virginia Democrats are nervous about going down with the Obama ship? “U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., said Friday he could not support health care reform legislation that includes heavy cuts to Medicare, a position he has held since his first vote against the package and his party’s move to push legislation through Congress.” Boucher, an at-risk Democrat, seems unwilling to sacrifice himself for the greater glory of Obama.

Wondering why the media and Democrats are so anxious to discredit the Tea Partiers? Michael Barone says there’s their “energy, political creativity and enthusiasm into a moribund and dejected political party, like the Democrats of 1968 and the Republicans of 2008.” And also this: “The Republicans for the last two decades have been a party whose litmus tests have been cultural issues, especially abortion. The tea partiers have helped to change their focus to issues of government overreach and spending. That may be a helpful pivot, given the emergence of a millennial generation uncomfortable with crusading cultural conservatism.”

Wondering just how inane the Obami’s argument is against political free speech? Axelrod: “Under the ruling of the Supreme Court, any lobbyist could go in to any legislator and say, `If you don’t vote our way on this bill, we’re going to run a million-dollar campaign against you in your district.’ And that is a threat to our democracy.” Threatening legislators with ads! What’s next — citizen protests?

Wondering how that “Republican civil war” is going? It isn’t. At the GOP state convention, Carly Fiorina: “Conservatives, independents, moderates, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, Libertarians – all of us now belong to one party: The ‘Had Enough Party.’ We have had enough, and we are at a critical point in history – in Ronald Reagan’s words: ‘a time for choosing.’ You and I will choose to make a difference this year. Not separately but together.” That was how Bob McDonnell did it. But Fiorina has a primary first.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Michael Barone on ObamaCare: “In fall 2009, Democrats could have pivoted on health care to craft a popular bill or a watered-down unpopular bill to be passed by a bipartisan safe-seat coalition. Instead, they plunged ahead and rammed through unpopular bills on party-line votes. … It’s beginning to look like the goal of health care legislation was a bridge too far. There’s a reason it’s hard to pass unpopular legislation on party-line votes. It’s not the Senate rules. It’s called democracy.”

Prospects don’t look bright for ObamaCare: “House Democratic leaders hoping to pass a health care reform bill by the Easter congressional recess face increasingly difficult odds, as several of the party’s rank-and-file have come out against the plan passed by the Senate in December. According to an ongoing CNN survey, 17 House Democrats indicate that they would vote no on the Senate plan as currently written, including six members who voted in favor of the House bill passed in November.”

Especially without the pro-life Democrats: “House Democratic leaders abandoned a long struggle to appease the most ardent abortion opponents in their ranks, gambling Thursday that they can secure the support for President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care legislation with showdown votes looming next week. … Congressional leaders are hoping they can find enough support from other wavering Democrats to pass legislation that only cleared the House by five votes in an earlier incarnation.” But where are such votes?

No one has spotted them yet: “Our latest whip count shows no progress for House Dem leadership. In fact, more members are sneaking onto the watch list, as Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) voiced concern over whether the Senate would actually pass a sidecar bill.”

More cringey news from Illinois for Democrats: “The owner of the Boston Blackie’s restaurant chain — a man with strong political ties to U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias — was charged today with bank fraud, along with the owner’s son and an employee. Boston Blackie’s owner Nick Giannis, 62, his son, Chris Giannis, 38, and Boston Blackie’s manager Andy Bakopoulos, 38, allegedly defrauded Charter One and Washington Mutual banks of nearly $2 million, Cook County prosecutors said.”

In the New York Senate race: “Encouraged by state and national Republican Party leaders, Dan Senor, an author, private equity executive and Defense Department adviser in the last Bush administration, is seriously considering a political challenge against Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, according to three people told of the discussions. … The Republican leaders, who cautioned that they were not backing any single candidate, have told Mr. Senor that his deep ties in the party, expertise on national security and background as a businessman would make him a formidable candidate.” Well, if you’re a Republican with political ambitions, this is certainly the year to make a run.

Mark Levin pierces the fog of sanctimony surrounding the Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terrorists: “And on what basis do we think the Obama administration selected these seven lawyers (there may be more) from 1 million other lawyers to serve in top political positions at Justice? Is it a coincidence that they had roles (direct or related) in defending detainees? … Personnel makes policy, and that includes lawyers in policy positions. So, while the selection of these lawyers clearly has some relationship to their private practices, the attempt to identify who they are and what they’re doing since being appointed is said to be off limits, unless, of course, you appointed them. Preposterous.”

Let’s face it: the”most transparent administration in history” isn’t. Sen. Jeff Sessions, for one, wants to know why Eric Holder didn’t disclose in his confirmation hearing an amicus brief in support of Jose Padilla.

A wonderful suggestion by George Will: no one should go to the State of the Union. “Next year, Roberts and the rest of the justices should stay away from the president’s address. So should the uniformed military, who are out of place in a setting of competitive political grandstanding. For that matter, the 535 legislators should boycott these undignified events. They would, if there were that many congressional grown-ups averse to being props in the childishness of popping up from their seats to cheer, or remaining sullenly seated in semi-pouts, as the politics of the moment dictates.”

Michael Barone on ObamaCare: “In fall 2009, Democrats could have pivoted on health care to craft a popular bill or a watered-down unpopular bill to be passed by a bipartisan safe-seat coalition. Instead, they plunged ahead and rammed through unpopular bills on party-line votes. … It’s beginning to look like the goal of health care legislation was a bridge too far. There’s a reason it’s hard to pass unpopular legislation on party-line votes. It’s not the Senate rules. It’s called democracy.”

Prospects don’t look bright for ObamaCare: “House Democratic leaders hoping to pass a health care reform bill by the Easter congressional recess face increasingly difficult odds, as several of the party’s rank-and-file have come out against the plan passed by the Senate in December. According to an ongoing CNN survey, 17 House Democrats indicate that they would vote no on the Senate plan as currently written, including six members who voted in favor of the House bill passed in November.”

Especially without the pro-life Democrats: “House Democratic leaders abandoned a long struggle to appease the most ardent abortion opponents in their ranks, gambling Thursday that they can secure the support for President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care legislation with showdown votes looming next week. … Congressional leaders are hoping they can find enough support from other wavering Democrats to pass legislation that only cleared the House by five votes in an earlier incarnation.” But where are such votes?

No one has spotted them yet: “Our latest whip count shows no progress for House Dem leadership. In fact, more members are sneaking onto the watch list, as Rep. Steve Kagen (D-WI) voiced concern over whether the Senate would actually pass a sidecar bill.”

More cringey news from Illinois for Democrats: “The owner of the Boston Blackie’s restaurant chain — a man with strong political ties to U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias — was charged today with bank fraud, along with the owner’s son and an employee. Boston Blackie’s owner Nick Giannis, 62, his son, Chris Giannis, 38, and Boston Blackie’s manager Andy Bakopoulos, 38, allegedly defrauded Charter One and Washington Mutual banks of nearly $2 million, Cook County prosecutors said.”

In the New York Senate race: “Encouraged by state and national Republican Party leaders, Dan Senor, an author, private equity executive and Defense Department adviser in the last Bush administration, is seriously considering a political challenge against Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, according to three people told of the discussions. … The Republican leaders, who cautioned that they were not backing any single candidate, have told Mr. Senor that his deep ties in the party, expertise on national security and background as a businessman would make him a formidable candidate.” Well, if you’re a Republican with political ambitions, this is certainly the year to make a run.

Mark Levin pierces the fog of sanctimony surrounding the Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terrorists: “And on what basis do we think the Obama administration selected these seven lawyers (there may be more) from 1 million other lawyers to serve in top political positions at Justice? Is it a coincidence that they had roles (direct or related) in defending detainees? … Personnel makes policy, and that includes lawyers in policy positions. So, while the selection of these lawyers clearly has some relationship to their private practices, the attempt to identify who they are and what they’re doing since being appointed is said to be off limits, unless, of course, you appointed them. Preposterous.”

Let’s face it: the”most transparent administration in history” isn’t. Sen. Jeff Sessions, for one, wants to know why Eric Holder didn’t disclose in his confirmation hearing an amicus brief in support of Jose Padilla.

A wonderful suggestion by George Will: no one should go to the State of the Union. “Next year, Roberts and the rest of the justices should stay away from the president’s address. So should the uniformed military, who are out of place in a setting of competitive political grandstanding. For that matter, the 535 legislators should boycott these undignified events. They would, if there were that many congressional grown-ups averse to being props in the childishness of popping up from their seats to cheer, or remaining sullenly seated in semi-pouts, as the politics of the moment dictates.”

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A Fiscal Suicide Pact

If you believe the Obama administration (and I doubt there is a person on the planet not in custodial care who actually does), ObamaCare will, if enacted, save the government $132 billion over the next 10 years. In the world ordinary citizens live in, one of mortgage payments and tuition bills, that sounds like a lot of money, more than the net worth of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined.

In the world of Washington, however, it’s chump change, an average of $13.2 billion a year, when the government will spend $3.7 trillion this year alone. Indeed, as Hotair points out, $132 billion is equal to only 59 percent of the deficit that the federal government racked up just in the month of February 2010, when the government spent $220.9 billion more than  it took in, the highest monthly shortfall in history.

As Michael Barone and others have noted, Nancy Pelosi seems to be having increasing trouble rounding up votes to jam ObamaCare through the House. The fact that it would be a political suicide pact for Democratic congressmen is surely the speaker’s biggest problem. But that it would be a fiscal suicide pact for the federal government might be an increasing factor. Only in Washington, after all, do people have trouble understanding what “we can’t afford it” means.

If you believe the Obama administration (and I doubt there is a person on the planet not in custodial care who actually does), ObamaCare will, if enacted, save the government $132 billion over the next 10 years. In the world ordinary citizens live in, one of mortgage payments and tuition bills, that sounds like a lot of money, more than the net worth of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined.

In the world of Washington, however, it’s chump change, an average of $13.2 billion a year, when the government will spend $3.7 trillion this year alone. Indeed, as Hotair points out, $132 billion is equal to only 59 percent of the deficit that the federal government racked up just in the month of February 2010, when the government spent $220.9 billion more than  it took in, the highest monthly shortfall in history.

As Michael Barone and others have noted, Nancy Pelosi seems to be having increasing trouble rounding up votes to jam ObamaCare through the House. The fact that it would be a political suicide pact for Democratic congressmen is surely the speaker’s biggest problem. But that it would be a fiscal suicide pact for the federal government might be an increasing factor. Only in Washington, after all, do people have trouble understanding what “we can’t afford it” means.

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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




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