Commentary Magazine


Topic: Orrin Hatch

On Filibuster and Executive Action, Beware the Lure of Reciprocity

The opportunity to curb the expansion of power in American governance and to prevent its establishment as a new status quo presents itself with the first transfer of power after the policy change. The Cold War architecture put in place by the Truman administration was criticized, but ultimately held steady, by Eisenhower, essentially solidifying a bipartisan postwar Washington consensus. The war on terror established by the Bush administration was demagogued endlessly by Barack Obama–until Obama became president himself. The war on terror is now a bipartisan Washington consensus. So what will be with the Obama era’s expansion of authority?

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The opportunity to curb the expansion of power in American governance and to prevent its establishment as a new status quo presents itself with the first transfer of power after the policy change. The Cold War architecture put in place by the Truman administration was criticized, but ultimately held steady, by Eisenhower, essentially solidifying a bipartisan postwar Washington consensus. The war on terror established by the Bush administration was demagogued endlessly by Barack Obama–until Obama became president himself. The war on terror is now a bipartisan Washington consensus. So what will be with the Obama era’s expansion of authority?

The most controversial was Obama’s own power grab: his end-run around Congress “to change the law” (in Obama’s own words) on immigration by approving an executive amnesty. But there was also Harry Reid’s decision to nuke the filibuster in order to pack courts to protect ObamaCare. Both have touched off a debate on the right over how to respond. The Reid Senate’s change in rules and norms is less headline-grabbing than Obama’s, of course; but it’s more pressing: Republicans are about to take over control of the Senate. The question of whether and how to mimic Obama’s precedent-setting immigration action is still hypothetical: Republicans have to win the White House before it matters.

But both are significant. And they have given rise to a “taste of their own medicine” caucus in the conservative movement, demonstrating the lure of power and retribution even in democratic politics.

Conservatives are debating whether to use what might be called the “Reid Rule” and the “Obama Rule” if and when they next have the opportunity to do so. Should they use the precedent of executive action to effectively change the way Americans are taxed, for example? And should they reassemble the filibuster that Reid took apart or leave it in its crumpled heap, the better to confirm their nominees as well?

And here it is important to make a distinction. Some want to use the Democrats’ newly created power because turnabout is fair play and unilateral disarmament is to embrace doormat status. Others want to use those expanded powers in order to return preexisting rules and norms to their proper place, because to use those powers for conservative ends would show liberals–who would lose their minds–the consequences of such power grabs, thus establishing deterrence.

As an example of the first, we have Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s comments, as reported by The Hill today:

We shouldn’t return to the old [filibuster] rule. We should teach these blunderheads that they made a big mistake. And we have the votes to stop bad judges if we want to. And frankly I intend to win with our candidate the presidency in 2016 and we will give them a taste of their own medicine.

“Blunderhead” may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about Harry Reid.

As an example of the latter, we have Gabriel Malor’s piece in the Federalist two weeks ago. Malor was responding to Charles C.W. Cooke’s National Review Online column warning against embracing the power grab: “As a didactic exercise, this approach is all well and good. And yet, I have of late begun to see some on the Right treating the tactic as more than just idle levity or debaters’ flair. Rather, they have started to mean it. … I am afraid that I consider this approach to be little short of suicidal, and I can under no circumstances look forward to a system in which the executive may pick and choose which laws he is prepared to enforce.”

Malor responded that the president’s executive amnesty was not his first use of the Obama Rule. He has been, in Malor’s appropriate phrasing, “a non-executing executive” with regard to DACA (an earlier immigration action), unilateral delays of unpopular ObamaCare requirements, and now executive amnesty. There is no mechanism to stop him, according to Malor; impeachment is off the table, as is shutting down the government:

Which means that we are living in a crapsack world where Democratic presidents get to make an end run around Congress when they find it convenient to do so. And yet, Cooke writes that Republican presidents should nevertheless voluntarily hold themselves bound to an altogether more restrictive code of behavior. This unilateral disarmament would be political suicide. It leads directly to a world where Democratic programs and policies are easily implemented and enforced, but where Republican ideas face a host of self-inflicted procedural hurdles, followed by the chance that even if a conservative idea were to become law, a Democratic executive could simply ignore it.

This is probably the best case for conservatives to put limited-government principles on hold and join the arms race. But perhaps it’s not quite fair to say proponents of using the Obama Rule are truly setting aside their principles. The argument, really, is that it might be the only way left to return to past norms by inspiring a mutual ceasefire.

I think conservatives would, understandably, very much like this to be true. But I don’t think that it is.

History shows that the surest way to cement a status quo, especially regarding presidential power, is for it to be adopted by the next president of the other party. Presidents rarely (in the modern era, it might even be accurate to say “never”) unilaterally give up authority that has been vested in the office by their predecessors. Thanks to the media, Republicans would also likely lose this fight in the court of public opinion.

As for the filibuster, it is far less crucial to the future of American constitutional governance than bold expansions of presidential authority. It also has some arguably detrimental uses, for example against judicial nominees, where there is some bipartisan support for setting it aside. There’s room for Hatch to stick it to Reid without undermining the American system of government, but not a ton of room. I’m not sure that’s true about the Obama Rule. And conservatives must be realistic about the implications of taking such action themselves.

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Lawmakers Call for Cuts to UN, PA

The UN General Assembly meets for the vote to upgrade the Palestinians’ status at 3 p.m. today, which will almost certainly pass. But both the UN and the Palestinians have little to gain from a successful vote, and a lot to lose. Senator Orrin Hatch has already filed an amendment to the upcoming defense bill that would abolish UN funding if the status change is approved: 

Ahead of the vote, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch filed an amendment to a defense bill that would eliminate funding for the United Nations if the General Assembly changes Palestine’s status.

“Increasing the Palestinians’ role in the United Nations is absolutely the wrong approach, especially in light of recent military developments in the Middle East,” he said in a statement. “Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and any movement to strengthen one of its fiercest enemies must not be tolerated.”

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The UN General Assembly meets for the vote to upgrade the Palestinians’ status at 3 p.m. today, which will almost certainly pass. But both the UN and the Palestinians have little to gain from a successful vote, and a lot to lose. Senator Orrin Hatch has already filed an amendment to the upcoming defense bill that would abolish UN funding if the status change is approved: 

Ahead of the vote, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch filed an amendment to a defense bill that would eliminate funding for the United Nations if the General Assembly changes Palestine’s status.

“Increasing the Palestinians’ role in the United Nations is absolutely the wrong approach, especially in light of recent military developments in the Middle East,” he said in a statement. “Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and any movement to strengthen one of its fiercest enemies must not be tolerated.”

Senator John Barrasso has submitted a different amendment to the defense bill, which would slash U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority by 50 percent, and U.S. aid to any UN member country that votes for the status change by 20 percent. Barrasso writes at NRO:

Yesterday, I introduced an amendment to the Senate defense bill that makes it clear that undermining the peace process comes at a cost. My amendment will specifically cut 50 percent of the total U.S. funds to the Palestinian Authority and also to any U.N. entity that grants the Palestinians a status change. It also reduces by 20 percent all U.S. foreign assistance to any country voting for the status change.

The Palestinians have a history of trying to use outside groups like the U.N. to skirt the peace process. In 2011, the Palestinians sought membership in UNESCO, and got it. This automatically triggered legal restrictions on U.S. financial support, and the Obama administration was forced to cut aid to UNESCO.

At the beginning of this year, the Obama administration irresponsibly changed course and said that it would try to waive these restrictions. It signaled that the United Nations can continue to undermine that peace process with impunity and raised questions about President Obama’s support for Israel. Today’s U.N. vote is a direct consequence of the administration’s record of mixed signals about the peace process.

And that’s just from the Senate. If the vote goes through, we’ll likely see similar proposals from House Republicans, who hardly need another reason to object to UN funding or foreign aid to the PA.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Jeffrey Herf discovers that “liberals should be willing to devote more efforts to the moral and political delegitimation of radical Islamism. It is a form of totalitarian ideology. It is profoundly reactionary and deeply anti-Semitic and, in this sense, racist. It draws on a radicalization and selective reading of the religion of Islam. During both World War II and the cold war, the United States derived great strategic value from naming its adversaries and publicly discussing and denouncing their ideologies. It fought wars of ideas that accompanied the force of arms. We need to understand the importance of doing that today as well.” Who knew?

Candidate Obama denied that Zbigniew Brzezinski was an adviser on the Middle East, but now Brzezinski’s giving Obama a nudge to impose a peace plan. It’s almost as if candidate Obama had disguised his true inclinations on Israel.

The mainstream media have hyped the comments of stray Tea Party activists but almost entirely ignored the doubling of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009. “Of course, recent history has shown American media only concerned with acts of violence when they fit into an agenda being advanced.”

Maybe we should bring back the term “Islamic radicalism“: “Chilling new details about the foiled Al Qaeda plot to blow up the city’s busiest subways have emerged as a fourth suspect was quietly arrested in Pakistan, the Daily News has learned. The unidentified man, who helped plan the plot, is expected to be extradited to the U.S. to betried in Brooklyn Federal Court with Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay of Flushing, Queens, sources said.”

Imagine the damage she’d do with a lifetime appointment: “The White House moved quickly today to squelch the widening speculation that Hillary Clinton could be nominated to the Supreme Court, as Senator Orrin Hatch suggested this morning.”

Shocking as it may seem, North Korea is not going to be sweet-talked into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

It’s not just Israel that’s staying away: “President Obama is holding one of the biggest global summits ever on U.S. soil starting Monday, but for all the hoopla, the event will be missing America’s strongest allies. As remarkable as it is, the fact that neither British Prime Minister Gordon Brown nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are attending President Obama’s nuclear security summit in Washington Monday and Tuesday is not altogether surprising.Relations with both countries — Israel in particular — have grown strained under Obama. Combined with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent defiance of the administration, questions are growing about the president’s ability to maintain important relationships. … The president’s critics, many of them from the Bush administration, say the summit absences — heads of state from Australia and Saudia Arabia also are not attending — are the most glaring examples of a floundering foreign policy that treats rivals and enemies better than friends.”

An expensive broken promise by Obama: “Taxpayers earning less than $200,000 a year will pay roughly $3.9 billion more in taxes — in 2019 alone — because of healthcare reform, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for legislation. The new law raises $15.2 billion over 10 years by limiting the medical expense deduction, a provision widely used by taxpayers who either have a serious illness or are older.”

Charles Krauthammer on Bart Stupak: “The guy’s political epitaph will read ‘A good man who played over his head.’ He held out and then he got squeezed by the president and the speaker. He caved. And the worst part of it was that he pretended that the instrument of surrender he signed was a victory. It’s a sad ending to a long career.”

Jeffrey Herf discovers that “liberals should be willing to devote more efforts to the moral and political delegitimation of radical Islamism. It is a form of totalitarian ideology. It is profoundly reactionary and deeply anti-Semitic and, in this sense, racist. It draws on a radicalization and selective reading of the religion of Islam. During both World War II and the cold war, the United States derived great strategic value from naming its adversaries and publicly discussing and denouncing their ideologies. It fought wars of ideas that accompanied the force of arms. We need to understand the importance of doing that today as well.” Who knew?

Candidate Obama denied that Zbigniew Brzezinski was an adviser on the Middle East, but now Brzezinski’s giving Obama a nudge to impose a peace plan. It’s almost as if candidate Obama had disguised his true inclinations on Israel.

The mainstream media have hyped the comments of stray Tea Party activists but almost entirely ignored the doubling of anti-Semitic incidents in 2009. “Of course, recent history has shown American media only concerned with acts of violence when they fit into an agenda being advanced.”

Maybe we should bring back the term “Islamic radicalism“: “Chilling new details about the foiled Al Qaeda plot to blow up the city’s busiest subways have emerged as a fourth suspect was quietly arrested in Pakistan, the Daily News has learned. The unidentified man, who helped plan the plot, is expected to be extradited to the U.S. to betried in Brooklyn Federal Court with Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay of Flushing, Queens, sources said.”

Imagine the damage she’d do with a lifetime appointment: “The White House moved quickly today to squelch the widening speculation that Hillary Clinton could be nominated to the Supreme Court, as Senator Orrin Hatch suggested this morning.”

Shocking as it may seem, North Korea is not going to be sweet-talked into giving up its nuclear ambitions.

It’s not just Israel that’s staying away: “President Obama is holding one of the biggest global summits ever on U.S. soil starting Monday, but for all the hoopla, the event will be missing America’s strongest allies. As remarkable as it is, the fact that neither British Prime Minister Gordon Brown nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are attending President Obama’s nuclear security summit in Washington Monday and Tuesday is not altogether surprising.Relations with both countries — Israel in particular — have grown strained under Obama. Combined with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent defiance of the administration, questions are growing about the president’s ability to maintain important relationships. … The president’s critics, many of them from the Bush administration, say the summit absences — heads of state from Australia and Saudia Arabia also are not attending — are the most glaring examples of a floundering foreign policy that treats rivals and enemies better than friends.”

An expensive broken promise by Obama: “Taxpayers earning less than $200,000 a year will pay roughly $3.9 billion more in taxes — in 2019 alone — because of healthcare reform, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for legislation. The new law raises $15.2 billion over 10 years by limiting the medical expense deduction, a provision widely used by taxpayers who either have a serious illness or are older.”

Charles Krauthammer on Bart Stupak: “The guy’s political epitaph will read ‘A good man who played over his head.’ He held out and then he got squeezed by the president and the speaker. He caved. And the worst part of it was that he pretended that the instrument of surrender he signed was a victory. It’s a sad ending to a long career.”

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What’s in It?

Kim Strassel explains that the horde of amendments that Republicans offered during the reconciliation process helped smoke out exactly what Democrats were for and against:

Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered language to bar the government from subsidizing erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted pedophiles and rapists. Democrats voted. … No! Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) proposed exempting wounded soldiers from the new tax on medical devices. Democrats: No way! Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) wanted to exempt critical access rural hospitals from funding cuts. Senate Democrats: Forget it! This was Republicans’ opportunity to lay out every ugly provision and consequence of ObamaCare, and Democrats — because of the process they’d chosen — had to defend it all.

And so it went, into the wee Thursday hours. All Democrats in favor of taxing pacemakers? Aye! All Democrats in favor of keeping those seedy vote buyoffs? Aye! All Democrats in favor of raising taxes on middle-income families? Aye! All Democrats in favor of exempting themselves from elements of ObamaCare? Aye! All Democrats in favor of roasting small children in Aga ovens? (Okay, I made that one up, but you get the point.) Aye!

Democrats were miffed, and none more so than the Democrats on the ballot who can see the campaign ads that are sure to follow:

The record now shows that Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln is on board with higher premiums, that Colorado’s Michael Bennet is good to go with gutting Medicare Advantage, that Nevada’s Harry Reid is just fine with rationing, that New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is cool with taxes on investment income, that California’s Barbara Boxer is right-o with employer mandates, and that Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter is willing to strip his home state of the right to opt out of the health law.

Democrats insist that the public will be enamored of the bill once they learn what is in it. But the reaction to the amendment flurry suggests otherwise. Democratic leaders were none too pleased to see the component parts of the bill laid bare. Indeed, Democrats seem delighted by the idea of ObamaCare but a lot less thrilled with defending each of its elements. In that regard, the debate – which will now absorb the country and explore the contents of the mammoth deal — may prove distasteful to those who must face their constituents and explain the consequences to employers and ordinary voters. Those leading the “repeal and replace!” charge would do well to highlight the gap between the “historic” happy talk and the grubby details.

Kim Strassel explains that the horde of amendments that Republicans offered during the reconciliation process helped smoke out exactly what Democrats were for and against:

Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered language to bar the government from subsidizing erectile dysfunction drugs for convicted pedophiles and rapists. Democrats voted. … No! Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) proposed exempting wounded soldiers from the new tax on medical devices. Democrats: No way! Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) wanted to exempt critical access rural hospitals from funding cuts. Senate Democrats: Forget it! This was Republicans’ opportunity to lay out every ugly provision and consequence of ObamaCare, and Democrats — because of the process they’d chosen — had to defend it all.

And so it went, into the wee Thursday hours. All Democrats in favor of taxing pacemakers? Aye! All Democrats in favor of keeping those seedy vote buyoffs? Aye! All Democrats in favor of raising taxes on middle-income families? Aye! All Democrats in favor of exempting themselves from elements of ObamaCare? Aye! All Democrats in favor of roasting small children in Aga ovens? (Okay, I made that one up, but you get the point.) Aye!

Democrats were miffed, and none more so than the Democrats on the ballot who can see the campaign ads that are sure to follow:

The record now shows that Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln is on board with higher premiums, that Colorado’s Michael Bennet is good to go with gutting Medicare Advantage, that Nevada’s Harry Reid is just fine with rationing, that New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is cool with taxes on investment income, that California’s Barbara Boxer is right-o with employer mandates, and that Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter is willing to strip his home state of the right to opt out of the health law.

Democrats insist that the public will be enamored of the bill once they learn what is in it. But the reaction to the amendment flurry suggests otherwise. Democratic leaders were none too pleased to see the component parts of the bill laid bare. Indeed, Democrats seem delighted by the idea of ObamaCare but a lot less thrilled with defending each of its elements. In that regard, the debate – which will now absorb the country and explore the contents of the mammoth deal — may prove distasteful to those who must face their constituents and explain the consequences to employers and ordinary voters. Those leading the “repeal and replace!” charge would do well to highlight the gap between the “historic” happy talk and the grubby details.

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Could Democrats Save Themselves?

Douglas Schoen, a Democratic pollster and adviser, has a heretical idea: the Democrats should co-opt the Tea Party movement. That’s right — don’t mock or ignore or deride the Tea Party activists. Join ‘em! He explains why radical action is needed: “The Democratic brand is in trouble—big trouble. There are at least eight Senate seats up for grabs, and another two or three potentially in play, putting control of the Senate in play.” So what to do? For starters:

They need pro-growth, fiscally conservative policies. The tea party movement is not a Republican movement, and anyone who sees it as such is making a mistake. Rather, the tea party movement is a reaffirmation of a trend that has long been happening in American politics since 1964, with the move away from liberal, big-spending and big-taxing policies. It played out with California’s Proposition 13 in 1978, which limited property taxes there and inspired nationwide tax revolts just two years before Ronald Reagan was elected. It was evident when the Republicans won control of the House and Senate in 1994. And it certainly contributed to George W. Bush’s election and re-election in 2000 and 2004.

Well, that’s going to go over like a lead balloon in the Democratic party and among liberal pundits. They’ve been calling the Tea Partiers wackos and urging the passage of the leftist agenda. Schoen says this is nuts. (“It is a profound mistake to believe that the Democratic resurgence and President Barack Obama’s election were a validation or an endorsement of a return to big government and Democratic liberalism.”) No more ObamaCare, he says. Forget it. The voters have rejected it. Instead, focus on jobs and — tax cuts. Yeah, wow. He argues:

These policies include a broad-based payroll tax holiday, building from the one Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) have embraced, an extension of the Bush tax cuts, educational initiatives to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs, and tax policies that provide clear incentives to small businesses to get started and to hire new employees.

(This, by the way, is how you know Evan Bayh wasn’t a moderate or centrist; he never said any of this.) Schoen’s formula for success is, in effect, “not Obama” — “deficit reduction and spending cuts, as well as a willingness to consider a continuation of the Bush tax cuts for another year until growth is stimulated.” And on health care, he counsels that the Democrats need to “start over and embrace ideas that have broad-based support, like insurance reform, cost control, affordability, eliminating denials of insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and electronic record-keeping.”

Republicans reading this may get nervous. What if the Democrats listen to him? They needn’t fear. The chances are quite slim that Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership would accept all this reasoned advice, for it would be a massive admission of error and a validation of what Republicans have been saying for over a year.

After the November election, the Democrats may have no choice. But for now, I think they’ll go right on trekking over that “precipice.” Schoen’s got the right idea — just the wrong audience.

Douglas Schoen, a Democratic pollster and adviser, has a heretical idea: the Democrats should co-opt the Tea Party movement. That’s right — don’t mock or ignore or deride the Tea Party activists. Join ‘em! He explains why radical action is needed: “The Democratic brand is in trouble—big trouble. There are at least eight Senate seats up for grabs, and another two or three potentially in play, putting control of the Senate in play.” So what to do? For starters:

They need pro-growth, fiscally conservative policies. The tea party movement is not a Republican movement, and anyone who sees it as such is making a mistake. Rather, the tea party movement is a reaffirmation of a trend that has long been happening in American politics since 1964, with the move away from liberal, big-spending and big-taxing policies. It played out with California’s Proposition 13 in 1978, which limited property taxes there and inspired nationwide tax revolts just two years before Ronald Reagan was elected. It was evident when the Republicans won control of the House and Senate in 1994. And it certainly contributed to George W. Bush’s election and re-election in 2000 and 2004.

Well, that’s going to go over like a lead balloon in the Democratic party and among liberal pundits. They’ve been calling the Tea Partiers wackos and urging the passage of the leftist agenda. Schoen says this is nuts. (“It is a profound mistake to believe that the Democratic resurgence and President Barack Obama’s election were a validation or an endorsement of a return to big government and Democratic liberalism.”) No more ObamaCare, he says. Forget it. The voters have rejected it. Instead, focus on jobs and — tax cuts. Yeah, wow. He argues:

These policies include a broad-based payroll tax holiday, building from the one Sens. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) have embraced, an extension of the Bush tax cuts, educational initiatives to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs, and tax policies that provide clear incentives to small businesses to get started and to hire new employees.

(This, by the way, is how you know Evan Bayh wasn’t a moderate or centrist; he never said any of this.) Schoen’s formula for success is, in effect, “not Obama” — “deficit reduction and spending cuts, as well as a willingness to consider a continuation of the Bush tax cuts for another year until growth is stimulated.” And on health care, he counsels that the Democrats need to “start over and embrace ideas that have broad-based support, like insurance reform, cost control, affordability, eliminating denials of insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and electronic record-keeping.”

Republicans reading this may get nervous. What if the Democrats listen to him? They needn’t fear. The chances are quite slim that Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership would accept all this reasoned advice, for it would be a massive admission of error and a validation of what Republicans have been saying for over a year.

After the November election, the Democrats may have no choice. But for now, I think they’ll go right on trekking over that “precipice.” Schoen’s got the right idea — just the wrong audience.

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My One Fear…

…is that Orrin Hatch will write a celebratory song.

…is that Orrin Hatch will write a celebratory song.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Charlie Cook says Scott Brown in now favored. Well, one poll has him up almost 10 points.

My, what a difference a year makes. From the Boston Globe no less: “The feverish excitement that propelled Barack Obama and scores of other Democrats to victory in 2008 has all but evaporated, worrying party leaders who are struggling to invigorate the base before Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate race and November’s critical midterm contests, pollsters and party activists said.”

It might help if Obama were as good as Bill Clinton on the stump. Byron York reports that “it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that Clinton just blew Obama’s doors off. Obama’s speech was halting, wandering, and humorless; the president looked as if he didn’t want to be there. There’s no doubt the crowd was excited to see Obama, but he seemed so hesitant and out-of-rhythm at the top that it appeared he might have been having teleprompter trouble, and he was also clearly rattled and unable to handle the completely-predictable presence of a heckler.”

CNN reports: “Multiple advisers to President Obama have privately told party officials that they believe Democrat Martha Coakley is going to lose Tuesday’s special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy for more than 40 years, several Democratic sources told CNN Sunday.” Then going to Massachusetts was sort of like going to Copenhagen for the Olympics (and again for the climate-change confab) — at some point it might be a good idea to stop demonstrating Obama’s ineffectiveness.

Things have gotten so sticky for Democrats that Ben Nelson “offers to give back his ‘bribe’.” Might be too late: his job approval has dropped to 42 percent.

More from the Democrats’ gloom-and-doom file: Friday, Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) announced his retirement. Plus, a “SurveyUSA poll shows Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio), a freshman Democrat who represents the Cincinnati area, losing to former Republican congressman Steve Chabot, 56 to 39 percent.” He voted for both ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.

This take from Sen. Mitch McConnell sounds right: “Massachusetts is going to be a very, very close race regardless of who wins. … Regardless of who wins, we have here in effect a referendum on this national healthcare bill. The American people are telling us: ‘Please don’t pass it.’ … I think the politics are toxic for the Democrats either way.”

Lanny Davis at least doesn’t sound divorced from reality, like his fellow Democrats: “If Democrats lose in Massachusetts, it will simply mean Democrats and President Obama need find a new center to enact health care and other progressive legislation – meaning, they must sit down with Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch, John McCain and other GOP Senators with long records of bipartisan legislating — and moderate Democrats Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and others –and create a new health care bill that can command broad bipartisan support.” Imagine if Obama had done that from the start — New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts might have looked a whole lot different, and Byron Dorgan might be running for re-election.

Charlie Cook says Scott Brown in now favored. Well, one poll has him up almost 10 points.

My, what a difference a year makes. From the Boston Globe no less: “The feverish excitement that propelled Barack Obama and scores of other Democrats to victory in 2008 has all but evaporated, worrying party leaders who are struggling to invigorate the base before Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate race and November’s critical midterm contests, pollsters and party activists said.”

It might help if Obama were as good as Bill Clinton on the stump. Byron York reports that “it’s impossible to escape the conclusion that Clinton just blew Obama’s doors off. Obama’s speech was halting, wandering, and humorless; the president looked as if he didn’t want to be there. There’s no doubt the crowd was excited to see Obama, but he seemed so hesitant and out-of-rhythm at the top that it appeared he might have been having teleprompter trouble, and he was also clearly rattled and unable to handle the completely-predictable presence of a heckler.”

CNN reports: “Multiple advisers to President Obama have privately told party officials that they believe Democrat Martha Coakley is going to lose Tuesday’s special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy for more than 40 years, several Democratic sources told CNN Sunday.” Then going to Massachusetts was sort of like going to Copenhagen for the Olympics (and again for the climate-change confab) — at some point it might be a good idea to stop demonstrating Obama’s ineffectiveness.

Things have gotten so sticky for Democrats that Ben Nelson “offers to give back his ‘bribe’.” Might be too late: his job approval has dropped to 42 percent.

More from the Democrats’ gloom-and-doom file: Friday, Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) announced his retirement. Plus, a “SurveyUSA poll shows Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio), a freshman Democrat who represents the Cincinnati area, losing to former Republican congressman Steve Chabot, 56 to 39 percent.” He voted for both ObamaCare and cap-and-trade.

This take from Sen. Mitch McConnell sounds right: “Massachusetts is going to be a very, very close race regardless of who wins. … Regardless of who wins, we have here in effect a referendum on this national healthcare bill. The American people are telling us: ‘Please don’t pass it.’ … I think the politics are toxic for the Democrats either way.”

Lanny Davis at least doesn’t sound divorced from reality, like his fellow Democrats: “If Democrats lose in Massachusetts, it will simply mean Democrats and President Obama need find a new center to enact health care and other progressive legislation – meaning, they must sit down with Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Orrin Hatch, John McCain and other GOP Senators with long records of bipartisan legislating — and moderate Democrats Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Evan Bayh, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu and others –and create a new health care bill that can command broad bipartisan support.” Imagine if Obama had done that from the start — New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts might have looked a whole lot different, and Byron Dorgan might be running for re-election.

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Making DREAM a Reality

Mickey Kaus is gloating about the Senate’s failure to pass the DREAM Act. This legislation, which would create a new path to citizenship for minor children of undocumented immigrants who have clean records and either join the military or attend college, attracted 52 votes on a “cloture” motion, while only 44 senators voted against closing off debate. (For the vote breakdown, see here.) Most of those voting for cloture were Democrats, but they were joined by a dozen Republicans, including such conservatives as Orrin Hatch and Sam Brownback. Since 60 votes are required to end debate on controversial proposals, the DREAM Act effectively has been killed, for now.

Kaus is happy because he thinks the DREAM Act would have provided an incentive for more illegal immigration. (So does the Bush administration, which opposed this measure.) I don’t think that’s true of the DREAM Act, which applies only to those who have already lived in America for five years prior to the enactment of the law.

In any case, no extra incentives are needed for people to come here, especially from countries such as Mexico that don’t offer as much economic opportunity. They will come no matter what; the question is whether we are going to give them an avenue toward becoming tax-paying citizens or force them to remain underground. There is no better way to assimilate immigrants than through military service, one of the pathways specified by the DREAM Act.

As I’ve argued before on contentions, I think this a good piece of legislation that takes a major step toward one of my dreams: to offer American citizenship to anyone anywhere in the world willing to serve in the American armed forces. This would vastly broaden our recruiting base, allowing the armed forces to sign up all sorts of talented people who are currently prohibited from joining. They would, of course, have to pass background investigations and meet all existing criteria for military service, including English-language proficiency.

I’ve been advocating this idea for several years, and even though it’s not currently possible, I’ve gotten emails from Canadians, Chinese, Dutch, and other foreigners wanting to sign up for our armed forces. All it would take to make their dreams a reality would be for the Secretary of Defense to certify that enlisting them is in the national interest. Legislation isn’t required, although that’s another way this objective could be achieved.

Mickey Kaus is gloating about the Senate’s failure to pass the DREAM Act. This legislation, which would create a new path to citizenship for minor children of undocumented immigrants who have clean records and either join the military or attend college, attracted 52 votes on a “cloture” motion, while only 44 senators voted against closing off debate. (For the vote breakdown, see here.) Most of those voting for cloture were Democrats, but they were joined by a dozen Republicans, including such conservatives as Orrin Hatch and Sam Brownback. Since 60 votes are required to end debate on controversial proposals, the DREAM Act effectively has been killed, for now.

Kaus is happy because he thinks the DREAM Act would have provided an incentive for more illegal immigration. (So does the Bush administration, which opposed this measure.) I don’t think that’s true of the DREAM Act, which applies only to those who have already lived in America for five years prior to the enactment of the law.

In any case, no extra incentives are needed for people to come here, especially from countries such as Mexico that don’t offer as much economic opportunity. They will come no matter what; the question is whether we are going to give them an avenue toward becoming tax-paying citizens or force them to remain underground. There is no better way to assimilate immigrants than through military service, one of the pathways specified by the DREAM Act.

As I’ve argued before on contentions, I think this a good piece of legislation that takes a major step toward one of my dreams: to offer American citizenship to anyone anywhere in the world willing to serve in the American armed forces. This would vastly broaden our recruiting base, allowing the armed forces to sign up all sorts of talented people who are currently prohibited from joining. They would, of course, have to pass background investigations and meet all existing criteria for military service, including English-language proficiency.

I’ve been advocating this idea for several years, and even though it’s not currently possible, I’ve gotten emails from Canadians, Chinese, Dutch, and other foreigners wanting to sign up for our armed forces. All it would take to make their dreams a reality would be for the Secretary of Defense to certify that enlisting them is in the national interest. Legislation isn’t required, although that’s another way this objective could be achieved.

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All You Have to Do Is DREAM

It hasn’t received much attention, but added at that last minute to the recent immigration reform bill was a provision called the DREAM Act, which has strong bipartisan support from such disparate backers as John Kerry and Orrin Hatch. This legislation would create a fast-track toward citizenship for a select group of undocumented immigrants—those who entered the U.S. before age 16, have no criminal record, graduate from high school, and then complete two years either in the military or in college.

This is a good step but doesn’t go nearly far enough for my liking. The essential principle of the DREAM Act—that you can earn citizenship through productive behavior—ought to be expanded. We should offer citizenship to anyone who is willing to serve a set term in the U.S. armed forces—say, four years. This is a proposal that I’ve made in several articles over the past few years, and one that could address a number of problems at once. It could lessen our current recruiting difficulties, increase the knowledge of foreign languages and cultures within the armed forces, and provide a fresh path to assimilation for a self-selected group of highly motivated immigrants.

Read More

It hasn’t received much attention, but added at that last minute to the recent immigration reform bill was a provision called the DREAM Act, which has strong bipartisan support from such disparate backers as John Kerry and Orrin Hatch. This legislation would create a fast-track toward citizenship for a select group of undocumented immigrants—those who entered the U.S. before age 16, have no criminal record, graduate from high school, and then complete two years either in the military or in college.

This is a good step but doesn’t go nearly far enough for my liking. The essential principle of the DREAM Act—that you can earn citizenship through productive behavior—ought to be expanded. We should offer citizenship to anyone who is willing to serve a set term in the U.S. armed forces—say, four years. This is a proposal that I’ve made in several articles over the past few years, and one that could address a number of problems at once. It could lessen our current recruiting difficulties, increase the knowledge of foreign languages and cultures within the armed forces, and provide a fresh path to assimilation for a self-selected group of highly motivated immigrants.

Under this plan, standards would not be dropped for our armed forces—they would actually be increased. At the moment, to maintain recruiting numbers, the army, in particular, is accepting more recruits who would not have been signed up a few years ago—those with low intelligence scores and records of minor criminal offenses. The army is also flunking fewer recruits out of boot camp. By dramatically expanding the recruiting pool—from only American citizens or green card holders to anyone anywhere on earth who would like to become an American citizen—we would make it easier to maintain the high standards that our professional military requires. All recruits, American or not, would have to know English, pass background checks, have a high-school diploma, and so forth.

This would be a natural expansion not only of the DREAM Act but of existing legislation which provides a faster path to citizenship for the 40,000 green card holders currently serving in the U.S. military. Many of them have distinguished themselves on the battlefield, as this Washington Post article notes.

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