Commentary Magazine


Topic: Pennsylvania senate

LIVE BLOG: Call It Whatever You Want

Mark Kirk and Pat Toomey have gone ahead in two Blue States. If the GOP captures Illinois and Pennsylvania Senate seats, gets more than 55 seats (the most since 1932), and gains governorships from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to New Mexico, it is not a good night for the GOP. It is a historic thumping.

Mark Kirk and Pat Toomey have gone ahead in two Blue States. If the GOP captures Illinois and Pennsylvania Senate seats, gets more than 55 seats (the most since 1932), and gains governorships from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to New Mexico, it is not a good night for the GOP. It is a historic thumping.

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LIVE BLOG: Pennsylvania

Joe Sestak’s lead is rapidly dwindling in the Pennsylvania Senate race. With 72 percent of the votes counted, his margin is down to fewer than 6,000 votes. At this rate, as votes straggle in from rural counties, one might expect that Toomey will soon be in the lead. But with only 29 percent still being reported from suburban Montgomery county, where Democrats hope their strength will be reflected, both sides are holding their breath.

Joe Sestak’s lead is rapidly dwindling in the Pennsylvania Senate race. With 72 percent of the votes counted, his margin is down to fewer than 6,000 votes. At this rate, as votes straggle in from rural counties, one might expect that Toomey will soon be in the lead. But with only 29 percent still being reported from suburban Montgomery county, where Democrats hope their strength will be reflected, both sides are holding their breath.

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LIVE BLOG: Pennsylvania

The early results show Democrat Joe Sestak with a substantial lead in the Pennsylvania Senate race, but though the ultimate outcome is not clear, these numbers mean nothing. Half of the results in so far are from the city of Philadelphia, where the Democrat is, as expected, pulling in 80 percent of the vote. Whether that is enough to offset the Republican advantage elsewhere is yet to be determined.

The early results show Democrat Joe Sestak with a substantial lead in the Pennsylvania Senate race, but though the ultimate outcome is not clear, these numbers mean nothing. Half of the results in so far are from the city of Philadelphia, where the Democrat is, as expected, pulling in 80 percent of the vote. Whether that is enough to offset the Republican advantage elsewhere is yet to be determined.

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Freaking Out J Street

Washington Jewish Week reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is making quite a splash:

In the past few months, ECI has made a name for itself by assaulting Democrats in hotly contested congressional races over their support for Israel — or lack thereof, as ECI sees it. …

“There is some reason for Democrats to be concerned,” said one Democratic political strategist who would speak only on background. ECI is “going about this in an intelligent way and it’s likely to have an impact.”

“In a marginal and close race” in a niche market, the source added, “they could certainly move the needle.”

The ads, which [executive director Noah]Pollak said will air “hundreds” of times on several networks, target Pennsylvania Senate hopeful, Rep. Joe Sestak (D) — whom ECI pegged as anti-Israel in a spot that ran during the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and Giants — as well as Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.).

The notion that, as an ECI spokesman put it, the “free ride is over” and candidates will actually be held accountable for their views, associations, and votes on Israel has left Democrats whimpering. Ira Forman, the former head of the  National Jewish Democratic Council, (who could never muster a single bad word about Obama’s assault on Israel) asserts: “Either [ECI] knows very little about what will drive Jewish votes… or they’re just cynical and this is a good opportunity for them to build their own political operation.” I actually don’t know what that means — the ECI operation obviously is designed to hold lawmakers accountable for their voting records on Israel. But Forman has a point that the left has so downgraded Israel as a priority that exposing a lawmaker’s anti-Israel voting record might not shake its followers free of the “sick addiction” to the Democratic party. But then again, the rest of American voters, including a fair number of Jews, are quite pro-Israel, so it does make a difference. Odd, isn’t it, however, that Forman assumes that ECI is only going after Jewish voters?

But the whine-a-thon really revs up when J Street’s policy director, Hadar Susskind, (I guess the credibility-challenged Jeremy Ben-Ami is at an undisclosed location these days) insists that “ECI’s primary function as not to defend Israel or sway voters, but to ‘scare legislators.'” Well, I imagine many of the J Street endorsees, including Joe Sestak, are scared because their votes and actions don’t match their pro-Israel labeling. Then Susskind comes up with this howler:

“I could list out two dozen Republicans in Congress who take a much more nuanced view on” the peace process, but can’t express it “because the majority of campaign support they get is from folks who are on the far-right, neo-conservative, Israel-right-or-wrong crowd,” Susskind said.

To adopt that view, he explained, would mean sacrificing already scant Jewish support. ECI’s “game is really to keep Republicans in line.”

These alleged GOP lawmakers can’t express that they are secretly “more nuanced”? (So how do we know they are?) Who are these people, tailgunner Susskind? Perhaps there is a list to wave before the cameras. And by the way, in case the J Street kids hadn’t noticed, J Street’s game is to hold all lawmakers accountable — including Democrats Sestak, Holt, and Tierney.

Washington Jewish Week reports that the Emergency Committee for Israel is making quite a splash:

In the past few months, ECI has made a name for itself by assaulting Democrats in hotly contested congressional races over their support for Israel — or lack thereof, as ECI sees it. …

“There is some reason for Democrats to be concerned,” said one Democratic political strategist who would speak only on background. ECI is “going about this in an intelligent way and it’s likely to have an impact.”

“In a marginal and close race” in a niche market, the source added, “they could certainly move the needle.”

The ads, which [executive director Noah]Pollak said will air “hundreds” of times on several networks, target Pennsylvania Senate hopeful, Rep. Joe Sestak (D) — whom ECI pegged as anti-Israel in a spot that ran during the National League Championship Series between the Phillies and Giants — as well as Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.).

The notion that, as an ECI spokesman put it, the “free ride is over” and candidates will actually be held accountable for their views, associations, and votes on Israel has left Democrats whimpering. Ira Forman, the former head of the  National Jewish Democratic Council, (who could never muster a single bad word about Obama’s assault on Israel) asserts: “Either [ECI] knows very little about what will drive Jewish votes… or they’re just cynical and this is a good opportunity for them to build their own political operation.” I actually don’t know what that means — the ECI operation obviously is designed to hold lawmakers accountable for their voting records on Israel. But Forman has a point that the left has so downgraded Israel as a priority that exposing a lawmaker’s anti-Israel voting record might not shake its followers free of the “sick addiction” to the Democratic party. But then again, the rest of American voters, including a fair number of Jews, are quite pro-Israel, so it does make a difference. Odd, isn’t it, however, that Forman assumes that ECI is only going after Jewish voters?

But the whine-a-thon really revs up when J Street’s policy director, Hadar Susskind, (I guess the credibility-challenged Jeremy Ben-Ami is at an undisclosed location these days) insists that “ECI’s primary function as not to defend Israel or sway voters, but to ‘scare legislators.'” Well, I imagine many of the J Street endorsees, including Joe Sestak, are scared because their votes and actions don’t match their pro-Israel labeling. Then Susskind comes up with this howler:

“I could list out two dozen Republicans in Congress who take a much more nuanced view on” the peace process, but can’t express it “because the majority of campaign support they get is from folks who are on the far-right, neo-conservative, Israel-right-or-wrong crowd,” Susskind said.

To adopt that view, he explained, would mean sacrificing already scant Jewish support. ECI’s “game is really to keep Republicans in line.”

These alleged GOP lawmakers can’t express that they are secretly “more nuanced”? (So how do we know they are?) Who are these people, tailgunner Susskind? Perhaps there is a list to wave before the cameras. And by the way, in case the J Street kids hadn’t noticed, J Street’s game is to hold all lawmakers accountable — including Democrats Sestak, Holt, and Tierney.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Peter Berkowitz makes mincemeat of an E.J. Dionne column. “Dionne continues to insist, contrary to the evidence, that the Tea Party is a small and inconsequential movement. He leaves unchallenged my main claim that many highly educated Americans misunderstand the Tea Party’s central commitment to limited government because the political science and history departments at the distinguished colleges and universities that credential them are failing to teach the principles of American constitutional government (I do not dispute Dionne’s assurance that he was well trained by his college teachers). And while insisting on the importance of a thoughtful conservatism, he seems to be unaware of its existence.” Ouch.

NPR makes the case (another one) for its own defunding. You see, “zombies and vampires are malleable metaphors; they’ve symbolized anxieties over wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, environmental holocaust, and technological disaster.” And you, fellow taxpayer, are funding this stuff.

She must make even Democrats shudder. Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Everything was going great and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where — because they won’t disclose it — is pouring in.”

It sure makes that whole “race is narrowing!” storyline seem silly. “With Election Day eight days away, Republican candidates hold a nine-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, October 24, 2010. It’s the second week in a row the gap between the parties has been that wide. Forty-nine percent (49%) of respondents say they would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 40% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent. Even more worrisome for Democrats, however, is the finding that among the voters who are most closely following the midterm elections Republicans hold a 56% to 38% lead.”

Joe Sestak makes it competitive, but Pat Toomey is once again back in the lead in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Rep. Shelley Berkley makes for a lively interview (h/t JTA). A sample: “[W]hile she faults President George W. Bush for many things during his presidency, she believes the Republican president was more personally committed to Israel than Obama. It’s this sort of blunt talk that impresses folks like [Gary] Bauer. … ‘I think she’s a leader in this regard,” says Bauer. … ‘There are other people on Capitol Hill that will privately say to their constituents, ‘Of course I’m with Israel and I’m talking to the White House behind the scenes’ to get the policy better. But she’s been willing to say it publicly. This is the way you can tell when a political figure really feels something in their heart.’ Because of her prominence on Israel, Berkley’s own constituents occasionally seem to forget how liberal she is.” Because liberals don’t bother with Israel these days?

Obama’s low standing, along with his unpopular agenda, makes Democratic candidates nervous — and suddenly declare their independence. If only they had voted that way, they might not be in such trouble.

Peter Berkowitz makes mincemeat of an E.J. Dionne column. “Dionne continues to insist, contrary to the evidence, that the Tea Party is a small and inconsequential movement. He leaves unchallenged my main claim that many highly educated Americans misunderstand the Tea Party’s central commitment to limited government because the political science and history departments at the distinguished colleges and universities that credential them are failing to teach the principles of American constitutional government (I do not dispute Dionne’s assurance that he was well trained by his college teachers). And while insisting on the importance of a thoughtful conservatism, he seems to be unaware of its existence.” Ouch.

NPR makes the case (another one) for its own defunding. You see, “zombies and vampires are malleable metaphors; they’ve symbolized anxieties over wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, environmental holocaust, and technological disaster.” And you, fellow taxpayer, are funding this stuff.

She must make even Democrats shudder. Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Everything was going great and all of a sudden secret money from God knows where — because they won’t disclose it — is pouring in.”

It sure makes that whole “race is narrowing!” storyline seem silly. “With Election Day eight days away, Republican candidates hold a nine-point lead over Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for the week ending Sunday, October 24, 2010. It’s the second week in a row the gap between the parties has been that wide. Forty-nine percent (49%) of respondents say they would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, while 40% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent. Even more worrisome for Democrats, however, is the finding that among the voters who are most closely following the midterm elections Republicans hold a 56% to 38% lead.”

Joe Sestak makes it competitive, but Pat Toomey is once again back in the lead in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Rep. Shelley Berkley makes for a lively interview (h/t JTA). A sample: “[W]hile she faults President George W. Bush for many things during his presidency, she believes the Republican president was more personally committed to Israel than Obama. It’s this sort of blunt talk that impresses folks like [Gary] Bauer. … ‘I think she’s a leader in this regard,” says Bauer. … ‘There are other people on Capitol Hill that will privately say to their constituents, ‘Of course I’m with Israel and I’m talking to the White House behind the scenes’ to get the policy better. But she’s been willing to say it publicly. This is the way you can tell when a political figure really feels something in their heart.’ Because of her prominence on Israel, Berkley’s own constituents occasionally seem to forget how liberal she is.” Because liberals don’t bother with Israel these days?

Obama’s low standing, along with his unpopular agenda, makes Democratic candidates nervous — and suddenly declare their independence. If only they had voted that way, they might not be in such trouble.

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Sestak Pounded on Foreign Policy

Depending on which poll you like, the Pennsylvania Senate race is either very close or not. But what is certain is that foreign policy is playing a more prominent role in this race than in just about any other contest.

Joe Sestak is being hit by the Republican Jewish Coalition for his support for KSM’s civilian trial. Meanwhile, the Emergency Committee for Israel is ramping up, having launched a new PAC. And Sestak is again front and center in the PAC’s debut ad, hitting him for keynoting for CAIR, signing the Gaza 54 letter, and refusing to sign a bipartisan letter in support of Israel.

So where are Sestak’s J Street backers? Well, it might be a bit dicey for the George Soros front group to go up on the air, especially with Obama hammering away at mysterious foreign money. It is telling that in the final two weeks of the campaign, Sestak’s extremism on Israel and foreign policy more generally remain a millstone around his neck. Once more we see that a J Street endorsement, or more specifically clinging to the J Street line, is about the worst thing to happen to a liberal candidate. Well, that and having Obama in the White House.

Depending on which poll you like, the Pennsylvania Senate race is either very close or not. But what is certain is that foreign policy is playing a more prominent role in this race than in just about any other contest.

Joe Sestak is being hit by the Republican Jewish Coalition for his support for KSM’s civilian trial. Meanwhile, the Emergency Committee for Israel is ramping up, having launched a new PAC. And Sestak is again front and center in the PAC’s debut ad, hitting him for keynoting for CAIR, signing the Gaza 54 letter, and refusing to sign a bipartisan letter in support of Israel.

So where are Sestak’s J Street backers? Well, it might be a bit dicey for the George Soros front group to go up on the air, especially with Obama hammering away at mysterious foreign money. It is telling that in the final two weeks of the campaign, Sestak’s extremism on Israel and foreign policy more generally remain a millstone around his neck. Once more we see that a J Street endorsement, or more specifically clinging to the J Street line, is about the worst thing to happen to a liberal candidate. Well, that and having Obama in the White House.

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Sestak Worries Democrats

Politico reports:

Four weeks after claiming the Pennsylvania Senate nomination, Rep. Joe Sestak continues to have an awkward relationship with many leaders of the state’s Democratic establishment — with the two-term congressman so far neglecting to check many of the boxes that ordinarily would be routine for a candidate trying to unify his party after a hard-fought primary.

It’s been nearly a month since the May 18 primary, and key local party leaders have not been in close contact with Sestak. His unorthodox campaign organization is unnerving Democratic officials, and his public comments suggest he hasn’t forgotten the rough treatment he received from the White House and the state party establishment, both of which worked furiously to deliver the nomination to party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter. All of it has Democrats wondering about the pace and direction of his bid against Republican nominee Pat Toomey.

Perhaps this is sour grapes coming from party insiders who picked the other guy. But if the insiders are correct — that Sestak lacks staffing and an actual campaign manager — that’s a problem. And we hear that Sestak isn’t the ideal boss. (“On Capitol Hill, Sestak’s office is known for its high staff turnover rate, and several staffers left his primary campaign over the course of its nine months in existence. He has relied heavily on his brother and his sister, who manages his prolific campaign fundraising, for his House races and also for his Senate bid.”)

A bigger problem is that Toomey is beginning to set the terms of the campaign — making hay out of the job-offer scandal and painting Sestak as out of the mainstream on everything from energy to Israel. There’s still time for Sestak to get his act together, but he better do so fast before Democrats decide to spend time and money on more viable survivors of the Republican wave heading their way.

Politico reports:

Four weeks after claiming the Pennsylvania Senate nomination, Rep. Joe Sestak continues to have an awkward relationship with many leaders of the state’s Democratic establishment — with the two-term congressman so far neglecting to check many of the boxes that ordinarily would be routine for a candidate trying to unify his party after a hard-fought primary.

It’s been nearly a month since the May 18 primary, and key local party leaders have not been in close contact with Sestak. His unorthodox campaign organization is unnerving Democratic officials, and his public comments suggest he hasn’t forgotten the rough treatment he received from the White House and the state party establishment, both of which worked furiously to deliver the nomination to party-switching Sen. Arlen Specter. All of it has Democrats wondering about the pace and direction of his bid against Republican nominee Pat Toomey.

Perhaps this is sour grapes coming from party insiders who picked the other guy. But if the insiders are correct — that Sestak lacks staffing and an actual campaign manager — that’s a problem. And we hear that Sestak isn’t the ideal boss. (“On Capitol Hill, Sestak’s office is known for its high staff turnover rate, and several staffers left his primary campaign over the course of its nine months in existence. He has relied heavily on his brother and his sister, who manages his prolific campaign fundraising, for his House races and also for his Senate bid.”)

A bigger problem is that Toomey is beginning to set the terms of the campaign — making hay out of the job-offer scandal and painting Sestak as out of the mainstream on everything from energy to Israel. There’s still time for Sestak to get his act together, but he better do so fast before Democrats decide to spend time and money on more viable survivors of the Republican wave heading their way.

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Sestak May Need a Job After All

Here is the latest on the Pennsylvania Senate race:

Congressman Joe Sestak’s post-primary bounce appears to over, and he now trails Republican rival Pat Toomey by seven points in the U.S. Senate contest in Pennsylvania. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania shows Toomey with 45% support, while Sestak earns 38%.

The bounce may be over, but the job-offer story may not be, and may, in fact, be pushing Sestak’s numbers down. Moreover, Toomey has come out of the blocks with effective ads that compare the candidates’ records and that offer a well-modulated call for Sestak and the White House to come clean on the job scandal. There is still a long way to go until November, but Toomey is off to a strong start, and he has yet to exploit fully Sestak’s ultraliberal record on domestic and foreign policy.

Here is the latest on the Pennsylvania Senate race:

Congressman Joe Sestak’s post-primary bounce appears to over, and he now trails Republican rival Pat Toomey by seven points in the U.S. Senate contest in Pennsylvania. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania shows Toomey with 45% support, while Sestak earns 38%.

The bounce may be over, but the job-offer story may not be, and may, in fact, be pushing Sestak’s numbers down. Moreover, Toomey has come out of the blocks with effective ads that compare the candidates’ records and that offer a well-modulated call for Sestak and the White House to come clean on the job scandal. There is still a long way to go until November, but Toomey is off to a strong start, and he has yet to exploit fully Sestak’s ultraliberal record on domestic and foreign policy.

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Congress Speaks About Israel and the Flotilla

Even though Congress is in recess this week, the statements on the terrorist flotilla (should we call it an armada instead?) are pouring in. The overwhelming number are extremely supportive of Israel. There is a challenge to lawmakers and their staffs after a bunch of these have been issued — how to distinguish yours from the crowd? I’ll pull out two — one Democratic and one Republican in the spirit of bipartisanship (it’s actually “nonpartisanship”) — for special mention.

From Democrat Rep. Steve Israel, a pithy summation: “There is nothing humanitarian about lead pipes and knives. Israel unconditionally left Gaza and was rewarded with rocket fire. Israel established a blockade according to the rules of international law to protect itself from further rocket fire. A group of people chose to violate international law and Israel has the right to defend itself.”

And from Republican Rep. Connie Mack:

Since September 11 here in the United States, we have understood the necessity for increased surveillance of materials coming into our airports, seaports and borders. We recognize that screening for materials that can be used by terrorists to endanger our security must be a top priority. The terrorist regime Hamas rules over Gaza through force and remains a constant military threat to the safety and security of Israel and her people. Just as it is wise for us in the United States to ensure that cargo coming into our country is safe, so is it prudent for Israel to do the same and ensure that only non-military supplies are going into Gaza. However, yesterday’s flotilla was designed to avoid scrutiny. They could have had their materials sent through approved channels like the United Nations or the Red Cross, but instead, they chose to avoid the blockade and ship their materials directly to the terrorist-run regime in Gaza. Like the United States, Israel has every right to ensure its own safety and security. If those who sent the flotilla wanted these materials to go to Gaza for humanitarian aid, as they claimed, then they would have sent them through approved channels. It’s clear that this was a publicity stunt geared to break legitimate port security laws. Israel acted courageously on its own behalf. The Obama Administration should stand with Israel and support their right to keep their nation safe and secure.

He gets credit for making the comparison between Israel and the U.S. crystal clear and for reminding us that we are talking about a “terrorist-run regime in Gaza.”

Alas, at the other end of the spectrum is the loathsome Marcy Winograd, who is second to none in her hatred for Israel and her Cynthia Kinney–like fantastical theories. She posts a picture of the a man dressed in a “Free Gaza” T-shirt. And she cheerfully reports that one of her T-shirts was worn on the flotilla. The candidate from Hamas, I suppose. Then she puts out this drivel:

“I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza.”

Adds Winograd, “Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been established by the international community. Working for peace and human rights for all is the only way forward. As a Jewish woman of conscience, I invite my opponent, Jane Harman, another Jewish woman, and all of Congress to join me in denouncing this kind of barbaric violence, demanding an end to the blockade, and seeking an international investigation into these murders. I recommit myself to working towards a true, just, and lasting peace.”

One note: so far there has been no statement from Joe Sestak, who signed on to the Gaza 54 letter urging the lifting of the blockade. I imagine he and his staff are trying to figure out which is better: rank hypocrisy (reverse course and stand with Israel) or becoming the Marcy Winograd of the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Even though Congress is in recess this week, the statements on the terrorist flotilla (should we call it an armada instead?) are pouring in. The overwhelming number are extremely supportive of Israel. There is a challenge to lawmakers and their staffs after a bunch of these have been issued — how to distinguish yours from the crowd? I’ll pull out two — one Democratic and one Republican in the spirit of bipartisanship (it’s actually “nonpartisanship”) — for special mention.

From Democrat Rep. Steve Israel, a pithy summation: “There is nothing humanitarian about lead pipes and knives. Israel unconditionally left Gaza and was rewarded with rocket fire. Israel established a blockade according to the rules of international law to protect itself from further rocket fire. A group of people chose to violate international law and Israel has the right to defend itself.”

And from Republican Rep. Connie Mack:

Since September 11 here in the United States, we have understood the necessity for increased surveillance of materials coming into our airports, seaports and borders. We recognize that screening for materials that can be used by terrorists to endanger our security must be a top priority. The terrorist regime Hamas rules over Gaza through force and remains a constant military threat to the safety and security of Israel and her people. Just as it is wise for us in the United States to ensure that cargo coming into our country is safe, so is it prudent for Israel to do the same and ensure that only non-military supplies are going into Gaza. However, yesterday’s flotilla was designed to avoid scrutiny. They could have had their materials sent through approved channels like the United Nations or the Red Cross, but instead, they chose to avoid the blockade and ship their materials directly to the terrorist-run regime in Gaza. Like the United States, Israel has every right to ensure its own safety and security. If those who sent the flotilla wanted these materials to go to Gaza for humanitarian aid, as they claimed, then they would have sent them through approved channels. It’s clear that this was a publicity stunt geared to break legitimate port security laws. Israel acted courageously on its own behalf. The Obama Administration should stand with Israel and support their right to keep their nation safe and secure.

He gets credit for making the comparison between Israel and the U.S. crystal clear and for reminding us that we are talking about a “terrorist-run regime in Gaza.”

Alas, at the other end of the spectrum is the loathsome Marcy Winograd, who is second to none in her hatred for Israel and her Cynthia Kinney–like fantastical theories. She posts a picture of the a man dressed in a “Free Gaza” T-shirt. And she cheerfully reports that one of her T-shirts was worn on the flotilla. The candidate from Hamas, I suppose. Then she puts out this drivel:

“I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza.”

Adds Winograd, “Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been established by the international community. Working for peace and human rights for all is the only way forward. As a Jewish woman of conscience, I invite my opponent, Jane Harman, another Jewish woman, and all of Congress to join me in denouncing this kind of barbaric violence, demanding an end to the blockade, and seeking an international investigation into these murders. I recommit myself to working towards a true, just, and lasting peace.”

One note: so far there has been no statement from Joe Sestak, who signed on to the Gaza 54 letter urging the lifting of the blockade. I imagine he and his staff are trying to figure out which is better: rank hypocrisy (reverse course and stand with Israel) or becoming the Marcy Winograd of the Pennsylvania Senate race.

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RE: Sestak Under Fire

Well, this sure won’t help. From the J Street crew — which has opposed stringent sanctions on Iran, wants Israel to unilaterally freeze settlements, hosted a conference with a grab bag of pro-Iranian activists and voracious critics of Israel, doesn’t like being called “pro-Israel” on campuses, and is just fine with the idea of a sliced and diced Jerusalem: “The Pennsylvania Senate race shaping up to be a key national battleground. Joe Sestak, our good friend and champion of pro-Israel pro-peace issues, needs our strong support.” And J Street helpfully solicits funds for Sestak online. Hmm. I wonder whom he would be beholden to if elected.

Pro-Israel, pro-peace issues mean the J Street agenda — which won’t bring peace and isn’t pro-Israel. Well, this will certainly test the electorate as to whether J Street’s brand of appeasement and Israel-bashing is popular. Sestak is their guy — so we’ll find out.

Well, this sure won’t help. From the J Street crew — which has opposed stringent sanctions on Iran, wants Israel to unilaterally freeze settlements, hosted a conference with a grab bag of pro-Iranian activists and voracious critics of Israel, doesn’t like being called “pro-Israel” on campuses, and is just fine with the idea of a sliced and diced Jerusalem: “The Pennsylvania Senate race shaping up to be a key national battleground. Joe Sestak, our good friend and champion of pro-Israel pro-peace issues, needs our strong support.” And J Street helpfully solicits funds for Sestak online. Hmm. I wonder whom he would be beholden to if elected.

Pro-Israel, pro-peace issues mean the J Street agenda — which won’t bring peace and isn’t pro-Israel. Well, this will certainly test the electorate as to whether J Street’s brand of appeasement and Israel-bashing is popular. Sestak is their guy — so we’ll find out.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Shahzad wasn’t the only crazed real-estate victim, you know. A sample: “The sack of Rome, in A.D. 476, was ordered by a barbarian named Odoacer, who had squandered the inheritance left him by his grandfather Attila on a Helvetian buy-leaseback garrison conversion deal brokered by a cabal of shady Brigantes. And the assassination of Julius Caesar was almost certainly triggered by Brutus’s getting scammed on a Transalpine Gaul timeshare deal by Marc Antony.” Read the whole hilarious piece.

Check out the best theoretical Newsweek cover lines: “The Jesus Twitter: How Social Networking Can Save Your Family (and your soul).”

The most succinct explanation of Democrats’ woes, from Charlie Cook: “The catch is they wanted to do the wrong things.”

What did we learn this week? “We’ve heard a lot about the enthusiasm gap between GOP and Dem voters. But turnout from all three primaries this week shows Dems really do have something to worry about — it’s hard to explain a dropoff in turnout virtually across the board, even amid competitive primaries. The DNC is about to spend $30M to get their voters to the polls; it’s no stretch to say the party’s entire hopes rest on that program’s success.”

It seems as though Democrats don’t like him that much either: Arlen Specter drops behind Joe Sestak in the latest Pennsylvania Senate primary poll.

The “most transparent administration in history“? — “The top GOP member of the Senate Intelligence Committee blasted Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday for having allegedly refused to brief senators on last weekend’s attempted Times Square bombing. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the ranking member of the intelligence panel, accused Holder of obstructing congressional inquiries into the attempted attack. ‘It seems Attorney General Holder is only interested in looking tough on terrorism on TV since he’s now told the intelligence community to skirt the national-security law and give only the details he wants and when to Congress,’ Bond said Saturday.”

As America recedes, Iran and Syria assert themselves in the Middle East: “President Michel Suleiman said Saturday that Lebanon ‘cannot and must not’ tell Hezbollah to disarm before reaching a deal on a defense strategy that would also address any future Israeli attacks. Israeli officials are concerned with Hezbollah’s recent armament. Head of the Military Intelligence’s (MI) research department Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz said on Tuesday that ‘weapons are transferred to Hezbollah on a regular basis and this transfer is organized by the Syrian and Iranian regimes.'”

Tom Campbell sounds as though he’s using Charlie Crist’s playbook: “Former Republican Rep. Tom Campbell, taking criticism in the California Senate primary for his socially liberal positions, is making the case that his unorthodox issue profile makes him the strongest candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer this fall. Campbell supports abortion rights and gay marriage, and argues that Boxer’s greatest asset against either of his two Republican opponents, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, would be the state’s decidedly un-conservative social views.” But it has never really worked for him in two failed Senate runs: “‘Tom Campbell has made this argument during both of his previous candidacies for the U.S. Senate and guess what the outcome was,’ Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said. ‘He lost. And in 2000, he lost big.'”

Shahzad wasn’t the only crazed real-estate victim, you know. A sample: “The sack of Rome, in A.D. 476, was ordered by a barbarian named Odoacer, who had squandered the inheritance left him by his grandfather Attila on a Helvetian buy-leaseback garrison conversion deal brokered by a cabal of shady Brigantes. And the assassination of Julius Caesar was almost certainly triggered by Brutus’s getting scammed on a Transalpine Gaul timeshare deal by Marc Antony.” Read the whole hilarious piece.

Check out the best theoretical Newsweek cover lines: “The Jesus Twitter: How Social Networking Can Save Your Family (and your soul).”

The most succinct explanation of Democrats’ woes, from Charlie Cook: “The catch is they wanted to do the wrong things.”

What did we learn this week? “We’ve heard a lot about the enthusiasm gap between GOP and Dem voters. But turnout from all three primaries this week shows Dems really do have something to worry about — it’s hard to explain a dropoff in turnout virtually across the board, even amid competitive primaries. The DNC is about to spend $30M to get their voters to the polls; it’s no stretch to say the party’s entire hopes rest on that program’s success.”

It seems as though Democrats don’t like him that much either: Arlen Specter drops behind Joe Sestak in the latest Pennsylvania Senate primary poll.

The “most transparent administration in history“? — “The top GOP member of the Senate Intelligence Committee blasted Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday for having allegedly refused to brief senators on last weekend’s attempted Times Square bombing. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the ranking member of the intelligence panel, accused Holder of obstructing congressional inquiries into the attempted attack. ‘It seems Attorney General Holder is only interested in looking tough on terrorism on TV since he’s now told the intelligence community to skirt the national-security law and give only the details he wants and when to Congress,’ Bond said Saturday.”

As America recedes, Iran and Syria assert themselves in the Middle East: “President Michel Suleiman said Saturday that Lebanon ‘cannot and must not’ tell Hezbollah to disarm before reaching a deal on a defense strategy that would also address any future Israeli attacks. Israeli officials are concerned with Hezbollah’s recent armament. Head of the Military Intelligence’s (MI) research department Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz said on Tuesday that ‘weapons are transferred to Hezbollah on a regular basis and this transfer is organized by the Syrian and Iranian regimes.'”

Tom Campbell sounds as though he’s using Charlie Crist’s playbook: “Former Republican Rep. Tom Campbell, taking criticism in the California Senate primary for his socially liberal positions, is making the case that his unorthodox issue profile makes him the strongest candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer this fall. Campbell supports abortion rights and gay marriage, and argues that Boxer’s greatest asset against either of his two Republican opponents, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, would be the state’s decidedly un-conservative social views.” But it has never really worked for him in two failed Senate runs: “‘Tom Campbell has made this argument during both of his previous candidacies for the U.S. Senate and guess what the outcome was,’ Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said. ‘He lost. And in 2000, he lost big.'”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Among the top 10 places Ahmadinejad won’t be going to in New York: “Down on Houston Street sits Katz’s Deli, a venerable New York institution since 1888. But Ahmadinejad’s punim is unlikely to join the sea of faces smiling out from the walls of the not-quite-kosher deli, which is festooned with pro-Israel signs and a world-famous slogan: ‘Send a salami to your boy in the Army.’ While Ahmadinejad probably won’t be tearing into one of Katz’s juicy triple-decker pastramis any time soon, even a Holocaust-denying would-be genocidist can hardly say no when you throw a knish into the bargain.”

Giving thumbs up to Sarah Palin (“All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen”), Jonathan Capehart writes: “I won’t join the chorus demanding that off-shore drilling be stopped forever in the U.S. for one simple reason: Until renewable energy sources are more widely available we have no choice. We need the fuel.”

So why isn’t he pressing for regime change or objecting to the administration’s attempt to undercut congressional sanctions? “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be arrested and tried with war crimes while he’s in the United States, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said Monday. Ahmadinejad is in New York for the United Nations nuclear summit, and Israel wants to use the opportunity to have the Iranian president taken into custody. ‘Ahmadinejad shouldn’t just be protested in NYC, he should be arrested and tried for incitement to commit genocide,’ Israel said on his Twitter feed.”

Joe Sestak is gaining on Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary race. Maybe the party-switching wasn’t such a great idea. But even if Specter loses in the primary, he could pull a Crist and run as an independent. Hey, he’s not a party man anyway.

Trouble (for Democrats) in paradise: “The White House and top Democratic officials are circulating a new, private poll to suggest that only one of two Democrats splitting votes in a tightly contested Hawaii special election has a chance of winning the race.” This follows another poll showing Republican Charles Djou leading the race.

Hillary is thinking big again: “The United States and the great majority of the nations represented here come to this conference with a much larger agenda: to strengthen a global non-proliferation regime that advances the security of all nations, to advance both our rights and our responsibilities.” How about just stopping Iran’s nuclear program? Really, do the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, and the Gulf States really think Israel’s nukes are the problem?

Double-talk from the Obami again: “Herbert M. Allison, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability, told three House Republicans in a recent letter that ‘Treasury has never represented that the loan payment represented a full return of all government assistance.’ … Interestingly, however, the first sentence in the April 21 news release circulated by the Treasury Department said: ‘The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced that General Motors (GM) has fully repaid its debt under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)’ So the truth is exactly the opposite of what Treasury’s Allison claimed in this regard.”

Among the top 10 places Ahmadinejad won’t be going to in New York: “Down on Houston Street sits Katz’s Deli, a venerable New York institution since 1888. But Ahmadinejad’s punim is unlikely to join the sea of faces smiling out from the walls of the not-quite-kosher deli, which is festooned with pro-Israel signs and a world-famous slogan: ‘Send a salami to your boy in the Army.’ While Ahmadinejad probably won’t be tearing into one of Katz’s juicy triple-decker pastramis any time soon, even a Holocaust-denying would-be genocidist can hardly say no when you throw a knish into the bargain.”

Giving thumbs up to Sarah Palin (“All responsible energy development must be accompanied by strict oversight, but even with the strictest oversight in the world, accidents still happen”), Jonathan Capehart writes: “I won’t join the chorus demanding that off-shore drilling be stopped forever in the U.S. for one simple reason: Until renewable energy sources are more widely available we have no choice. We need the fuel.”

So why isn’t he pressing for regime change or objecting to the administration’s attempt to undercut congressional sanctions? “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be arrested and tried with war crimes while he’s in the United States, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said Monday. Ahmadinejad is in New York for the United Nations nuclear summit, and Israel wants to use the opportunity to have the Iranian president taken into custody. ‘Ahmadinejad shouldn’t just be protested in NYC, he should be arrested and tried for incitement to commit genocide,’ Israel said on his Twitter feed.”

Joe Sestak is gaining on Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate primary race. Maybe the party-switching wasn’t such a great idea. But even if Specter loses in the primary, he could pull a Crist and run as an independent. Hey, he’s not a party man anyway.

Trouble (for Democrats) in paradise: “The White House and top Democratic officials are circulating a new, private poll to suggest that only one of two Democrats splitting votes in a tightly contested Hawaii special election has a chance of winning the race.” This follows another poll showing Republican Charles Djou leading the race.

Hillary is thinking big again: “The United States and the great majority of the nations represented here come to this conference with a much larger agenda: to strengthen a global non-proliferation regime that advances the security of all nations, to advance both our rights and our responsibilities.” How about just stopping Iran’s nuclear program? Really, do the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, and the Gulf States really think Israel’s nukes are the problem?

Double-talk from the Obami again: “Herbert M. Allison, Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability, told three House Republicans in a recent letter that ‘Treasury has never represented that the loan payment represented a full return of all government assistance.’ … Interestingly, however, the first sentence in the April 21 news release circulated by the Treasury Department said: ‘The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced that General Motors (GM) has fully repaid its debt under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)’ So the truth is exactly the opposite of what Treasury’s Allison claimed in this regard.”

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Specter’s Latest Problem

The Pennsylvania Senate race has had its share of accusations of political shenanigans, if not illegal behavior. First, there was the suggestion that the White House was offering Rep. Joe Sestak a job to get out of the race. Now this:

Rep. Joe Sestak’s Senate campaign seized on a statement by former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum Saturday that he traded his 2004 endorsement of Sen. Arlen Specter for a promise that the senior senator would support President Bush’s judicial nominees.

“The reason I endorsed Arlen Specter is because we were going to have two Supreme Court nominees coming up,” said Santorum, responding to a question at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. “I got a commitment from Arlen Specter that no matter who George W. Bush would nominate, he would support that nominee,” he added.

Sestak’s campaign called it “one of the most glaring red flags” that has come to light about Specter to date.

Is Santorum describing a quid pro quo — a deal in which Specter was to ignore his obligation to examine Supreme Court justices? (Recall that this would have applied to Harriet Miers had she not withdrawn.) Specter denies there was any deal, and there is no way in the he-said-he-said tussle to discern whether it is Santorum or Specter who is telling the truth. Santorum has every reason to try to sink Specter; Specter has every reason to deny the allegation.

It does, however, point to the greatest problem Specter may face — the obvious lack of principle and loyalty, the infinite flexibility. The only fixed principle is, apparently, “do whatever benefits Arlen Specter.” This time around, his opportunism may backfire. It may turn out that he picked the wrong time to run as a Democrat. It would be a fitting lesson in the limits of political expediency.

The Pennsylvania Senate race has had its share of accusations of political shenanigans, if not illegal behavior. First, there was the suggestion that the White House was offering Rep. Joe Sestak a job to get out of the race. Now this:

Rep. Joe Sestak’s Senate campaign seized on a statement by former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum Saturday that he traded his 2004 endorsement of Sen. Arlen Specter for a promise that the senior senator would support President Bush’s judicial nominees.

“The reason I endorsed Arlen Specter is because we were going to have two Supreme Court nominees coming up,” said Santorum, responding to a question at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans. “I got a commitment from Arlen Specter that no matter who George W. Bush would nominate, he would support that nominee,” he added.

Sestak’s campaign called it “one of the most glaring red flags” that has come to light about Specter to date.

Is Santorum describing a quid pro quo — a deal in which Specter was to ignore his obligation to examine Supreme Court justices? (Recall that this would have applied to Harriet Miers had she not withdrawn.) Specter denies there was any deal, and there is no way in the he-said-he-said tussle to discern whether it is Santorum or Specter who is telling the truth. Santorum has every reason to try to sink Specter; Specter has every reason to deny the allegation.

It does, however, point to the greatest problem Specter may face — the obvious lack of principle and loyalty, the infinite flexibility. The only fixed principle is, apparently, “do whatever benefits Arlen Specter.” This time around, his opportunism may backfire. It may turn out that he picked the wrong time to run as a Democrat. It would be a fitting lesson in the limits of political expediency.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Maybe attacking another ally in public wasn’t so smart. Charles Krauthammer: “What we have here is the problem of an unruly client. The problem with Karzai is that he’s the worst ally except for all the others. We’re stuck with him, and we’re not in Afghanistan because of him but for our own perceived national interest. We’re stuck with him. We’re going to have to tolerate this. … And what you do is you do not attack him as we did, as Obama [did], on his way over to Afghanistan, saying we’re going to read him the riot act on corruption. You don’t do that and leak it. You do it in quiet — and in public hail him as a liberator.”

Maybe it’s not so smart to take use of of force off the table before the mullahs get the bomb either. If they do, at least “Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. will not limit its options under a new nuclear strategy if Iran or North Korea decides to launch a nuclear attack.” Well, that’s a relief. Would Obama’s policy have prohibited dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, by the way? Just asking.

Maybe nominating Tony Rezko’s banker wasn’t so smart. The Public Policy Polling survey finds: “The last two months have not been good for Alexi Giannoulias, and Mark Kirk now leads him 37-33 in his bid to be the next Senator from Illinois.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for House Democrats to take political advice from the White House: “Republican candidates now hold a nine-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, up from 46% last week, while 38% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent, down a point from the previous survey.”

Maybe switching parties wasn’t so smart. “Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) is trailing in the latest Pennsylvania Senate poll.Public Policy Polling (D) has released its first survey of the race and found the Republican candidate, former Rep. Pat Toomey (Pa.), beats both Specter and Specter’s primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak (D), in a general election matchup.Toomey beats Specter by three, 46-43, and he beats Sestak by six, 42-36. Specter’s job rating is troubling for an incumbent. He had a 34 percent approval rating and a 52 percent disapproval rating. President Barack Obama also has low approval ratings in the state, which could be helping Toomey. Obama has a 46 percent approval rating and 50 percent disapproval rating.”

Maybe sneering at the Tea Party movement wasn’t so smart. Matthew Continetti: “Imagine what might have happened if Democrats had decided to take the Tea Party seriously in 2009. The Democrats might have moved to the center, adopting Bill Clinton’s second-term strategy of balanced budgets, economic growth and globalization, and incremental, small-bore reforms on health care and education. They might have been able to retain the independents they held in 2006 and 2008 while dampening Republican fears that Obama wants to turn the country into Sweden. The economy would still be crummy. But, in this scenario, 2010 wouldn’t look like the Democratic bloodbath it’s shaping up to be.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for a controversial appellate court nominee who never wrote a legal opinion to omit 117 documents from a Senate questionnaire. After all, Eric Holder only left out seven briefs.

Maybe David Shuster isn’t so smart: “MSNBC brass wasn’t happy when news broke this week that David Shuster had taped a pilot for CNN, and the anchor wasn’t on-air yesterday. Now comes word of Shuster’s fate through an MSNBC spokesperson: ‘David has been suspended indefinitely.’ It’s not the first time he’s been suspended. Shuster was off the air a couple weeks in 2008 after he talked about how Hillary Clinton had ‘pimped out’ Chelsea on the campaign trail.”

Maybe attacking another ally in public wasn’t so smart. Charles Krauthammer: “What we have here is the problem of an unruly client. The problem with Karzai is that he’s the worst ally except for all the others. We’re stuck with him, and we’re not in Afghanistan because of him but for our own perceived national interest. We’re stuck with him. We’re going to have to tolerate this. … And what you do is you do not attack him as we did, as Obama [did], on his way over to Afghanistan, saying we’re going to read him the riot act on corruption. You don’t do that and leak it. You do it in quiet — and in public hail him as a liberator.”

Maybe it’s not so smart to take use of of force off the table before the mullahs get the bomb either. If they do, at least “Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the U.S. will not limit its options under a new nuclear strategy if Iran or North Korea decides to launch a nuclear attack.” Well, that’s a relief. Would Obama’s policy have prohibited dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, by the way? Just asking.

Maybe nominating Tony Rezko’s banker wasn’t so smart. The Public Policy Polling survey finds: “The last two months have not been good for Alexi Giannoulias, and Mark Kirk now leads him 37-33 in his bid to be the next Senator from Illinois.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for House Democrats to take political advice from the White House: “Republican candidates now hold a nine-point lead over Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot.A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% would vote for their district’s Republican congressional candidate, up from 46% last week, while 38% would opt for his or her Democratic opponent, down a point from the previous survey.”

Maybe switching parties wasn’t so smart. “Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) is trailing in the latest Pennsylvania Senate poll.Public Policy Polling (D) has released its first survey of the race and found the Republican candidate, former Rep. Pat Toomey (Pa.), beats both Specter and Specter’s primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak (D), in a general election matchup.Toomey beats Specter by three, 46-43, and he beats Sestak by six, 42-36. Specter’s job rating is troubling for an incumbent. He had a 34 percent approval rating and a 52 percent disapproval rating. President Barack Obama also has low approval ratings in the state, which could be helping Toomey. Obama has a 46 percent approval rating and 50 percent disapproval rating.”

Maybe sneering at the Tea Party movement wasn’t so smart. Matthew Continetti: “Imagine what might have happened if Democrats had decided to take the Tea Party seriously in 2009. The Democrats might have moved to the center, adopting Bill Clinton’s second-term strategy of balanced budgets, economic growth and globalization, and incremental, small-bore reforms on health care and education. They might have been able to retain the independents they held in 2006 and 2008 while dampening Republican fears that Obama wants to turn the country into Sweden. The economy would still be crummy. But, in this scenario, 2010 wouldn’t look like the Democratic bloodbath it’s shaping up to be.”

Maybe it wasn’t so smart for a controversial appellate court nominee who never wrote a legal opinion to omit 117 documents from a Senate questionnaire. After all, Eric Holder only left out seven briefs.

Maybe David Shuster isn’t so smart: “MSNBC brass wasn’t happy when news broke this week that David Shuster had taped a pilot for CNN, and the anchor wasn’t on-air yesterday. Now comes word of Shuster’s fate through an MSNBC spokesperson: ‘David has been suspended indefinitely.’ It’s not the first time he’s been suspended. Shuster was off the air a couple weeks in 2008 after he talked about how Hillary Clinton had ‘pimped out’ Chelsea on the campaign trail.”

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Ballot Box Poison?

Like Katherine Hepburn, once dubbed “box office poison” by aggrieved theater owners after a string of flops, Obama is quickly earning a toxic reputation among his fellow Democrats at the ballot box. To fully appreciate the Democrats’ dilemma, take a look at John Judis’s collection of graphs. In Missouri the Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan is taking a nose dive; Obama’s approval rating in the state is too. Same story in Colorado with Democratic senator Michael Bennet. Obama’s approval rating there is now in negative territory. Ditto in the Ohio gubernatorial race and the Pennsylvania senate contest. (A new poll out today shows Republican Pat Toomey grabbing double-digit leads against both Democratic contenders.) And the shift to Republicans in generic congressional polling — an historic anomaly — shows just how widespread and intense is the pall that Obama has cast over his party.

The bottom line, says Judis, is that “viewed as a whole, they present a picture of a national decline in public support for Democratic politics and for the Obama administration radiating outward from Washington and threatening Democratic candidates in states that Democrats must generally win to carry national elections.”

It is no wonder that the Democrats are worried. This president feels compelled to be everywhere. And now he’s a danger to each and every incumbent. What can Democrats do? (Like the movie-studio contract players of old, Obama can’t be dumped until his “deal” runs out.) They can hope Obama regains his footing. They can try to run from him, at the risk of alienating their own liberal base who thinks the problem is insufficient tenacity in the pursuit of grossly unpopular policies.

There is no great answer for the many vulnerable Democrats who voted for his now discredited initiatives, as there was none for many Republicans on the ballot in 2006. They too had nowhere to hide as an unpopular war and corruption scandals dragged them under. The more tenacious of them figured out how to buck their party hierarchy and confess the errors of their party. But until national circumstances change or a new president (or new agenda) appears, those members of the president’s party on the ballot (even at the state and local level) get hit hard when the White House falters. And they really get hit hard when the economy is in a bad shape and there’s really nobody to hold accountable other than those who hold all the levers of power.

Like Katherine Hepburn, once dubbed “box office poison” by aggrieved theater owners after a string of flops, Obama is quickly earning a toxic reputation among his fellow Democrats at the ballot box. To fully appreciate the Democrats’ dilemma, take a look at John Judis’s collection of graphs. In Missouri the Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan is taking a nose dive; Obama’s approval rating in the state is too. Same story in Colorado with Democratic senator Michael Bennet. Obama’s approval rating there is now in negative territory. Ditto in the Ohio gubernatorial race and the Pennsylvania senate contest. (A new poll out today shows Republican Pat Toomey grabbing double-digit leads against both Democratic contenders.) And the shift to Republicans in generic congressional polling — an historic anomaly — shows just how widespread and intense is the pall that Obama has cast over his party.

The bottom line, says Judis, is that “viewed as a whole, they present a picture of a national decline in public support for Democratic politics and for the Obama administration radiating outward from Washington and threatening Democratic candidates in states that Democrats must generally win to carry national elections.”

It is no wonder that the Democrats are worried. This president feels compelled to be everywhere. And now he’s a danger to each and every incumbent. What can Democrats do? (Like the movie-studio contract players of old, Obama can’t be dumped until his “deal” runs out.) They can hope Obama regains his footing. They can try to run from him, at the risk of alienating their own liberal base who thinks the problem is insufficient tenacity in the pursuit of grossly unpopular policies.

There is no great answer for the many vulnerable Democrats who voted for his now discredited initiatives, as there was none for many Republicans on the ballot in 2006. They too had nowhere to hide as an unpopular war and corruption scandals dragged them under. The more tenacious of them figured out how to buck their party hierarchy and confess the errors of their party. But until national circumstances change or a new president (or new agenda) appears, those members of the president’s party on the ballot (even at the state and local level) get hit hard when the White House falters. And they really get hit hard when the economy is in a bad shape and there’s really nobody to hold accountable other than those who hold all the levers of power.

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