Commentary Magazine


Topic: Reid

Media Decry Attacks From “Both Sides”

You have a Democratic campaign that’s painting its opponent as a felon, a tax-dodger, a dog-abuser, and a killer who will bring back slavery. On the other side, you have a Republican campaign that’s responding to these attacks as “hateful” and “inappropriate.” The media spin? Both sides need to tone down the “toxic rhetoric”:

“You thought last week was bad? Just when you thought last week’s third grade insults were as low as the campaign could go here, here we go again, the campaign has gotten even uglier,” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said Wednesday. “It’s not faux outrage, it’s real outrage. Over the last 24 hours, the attacks from both sides have reached a new level of vitriol.”

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien said the campaigns struck a new note of negativity.

“Romney and Obama campaigns going on the offensive at the same time? What that means is nasty rhetoric, really nastier than ever,” she said this morning.

Seriously? Romney has basically stuck to attacks on Obama’s policy, it’s the Obama campaign that’s gone into the gutter. In fact, the only “negative” remarks from the Romney campaign cited in the Politico story were made in response to Democratic smears. Yes, Reince Priebus called Reid a liar — in response to Reid’s baseless accusations that Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. The Washington Post gave Reid’s claim four Pinnochios, and Politifact rated it as “Pants on Fire.” Should they be criticized for toxic rhetoric as well?

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You have a Democratic campaign that’s painting its opponent as a felon, a tax-dodger, a dog-abuser, and a killer who will bring back slavery. On the other side, you have a Republican campaign that’s responding to these attacks as “hateful” and “inappropriate.” The media spin? Both sides need to tone down the “toxic rhetoric”:

“You thought last week was bad? Just when you thought last week’s third grade insults were as low as the campaign could go here, here we go again, the campaign has gotten even uglier,” MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said Wednesday. “It’s not faux outrage, it’s real outrage. Over the last 24 hours, the attacks from both sides have reached a new level of vitriol.”

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien said the campaigns struck a new note of negativity.

“Romney and Obama campaigns going on the offensive at the same time? What that means is nasty rhetoric, really nastier than ever,” she said this morning.

Seriously? Romney has basically stuck to attacks on Obama’s policy, it’s the Obama campaign that’s gone into the gutter. In fact, the only “negative” remarks from the Romney campaign cited in the Politico story were made in response to Democratic smears. Yes, Reince Priebus called Reid a liar — in response to Reid’s baseless accusations that Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. The Washington Post gave Reid’s claim four Pinnochios, and Politifact rated it as “Pants on Fire.” Should they be criticized for toxic rhetoric as well?

But media figures who sold the public on the myth of Obama’s new, upbeat brand of politics back in 2008 apparently can’t admit that he’s the one spearheading the sleazy campaign tactics this time around. Hence, the more comfortable narrative that “both sides” are equally responsible for the negativity. Mark Halperin’s recommendation that Obama call Romney and propose a “truce” seems particularly unrealistic. How can anyone expect Obama to do this in good faith, after his campaign told Politico last year that it’s plan was to “destroy” Romney?

“Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney,” said a prominent Democratic strategist aligned with the White House.

The onslaught would have two aspects. The first is personal: Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, “weird. …

The second aspect of the campaign to define Romney is his record as CEO of Bain Capital, a venture capital firm that was responsible for both creating and eliminating jobs. Obama officials intend to frame Romney as the very picture of greed in the great recession — a sort of political Gordon Gekko.

Why should it be a surprise that the Obama campaign is doing precisely what it said it was going to do?

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My Vote for ‘Worst Piece of Commentary Ever by Anyone’

Over at the New York Times’s online commentary site, Opinionator, Dick Cavett wrote a piece that may have set a record for invoking bad metaphors. In an article of only 961 words, consider these:

It doesn’t take much, it seems, to lift the lid and let our home-grown racism and bigotry overflow.

We have collectively taken a pratfall on a moral whoopee cushion.

I like to think I’m not easily shocked, but here I am, seeing the emotions of the masses running like a freight train over the right to freedom of religion — never mind the right of eminent domain and private property.

A heyday is being had by a posse of the cheesiest Republican politicos (Lazio, Palin, quick-change artist John McCain and, of course, the self-anointed St. Joan of 9/11, R. Giuliani).

And of course Rush L. dependably pollutes the atmosphere with his particular brand of airborne sludge.

Sad to see Mr. Reid’s venerable knees buckle upon seeing the vilification heaped on Obama, and the resulting polls.

I got invigorating jolts from the president’s splendid speech — almost as good as Mayor Bloomberg’s
— but I was dismayed, after the worst had poured out their passionate intensity, to see him shed a few vertebrae the next day and step back.

Set aside for the moment that we are handing such a lethal propaganda grenade to our detractors around the world.

You can’t eat this particular cake and have it, too

This just may qualify as the single worst piece published by anyone. Anywhere. Ever.

Over at the New York Times’s online commentary site, Opinionator, Dick Cavett wrote a piece that may have set a record for invoking bad metaphors. In an article of only 961 words, consider these:

It doesn’t take much, it seems, to lift the lid and let our home-grown racism and bigotry overflow.

We have collectively taken a pratfall on a moral whoopee cushion.

I like to think I’m not easily shocked, but here I am, seeing the emotions of the masses running like a freight train over the right to freedom of religion — never mind the right of eminent domain and private property.

A heyday is being had by a posse of the cheesiest Republican politicos (Lazio, Palin, quick-change artist John McCain and, of course, the self-anointed St. Joan of 9/11, R. Giuliani).

And of course Rush L. dependably pollutes the atmosphere with his particular brand of airborne sludge.

Sad to see Mr. Reid’s venerable knees buckle upon seeing the vilification heaped on Obama, and the resulting polls.

I got invigorating jolts from the president’s splendid speech — almost as good as Mayor Bloomberg’s
— but I was dismayed, after the worst had poured out their passionate intensity, to see him shed a few vertebrae the next day and step back.

Set aside for the moment that we are handing such a lethal propaganda grenade to our detractors around the world.

You can’t eat this particular cake and have it, too

This just may qualify as the single worst piece published by anyone. Anywhere. Ever.

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Good News: Climate Bill Dead

The economy is reeling under the weight of new mandates, regulations, and tax hikes (with potentially more on the way). The last thing investors or employers want to see is a jumbo energy tax disguised as a “climate-control” bill. So there are smiles all around with this news:

After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards. …

While Mr. Reid criticized Republicans, it is clear he did not have sufficient support in his own party for a broad energy bill. A number of Democratic lawmakers from manufacturing and coal-producing states were expected to oppose such a bill.

That hasn’t and won’t stop Reid and the White House from blaming Republican lawmakers. But this is one accusation to which Republicans should be glad to plead guilty. If Reid wants to accuse them of stopping another job-killing, tax-hiking, mammoth piece of legislation, I don’t think Republicans will mind.

The economy is reeling under the weight of new mandates, regulations, and tax hikes (with potentially more on the way). The last thing investors or employers want to see is a jumbo energy tax disguised as a “climate-control” bill. So there are smiles all around with this news:

After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards. …

While Mr. Reid criticized Republicans, it is clear he did not have sufficient support in his own party for a broad energy bill. A number of Democratic lawmakers from manufacturing and coal-producing states were expected to oppose such a bill.

That hasn’t and won’t stop Reid and the White House from blaming Republican lawmakers. But this is one accusation to which Republicans should be glad to plead guilty. If Reid wants to accuse them of stopping another job-killing, tax-hiking, mammoth piece of legislation, I don’t think Republicans will mind.

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What if Sanctions Don’t Work?

The Senate passed its toughest sanctions to date by a 99-0 vote. Sen. Joe Lieberman had praise for the measure:

This bill represents the most powerful and comprehensive package of Iran sanctions ever passed by Congress. I am grateful to the leadership of Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Howard Berman for guiding the development of this complex and critically important legislation, as well as the leadership of Senator Reid and Senator McConnell in ensuring its swift passage by the Senate.

I hope and believe that the House will now act swiftly to pass this vital legislation, and that President Obama will sign it into law. Just as importantly, it is critical that these provisions are forcefully and proactively implemented once they become law.

The measures imposed by this legislation—together with sanctions adopted at the UN and, even more importantly, by like-minded nations around the world—offer our last, best hope of peacefully preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Time is of the essence.

But Lieberman made clear that sanctions are not an end in themselves. And in contrast to the president’s que sera, sera attitude, Lieberman was emphatic that if the sanctions don’t work (and more about that below), we must use other options, including force:

While we hope that our combined sanctions will change the calculus of the Iranian regime, we must also recognize that every day that passes brings Iran closer to the point of nuclear no return. Ultimately, we must do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability—through peaceful and diplomatic means if we possibly can, but through military force if we absolutely must.

This is precisely what the president and his advisers have refused to say, and indeed have intimated is not in the cards.

But there is another problem. We aren’t likely to know whether sanctions are “working,” and the Iranians are quite likely to exploit the additional time to stave off other measures. How are we to know if work stops on the mullahs’ nuclear programs? And if the Iranians declare that they will return to the bargaining table, what is to prevent them, as they did last year, from practicing the same game of delay as they continue with their plans? The problem, it seems, is not merely the absence of effective tools to force a change in the Iranians’ conduct but also the will and determination to use those tools in a meaningful way.

Obama set the pattern last year — withholding support for the Green movement, muting the reaction to the Qom revelation, and allowing deadline after deadline to pass. From all this the mullahs have learned that very little is required to hold the U.S. at bay and that we are overeager to avoid confrontation. At every turn, they have bested Obama and the “international community” and bought themselves breathing room.

The sanctions, therefore, are not the solution to the Iranian threat. Rather than congratulating the administration for passing sanctions after nearly a year and a half, Congress and pro-Israel groups must make clear that “containment” is not an option and that we will use military force and provide Israel with unconditional support if necessary. “Passed useless sanctions and allowed Iran to go nuclear” is not a result from which the president, lawmakers, or American Jewry will recover. And it is not an outcome Israelis can tolerate.

The Senate passed its toughest sanctions to date by a 99-0 vote. Sen. Joe Lieberman had praise for the measure:

This bill represents the most powerful and comprehensive package of Iran sanctions ever passed by Congress. I am grateful to the leadership of Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Howard Berman for guiding the development of this complex and critically important legislation, as well as the leadership of Senator Reid and Senator McConnell in ensuring its swift passage by the Senate.

I hope and believe that the House will now act swiftly to pass this vital legislation, and that President Obama will sign it into law. Just as importantly, it is critical that these provisions are forcefully and proactively implemented once they become law.

The measures imposed by this legislation—together with sanctions adopted at the UN and, even more importantly, by like-minded nations around the world—offer our last, best hope of peacefully preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. Time is of the essence.

But Lieberman made clear that sanctions are not an end in themselves. And in contrast to the president’s que sera, sera attitude, Lieberman was emphatic that if the sanctions don’t work (and more about that below), we must use other options, including force:

While we hope that our combined sanctions will change the calculus of the Iranian regime, we must also recognize that every day that passes brings Iran closer to the point of nuclear no return. Ultimately, we must do whatever is necessary to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability—through peaceful and diplomatic means if we possibly can, but through military force if we absolutely must.

This is precisely what the president and his advisers have refused to say, and indeed have intimated is not in the cards.

But there is another problem. We aren’t likely to know whether sanctions are “working,” and the Iranians are quite likely to exploit the additional time to stave off other measures. How are we to know if work stops on the mullahs’ nuclear programs? And if the Iranians declare that they will return to the bargaining table, what is to prevent them, as they did last year, from practicing the same game of delay as they continue with their plans? The problem, it seems, is not merely the absence of effective tools to force a change in the Iranians’ conduct but also the will and determination to use those tools in a meaningful way.

Obama set the pattern last year — withholding support for the Green movement, muting the reaction to the Qom revelation, and allowing deadline after deadline to pass. From all this the mullahs have learned that very little is required to hold the U.S. at bay and that we are overeager to avoid confrontation. At every turn, they have bested Obama and the “international community” and bought themselves breathing room.

The sanctions, therefore, are not the solution to the Iranian threat. Rather than congratulating the administration for passing sanctions after nearly a year and a half, Congress and pro-Israel groups must make clear that “containment” is not an option and that we will use military force and provide Israel with unconditional support if necessary. “Passed useless sanctions and allowed Iran to go nuclear” is not a result from which the president, lawmakers, or American Jewry will recover. And it is not an outcome Israelis can tolerate.

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Democrats Freak Over ObamaCare Opposition

The Obami spinners can’t quite decide whether to exaggerate or ignore the backlash to ObamaCare. On one hand, they seize upon random lunatics (well, not so much with regard to the Democratic donor who went after Eric Cantor, spouting anti-Semitic venom: “Remember Eric … our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given. You are a liar, you’re a Lucifer, you’re a pig, a greedy f—— pig, you’re an abomination, you receive my bullets”) in order to paint an atmosphere of violence perpetrated by unhinged extremists who dare demean the wonders of ObamaCare. But then again, they don’t want to make such a big deal of the opposition because, well, the legislation is historic! As to the latter reaction, Daniel Henninger comments:

In his “Today Show” interview this week, Mr. Obama with his characteristic empathy acknowledged there are “folks who have legitimate concerns … that the federal government may be taking on too much.”

My reading of the American public is that they have moved past “concerns.” Somewhere inside the programmatic details of ObamaCare and the methods that the president, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid used to pass it, something went terribly wrong. Just as something has gone terribly wrong inside the governments of states like California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts.

The 10th Amendment tumult does not mean anyone is going to secede. It doesn’t mean “nullification” is coming back. We are not going to refight the Civil War or the Voting Rights Act. Richard Russell isn’t rising from his Georgia grave.

But we are witnessing a populist movement and a potential wave election, both of which are legitimate and heartfelt expressions of disgust and horror directed at the liberal elites. So the Democrats are in a bind — excoriate the opposition or win them over? Prepare the troops for a drubbing or pretend as if everything is going according to plan? If they seem a bit schizophrenic these days — alternately alarmist and oblivious — it is the outward manifestation of the contradiction at the heart of their agenda. They defied the will of the public, reveling in their political “courage.” But, alas, they have not quite come to terms with the consequences of that decision, namely that they face a thumping at the polls and a repudiation of their handiwork. There is, after all, a price to be paid for brazen contempt for the will of the voters.

The Obami spinners can’t quite decide whether to exaggerate or ignore the backlash to ObamaCare. On one hand, they seize upon random lunatics (well, not so much with regard to the Democratic donor who went after Eric Cantor, spouting anti-Semitic venom: “Remember Eric … our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given. You are a liar, you’re a Lucifer, you’re a pig, a greedy f—— pig, you’re an abomination, you receive my bullets”) in order to paint an atmosphere of violence perpetrated by unhinged extremists who dare demean the wonders of ObamaCare. But then again, they don’t want to make such a big deal of the opposition because, well, the legislation is historic! As to the latter reaction, Daniel Henninger comments:

In his “Today Show” interview this week, Mr. Obama with his characteristic empathy acknowledged there are “folks who have legitimate concerns … that the federal government may be taking on too much.”

My reading of the American public is that they have moved past “concerns.” Somewhere inside the programmatic details of ObamaCare and the methods that the president, Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Reid used to pass it, something went terribly wrong. Just as something has gone terribly wrong inside the governments of states like California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Massachusetts.

The 10th Amendment tumult does not mean anyone is going to secede. It doesn’t mean “nullification” is coming back. We are not going to refight the Civil War or the Voting Rights Act. Richard Russell isn’t rising from his Georgia grave.

But we are witnessing a populist movement and a potential wave election, both of which are legitimate and heartfelt expressions of disgust and horror directed at the liberal elites. So the Democrats are in a bind — excoriate the opposition or win them over? Prepare the troops for a drubbing or pretend as if everything is going according to plan? If they seem a bit schizophrenic these days — alternately alarmist and oblivious — it is the outward manifestation of the contradiction at the heart of their agenda. They defied the will of the public, reveling in their political “courage.” But, alas, they have not quite come to terms with the consequences of that decision, namely that they face a thumping at the polls and a repudiation of their handiwork. There is, after all, a price to be paid for brazen contempt for the will of the voters.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Clark Hoyt’s “attempt to placate the barking cadre of anti-Israel watchdogs” by suggesting that the Gray Lady’s Jerusalem bureau chief be sacked because his son is in the Israeli army comes to naught. Executive editor Bill Keller — yes, a broken clock is right twice a day — says Ethan Bronner can stay put.

Jay Nordlinger reminds us that Sarah Palin is one of the few politicians to say she “loves” Israel.

Sounds like a joke: the Obami’s terrorism policies are so untenable, even MSNBC reporters don’t buy the White House spin any more. But it’s true.

Steven Calabresi is fed up with the excuse-mongering: “The Obama Administration’s claims that ‘Bush did it too’ sound pathetic coming from a President who won election by promising to be an agent of change and hope who would alter our politics and the way things are done in Washington. … Is Miranda any less stupid because prior presidents have implemented it rather than pushing the Supreme Court to scrap the decision? The claim that ‘Bush did it too’ sounds uncomfortably like the arguments I get from my grade school children when I correct them for having done something wrong.”

And speaking of change, Bill Kristol writes: “Perhaps embracing the concept of  ‘regime change’ spooks the Obama administration. It’s awfully reminiscent of George W. Bush. But one great failure of the Bush administration was its second-term fecklessness with respect to Iran. Bush kicked the Iran can down the road. Does Obama want an achievement that eluded Bush? Regime change in Iran — that would be an Obama administration achievement that Joe Biden, and the rest of us, could really celebrate.”

Andy McCarthy explains why the Richard Reid case is a poor example for the Obami to cite in justifying its criminal-justice approach to terrorism. “When Reid tried to blow up his airliner, 9/11 had just happened. We had not spent eight years grappling with the question of how international terrorists who carry out attacks in the United States should be dealt with. It is important to remember that there was no military-commission system in place when Reid was captured. President Bush had issued the executive order authorizing the Defense Department to set up the system, but that had not been done yet. It wasn’t ready until March 2002.”

What a difference a year makes: “After miserable House elections in ’06 and ’08 saw the GOP virtually disappear in the northeast, it was hard not to write the party’s obituary in the region. No GOPers were left standing in New England, and just 3 remained in the 29-member NY delegation. It only worsened in ’09, when the GOP failed to hold a rural sprawling CD in upstate NY, dropping its representation in the state to just 2 members. But evidence suggests that the ’10 wave that’s building for the GOP could even manage to reach the untouchable Northeast.” Democrats Tim Bishop in Suffolk County and  Bill Delahunt in Massachusetts look especially vulnerable.

More than 50 percent of independents disapprove of Obama’s performance.

What would Republicans do without opponents like this? “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is rewriting a jobs bill after Democrats complained of too many concessions to Republicans. Reid announced Thursday that he would cut back on the jobs bill Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced only hours earlier, essentially overruling the powerful chairman.”

Maybe outsiders did bump off an Iranian nuclear scientist.

Clark Hoyt’s “attempt to placate the barking cadre of anti-Israel watchdogs” by suggesting that the Gray Lady’s Jerusalem bureau chief be sacked because his son is in the Israeli army comes to naught. Executive editor Bill Keller — yes, a broken clock is right twice a day — says Ethan Bronner can stay put.

Jay Nordlinger reminds us that Sarah Palin is one of the few politicians to say she “loves” Israel.

Sounds like a joke: the Obami’s terrorism policies are so untenable, even MSNBC reporters don’t buy the White House spin any more. But it’s true.

Steven Calabresi is fed up with the excuse-mongering: “The Obama Administration’s claims that ‘Bush did it too’ sound pathetic coming from a President who won election by promising to be an agent of change and hope who would alter our politics and the way things are done in Washington. … Is Miranda any less stupid because prior presidents have implemented it rather than pushing the Supreme Court to scrap the decision? The claim that ‘Bush did it too’ sounds uncomfortably like the arguments I get from my grade school children when I correct them for having done something wrong.”

And speaking of change, Bill Kristol writes: “Perhaps embracing the concept of  ‘regime change’ spooks the Obama administration. It’s awfully reminiscent of George W. Bush. But one great failure of the Bush administration was its second-term fecklessness with respect to Iran. Bush kicked the Iran can down the road. Does Obama want an achievement that eluded Bush? Regime change in Iran — that would be an Obama administration achievement that Joe Biden, and the rest of us, could really celebrate.”

Andy McCarthy explains why the Richard Reid case is a poor example for the Obami to cite in justifying its criminal-justice approach to terrorism. “When Reid tried to blow up his airliner, 9/11 had just happened. We had not spent eight years grappling with the question of how international terrorists who carry out attacks in the United States should be dealt with. It is important to remember that there was no military-commission system in place when Reid was captured. President Bush had issued the executive order authorizing the Defense Department to set up the system, but that had not been done yet. It wasn’t ready until March 2002.”

What a difference a year makes: “After miserable House elections in ’06 and ’08 saw the GOP virtually disappear in the northeast, it was hard not to write the party’s obituary in the region. No GOPers were left standing in New England, and just 3 remained in the 29-member NY delegation. It only worsened in ’09, when the GOP failed to hold a rural sprawling CD in upstate NY, dropping its representation in the state to just 2 members. But evidence suggests that the ’10 wave that’s building for the GOP could even manage to reach the untouchable Northeast.” Democrats Tim Bishop in Suffolk County and  Bill Delahunt in Massachusetts look especially vulnerable.

More than 50 percent of independents disapprove of Obama’s performance.

What would Republicans do without opponents like this? “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is rewriting a jobs bill after Democrats complained of too many concessions to Republicans. Reid announced Thursday that he would cut back on the jobs bill Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced only hours earlier, essentially overruling the powerful chairman.”

Maybe outsiders did bump off an Iranian nuclear scientist.

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They Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

If you wanted a sound bite that embodied much of what is wrong with contemporary liberalism, you could do worse than listen to the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on health care:

We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we’re going to get health-care reform passed for the America people.

Set aside the fact that Ms. Pelosi sounds like Tareq and Michaele Salahi trying to crash a White House State dinner. She seems to view herself as part of the guardian class, as one of our philosopher kings who knows better than the great, unwashed masses what is good for them. It is of a piece with the collectivist mindset, one that believes that it is with the ruling class that wisdom resides. They know best – and they will give you not what you may want but what they believe you need.

This view is exceedingly arrogant and, if it is indulged in often enough, it becomes, in some sense, anti-democratic.

There is a long history in America to dictate the proper role of its legislators. Some argue they ought to mirror public opinion all the time; others argue that we elect people to political posts based on our confidence in their judgment. They therefore have a relatively free hand to pursue the agenda they deem appropriate. But even those who subscribe to the views of the second group understand that in the end, ours is a representative form of government. The will of the people matters. We are, after all, a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

The public has seen how Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama want to jam health-care legislation down its throat despite its obvious wishes. The public has ways of fighting back against such things. They are known as elections. Three of them have happened recently, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. The Democrats have lost each one – and in the process they have lost independent voters by a margin of at least two-to-one. In each of those elections, local issues obviously played an important role in the outcome of the races. But framing each of these elections was the sense that the federal government has become too large, too intrusive, too expensive, and too incompetent. It has not earned the right to run one-sixth of the American economy.

What President Obama has succeeded in doing is to boil down politics to a fairly basic and elementary level, including the role of the state in the lives of its citizenry. Ms. Pelosi and Messrs. Reid and Obama are advocates of what Margaret Thatcher called a “nanny state” – the state that takes too much from you in order to do too much for you. Those who believe the American people are prepared to embrace such a thing are badly misguided. Democrats are learning that lesson the hard way. And with the mid-term elections approaching, they should keep in mind the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive: They ain’t seen nothing yet.

If you wanted a sound bite that embodied much of what is wrong with contemporary liberalism, you could do worse than listen to the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on health care:

We’ll go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in but we’re going to get health-care reform passed for the America people.

Set aside the fact that Ms. Pelosi sounds like Tareq and Michaele Salahi trying to crash a White House State dinner. She seems to view herself as part of the guardian class, as one of our philosopher kings who knows better than the great, unwashed masses what is good for them. It is of a piece with the collectivist mindset, one that believes that it is with the ruling class that wisdom resides. They know best – and they will give you not what you may want but what they believe you need.

This view is exceedingly arrogant and, if it is indulged in often enough, it becomes, in some sense, anti-democratic.

There is a long history in America to dictate the proper role of its legislators. Some argue they ought to mirror public opinion all the time; others argue that we elect people to political posts based on our confidence in their judgment. They therefore have a relatively free hand to pursue the agenda they deem appropriate. But even those who subscribe to the views of the second group understand that in the end, ours is a representative form of government. The will of the people matters. We are, after all, a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”

The public has seen how Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama want to jam health-care legislation down its throat despite its obvious wishes. The public has ways of fighting back against such things. They are known as elections. Three of them have happened recently, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts. The Democrats have lost each one – and in the process they have lost independent voters by a margin of at least two-to-one. In each of those elections, local issues obviously played an important role in the outcome of the races. But framing each of these elections was the sense that the federal government has become too large, too intrusive, too expensive, and too incompetent. It has not earned the right to run one-sixth of the American economy.

What President Obama has succeeded in doing is to boil down politics to a fairly basic and elementary level, including the role of the state in the lives of its citizenry. Ms. Pelosi and Messrs. Reid and Obama are advocates of what Margaret Thatcher called a “nanny state” – the state that takes too much from you in order to do too much for you. Those who believe the American people are prepared to embrace such a thing are badly misguided. Democrats are learning that lesson the hard way. And with the mid-term elections approaching, they should keep in mind the words of Bachman Turner Overdrive: They ain’t seen nothing yet.

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Obama vs. Political Reality

The Cook Political Report sends an e-mail, explaining:

If there was any doubt before the Democrats’ loss of the Senate seat in Massachusetts last week, it’s gone now. This is a nationalized election. Look no further than the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted January 10-14 among 1,002 registered voters by veteran pollsters Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff. On the generic Congressional ballot test, which measures the potential popular vote for the House, the two parties run even, 41-41. This should be troubling for Democrats because this poll question historically skews about three points in favor of Democrats. But more significantly was that among those voters with the most intense interest in this election (those who rated their interest as either a 9 or a 10), Republicans held a 15-point lead, 50-35 percent. This is the second consecutive month of huge GOP advantages among those voters most interested in the election. If this level remains constant, you can count on the Democratic majority in the House being toast this fall.

On the Senate side, Charlie Cooks joins other analysts in predicting major losses for the Democrats. (“I suspect a Republican gain of between five and seven seats, predicated on the Democrats’ being unlikely to capture any more than one, at most, of the currently toss-up Republican Senate seats. . . and not being able to hold onto more than one, at most, of the five Democratic toss-up seats [Sen. Lincoln in Arkansas, Sen. Bennet in Colorado, Sen. Burris in Illinois, Sen. Reid in Nevada and Sen. Specter in Pennsylvania]). He calls the Democratic seats in Delaware and North Dakota “goners.”

Cook doesn’t seem to have Obama’s confidence that the president’s presence on the political stage makes all the difference in the world. Or maybe it does. Maybe it is the national environment, which has emerged in response to Obama’s far-Left agenda, that’s dragging the Democrats under. Their choice: put forth a different agenda or every lawmaker for himself, distancing himself from the Obama agenda. In either case, the political reality seems to bear little resemblance to the country as envisioned from the Oval Office. That, more than anything else, must concern the Democrats, who must battle not only Republicans but their own tone-deaf president.

The Cook Political Report sends an e-mail, explaining:

If there was any doubt before the Democrats’ loss of the Senate seat in Massachusetts last week, it’s gone now. This is a nationalized election. Look no further than the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted January 10-14 among 1,002 registered voters by veteran pollsters Democrat Peter Hart and Republican Bill McInturff. On the generic Congressional ballot test, which measures the potential popular vote for the House, the two parties run even, 41-41. This should be troubling for Democrats because this poll question historically skews about three points in favor of Democrats. But more significantly was that among those voters with the most intense interest in this election (those who rated their interest as either a 9 or a 10), Republicans held a 15-point lead, 50-35 percent. This is the second consecutive month of huge GOP advantages among those voters most interested in the election. If this level remains constant, you can count on the Democratic majority in the House being toast this fall.

On the Senate side, Charlie Cooks joins other analysts in predicting major losses for the Democrats. (“I suspect a Republican gain of between five and seven seats, predicated on the Democrats’ being unlikely to capture any more than one, at most, of the currently toss-up Republican Senate seats. . . and not being able to hold onto more than one, at most, of the five Democratic toss-up seats [Sen. Lincoln in Arkansas, Sen. Bennet in Colorado, Sen. Burris in Illinois, Sen. Reid in Nevada and Sen. Specter in Pennsylvania]). He calls the Democratic seats in Delaware and North Dakota “goners.”

Cook doesn’t seem to have Obama’s confidence that the president’s presence on the political stage makes all the difference in the world. Or maybe it does. Maybe it is the national environment, which has emerged in response to Obama’s far-Left agenda, that’s dragging the Democrats under. Their choice: put forth a different agenda or every lawmaker for himself, distancing himself from the Obama agenda. In either case, the political reality seems to bear little resemblance to the country as envisioned from the Oval Office. That, more than anything else, must concern the Democrats, who must battle not only Republicans but their own tone-deaf president.

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Losing Control in the Senate

Karl Rove reviews the list of vulnerable Democratic senators in places recently not seen as fertile ground for Republicans (e.g., Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania) and concludes:

The GOP probably won’t win control of the Senate, but Republicans lead five incumbent Democratic senators in the polls, often by double digits, and trail in just one seat of their own (by a point). A lot can happen in a year, but if Democrats keep telling themselves that their greatest danger will come from not passing monstrosities like Mr. Reid’s health-care bill, Republicans will have a target-rich environment next year. We are once again in a GOP ascendancy, sparked by talented, energetic challengers.

But as we have learned this year, “control” of the Senate is not 51 but 60 votes. Should Republicans pick up a handful of seats (giving them 41 plus a few to spare for inevitable defections), the Democrats will no longer have the ability to trample over the minority, and the rush of ultra-Left legislation will grind to a halt. Moreover, as the Democrats’ numbers shrink, wavering senators who’d really rather not be the deciding vote on controversial issues and join former colleagues in retirement will begin to have second thoughts about jumping onto the Obama legislative express.

The poll numbers for Democrats, albeit 11 months from Election Day 2010, are looking bleak, as is the president’s own standing, a good predictor of midterm elections. As Nate Silver put it:

The relationship between Presidential approval and his party’s performance at the midterms is fairly strong historically. So this would point toward a pretty steep loss for the Democrats (although you could have gathered that from other evidence without looking at Obama’s numbers).

Going back to 1954, the worst midterm wipeout in the Senate was in 1994 (8 seats), when Bill Clinton’s approval stood at 46 percent. As inconceivable as that may have seemed a year ago, a similar scenario may be in the offing in 2010. Senators who would like to remain senators should consider how they might go about saving their skins. Step No. 1 could be: don’t vote for a health-care bill their constituents hate.

Karl Rove reviews the list of vulnerable Democratic senators in places recently not seen as fertile ground for Republicans (e.g., Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania) and concludes:

The GOP probably won’t win control of the Senate, but Republicans lead five incumbent Democratic senators in the polls, often by double digits, and trail in just one seat of their own (by a point). A lot can happen in a year, but if Democrats keep telling themselves that their greatest danger will come from not passing monstrosities like Mr. Reid’s health-care bill, Republicans will have a target-rich environment next year. We are once again in a GOP ascendancy, sparked by talented, energetic challengers.

But as we have learned this year, “control” of the Senate is not 51 but 60 votes. Should Republicans pick up a handful of seats (giving them 41 plus a few to spare for inevitable defections), the Democrats will no longer have the ability to trample over the minority, and the rush of ultra-Left legislation will grind to a halt. Moreover, as the Democrats’ numbers shrink, wavering senators who’d really rather not be the deciding vote on controversial issues and join former colleagues in retirement will begin to have second thoughts about jumping onto the Obama legislative express.

The poll numbers for Democrats, albeit 11 months from Election Day 2010, are looking bleak, as is the president’s own standing, a good predictor of midterm elections. As Nate Silver put it:

The relationship between Presidential approval and his party’s performance at the midterms is fairly strong historically. So this would point toward a pretty steep loss for the Democrats (although you could have gathered that from other evidence without looking at Obama’s numbers).

Going back to 1954, the worst midterm wipeout in the Senate was in 1994 (8 seats), when Bill Clinton’s approval stood at 46 percent. As inconceivable as that may have seemed a year ago, a similar scenario may be in the offing in 2010. Senators who would like to remain senators should consider how they might go about saving their skins. Step No. 1 could be: don’t vote for a health-care bill their constituents hate.

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Pelosi, Flailing

Yesterday the AP reported

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Republicans on Thursday, saying they want the Iraq war to drag on and are ignoring the public’s priorities. “They like this war. They want this war to continue,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. She expressed frustration over Republicans’ ability to force majority Democrats to yield ground on taxes, spending, energy, war spending, and other matters. “We thought that they shared the view of so many people in our country that we needed a new direction in Iraq,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference in the Capitol. “But the Republicans have made it very clear that this is not just George Bush’s war. This is the war of the Republicans in Congress.” [When asked to clarify her remarks, Pelosi said, "I shouldn't say they like the war," she said. "They support the war, the course of action that the President is on."]

These are the words of a desperate woman who is the leader of an increasingly desperate party, one that is beginning to turn on itself. Even Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who is as reliable a voice as Democrats have, is worried. This morning he writes, “Congressional Democrats need a Plan B.” The problem, Dionne writes, is that Democrats just aren’t adept enough at the “blame game.”

Not quite. In fact, several things are converging to work against Democrats. The first is that early this year they placed a huge wager that the war to liberate Iraq was lost. It turns out that bet was misplaced. When Pelosi says she thought Republicans shared the view of so many people that we needed a “new direction” in Iraq, she (willfully) ignores the blazingly obvious: this year the President put in place a new military strategy in Iraq, under the leadership of General David Petraeus, and that new strategy is showing results faster than anyone could have anticipated.

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Yesterday the AP reported

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lashed out at Republicans on Thursday, saying they want the Iraq war to drag on and are ignoring the public’s priorities. “They like this war. They want this war to continue,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters. She expressed frustration over Republicans’ ability to force majority Democrats to yield ground on taxes, spending, energy, war spending, and other matters. “We thought that they shared the view of so many people in our country that we needed a new direction in Iraq,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference in the Capitol. “But the Republicans have made it very clear that this is not just George Bush’s war. This is the war of the Republicans in Congress.” [When asked to clarify her remarks, Pelosi said, "I shouldn't say they like the war," she said. "They support the war, the course of action that the President is on."]

These are the words of a desperate woman who is the leader of an increasingly desperate party, one that is beginning to turn on itself. Even Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who is as reliable a voice as Democrats have, is worried. This morning he writes, “Congressional Democrats need a Plan B.” The problem, Dionne writes, is that Democrats just aren’t adept enough at the “blame game.”

Not quite. In fact, several things are converging to work against Democrats. The first is that early this year they placed a huge wager that the war to liberate Iraq was lost. It turns out that bet was misplaced. When Pelosi says she thought Republicans shared the view of so many people that we needed a “new direction” in Iraq, she (willfully) ignores the blazingly obvious: this year the President put in place a new military strategy in Iraq, under the leadership of General David Petraeus, and that new strategy is showing results faster than anyone could have anticipated.

Having seen things get better in Iraq, Democrats compounded their problems immeasurably by ignoring the progress and having their leadership, on an almost daily basis, act as if they want to expedite an American loss. That’s a very bad place for a major American political party to be.

Second, Democrats have been extraordinarily ineffective at passing legislation. They were handed the reigns of legislative power—and they have produced almost nothing of consequence.

Third, the Democratic base, because of the war, is more radical, vocal, and freakish than usual, which is putting enormous pressure on Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid. Every time they attempt to appease the left fringe of their party, they turn off most of the rest of America. A steady diet of the rhetoric of Moveon.org and The Daily Kos will do that to people.

Fourth, the President, whose approval rating is now edging up toward 40 percent, is showing himself to be a pretty good political counter-puncher. Democrats are discovering that governing is more difficult than simply criticizing from the sidelines. The Democratic Congress is a target-rich environment—and President Bush is zeroing in on those targets.

The Democratic-led Congress has set record lows in approval ratings this year. As we approach its end, Democrats look increasingly powerless, angry, and irresponsible. The 2006 election was a repudiation of the GOP, after two very bad years. The Republican Party has to take steps to regain the trust and confidence of the polity. But it may be that the best tonic for Republicans is for the public to be reminded, all over again, about the modern-day Democratic Party’s core beliefs. Politics, after all, is about choices—and increasingly, Democrats look to be the less appealing choice.

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