Commentary Magazine


Topic: Republican leader

Flotsam and Jetsam

Fox News tells us: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous and kind — and completely addicted to Nintendo Wii. The Boy Scouts of America — a group founded on the principles of building character and improving physical fitness — have introduced a brand new award for academic achievement in video gaming, a move that has child health experts atwitter.”

Elliott Abrams: “Israelis are living under the threat of annihilation every day. … If the world does not act, I believe Israel will act, and I hope the U.S. will. We keep saying it’s unacceptable for Iran to have a bomb, but we don’t mean it. We mean it’s terrible, we don’t want it. But when Israel says it’s unacceptable, they mean it.”

In a three-way race, Charlie Crist still loses.

And his staffers aren’t sticking with him: “The adviser said that Mr. Crist expects to lose his entire professional campaign staff, and it isn’t clear who he will bring on as replacements. GOP officials have instructed party political operatives not to work in opposition to the Republican nominee, and Democratic campaign workers are unlikely to sign on to work against Mr. Meek.” No money and no staff — this campaign could prove even more anemic than his GOP primary bid.

Now that’s a funny joke: “At a cocktail party full of Washington whisperers one says to the other, ‘I hear Jim Jones just resigned.’ Says the other: ‘How can you tell?’” Unfortunately, it’s not funny that we have a national security adviser who many find “is the disconnected, remote chief of a system that has thus far seemingly favored lengthy (some might say dithering) process over the production of good, clear policies, a process that cuts out key officials, and one that has been too dominated by the circle of pols that are close to the president.”

The press finds Robert Gibbs funny: “Gibbs said at one of his briefings, ‘This is the most transparent administration in the history of our country.’ Peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room.”

Depending on which poll you look at, John McCain is either in a dogfight or a walkaway Senate primary.

Republicans hung tough and got some concessions on the finance bill: “Senate Republicans say Democrats have made important concessions on a Wall Street reform bill and the chamber agreed by unanimous consent Wednesday evening to proceed to debate on the legislation. The bill was reported to the floor Wednesday night and debate is set to begin on Thursday. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) released a statement Wednesday afternoon touting ‘a key agreement’ to resolve disagreements over a $50 billion fund to liquidate troubled banks.” I wonder what would have happened had Ben Nelson done the same on health-care reform.

Fox News tells us: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous and kind — and completely addicted to Nintendo Wii. The Boy Scouts of America — a group founded on the principles of building character and improving physical fitness — have introduced a brand new award for academic achievement in video gaming, a move that has child health experts atwitter.”

Elliott Abrams: “Israelis are living under the threat of annihilation every day. … If the world does not act, I believe Israel will act, and I hope the U.S. will. We keep saying it’s unacceptable for Iran to have a bomb, but we don’t mean it. We mean it’s terrible, we don’t want it. But when Israel says it’s unacceptable, they mean it.”

In a three-way race, Charlie Crist still loses.

And his staffers aren’t sticking with him: “The adviser said that Mr. Crist expects to lose his entire professional campaign staff, and it isn’t clear who he will bring on as replacements. GOP officials have instructed party political operatives not to work in opposition to the Republican nominee, and Democratic campaign workers are unlikely to sign on to work against Mr. Meek.” No money and no staff — this campaign could prove even more anemic than his GOP primary bid.

Now that’s a funny joke: “At a cocktail party full of Washington whisperers one says to the other, ‘I hear Jim Jones just resigned.’ Says the other: ‘How can you tell?’” Unfortunately, it’s not funny that we have a national security adviser who many find “is the disconnected, remote chief of a system that has thus far seemingly favored lengthy (some might say dithering) process over the production of good, clear policies, a process that cuts out key officials, and one that has been too dominated by the circle of pols that are close to the president.”

The press finds Robert Gibbs funny: “Gibbs said at one of his briefings, ‘This is the most transparent administration in the history of our country.’ Peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room.”

Depending on which poll you look at, John McCain is either in a dogfight or a walkaway Senate primary.

Republicans hung tough and got some concessions on the finance bill: “Senate Republicans say Democrats have made important concessions on a Wall Street reform bill and the chamber agreed by unanimous consent Wednesday evening to proceed to debate on the legislation. The bill was reported to the floor Wednesday night and debate is set to begin on Thursday. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) released a statement Wednesday afternoon touting ‘a key agreement’ to resolve disagreements over a $50 billion fund to liquidate troubled banks.” I wonder what would have happened had Ben Nelson done the same on health-care reform.

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“Narrative Gap”?

Ronald Brownstein writes:

The Republicans’ “narrative” about Obama’s economic agenda — articulated again in Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s attack on financial reform — has been straightforward and unrelenting. In their telling, Obama is transforming the United States into a sclerotic European social-welfare state; forcing the strained middle class to fund both a “crony capitalism” of bailouts for the powerful (the charge McConnell leveled against the financial bill) and handouts for the poor (through health care reform); and impeding recovery by smothering the economy beneath stultifying federal spending, taxes, and regulation.

The fear among the Democracy contributors is that against this disciplined assault the White House is suffering from what could be called a “narrative gap.”

Translation: Republicans have done an excellent job pointing out what Obama is up to — and voters don’t like Obama’s efforts to transform America. There is not a “narrative gap” strictly speaking — that’s Washington spin, reducing everything to messaging. There is a gap between what Obama wants to do and what the voters want. After all, it is not as if Republicans made up the fact that Obama took over two car companies, passed a mammoth health-care bill, ran up the deficit, and is hiking taxes on capital and labor. Obama has done this and is going to do more of this if left to his own devices.

The dilemma for Democrats is that they have embarked on an unpopular program, and rather than receiving applause for expanding the scope of the federal government, they find they have provoked the Center-Right coalition and roused the populist, anti-Big-Government sentiments of many previously indifferent voters. The idea that health-care reform would, along with a slew of other leftist policies, provide a “new foundation” for recovery was a great non sequitur. If anything, these things  have freaked out employers and dulled their enthusiasm for expanding payrolls. But even if one thinks that business somehow ignores public policy and averts its eyes from regulatory and tax changes, you’d be hard pressed to make the argument that any of this has promoted economic recovery.

It’s comforting, I suppose, to blame all of this on messaging. That avoids the serious policy failures of the Keynesian stimulus debacle and the hugely unpopular health-care plan. But the voters don’t think there’s a “narrative gap.” They think there’s been a bait-and-switch –  the soothing candidate Obama has emerged as a dogged leftist. They can’t do much about him for now (especially because he’s indifferent to public opinion), but they can take away his Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. And that’s precisely what makes Democrats so nervous.  They should be.

Ronald Brownstein writes:

The Republicans’ “narrative” about Obama’s economic agenda — articulated again in Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s attack on financial reform — has been straightforward and unrelenting. In their telling, Obama is transforming the United States into a sclerotic European social-welfare state; forcing the strained middle class to fund both a “crony capitalism” of bailouts for the powerful (the charge McConnell leveled against the financial bill) and handouts for the poor (through health care reform); and impeding recovery by smothering the economy beneath stultifying federal spending, taxes, and regulation.

The fear among the Democracy contributors is that against this disciplined assault the White House is suffering from what could be called a “narrative gap.”

Translation: Republicans have done an excellent job pointing out what Obama is up to — and voters don’t like Obama’s efforts to transform America. There is not a “narrative gap” strictly speaking — that’s Washington spin, reducing everything to messaging. There is a gap between what Obama wants to do and what the voters want. After all, it is not as if Republicans made up the fact that Obama took over two car companies, passed a mammoth health-care bill, ran up the deficit, and is hiking taxes on capital and labor. Obama has done this and is going to do more of this if left to his own devices.

The dilemma for Democrats is that they have embarked on an unpopular program, and rather than receiving applause for expanding the scope of the federal government, they find they have provoked the Center-Right coalition and roused the populist, anti-Big-Government sentiments of many previously indifferent voters. The idea that health-care reform would, along with a slew of other leftist policies, provide a “new foundation” for recovery was a great non sequitur. If anything, these things  have freaked out employers and dulled their enthusiasm for expanding payrolls. But even if one thinks that business somehow ignores public policy and averts its eyes from regulatory and tax changes, you’d be hard pressed to make the argument that any of this has promoted economic recovery.

It’s comforting, I suppose, to blame all of this on messaging. That avoids the serious policy failures of the Keynesian stimulus debacle and the hugely unpopular health-care plan. But the voters don’t think there’s a “narrative gap.” They think there’s been a bait-and-switch –  the soothing candidate Obama has emerged as a dogged leftist. They can’t do much about him for now (especially because he’s indifferent to public opinion), but they can take away his Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. And that’s precisely what makes Democrats so nervous.  They should be.

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Replace and Reform but First Vote

A new Rasmussen poll reveals that ObamaCare is, in fact, a winning issue — for those who want to repeal it:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.

And this is the message on which Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans are going to run on. Politico reports:

Refusing to concede permanent defeat on health reform, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wants to “repeal the whole bill” and replace it with insurance reforms and other measures that could get bipartisan agreement.

“They got health care,” McConnell told POLITICO with a mischievous glint in his eye. “We’ll see whether that’s a gift worth receiving.”

McConnell said that if Republicans were to win back the Senate majority in November, “at the top of our list would be to repeal and replace this health care bill.”

Politico’s reporter concedes the Republicans aren’t going to get 67 votes needed to override an Obama veto that would greet repeal attempts, but it’s no longer inconceivable that the Senate could flip, leaving the remaining Democrats (especially those up for re-election in 2012) quaking. Republicans have excellent to good shots at picking up Pennsylvania, Delaware, Colorado, Arkansas, North Dakota, Nevada, and Illinois. Throw in Wisconsin (if former governor Tommy Thompson runs) and California as competitive states, and you see a pathway to a GOP Senate takeover. (I suspect both sides are going to be very nice to Independent Joe Lieberman, who may once again be in the catbird seat after the November election.) Certainly there will be other issues — repeal of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, unemployment, and national security. But if you have a large base of active support on one key issue – which the other side obsessively emphasizes — it’s hard to resist making that issue the central focus of the campaign.

If Republicans run and win big on a “Repeal ObamaCare” message, Democrats will once again face a choice: continue to ignore the will of the voters, or take another look at the monstrous health-care entitlement (and the additional mounds of debt accumulated by then). We know Obama’s answer — he’d rather have just one term than give up his grand achievement. But by then, Democrats may have a different answer.

A new Rasmussen poll reveals that ObamaCare is, in fact, a winning issue — for those who want to repeal it:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, conducted on the first two nights after the president signed the bill, shows that 55% favor repealing the legislation. Forty-two percent (42%) oppose repeal. Those figures include 46% who Strongly Favor repeal and 35% who Strongly Oppose it.

And this is the message on which Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says Republicans are going to run on. Politico reports:

Refusing to concede permanent defeat on health reform, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wants to “repeal the whole bill” and replace it with insurance reforms and other measures that could get bipartisan agreement.

“They got health care,” McConnell told POLITICO with a mischievous glint in his eye. “We’ll see whether that’s a gift worth receiving.”

McConnell said that if Republicans were to win back the Senate majority in November, “at the top of our list would be to repeal and replace this health care bill.”

Politico’s reporter concedes the Republicans aren’t going to get 67 votes needed to override an Obama veto that would greet repeal attempts, but it’s no longer inconceivable that the Senate could flip, leaving the remaining Democrats (especially those up for re-election in 2012) quaking. Republicans have excellent to good shots at picking up Pennsylvania, Delaware, Colorado, Arkansas, North Dakota, Nevada, and Illinois. Throw in Wisconsin (if former governor Tommy Thompson runs) and California as competitive states, and you see a pathway to a GOP Senate takeover. (I suspect both sides are going to be very nice to Independent Joe Lieberman, who may once again be in the catbird seat after the November election.) Certainly there will be other issues — repeal of the Bush tax cuts in 2011, unemployment, and national security. But if you have a large base of active support on one key issue – which the other side obsessively emphasizes — it’s hard to resist making that issue the central focus of the campaign.

If Republicans run and win big on a “Repeal ObamaCare” message, Democrats will once again face a choice: continue to ignore the will of the voters, or take another look at the monstrous health-care entitlement (and the additional mounds of debt accumulated by then). We know Obama’s answer — he’d rather have just one term than give up his grand achievement. But by then, Democrats may have a different answer.

Read Less




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