Commentary Magazine


Topic: Senate Minority Leader

Disagreeing About Who’s Disagreeable

“During election season, I think, the rhetoric flies. And by the way, I’ve been guilty of that. It’s not just them,” President Obama told “60 Minutes,” referring to House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Part of my promise to the American people when I was elected was to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think over the course of two years there have been times where I’ve slipped on that commitment.”

There certainly have been. And the comparison to Boehner and McConnell is hardly apt; they have been far more careful in their rhetoric against Obama and Democrats than Obama and Democrats have been against Republicans.

A skeptic will be tempted to assume that Obama’s words are tactical rather than heartfelt — part of his effort to rehabilitate (for political reasons) his shattered reputation for post-partisan, high-minded civility. Those more forgiving of Obama, or perhaps more naïve, will assume he’s learned his lesson and will change his ways.

All we know is what we know: for two years, the president has used hyper-partisan, deeply divisive rhetoric, language that was antithetical to his central campaign commitment. As for what lies ahead: we shall see. Another election season will roll around in 2012, this time with Obama on the ballot. There will be an enormous temptation for him and his lieutenants to dust off the Chicago Way one more time. That will be as good a time as any to judge just how serious Obama is about his newfound commitment to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

Here I suppose it’s worth bearing in mind a modern proverb: “Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.”

“During election season, I think, the rhetoric flies. And by the way, I’ve been guilty of that. It’s not just them,” President Obama told “60 Minutes,” referring to House Minority Leader John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “Part of my promise to the American people when I was elected was to maintain the kind of tone that says we can disagree without being disagreeable. And I think over the course of two years there have been times where I’ve slipped on that commitment.”

There certainly have been. And the comparison to Boehner and McConnell is hardly apt; they have been far more careful in their rhetoric against Obama and Democrats than Obama and Democrats have been against Republicans.

A skeptic will be tempted to assume that Obama’s words are tactical rather than heartfelt — part of his effort to rehabilitate (for political reasons) his shattered reputation for post-partisan, high-minded civility. Those more forgiving of Obama, or perhaps more naïve, will assume he’s learned his lesson and will change his ways.

All we know is what we know: for two years, the president has used hyper-partisan, deeply divisive rhetoric, language that was antithetical to his central campaign commitment. As for what lies ahead: we shall see. Another election season will roll around in 2012, this time with Obama on the ballot. There will be an enormous temptation for him and his lieutenants to dust off the Chicago Way one more time. That will be as good a time as any to judge just how serious Obama is about his newfound commitment to “disagree without being disagreeable.”

Here I suppose it’s worth bearing in mind a modern proverb: “Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.”

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LIVE BLOG: Rand Paul Sounds Like Mitch McConnell

Recall that the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, backed Rand Paul’s opponent in the primary. Paul won, stumbled, and then ran a disciplined race. He has given an acceptance speech that was entirely bland and fully in line with mainstream GOP thinking. Those looking for a Tea Party vs. Party Establishment fight may be disappointed.

For starters, not all the Tea Partiers are winning. And more important, those who are share the basic agenda of the party as a whole. The civil war I suspect will be on the Democratic side as they decide if their failure was in being too leftist or not leftist enough.

Recall that the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, backed Rand Paul’s opponent in the primary. Paul won, stumbled, and then ran a disciplined race. He has given an acceptance speech that was entirely bland and fully in line with mainstream GOP thinking. Those looking for a Tea Party vs. Party Establishment fight may be disappointed.

For starters, not all the Tea Partiers are winning. And more important, those who are share the basic agenda of the party as a whole. The civil war I suspect will be on the Democratic side as they decide if their failure was in being too leftist or not leftist enough.

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Can We Move Past Engagement?

By now the pattern is clear. The Obama team declares that the policy of George W. Bush toward [fill in the blank with the name of a despotic regime] was “shortsighted” and failed to appreciate that only by engagement and discussion can we discern what [name of despotic regime] really wants. Now we send a special envoy, offer talks, decline to discuss human rights with any vigor, and ease up on sanctions. And lo and behold, the regime gets worse. Curious, isn’t it, that unilateral gestures and reticence to assert American values doesn’t pay off?

This report details the latest example:

The United States is deeply disappointed by Myanmar’s preparations for rare elections and wants “immediate steps” to address fears they will lack legitimacy, a top US diplomat said Monday.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell issued his strongly-worded statement after meeting government officials and opposition leaders including detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

“What we have seen to date leads us to believe that these elections will lack international legitimacy,” Campbell said of the junta‘s plans to stage a vote later this year that would be the first in two decades.

“We urge the regime to take immediate steps to open the process in the time remaining before the elections,” he said.

US President Barack Obama‘s administration launched dialogue with Myanmar‘s military rulers last year after concluding that Western attempts to isolate the regime had produced little success.

Campbell says the U.S. is “profoundly disappointed” — which might be more than “deeply concerned” but certainly less than the condemnation issued to Israel on building in its own capital. What do the human-rights advocates have to say?

Suu Kyi did not speak to reporters but Win Tin, a former political prisoner and senior NLD member, said other top opposition figures had called on Washington to put more pressure on the junta in separate talks with Campbell.

“We think the approach of the US is very soft in relation to this military government,” Win Tin said.

“We asked for tougher political or economic action. There is no position to begin credible elections as the world asks,” he told reporters. “We reiterated (our request) not to acknowledge the coming result of the election.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for tough sanctions. That seems to be a wise course, and not only for Burma. Obama has had his “experiment” in engagement. It has proved a failure everywhere it has been tried. Can we move on?

By now the pattern is clear. The Obama team declares that the policy of George W. Bush toward [fill in the blank with the name of a despotic regime] was “shortsighted” and failed to appreciate that only by engagement and discussion can we discern what [name of despotic regime] really wants. Now we send a special envoy, offer talks, decline to discuss human rights with any vigor, and ease up on sanctions. And lo and behold, the regime gets worse. Curious, isn’t it, that unilateral gestures and reticence to assert American values doesn’t pay off?

This report details the latest example:

The United States is deeply disappointed by Myanmar’s preparations for rare elections and wants “immediate steps” to address fears they will lack legitimacy, a top US diplomat said Monday.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell issued his strongly-worded statement after meeting government officials and opposition leaders including detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

“What we have seen to date leads us to believe that these elections will lack international legitimacy,” Campbell said of the junta‘s plans to stage a vote later this year that would be the first in two decades.

“We urge the regime to take immediate steps to open the process in the time remaining before the elections,” he said.

US President Barack Obama‘s administration launched dialogue with Myanmar‘s military rulers last year after concluding that Western attempts to isolate the regime had produced little success.

Campbell says the U.S. is “profoundly disappointed” — which might be more than “deeply concerned” but certainly less than the condemnation issued to Israel on building in its own capital. What do the human-rights advocates have to say?

Suu Kyi did not speak to reporters but Win Tin, a former political prisoner and senior NLD member, said other top opposition figures had called on Washington to put more pressure on the junta in separate talks with Campbell.

“We think the approach of the US is very soft in relation to this military government,” Win Tin said.

“We asked for tougher political or economic action. There is no position to begin credible elections as the world asks,” he told reporters. “We reiterated (our request) not to acknowledge the coming result of the election.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for tough sanctions. That seems to be a wise course, and not only for Burma. Obama has had his “experiment” in engagement. It has proved a failure everywhere it has been tried. Can we move on?

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Obama Economic Team Tied up in Spin

The Obama administration is lowering expectations and getting tangled up in its own spin. On one hand, the Obama economic team needs to prepare the public for a period of high unemployment:

The economy is growing again, but at a pace unlikely to quickly replace the 8.4 million jobs erased in the recession that began in late 2007. More than 11 million people are drawing unemployment insurance benefits.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council. “We’ve inherited a terrible situation, the most pressing economic problems since the Great Depression in our country.” [In case you thought the Obama team was ever going to stop blaming George W. Bush, think again.]

Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said consumers still face “a lot of head winds” from the financial crisis. For example, debt and credit difficulties are hampering stronger job growth.

They were echoing the words of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who said last week the administration was “very worried” about returning to a more normal jobless rate of around 5 percent.

Summers said Obama was preoccupied with creating jobs. “The trend has turned, but to get back to the surface, we’ve got a long way to go,” Summers said.

Preoccupied? Well, that can certainly be said of health-care reform, but what, precisely, has Obama been doing to promote job growth? Certainly raising billions and billions in new taxes in the guise of health-care “reform” and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire aren’t helping job creation. Nor will cap-and-trade, if the Obama team has its way.

And the job picture is likely to get worse, not better, as more workers return to the job market, as this report explains:

Some economists assert that the unemployment rate, which held steady at 9.7 percent in March, is likely to be driven higher as many more such people are lured into looking for work by hopeful signs of recovery.

The number of people looking for jobs rose by more than 200,000 in March compared with February, according to the Economic Policy Institute — and that’s a good sign, economists say. It means that Americans are seeing more jobs being created, and that they’re optimistic about their prospects.

But the supply of new jobs — 162,000 in March, the biggest monthly increase in three years — will accommodate only a fraction of the unemployed. Some economists say the jobless rate will not recede to pre-recession levels near 5 percent for four more years.

Meanwhile, the buckle-your-seat-belts-it’s-going-to-be-a-bumpy-ride warning runs headlong into the Obama team’s persistent defense of the original stimulus bill, which was supposed to keep unemployment at 8 percent. Christina Romer proclaimed, “I think it has done exactly what we would say it would do.” Uh… not really. Needless to say, Republicans are pouncing on the insistence that everything is going exactly according to plan. “Romer’s comments are likely to raise the ire of Republicans in Congress. On Friday, the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a memo showing that the stimulus has failed to keep unemployment under 8 percent as the administration said it would do.”

In sum, job growth is anemic, and the Obama administration cannot identify  a single effective policy it has advanced to promote job creation. Instead, it has run up a mound of debt and pursued policies that are likely to hamper rather than to facilitate job growth. The administration’s spinners can’t quite decide — brag about their expertly designed stimulus or lower expectations for any relief in the near term from sky-high unemployment? Frankly, the Obama team can spin all it likes; the voters can see for themselves that Obama administration and Democratic Congress have failed in their own stated goal to keep unemployment below 8 percent and promote robust private-sector job growth.

The Obama administration is lowering expectations and getting tangled up in its own spin. On one hand, the Obama economic team needs to prepare the public for a period of high unemployment:

The economy is growing again, but at a pace unlikely to quickly replace the 8.4 million jobs erased in the recession that began in late 2007. More than 11 million people are drawing unemployment insurance benefits.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council. “We’ve inherited a terrible situation, the most pressing economic problems since the Great Depression in our country.” [In case you thought the Obama team was ever going to stop blaming George W. Bush, think again.]

Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said consumers still face “a lot of head winds” from the financial crisis. For example, debt and credit difficulties are hampering stronger job growth.

They were echoing the words of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who said last week the administration was “very worried” about returning to a more normal jobless rate of around 5 percent.

Summers said Obama was preoccupied with creating jobs. “The trend has turned, but to get back to the surface, we’ve got a long way to go,” Summers said.

Preoccupied? Well, that can certainly be said of health-care reform, but what, precisely, has Obama been doing to promote job growth? Certainly raising billions and billions in new taxes in the guise of health-care “reform” and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire aren’t helping job creation. Nor will cap-and-trade, if the Obama team has its way.

And the job picture is likely to get worse, not better, as more workers return to the job market, as this report explains:

Some economists assert that the unemployment rate, which held steady at 9.7 percent in March, is likely to be driven higher as many more such people are lured into looking for work by hopeful signs of recovery.

The number of people looking for jobs rose by more than 200,000 in March compared with February, according to the Economic Policy Institute — and that’s a good sign, economists say. It means that Americans are seeing more jobs being created, and that they’re optimistic about their prospects.

But the supply of new jobs — 162,000 in March, the biggest monthly increase in three years — will accommodate only a fraction of the unemployed. Some economists say the jobless rate will not recede to pre-recession levels near 5 percent for four more years.

Meanwhile, the buckle-your-seat-belts-it’s-going-to-be-a-bumpy-ride warning runs headlong into the Obama team’s persistent defense of the original stimulus bill, which was supposed to keep unemployment at 8 percent. Christina Romer proclaimed, “I think it has done exactly what we would say it would do.” Uh… not really. Needless to say, Republicans are pouncing on the insistence that everything is going exactly according to plan. “Romer’s comments are likely to raise the ire of Republicans in Congress. On Friday, the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a memo showing that the stimulus has failed to keep unemployment under 8 percent as the administration said it would do.”

In sum, job growth is anemic, and the Obama administration cannot identify  a single effective policy it has advanced to promote job creation. Instead, it has run up a mound of debt and pursued policies that are likely to hamper rather than to facilitate job growth. The administration’s spinners can’t quite decide — brag about their expertly designed stimulus or lower expectations for any relief in the near term from sky-high unemployment? Frankly, the Obama team can spin all it likes; the voters can see for themselves that Obama administration and Democratic Congress have failed in their own stated goal to keep unemployment below 8 percent and promote robust private-sector job growth.

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Who’s Being Set Up on Health Care?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox News Sunday declined to say if there were enough votes to block Harry Reid from jamming ObamaCare through using reconciliation. He did, however, seem quite pleased to use the prospect of reconciliation to taunt the Democrats:

“You know, we’ve witnessed the ‘Cornhusker kickback,’ the ‘Louisiana purchase,’ ‘the Gatorade,’ the special deal for Florida. Now they are suggesting they might use a device which has never been used the for this kind of major systemic reform. We know it would be — the only thing bipartisan about it would be the opposition to it, because a number of Democrats have said, ‘Don’t do this. This is not the way to go.’ I think they’re having a hard time getting the message here. The American people do not want this bill to pass. And it strikes me as rather arrogant to say, ‘Well, we’re going to give it to you anyway, and we’ll use whatever device is available to achieve that end.’”

And on the health-care summit, he asked: “But if they’re going lay out the plan they want to pass four days in advance, then why are — what are we discussing on Thursday?” To set you up, Senator.

But on second thought, who is really being set up here? The Republicans have made their principled stance against a massive tax-and-spend health-care bill and against the notion that we should force Americans to buy insurance they don’t want. The public overwhelmingly agrees with the Republican stance. So those who are being set up for a monumentally unpopular vote on a measure that may never pass the House (Is anyone certain Nancy Pelosi has anything close to 218 votes?) are the Senate Democrats, who once again will be forced to choose between the strong sentiments of their constituents and fidelity to the ultraliberal and endangered Democratic leadership.

As on the reconciliation vote count, McConnell wouldn’t say whether Republicans could pick up 10 seats this year. But one suspects the chances will improve if Obama and Reid really intend to try to jam through ObamaCare. McConnell certainly thinks so.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox News Sunday declined to say if there were enough votes to block Harry Reid from jamming ObamaCare through using reconciliation. He did, however, seem quite pleased to use the prospect of reconciliation to taunt the Democrats:

“You know, we’ve witnessed the ‘Cornhusker kickback,’ the ‘Louisiana purchase,’ ‘the Gatorade,’ the special deal for Florida. Now they are suggesting they might use a device which has never been used the for this kind of major systemic reform. We know it would be — the only thing bipartisan about it would be the opposition to it, because a number of Democrats have said, ‘Don’t do this. This is not the way to go.’ I think they’re having a hard time getting the message here. The American people do not want this bill to pass. And it strikes me as rather arrogant to say, ‘Well, we’re going to give it to you anyway, and we’ll use whatever device is available to achieve that end.’”

And on the health-care summit, he asked: “But if they’re going lay out the plan they want to pass four days in advance, then why are — what are we discussing on Thursday?” To set you up, Senator.

But on second thought, who is really being set up here? The Republicans have made their principled stance against a massive tax-and-spend health-care bill and against the notion that we should force Americans to buy insurance they don’t want. The public overwhelmingly agrees with the Republican stance. So those who are being set up for a monumentally unpopular vote on a measure that may never pass the House (Is anyone certain Nancy Pelosi has anything close to 218 votes?) are the Senate Democrats, who once again will be forced to choose between the strong sentiments of their constituents and fidelity to the ultraliberal and endangered Democratic leadership.

As on the reconciliation vote count, McConnell wouldn’t say whether Republicans could pick up 10 seats this year. But one suspects the chances will improve if Obama and Reid really intend to try to jam through ObamaCare. McConnell certainly thinks so.

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McConnell vs. Obama on Terror Policies

This Politico report pronounces:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has settled in on his election-year strategy: Identify issues that unite his caucus but divide the other party, then use them to drive a wedge between the White House and congressional Democrats. At the top of his list: the administration’s handling of terrorism cases.

Well, it could be, you know, that McConnell, as most conservatives do, actually believes that the Obama terrorism policies are dangerous and unworkable and opposes them not as part of an election stunt but because he thinks it’s folly to close Guantanamo, try KSM in America, declare war on our CIA, cease enhanced interrogation techniques, and Mirandize terrorists. Politico nevertheless picks up and runs with the Obami line here — namely, that the Republican opposition to Obama’s terrorism policies is “political” rather than principled. The normal process of seeking bipartisan support to achieve policy goals is transformed into political gamesmanship in Politico’s account: “McConnell hopes moderate Democrats will join Republicans in blocking funding for any civilian trials of terrorism suspects — a would-be GOP victory the party’s candidates could trumpet on the campaign trail throughout this election year.”

Well, if McConnell’s issue has political legs, it is because the Republican opposition to Obama’s policies has tapped into a great unease among Americans about Obama’s approach to the war waged by Islamic fascists on our civilization. But rather than address the factual anomalies in the Obami’s ever-changing accounts or consider the public attitude toward the same, Politico is content to re-run a common bit of Obami spin: the Republicans are the party of “no,” obstructionists and craven political creatures.

McConnell has from the get-go led the charge against Obama’s misguided policies. He did it in a non-election year and when Obama’s approval ratings were in the 70s. And he’s doing it now. If it has the benefit of rallying conservatives and independents who have recoiled against the criminalization of our approach to terrorism, there is nothing nefarious in that. This is how politics works and how, in a democratic system, the governing majority is tempered and turned away from extreme and foolhardy policies.

But Politico — the insiders’ guide to the Beltway — does us a favor by giving us a peek at just how the Obami look at these things. There is never any soul-searching on the merits of their policy choices and or any inclination to credit the opposition with raising legitimate criticism. It is what has gotten the Obami in trouble and what will prove to be their undoing. If McConnell succeeds in stopping the Obami in their tracks, Politico would deem that outcome a “political win.” The rest of us would consider it a boon to the safety and security of the American people.

This Politico report pronounces:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has settled in on his election-year strategy: Identify issues that unite his caucus but divide the other party, then use them to drive a wedge between the White House and congressional Democrats. At the top of his list: the administration’s handling of terrorism cases.

Well, it could be, you know, that McConnell, as most conservatives do, actually believes that the Obama terrorism policies are dangerous and unworkable and opposes them not as part of an election stunt but because he thinks it’s folly to close Guantanamo, try KSM in America, declare war on our CIA, cease enhanced interrogation techniques, and Mirandize terrorists. Politico nevertheless picks up and runs with the Obami line here — namely, that the Republican opposition to Obama’s terrorism policies is “political” rather than principled. The normal process of seeking bipartisan support to achieve policy goals is transformed into political gamesmanship in Politico’s account: “McConnell hopes moderate Democrats will join Republicans in blocking funding for any civilian trials of terrorism suspects — a would-be GOP victory the party’s candidates could trumpet on the campaign trail throughout this election year.”

Well, if McConnell’s issue has political legs, it is because the Republican opposition to Obama’s policies has tapped into a great unease among Americans about Obama’s approach to the war waged by Islamic fascists on our civilization. But rather than address the factual anomalies in the Obami’s ever-changing accounts or consider the public attitude toward the same, Politico is content to re-run a common bit of Obami spin: the Republicans are the party of “no,” obstructionists and craven political creatures.

McConnell has from the get-go led the charge against Obama’s misguided policies. He did it in a non-election year and when Obama’s approval ratings were in the 70s. And he’s doing it now. If it has the benefit of rallying conservatives and independents who have recoiled against the criminalization of our approach to terrorism, there is nothing nefarious in that. This is how politics works and how, in a democratic system, the governing majority is tempered and turned away from extreme and foolhardy policies.

But Politico — the insiders’ guide to the Beltway — does us a favor by giving us a peek at just how the Obami look at these things. There is never any soul-searching on the merits of their policy choices and or any inclination to credit the opposition with raising legitimate criticism. It is what has gotten the Obami in trouble and what will prove to be their undoing. If McConnell succeeds in stopping the Obami in their tracks, Politico would deem that outcome a “political win.” The rest of us would consider it a boon to the safety and security of the American people.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The number of terrorists convicted in the criminal-justice system is 300. Or 195. Or 39, if you believe the ACLU.  Andy McCarthy writes: “It is disingenuous to low-ball the figure, as the ACLU does, in order to minimize the problem. It is equally disingenuous to exaggerate the figure, as DOJ is now doing, to create a myth of law-enforcement effectiveness (in order to discredit wartime military processes). Both of these plays are in the Left’s playbook. But guys, but when your objective is to hoodwink the public, you’re not supposed to run both plays at the same time! Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Obama is not turning out to be everything (anything?) the Left had hoped he’d be. Eli Lake reports: “President Obama is coming under pressure from Democrats and civil liberties groups for failing to fill positions on an oversight panel formed in 2004 to make sure the government does not spy improperly on U.S. citizens. … Since taking office, Mr. Obama has allowed the board to languish. He has not even spent the panel’s allocation from the fiscal 2010 budget.” Well, he hasn’t set up the High Value Interrogation group either, so the Left shouldn’t take it personally. He’s just not very good on following through.

But the key test for Democrats is not what they say in a hearing, but how they vote: “The Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said he is a skeptic of President Barack Obama’s long-term budget plan. Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.) told White House officials Tuesday that the nation can’t accept the budget’s projected deficits at the end of this decade, which approach $1 trillion. ‘We are on an unsustainable course by any measure,’ Conrad said during his committee’s first hearing on the administration’s 2011 budget request. ‘I believe the president is taking us in the right direction over the next several years,’ he added. ‘But I must say I am very concerned about the long term.’”

More horrid polling for Blanche Lincoln: “Her GOP rivals, including Congressman John Boozman who is expected to enter the race on Saturday, all earn roughly 50% of the vote against the two-term Democrat. … Boozman, the newest entrant in the race, runs strongest among likely voters in Arkansas for now, beating Lincoln by 19 points, 54% to 35%. State Senator Gilbert Baker also leads Lincoln by 19, 52% to 33%. State Senate Minority Leader Kim Hendren posts a 51% to 35% lead over the incumbent.”

The Obami’s vendetta against Fox was a stunning success — for Fox. “Fox News had its best January in the history of the network, and was the only cable news network to grow year-to-year. FNC also had the top 13 programs on cable news in total viewers for the fifth month in a row, and the top 13 programs in the A25-54 demographic for the first time in more than five years.”

Sen. John Kerry: “We need a constitutional amendment to make it clear once and for all that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals.” It may be a daft idea to amend the Constitution so as to restrict speech, but at least he’s more honest than the president. You can’t overrule a First Amendment decision by statute.

Sen. Judd Gregg will be missed when he retires. “Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag faced the wrath of Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Tuesday during the Senate Budget Committee hearing on the Obama administration’s budget proposal for 2011. Gregg was irked about President Obama’s plan to unveil a new proposal to use $30 billion from Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to help community banks lend to small businesses at an event Tuesday afternoon in Nashua, NH — Gregg’s home state. ‘This proposal violates the law,’ Gregg said. ‘The whole concept of the TARP was as we recouped the money, we would use it to pay down the debt. Now that’s not going to happen. It’s become a piggy bank. A piggy bank which adds to our deficit.’”

Yes, Richard Reid was Mirandized. So what? John McCormack: “But the fact remains that it was a mistake to mirandize Abdulmutallab — just as it was a mistake to mirandize Reid. At what point will Democrats realize that the Bush administration’s mistakes are not an excuse for the Obama administration’s failures?” The answer is never. They ran against Bush, they won being against Bush, they crafted not-Bush national-security policies, and now they are convinced they can govern being not Bush (except when they repeat an error of the Bush administration). This is what comes from Bush Derangement Syndrome, I suppose.

The number of terrorists convicted in the criminal-justice system is 300. Or 195. Or 39, if you believe the ACLU.  Andy McCarthy writes: “It is disingenuous to low-ball the figure, as the ACLU does, in order to minimize the problem. It is equally disingenuous to exaggerate the figure, as DOJ is now doing, to create a myth of law-enforcement effectiveness (in order to discredit wartime military processes). Both of these plays are in the Left’s playbook. But guys, but when your objective is to hoodwink the public, you’re not supposed to run both plays at the same time! Can’t anybody here play this game?”

Obama is not turning out to be everything (anything?) the Left had hoped he’d be. Eli Lake reports: “President Obama is coming under pressure from Democrats and civil liberties groups for failing to fill positions on an oversight panel formed in 2004 to make sure the government does not spy improperly on U.S. citizens. … Since taking office, Mr. Obama has allowed the board to languish. He has not even spent the panel’s allocation from the fiscal 2010 budget.” Well, he hasn’t set up the High Value Interrogation group either, so the Left shouldn’t take it personally. He’s just not very good on following through.

But the key test for Democrats is not what they say in a hearing, but how they vote: “The Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said he is a skeptic of President Barack Obama’s long-term budget plan. Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.) told White House officials Tuesday that the nation can’t accept the budget’s projected deficits at the end of this decade, which approach $1 trillion. ‘We are on an unsustainable course by any measure,’ Conrad said during his committee’s first hearing on the administration’s 2011 budget request. ‘I believe the president is taking us in the right direction over the next several years,’ he added. ‘But I must say I am very concerned about the long term.’”

More horrid polling for Blanche Lincoln: “Her GOP rivals, including Congressman John Boozman who is expected to enter the race on Saturday, all earn roughly 50% of the vote against the two-term Democrat. … Boozman, the newest entrant in the race, runs strongest among likely voters in Arkansas for now, beating Lincoln by 19 points, 54% to 35%. State Senator Gilbert Baker also leads Lincoln by 19, 52% to 33%. State Senate Minority Leader Kim Hendren posts a 51% to 35% lead over the incumbent.”

The Obami’s vendetta against Fox was a stunning success — for Fox. “Fox News had its best January in the history of the network, and was the only cable news network to grow year-to-year. FNC also had the top 13 programs on cable news in total viewers for the fifth month in a row, and the top 13 programs in the A25-54 demographic for the first time in more than five years.”

Sen. John Kerry: “We need a constitutional amendment to make it clear once and for all that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals.” It may be a daft idea to amend the Constitution so as to restrict speech, but at least he’s more honest than the president. You can’t overrule a First Amendment decision by statute.

Sen. Judd Gregg will be missed when he retires. “Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag faced the wrath of Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Tuesday during the Senate Budget Committee hearing on the Obama administration’s budget proposal for 2011. Gregg was irked about President Obama’s plan to unveil a new proposal to use $30 billion from Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to help community banks lend to small businesses at an event Tuesday afternoon in Nashua, NH — Gregg’s home state. ‘This proposal violates the law,’ Gregg said. ‘The whole concept of the TARP was as we recouped the money, we would use it to pay down the debt. Now that’s not going to happen. It’s become a piggy bank. A piggy bank which adds to our deficit.’”

Yes, Richard Reid was Mirandized. So what? John McCormack: “But the fact remains that it was a mistake to mirandize Abdulmutallab — just as it was a mistake to mirandize Reid. At what point will Democrats realize that the Bush administration’s mistakes are not an excuse for the Obama administration’s failures?” The answer is never. They ran against Bush, they won being against Bush, they crafted not-Bush national-security policies, and now they are convinced they can govern being not Bush (except when they repeat an error of the Bush administration). This is what comes from Bush Derangement Syndrome, I suppose.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Sometimes you get the sense that it won’t be the Democrats’ year: “Broadway Bank, the troubled Chicago lender owned by the family of Illinois Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, has entered into a consent order with banking regulators requiring it to raise tens of millions in capital, stop paying dividends to the family without regulatory approval, and hire an outside party to evaluate the bank’s senior management.”

There’s no one to blame when you control both branches of government: “Twenty-nine percent (29%) of U.S. voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. This is the lowest level of voter confidence in the nation’s current course so far this year – and ties the findings for two weeks in December.”

I suspect he’ll be the first major adviser to go: “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came under fierce bipartisan criticism on Wednesday, with some House Republicans calling on him to resign. Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform grilled Geithner about his role in the bailout of American International Group (AIG) and whether he was involved in decisions about the lack of public disclosure about complicated derivatives payments. Geithner faced repeated criticisms about his role in the government paying out $62 billion to AIG’s financial counterparties that represented the full value they were owed.” Remember, we had to have the tax cheat as treasury secretary because he was such a genius.

But in the list of awful appointees, Eric Holder is certainly near the top. “Top Senate Republicans want answers from the man they believe decided the FBI should read the suspected Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights: Attorney General Eric Holder. ‘It appears that the decision not to thoroughly interrogate Abdulmutallab was made by you or other senior officials in the Department of Justice,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) wrote in a letter to Holder Wednesday. ‘We remain deeply troubled that this paramount requirement of national security was ignored — or worse yet, not recognized — due to the administration’s preoccupation with reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights.’” Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri, the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee; Susan Collins of  Maine, the ranking member on Homeland Security; Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee; and John McCain of Arizona, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, also signed.

Jeffrey Goldberg rips the Beagle Blogger for praising the “bravery” of Daniel Larison’s Israel-bashing. Says Goldberg: “How brave it is to stand athwart the Jews and yell ‘Stop!’ We are a dangerous group of people. Just look at what has happened to other critics who have gone where angels fear to tread and criticized Israel. Take, for example, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of ‘The Israel Lobby.’  Walt, as many of you know, is in hiding in Holland, under round-the-clock protection of the Dutch police, after the chief rabbi of Wellesley, Mass., issued a fatwa calling for his assassination. Mearsheimer, of course, lost his job at the University of Chicago and was physically assaulted by a group of Hadassah ladies in what became known as the ‘Grapefruit Spoon Attack of 2009.’” Read the whole thing.

PETA wants an animatronic Punxsutawney Phil for Groundhog’s Day. The response from the Punxsutawney club president: “I mean, come on, this is just crazy. … Phil is probably treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania. … He’s got air conditioning in the summer, his pen is heated in winter. … He has everything but a TV in there. What more do you want?” Maybe the TV.

Mayor Bloomberg wakes up and finally opposes the KSM trial in New York. Robert Gibbs is noncommittal. Is this the beginning of a walk-back potentially more dramatic than not closing Guantanamo? Let’s hope.

Seems they’re now in the business of trying to win elections: “Members of a committee of state party chairmen voted unanimously today to oppose a so-called ‘purity test’ for GOP candidates, according to a source in the closed-press meeting.”

Chris Matthews is hooted down by the Left after putting his foot in his mouth once again. (“I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”) Well, if the MSNBC gig doesn’t work out, he can write speeches for Harry Reid.

Sometimes you get the sense that it won’t be the Democrats’ year: “Broadway Bank, the troubled Chicago lender owned by the family of Illinois Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, has entered into a consent order with banking regulators requiring it to raise tens of millions in capital, stop paying dividends to the family without regulatory approval, and hire an outside party to evaluate the bank’s senior management.”

There’s no one to blame when you control both branches of government: “Twenty-nine percent (29%) of U.S. voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. This is the lowest level of voter confidence in the nation’s current course so far this year – and ties the findings for two weeks in December.”

I suspect he’ll be the first major adviser to go: “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner came under fierce bipartisan criticism on Wednesday, with some House Republicans calling on him to resign. Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform grilled Geithner about his role in the bailout of American International Group (AIG) and whether he was involved in decisions about the lack of public disclosure about complicated derivatives payments. Geithner faced repeated criticisms about his role in the government paying out $62 billion to AIG’s financial counterparties that represented the full value they were owed.” Remember, we had to have the tax cheat as treasury secretary because he was such a genius.

But in the list of awful appointees, Eric Holder is certainly near the top. “Top Senate Republicans want answers from the man they believe decided the FBI should read the suspected Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights: Attorney General Eric Holder. ‘It appears that the decision not to thoroughly interrogate Abdulmutallab was made by you or other senior officials in the Department of Justice,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) wrote in a letter to Holder Wednesday. ‘We remain deeply troubled that this paramount requirement of national security was ignored — or worse yet, not recognized — due to the administration’s preoccupation with reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights.’” Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri, the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee; Susan Collins of  Maine, the ranking member on Homeland Security; Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee; and John McCain of Arizona, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, also signed.

Jeffrey Goldberg rips the Beagle Blogger for praising the “bravery” of Daniel Larison’s Israel-bashing. Says Goldberg: “How brave it is to stand athwart the Jews and yell ‘Stop!’ We are a dangerous group of people. Just look at what has happened to other critics who have gone where angels fear to tread and criticized Israel. Take, for example, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of ‘The Israel Lobby.’  Walt, as many of you know, is in hiding in Holland, under round-the-clock protection of the Dutch police, after the chief rabbi of Wellesley, Mass., issued a fatwa calling for his assassination. Mearsheimer, of course, lost his job at the University of Chicago and was physically assaulted by a group of Hadassah ladies in what became known as the ‘Grapefruit Spoon Attack of 2009.’” Read the whole thing.

PETA wants an animatronic Punxsutawney Phil for Groundhog’s Day. The response from the Punxsutawney club president: “I mean, come on, this is just crazy. … Phil is probably treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania. … He’s got air conditioning in the summer, his pen is heated in winter. … He has everything but a TV in there. What more do you want?” Maybe the TV.

Mayor Bloomberg wakes up and finally opposes the KSM trial in New York. Robert Gibbs is noncommittal. Is this the beginning of a walk-back potentially more dramatic than not closing Guantanamo? Let’s hope.

Seems they’re now in the business of trying to win elections: “Members of a committee of state party chairmen voted unanimously today to oppose a so-called ‘purity test’ for GOP candidates, according to a source in the closed-press meeting.”

Chris Matthews is hooted down by the Left after putting his foot in his mouth once again. (“I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”) Well, if the MSNBC gig doesn’t work out, he can write speeches for Harry Reid.

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Things Were Going Just Fine

John McCain had been on a roll going into Saturday’s elections, but his loss in Kansas and the close races in Louisiana and Washington stopped that short.

On Friday at CPAC, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton sung McCain’s praises and then heartily endorsed him on Saturday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Fred Thompson got on the McCain bandwagon too. The Wall Street Journal’s editors disparaged the notion that social conservatives should sit home or vote for Hillary Clinton ( “What they can’t do with any credibility is claim that helping to elect a liberal President will further the causes that these conservatives claim to believe most deeply in”) while President Reagan’s National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane doesn’t think much of the talk show critics’ suggestion that we hand management of the war over to one of the Democrats. Newt Gingrich recognizes the obvious ( “He’s had a lifetime voting record that’s dramatically more conservative than Clinton and Obama”) and Larry Kudlow voices support as well.

Bill Kristol thinks the anti-McCain sentiment among conservatives is exaggerated, and a simple account from the campaign trail reveals a obvious truth: lots of conservatives have supported McCain all along. Otherwise he wouldn’t be closing in on the magic delegate number of 1191. (A Newsweek poll shows 75% of conservatives and 69% of conservatives would be “happy” with McCain as the nominee.)

Nevertheless, the best thing McCain can do now is win the trio of primaries on Tuesday and Wisconsin the following week. I suspect that he won’t have any luck chasing Huckabee out of the race until he hits the winning total of 1191 delegates.

John McCain had been on a roll going into Saturday’s elections, but his loss in Kansas and the close races in Louisiana and Washington stopped that short.

On Friday at CPAC, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton sung McCain’s praises and then heartily endorsed him on Saturday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Fred Thompson got on the McCain bandwagon too. The Wall Street Journal’s editors disparaged the notion that social conservatives should sit home or vote for Hillary Clinton ( “What they can’t do with any credibility is claim that helping to elect a liberal President will further the causes that these conservatives claim to believe most deeply in”) while President Reagan’s National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane doesn’t think much of the talk show critics’ suggestion that we hand management of the war over to one of the Democrats. Newt Gingrich recognizes the obvious ( “He’s had a lifetime voting record that’s dramatically more conservative than Clinton and Obama”) and Larry Kudlow voices support as well.

Bill Kristol thinks the anti-McCain sentiment among conservatives is exaggerated, and a simple account from the campaign trail reveals a obvious truth: lots of conservatives have supported McCain all along. Otherwise he wouldn’t be closing in on the magic delegate number of 1191. (A Newsweek poll shows 75% of conservatives and 69% of conservatives would be “happy” with McCain as the nominee.)

Nevertheless, the best thing McCain can do now is win the trio of primaries on Tuesday and Wisconsin the following week. I suspect that he won’t have any luck chasing Huckabee out of the race until he hits the winning total of 1191 delegates.

Read Less




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