Commentary Magazine


Topic: The Left

Flotsam and Jetsam

Joe Lieberman, who continues to confound his critics, is championing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Left blogosphere will no doubt discern a plot to drive them bonkers.

The AP gets into the Rahm Emanuel drama – – “a narrative that some (though it’s still unclear who) think Obama’s chief of staff is smarter than the president, an awkward development in Washington’s deeply ingrained tradition of aides staying behind the scenes and not upstaging the boss. At the least, it creates an embarrassment and a distraction at a perilous time. And it belies Obama’s own prized no-drama culture, where neither dirty laundry nor disagreements are aired and theatrics aren’t tolerated. At worst, it sets in motion a dynamic that could lead to shakeups and further doubts about Obama’s leadership.”

Charles Krauthammer in defense of snail mail and scented love letters: “You can’t smell your e-mail.”

Scott Johnson: “The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy K-8 public charter school in suburban St. Paul. It appears to be is an Islamic school operating illegally at taxpayer expense. Among other things, the school’s principal is an imam and almost all of its students are Muslim. It is housed in a building that was owned originally by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (I’m not sure who owns it now). The school has in any event had a mutually beneficial relationship with MAS Minnesota since the school’s inception. The study of Arabic is required at the school. The Arabic comes in handy for the Koranic studies that follow the regular school day.” The ACLU is suing, and there is evidence that “TiZA has sought to intimidate witnesses.”

Rep. Bart Stupak says there are 12 votes that will switch from “yes” to “no” on the ObamaCare abortion-subsidy issue.

Ron Kampeas shares my amazement at Maureen Dowd’s latest column:  “To suggest [Israel] — and even its Orthodox — are sliding into theocracy is just nutty.”

The Cook Political Report (subscription required): “The retirement announcement of Democratic Rep. Eric Massa puts his Upstate New York ‘southern tier’ seat in grave jeopardy for Democrats. Massa won by only the barest of margins in 2008 after outspending a badly flawed GOP incumbent. … This seat moves from the Lean Democratic column to the Lean Republican column.”

Jonathan Capehart or Matt Continetti on Sarah Palin’s Jay Leno appearance? “Palin’s comfort in front of the camera and with the material, not to mention her don’t-mess-with-me jeans-and-heels outfit, made Palin a feast for the eyes and ears.”

Rep. Pete Stark, new House Ways and Means chairman, is too much even for Democrats who are looking for an alternative: “Looming over his bid for the top job is a long history of rash public statements. In 2004, a San Francisco talk radio station posted a voice mail message that Mr. Stark left for a constituent that said, in part: ‘Probably somebody put you up to this, and I’m not sure who it was, but I doubt if you could spell half the words in the letter and somebody wrote it for you.’  In late 2007 he apologized for saying that Republicans were sending American youth to Iraq ‘to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.'”

Joe Lieberman, who continues to confound his critics, is championing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The Left blogosphere will no doubt discern a plot to drive them bonkers.

The AP gets into the Rahm Emanuel drama – – “a narrative that some (though it’s still unclear who) think Obama’s chief of staff is smarter than the president, an awkward development in Washington’s deeply ingrained tradition of aides staying behind the scenes and not upstaging the boss. At the least, it creates an embarrassment and a distraction at a perilous time. And it belies Obama’s own prized no-drama culture, where neither dirty laundry nor disagreements are aired and theatrics aren’t tolerated. At worst, it sets in motion a dynamic that could lead to shakeups and further doubts about Obama’s leadership.”

Charles Krauthammer in defense of snail mail and scented love letters: “You can’t smell your e-mail.”

Scott Johnson: “The Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy K-8 public charter school in suburban St. Paul. It appears to be is an Islamic school operating illegally at taxpayer expense. Among other things, the school’s principal is an imam and almost all of its students are Muslim. It is housed in a building that was owned originally by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (I’m not sure who owns it now). The school has in any event had a mutually beneficial relationship with MAS Minnesota since the school’s inception. The study of Arabic is required at the school. The Arabic comes in handy for the Koranic studies that follow the regular school day.” The ACLU is suing, and there is evidence that “TiZA has sought to intimidate witnesses.”

Rep. Bart Stupak says there are 12 votes that will switch from “yes” to “no” on the ObamaCare abortion-subsidy issue.

Ron Kampeas shares my amazement at Maureen Dowd’s latest column:  “To suggest [Israel] — and even its Orthodox — are sliding into theocracy is just nutty.”

The Cook Political Report (subscription required): “The retirement announcement of Democratic Rep. Eric Massa puts his Upstate New York ‘southern tier’ seat in grave jeopardy for Democrats. Massa won by only the barest of margins in 2008 after outspending a badly flawed GOP incumbent. … This seat moves from the Lean Democratic column to the Lean Republican column.”

Jonathan Capehart or Matt Continetti on Sarah Palin’s Jay Leno appearance? “Palin’s comfort in front of the camera and with the material, not to mention her don’t-mess-with-me jeans-and-heels outfit, made Palin a feast for the eyes and ears.”

Rep. Pete Stark, new House Ways and Means chairman, is too much even for Democrats who are looking for an alternative: “Looming over his bid for the top job is a long history of rash public statements. In 2004, a San Francisco talk radio station posted a voice mail message that Mr. Stark left for a constituent that said, in part: ‘Probably somebody put you up to this, and I’m not sure who it was, but I doubt if you could spell half the words in the letter and somebody wrote it for you.’  In late 2007 he apologized for saying that Republicans were sending American youth to Iraq ‘to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.'”

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No Waste of Time

Both before and after the health-care summit there were those on the Left and on the Right who declared it to be a “waste of time.” On a superficial level this might be the case. After all, there was no agreement reached and no breakthrough moment (unless we are talking about the emergence of Rep. Paul Ryan as an impressive new conservative figure). But when  one considers what the summit revealed, the “waste of time” complainers — I think — have it quite wrong, and the complaint reveals much about the complainers.

On the Left many have lost patience with discussion and with democracy itself. The problem, they have convinced themselves, is that Obama isn’t rude and bullying enough. No, really. Dana Milbank encapsulates the thinking:

But now, the world’s most powerful man too often plays the 98-pound weakling; he gets sand kicked in his face and responds with moot-court zingers. That’s what Mr. Cool did at the White House health-care summit on Thursday. For seven hours, he racked up debating points as he parried Republican attacks without so much as raising his voice, but the performance didn’t exactly intimidate his foes.

Actually he tried to bully the Republicans, hog the time, put down John McCain, and glare at Ryan — but he simply failed to out- debate and outshine his opponents, whose demeanor and fluidity trumped his own.

The Left doesn’t want debate in the Senate either. They want this muscled through by reconciliation. The time for debate is over, they keep saying, because — of course — they have lost the debate.

On the Right many didn’t want the summit and some grouched about it afterward. They seem to be in perpetual fear that Obama might actually make some headway with the public, or that the Republicans might reveal themselves to be what their critics accuse them of being — dull-witted, ill-informed, and unattractive. But the Republicans proved to be none of those things and Obama had a surly outing.

The aversion to making a detailed defense in a less than ideal setting is an unfortunate inclination of some on the Right. Listen, they are in the minority; so no setting other than a national convention in which they micromanage everything will be ideal. Politics requires that you show up to do battle in whatever setting you find yourself, so as to convince the persuadable, rally your side, and knock your opponents on their heels.

The “waste of time” set on the Right forget the necessity of explaining again and again the “why” behind conservative principles and values. Following the gubernatorial campaign of Bob McDonnell, his chairman Ed Gillespie explained to me why McDonnell was such an effective candidate:

We say we are for lower taxes. Vote for us, damn it! Figure it out! Bob explains he is for lower taxes because he wants to encourage more businesses and jobs. He is for charter schools because it makes all schools better. He is for offshore drilling because it can help plug the revenue hole and generate high-paying jobs. He spent a lot of time talking to independent voters about what is in it for them.

Conservatives make the mistake of assuming that the generally Center-Right country doesn’t need to be told why the liberal approach (be it on health care or other issues) is flawed; they wrongly assume that everyone understands that when the government federalizes health care, regulates and taxes insurance and the rest, bad things will result. The health-care summit was a reminder of the importance of explaining one’s positions in sober, concrete terms to the American people.

The health-care summit didn’t turn out to be a waste of time. The country learned a lot about its president (mostly not favorable), about what’s wrong with ObamaCare, about the Republicans (mostly favorable), and about the Democratic congressional leadership  (mostly awful to the point of being cringe-inducing). Compared to most of what politicians do, you would be hard pressed to find a better use of their time.

Both before and after the health-care summit there were those on the Left and on the Right who declared it to be a “waste of time.” On a superficial level this might be the case. After all, there was no agreement reached and no breakthrough moment (unless we are talking about the emergence of Rep. Paul Ryan as an impressive new conservative figure). But when  one considers what the summit revealed, the “waste of time” complainers — I think — have it quite wrong, and the complaint reveals much about the complainers.

On the Left many have lost patience with discussion and with democracy itself. The problem, they have convinced themselves, is that Obama isn’t rude and bullying enough. No, really. Dana Milbank encapsulates the thinking:

But now, the world’s most powerful man too often plays the 98-pound weakling; he gets sand kicked in his face and responds with moot-court zingers. That’s what Mr. Cool did at the White House health-care summit on Thursday. For seven hours, he racked up debating points as he parried Republican attacks without so much as raising his voice, but the performance didn’t exactly intimidate his foes.

Actually he tried to bully the Republicans, hog the time, put down John McCain, and glare at Ryan — but he simply failed to out- debate and outshine his opponents, whose demeanor and fluidity trumped his own.

The Left doesn’t want debate in the Senate either. They want this muscled through by reconciliation. The time for debate is over, they keep saying, because — of course — they have lost the debate.

On the Right many didn’t want the summit and some grouched about it afterward. They seem to be in perpetual fear that Obama might actually make some headway with the public, or that the Republicans might reveal themselves to be what their critics accuse them of being — dull-witted, ill-informed, and unattractive. But the Republicans proved to be none of those things and Obama had a surly outing.

The aversion to making a detailed defense in a less than ideal setting is an unfortunate inclination of some on the Right. Listen, they are in the minority; so no setting other than a national convention in which they micromanage everything will be ideal. Politics requires that you show up to do battle in whatever setting you find yourself, so as to convince the persuadable, rally your side, and knock your opponents on their heels.

The “waste of time” set on the Right forget the necessity of explaining again and again the “why” behind conservative principles and values. Following the gubernatorial campaign of Bob McDonnell, his chairman Ed Gillespie explained to me why McDonnell was such an effective candidate:

We say we are for lower taxes. Vote for us, damn it! Figure it out! Bob explains he is for lower taxes because he wants to encourage more businesses and jobs. He is for charter schools because it makes all schools better. He is for offshore drilling because it can help plug the revenue hole and generate high-paying jobs. He spent a lot of time talking to independent voters about what is in it for them.

Conservatives make the mistake of assuming that the generally Center-Right country doesn’t need to be told why the liberal approach (be it on health care or other issues) is flawed; they wrongly assume that everyone understands that when the government federalizes health care, regulates and taxes insurance and the rest, bad things will result. The health-care summit was a reminder of the importance of explaining one’s positions in sober, concrete terms to the American people.

The health-care summit didn’t turn out to be a waste of time. The country learned a lot about its president (mostly not favorable), about what’s wrong with ObamaCare, about the Republicans (mostly favorable), and about the Democratic congressional leadership  (mostly awful to the point of being cringe-inducing). Compared to most of what politicians do, you would be hard pressed to find a better use of their time.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Howard Fineman gives credit where credit is due: “In a city obsessed with visibility and celebrity, it largely goes overlooked that the plodding, unglamorous [Mitch] McConnell is Obama’s most powerful foe—the man he must outmaneuver, or at least neutralize, if he wants to reach the sunny uplands of (bipartisan) legislative accomplishment, not to mention a second term in 2012. It will not be easy.”

CONTENTIONS’s Pete Wehner writes: “Republican officeholders and candidates need to make specific, detailed criticisms of Obama’s agenda without being personally nasty toward or disrespectful of Obama himself. … To the GOP’s credit, much of this is already going on. We’ve seen it in the campaigns run by Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which will be models for others to follow; in the governing record of Indiana’s Mitch Daniels; and in the health care and budget plans put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.” The Left keeps rooting for that GOP “civil war” to break out, but so far no luck.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon on J Street: “The thing that troubles me is that they don’t present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli.” Actually, even the J Street gang is nervous about the “pro-Israeli” label.

CNN’s latest: “According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office. The survey also indicates that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing as president, with half of the public disapproving of his job in the White House.” Congress does worse: “Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the survey say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected. An equal amount also say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.” Republicans lead in the generic polling in this survey, 47 to 45 percent, an eight-point swing their way since November.

More bad polling news the Obami will no doubt ignore: “In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the party’s approach to healthcare, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.”

A fine idea that conservatives should embrace: “The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.” Now if we can agree on domestic oil and gas development, there could be a real bipartisan energy policy.

Even California is less Blue than it used to be: “Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman now runs dead even with likely Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in California’s gubernatorial contest.”

Hispanics aren’t thrilled with the Democrats either. Almost like there’s a wave building.

Not even Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal wants Obama’s help — in Connecticut. Well, if he doesn’t help in Massachusetts, you can understand.

James Taranto relays that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, “admits that the periods 1860-80 and 1910-40 saw global warming on a similar scale to the 1975-98 period, that there has been no significant warming since 1995, and that the so-called Medieval Warm Period calls into question whether the currently observed warming is unprecedented. … So ‘the vast majority of climate scientists’ don’t think the debate is over? Someone had better tell the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and most of our colleagues in the media, who have long been insisting otherwise–and indeed, who continue to do so.”

Howard Fineman gives credit where credit is due: “In a city obsessed with visibility and celebrity, it largely goes overlooked that the plodding, unglamorous [Mitch] McConnell is Obama’s most powerful foe—the man he must outmaneuver, or at least neutralize, if he wants to reach the sunny uplands of (bipartisan) legislative accomplishment, not to mention a second term in 2012. It will not be easy.”

CONTENTIONS’s Pete Wehner writes: “Republican officeholders and candidates need to make specific, detailed criticisms of Obama’s agenda without being personally nasty toward or disrespectful of Obama himself. … To the GOP’s credit, much of this is already going on. We’ve seen it in the campaigns run by Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which will be models for others to follow; in the governing record of Indiana’s Mitch Daniels; and in the health care and budget plans put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.” The Left keeps rooting for that GOP “civil war” to break out, but so far no luck.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon on J Street: “The thing that troubles me is that they don’t present themselves as to what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli.” Actually, even the J Street gang is nervous about the “pro-Israeli” label.

CNN’s latest: “According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office. The survey also indicates that 49 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing as president, with half of the public disapproving of his job in the White House.” Congress does worse: “Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the survey say that most Democrats in Congress do not deserve to be re-elected. An equal amount also say that most congressional Republicans don’t deserve re-election.” Republicans lead in the generic polling in this survey, 47 to 45 percent, an eight-point swing their way since November.

More bad polling news the Obami will no doubt ignore: “In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the party’s approach to healthcare, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.”

A fine idea that conservatives should embrace: “The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce on Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern Co. build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.” Now if we can agree on domestic oil and gas development, there could be a real bipartisan energy policy.

Even California is less Blue than it used to be: “Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman now runs dead even with likely Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in California’s gubernatorial contest.”

Hispanics aren’t thrilled with the Democrats either. Almost like there’s a wave building.

Not even Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal wants Obama’s help — in Connecticut. Well, if he doesn’t help in Massachusetts, you can understand.

James Taranto relays that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, “admits that the periods 1860-80 and 1910-40 saw global warming on a similar scale to the 1975-98 period, that there has been no significant warming since 1995, and that the so-called Medieval Warm Period calls into question whether the currently observed warming is unprecedented. … So ‘the vast majority of climate scientists’ don’t think the debate is over? Someone had better tell the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], Al Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee and most of our colleagues in the media, who have long been insisting otherwise–and indeed, who continue to do so.”

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Pleasing None of the People, None of the Time

As Pete aptly described, the Left is in a tizzy. Angry at their floundering idol, they are increasingly aware they have gotten precious little from their wish list. That rage is directed now at both the public and the president, who is getting more and more push back from previously loyal congressional leaders.

Now, in the hands of a skilled politician, this might actually be an opportunity. Having strayed so far Left, Obama now can separate himself, “triangulate,” as Bill Clinton put it, to demonstrate that he really is the model of moderation and sobriety. He might call out the excesses on his own side, both rhetorical and substantive, to reconnect with the Center-Right coalition. But oddly, Obama seems incapable or unwilling to do just that.

Obama is doggedly pursuing health care — the same plan that the public has rejected overwhelmingly. He proposed an extraordinarily irresponsible budget. In short, he is not making an effort to separate himself from those extreme voices in the party who are now quite angry at him. We therefore see the remarkable situation in which independents are alienated, conservatives are enraged, and liberals are aggrieved. It’s hard in politics to please everyone, but it takes a certain talent to displease everyone. Yet Obama has managed to do so. How did that happen?

This, I think, has resulted from the collision of extreme ideology, grand ambition, and plain old incompetence. The Center-Right sees what Obama wants to do (pass a government takeover of health care, regulate carbon emissions, grow the size of government, raise taxes) and is frightened. The Left sees what Obama has done (practically nothing) and is frustrated, if not apoplectic. The Left wants him to be more effective in his extremism (and theirs) but that will further enrage the already motivated Center-Right.

It is quite a dilemma. Moreover, it is a reminder that electing someone very new to the national stage is quite a gamble. Unfortunately, it hasn’t paid off for his supporters. And we all must live with the consequences.

As Pete aptly described, the Left is in a tizzy. Angry at their floundering idol, they are increasingly aware they have gotten precious little from their wish list. That rage is directed now at both the public and the president, who is getting more and more push back from previously loyal congressional leaders.

Now, in the hands of a skilled politician, this might actually be an opportunity. Having strayed so far Left, Obama now can separate himself, “triangulate,” as Bill Clinton put it, to demonstrate that he really is the model of moderation and sobriety. He might call out the excesses on his own side, both rhetorical and substantive, to reconnect with the Center-Right coalition. But oddly, Obama seems incapable or unwilling to do just that.

Obama is doggedly pursuing health care — the same plan that the public has rejected overwhelmingly. He proposed an extraordinarily irresponsible budget. In short, he is not making an effort to separate himself from those extreme voices in the party who are now quite angry at him. We therefore see the remarkable situation in which independents are alienated, conservatives are enraged, and liberals are aggrieved. It’s hard in politics to please everyone, but it takes a certain talent to displease everyone. Yet Obama has managed to do so. How did that happen?

This, I think, has resulted from the collision of extreme ideology, grand ambition, and plain old incompetence. The Center-Right sees what Obama wants to do (pass a government takeover of health care, regulate carbon emissions, grow the size of government, raise taxes) and is frightened. The Left sees what Obama has done (practically nothing) and is frustrated, if not apoplectic. The Left wants him to be more effective in his extremism (and theirs) but that will further enrage the already motivated Center-Right.

It is quite a dilemma. Moreover, it is a reminder that electing someone very new to the national stage is quite a gamble. Unfortunately, it hasn’t paid off for his supporters. And we all must live with the consequences.

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The Gates Minuet

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is perpetually walking a tightrope. He is, after all, a member of the president’s cabinet, and if he wants to remain so, he must display loyalty and hew to administration policy. But he indisputably has little patience for the notion that we can endear ourselves to Islamic fascists or Iranian despots. His department is, unlike the rest of the federal government, on a strict budget, so he must make the most of what limited funds he has. And in all this, he is incapable of lying. So we have a series of pained but telling comments from him.

After the announced decision to deploy 30,000-plus troops to Afghanistan (a position he favored), it was up to Gates (along with Hillary Clinton) to soft-pedal the 18-month deadline. He took to the talk shows and Congressional hearings to assure everyone that Obama didn’t really mean a fixed deadline and that we’d of course stick it out to achieve our aims, relying on conditions on the ground.

On the Mirandizing of the Christmas Day bomber, he would only say this was Eric Holder’s call. And while he was careful not to slam his cabinet colleague, in an exchange with Sen. John McCain, he left little doubt about what he thought of the decision:

Gates said “I think we did not have the high-level interrogators there that we now have protocols in place” to assure their presence. But he added: “I believe that a team of highly experienced FBI and other interrogators could be as effective in interrogating the prisoner as anyone operating under the (Army) field manual.”

McCain asked Gates if he agreed with an assertion by Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence, that better, more complete or more useful information might have been gleaned from the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, if he had been subjected to a more intense style of interrogation.

“I’m just not in a position to know the answer to that, senator,” Gates replied. But he did reply, “Yes,” when asked if he thought a special group of more qualified interrogators, members of the High Value Interrogation Group, should have been present.

Nor does Gates want to suggest that there is any hope that we can talk the mullahs out of their nukes. On Iran:

Speaking to reporters in Ankara after meeting with Turkish leaders, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he does not believe that Iran and the West are close to a nuclear deal. “I don’t have the sense that we’re close to an agreement,” Gates told reporters, according to Reuters. “If they are prepared to take up the original proposal of the P-5 plus one of delivering 1,200 kilograms of their low enriched uranium, all at once to an agreed party, I think there would be a response to that,” he added. He described Iran’s response to Obama’s diplomatic outreach as “disappointing.”

But alas, he is part of the administration and voiced the Obama line that the purpose of sanctions would be to get the mullahs back to the table, not to affect regime change.

Gates is unlikely to please either the Left or the Right. The Left would rather that Joe Biden run national-security policy and that the Gates position on Afghanistan had been rejected. They smarted as he fuzzed up the 18-month deadline that Obama had thrown to the Left as a consolation prize. Conservatives would certainly prefer he not make excuses for cuts in missile defense and be more critical of Holder’s serial follies. But those conservatives who expect more of Gates should ask themselves: would the administration’s national-security policy be worse without him? The answer, I would suggest, is almost certainly yes. So the Gates minuet continues.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is perpetually walking a tightrope. He is, after all, a member of the president’s cabinet, and if he wants to remain so, he must display loyalty and hew to administration policy. But he indisputably has little patience for the notion that we can endear ourselves to Islamic fascists or Iranian despots. His department is, unlike the rest of the federal government, on a strict budget, so he must make the most of what limited funds he has. And in all this, he is incapable of lying. So we have a series of pained but telling comments from him.

After the announced decision to deploy 30,000-plus troops to Afghanistan (a position he favored), it was up to Gates (along with Hillary Clinton) to soft-pedal the 18-month deadline. He took to the talk shows and Congressional hearings to assure everyone that Obama didn’t really mean a fixed deadline and that we’d of course stick it out to achieve our aims, relying on conditions on the ground.

On the Mirandizing of the Christmas Day bomber, he would only say this was Eric Holder’s call. And while he was careful not to slam his cabinet colleague, in an exchange with Sen. John McCain, he left little doubt about what he thought of the decision:

Gates said “I think we did not have the high-level interrogators there that we now have protocols in place” to assure their presence. But he added: “I believe that a team of highly experienced FBI and other interrogators could be as effective in interrogating the prisoner as anyone operating under the (Army) field manual.”

McCain asked Gates if he agreed with an assertion by Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence, that better, more complete or more useful information might have been gleaned from the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, if he had been subjected to a more intense style of interrogation.

“I’m just not in a position to know the answer to that, senator,” Gates replied. But he did reply, “Yes,” when asked if he thought a special group of more qualified interrogators, members of the High Value Interrogation Group, should have been present.

Nor does Gates want to suggest that there is any hope that we can talk the mullahs out of their nukes. On Iran:

Speaking to reporters in Ankara after meeting with Turkish leaders, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he does not believe that Iran and the West are close to a nuclear deal. “I don’t have the sense that we’re close to an agreement,” Gates told reporters, according to Reuters. “If they are prepared to take up the original proposal of the P-5 plus one of delivering 1,200 kilograms of their low enriched uranium, all at once to an agreed party, I think there would be a response to that,” he added. He described Iran’s response to Obama’s diplomatic outreach as “disappointing.”

But alas, he is part of the administration and voiced the Obama line that the purpose of sanctions would be to get the mullahs back to the table, not to affect regime change.

Gates is unlikely to please either the Left or the Right. The Left would rather that Joe Biden run national-security policy and that the Gates position on Afghanistan had been rejected. They smarted as he fuzzed up the 18-month deadline that Obama had thrown to the Left as a consolation prize. Conservatives would certainly prefer he not make excuses for cuts in missile defense and be more critical of Holder’s serial follies. But those conservatives who expect more of Gates should ask themselves: would the administration’s national-security policy be worse without him? The answer, I would suggest, is almost certainly yes. So the Gates minuet continues.

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The Left Gets Nothing

As I suggested a few days ago, the decision to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not, perhaps, turning out to be all the Left hoped it would be. There is a study to be convened, one that will last years. And in the meantime, don’t expect a quick vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi spills the beans — this isn’t happening any time soon:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democrats may wait on voting to repeal the ban on gays in the military until after the midterm elections and after the Pentagon has completed a full review of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “We’ve done a heavy lift, and I don’t know,” Pelosi told reporters. “I’ll have to examine it. We’ll take a look. We’ll sit down together and see. What is the advantage of going first with legislation? Or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review? Or is it a two step-process?”

It seems that Pelosi has already pushed her members out on that plank enough times. (“Many House Democrats who are privately reluctant to take a vote on the issue have already been forced to defend several unpopular health care and spending measures that Pelosi and her leadership team essentially forced them to endorse.”) Her ultraliberal agenda is already so unpopular with many of her members. How can she force a vote on this — in an election year, no less?

There is something comical about the charade. Obama announces the repeal, or, more precisely, the study for the repeal. He knows he’ll get a few rounds of applause from the ever-gullible Left, but he can count on the bureaucratic process and the sweeping terror in Congressional ranks to prevent an actual vote. A vote in an election year would only become a lightning rod and distract from the rest of his agenda — which is also unpopular and going nowhere. Got it?

There is a giant legislative traffic jam underway. The Congress can’t work on health care because it’s impossible to round up the votes in a post-Scott Brown political environment. They can’t pass Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because health care has freaked out much of the Democratic caucus. They can’t work on cap-and-trade because that vote was a semi-disaster last year and will only remind Blue Dogs how vulnerable they are. It is the perfect storm from a conservative standpoint — nothing awful is likely to happen anytime soon. Each element of the ultraliberal agenda blocks the other parts. The Reid-Pelosi-Obama machine is grinding to a halt.

But the Left must be wondering: don’t they get anything from this president and Congress? Well, there’s the Lilly Ledbetter law, a failed stimulus plan, and a couple nationalized car companies. My, that’s precious little. Meanwhile, we are waging the war against Islamic fundamentalists (not that Obama would call them that) in Afghanistan and Iraq. One wonders why the netroots aren’t more crazed than they already are.

As I suggested a few days ago, the decision to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is not, perhaps, turning out to be all the Left hoped it would be. There is a study to be convened, one that will last years. And in the meantime, don’t expect a quick vote. Speaker Nancy Pelosi spills the beans — this isn’t happening any time soon:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democrats may wait on voting to repeal the ban on gays in the military until after the midterm elections and after the Pentagon has completed a full review of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “We’ve done a heavy lift, and I don’t know,” Pelosi told reporters. “I’ll have to examine it. We’ll take a look. We’ll sit down together and see. What is the advantage of going first with legislation? Or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review? Or is it a two step-process?”

It seems that Pelosi has already pushed her members out on that plank enough times. (“Many House Democrats who are privately reluctant to take a vote on the issue have already been forced to defend several unpopular health care and spending measures that Pelosi and her leadership team essentially forced them to endorse.”) Her ultraliberal agenda is already so unpopular with many of her members. How can she force a vote on this — in an election year, no less?

There is something comical about the charade. Obama announces the repeal, or, more precisely, the study for the repeal. He knows he’ll get a few rounds of applause from the ever-gullible Left, but he can count on the bureaucratic process and the sweeping terror in Congressional ranks to prevent an actual vote. A vote in an election year would only become a lightning rod and distract from the rest of his agenda — which is also unpopular and going nowhere. Got it?

There is a giant legislative traffic jam underway. The Congress can’t work on health care because it’s impossible to round up the votes in a post-Scott Brown political environment. They can’t pass Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because health care has freaked out much of the Democratic caucus. They can’t work on cap-and-trade because that vote was a semi-disaster last year and will only remind Blue Dogs how vulnerable they are. It is the perfect storm from a conservative standpoint — nothing awful is likely to happen anytime soon. Each element of the ultraliberal agenda blocks the other parts. The Reid-Pelosi-Obama machine is grinding to a halt.

But the Left must be wondering: don’t they get anything from this president and Congress? Well, there’s the Lilly Ledbetter law, a failed stimulus plan, and a couple nationalized car companies. My, that’s precious little. Meanwhile, we are waging the war against Islamic fundamentalists (not that Obama would call them that) in Afghanistan and Iraq. One wonders why the netroots aren’t more crazed than they already are.

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The Left: Pass Health Care and Go Out in a Blaze of Glory

In the endless search for justifying political suicide — that is, continuing with the quest to pass ObamaCare — many on the Left argue that the “damage has been done.” In other words, they are already going to be punished by conservatives and independents for almost passing ObamaCare, so they might as well go through with it and please their base. Well, for starters, it’s nice to see that they finally realize that the bill is unpopular, that it was a lie that Democrats could pass it and “sell it later,” and that it’s going to cost many Democrats their seats. But is it really true that there’s no harm in going forward and passing a noxious bill that 70 percent of the electorate hates?

Megan McArdle neatly summarizes the argument on the side of “you gotta be kidding”:

Who are you more likely to leave:  the spouse who makes a pass at another woman, and then thinks the better of it, or the spouse who goes through with it?  Maybe you’ll leave them either way.  But it does not follow that they are better off going through with it.  I don’t think it is actually true that trying to pass a bill people hate, and then thinking the better of it because it turns out the electorate hates it, is no different from trying to pass a bill people hate, finding out that they really, really hate it, and then ignoring them and pushing it through anyway.

Moreover, passing ObamaCare would entail debating it and making more deals over an extended period of time, which is likely to remind everyone just why it was they hated the bill in the first place. Indeed, the threat of ObamaCare looming on the horizon is precisely what I suspect the Republicans are hoping for. It would keep the troops pumped up, send Democrats into a defensive crouch, and suck up time that could be better spent by Democrats doing things the voters might like better.

Now Public Policy Polling has a survey that Tom Jensen describes as follows:

The GOP leads 43-40 on the generic Congressional ballot. When you ask people how they’ll vote if the Democrats don’t pass their health care plan the GOP leads 43-38. That’s because the level of support from Democratic voters for their own party drops from 80% to 76% if there is no health care bill. The GOP level of support remains unchanged at this point whether it passes or not.

Well, that’s some evidence for the “go ahead and jump” advice. But the difference between passing and not passing the bill in the poll is within the margin. Moreover, it doesn’t account for how much madder independents will get in the interim as more attention is devoted to the bill. (Recall that with each vote in the House and Senate at the end of 2009, support for the bill went down.) In addition, the poll doesn’t consider a logical alternative that might actually help Democrats — passing a targeted set of reforms that many Republicans could support (e.g., tort reform, equalizing the tax treatment of individual- and employer-purchased health-care plans).

Elected lawmakers, I think, are reluctant to follow the advice of the Left (including those in the White House), which has driven its party’s fortunes into the ground in just a year. They see the results in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts and can read the polls for themselves. The double-down crowd may have appeal out in the blogosphere, but I don’t think there are too many takers among those still hoping to avoid being swept out in the wave election of 2010.

In the endless search for justifying political suicide — that is, continuing with the quest to pass ObamaCare — many on the Left argue that the “damage has been done.” In other words, they are already going to be punished by conservatives and independents for almost passing ObamaCare, so they might as well go through with it and please their base. Well, for starters, it’s nice to see that they finally realize that the bill is unpopular, that it was a lie that Democrats could pass it and “sell it later,” and that it’s going to cost many Democrats their seats. But is it really true that there’s no harm in going forward and passing a noxious bill that 70 percent of the electorate hates?

Megan McArdle neatly summarizes the argument on the side of “you gotta be kidding”:

Who are you more likely to leave:  the spouse who makes a pass at another woman, and then thinks the better of it, or the spouse who goes through with it?  Maybe you’ll leave them either way.  But it does not follow that they are better off going through with it.  I don’t think it is actually true that trying to pass a bill people hate, and then thinking the better of it because it turns out the electorate hates it, is no different from trying to pass a bill people hate, finding out that they really, really hate it, and then ignoring them and pushing it through anyway.

Moreover, passing ObamaCare would entail debating it and making more deals over an extended period of time, which is likely to remind everyone just why it was they hated the bill in the first place. Indeed, the threat of ObamaCare looming on the horizon is precisely what I suspect the Republicans are hoping for. It would keep the troops pumped up, send Democrats into a defensive crouch, and suck up time that could be better spent by Democrats doing things the voters might like better.

Now Public Policy Polling has a survey that Tom Jensen describes as follows:

The GOP leads 43-40 on the generic Congressional ballot. When you ask people how they’ll vote if the Democrats don’t pass their health care plan the GOP leads 43-38. That’s because the level of support from Democratic voters for their own party drops from 80% to 76% if there is no health care bill. The GOP level of support remains unchanged at this point whether it passes or not.

Well, that’s some evidence for the “go ahead and jump” advice. But the difference between passing and not passing the bill in the poll is within the margin. Moreover, it doesn’t account for how much madder independents will get in the interim as more attention is devoted to the bill. (Recall that with each vote in the House and Senate at the end of 2009, support for the bill went down.) In addition, the poll doesn’t consider a logical alternative that might actually help Democrats — passing a targeted set of reforms that many Republicans could support (e.g., tort reform, equalizing the tax treatment of individual- and employer-purchased health-care plans).

Elected lawmakers, I think, are reluctant to follow the advice of the Left (including those in the White House), which has driven its party’s fortunes into the ground in just a year. They see the results in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts and can read the polls for themselves. The double-down crowd may have appeal out in the blogosphere, but I don’t think there are too many takers among those still hoping to avoid being swept out in the wave election of 2010.

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Democrats at Risk

Jonathan Martin reports:

A tactic that would have seemed far-fetched a year ago, when the new president was sworn in with a 67 percent job approval rating, is now emerging as a key component of the GOP strategy: Tie Democratic opponents to Obama and make them answer for some of the unpopular policies associated with the chief executive.

This is, of course, the mirror image of what occurred in 2006, when Democrats ran against George W. Bush. Martin adds: “The challenge will be to link Democrats with the administration on such issues as spending, bailouts, healthcare and cap-and-trade while not personally attacking Obama, who remains personally well-liked even as his standing erodes.” It’s not much of a challenge, really; all Republicans need to do is look at the campaigns of Bob McDonnell and Scott Brown, who ran against Obama policies but made no personal attacks on the president.

Frankly, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts, Obama showed himself not much of an aid in motivating his own troops. The Left has become peeved with the underachieving president, who has been unable to deliver much of consequence on their policy wish list. So it’s not surprising that Republicans are starting to cheer Obama appearances in their state.  Martin explains of Colorado and Wisconsin, two states previously thought to be securely Democratic:

It was [in Colorado] where Democrats enjoyed resurgence in recent years, resulting in scores of stories about the Rocky Mountain West turning, if not blue, at least purple. But now, with the appointed Bennet facing the threat of a primary and a tough GOP challenge, an incumbent governor whose numbers were so poor he couldn’t even run for re-election and at least two Democratic-held House seats potentially imperiled, those analyses look premature.

Republicans in the Badger State think two long-time Democrats could pay a price for backing much of Obama’s agenda.

“Democrats in Wisconsin like [Rep.] Dave Obey and [Sen.] Russ Feingold will be especially vulnerable because these two men have voluntarily marched off the cliff with Obama by not only supporting the president’s failed policies but fighting to pass them as well,” said state GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

We’ll see how long Obama’s downward slide continues and whether unemployment remains high. If Obama doesn’t dash for the Center, and if the economy limps along for the remainder of the year, Colorado and Wisconsin will join a long list of states that are no longer definitely, no-questions-asked safe bets for the Democrats. In the Obama era, no seat is safe for the Democrats, it seems.

Jonathan Martin reports:

A tactic that would have seemed far-fetched a year ago, when the new president was sworn in with a 67 percent job approval rating, is now emerging as a key component of the GOP strategy: Tie Democratic opponents to Obama and make them answer for some of the unpopular policies associated with the chief executive.

This is, of course, the mirror image of what occurred in 2006, when Democrats ran against George W. Bush. Martin adds: “The challenge will be to link Democrats with the administration on such issues as spending, bailouts, healthcare and cap-and-trade while not personally attacking Obama, who remains personally well-liked even as his standing erodes.” It’s not much of a challenge, really; all Republicans need to do is look at the campaigns of Bob McDonnell and Scott Brown, who ran against Obama policies but made no personal attacks on the president.

Frankly, in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts, Obama showed himself not much of an aid in motivating his own troops. The Left has become peeved with the underachieving president, who has been unable to deliver much of consequence on their policy wish list. So it’s not surprising that Republicans are starting to cheer Obama appearances in their state.  Martin explains of Colorado and Wisconsin, two states previously thought to be securely Democratic:

It was [in Colorado] where Democrats enjoyed resurgence in recent years, resulting in scores of stories about the Rocky Mountain West turning, if not blue, at least purple. But now, with the appointed Bennet facing the threat of a primary and a tough GOP challenge, an incumbent governor whose numbers were so poor he couldn’t even run for re-election and at least two Democratic-held House seats potentially imperiled, those analyses look premature.

Republicans in the Badger State think two long-time Democrats could pay a price for backing much of Obama’s agenda.

“Democrats in Wisconsin like [Rep.] Dave Obey and [Sen.] Russ Feingold will be especially vulnerable because these two men have voluntarily marched off the cliff with Obama by not only supporting the president’s failed policies but fighting to pass them as well,” said state GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

We’ll see how long Obama’s downward slide continues and whether unemployment remains high. If Obama doesn’t dash for the Center, and if the economy limps along for the remainder of the year, Colorado and Wisconsin will join a long list of states that are no longer definitely, no-questions-asked safe bets for the Democrats. In the Obama era, no seat is safe for the Democrats, it seems.

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Left Goes Bonkers Over McDonnell’s Crowd

The Left is freaking out. Gov. Bob McDonnell gave an impressive, error-free, and remarkably effective response to the SOTU. He might be the next “It” on the Republican side. That means it’s time to attack! Over at Daily Kos, they don’t like the diverse crowd that was seated behind McDonnell:

And the teabagging, bipartisan response in front of an all GOP audience is over. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had a “black woman”, “asian guy”, and “military guy” behind him. The seating chart for this thing must have been six months in the making.

This was not the only Lefty who went after McDonnell’s crowd. Walter Shapiro wades in: “After 70 minutes of seeing Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi nodding and clapping on cue behind Obama, it was strange to see four unknown Virginians (white, black, and Asian-American) nodding and clapping on cue behind McDonnell.” Another blogger harped: “Like tokens, he has four supporters strategically positioned behind him to fit in the television screen: an African American woman, a white male soldier, an Asian man, and a young woman.”

Actually, those people aren’t props. The white woman in the shot is Janet Polarek, secretary of the commonwealth. Above her is Jim Cheng, secretary of commerce and trade. The soldier is Staff Sargeant Robert Tenpenny, who served with the governor’s daughter Jeanine McDonnell in Iraq. Above him is Lisa Hick-Thomas, secretary of administration. That exquisitely diverse group, in other words, is mostly McDonnell’s cabinet. I think Bill Clinton called his Cabinet one that “looked like America.”

Well, it’s good of the Left to point out just how diverse are the people whom McDonnell has selected for key posts. And I suppose it’s some indication of just how well McDonnell did. Not only did he not have a Bobby Jindal moment but he also got all-around good reviews from mainstream pundits — and got the Left to embarrass itself. I guess the Republicans really did choose the right guy to respond.

The Left is freaking out. Gov. Bob McDonnell gave an impressive, error-free, and remarkably effective response to the SOTU. He might be the next “It” on the Republican side. That means it’s time to attack! Over at Daily Kos, they don’t like the diverse crowd that was seated behind McDonnell:

And the teabagging, bipartisan response in front of an all GOP audience is over. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell had a “black woman”, “asian guy”, and “military guy” behind him. The seating chart for this thing must have been six months in the making.

This was not the only Lefty who went after McDonnell’s crowd. Walter Shapiro wades in: “After 70 minutes of seeing Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi nodding and clapping on cue behind Obama, it was strange to see four unknown Virginians (white, black, and Asian-American) nodding and clapping on cue behind McDonnell.” Another blogger harped: “Like tokens, he has four supporters strategically positioned behind him to fit in the television screen: an African American woman, a white male soldier, an Asian man, and a young woman.”

Actually, those people aren’t props. The white woman in the shot is Janet Polarek, secretary of the commonwealth. Above her is Jim Cheng, secretary of commerce and trade. The soldier is Staff Sargeant Robert Tenpenny, who served with the governor’s daughter Jeanine McDonnell in Iraq. Above him is Lisa Hick-Thomas, secretary of administration. That exquisitely diverse group, in other words, is mostly McDonnell’s cabinet. I think Bill Clinton called his Cabinet one that “looked like America.”

Well, it’s good of the Left to point out just how diverse are the people whom McDonnell has selected for key posts. And I suppose it’s some indication of just how well McDonnell did. Not only did he not have a Bobby Jindal moment but he also got all-around good reviews from mainstream pundits — and got the Left to embarrass itself. I guess the Republicans really did choose the right guy to respond.

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What Would Bill Clinton Say?

Bill McGurn looks back on Bill Clinton’s presidency (as many of us have done of late) with some enhanced appreciation:

Yet for all his undeniable weaknesses, Mr. Clinton does seem to understand something that eludes Mr. Obama: In a center-right nation, a liberal doesn’t want to get too far ahead of the voters. At times (and HillaryCare was one) Mr. Clinton got himself too far out in front—but when he had, he’d generally been careful to respond by scurrying back to the center and appropriating his opponents’ most appealing messages.

As McGurn notes, Clinton showed some contrition in his State of the Union address following his party’s 1994 midterm election wipeout and began his migration to the center of the political spectrum. Alas, Obama is no Bill Clinton. McGurn observes that Obama, unlike Clinton, seems unaware of the country’s Center-Right orientation and so far evidences none of Clinton’s wily ability to adjust to new political circumstances. Moreover, Obama’s arrogance in the wake of defeat is increasingly off-putting:

His team argues, apparently oblivious to the inherent condescension, that no intelligent American could possibly oppose his health-care agenda on substance. It’s all just a big misunderstanding, says the White House. We just need to explain it better—like recasting a second stimulus as a “jobs bill,” selling health-care reform as “deficit reduction,” and throwing in a lot of speech references to the “middle class.”

It’s foreign territory for Obama, to be sure. He’s never experienced real political defeat or a personal rebuke of this magnitude. He’s lived a charmed political life by dint of his rhetoric and persona, neither of which is wearing well. He’s never much deviated from statist, liberal ideology and now seems frustrated that the voters don’t appreciate all that the Obama administration is trying to do for them. You can see why he’s testy, defensive, and mulling over whether one term might be enough.

He’s also increasingly isolated. The Left is fed up. After all, he’s delivered none of the items on their wish list — nationalized health care, repeal of don’t-ask-don’t tell, closing of Guantanamo, withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and cap-and-trade. His Supreme Court pick was neither wise nor has proved to be of any use in the essential task of luring Justice Kennedy to their side (at least not yet). While the Left might have nowhere to go in a presidential election, they may well stay home in 2010, adding to Democrats’ woes. (“The unrest among liberals comes at a perilous political time. Party strategists worry that anger on the left could depress turnout in this year’s midterm elections and cost the party congressional seats and state governorships. The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC survey found 55% of Republicans ‘very interested’ in the November elections, compared with 38% of Democrats.”)

The Right, of course, has him on the run and sees him as a less-than-competent, rigid ideologue. Meanwhile, Independents are running at breakneck speed away from the Democratic camp. Again, it’s hard to know where he should start in rebuilding a base of support.

As we have come to expect, Obama now seems inclined to offer more spin than substance. On tap is some fake populist rhetoric mixed in with a spending “freeze” on a sliver of the federal budget, which reportedly excludes “the military, veterans, homeland security and international affairs … [and] big entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.” He’ll claim he’s not giving up on ObamaCare and let Reid and Pelosi worry about the details later. (He always lets them worry about the details later, which is part of the problem, of course.) But the fundamental issues remain: unemployment is high, the economy is fragile, he’s worn out his welcome, he lacks any significant first-year legislative accomplishment, his approach to national security is proving to be a flop, and he’s revealed himself to be an ultra-leftist who lacks the common touch.

Still, he’s president for the next three years, and he might as well make something of it. Some humility, a robust defense of America’s role in the world, and some pro-growth initiatives (why not a moratorium on tax hikes?) would be a start. It would be Clinton-esque if he could pull it off.

Bill McGurn looks back on Bill Clinton’s presidency (as many of us have done of late) with some enhanced appreciation:

Yet for all his undeniable weaknesses, Mr. Clinton does seem to understand something that eludes Mr. Obama: In a center-right nation, a liberal doesn’t want to get too far ahead of the voters. At times (and HillaryCare was one) Mr. Clinton got himself too far out in front—but when he had, he’d generally been careful to respond by scurrying back to the center and appropriating his opponents’ most appealing messages.

As McGurn notes, Clinton showed some contrition in his State of the Union address following his party’s 1994 midterm election wipeout and began his migration to the center of the political spectrum. Alas, Obama is no Bill Clinton. McGurn observes that Obama, unlike Clinton, seems unaware of the country’s Center-Right orientation and so far evidences none of Clinton’s wily ability to adjust to new political circumstances. Moreover, Obama’s arrogance in the wake of defeat is increasingly off-putting:

His team argues, apparently oblivious to the inherent condescension, that no intelligent American could possibly oppose his health-care agenda on substance. It’s all just a big misunderstanding, says the White House. We just need to explain it better—like recasting a second stimulus as a “jobs bill,” selling health-care reform as “deficit reduction,” and throwing in a lot of speech references to the “middle class.”

It’s foreign territory for Obama, to be sure. He’s never experienced real political defeat or a personal rebuke of this magnitude. He’s lived a charmed political life by dint of his rhetoric and persona, neither of which is wearing well. He’s never much deviated from statist, liberal ideology and now seems frustrated that the voters don’t appreciate all that the Obama administration is trying to do for them. You can see why he’s testy, defensive, and mulling over whether one term might be enough.

He’s also increasingly isolated. The Left is fed up. After all, he’s delivered none of the items on their wish list — nationalized health care, repeal of don’t-ask-don’t tell, closing of Guantanamo, withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and cap-and-trade. His Supreme Court pick was neither wise nor has proved to be of any use in the essential task of luring Justice Kennedy to their side (at least not yet). While the Left might have nowhere to go in a presidential election, they may well stay home in 2010, adding to Democrats’ woes. (“The unrest among liberals comes at a perilous political time. Party strategists worry that anger on the left could depress turnout in this year’s midterm elections and cost the party congressional seats and state governorships. The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC survey found 55% of Republicans ‘very interested’ in the November elections, compared with 38% of Democrats.”)

The Right, of course, has him on the run and sees him as a less-than-competent, rigid ideologue. Meanwhile, Independents are running at breakneck speed away from the Democratic camp. Again, it’s hard to know where he should start in rebuilding a base of support.

As we have come to expect, Obama now seems inclined to offer more spin than substance. On tap is some fake populist rhetoric mixed in with a spending “freeze” on a sliver of the federal budget, which reportedly excludes “the military, veterans, homeland security and international affairs … [and] big entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.” He’ll claim he’s not giving up on ObamaCare and let Reid and Pelosi worry about the details later. (He always lets them worry about the details later, which is part of the problem, of course.) But the fundamental issues remain: unemployment is high, the economy is fragile, he’s worn out his welcome, he lacks any significant first-year legislative accomplishment, his approach to national security is proving to be a flop, and he’s revealed himself to be an ultra-leftist who lacks the common touch.

Still, he’s president for the next three years, and he might as well make something of it. Some humility, a robust defense of America’s role in the world, and some pro-growth initiatives (why not a moratorium on tax hikes?) would be a start. It would be Clinton-esque if he could pull it off.

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The Demise of Harry Reid

The latest atrocious polling news for the Democrats tells us:

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman continues to outpoll Nevada Sen. Harry Reid when matched up against potential Republican general election foes, according to a new Daily Kos/Research2000 poll (Jan. 18-20, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%). Goodman leads former state GOP chair Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, son of the famed UNLV basketball coach, while Reid trails both by an average of 10 points. Reid’s favorable rating is upside down (34% fav/55% unfav), as is President Obama’s (45% fav/50% unfav).

This is the second Democrat-phile polling outfit (Public Policy Polling was the first) to show both Reid cratering and Goodman as a potential, more viable alternative. The hints are being dropped, you see: dump Reid. At this point, it makes a lot of sense for the Democrats to try to push him out. The Left (infuriated that he “blew” health-care reform) would be pleased, the Democrats could cast him as the villain at the center of the corruption/backdoor dealing, and the seat could possibly be saved. Sure, it would set off another round of gloom-and-doom headlines, but that’s par for the course right now for the Democrats.

Come to think of it, the Democrats were probably not wise to have circled the wagons when Reid’s “light-skinned”/”Negro dialect” comments were revealed. They didn’t have to make him out to be a racist. All they could and should have said is the obvious: the Democrats can do better. But they were in knee-jerk defensive mode and failed to see their opening. Now they’ll have their hands full wrestling him off the stage. He’s a tenacious man and, unlike Dodd, may refuse to go quietly.

The Democrats will then have a choice: watch a bloody primary race against their own majority leader or lose the seat. That frankly could be said of many a Democratic Senate incumbent. It’s that kind of year.

The latest atrocious polling news for the Democrats tells us:

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman continues to outpoll Nevada Sen. Harry Reid when matched up against potential Republican general election foes, according to a new Daily Kos/Research2000 poll (Jan. 18-20, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%). Goodman leads former state GOP chair Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, son of the famed UNLV basketball coach, while Reid trails both by an average of 10 points. Reid’s favorable rating is upside down (34% fav/55% unfav), as is President Obama’s (45% fav/50% unfav).

This is the second Democrat-phile polling outfit (Public Policy Polling was the first) to show both Reid cratering and Goodman as a potential, more viable alternative. The hints are being dropped, you see: dump Reid. At this point, it makes a lot of sense for the Democrats to try to push him out. The Left (infuriated that he “blew” health-care reform) would be pleased, the Democrats could cast him as the villain at the center of the corruption/backdoor dealing, and the seat could possibly be saved. Sure, it would set off another round of gloom-and-doom headlines, but that’s par for the course right now for the Democrats.

Come to think of it, the Democrats were probably not wise to have circled the wagons when Reid’s “light-skinned”/”Negro dialect” comments were revealed. They didn’t have to make him out to be a racist. All they could and should have said is the obvious: the Democrats can do better. But they were in knee-jerk defensive mode and failed to see their opening. Now they’ll have their hands full wrestling him off the stage. He’s a tenacious man and, unlike Dodd, may refuse to go quietly.

The Democrats will then have a choice: watch a bloody primary race against their own majority leader or lose the seat. That frankly could be said of many a Democratic Senate incumbent. It’s that kind of year.

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Falling From Grace

In the aftermath of Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, panic has set in among the Democrats. Different factions are reacting in different ways. The Left is arguing that Obama was not liberal or aggressive enough. Moderates are saying Obama’s agenda was too liberal and ambitious. Some are saying it’s more imperative than ever to pass health-care legislation; others are saying that would be the worst thing to do in light of the results in the Bay State. But what they all agree on is that the Obama presidency and the Democratic Party are in a heap of trouble.

“The Republican victory in Massachusetts has sent a wave of fear through the halls of the Senate, with moderate and liberal Democrats second-guessing their party’s agenda,” Politico reports, “and worrying that they’ll be the next victims of voters’ anger… ‘Every state is now in play,’ said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).”

It is now worth asking whether, in the wake of three pulverizing electoral losses for the Democrats — the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the Senate race in Massachusetts — any president has done more damage to his party in a shorter period of time than has Barack Obama.

All this wreckage from the man we were told would be the next Lincoln and FDR, a “sort of God,” in the words of Newsweek‘s Evan Thomas. A year ago today the liberal Harold Meyerson wrote a column in the Washington Post titled “Words Made Flesh,” referring to the description of Jesus in the gospel according to John.

Other presidents, having driven themselves into a ditch, have recovered. Whether or not Obama does depends on things we do not know. What we do know, and what we can assess, is what has unfolded over the course of the past year. And it has been — for Mr. Obama and his administration, his agenda and party, and liberalism itself — brutal.

Falls from grace usually are.

In the aftermath of Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, panic has set in among the Democrats. Different factions are reacting in different ways. The Left is arguing that Obama was not liberal or aggressive enough. Moderates are saying Obama’s agenda was too liberal and ambitious. Some are saying it’s more imperative than ever to pass health-care legislation; others are saying that would be the worst thing to do in light of the results in the Bay State. But what they all agree on is that the Obama presidency and the Democratic Party are in a heap of trouble.

“The Republican victory in Massachusetts has sent a wave of fear through the halls of the Senate, with moderate and liberal Democrats second-guessing their party’s agenda,” Politico reports, “and worrying that they’ll be the next victims of voters’ anger… ‘Every state is now in play,’ said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).”

It is now worth asking whether, in the wake of three pulverizing electoral losses for the Democrats — the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the Senate race in Massachusetts — any president has done more damage to his party in a shorter period of time than has Barack Obama.

All this wreckage from the man we were told would be the next Lincoln and FDR, a “sort of God,” in the words of Newsweek‘s Evan Thomas. A year ago today the liberal Harold Meyerson wrote a column in the Washington Post titled “Words Made Flesh,” referring to the description of Jesus in the gospel according to John.

Other presidents, having driven themselves into a ditch, have recovered. Whether or not Obama does depends on things we do not know. What we do know, and what we can assess, is what has unfolded over the course of the past year. And it has been — for Mr. Obama and his administration, his agenda and party, and liberalism itself — brutal.

Falls from grace usually are.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Harry Reid’s poll numbers in Nevada look awfully bad. His hometown paper reports: “More than half of Nevadans are unhappy with Sen. Harry Reid, according to a new poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s the worst ‘unfavorable’ rating he’s received in the newspaper’s surveys for this year’s election, and it comes amid quiet speculation — or perhaps wishful thinking by his opponents — that it’s time for the Nevada Democrat to retire rather than lose re-election.” Isn’t he reaching Chris Dodd territory? (And that was before his “light skinned” comment about Obama.)

Wow: “The race to replace Ted Kennedy in the US Senate is looking like a toss up, with Republican Scott Brown up 48-47 on Martha Coakley. Brown is benefiting from depressed Democratic interest in the election and a huge lead among independents for his surprisingly strong standing. Those planning to vote in the special election only report having voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by a 16 point margin, in contrast to his actual 26 point victory in the state.”

Maybe voters don’t like being ignored. GOP senate candidate Scott Brown has raised a stink about the Democratic plan to jam through ObamaCare even if he wins: “‘This is a stunning admission by Paul Kirk and the Beacon Hill political machine,’ Brown said in a statement to the newspaper. ‘Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, (Gov.) Deval Patrick, and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts.'” Well, they don’t care that 60 percent of Americans oppose a government takeover of health care so why would they care what the people of Massachusetts think?

Coakley’s friends rush to the rescue: “With Democrat Martha Coakley in trouble in the Massachusetts special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, Democrats could lose vote No. 60 for President Obama’s health-care bill. In response, an army of lobbyists for drug companies, health insurance companies, and hospitals has teamed up to throw a high-dollar Capitol Hill fundraiser for Coakley next Tuesday night.”

Why unemployment is worse than it seems: “Had the labor force not decreased by 661,000 last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent. . . About 1.7 million Americans opted out of the workforce from July through December, representing a 1.1 percent drop that marks the biggest six-month decrease since 1961, the Labor Department report showed. The share of the population in the labor force last month fell to the lowest level in 24 years.” And when those workers come back to the workforce, expect the unemployment rate to jump again.

The Washington Post runs an advice column for forlorn Democrats: half say to head for the center, the other to go all in for the leftist agenda. Karl Rove seems to have it right: “It would be hard to come up with less popular causes than they’ve already embraced. So find something that might redirect voter anger, especially if Republicans cooperate by failing to offer a positive alternative. Good luck: You made the mess.”

Maybe it would help if Obama stopped doing this: “U.S. President Barack Obama, in his weekly radio address Saturday, said once he signs new health care legislation into law, Americans can expect dozens of benefits and protections to be quickly put in place.” First of all, Americans hate the plan. And second, in the senate version (which is likely to be closest to the final bill) all we get for the first few years is some tax hikes.

James Carafano: “The Left mustered every idiotic argument they could think of against reinforcing our efforts in Afghanistan. Hey, they argued “the Taliban are in Afghanistan, not al-Qaeda.” We now know al-Qaeda was behind the assassination bombing of the CIA agents in Afghanistan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are tied at the hip….you can’t destroy the latter without defeating the former. Its time to stop turning our back on the long war, and pull together as Americans, Left and Right, and as we did in WWII…win this thing.”

Harry Reid’s poll numbers in Nevada look awfully bad. His hometown paper reports: “More than half of Nevadans are unhappy with Sen. Harry Reid, according to a new poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s the worst ‘unfavorable’ rating he’s received in the newspaper’s surveys for this year’s election, and it comes amid quiet speculation — or perhaps wishful thinking by his opponents — that it’s time for the Nevada Democrat to retire rather than lose re-election.” Isn’t he reaching Chris Dodd territory? (And that was before his “light skinned” comment about Obama.)

Wow: “The race to replace Ted Kennedy in the US Senate is looking like a toss up, with Republican Scott Brown up 48-47 on Martha Coakley. Brown is benefiting from depressed Democratic interest in the election and a huge lead among independents for his surprisingly strong standing. Those planning to vote in the special election only report having voted for Barack Obama in 2008 by a 16 point margin, in contrast to his actual 26 point victory in the state.”

Maybe voters don’t like being ignored. GOP senate candidate Scott Brown has raised a stink about the Democratic plan to jam through ObamaCare even if he wins: “‘This is a stunning admission by Paul Kirk and the Beacon Hill political machine,’ Brown said in a statement to the newspaper. ‘Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, (Gov.) Deval Patrick, and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts.'” Well, they don’t care that 60 percent of Americans oppose a government takeover of health care so why would they care what the people of Massachusetts think?

Coakley’s friends rush to the rescue: “With Democrat Martha Coakley in trouble in the Massachusetts special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat, Democrats could lose vote No. 60 for President Obama’s health-care bill. In response, an army of lobbyists for drug companies, health insurance companies, and hospitals has teamed up to throw a high-dollar Capitol Hill fundraiser for Coakley next Tuesday night.”

Why unemployment is worse than it seems: “Had the labor force not decreased by 661,000 last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent. . . About 1.7 million Americans opted out of the workforce from July through December, representing a 1.1 percent drop that marks the biggest six-month decrease since 1961, the Labor Department report showed. The share of the population in the labor force last month fell to the lowest level in 24 years.” And when those workers come back to the workforce, expect the unemployment rate to jump again.

The Washington Post runs an advice column for forlorn Democrats: half say to head for the center, the other to go all in for the leftist agenda. Karl Rove seems to have it right: “It would be hard to come up with less popular causes than they’ve already embraced. So find something that might redirect voter anger, especially if Republicans cooperate by failing to offer a positive alternative. Good luck: You made the mess.”

Maybe it would help if Obama stopped doing this: “U.S. President Barack Obama, in his weekly radio address Saturday, said once he signs new health care legislation into law, Americans can expect dozens of benefits and protections to be quickly put in place.” First of all, Americans hate the plan. And second, in the senate version (which is likely to be closest to the final bill) all we get for the first few years is some tax hikes.

James Carafano: “The Left mustered every idiotic argument they could think of against reinforcing our efforts in Afghanistan. Hey, they argued “the Taliban are in Afghanistan, not al-Qaeda.” We now know al-Qaeda was behind the assassination bombing of the CIA agents in Afghanistan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda are tied at the hip….you can’t destroy the latter without defeating the former. Its time to stop turning our back on the long war, and pull together as Americans, Left and Right, and as we did in WWII…win this thing.”

Read Less

Not as Planned

Obama and the Left more generally expected the financial meltdown of 2008 and the resulting recession to undermine the public’s faith in the private sector. As they pushed the Great Depression narrative, they strived to make way for a new, New Deal, in which the public would be willing to accept (in what had heretofore been private-sector decision-making) a far greater degree of government intervention than had been attempted in decades. Government would be entrusted to seize car companies, regulate executive compensation, and direct lending practices. But the “cure” for what supposedly ailed the American economy would not be limited to economic matters or to financial regulation. Obama spoke of a “new foundation,” meaning that government would also seek to expand its reach into health care, as well as to regulate all industries’ carbon emissions. A larger government, higher taxes, and a shrunken realm of private decision making would ensue.

But the public remained stubbornly resistant to government power grabs. The increase in spending and massive accumulation of debt spooked them. The obvious inability of the government to “create or save” jobs and its scatterbrained rush to pass health-care reform (thus  taking over a sixth of the economy) did not endear to the public the prospect of a bigger, more powerful government. After less than a full year of Democratic control, the public’s faith in big government is on the decline.

It is not only Tea Party protestors and town-hall attendees who have recoiled against the overreach of the Obama agenda. It is the mass of ordinarily nonpartisan independents who have looked upon the corrupt Cash for Cloture deals and the government spend-a-thon with unease. They may not be enamored of big business, but neither are they excited by the prospect of big government, let alone a big government in league with big insurance companies.

Then along comes the Christmas Day bombing plot. The Obama team stumbles about like hapless bureaucrats. First denial that anything much was wrong and then the acknowledgment that yes, they had failed to do their jobs. The “solution” is a flurry of reports and reviews. And we expect to see a series of bureaucratic shuffling, some personnel departures, and some “reforms” that don’t amount to much at all other than vows to do what we thought the government was supposed to be doing since 9/11. Meanwhile, the public sees that the only real line of defense comes from private citizens. Their government is, in its most fundamental task, not to be trusted.

Obama’s new New Deal initiatives have not worked out as planned. Only a fraction of that ambitious agenda has been enacted. The public, including nonpartisan independents, has been jarred by the ambition of Obama’s designs. Large majorities are concerned about the prospect of tax hikes, a massive deficit, and an overactive government. Moreover, there is a growing sense, made worse by the bungling of the Christmas Day bombing, that rather than improve governance, the Obama administration has made things worse.

It is ironic in the extreme that Obama has been unable to dazzle the public with his effectiveness and, more generally, to impress Americans with the ability of the government to reorder society and improve their lives. It was, of course, the Democrats’ critique of the Bush administration’s competence — its handling of Katrina, the hapless Alberto Gonzales Justice Department, the Walter Reed scandal, the failure of financial oversight, and the mishandling of the pre-surge Iraq war – that formed the basis of their winning campaign rhetoric in 2006 and 2008. The Left assured us that sloth or distain for governance were at the root of the Bush administration’s failures but that its own candidates, graduated from the finest schools and enthusiastic proponents of government, would spare Americans from incompetence and corruption and would, moreover, rescue us from the excesses of the private sector. Washington was the place where “good ideas went to die,” Obama told us in the campaign. Puffed up with their own credentials and convinced that they were smarter than all who came before them, the members of Obama’s team assured us that this administration would be different. We were to get a cabinet of “geniuses.” Diplomacy was to be “smarter,” science would rule the day, and ideology was out. But alas it was not to be. The basic tasks of government — vetting, not scaring the populace (with a low Air Force One flyover), and rendering a timely decision on war strategy — seemed at times utterly beyond them.

It was perhaps unfortunate that Obama himself showed so little interest in the details of major domestic legislation. It became evident that, really, any health-care bill would do, so long as Obama got his signing ceremony. So we are on the verge of pasing a bill indefensible on the merits and which the public detests. And if Congress wanted to pass a junk-filled stimulus bill, that was alright with Obama as well. Now the public rightly regards it as a failure, a clumsily constructed waste of their tax dollars. We learned that the smart set really didn’t care about getting exquisitely crafted legislation passed; they simply wanted to demonstrate their own political muscle.

But the heart of the problem was not in a lack of competence or attention to detail but in arrogance — the hubris of believing that government bureaucracies could micromanage complex decisions and order the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans without severe adverse consequences. Never do Obama and his minions seem to recognize that centralizing and regulating millions and millions of intricate interactions is fraught with peril. They never do acknowledge that the track record of government in duplicating and supplanting free markets and individual decision-making is a poor one indeed. They certainly don’t seem to grasp the notion that expanding government and adding trillions to expenditures would merely multiply the opportunities for fraud, corruption, and waste.

So in the end the Obama team has not succeeded in persuading Americans that government should do more, spend more, and be trusted more. For decades, conservatives have made principled arguments as to the dangers of avaricious government, but experience is often the best teacher. After a year of governance by the Obama administration, the public has not learned to love big government but instead has relearned that it is wise to be wary of a growing and intrusive federal government. Had the Obama team been more competent and less ambitious, they might have, by small and irreversible steps, made the case for their ambitious agenda and inured the public to the steady expansion of the public sector. That didn’t happen, however, and the result is a new resurgence of anti-government populism and a fair amount of anger. Americans are reaching the conclusion that even when it comes to the most essential function of government, protecting them from foreign enemies, they are being ill-served. Perhaps if government did less, it would attend with greater focus to its most essential tasks.

The Bush administration never recovered the public’s confidence after Katrina. Americans had seen enough and thereafter tuned out. We will see if the Obama team can avoid that fate after its first year. It might help their cause if they tried to do less, focused more on the business of governing, and spent less time and effort attacking political enemies and recycling shopworn campaign rhetoric. They won’t likely again enjoy the level of goodwill and support that greeted them in the initial days of the administration, but they can perhaps recover a measure of the public’s respect by sober, modest, and competent governance.

Obama and the Left more generally expected the financial meltdown of 2008 and the resulting recession to undermine the public’s faith in the private sector. As they pushed the Great Depression narrative, they strived to make way for a new, New Deal, in which the public would be willing to accept (in what had heretofore been private-sector decision-making) a far greater degree of government intervention than had been attempted in decades. Government would be entrusted to seize car companies, regulate executive compensation, and direct lending practices. But the “cure” for what supposedly ailed the American economy would not be limited to economic matters or to financial regulation. Obama spoke of a “new foundation,” meaning that government would also seek to expand its reach into health care, as well as to regulate all industries’ carbon emissions. A larger government, higher taxes, and a shrunken realm of private decision making would ensue.

But the public remained stubbornly resistant to government power grabs. The increase in spending and massive accumulation of debt spooked them. The obvious inability of the government to “create or save” jobs and its scatterbrained rush to pass health-care reform (thus  taking over a sixth of the economy) did not endear to the public the prospect of a bigger, more powerful government. After less than a full year of Democratic control, the public’s faith in big government is on the decline.

It is not only Tea Party protestors and town-hall attendees who have recoiled against the overreach of the Obama agenda. It is the mass of ordinarily nonpartisan independents who have looked upon the corrupt Cash for Cloture deals and the government spend-a-thon with unease. They may not be enamored of big business, but neither are they excited by the prospect of big government, let alone a big government in league with big insurance companies.

Then along comes the Christmas Day bombing plot. The Obama team stumbles about like hapless bureaucrats. First denial that anything much was wrong and then the acknowledgment that yes, they had failed to do their jobs. The “solution” is a flurry of reports and reviews. And we expect to see a series of bureaucratic shuffling, some personnel departures, and some “reforms” that don’t amount to much at all other than vows to do what we thought the government was supposed to be doing since 9/11. Meanwhile, the public sees that the only real line of defense comes from private citizens. Their government is, in its most fundamental task, not to be trusted.

Obama’s new New Deal initiatives have not worked out as planned. Only a fraction of that ambitious agenda has been enacted. The public, including nonpartisan independents, has been jarred by the ambition of Obama’s designs. Large majorities are concerned about the prospect of tax hikes, a massive deficit, and an overactive government. Moreover, there is a growing sense, made worse by the bungling of the Christmas Day bombing, that rather than improve governance, the Obama administration has made things worse.

It is ironic in the extreme that Obama has been unable to dazzle the public with his effectiveness and, more generally, to impress Americans with the ability of the government to reorder society and improve their lives. It was, of course, the Democrats’ critique of the Bush administration’s competence — its handling of Katrina, the hapless Alberto Gonzales Justice Department, the Walter Reed scandal, the failure of financial oversight, and the mishandling of the pre-surge Iraq war – that formed the basis of their winning campaign rhetoric in 2006 and 2008. The Left assured us that sloth or distain for governance were at the root of the Bush administration’s failures but that its own candidates, graduated from the finest schools and enthusiastic proponents of government, would spare Americans from incompetence and corruption and would, moreover, rescue us from the excesses of the private sector. Washington was the place where “good ideas went to die,” Obama told us in the campaign. Puffed up with their own credentials and convinced that they were smarter than all who came before them, the members of Obama’s team assured us that this administration would be different. We were to get a cabinet of “geniuses.” Diplomacy was to be “smarter,” science would rule the day, and ideology was out. But alas it was not to be. The basic tasks of government — vetting, not scaring the populace (with a low Air Force One flyover), and rendering a timely decision on war strategy — seemed at times utterly beyond them.

It was perhaps unfortunate that Obama himself showed so little interest in the details of major domestic legislation. It became evident that, really, any health-care bill would do, so long as Obama got his signing ceremony. So we are on the verge of pasing a bill indefensible on the merits and which the public detests. And if Congress wanted to pass a junk-filled stimulus bill, that was alright with Obama as well. Now the public rightly regards it as a failure, a clumsily constructed waste of their tax dollars. We learned that the smart set really didn’t care about getting exquisitely crafted legislation passed; they simply wanted to demonstrate their own political muscle.

But the heart of the problem was not in a lack of competence or attention to detail but in arrogance — the hubris of believing that government bureaucracies could micromanage complex decisions and order the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans without severe adverse consequences. Never do Obama and his minions seem to recognize that centralizing and regulating millions and millions of intricate interactions is fraught with peril. They never do acknowledge that the track record of government in duplicating and supplanting free markets and individual decision-making is a poor one indeed. They certainly don’t seem to grasp the notion that expanding government and adding trillions to expenditures would merely multiply the opportunities for fraud, corruption, and waste.

So in the end the Obama team has not succeeded in persuading Americans that government should do more, spend more, and be trusted more. For decades, conservatives have made principled arguments as to the dangers of avaricious government, but experience is often the best teacher. After a year of governance by the Obama administration, the public has not learned to love big government but instead has relearned that it is wise to be wary of a growing and intrusive federal government. Had the Obama team been more competent and less ambitious, they might have, by small and irreversible steps, made the case for their ambitious agenda and inured the public to the steady expansion of the public sector. That didn’t happen, however, and the result is a new resurgence of anti-government populism and a fair amount of anger. Americans are reaching the conclusion that even when it comes to the most essential function of government, protecting them from foreign enemies, they are being ill-served. Perhaps if government did less, it would attend with greater focus to its most essential tasks.

The Bush administration never recovered the public’s confidence after Katrina. Americans had seen enough and thereafter tuned out. We will see if the Obama team can avoid that fate after its first year. It might help their cause if they tried to do less, focused more on the business of governing, and spent less time and effort attacking political enemies and recycling shopworn campaign rhetoric. They won’t likely again enjoy the level of goodwill and support that greeted them in the initial days of the administration, but they can perhaps recover a measure of the public’s respect by sober, modest, and competent governance.

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McCain on Obama’s “Serious Mistake” in the War on Terror

The Left has often pointed to Sen. John McCain as an exemplar of correct and moralistic thinking on the war on terror, especially when he was criticizing the Bush administration on enhanced interrogation methods. But oddly, they’ve chosen to ignore his position on Obama’s ill-conceived policies. Don’t expect to see this exchange touted in the left-wing blogosphere:

WALLACE: What do you think of the president’s plan — apparent plan to send up to 100 detainees from Guantanamo to a prison in rural Illinois?

MCCAIN: I think it’s a serious mistake, and I think that the way to dispose of the — of this issue is by having an overall policy.

Right now they’re going to — they’re going to try terrorists in New York City, thereby giving Khalid Sheik Mohammed what he wanted when he was captured. He said, “I want a trial in the United States and a lawyer.” I think they’re making a serious mistake.

WALLACE: What’s wrong with Thompson, Illinois?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I think that it’s anywhere in the United States. It’s not the fact that it’s Thompson, Illinois. It’s any …

WALLACE: No, but what’s wrong …

MCCAIN: … any place.

WALLACE: … with sending them there?

MCCAIN: I think that they should be either sentenced to have the kind of military commissions that we have outlined in law and may make — have to make additional changes to, and — because they are enemy combatants, and I don’t think they should be kept in prison in the United States. Read More

The Left has often pointed to Sen. John McCain as an exemplar of correct and moralistic thinking on the war on terror, especially when he was criticizing the Bush administration on enhanced interrogation methods. But oddly, they’ve chosen to ignore his position on Obama’s ill-conceived policies. Don’t expect to see this exchange touted in the left-wing blogosphere:

WALLACE: What do you think of the president’s plan — apparent plan to send up to 100 detainees from Guantanamo to a prison in rural Illinois?

MCCAIN: I think it’s a serious mistake, and I think that the way to dispose of the — of this issue is by having an overall policy.

Right now they’re going to — they’re going to try terrorists in New York City, thereby giving Khalid Sheik Mohammed what he wanted when he was captured. He said, “I want a trial in the United States and a lawyer.” I think they’re making a serious mistake.

WALLACE: What’s wrong with Thompson, Illinois?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I think that it’s anywhere in the United States. It’s not the fact that it’s Thompson, Illinois. It’s any …

WALLACE: No, but what’s wrong …

MCCAIN: … any place.

WALLACE: … with sending them there?

MCCAIN: I think that they should be either sentenced to have the kind of military commissions that we have outlined in law and may make — have to make additional changes to, and — because they are enemy combatants, and I don’t think they should be kept in prison in the United States.

Well, in point of fact, McCain has long argued for military commissions and never sided with the ACLU types who want full constitutional rights and civilian trials for terrorists, but this was largely ignored by the netroots looking only for comments that might support their views on the matter. In this regard, McCain is in perfect accord with former prosecutor Andy McCarthy (who vigorously disagreed with McCain on enhanced interrogation). As McCarthy pointed out recently, the arguments in favor of the detainee transfer are based on misunderstandings and misrepresentations as to the consequences of the move. He points to Sen. Dick Durbin’s unsupported contention that detainees moved to Illinois couldn’t be set free:

Nevertheless, Durbin is being disingenuous — doubly disingenuous, in fact. First, the principal fear is no longer that the Obama administration will try to free the terrorists and relocate them here. It is that the federal courts will order the release of the detainees. And second, the senator’s brave assurance that if “a detainee is found not guilty, he will not be released inside the United States” is a smokescreen. As he well knows, most of the Gitmo terrorists are not going to be found guilty or found not guilty — they’re not going to be tried at all. . .

So we have custody of extremely dangerous terrorists who cannot be tried and who will not be taken off our hands by any trustworthy country. Their detention is now being scrutinized by judges who are skeptical of the traditional military practice of indefinite detention without trial. Some of us have implored Congress to enact rules of procedure for terrorist-detention hearings that would stop judges from favoring the terrorists over the military. But Democrats like Senator Durbin have turned a deaf ear, preferring to watch the judges make up the rules as they go along.

It’s a measure of how extreme and ill-advised the Obami’s war-on-terror policies are that those who previously tangled over the Bush administration’s approach are now in full agreement. It might be illuminating to have Attorney General Eric Holder come before the Senate Armed Services Committee or the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to be grilled by McCain on the administration’s policies. Now that would be worth watching.

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The Left’s Uprising Against Obama

I received a note from a friend commenting on the Left’s uprising against President Obama (see here and here and here). He told me that he thinks “all this lefty fulmination against Obama is sound and fury signifying nothing.”

I have a different take.

Quite apart from whether the revolt among Obama’s liberal-Left base will help derail health-care legislation, the Left’s unhappiness with Obama is significant. Let’s start with the most obvious thing first: the spell he had cast over many of them has been broken, and it will never be reclaimed.

In addition, Obama’s presidency is already weaker than any other presidency has been at a comparable point into the mandate. To have this new fissure complicates Obama’s political life considerably. When independents are fleeing your party in overwhelming numbers, which is now happening to Obama and the Democrats, it is doubly important that your core supporters remain by your side. For Obama to alienate many of them this early into his presidency means that he’s heading toward politically treacherous territory. And Obama has alienated his liberal/Left base at precisely the same time that the rest of the country is convinced that Obama is pursuing a liberal and, in some respects, genuinely radical agenda.

This rupture will also dampen the enthusiasm of his base as we head toward mid-term elections. If Democrats go into the 2010 elections facing an energized opposition party, massive defections among independents, and a dispirited base, what may have been a very bad night for them could become a historically awful one. It’s certainly true that we have a long way to go until next November. But it’s also true that some trends are unmistakable, and they may prove to be irreversible.

Finally, Obama now has much less political maneuverability than he used to. Political advisers in the White House will be wary of doing anything to further upset the Left, meaning that an Obama move to the center – never a strong possibility to begin with – is less likely now. In fact, the president may take steps to re-connect with his base, which would further alienate the rest of the country.

The collateral damage Obama has sustained because of the health-care debate is astonishing. It has revealed him to be a hyper-partisan rather than a unifying figure. And because Obama’s claims have been so transparently untrue and because they have been repeated so often, he has done enormous harm to his credibility. We have also seen key Democrats openly challenge Obama and refuse to bend to his will and way. The message is out: Obama can be rolled. He evokes little fear, which means party indiscipline will soon follow.

The health-care debate may one day become a case study for a government class. I suspect most people will look back at it and say that few legislative efforts have been so substantively and procedurally flawed and so politically harmful.

Three days after assuming the presidency, when his approval ratings were sky-high and many of his supporters viewed Obama almost as if he were a demi-God, I wrote this:

But precisely because this appeal is largely aesthetic rather than substantive, because it is not grounded in things deep or permanent, its durability is limited. Reality will intrude… the things people are taken up with now [Obama’s style and charm] will not be determinative. And if things get worse rather than better, if Obama appears overmatched by events, then what are viewed as strengths now will be seen as weaknesses later. The day’s vanity will become the night’s remorse. Barack Obama is President of the United States, not a crown prince on a white horse. Fairy tales are fine; but fairy tales are childish things.

The Left has now learned that lesson the hard way.

I received a note from a friend commenting on the Left’s uprising against President Obama (see here and here and here). He told me that he thinks “all this lefty fulmination against Obama is sound and fury signifying nothing.”

I have a different take.

Quite apart from whether the revolt among Obama’s liberal-Left base will help derail health-care legislation, the Left’s unhappiness with Obama is significant. Let’s start with the most obvious thing first: the spell he had cast over many of them has been broken, and it will never be reclaimed.

In addition, Obama’s presidency is already weaker than any other presidency has been at a comparable point into the mandate. To have this new fissure complicates Obama’s political life considerably. When independents are fleeing your party in overwhelming numbers, which is now happening to Obama and the Democrats, it is doubly important that your core supporters remain by your side. For Obama to alienate many of them this early into his presidency means that he’s heading toward politically treacherous territory. And Obama has alienated his liberal/Left base at precisely the same time that the rest of the country is convinced that Obama is pursuing a liberal and, in some respects, genuinely radical agenda.

This rupture will also dampen the enthusiasm of his base as we head toward mid-term elections. If Democrats go into the 2010 elections facing an energized opposition party, massive defections among independents, and a dispirited base, what may have been a very bad night for them could become a historically awful one. It’s certainly true that we have a long way to go until next November. But it’s also true that some trends are unmistakable, and they may prove to be irreversible.

Finally, Obama now has much less political maneuverability than he used to. Political advisers in the White House will be wary of doing anything to further upset the Left, meaning that an Obama move to the center – never a strong possibility to begin with – is less likely now. In fact, the president may take steps to re-connect with his base, which would further alienate the rest of the country.

The collateral damage Obama has sustained because of the health-care debate is astonishing. It has revealed him to be a hyper-partisan rather than a unifying figure. And because Obama’s claims have been so transparently untrue and because they have been repeated so often, he has done enormous harm to his credibility. We have also seen key Democrats openly challenge Obama and refuse to bend to his will and way. The message is out: Obama can be rolled. He evokes little fear, which means party indiscipline will soon follow.

The health-care debate may one day become a case study for a government class. I suspect most people will look back at it and say that few legislative efforts have been so substantively and procedurally flawed and so politically harmful.

Three days after assuming the presidency, when his approval ratings were sky-high and many of his supporters viewed Obama almost as if he were a demi-God, I wrote this:

But precisely because this appeal is largely aesthetic rather than substantive, because it is not grounded in things deep or permanent, its durability is limited. Reality will intrude… the things people are taken up with now [Obama’s style and charm] will not be determinative. And if things get worse rather than better, if Obama appears overmatched by events, then what are viewed as strengths now will be seen as weaknesses later. The day’s vanity will become the night’s remorse. Barack Obama is President of the United States, not a crown prince on a white horse. Fairy tales are fine; but fairy tales are childish things.

The Left has now learned that lesson the hard way.

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After Inevitability Goes, What Then?

It seems that things are not exactly on track with the Obama health-care-gotta-get-it-done-before-Christmas express train. Politico notes:

With the clock ticking down on health care reform, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has until Saturday to strike a 60-vote compromise if Democrats hope to meet a Christmas Eve deadline — but the obstacles kept piling up Thursday.

Reid still had no legislative text and no cost analysis to release. One of the final moderate holdouts, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), rejected compromise language on abortion funding and said he’s doubtful a bill can pass by Christmas. Two powerful unions blasted the bill. House Democrats threatened to undo the Senate bill during a conference committee. And a Democratic war over the bill raged on the Internet and cable news.

The stampede mentality has been momentarily disrupted by the resistance of Ben Nelson. Time, of course, is the kryptonite of health-care reform, the one phenomenon that disrupts the hype and pressure on lawmakers to vote on something, anything, and do it right now. It forces lawmakers to reflect and to worry (Sixty percent of the voters in my state oppose this?), and it reveals that the only thing ReidCare has going for it is an illusion of urgency.

Sen. Robert Casey confirmed the degree to which Democrats are dependent on a Cinderella-like haste to get it done before the clock strikes. Otherwise, everyone might realize what’s in the bill and that the Democratic leaders have little more than artificially induced fear on their side (“We’ll lose if we do nothing!”), as well as their members’ longing to get home for the holidays. As Casey remarked, “If we are going to get a bill out of the Senate, which will be very close to getting a bill enacted, we have to do it in 2009. … Some might not think so, but what I would worry about is losing momentum.” Because all they have is momentum, and once it’s gone, so too might be an ill-conceived and hugely unpopular bill.

Part of the danger here for ObamaCare supporters is that once the inevitability is gone, the senators will start to examine what’s in the bill. Then they might start pulling on the loose thread, the increasingly obvious irritant to both the Right and Left: the individual mandate. Rich Lowry explains the mutual disdain for this provision:

The right hates the governmental fiat and thinks — given the regulations and taxes that add to the cost of insurance — the mandate’s a bad deal. As one wag said of the bill, “First, it transforms insurance into a product that few rational people would buy. Second, it forces them to buy it.” The left hates that the insurance companies get the proceeds.

The Left thinks it makes Obama the “tax collector for the insurance-industrial complex”; the Right thinks it shreds the Constitution. How long before someone on either side can resist the urge to pull on this string, thereby unraveling the deal? With the Daily Kos and Rich Lowry cheering them on, some senators might actually bring an amendment to take it out.

So as Reid loses inevitability, and gives the Left and the Right time to think about their newfound mutual interests, some clever lawmaker might force the Senate to consider a key question: why are we forcing people to buy something they don’t want from companies they don’t like?

It seems that things are not exactly on track with the Obama health-care-gotta-get-it-done-before-Christmas express train. Politico notes:

With the clock ticking down on health care reform, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has until Saturday to strike a 60-vote compromise if Democrats hope to meet a Christmas Eve deadline — but the obstacles kept piling up Thursday.

Reid still had no legislative text and no cost analysis to release. One of the final moderate holdouts, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), rejected compromise language on abortion funding and said he’s doubtful a bill can pass by Christmas. Two powerful unions blasted the bill. House Democrats threatened to undo the Senate bill during a conference committee. And a Democratic war over the bill raged on the Internet and cable news.

The stampede mentality has been momentarily disrupted by the resistance of Ben Nelson. Time, of course, is the kryptonite of health-care reform, the one phenomenon that disrupts the hype and pressure on lawmakers to vote on something, anything, and do it right now. It forces lawmakers to reflect and to worry (Sixty percent of the voters in my state oppose this?), and it reveals that the only thing ReidCare has going for it is an illusion of urgency.

Sen. Robert Casey confirmed the degree to which Democrats are dependent on a Cinderella-like haste to get it done before the clock strikes. Otherwise, everyone might realize what’s in the bill and that the Democratic leaders have little more than artificially induced fear on their side (“We’ll lose if we do nothing!”), as well as their members’ longing to get home for the holidays. As Casey remarked, “If we are going to get a bill out of the Senate, which will be very close to getting a bill enacted, we have to do it in 2009. … Some might not think so, but what I would worry about is losing momentum.” Because all they have is momentum, and once it’s gone, so too might be an ill-conceived and hugely unpopular bill.

Part of the danger here for ObamaCare supporters is that once the inevitability is gone, the senators will start to examine what’s in the bill. Then they might start pulling on the loose thread, the increasingly obvious irritant to both the Right and Left: the individual mandate. Rich Lowry explains the mutual disdain for this provision:

The right hates the governmental fiat and thinks — given the regulations and taxes that add to the cost of insurance — the mandate’s a bad deal. As one wag said of the bill, “First, it transforms insurance into a product that few rational people would buy. Second, it forces them to buy it.” The left hates that the insurance companies get the proceeds.

The Left thinks it makes Obama the “tax collector for the insurance-industrial complex”; the Right thinks it shreds the Constitution. How long before someone on either side can resist the urge to pull on this string, thereby unraveling the deal? With the Daily Kos and Rich Lowry cheering them on, some senators might actually bring an amendment to take it out.

So as Reid loses inevitability, and gives the Left and the Right time to think about their newfound mutual interests, some clever lawmaker might force the Senate to consider a key question: why are we forcing people to buy something they don’t want from companies they don’t like?

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Liberals in Revolt, Looking for Allies

The Left is having a meltdown. They might yet get nationalized health care, but they’re beside themselves with fury. As this report sums up:

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is mounting a campaign of sorts against the initiative in its current form. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has declared, “This is not health. This is not care. This is certainly not reform.” Liberal blogs such as Daily Kos are blasting the Senate bill, especially since it dropped a government-run “public option” and killed a plan to expand Medicare. Liberal House members are venting their fury at senators who are lukewarm on the revamp, especially Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman and Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson. Labor unions are protesting proposed taxes on high-value insurance policies.

On one hand, there’s reason to view all this with a great deal of skepticism. We haven’t seen, with the possible exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders, any indication that the Left will submarine the bill in the Senate. And virtually everyone suspects that whatever does get through the Senate will be jammed down the throats of House Democrats. They’ve shown no inclination to resist Nancy Pelosi on any significant vote.

However, there is reason for the White House and Democratic lawmakers to be very, very nervous. They need these angry liberals to support them, give money, and turn out to vote in 2010. The “angry Left” is useful to Democratic pols — so long as the Left’s anger is directed at others — and gets liberals to the polls for establishment Democrats. Should the liberal base stay home in a huff, the bleak 2010 picture will get bleaker.

What to do? Well, the White House and Democratic congressional leaders are convinced it will all work out in the end if the reviled health-care bill passes. Everyone — the Left included — will learn to love it, they keep telling themselves. Perhaps. But maybe there’s a strange convergence of interests. The Left wants to kill the bill. Conservatives want to kill the bill. Red State Democrats don’t really want to vote on the bill. What all these diverse groups need to do, then, is, well, kill the bill.

But then Democrats will need to look for someone to blame. (You don’t suppose they could blame George W. Bush? He’s come in so handy for so long, and on this one he almost surely wouldn’t mind.) Perhaps the Democrats should have held tight on the public option and let Sen. Joe Lieberman sink it. Come to think of it, that would have made a whole lot of people very happy. And it might have saved a lot of Democratic seats in 2010. Ah, well.

The Left is having a meltdown. They might yet get nationalized health care, but they’re beside themselves with fury. As this report sums up:

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is mounting a campaign of sorts against the initiative in its current form. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has declared, “This is not health. This is not care. This is certainly not reform.” Liberal blogs such as Daily Kos are blasting the Senate bill, especially since it dropped a government-run “public option” and killed a plan to expand Medicare. Liberal House members are venting their fury at senators who are lukewarm on the revamp, especially Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman and Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson. Labor unions are protesting proposed taxes on high-value insurance policies.

On one hand, there’s reason to view all this with a great deal of skepticism. We haven’t seen, with the possible exception of Sen. Bernie Sanders, any indication that the Left will submarine the bill in the Senate. And virtually everyone suspects that whatever does get through the Senate will be jammed down the throats of House Democrats. They’ve shown no inclination to resist Nancy Pelosi on any significant vote.

However, there is reason for the White House and Democratic lawmakers to be very, very nervous. They need these angry liberals to support them, give money, and turn out to vote in 2010. The “angry Left” is useful to Democratic pols — so long as the Left’s anger is directed at others — and gets liberals to the polls for establishment Democrats. Should the liberal base stay home in a huff, the bleak 2010 picture will get bleaker.

What to do? Well, the White House and Democratic congressional leaders are convinced it will all work out in the end if the reviled health-care bill passes. Everyone — the Left included — will learn to love it, they keep telling themselves. Perhaps. But maybe there’s a strange convergence of interests. The Left wants to kill the bill. Conservatives want to kill the bill. Red State Democrats don’t really want to vote on the bill. What all these diverse groups need to do, then, is, well, kill the bill.

But then Democrats will need to look for someone to blame. (You don’t suppose they could blame George W. Bush? He’s come in so handy for so long, and on this one he almost surely wouldn’t mind.) Perhaps the Democrats should have held tight on the public option and let Sen. Joe Lieberman sink it. Come to think of it, that would have made a whole lot of people very happy. And it might have saved a lot of Democratic seats in 2010. Ah, well.

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Suspending Reason

Kim Strassel notes that support for ObamaCare seems to be, well, slight. The polling is atrocious. The Left has gone bonkers over the loss of the public option. The bill’s particulars are essentially unknown. So why the furor to get it passed? Strassel suggests:

The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.

So why haven’t the vulnerable Democrats caught on, and why are they still supporting this? Well, the Red State Democrats may feel queasy, but they’re being cajoled and strong-armed on a daily basis. These are creatures of the party, and the party, with all its leaders, is pressing ahead, urging them to stick with their colleagues. And when the president calls you to the White House, it’s awfully hard to say no.

And then there’s the interpretation — or misinterpretation — of 1994. The White House has held up the collapse of HillaryCare and the Democratic wipeout in 1994 as evidence of what happens to an incumbent party that doesn’t do something, no matter how half-baked. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, as Jeffrey Anderson and Andy Wickersham point out. They note that those Democrats who suffered most at the polls in 1994 were not conservative Democrats but instead those typical mainstream Democrats who supported HillaryCare.

So Red State Democrats are caught in a bind. Their president and leaders are pushing hard for them to support ObamaCare. The voters are telling them that if they vote for this monstrosity, they will suffer at the polls. If they can withstand the pressure tactics and if they think hard about 1994 and 2010, they might reconsider being sent off to political slaughter. But Harry Reid promises to keep them there 24 hours a day, just the environment that makes rational decision-making nearly impossible.

Kim Strassel notes that support for ObamaCare seems to be, well, slight. The polling is atrocious. The Left has gone bonkers over the loss of the public option. The bill’s particulars are essentially unknown. So why the furor to get it passed? Strassel suggests:

The liberal wing of the party—the Barney Franks, the David Obeys—are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.

The entitlement crazes of the 1930s and 1960s also caused a backlash, but liberal Democrats know the programs of those periods survived. They are more than happy to sacrifice a few Blue Dogs, a Blanche Lincoln, a Michael Bennet, if they can expand government so that in the long run it benefits the party of government.

So why haven’t the vulnerable Democrats caught on, and why are they still supporting this? Well, the Red State Democrats may feel queasy, but they’re being cajoled and strong-armed on a daily basis. These are creatures of the party, and the party, with all its leaders, is pressing ahead, urging them to stick with their colleagues. And when the president calls you to the White House, it’s awfully hard to say no.

And then there’s the interpretation — or misinterpretation — of 1994. The White House has held up the collapse of HillaryCare and the Democratic wipeout in 1994 as evidence of what happens to an incumbent party that doesn’t do something, no matter how half-baked. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary, as Jeffrey Anderson and Andy Wickersham point out. They note that those Democrats who suffered most at the polls in 1994 were not conservative Democrats but instead those typical mainstream Democrats who supported HillaryCare.

So Red State Democrats are caught in a bind. Their president and leaders are pushing hard for them to support ObamaCare. The voters are telling them that if they vote for this monstrosity, they will suffer at the polls. If they can withstand the pressure tactics and if they think hard about 1994 and 2010, they might reconsider being sent off to political slaughter. But Harry Reid promises to keep them there 24 hours a day, just the environment that makes rational decision-making nearly impossible.

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But What About the Voters?

It seems as though the gap between liberal elites and American voters has never been so great. The Left’s two top-agenda items are climate control and health-care reform. The electorate has other ideas. On global warming, the latest poll from Rasmussen tells us:

Public skepticism about the officially promoted cause of global warming has reached an all-time high among Americans. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 50% of adults now believe that global warming is caused primarily by long-term planetary trends. Just 34% say climate change is due primarily to human activity, even as President Obama and other world leaders gather at a UN summit to limit the human activity they blame for global warming.

Americans are increasingly skeptical of the hype and even more so of the “cure” — massive taxes and regulation.

The plunge in support for health-care “reform” is now becoming another inconvenient truth for the Democrats. Whichever survey you look at, the conclusion is the same: the public doesn’t want this monstrosity. The solution to this unfortunate lack of public support? Rush it through so voters don’t get the chance they had in August to impress upon their elected leaders how angry they are. Sen. Mitch McConnell took to the floor today to explain:

They know Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, so they want to get it over with. Americans are already outraged at the fact that Democrat leaders took their eyes off the ball. Rushing the process on a partisan line makes the situation even worse. Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care. Instead, Democrat leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare. And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas — one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.

It takes a remarkable degree of hubris to insist on pushing a radical agenda without popular support. The Obami have resorted to bureaucratic fiat (e.g., the EPA carbon-emission edit) and the Senate is hiding the bill until it can be sprung and sped to a vote on Christmas Eve. Democrats seem to believe they operate in a world devoid of accountability. But we have elections to sort this out. In eleven months the 60 percent or so of voters who don’t want ObamaCare and the millions who want jobs, not energy taxes, can express their views. Democrats may not believe it now, but the voters always get the last say.

It seems as though the gap between liberal elites and American voters has never been so great. The Left’s two top-agenda items are climate control and health-care reform. The electorate has other ideas. On global warming, the latest poll from Rasmussen tells us:

Public skepticism about the officially promoted cause of global warming has reached an all-time high among Americans. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 50% of adults now believe that global warming is caused primarily by long-term planetary trends. Just 34% say climate change is due primarily to human activity, even as President Obama and other world leaders gather at a UN summit to limit the human activity they blame for global warming.

Americans are increasingly skeptical of the hype and even more so of the “cure” — massive taxes and regulation.

The plunge in support for health-care “reform” is now becoming another inconvenient truth for the Democrats. Whichever survey you look at, the conclusion is the same: the public doesn’t want this monstrosity. The solution to this unfortunate lack of public support? Rush it through so voters don’t get the chance they had in August to impress upon their elected leaders how angry they are. Sen. Mitch McConnell took to the floor today to explain:

They know Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, so they want to get it over with. Americans are already outraged at the fact that Democrat leaders took their eyes off the ball. Rushing the process on a partisan line makes the situation even worse. Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care. Instead, Democrat leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare. And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas — one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.

It takes a remarkable degree of hubris to insist on pushing a radical agenda without popular support. The Obami have resorted to bureaucratic fiat (e.g., the EPA carbon-emission edit) and the Senate is hiding the bill until it can be sprung and sped to a vote on Christmas Eve. Democrats seem to believe they operate in a world devoid of accountability. But we have elections to sort this out. In eleven months the 60 percent or so of voters who don’t want ObamaCare and the millions who want jobs, not energy taxes, can express their views. Democrats may not believe it now, but the voters always get the last say.

Read Less




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