Commentary Magazine


Topic: Tim Kaine

RE: Tim Kaine Struggles as Dems Face a Tsunami

Poor Tim Kaine. A day after he urges Democrats to stand by ObamaCare, this comes out:

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor repeal of the new national health care law, including 50% who Strongly Favor it. That’s up eight points from a week ago and the highest level of opposition measured since late May. … Only 33% say the health care plan will be good for the country, the lowest level measured since late July. Fifty-six percent (56%) disagree and believe the new law will be bad for the United States.

Meanwhile, Obama and his spinners are conducting events to tout their great accomplishment. You sometimes have to wonder which side they are rooting for.

Poor Tim Kaine. A day after he urges Democrats to stand by ObamaCare, this comes out:

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor repeal of the new national health care law, including 50% who Strongly Favor it. That’s up eight points from a week ago and the highest level of opposition measured since late May. … Only 33% say the health care plan will be good for the country, the lowest level measured since late July. Fifty-six percent (56%) disagree and believe the new law will be bad for the United States.

Meanwhile, Obama and his spinners are conducting events to tout their great accomplishment. You sometimes have to wonder which side they are rooting for.

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Tim Kaine Struggles as Dems Face Tsunami

At one time, Tim Kaine had a promising career. He was on Obama’s short list for VP and was mentioned as a possible Cabinet member. But instead, he was slotted as the head of the DNC and now watches as his party’s fortunes go down the drain. It’s hardly his fault; he’ll be no more responsible for the Democrats’ losses than Michael Steele will be for the GOP’s gains. But still, he makes a hapless spokesman for his party. And it is obvious that his task is to defend Obama, not to help his struggling congressional and Senate candidates.

On Candy Crowley’s State of the Union, he didn’t really have an explanation as to why so many Democrats are running against ObamaCare. The best he could muster was a plea to stop doing it:

KAINE: Well, Candy, I travel all over the country. I guess I’ve been in about 42 states, and most Democrats that I see on the trail are very proud of the accomplishment and they’re talking about it.

But you’re right, some, particularly House members in districts that, you know, can often get gerrymandered and become tough districts are distancing themselves from the health care bill. I don’t tell people how to run their races, but I’ve been on a ballot seven times and won seven races, and in my experience, you ought to be proud of what you’re doing and promote the accomplishments.

Now, obviously, folks who voted against health care, they’re going to talk about why. But I think for the Democratic Party, generally, this significant achievement for the uninsured, for people who have been abused by insurance company policies, for small businesses, for seniors, is something that we should be very proud of and we should be talking about.

I think he means that those in unsafe seats can’t win by defending their votes but that they should take one for the team. Then he struggled with this one:

CROWLEY: The Democrats have argued that because Republicans want to extend them for everyone, they are standing in the way of extending them for middle-class voters. Can’t you say the exact same thing about those 30-plus Democrats in the House and a handful of senators, all Democrats, who also think that even the wealthy should have their tax cuts stay in place? Aren’t they also standing in the way and holding middle-class taxes hostage?

KAINE: Well, it’s not standing in the way yet. We’re still in the debate and the dialogue place, and then we’re going to get to, eventually, having to vote. And I think that the comment that the speaker made in the clip that you showed is a good one, which is, if there’s uniform agreement — and there is — that we should extend tax cuts to middle-class folks and small businesses, then why do we need to wait until we fight out the other battle to go ahead and do what everybody agrees needs to be done?

CROWLEY: My point is that–

KAINE: I think uniform commitment by both Republicans and Democrats is important to act on, so we can give the middle class and small businesses tax relief.

CROWLEY: I guess my point is, you are slamming Republicans for holding the middle class hostage while they fight for the wealthy. Can’t the same be said for those Democrats who are now agreeing with Republicans on this extension?

KAINE: Well, they’re certainly expressing their preference. Now, I don’t think they’re expressing a preference to do exactly what the Republicans want to do. What the Republicans want to do is extend these tax cuts, make them permanent to the wealthy, and the CBO has estimated that would double the deficit projections going forward for the next couple of decades. This is from a Republican Party that’s been griping about deficits.

What I think the Democrats have been doing, that number that you mentioned, has been talking about some kind of a temporary extension for those at the top end. Obviously, this is going to be a hot debate in Congress between now and the end of the congressional session, but there isn’t any reason why if everyone agrees that tax cuts should go to middle class and small businesses, we can make that happen.

OK, she won that round. The Democrats’ class-warfare gambit doesn’t work, what with 38 Democratic House members and numerous Senate Democrats agreeing it’s dumb to raise taxes on anyone in a recession.

You see the problem. Kaine is Obama’s chosen chairman and owes his position and loyalty to the White House. But that’s not much help to Democratic candidates this year, who need to figure out how they can distance themselves from the president and his toxic agenda. As for Kaine, his mediocre tenure as Virginia governor looks positively brilliant in comparison with his current performance. Well, he’s just one of many Democrats to find their careers imperiled by Obama.

At one time, Tim Kaine had a promising career. He was on Obama’s short list for VP and was mentioned as a possible Cabinet member. But instead, he was slotted as the head of the DNC and now watches as his party’s fortunes go down the drain. It’s hardly his fault; he’ll be no more responsible for the Democrats’ losses than Michael Steele will be for the GOP’s gains. But still, he makes a hapless spokesman for his party. And it is obvious that his task is to defend Obama, not to help his struggling congressional and Senate candidates.

On Candy Crowley’s State of the Union, he didn’t really have an explanation as to why so many Democrats are running against ObamaCare. The best he could muster was a plea to stop doing it:

KAINE: Well, Candy, I travel all over the country. I guess I’ve been in about 42 states, and most Democrats that I see on the trail are very proud of the accomplishment and they’re talking about it.

But you’re right, some, particularly House members in districts that, you know, can often get gerrymandered and become tough districts are distancing themselves from the health care bill. I don’t tell people how to run their races, but I’ve been on a ballot seven times and won seven races, and in my experience, you ought to be proud of what you’re doing and promote the accomplishments.

Now, obviously, folks who voted against health care, they’re going to talk about why. But I think for the Democratic Party, generally, this significant achievement for the uninsured, for people who have been abused by insurance company policies, for small businesses, for seniors, is something that we should be very proud of and we should be talking about.

I think he means that those in unsafe seats can’t win by defending their votes but that they should take one for the team. Then he struggled with this one:

CROWLEY: The Democrats have argued that because Republicans want to extend them for everyone, they are standing in the way of extending them for middle-class voters. Can’t you say the exact same thing about those 30-plus Democrats in the House and a handful of senators, all Democrats, who also think that even the wealthy should have their tax cuts stay in place? Aren’t they also standing in the way and holding middle-class taxes hostage?

KAINE: Well, it’s not standing in the way yet. We’re still in the debate and the dialogue place, and then we’re going to get to, eventually, having to vote. And I think that the comment that the speaker made in the clip that you showed is a good one, which is, if there’s uniform agreement — and there is — that we should extend tax cuts to middle-class folks and small businesses, then why do we need to wait until we fight out the other battle to go ahead and do what everybody agrees needs to be done?

CROWLEY: My point is that–

KAINE: I think uniform commitment by both Republicans and Democrats is important to act on, so we can give the middle class and small businesses tax relief.

CROWLEY: I guess my point is, you are slamming Republicans for holding the middle class hostage while they fight for the wealthy. Can’t the same be said for those Democrats who are now agreeing with Republicans on this extension?

KAINE: Well, they’re certainly expressing their preference. Now, I don’t think they’re expressing a preference to do exactly what the Republicans want to do. What the Republicans want to do is extend these tax cuts, make them permanent to the wealthy, and the CBO has estimated that would double the deficit projections going forward for the next couple of decades. This is from a Republican Party that’s been griping about deficits.

What I think the Democrats have been doing, that number that you mentioned, has been talking about some kind of a temporary extension for those at the top end. Obviously, this is going to be a hot debate in Congress between now and the end of the congressional session, but there isn’t any reason why if everyone agrees that tax cuts should go to middle class and small businesses, we can make that happen.

OK, she won that round. The Democrats’ class-warfare gambit doesn’t work, what with 38 Democratic House members and numerous Senate Democrats agreeing it’s dumb to raise taxes on anyone in a recession.

You see the problem. Kaine is Obama’s chosen chairman and owes his position and loyalty to the White House. But that’s not much help to Democratic candidates this year, who need to figure out how they can distance themselves from the president and his toxic agenda. As for Kaine, his mediocre tenure as Virginia governor looks positively brilliant in comparison with his current performance. Well, he’s just one of many Democrats to find their careers imperiled by Obama.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Not working. Greg Sargent warns: “What if voters are simply not buying the central Dem message that a vote for the GOP is a vote to return to the Bush policies that ran the economy into the ground? What if the GOP has already achieved separation from the former president? The internals of the two national polls out this morning strongly suggest that this may be the case.”

Not-Obama is very popular. “Sixty-eight percent (68%) of U.S. voters prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes to a more active one that offers more services and higher taxes.”

Not even this would help: “Here’s the only way the Democratic Party can turn it around before Election Day: Spend the remaining $200 billion of the failed $800 billion ‘stimulus’ package to hire Superman to reverse the rotation of the Earth, so the Democrats can go back about two years and start anew with the historic mandate the electorate handed them in 2008.” After all, Obama says we’re turning the economy around, and Tim Kaine says it’s swell to run on the Obama agenda.

Not my fault, says Harry Reid. “It would take a real stretch to think I caused the problems with the economy.”

Not to be overlooked: “Republicans are within reach of gaining control of eight or more chambers in statehouses around the country this fall, according to interviews with Republicans, Democrats and independent political analysts. That would give Republicans the power to draw more Congressional districts in their favor, since the expected gains come just as many legislatures will play a major role in the once-a-decade process of redrawing the boundaries of those districts.”

Not sure why anyone would watch them.

Not surprising!? “It’s not surprising that Democrats would lose independent voters, or that Republicans would be wildly enthusiastic, when they control the government and push aggressive reforms during an economic calamity.”

Not working. Greg Sargent warns: “What if voters are simply not buying the central Dem message that a vote for the GOP is a vote to return to the Bush policies that ran the economy into the ground? What if the GOP has already achieved separation from the former president? The internals of the two national polls out this morning strongly suggest that this may be the case.”

Not-Obama is very popular. “Sixty-eight percent (68%) of U.S. voters prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes to a more active one that offers more services and higher taxes.”

Not even this would help: “Here’s the only way the Democratic Party can turn it around before Election Day: Spend the remaining $200 billion of the failed $800 billion ‘stimulus’ package to hire Superman to reverse the rotation of the Earth, so the Democrats can go back about two years and start anew with the historic mandate the electorate handed them in 2008.” After all, Obama says we’re turning the economy around, and Tim Kaine says it’s swell to run on the Obama agenda.

Not my fault, says Harry Reid. “It would take a real stretch to think I caused the problems with the economy.”

Not to be overlooked: “Republicans are within reach of gaining control of eight or more chambers in statehouses around the country this fall, according to interviews with Republicans, Democrats and independent political analysts. That would give Republicans the power to draw more Congressional districts in their favor, since the expected gains come just as many legislatures will play a major role in the once-a-decade process of redrawing the boundaries of those districts.”

Not sure why anyone would watch them.

Not surprising!? “It’s not surprising that Democrats would lose independent voters, or that Republicans would be wildly enthusiastic, when they control the government and push aggressive reforms during an economic calamity.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Sigh: “The heads of the Democratic and Republican parties on Sunday criticized controversial comments made by two Senate hopefuls in their own parties, but each stood behind their candidacies [Rand Paul and Richard Blumenthal].” Well, party chairmen are paid to defend the indefensible, I suppose. And really, does any ordinary voter care what Michael Steele and Tim Kaine say?

Aaargh! “‘I was offered a job, and I answered that,’ [Joe] Sestak said. ‘Anything that goes beyond that is for others to talk about.'” He was bribed by the White House to get out of the Senate primary race and isn’t going to talk about it? I think an ethics probe and a special prosecutor are in order. It is a crime, after all, to bribe a candidate.

What??! Marc Ambinder, who, as Mickey Kaus once put it, spins more furiously for Obama than a dreidel, has this to say about the alleged White House offer to Sestak: “In essence, if this White House ascribes to a higher ethical standard, then it might want to agree to some investigation even if it believes there is no legal merit.” Because after all, the administration’s own conclusion about its wrongdoing is basically conclusive, right?

Whoopee! (for Republicans): “Republican Charles Djou won a special congressional election in Hawaii Saturday night, giving the GOP a boost as it attempts to retake the U.S. House in the November elections. … Mr. Djou will become the first Republican to represent Hawaii in 20 years. Hawaii is a traditionally Democratic stronghold that is President Barack Obama’s native state.” Democrats say this doesn’t really matter because the votes were divided by two feuding Democratic candidates. Besides, only special elections that Democrats win are bellwethers.

Yikes! John Kerry is back in Syria sucking up to Bashar al-Assad. And this is no comfort: “Senator Kerry has emerged as one of the primary American interlocutors with the Syrian government.” Yes, that’s part of the problem.

Oooh: “Iran’s parliament speaker earlier Sunday repeated threats that Iran would abandon a nuclear fuel swap plan brokered by Brazil and Turkey if the United States imposes new sanctions on the Islamic state.” So don’t be passing any useless sanctions or the mullahs will reject the meaningless Brazil-Turkey deal. The only thing more absurd (and more dangerous) is Obama’s Iran policy. (Come to think of it, it’s not clear he has one.)

Ouch: “‘The oil is gushing and we’re being lied to by how much oil is gushing … and the administration has now named a commission,’ Cokie Roberts said derisively. ‘Now this is what you do when you really don’t have anything else to do: you name a commission,’ she said. ‘That’s not going to stop the oil.'” Donna Brazile had harsh criticism as well, and when Obama loses Donna Brazile, you know he’s hitting rock bottom.

Awww (subscription required): “The muted conservative response is in marked contrast to the unease among some liberal activists toward [the nomination of Elena] Kagan. Obama, they say, made a ‘safe choice’ that was more appropriate for a Senate with a 52-seat Democratic majority rather than the 59-seat advantage (counting independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont) that the party holds. These disappointed liberals say that Obama, once again, has turned his back on them.”

Thunk! Maureen Dowd writes a column on Richard Blumenthal that’s daft even for her: “‘I think that lies are like wishes,’ said Bella DePaulo, a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. … But chronic puffer-uppers can have impressive public service careers.” I don’t have a degree in psychology, but I think lies are like lies.

Sigh: “The heads of the Democratic and Republican parties on Sunday criticized controversial comments made by two Senate hopefuls in their own parties, but each stood behind their candidacies [Rand Paul and Richard Blumenthal].” Well, party chairmen are paid to defend the indefensible, I suppose. And really, does any ordinary voter care what Michael Steele and Tim Kaine say?

Aaargh! “‘I was offered a job, and I answered that,’ [Joe] Sestak said. ‘Anything that goes beyond that is for others to talk about.'” He was bribed by the White House to get out of the Senate primary race and isn’t going to talk about it? I think an ethics probe and a special prosecutor are in order. It is a crime, after all, to bribe a candidate.

What??! Marc Ambinder, who, as Mickey Kaus once put it, spins more furiously for Obama than a dreidel, has this to say about the alleged White House offer to Sestak: “In essence, if this White House ascribes to a higher ethical standard, then it might want to agree to some investigation even if it believes there is no legal merit.” Because after all, the administration’s own conclusion about its wrongdoing is basically conclusive, right?

Whoopee! (for Republicans): “Republican Charles Djou won a special congressional election in Hawaii Saturday night, giving the GOP a boost as it attempts to retake the U.S. House in the November elections. … Mr. Djou will become the first Republican to represent Hawaii in 20 years. Hawaii is a traditionally Democratic stronghold that is President Barack Obama’s native state.” Democrats say this doesn’t really matter because the votes were divided by two feuding Democratic candidates. Besides, only special elections that Democrats win are bellwethers.

Yikes! John Kerry is back in Syria sucking up to Bashar al-Assad. And this is no comfort: “Senator Kerry has emerged as one of the primary American interlocutors with the Syrian government.” Yes, that’s part of the problem.

Oooh: “Iran’s parliament speaker earlier Sunday repeated threats that Iran would abandon a nuclear fuel swap plan brokered by Brazil and Turkey if the United States imposes new sanctions on the Islamic state.” So don’t be passing any useless sanctions or the mullahs will reject the meaningless Brazil-Turkey deal. The only thing more absurd (and more dangerous) is Obama’s Iran policy. (Come to think of it, it’s not clear he has one.)

Ouch: “‘The oil is gushing and we’re being lied to by how much oil is gushing … and the administration has now named a commission,’ Cokie Roberts said derisively. ‘Now this is what you do when you really don’t have anything else to do: you name a commission,’ she said. ‘That’s not going to stop the oil.'” Donna Brazile had harsh criticism as well, and when Obama loses Donna Brazile, you know he’s hitting rock bottom.

Awww (subscription required): “The muted conservative response is in marked contrast to the unease among some liberal activists toward [the nomination of Elena] Kagan. Obama, they say, made a ‘safe choice’ that was more appropriate for a Senate with a 52-seat Democratic majority rather than the 59-seat advantage (counting independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont) that the party holds. These disappointed liberals say that Obama, once again, has turned his back on them.”

Thunk! Maureen Dowd writes a column on Richard Blumenthal that’s daft even for her: “‘I think that lies are like wishes,’ said Bella DePaulo, a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. … But chronic puffer-uppers can have impressive public service careers.” I don’t have a degree in psychology, but I think lies are like lies.

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Lying with Statistics Again

Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was on Fox News Sunday this morning, along with his Republican counterpart Michael Steele. Both men, of course, are in the job of boosting their parties, not giving non-tendentious analysis of the current political situation or honest predictions regarding the upcoming election. They’re in the rosy scenario business.

But Governor Kaine came up with a doozy of an example of lying with statistics. He said (as best I remember it, the transcript is not yet on-line): “Within the next few months the Obama administration will have created more jobs in 2010 than were created during the entire Bush presidency.” Let’s leave aside the fact that it’s the American economy that creates jobs, not administrations. The idea that a president is 100 percent responsible for the American economy is so stupid that only a member of the Washington press corps could believe it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been so far in 2010 a net creation of 573,000 jobs. In the Bush years there was a net creation of 1,086,000 jobs. So if there is an average of at least 65,000 net new jobs created per month through December, Governor Kaine’s prediction will be “true” in a strictly mathematical sense.

But there’s a reason Benjamin Disraeli divided mendacity into three categories: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Tim Kaine chooses his base lines dishonestly. Yes, there has been a net of 573,000 jobs created so far in 2010. But in the last 11 months of 2009 — while Obama was president, in other words — there were 3,961,000 jobs lost. So Obama is still in the hole to the tune of 3,388,000 jobs lost on his watch. In other words, Kaine starts the job clock running for Obama only after he had been president for more than 11 months, but George Bush’s job clock started the day he took the oath of office.

Of course, the Obama administration has been blaming George Bush for everything bad that happens on Obama’s watch. But if Obama is not responsible for the job losses in his first 11 months, then, surely, the job losses in the first 11 months of the Bush administration must be Bill Clinton’s fault. Those losses amounted to 1,746,000 jobs.  That would make Bush’s net job creation 2,832,000, still far above what is likely to be achieved in 2010.

It is fortunate for Democrats, who don’t mind bamboozling easily bamboozled Washington reporters (at least when numbers are concerned) with phony statistics, that the Bush administration started just as the recession of 2000-2001 was beginning and ended just as the recession of 2007 was kicking in big time. This allows them to bury the impressive job growth of the mid-Bush years (87,000 in 2003, 2,047,000 in 2004, 2,496,000 in 2005, 2,060,000 in 2006, 1,084,000 in 2007) beneath the job losses of the beginning and end of his term. To have two serious recessions during his presidency and still have a net job growth of over a million is, in fact, rather impressive.

What could have caused it? Well, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart on monthly unemployment shows, the unemployment rate in the Bush years began to decline in mid-2003 and continued to ratchet steadily downward for four years, until the housing bubble began to collapse. What happened in mid-2003 was that the Bush tax cuts kicked in.

That, of course, could be coincidence — not causation. But I doubt it.

Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was on Fox News Sunday this morning, along with his Republican counterpart Michael Steele. Both men, of course, are in the job of boosting their parties, not giving non-tendentious analysis of the current political situation or honest predictions regarding the upcoming election. They’re in the rosy scenario business.

But Governor Kaine came up with a doozy of an example of lying with statistics. He said (as best I remember it, the transcript is not yet on-line): “Within the next few months the Obama administration will have created more jobs in 2010 than were created during the entire Bush presidency.” Let’s leave aside the fact that it’s the American economy that creates jobs, not administrations. The idea that a president is 100 percent responsible for the American economy is so stupid that only a member of the Washington press corps could believe it.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been so far in 2010 a net creation of 573,000 jobs. In the Bush years there was a net creation of 1,086,000 jobs. So if there is an average of at least 65,000 net new jobs created per month through December, Governor Kaine’s prediction will be “true” in a strictly mathematical sense.

But there’s a reason Benjamin Disraeli divided mendacity into three categories: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Tim Kaine chooses his base lines dishonestly. Yes, there has been a net of 573,000 jobs created so far in 2010. But in the last 11 months of 2009 — while Obama was president, in other words — there were 3,961,000 jobs lost. So Obama is still in the hole to the tune of 3,388,000 jobs lost on his watch. In other words, Kaine starts the job clock running for Obama only after he had been president for more than 11 months, but George Bush’s job clock started the day he took the oath of office.

Of course, the Obama administration has been blaming George Bush for everything bad that happens on Obama’s watch. But if Obama is not responsible for the job losses in his first 11 months, then, surely, the job losses in the first 11 months of the Bush administration must be Bill Clinton’s fault. Those losses amounted to 1,746,000 jobs.  That would make Bush’s net job creation 2,832,000, still far above what is likely to be achieved in 2010.

It is fortunate for Democrats, who don’t mind bamboozling easily bamboozled Washington reporters (at least when numbers are concerned) with phony statistics, that the Bush administration started just as the recession of 2000-2001 was beginning and ended just as the recession of 2007 was kicking in big time. This allows them to bury the impressive job growth of the mid-Bush years (87,000 in 2003, 2,047,000 in 2004, 2,496,000 in 2005, 2,060,000 in 2006, 1,084,000 in 2007) beneath the job losses of the beginning and end of his term. To have two serious recessions during his presidency and still have a net job growth of over a million is, in fact, rather impressive.

What could have caused it? Well, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart on monthly unemployment shows, the unemployment rate in the Bush years began to decline in mid-2003 and continued to ratchet steadily downward for four years, until the housing bubble began to collapse. What happened in mid-2003 was that the Bush tax cuts kicked in.

That, of course, could be coincidence — not causation. But I doubt it.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The ObamaCare votes don’t seem to be there. Could those “votes” have figured out that they are the sacrificial lambs in the Obami’s game plan?

Well, as Steny Hoyer says, “At this point in time we don’t have a bill. … It’s a little difficult to count votes if you don’t have a bill.”

Republicans can’t quite believe their good fortune. “First, it has allowed what is a relatively fractious group of Republicans Senators to appear entirely united — a sharp contrast to the divisions that have played out publicly between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic party. Second, Republicans argue, the health care focus is the main reason for the abandonment of Democratic candidates by independent voters in gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey as well as in Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) special election victory in January.”

You need a lineup card: Rangel is out, Stark is out: “Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) will be the acting chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced to her caucus on Thursday. … [Rep. Pete] Stark was the next in line for the post in terms of seniority, but some panel members recoiled at the idea of his leading the committee. Stark is known for making controversial and eccentric remarks, and in 2007 he apologized on the House floor for comments about President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.”

Phil Klein proves once again that all wisdom is contained in the Bible and The Godfather (I and II, definitely not III). It’s the Frankie Pentangeli moment — get the brother. “Obama has just awarded a judicial appointment to the brother of Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, who voted against the health care bill in November but who is now undecided.”

DNC chairman Tim Kaine says that something other than merit may be at work here. After all, “Life is life.” I imagine Republicans are collecting these pearls for their ad campaigns.

Speaking of criminal intrigue: did the White House violate federal statutes by dangling federal jobs in front of Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff to try to get them out of Senate primaries? “The real question, of course, is whether Eric Holder, who was so quick to reopen an investigation into CIA employees dedicated to trying to protect this country, will open an investigation into his political patrons in the White House who, in their dedication to furthering political objectives, may have violated several federal criminal laws.” I’m not holding my breath either.

I think there’s something to Megan McArdle’s theory of the Democrats’ scandal-a-thon: “The more members you have, the more members you have who can do something disastrous to your party’s public image. … Any party is going to have a given percentage of people in it doing fairly appalling things. If you up the numbers, and the transparency, you get about what we’re seeing now. And no doubt will see again, once the Republicans are back in power. ” Which will be fairly soon, many predict.

Andrew Roberts (a COMMENTARY contributor) goes after his own Israel-bashing Financial Times on its coverage of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s assassination: “All that the Dubai operation will do is remind the world that the security services of states at war — and Israel’s struggle with Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah certainly constitutes that — occasionally employ targeted assassination as one of the weapons in their armoury, and that this in no way weakens their legitimacy. … The intelligence agents of states — sometimes operating with direct authority, sometimes not — have carried out many assassinations and assassination attempts in peacetime without the legitimacy of those states being called into question, or their being described as ‘rogue.’ … No, that insult is reserved for only one country: Israel.”

The ObamaCare votes don’t seem to be there. Could those “votes” have figured out that they are the sacrificial lambs in the Obami’s game plan?

Well, as Steny Hoyer says, “At this point in time we don’t have a bill. … It’s a little difficult to count votes if you don’t have a bill.”

Republicans can’t quite believe their good fortune. “First, it has allowed what is a relatively fractious group of Republicans Senators to appear entirely united — a sharp contrast to the divisions that have played out publicly between the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic party. Second, Republicans argue, the health care focus is the main reason for the abandonment of Democratic candidates by independent voters in gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey as well as in Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) special election victory in January.”

You need a lineup card: Rangel is out, Stark is out: “Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) will be the acting chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced to her caucus on Thursday. … [Rep. Pete] Stark was the next in line for the post in terms of seniority, but some panel members recoiled at the idea of his leading the committee. Stark is known for making controversial and eccentric remarks, and in 2007 he apologized on the House floor for comments about President George W. Bush and the Iraq War.”

Phil Klein proves once again that all wisdom is contained in the Bible and The Godfather (I and II, definitely not III). It’s the Frankie Pentangeli moment — get the brother. “Obama has just awarded a judicial appointment to the brother of Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, who voted against the health care bill in November but who is now undecided.”

DNC chairman Tim Kaine says that something other than merit may be at work here. After all, “Life is life.” I imagine Republicans are collecting these pearls for their ad campaigns.

Speaking of criminal intrigue: did the White House violate federal statutes by dangling federal jobs in front of Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff to try to get them out of Senate primaries? “The real question, of course, is whether Eric Holder, who was so quick to reopen an investigation into CIA employees dedicated to trying to protect this country, will open an investigation into his political patrons in the White House who, in their dedication to furthering political objectives, may have violated several federal criminal laws.” I’m not holding my breath either.

I think there’s something to Megan McArdle’s theory of the Democrats’ scandal-a-thon: “The more members you have, the more members you have who can do something disastrous to your party’s public image. … Any party is going to have a given percentage of people in it doing fairly appalling things. If you up the numbers, and the transparency, you get about what we’re seeing now. And no doubt will see again, once the Republicans are back in power. ” Which will be fairly soon, many predict.

Andrew Roberts (a COMMENTARY contributor) goes after his own Israel-bashing Financial Times on its coverage of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s assassination: “All that the Dubai operation will do is remind the world that the security services of states at war — and Israel’s struggle with Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah certainly constitutes that — occasionally employ targeted assassination as one of the weapons in their armoury, and that this in no way weakens their legitimacy. … The intelligence agents of states — sometimes operating with direct authority, sometimes not — have carried out many assassinations and assassination attempts in peacetime without the legitimacy of those states being called into question, or their being described as ‘rogue.’ … No, that insult is reserved for only one country: Israel.”

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You Have to Perform

After the election you have to govern. That is an opportunity for some and the undoing of others. Recall Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. He won the governorship of a key swing state, was on the short list for Obama’s VP, accomplished virtually nothing as governor, presided as head of the DNC over a disastrous run of high-profile Democratic losses, and is now everyone’s favorite whipping boy. What ever happened to Tim Kaine? Well, he couldn’t do his job well. So he ends, at least for now, a promising political career.

Last year, Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell won high-profile gubernatorial races. McDonnell is sticking to his no-tax pledge and has unveiled an impressive charter-school program. He’s setting out to do precisely what he said he would, including selling off state-owned liquor stores. He seems serious about governance. If he is, he’ll avoid his predecessor’s fate.

Then there is Chris Christie. He’s also doing what he promised. He appointed a school-choice advocate to the howls of the teachers’ union. And he has announced a real spending freeze:

Announcing the freeze on $1.6 billion of unspent money, Mr. Christie was blunt: “Today, we come to terms with the fact that we cannot spend money on everything we want. Today, the days of Alice in Wonderland budgeting in Trenton end.”

That seems like a better idea than hiking taxes, if the aim here is to fix the gaping hole in the state budget. The liberal tax-and-spend policies of his predecessors have been stark and debilitating for his state:

From 2004-2008, author John Havens found “a large decline in the number of wealthy households entering New Jersey” as well as “a moderate increase in the outflow of wealthy households leaving.” The result: a net decline of $70 billion in household wealth while the “expected giving” became a net outflow of $1.132 billion.

So what happened in 2004? The study doesn’t purport to explain what caused the wealth movements. But the state’s most notable economic policy event that year was an increase in its top income tax rate to 8.97% from 6.37%, on incomes starting at $500,000. That’s a 40% increase.

Christie also seems to be in the “sober about governance” category. The lesson here for politicians of both parties is quite simple: you have to deliver. If McDonnell and Christie make good on their promises and continue their early focus on smart reform, fiscal sobriety, and conservative economic policy, they will become the models for the next generation of conservative governors and presidential hopefuls.

And, yes, that brings us back to Obama. At this point he seems headed for Tim Kaine-like flash-in-the-pan status. All that anticipation and so little ability. So much hype was followed by virtually no interest in doing the job to which he was elected. Challengers have the luxury of convincing voters to take a leap of faith; incumbents must defend what they have done. And if they don’t deliver, no amount of hype and no blame-shifting is going to rescue them. That is why, I suspect, Obama now thinks out loud about a single term. It could not have escaped his notice that he is not remotely pulling a ” B+” in the presidency.

After the election you have to govern. That is an opportunity for some and the undoing of others. Recall Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. He won the governorship of a key swing state, was on the short list for Obama’s VP, accomplished virtually nothing as governor, presided as head of the DNC over a disastrous run of high-profile Democratic losses, and is now everyone’s favorite whipping boy. What ever happened to Tim Kaine? Well, he couldn’t do his job well. So he ends, at least for now, a promising political career.

Last year, Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell won high-profile gubernatorial races. McDonnell is sticking to his no-tax pledge and has unveiled an impressive charter-school program. He’s setting out to do precisely what he said he would, including selling off state-owned liquor stores. He seems serious about governance. If he is, he’ll avoid his predecessor’s fate.

Then there is Chris Christie. He’s also doing what he promised. He appointed a school-choice advocate to the howls of the teachers’ union. And he has announced a real spending freeze:

Announcing the freeze on $1.6 billion of unspent money, Mr. Christie was blunt: “Today, we come to terms with the fact that we cannot spend money on everything we want. Today, the days of Alice in Wonderland budgeting in Trenton end.”

That seems like a better idea than hiking taxes, if the aim here is to fix the gaping hole in the state budget. The liberal tax-and-spend policies of his predecessors have been stark and debilitating for his state:

From 2004-2008, author John Havens found “a large decline in the number of wealthy households entering New Jersey” as well as “a moderate increase in the outflow of wealthy households leaving.” The result: a net decline of $70 billion in household wealth while the “expected giving” became a net outflow of $1.132 billion.

So what happened in 2004? The study doesn’t purport to explain what caused the wealth movements. But the state’s most notable economic policy event that year was an increase in its top income tax rate to 8.97% from 6.37%, on incomes starting at $500,000. That’s a 40% increase.

Christie also seems to be in the “sober about governance” category. The lesson here for politicians of both parties is quite simple: you have to deliver. If McDonnell and Christie make good on their promises and continue their early focus on smart reform, fiscal sobriety, and conservative economic policy, they will become the models for the next generation of conservative governors and presidential hopefuls.

And, yes, that brings us back to Obama. At this point he seems headed for Tim Kaine-like flash-in-the-pan status. All that anticipation and so little ability. So much hype was followed by virtually no interest in doing the job to which he was elected. Challengers have the luxury of convincing voters to take a leap of faith; incumbents must defend what they have done. And if they don’t deliver, no amount of hype and no blame-shifting is going to rescue them. That is why, I suspect, Obama now thinks out loud about a single term. It could not have escaped his notice that he is not remotely pulling a ” B+” in the presidency.

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Re: If the Czar Only Knew

Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder vividly writes:

Indeed, even before Bob McDonnell’s resounding victory, the canary had been dead on the floor for months. In Virginia’s most Democratic-friendly regions, the Democrats had been narrowly winning — or outright losing — special elections that should have been taken easily.

He reminds us of the Democratic losses in New Jersey and Virginia, continuing:

After both these debacles, people at the DNC and the White House insisted these were local results with no deeper meaning. Then came Massachusetts. When Scott Brown promised voters he would be the 41st vote in the U.S. Senate to halt the Obama agenda, generally, and the health care plan, in particular, his rise in the polls was meteoric. It’s not rocket science where the American public wants the president to concentrate his energies. In all the above elections I cited, voters were practically screaming one word with four simple letters: Jobs.

His solution: fire DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and a bunch of Obama’s West Wing advisers. He warns: “Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.”

But so far, there is little indication Obama has learned anything from the string of losses. Yes, he’s holding a health-care summit with Republicans, but only to resell for the umpteenth time the same noxious, publically rejected ObamaCare plan. He’s telling everyone he isn’t “starting over” on health-care reform. His national-security team is berating Republicans for daring to criticize the Obama anti-terrorism approach. The Obama budget is an embarrassment to fiscally sober Democrats and Republicans alike. And not a single key adviser has gotten the axe.

You see, so long as the president remains perfectly content with his harmonious team of advisers, nothing much will change. It is all just as Obama would like it. Well, except for his crater poll numbers, the absence of a single legislative achievement, broad-based opposition to his ultra-liberal domestic agenda, a string of foreign-policy debacles, and the risk he will lose one or both houses of Congress.

Former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder vividly writes:

Indeed, even before Bob McDonnell’s resounding victory, the canary had been dead on the floor for months. In Virginia’s most Democratic-friendly regions, the Democrats had been narrowly winning — or outright losing — special elections that should have been taken easily.

He reminds us of the Democratic losses in New Jersey and Virginia, continuing:

After both these debacles, people at the DNC and the White House insisted these were local results with no deeper meaning. Then came Massachusetts. When Scott Brown promised voters he would be the 41st vote in the U.S. Senate to halt the Obama agenda, generally, and the health care plan, in particular, his rise in the polls was meteoric. It’s not rocket science where the American public wants the president to concentrate his energies. In all the above elections I cited, voters were practically screaming one word with four simple letters: Jobs.

His solution: fire DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and a bunch of Obama’s West Wing advisers. He warns: “Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.”

But so far, there is little indication Obama has learned anything from the string of losses. Yes, he’s holding a health-care summit with Republicans, but only to resell for the umpteenth time the same noxious, publically rejected ObamaCare plan. He’s telling everyone he isn’t “starting over” on health-care reform. His national-security team is berating Republicans for daring to criticize the Obama anti-terrorism approach. The Obama budget is an embarrassment to fiscally sober Democrats and Republicans alike. And not a single key adviser has gotten the axe.

You see, so long as the president remains perfectly content with his harmonious team of advisers, nothing much will change. It is all just as Obama would like it. Well, except for his crater poll numbers, the absence of a single legislative achievement, broad-based opposition to his ultra-liberal domestic agenda, a string of foreign-policy debacles, and the risk he will lose one or both houses of Congress.

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McDonnell’s Model: Save the Flash

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Virginia governor-elect Bob McDonnell demonstrates the qualities that got him elected — an unflappable ability to stay on message, an attention to nitty-gritty details (on the budget, on school reform, etc.), a willingness to engage in meaningful bipartisan policy making (on charter schools), and an entirely conservative message. On the economy:

“Virginia’s unemployment rate, 6.6%, is lower than the 10% national average, but it is up sharply from its low of below 3% in 2007. In the worst economy in 80 years,” says Mr. McDonnell, “it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what we ought to be talking about.” He adds: “I do think that talking about the excesses of the federal government is something you are going to hear Republican and Democratic candidates for statewide office talk about for a while because I think you’re going to see a resurgence of discussions of federalism, about the 10th Amendment, about limits on federal power, and federal spending.”

Nor does he plan on jettisoning social issues or changing his political stripes to attract new supporters. (“I am 100% pro-life . . . We were unequivocal about our position on marriage.”) After all, he won by nearly 20 points.

He ran as a policy-wonkish conservative and he appears anxious to govern as one with an eye toward reform, rather than just slashing the size of government. He’s not, at least for now, running for anything else (Virginia limits its governors to one term); so he has the “luxury” of focusing on his job. In that and in his consistent political persona and message, he is an oddity these days. We have gotten used to politicians who run as one thing and govern as another, or those (like incumbent Tim Kaine) who take on other jobs or campaigns rather than attend to their day jobs.

Republicans will be scrambling to duplicate the McDonnell “model” — it is tempting to do so, given his margin of victory. But the real lesson of McDonnell is that the public, battered and bruised by recession, responds to serious campaigns and respects serious people. The key is to find candidates who don’t need to fake competency and who don’t need to reinvent themselves. We’ve had a year of learning that an “historic” and “charismatic” candidate doesn’t necessarily make for an effective office holder and that inviting everyone to project their own hopes and dreams onto a blank canvas may be a recipe for disappointment. If the public is tired and grumpy, maybe a little angry, and looking to once again throw the bums out, it might be attracted in 2010 to those who don’t want to dazzle but rather just want to do their jobs. It’s not an exciting formula, perhaps, but maybe we’ve had enough excitement for awhile.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Virginia governor-elect Bob McDonnell demonstrates the qualities that got him elected — an unflappable ability to stay on message, an attention to nitty-gritty details (on the budget, on school reform, etc.), a willingness to engage in meaningful bipartisan policy making (on charter schools), and an entirely conservative message. On the economy:

“Virginia’s unemployment rate, 6.6%, is lower than the 10% national average, but it is up sharply from its low of below 3% in 2007. In the worst economy in 80 years,” says Mr. McDonnell, “it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what we ought to be talking about.” He adds: “I do think that talking about the excesses of the federal government is something you are going to hear Republican and Democratic candidates for statewide office talk about for a while because I think you’re going to see a resurgence of discussions of federalism, about the 10th Amendment, about limits on federal power, and federal spending.”

Nor does he plan on jettisoning social issues or changing his political stripes to attract new supporters. (“I am 100% pro-life . . . We were unequivocal about our position on marriage.”) After all, he won by nearly 20 points.

He ran as a policy-wonkish conservative and he appears anxious to govern as one with an eye toward reform, rather than just slashing the size of government. He’s not, at least for now, running for anything else (Virginia limits its governors to one term); so he has the “luxury” of focusing on his job. In that and in his consistent political persona and message, he is an oddity these days. We have gotten used to politicians who run as one thing and govern as another, or those (like incumbent Tim Kaine) who take on other jobs or campaigns rather than attend to their day jobs.

Republicans will be scrambling to duplicate the McDonnell “model” — it is tempting to do so, given his margin of victory. But the real lesson of McDonnell is that the public, battered and bruised by recession, responds to serious campaigns and respects serious people. The key is to find candidates who don’t need to fake competency and who don’t need to reinvent themselves. We’ve had a year of learning that an “historic” and “charismatic” candidate doesn’t necessarily make for an effective office holder and that inviting everyone to project their own hopes and dreams onto a blank canvas may be a recipe for disappointment. If the public is tired and grumpy, maybe a little angry, and looking to once again throw the bums out, it might be attracted in 2010 to those who don’t want to dazzle but rather just want to do their jobs. It’s not an exciting formula, perhaps, but maybe we’ve had enough excitement for awhile.

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Who Responds?

The person selected to respond to the State of the Union has a rough time. There is no competing with the pomp and excitement of the president in a prime-time appearance before Congress, the Supreme Court, the cabinet officials, and all the honored guests. Usually, the unlikely recipient of this “honor” gets awful reviews. (Think Tim Kaine’s odd-eye brow appearance and Bobby Jindal’s presidential buzz-halting performance.) So who should do the honors this year?

Bill Kristol recommends an ordinary American fed up with Obama’s agenda, maybe a doctor. There are lots of good possibilities. Perhaps Rep. Parker Griffith could do the honors, explaining why he couldn’t stomach a party that would behave so irresponsibly on health care. The Republicans might have a cancer survivor like Carly Fiorina explain why empowering bureaucrats to ration care is a bad idea. The Republicans might have Dick Cheney replay his face-off against Obama from earlier in the year, updating it for the subsequent dreadful decisions on KSM’s trial and the moving of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. Joining him could be Debra Burlingame and other 9/11 family members, talking about the lunacy of giving KSM a public forum to preach jihadism. Or the Republicans could have a bipartisan evening, inviting Rep. Bart Stupak to talk about abortion subsidies and Jane Hamsher to talk about paying for health-care “reform” on the backs of the middle class.

There are a lot of options because, frankly, Obama has made many, many bad calls. It will be up to the Republicans to see in 2010 if they can find effective spokespeople to make the case to the American people — who at least for now seem awfully receptive to each of the messages I suggested. In fact, Americans poll overwhelming in the GOP’s favor on all of these items. And that, no doubt, is why Republicans are looking forward to a successful 2010 election year.

The person selected to respond to the State of the Union has a rough time. There is no competing with the pomp and excitement of the president in a prime-time appearance before Congress, the Supreme Court, the cabinet officials, and all the honored guests. Usually, the unlikely recipient of this “honor” gets awful reviews. (Think Tim Kaine’s odd-eye brow appearance and Bobby Jindal’s presidential buzz-halting performance.) So who should do the honors this year?

Bill Kristol recommends an ordinary American fed up with Obama’s agenda, maybe a doctor. There are lots of good possibilities. Perhaps Rep. Parker Griffith could do the honors, explaining why he couldn’t stomach a party that would behave so irresponsibly on health care. The Republicans might have a cancer survivor like Carly Fiorina explain why empowering bureaucrats to ration care is a bad idea. The Republicans might have Dick Cheney replay his face-off against Obama from earlier in the year, updating it for the subsequent dreadful decisions on KSM’s trial and the moving of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. Joining him could be Debra Burlingame and other 9/11 family members, talking about the lunacy of giving KSM a public forum to preach jihadism. Or the Republicans could have a bipartisan evening, inviting Rep. Bart Stupak to talk about abortion subsidies and Jane Hamsher to talk about paying for health-care “reform” on the backs of the middle class.

There are a lot of options because, frankly, Obama has made many, many bad calls. It will be up to the Republicans to see in 2010 if they can find effective spokespeople to make the case to the American people — who at least for now seem awfully receptive to each of the messages I suggested. In fact, Americans poll overwhelming in the GOP’s favor on all of these items. And that, no doubt, is why Republicans are looking forward to a successful 2010 election year.

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