Commentary Magazine


Topic: United States Senate

The Playing Field Shifts

Delaware may not be doable for the Republicans, but take a look at Wisconsin: “After a decisive win in Tuesday’s Republican Primary, businessman Ron Johnson now holds a seven-point lead over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race.” This may be part of a post-primary-vote bump, but still.

The Republicans need 10 seats to take the Senate. (I will put aside the possibility of a Joe Lieberman party switch.) Here are nine: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Add either Washington or West Virginia and the GOP gets to 10. Hard? Yes. Impossible? Hardly.

Delaware may not be doable for the Republicans, but take a look at Wisconsin: “After a decisive win in Tuesday’s Republican Primary, businessman Ron Johnson now holds a seven-point lead over incumbent Democrat Russ Feingold in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race.” This may be part of a post-primary-vote bump, but still.

The Republicans need 10 seats to take the Senate. (I will put aside the possibility of a Joe Lieberman party switch.) Here are nine: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Add either Washington or West Virginia and the GOP gets to 10. Hard? Yes. Impossible? Hardly.

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You Want a Bellwether?

There is no better predictor of electoral fortunes than Ohio. It is the best microcosm of the electorate we have. In 2008, Ohio told us that Obama had captured the votes of working-class whites and independents. In 2010, Ohio tells us that the president and his party are in very big trouble. The Quinnipiac poll reports:

Republican Rob Portman holds a 55 – 35 percent lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher among likely voters in the race for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat, while President Barack Obama has a 60 – 38 percent disapproval rating, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. By a 58 – 37 percent margin, likely Ohio voters want a U.S. Senator who opposes President Obama’s policies, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds. And by 49 – 31 percent, voters want Republicans rather than Democrats to control the U.S. Senate.

“Among the likely Ohio electorate for this November, President Barack Obama is not a popular fellow. Independent likely voters disapprove 65 – 31 percent of the job he is doing. With the president such a heavy weight around the neck of Democratic candidates, it will be hard for one to win such a high-profile office this year in Ohio,” Brown said.

One reason for the president’s poor rating, at least in Ohio, is his health care overhaul plan. Likely voters disapprove of it by a 65 – 30 percent margin.

“White House senior advisor David Axelrod says Americans will come to like the health insurance plan, but it sure doesn’t look like that will be the case in Ohio by Nov. 2,” said Brown.

Overall, Ohio voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a stunning 60 to 38 percent margin. In 2008, Obama carried the state by a 52 to 47 percent margin. That is about as stunning a reversal in political standing as you will find in American politics.

There is no better predictor of electoral fortunes than Ohio. It is the best microcosm of the electorate we have. In 2008, Ohio told us that Obama had captured the votes of working-class whites and independents. In 2010, Ohio tells us that the president and his party are in very big trouble. The Quinnipiac poll reports:

Republican Rob Portman holds a 55 – 35 percent lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher among likely voters in the race for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat, while President Barack Obama has a 60 – 38 percent disapproval rating, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. By a 58 – 37 percent margin, likely Ohio voters want a U.S. Senator who opposes President Obama’s policies, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey, conducted by live interviewers, finds. And by 49 – 31 percent, voters want Republicans rather than Democrats to control the U.S. Senate.

“Among the likely Ohio electorate for this November, President Barack Obama is not a popular fellow. Independent likely voters disapprove 65 – 31 percent of the job he is doing. With the president such a heavy weight around the neck of Democratic candidates, it will be hard for one to win such a high-profile office this year in Ohio,” Brown said.

One reason for the president’s poor rating, at least in Ohio, is his health care overhaul plan. Likely voters disapprove of it by a 65 – 30 percent margin.

“White House senior advisor David Axelrod says Americans will come to like the health insurance plan, but it sure doesn’t look like that will be the case in Ohio by Nov. 2,” said Brown.

Overall, Ohio voters disapprove of Obama’s performance by a stunning 60 to 38 percent margin. In 2008, Obama carried the state by a 52 to 47 percent margin. That is about as stunning a reversal in political standing as you will find in American politics.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The trauma — and hilarity — of voting Republican in Brooklyn.

Pennsylvania voters have warmed to Pat Toomey. “Republican Pat Toomey inches closer to the 50% mark this month in his best showing yet in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania, with leaners included, shows Toomey earning 49% support, while Democratic hopeful Joe Sestak picks up 41% of the vote.” Well, the GOP blew Delaware, but the Dems blew it with Sestak.

Look at who voted, says Bill Kristol: “Voters flocked to participate in GOP primaries. National Republican turnout in 2010 has comfortably exceeded Democratic primary turnout. This is as good an indicator as the generic congressional ballot polls as to where the voters are going: They’re going to vote for Republicans this November.”

Only 1,667 votes were the difference between Kelly Ayotte and Ovide Lamontagne. “Not only did national Republicans recruit Ayotte to get into the race, but public polls show she is in for a competitive contest against the Democratic nominee, Rep. Paul Hodes, who was uncontested in his primary last night.” Alas, as goes New Hampshire does not go Delaware.

In the “chalk one up for the Tea Party” category, voters in Florida are flocking to Marco Rubio: “Six weeks ahead of November 2 congressional elections, Rubio leads state Governor Charlie Crist, an independent, by 40 percent to 26 percent among likely voters, the poll found. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 21 percent.”

The voters of New York canned a crook. The New York Post crows: “Pedro Espada is a goner. Finally. Maybe the most egregious member of the most egregious legislative body in the land was called to account by his constituents last night — Espada was ousted by Gustavo Rivera in The Bronx. And we helped.”

Voters are dolts, apparently, in the eyes of Democrats, who think a new logo that looks like a target will improve their fortunes.

The trauma — and hilarity — of voting Republican in Brooklyn.

Pennsylvania voters have warmed to Pat Toomey. “Republican Pat Toomey inches closer to the 50% mark this month in his best showing yet in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania, with leaners included, shows Toomey earning 49% support, while Democratic hopeful Joe Sestak picks up 41% of the vote.” Well, the GOP blew Delaware, but the Dems blew it with Sestak.

Look at who voted, says Bill Kristol: “Voters flocked to participate in GOP primaries. National Republican turnout in 2010 has comfortably exceeded Democratic primary turnout. This is as good an indicator as the generic congressional ballot polls as to where the voters are going: They’re going to vote for Republicans this November.”

Only 1,667 votes were the difference between Kelly Ayotte and Ovide Lamontagne. “Not only did national Republicans recruit Ayotte to get into the race, but public polls show she is in for a competitive contest against the Democratic nominee, Rep. Paul Hodes, who was uncontested in his primary last night.” Alas, as goes New Hampshire does not go Delaware.

In the “chalk one up for the Tea Party” category, voters in Florida are flocking to Marco Rubio: “Six weeks ahead of November 2 congressional elections, Rubio leads state Governor Charlie Crist, an independent, by 40 percent to 26 percent among likely voters, the poll found. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 21 percent.”

The voters of New York canned a crook. The New York Post crows: “Pedro Espada is a goner. Finally. Maybe the most egregious member of the most egregious legislative body in the land was called to account by his constituents last night — Espada was ousted by Gustavo Rivera in The Bronx. And we helped.”

Voters are dolts, apparently, in the eyes of Democrats, who think a new logo that looks like a target will improve their fortunes.

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Going-Out-of-Business Sale in the Senate

Despite their tendency to make life more difficult for themselves, Republicans will enjoy greater numbers in the U.S. Senate after November. So Obama and Harry Reid are in essence having a going-out-of-business sale. In Reid’s case, he may actually be out of a job, but in any event, he’s not going to enjoy a hefty majority to pass major pieces of the liberal agenda.

Hence, Obama is threatening to install the new consumer protection agency head by recess appointment. And Carl Levin is junking up the defense authorization bill:

Last year, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), to the chagrin of Republicans, successfully added language expanding protections from hate crimes. This year, Democrats are expected to attempt to add the “American Dream Act,” a bill that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrant students, to the defense authorization bill. …

What is unprecedented, however, is that the bill could come to the Senate floor without the support of the committee’s top Republican, John McCain (R-AZ).McCain adamantly opposes the bill because it contains language that could lead to the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which bans homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

“It authorizes the repeal of DADT before the study is completed,” McCain told a gaggle of reporters in the Capitol Monday, referring to the Defense Department’s ongoing analysis of the impacts of a policy change.

Reid is also bent on staging a vote on taxes, despite the angst it is causing his caucus. As this report explains:

During the Democrats’ weekly caucus, a majority held there were greater risks associated with inaction, because that would give Republicans an opportunity to accuse Democrats of raising taxes across the board, Mr. Casey said. But a minority of Senate Democrats would prefer not to take a vote before the elections, Mr. Casey said. Some worry about being tagged with raising any taxes, even the top marginal rates.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he plans to hold a vote “before we leave” in a few weeks, but he didn’t promise he has the votes. “I hope so,” he said. “I think it would certainly be the right thing to do, and only one way of finding out, and that’s take a vote on it.”

Illustrating the tough sledding ahead in the Senate, Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.), who wants to extend the tax cuts for everyone, didn’t back off his position Tuesday. “I favor extending all of the Bush tax cuts, every one of them,” he said.

I’m not sure which is worse for Reid — demonstrating his ineptness by losing a vote or ramming through a tax cut as the economy craters. (And his House colleagues may pull the rug out from under him: “This week, members of the Blue Dog and New Democrat coalitions—two more-conservative Democratic groups—were pushing colleagues to sign a letter urging House leaders to schedule a vote on a full extension.”)

In sum, the Senate Democrats will try mightily to get whatever they can before the electorate’s wrath is felt. The problem, of course, is for those Democratic survivors or wanna-be survivors who will have to explain the continued disdain shown the voters.

Despite their tendency to make life more difficult for themselves, Republicans will enjoy greater numbers in the U.S. Senate after November. So Obama and Harry Reid are in essence having a going-out-of-business sale. In Reid’s case, he may actually be out of a job, but in any event, he’s not going to enjoy a hefty majority to pass major pieces of the liberal agenda.

Hence, Obama is threatening to install the new consumer protection agency head by recess appointment. And Carl Levin is junking up the defense authorization bill:

Last year, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), to the chagrin of Republicans, successfully added language expanding protections from hate crimes. This year, Democrats are expected to attempt to add the “American Dream Act,” a bill that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrant students, to the defense authorization bill. …

What is unprecedented, however, is that the bill could come to the Senate floor without the support of the committee’s top Republican, John McCain (R-AZ).McCain adamantly opposes the bill because it contains language that could lead to the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which bans homosexuals from serving openly in the military.

“It authorizes the repeal of DADT before the study is completed,” McCain told a gaggle of reporters in the Capitol Monday, referring to the Defense Department’s ongoing analysis of the impacts of a policy change.

Reid is also bent on staging a vote on taxes, despite the angst it is causing his caucus. As this report explains:

During the Democrats’ weekly caucus, a majority held there were greater risks associated with inaction, because that would give Republicans an opportunity to accuse Democrats of raising taxes across the board, Mr. Casey said. But a minority of Senate Democrats would prefer not to take a vote before the elections, Mr. Casey said. Some worry about being tagged with raising any taxes, even the top marginal rates.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he plans to hold a vote “before we leave” in a few weeks, but he didn’t promise he has the votes. “I hope so,” he said. “I think it would certainly be the right thing to do, and only one way of finding out, and that’s take a vote on it.”

Illustrating the tough sledding ahead in the Senate, Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.), who wants to extend the tax cuts for everyone, didn’t back off his position Tuesday. “I favor extending all of the Bush tax cuts, every one of them,” he said.

I’m not sure which is worse for Reid — demonstrating his ineptness by losing a vote or ramming through a tax cut as the economy craters. (And his House colleagues may pull the rug out from under him: “This week, members of the Blue Dog and New Democrat coalitions—two more-conservative Democratic groups—were pushing colleagues to sign a letter urging House leaders to schedule a vote on a full extension.”)

In sum, the Senate Democrats will try mightily to get whatever they can before the electorate’s wrath is felt. The problem, of course, is for those Democratic survivors or wanna-be survivors who will have to explain the continued disdain shown the voters.

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The Tragedy of John McCain

John McCain won his Senate primary race by a huge margin — almost 2 to 1. That makes his flip-flop on immigration — from comprehensive immigration supporter and the voice of restraint to faux exclusionist — all the more tragic. He really didn’t need to throw away the mantle of reformer and maverick. He really didn’t need to further alienate himself from staunch conservatives while shredding his credibility with liberal allies.

In a blistering piece in the Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan accuses McCain of becoming an “an insecure, reactive, poll-watching hack who focus-groups his way to reelection.” He digs up an unnamed colleague to announce: “What you need to know is that he really does believe in duty, honor, country … and he is an American hero. But he thinks that is all there is. He has no deep interest or principle on any other subject. Every other issue has become personal with him, viewed through politics or pique. He is a patriot for whom most other issues are simply situational, which is why he can change so easily on them.” Strong stuff, indeed.

It certainly reveals McCain’s poor personal relationships in the Senate, although it goes too far. McCain has in fact been a rather stalwart conservative on social issues, spending, and judicial appointments, in addition to his invaluable leadership on national security issues. He has been an articulate opponent of ObamaCare. There is no more devoted friend of Israel in the U.S. Senate or champion of religious and political dissidents around the world.

But McCain’s reputation for prickliness and his lack of an overarching conservative philosophy — how does climate-control legislation mesh with his calls for fiscal prudence? — are evident. And by abandoning his former immigration stance (complete with a foray into and then a hasty retreat from the idea that we should fiddle with the 14th Amendment), he reinforced the perception that while he employs moralistic language and delights in chiding his own party, his core convictions are few and really not all that “core.”

Varadarajan opines that McCain should have hung it up after losing to Obama, but the senator has instead become embittered, a quintessential sore loser. On that score, Varadarajan is misguided. McCain has and will remain an important figure in the U.S. Senate on national security matters at a critical time. He has not exhibited personal animosity toward Obama but rather given voice to the very concerns that have motivated conservatives and independents to take to the streets in protest.

However, being a “maverick” for the sake of simply being a gadfly and an annoyance to his own party is no virtue. And joining the anti-immigration herd, which he had eloquently slammed, is shameful. Certainly it’s not the embodiment of honor.

John McCain won his Senate primary race by a huge margin — almost 2 to 1. That makes his flip-flop on immigration — from comprehensive immigration supporter and the voice of restraint to faux exclusionist — all the more tragic. He really didn’t need to throw away the mantle of reformer and maverick. He really didn’t need to further alienate himself from staunch conservatives while shredding his credibility with liberal allies.

In a blistering piece in the Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan accuses McCain of becoming an “an insecure, reactive, poll-watching hack who focus-groups his way to reelection.” He digs up an unnamed colleague to announce: “What you need to know is that he really does believe in duty, honor, country … and he is an American hero. But he thinks that is all there is. He has no deep interest or principle on any other subject. Every other issue has become personal with him, viewed through politics or pique. He is a patriot for whom most other issues are simply situational, which is why he can change so easily on them.” Strong stuff, indeed.

It certainly reveals McCain’s poor personal relationships in the Senate, although it goes too far. McCain has in fact been a rather stalwart conservative on social issues, spending, and judicial appointments, in addition to his invaluable leadership on national security issues. He has been an articulate opponent of ObamaCare. There is no more devoted friend of Israel in the U.S. Senate or champion of religious and political dissidents around the world.

But McCain’s reputation for prickliness and his lack of an overarching conservative philosophy — how does climate-control legislation mesh with his calls for fiscal prudence? — are evident. And by abandoning his former immigration stance (complete with a foray into and then a hasty retreat from the idea that we should fiddle with the 14th Amendment), he reinforced the perception that while he employs moralistic language and delights in chiding his own party, his core convictions are few and really not all that “core.”

Varadarajan opines that McCain should have hung it up after losing to Obama, but the senator has instead become embittered, a quintessential sore loser. On that score, Varadarajan is misguided. McCain has and will remain an important figure in the U.S. Senate on national security matters at a critical time. He has not exhibited personal animosity toward Obama but rather given voice to the very concerns that have motivated conservatives and independents to take to the streets in protest.

However, being a “maverick” for the sake of simply being a gadfly and an annoyance to his own party is no virtue. And joining the anti-immigration herd, which he had eloquently slammed, is shameful. Certainly it’s not the embodiment of honor.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

So much for the “Summer of Recovery.” “Forty-eight percent of Americans rated current economic conditions as “poor” during the week ending Aug. 22 — approaching the highest levels of the year. This is marginally worse than the early August reading, is in line with the full July average of 47%, and is marginally worse than at this time in 2009.”

So much for Obamanomics. Lawrence Lindsey explains just how bad the housing numbers are: “‘More ominously, it is a very negative reflection on people’s expectation for the future. Remember, interest rates are very, very low. So the cost of carrying a mortgage is down. … People must be better or assuming that house prices have further to fall. … I don’t think these narrowly targeted programs have really helped,’ Lindsey says of the Obama administration’s policies. ‘I think at this point the issue comes back to jobs, jobs, jobs.'”

So much for predictions of a competitive Missouri Senate race. “Republican Congressman Roy Blunt for the first time holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Robin Carnahan in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Missouri Voters shows Blunt earning 51% of the vote. Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state, picks up 40% support, her poorest showing to date.”

So much for an “agreement” on peace talks. Eli Lake reports: “Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that are set to begin next week in Washington may be scuttled before they even get going. Israel has yet to commit to extending a freeze on construction of settlements that the Palestinian side says it needs to continue negotiations.”

So much for the Democrats’ best chance in Florida. “Charlie Crist had better hope Jeff Greene pulls off a miraculous comeback in his primary against Kendrick Meek if the Republican-cum-independent governor hopes to edge GOP nominee Marco Rubio in the general election Senate contest. Among likely voters, Rubio has a slim 37-36 lead over Crist if Greene is the Democratic nominee, but Rubio pulls ahead 40-32 if Meek wins tonight.” But Meek won big, so will Democrats throw in the towel on Crist?

So much for the Goldstone II–like UN Human Rights Council investigation of the flotilla incident. Israel tells investigators to forget interrogating its troops. (Maj. General Giora Eiland, however, gave extensive testimony to the Turkel Committee, the internal Israeli review with some international reps who aren’t out to vilify the Jewish state.)

So much for the left’s arguments (as set forth by Marc Lynch) that everything is Israel’s fault. Elliott Abrams writes: “Marc ignores the opinion polls showing that something under 10% of Israelis now trust Obama, for that striking figure does not fit the story line. Is it possible, is it conceivable, that Obama has done something to undermine Israeli trust in his Administration’s policies and world view? Not to Marc. Then there’s this: ‘if Israel’s leadership genuinely believes that Iran poses the greatest existential threat which Israel has ever faced … why has it taken so many steps over the last year and a half to alienate the world and to isolate itself?’ So many steps. Are the partial freeze on construction in settlements (called ‘unprecedented’ by the Obama Administration), permission for thousands of Israeli Arabs to shop once again in the West Bank and help its economy grow, and removal of scores of barriers to mobility in the West Bank, among them? Presumably they don’t count for Marc, as they do not count for anyone disposed to blame Israel for everything.” Read the whole thing — if blood on the floor doesn’t bother you.

So much for the “Summer of Recovery.” “Forty-eight percent of Americans rated current economic conditions as “poor” during the week ending Aug. 22 — approaching the highest levels of the year. This is marginally worse than the early August reading, is in line with the full July average of 47%, and is marginally worse than at this time in 2009.”

So much for Obamanomics. Lawrence Lindsey explains just how bad the housing numbers are: “‘More ominously, it is a very negative reflection on people’s expectation for the future. Remember, interest rates are very, very low. So the cost of carrying a mortgage is down. … People must be better or assuming that house prices have further to fall. … I don’t think these narrowly targeted programs have really helped,’ Lindsey says of the Obama administration’s policies. ‘I think at this point the issue comes back to jobs, jobs, jobs.'”

So much for predictions of a competitive Missouri Senate race. “Republican Congressman Roy Blunt for the first time holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Robin Carnahan in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Missouri Voters shows Blunt earning 51% of the vote. Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state, picks up 40% support, her poorest showing to date.”

So much for an “agreement” on peace talks. Eli Lake reports: “Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that are set to begin next week in Washington may be scuttled before they even get going. Israel has yet to commit to extending a freeze on construction of settlements that the Palestinian side says it needs to continue negotiations.”

So much for the Democrats’ best chance in Florida. “Charlie Crist had better hope Jeff Greene pulls off a miraculous comeback in his primary against Kendrick Meek if the Republican-cum-independent governor hopes to edge GOP nominee Marco Rubio in the general election Senate contest. Among likely voters, Rubio has a slim 37-36 lead over Crist if Greene is the Democratic nominee, but Rubio pulls ahead 40-32 if Meek wins tonight.” But Meek won big, so will Democrats throw in the towel on Crist?

So much for the Goldstone II–like UN Human Rights Council investigation of the flotilla incident. Israel tells investigators to forget interrogating its troops. (Maj. General Giora Eiland, however, gave extensive testimony to the Turkel Committee, the internal Israeli review with some international reps who aren’t out to vilify the Jewish state.)

So much for the left’s arguments (as set forth by Marc Lynch) that everything is Israel’s fault. Elliott Abrams writes: “Marc ignores the opinion polls showing that something under 10% of Israelis now trust Obama, for that striking figure does not fit the story line. Is it possible, is it conceivable, that Obama has done something to undermine Israeli trust in his Administration’s policies and world view? Not to Marc. Then there’s this: ‘if Israel’s leadership genuinely believes that Iran poses the greatest existential threat which Israel has ever faced … why has it taken so many steps over the last year and a half to alienate the world and to isolate itself?’ So many steps. Are the partial freeze on construction in settlements (called ‘unprecedented’ by the Obama Administration), permission for thousands of Israeli Arabs to shop once again in the West Bank and help its economy grow, and removal of scores of barriers to mobility in the West Bank, among them? Presumably they don’t count for Marc, as they do not count for anyone disposed to blame Israel for everything.” Read the whole thing — if blood on the floor doesn’t bother you.

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The False Meme

It is as predictable as it is ineffective — the liberal media’s attempts to sow discord between mainstream Republicans and Tea Partiers. The latest from the New York Times declares that Marco Rubio is veering from the “Tea Party script.” Has he changed his views on the stimulus? Gone soft on the Bush tax cuts? Renounced the Tea Party focus on the gallons of red ink spilled by the Obami? Uh, no. The sum total of the veering is:

Mr. Rubio spends less and less time trying to tap into the discontent that has been at the forefront of the midterm elections. A wiser course for Republicans, he said, is offering an alternative, not simply being the angry opposition.

Um, that’s not really veering off the Tea Party script, is it? No. And in fact, this sounds exactly like what the Tea Partiers are looking for:

“I am not running for the United States Senate because I want to be the opposition to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” he replied in a measured tone [at a campaign stop]. “I’m running for Senate because I want to create an alternative.”

At each stop, Mr. Rubio speaks of the urgency to restore “American exceptionalism,” which he says is slipping away under Democratic control. He said that the private sector had been stymied by uncertainty under the Obama administration and that the health care law should be repealed.

He doesn’t agree with meddling with the 14th Amendment, but immigration has never been the core message of the fiscally minded Tea Party movement. And that’s it.

The headline and premise of the article are simply false. Rubio embraces the entirety of the Tea Party message — he, too, wants to “refudiate” Obama. But in desperate times, any old argument will do for the Gray Lady to calm its readers’ frayed nerves.

It is as predictable as it is ineffective — the liberal media’s attempts to sow discord between mainstream Republicans and Tea Partiers. The latest from the New York Times declares that Marco Rubio is veering from the “Tea Party script.” Has he changed his views on the stimulus? Gone soft on the Bush tax cuts? Renounced the Tea Party focus on the gallons of red ink spilled by the Obami? Uh, no. The sum total of the veering is:

Mr. Rubio spends less and less time trying to tap into the discontent that has been at the forefront of the midterm elections. A wiser course for Republicans, he said, is offering an alternative, not simply being the angry opposition.

Um, that’s not really veering off the Tea Party script, is it? No. And in fact, this sounds exactly like what the Tea Partiers are looking for:

“I am not running for the United States Senate because I want to be the opposition to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” he replied in a measured tone [at a campaign stop]. “I’m running for Senate because I want to create an alternative.”

At each stop, Mr. Rubio speaks of the urgency to restore “American exceptionalism,” which he says is slipping away under Democratic control. He said that the private sector had been stymied by uncertainty under the Obama administration and that the health care law should be repealed.

He doesn’t agree with meddling with the 14th Amendment, but immigration has never been the core message of the fiscally minded Tea Party movement. And that’s it.

The headline and premise of the article are simply false. Rubio embraces the entirety of the Tea Party message — he, too, wants to “refudiate” Obama. But in desperate times, any old argument will do for the Gray Lady to calm its readers’ frayed nerves.

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Sestak Struggling

The Pennsylvania media reports that Joe Sestak is floundering:

More than midway through the political calendar, Sestak seems endlessly on the defensive. It’s partly of his own doing, but largely because Toomey, with a sharper message and flush finances, has been the aggressor.

So far, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate battle has been fought on Toomey’s terms.

Sestak has taken a beating on his Israel record, forcing him to go on MSNBC to deny that it’s a significant issue and to call in J Street for support. (The J Street gang ponied up only a tiny ad buy.) But that isn’t Sestak’s only problem:

Two days after the May 18 primary, Toomey went on the air with a commercial that highlighted Sestak’s support for health [care] reform, bailouts, and civilian trials for foreign terrorists. A few days later, after Sestak had appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, Toomey’s campaign sent out a press release saying the interview showcased Sestak’s “sham independence.” …

Toomey has aired six television commercials about Sestak, painting him as an extreme liberal to the left of most members of his political party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce aired two commercials linking Sestak to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling him “anti-business.”

Sestak tried to strike back last week by enlisting the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to bandy charges that Toomey was a derivatives trader who helped sink the economy. The charges were generally derided as untrue, and Toomey surged to a nine-point lead in the race. Meanwhile, Sestak strained to explain why he had accepted campaign donations from recipients of earmarks, something he pledged to not do.

Sestak has suffered on three counts: his ultra-liberal voting record, the generally toxic political environment for the Democrats, and a certain incoherence in his own campaign. A case in point is the endorsement by former Sen. Chuck Hagel. This comes at a time when Sestak has labored to rebut attacks on his own Israel record and on his keynote address for CAIR. But Hagel seems a particularly poor messenger for Sestak. The National Democratic Jewish Council explained in 2007:

As Senator Hagel sits around for six more months and tries to decide whether to launch a futile bid for the White House, he has a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel.  Consider this:

– In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

– In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.

– In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yasir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.

– In December 2005, Hagel  was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.

– In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran’s nuclear program at the G-8 summit. …

And here’s what the anti-Israel group, CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel:

“Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel…” [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06]

Not exactly an effective way to rebut arguments that his instincts lead him to positions — and allies — that are anti-Israel.

Sestak has time to recover, but he may not have the ability to. On this one, the White House might have been right: Arlen Specter was the more viable of the two Democratic contenders.

The Pennsylvania media reports that Joe Sestak is floundering:

More than midway through the political calendar, Sestak seems endlessly on the defensive. It’s partly of his own doing, but largely because Toomey, with a sharper message and flush finances, has been the aggressor.

So far, Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate battle has been fought on Toomey’s terms.

Sestak has taken a beating on his Israel record, forcing him to go on MSNBC to deny that it’s a significant issue and to call in J Street for support. (The J Street gang ponied up only a tiny ad buy.) But that isn’t Sestak’s only problem:

Two days after the May 18 primary, Toomey went on the air with a commercial that highlighted Sestak’s support for health [care] reform, bailouts, and civilian trials for foreign terrorists. A few days later, after Sestak had appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, Toomey’s campaign sent out a press release saying the interview showcased Sestak’s “sham independence.” …

Toomey has aired six television commercials about Sestak, painting him as an extreme liberal to the left of most members of his political party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce aired two commercials linking Sestak to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling him “anti-business.”

Sestak tried to strike back last week by enlisting the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee to bandy charges that Toomey was a derivatives trader who helped sink the economy. The charges were generally derided as untrue, and Toomey surged to a nine-point lead in the race. Meanwhile, Sestak strained to explain why he had accepted campaign donations from recipients of earmarks, something he pledged to not do.

Sestak has suffered on three counts: his ultra-liberal voting record, the generally toxic political environment for the Democrats, and a certain incoherence in his own campaign. A case in point is the endorsement by former Sen. Chuck Hagel. This comes at a time when Sestak has labored to rebut attacks on his own Israel record and on his keynote address for CAIR. But Hagel seems a particularly poor messenger for Sestak. The National Democratic Jewish Council explained in 2007:

As Senator Hagel sits around for six more months and tries to decide whether to launch a futile bid for the White House, he has a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel.  Consider this:

– In August 2006, Hagel was one of only 12 Senators who refused to write the EU asking them to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

– In October 2000, Hagel was one of only 4 Senators who refused to sign a Senate letter in support of Israel.

– In November 2001, Hagel was one of only 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter urging President Bush not to meet with the late Yasir Arafat until his forces ended the violence against Israel.

– In December 2005, Hagel  was one of only 27 who refused to sign a letter to President Bush to pressure the Palestinian Authority to ban terrorist groups from participating in Palestinian legislative elections.

– In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging President Bush to highlight Iran’s nuclear program at the G-8 summit. …

And here’s what the anti-Israel group, CAIR wrote in praise of Hagel:

“Potential presidential candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe Biden and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was Senator Chuck Hagel…” [Council on American-Islamic Relations, 8/28/06]

Not exactly an effective way to rebut arguments that his instincts lead him to positions — and allies — that are anti-Israel.

Sestak has time to recover, but he may not have the ability to. On this one, the White House might have been right: Arlen Specter was the more viable of the two Democratic contenders.

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Obama the Ideologue

Things have gotten so bad for the Democrats in the wake of the mosque/Ground Zero controversy that respected political observers like Charlie Cook are speculating that Obama’s actions might only be explained by a strange indifference to his re-election. According to Cook:

Just over a year ago, a Democratic congressional leadership staffer who had sat in on a number of closed-door meetings between President Obama and Democratic members of Congress told me something to the effect of, “I know this isn’t true and sounds naïve, but listening to the president in these meetings, you’d think he really doesn’t care if he gets re-elected or not.”

While I acknowledge that someone who gets elected to the U.S. Senate and the presidency is by definition extremely competitive and has a healthy desire to win, the words of that staffer have frequently come back to mind. Most recently, I thought of them following the president’s decision to weigh in on the proposal to build a Muslim mosque and cultural center in lower Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero.

Cook goes on to write:

At the risk of sounding like an unlicensed psychoanalyst, it seems that President Obama is so supremely self-confident, so self-assured of the righteousness of his positions, that perhaps he believes if he does what he thinks is best and lets the chips fall where they may, everything will eventually work out. And, if it doesn’t, well, he’ll still think he did the right thing anyway.

This is the most favorable gloss that can be put on this interpretation; and when stated like this, there’s something to be admired in Obama’s approach. But there is also danger in it as well. For right now, everything is not working out; in fact, things are getting worse on almost every front. Yet Obama appears to be too ideological, too set in his ways, to adjust to events and to reality. He appears to have boundless faith in himself and his worldview; he is convinced he will succeed, come what may. Call it a Faith-Based Presidency.

The president, therefore, seems unable to process the (massive) incoming evidence that his approach is not working. He is a great, world-historical figure — and yet our situation is fraying. This is creating a form of cognitive dissonance. And so he and his aides and supporters must blame others — his predecessor, the GOP, cable news, “structural factors,” a “communications problem,” our political culture, our political system, and even the American people. As his presidency skids, Obama has become obsessed with finding scapegoats.

True conservatism, it has been said, is the negation of ideology. Obama’s brand of liberalism is the epitome of it. He may not bend — but the Democrats, about to be administered an epic comeuppance, eventually will. At some point soon, they will conclude that enough of them have been sacrificed at the altar of Obamaism.

Things have gotten so bad for the Democrats in the wake of the mosque/Ground Zero controversy that respected political observers like Charlie Cook are speculating that Obama’s actions might only be explained by a strange indifference to his re-election. According to Cook:

Just over a year ago, a Democratic congressional leadership staffer who had sat in on a number of closed-door meetings between President Obama and Democratic members of Congress told me something to the effect of, “I know this isn’t true and sounds naïve, but listening to the president in these meetings, you’d think he really doesn’t care if he gets re-elected or not.”

While I acknowledge that someone who gets elected to the U.S. Senate and the presidency is by definition extremely competitive and has a healthy desire to win, the words of that staffer have frequently come back to mind. Most recently, I thought of them following the president’s decision to weigh in on the proposal to build a Muslim mosque and cultural center in lower Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero.

Cook goes on to write:

At the risk of sounding like an unlicensed psychoanalyst, it seems that President Obama is so supremely self-confident, so self-assured of the righteousness of his positions, that perhaps he believes if he does what he thinks is best and lets the chips fall where they may, everything will eventually work out. And, if it doesn’t, well, he’ll still think he did the right thing anyway.

This is the most favorable gloss that can be put on this interpretation; and when stated like this, there’s something to be admired in Obama’s approach. But there is also danger in it as well. For right now, everything is not working out; in fact, things are getting worse on almost every front. Yet Obama appears to be too ideological, too set in his ways, to adjust to events and to reality. He appears to have boundless faith in himself and his worldview; he is convinced he will succeed, come what may. Call it a Faith-Based Presidency.

The president, therefore, seems unable to process the (massive) incoming evidence that his approach is not working. He is a great, world-historical figure — and yet our situation is fraying. This is creating a form of cognitive dissonance. And so he and his aides and supporters must blame others — his predecessor, the GOP, cable news, “structural factors,” a “communications problem,” our political culture, our political system, and even the American people. As his presidency skids, Obama has become obsessed with finding scapegoats.

True conservatism, it has been said, is the negation of ideology. Obama’s brand of liberalism is the epitome of it. He may not bend — but the Democrats, about to be administered an epic comeuppance, eventually will. At some point soon, they will conclude that enough of them have been sacrificed at the altar of Obamaism.

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Democratic Senate Candidates vs. Harry Reid and 68% of America

Harry Reid was trying to save himself, and perhaps some of his colleagues, when he broke with Obama over the Ground Zero mosque. But some Senate contenders simply can’t be helped and have doubled down.

In Illinois:

Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday during a visit to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield that he supports the mosque site. He says while he sympathizes with those who lost loved ones, Americans must stand up for freedom of religion even when it’s difficult.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Mark Kirk’s campaign said in a statement that he thinks placing the mosque near Ground Zero causes relatives of the victims “undue pain” and the mosque should move to a “less controversial site.”

In Pennsylvania:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled Tuesday to Pennsylvania to endorse Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Sestak, bringing along with him the politically volatile controversy surrounding the proposed mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. . .

In Philadelphia this morning, [Joe] Sestak … said he wasn’t too troubled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement on Monday opposing the location of the proposed Islamic center. “As you know, I haven’t taken very good direction yet from party leadership,” he said.

When asked if he’s sensitive to the families of those who died on 9/11, Sestak spoke passionately: “When I walked out of that Pentagon, 30 people who I knew never walked out of that building.”

“My 9/11 is that Pentagon,” he said. “Am I sensitive to (the family’s) desires? Sure, I am.” But Sestak said the concept of religious freedom is what is “most important” in this debate.

Now that’s interesting. At the Pentagon, contrary to the claims of  some mosque supporters (including Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes Ground Zero), there is no mosque. ABC News clarifies:

Sometimes misidentified as the “Pentagon Mosque,” the non-denominational Pentagon Memorial Chapel maintained by the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office is where department employees who practice Islam can meet to pray. Located at the site where the hijacked American Airlines flight 74 struck the Defense Department headquarters, the chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack. The 100-seat chapel is available to Pentagon employees of all faiths to come in prayer as they wish throughout the day. …

Dedicated in November 2002, after the reconstruction of the section of the building struck in the Sept. 11 attack, the Pentagon chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims who were killed there or were passengers aboard the hijacked jetliner. Behind the chapel’s altar is a lit stained-glass window, in the shape of the Pentagon, that bears the inscription, “United in Memory, September 11, 2001.” No religious icons or pictures are on display at the chapel. Religious symbols are brought in for religious services. A Torah, for example, housed in an ornate ark, is brought from behind curtains for use in the weekly Jewish service.

You’d think a Pentagon man would see a place of worship of this sort, rather than a 13-story monument to Islam, as the appropriate model for a 9/11 site.

Will the Ground Zero mosque be the defining issue in the 2010 campaign? Maybe not, but it’s the last thing Democrats (some of whom are trying to shed the image that they are too far left even for Blue States) needed. Meanwhile, Obama’s disapproval rating in Gallup’s poll ticked up to 51 percent, a new high. Might it be a better strategy for Democrats not to follow Obama over the political cliff?

Harry Reid was trying to save himself, and perhaps some of his colleagues, when he broke with Obama over the Ground Zero mosque. But some Senate contenders simply can’t be helped and have doubled down.

In Illinois:

Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias said Tuesday during a visit to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield that he supports the mosque site. He says while he sympathizes with those who lost loved ones, Americans must stand up for freedom of religion even when it’s difficult.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Mark Kirk’s campaign said in a statement that he thinks placing the mosque near Ground Zero causes relatives of the victims “undue pain” and the mosque should move to a “less controversial site.”

In Pennsylvania:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled Tuesday to Pennsylvania to endorse Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Sestak, bringing along with him the politically volatile controversy surrounding the proposed mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero. . .

In Philadelphia this morning, [Joe] Sestak … said he wasn’t too troubled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s statement on Monday opposing the location of the proposed Islamic center. “As you know, I haven’t taken very good direction yet from party leadership,” he said.

When asked if he’s sensitive to the families of those who died on 9/11, Sestak spoke passionately: “When I walked out of that Pentagon, 30 people who I knew never walked out of that building.”

“My 9/11 is that Pentagon,” he said. “Am I sensitive to (the family’s) desires? Sure, I am.” But Sestak said the concept of religious freedom is what is “most important” in this debate.

Now that’s interesting. At the Pentagon, contrary to the claims of  some mosque supporters (including Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes Ground Zero), there is no mosque. ABC News clarifies:

Sometimes misidentified as the “Pentagon Mosque,” the non-denominational Pentagon Memorial Chapel maintained by the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office is where department employees who practice Islam can meet to pray. Located at the site where the hijacked American Airlines flight 74 struck the Defense Department headquarters, the chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims of the 9/11 attack. The 100-seat chapel is available to Pentagon employees of all faiths to come in prayer as they wish throughout the day. …

Dedicated in November 2002, after the reconstruction of the section of the building struck in the Sept. 11 attack, the Pentagon chapel honors the memory of the 184 victims who were killed there or were passengers aboard the hijacked jetliner. Behind the chapel’s altar is a lit stained-glass window, in the shape of the Pentagon, that bears the inscription, “United in Memory, September 11, 2001.” No religious icons or pictures are on display at the chapel. Religious symbols are brought in for religious services. A Torah, for example, housed in an ornate ark, is brought from behind curtains for use in the weekly Jewish service.

You’d think a Pentagon man would see a place of worship of this sort, rather than a 13-story monument to Islam, as the appropriate model for a 9/11 site.

Will the Ground Zero mosque be the defining issue in the 2010 campaign? Maybe not, but it’s the last thing Democrats (some of whom are trying to shed the image that they are too far left even for Blue States) needed. Meanwhile, Obama’s disapproval rating in Gallup’s poll ticked up to 51 percent, a new high. Might it be a better strategy for Democrats not to follow Obama over the political cliff?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama’s baddest critic warns him about flip-floppery on the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Obama, you are not the mayor of Podunk arguing with the City Council over sewer versus septic; you are the president of the United States of America , the greatest country in the world! It may be that your utterances are sounding like indefensible rubbish to more and more of us, but at the very least you, the presidential enunciator of them, ought to have the courage to defend them —especially when they’re already in writing.”

Greg Sargent warns anti-Israel Democrats that the Emergency Committee for Israel is putting them “on notice that if they criticize Israel, they can expect to be targeted, too.” Or, to put it differently, it will be harder to fake being pro-Israel.

Charlie Cook warns Democrats that the Connecticut Senate race will tighten. And sure enough: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Connecticut Voters finds that Democrat Richard Blumenthal has slipped below the 50% mark of support this month against Republican Linda McMahon in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Bill Kristol warns the left to get a grip: “The ‘f*ck tea’ movement [the real name of a new leftist undertaking] — that’s what the left has come to. They can’t defend the results of Obama’s policies or the validity of Krugman’s arguments. They know it’s hard to sustain an antidemocratic ethos in a democracy. They realize they’ve degenerated into pro-am levels of whining and squabbling. So they curse their opponents.”

The Gray Lady warns politicians to avoid Michelle Obama’s vacation gaffe: “Forget the lush beaches of Bora Bora or the Campari-soaked cafes along the Côte d’Azur. And don’t even think about Rome or Paris. Astute Washington politicians have long known that when it comes to politically palatable summer vacations, it is best not to cross any oceans. Or even seas. Michelle Obama violated one of this city’s most sacrosanct unwritten rules when she went to Spain — during a recession, no less — with her daughter and a few friends.”

Senate Republicans warn the administration that its pick for ambassador to Turkey is a no-go: “The nomination of Frank Ricciardone to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey is being held up in the Senate and the GOP has no intention of allowing a vote on the nomination any time soon. … The administration might be wary of spending its limited political capital to push through the Ricciardone nomination to a floor debate in the Senate because it could open up a broader public discussion of Turkey policy the White House might not think is useful given the delicate diplomatic environment.”

Douglas Schoen warns fellow Democrats: “The recent discouraging economic news is a watershed for the Obama administration — at least as far as the midterms are concerned. It discredits one of the administration’s few remaining positive arguments: that the administration ushered in an economic recovery that otherwise might not have occurred.”

Bibi warns the world, explains George Will: “If Iran were to ‘wipe the Zionist entity off the map,’ as it vows to do, it would, Netanyahu believes, achieve a regional ‘dominance not seen since Alexander.’ … He says that 1948 meant this: ‘For the first time in 2,000 years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend itself against attack.’ And he says: ‘The tragic history of the powerlessness of our people explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.’ If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned.” Nor will it be able to say that, by leaving the job to Israel, Obama fufilled his role as leader of the Free World.

Obama’s baddest critic warns him about flip-floppery on the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Obama, you are not the mayor of Podunk arguing with the City Council over sewer versus septic; you are the president of the United States of America , the greatest country in the world! It may be that your utterances are sounding like indefensible rubbish to more and more of us, but at the very least you, the presidential enunciator of them, ought to have the courage to defend them —especially when they’re already in writing.”

Greg Sargent warns anti-Israel Democrats that the Emergency Committee for Israel is putting them “on notice that if they criticize Israel, they can expect to be targeted, too.” Or, to put it differently, it will be harder to fake being pro-Israel.

Charlie Cook warns Democrats that the Connecticut Senate race will tighten. And sure enough: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Connecticut Voters finds that Democrat Richard Blumenthal has slipped below the 50% mark of support this month against Republican Linda McMahon in the state’s U.S. Senate race.”

Bill Kristol warns the left to get a grip: “The ‘f*ck tea’ movement [the real name of a new leftist undertaking] — that’s what the left has come to. They can’t defend the results of Obama’s policies or the validity of Krugman’s arguments. They know it’s hard to sustain an antidemocratic ethos in a democracy. They realize they’ve degenerated into pro-am levels of whining and squabbling. So they curse their opponents.”

The Gray Lady warns politicians to avoid Michelle Obama’s vacation gaffe: “Forget the lush beaches of Bora Bora or the Campari-soaked cafes along the Côte d’Azur. And don’t even think about Rome or Paris. Astute Washington politicians have long known that when it comes to politically palatable summer vacations, it is best not to cross any oceans. Or even seas. Michelle Obama violated one of this city’s most sacrosanct unwritten rules when she went to Spain — during a recession, no less — with her daughter and a few friends.”

Senate Republicans warn the administration that its pick for ambassador to Turkey is a no-go: “The nomination of Frank Ricciardone to be the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey is being held up in the Senate and the GOP has no intention of allowing a vote on the nomination any time soon. … The administration might be wary of spending its limited political capital to push through the Ricciardone nomination to a floor debate in the Senate because it could open up a broader public discussion of Turkey policy the White House might not think is useful given the delicate diplomatic environment.”

Douglas Schoen warns fellow Democrats: “The recent discouraging economic news is a watershed for the Obama administration — at least as far as the midterms are concerned. It discredits one of the administration’s few remaining positive arguments: that the administration ushered in an economic recovery that otherwise might not have occurred.”

Bibi warns the world, explains George Will: “If Iran were to ‘wipe the Zionist entity off the map,’ as it vows to do, it would, Netanyahu believes, achieve a regional ‘dominance not seen since Alexander.’ … He says that 1948 meant this: ‘For the first time in 2,000 years, a sovereign Jewish people could defend itself against attack.’ And he says: ‘The tragic history of the powerlessness of our people explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.’ If Israel strikes Iran, the world will not be able to say it was not warned.” Nor will it be able to say that, by leaving the job to Israel, Obama fufilled his role as leader of the Free World.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Gloom and doom from the Democrats: “Dems are worried that a new feud between the WH and their liberal base is further endangering the party’s candidates during the midterms, exacerbating an already immense enthusiasm gap.”

Succinct brilliance from Charles Krauthammer: “No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz — and no mosque at Ground Zero. Build it anywhere but there.”

Evasion from Rep. Anthony Weiner on the Ground Zero mosque. Is it too hard a question, or is his answer too unpopular?

A warning from the Democrats’ own ranks. Rick Sloan, acting executive director of UCubed, a community-service project of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers: “You can talk about deficit reduction, health-care reform—you can talk about all those things but you’re talking past the jobless voters.” And from a Democratic voting analyst: “Unemployment in the individual congressional districts ‘is the leading factor in determining the November elections. … The hope of the administration is it’s trending down when the elections are held, but they’re running out of time.”

A dose of reality from Colorado: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Voters in Colorado shows a close U.S. Senate race between Republican challenger Ken Buck and incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. Buck attracts 46% support, while Bennet picks up 41% of the vote.” So much for the notion that Colorado proves Obama still has political mojo.

An effort to save Republicans from themselves on birthright citizenship, from Michael Gerson: “The Radical Republicans who wrote the 14th Amendment were, in fact, quite radical. … Their main goal was expressed in birthright citizenship: to prevent a future majority from stealing the rights of children of any background, as long as they were born in America. Today’s dispute over birthright citizenship reveals the immigration debate in its starkest form. Usually, opponents of illegal immigration speak of giving lawbreakers what they deserve. But this does not apply in the case of an infant. … The radical, humane vision of the 14th Amendment can be put another way: No child born in America can be judged unworthy by John Boehner, because each is his equal.”

Surprising sanity from the Gray Lady’s editors: “We believe that the United States has a powerful national interest in Afghanistan, in depriving Al Qaeda of a safe haven on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This country would also do enormous damage to its moral and strategic standing if it now simply abandoned the Afghan people to the Taliban’s brutalities. … But reports from the ground have been so relentlessly grim — July’s death toll of 66 American troops was the highest since the war began — that Mr. Obama needs to do a better job right now of explaining the strategy and how he is measuring progress.”

Gloom and doom from the Democrats: “Dems are worried that a new feud between the WH and their liberal base is further endangering the party’s candidates during the midterms, exacerbating an already immense enthusiasm gap.”

Succinct brilliance from Charles Krauthammer: “No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz — and no mosque at Ground Zero. Build it anywhere but there.”

Evasion from Rep. Anthony Weiner on the Ground Zero mosque. Is it too hard a question, or is his answer too unpopular?

A warning from the Democrats’ own ranks. Rick Sloan, acting executive director of UCubed, a community-service project of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers: “You can talk about deficit reduction, health-care reform—you can talk about all those things but you’re talking past the jobless voters.” And from a Democratic voting analyst: “Unemployment in the individual congressional districts ‘is the leading factor in determining the November elections. … The hope of the administration is it’s trending down when the elections are held, but they’re running out of time.”

A dose of reality from Colorado: “The first Rasmussen Reports post-primary telephone survey of Likely Voters in Colorado shows a close U.S. Senate race between Republican challenger Ken Buck and incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. Buck attracts 46% support, while Bennet picks up 41% of the vote.” So much for the notion that Colorado proves Obama still has political mojo.

An effort to save Republicans from themselves on birthright citizenship, from Michael Gerson: “The Radical Republicans who wrote the 14th Amendment were, in fact, quite radical. … Their main goal was expressed in birthright citizenship: to prevent a future majority from stealing the rights of children of any background, as long as they were born in America. Today’s dispute over birthright citizenship reveals the immigration debate in its starkest form. Usually, opponents of illegal immigration speak of giving lawbreakers what they deserve. But this does not apply in the case of an infant. … The radical, humane vision of the 14th Amendment can be put another way: No child born in America can be judged unworthy by John Boehner, because each is his equal.”

Surprising sanity from the Gray Lady’s editors: “We believe that the United States has a powerful national interest in Afghanistan, in depriving Al Qaeda of a safe haven on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This country would also do enormous damage to its moral and strategic standing if it now simply abandoned the Afghan people to the Taliban’s brutalities. … But reports from the ground have been so relentlessly grim — July’s death toll of 66 American troops was the highest since the war began — that Mr. Obama needs to do a better job right now of explaining the strategy and how he is measuring progress.”

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Democratic Lawmakers, an Endangered Species

Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey in 13 states with competitive U.S. Senate races as defined by the Cook Report. This survey, Public Opinion Strategies points out, is not the same as a generic ballot. It tested the specific candidates by name and party in every state but Colorado (where there are no clear primary front runners), in which case it tested the “Republican” versus the “Democratic” candidate. (In Florida, it included Charlie Crist as a candidate of no party affiliation.)

The results foreshadow enormous trouble for the Democrats in the midterm election, including these:

(1) The Republican candidate leads on the ballot 47%-39% across the 13 Battleground Senate states. The lead is 45%-37% in the Republican-held states (Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio), and 47%-40% in Democratic-held states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington).

(2) Independents are voting Republican by 47%-25% across the Battleground states.

(3) In the four states John McCain won in 2008, the GOPer leads 46%-36%. In the nine states Barack Obama won, the GOPer still leads 47%-40%, including 50%-38% in the five states Obama won with less than 55%, and 43%-42% in the four Obama 55%+ states.

(4) There is a 21-point gender gap. Men are voting GOP 52%-33% while women split 42% GOP/44% Democratic.

(5) Democratic candidates face a wide disparity in terms of enthusiasm. Republicans lead 52%-36% among high-interest voters.

(6) Among Independents, only 21% say the nation is in the right direction, while 68% say it’s on the wrong track.

The bottom line from the survey?

Voters in the 13 Battleground Senate seats — five held by Republicans, eight by Democrats — want to vote for Republicans. Voters in the four seats held by Democratic incumbents are unhappy with those incumbents and are in a mood for change. Delving into the survey, the crosstab data shows even more of an opportunity for Republicans to make major gains in these U.S. Senate seats than even the positive topline data indicates. Independents are breaking heavily to the Republican candidates, and high interest voters provide significantly more support to the Republican candidates than the electorate overall. Democrats in these Battleground Senate races are not only facing an enthusiasm gap, they are also facing a message gap. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that they can make up for with money what they are losing on turnout interest and on message. But, as recent elections have once again shown, when voters are unhappy with the party running Washington, problems of message and turnout trump financial advantages. While some of the Democratic candidates in these thirteen Battleground Senate states may survive, given the way the electorate is moving against them, most of them will not.

Democratic lawmakers in the Age of Obama are becoming, in many instances and in many places, an endangered species. Change is coming; it’s just not the type of change liberals imagined.

Public Opinion Strategies conducted a survey in 13 states with competitive U.S. Senate races as defined by the Cook Report. This survey, Public Opinion Strategies points out, is not the same as a generic ballot. It tested the specific candidates by name and party in every state but Colorado (where there are no clear primary front runners), in which case it tested the “Republican” versus the “Democratic” candidate. (In Florida, it included Charlie Crist as a candidate of no party affiliation.)

The results foreshadow enormous trouble for the Democrats in the midterm election, including these:

(1) The Republican candidate leads on the ballot 47%-39% across the 13 Battleground Senate states. The lead is 45%-37% in the Republican-held states (Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio), and 47%-40% in Democratic-held states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington).

(2) Independents are voting Republican by 47%-25% across the Battleground states.

(3) In the four states John McCain won in 2008, the GOPer leads 46%-36%. In the nine states Barack Obama won, the GOPer still leads 47%-40%, including 50%-38% in the five states Obama won with less than 55%, and 43%-42% in the four Obama 55%+ states.

(4) There is a 21-point gender gap. Men are voting GOP 52%-33% while women split 42% GOP/44% Democratic.

(5) Democratic candidates face a wide disparity in terms of enthusiasm. Republicans lead 52%-36% among high-interest voters.

(6) Among Independents, only 21% say the nation is in the right direction, while 68% say it’s on the wrong track.

The bottom line from the survey?

Voters in the 13 Battleground Senate seats — five held by Republicans, eight by Democrats — want to vote for Republicans. Voters in the four seats held by Democratic incumbents are unhappy with those incumbents and are in a mood for change. Delving into the survey, the crosstab data shows even more of an opportunity for Republicans to make major gains in these U.S. Senate seats than even the positive topline data indicates. Independents are breaking heavily to the Republican candidates, and high interest voters provide significantly more support to the Republican candidates than the electorate overall. Democrats in these Battleground Senate races are not only facing an enthusiasm gap, they are also facing a message gap. It is possible, albeit unlikely, that they can make up for with money what they are losing on turnout interest and on message. But, as recent elections have once again shown, when voters are unhappy with the party running Washington, problems of message and turnout trump financial advantages. While some of the Democratic candidates in these thirteen Battleground Senate states may survive, given the way the electorate is moving against them, most of them will not.

Democratic lawmakers in the Age of Obama are becoming, in many instances and in many places, an endangered species. Change is coming; it’s just not the type of change liberals imagined.

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START Grinds to a Halt

The votes in the Senate aren’t there for the crowning glory of Obama’s “reset” strategy with Russia:

The treaty, called New Start, was supposed to be the relatively quick and easy first step leading to a series of much harder and more sweeping moves to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Instead, a Senate committee on Tuesday shelved the treaty until fall, when it faces an uncertain future in the midst of a hotly contested election season.

The White House remains confident that it will get the pact approved eventually, possibly in a postelection lame-duck session, and it accepted the delay as a way to win over Republican senators who asked for more time to address their concerns. But even if the treaty does pass in the end, the long process of negotiation and ratification has pushed back the rest of Mr. Obama’s program and has raised obstacles to the more controversial measures.

This is a major embarrassment for the president, and yet another sign that he is losing political capital at a frightful pace. Moreover, it’s one more indication that lawmakers will become increasingly resistant to the president’s agenda, as regards both domestic and foreign policy (the Senate already blocked the confirmation of his ambassador to Syria).

It also highlights how inept is his foreign policy team, and how inapt is the administration’s “jam it through” strategy when it comes to national security:

Some conservatives said that Mr. Obama’s agenda was never all that realistic and that he would be wise to seek a broader consensus. “Trying to do treaties and national security policy as if they’re health care is a bad call,” said one such critic, Henry D. Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. “You don’t do this by one vote. You do this by overwhelming majority. They need to learn to work with the other side.”

And at least for now, the Obama team concedes that its dream of a second arms treaty with Russia is kaput.

As a substantive matter, this is a positive development. In addition to the treaty’s other infirmities (most glaring, the impact on our ability to proceed with missile-defense development), there are real constitutional concerns about a treaty that embodies Obama’s fetish for multilateral institutions. Jack Goldsmith and Jeremy Rabkin explain:

[New START creates] a Bilateral Consultative Commission with power to approve “additional measures as may be necessary to improve the viability and effectiveness of the treaty.” The U.S. and Russian executive branches can implement these measures and thus amend U.S. treaty obligations — without returning to the U.S. Senate or the Russian Duma.

Could the commission constrain missile defense? It is empowered to “resolve questions related to the applicability of provisions of the Treaty to a new kind of strategic offensive arm.” The treaty’s preamble recognizes “the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms.” The commission might have jurisdiction over missile defense through this interrelationship. Russia has already warned that it might withdraw from the treaty if the United States develops missile defenses. Limits on missile defense systems thus might be “necessary to improve the viability and effectiveness of the Treaty.”

In short, the Senate should not only be wary of what damage the treaty does to our national security; it should also be concerned about what it does to the Constitution and the Senate’s own powers (“as more authority for making international agreements is transferred to the executive branch and international organizations, the cumulative effect of these arrangements becomes increasingly hard to square with the Senate’s constitutional role in the treaty-making process and, more generally, with separation of powers”).

START is a microcosm of many of the shortcomings of the Obama administration — excessive deference to international rivals, disrespect shown the other branches of government, and political tone-deafness (the Obami really thought this would glide through the Senate?). With lawmakers increasingly willing to flex their own political muscle, the first two of these ailments may be minimized. Unfortunately for the Obami, there’s no magic cure for the third.

The votes in the Senate aren’t there for the crowning glory of Obama’s “reset” strategy with Russia:

The treaty, called New Start, was supposed to be the relatively quick and easy first step leading to a series of much harder and more sweeping moves to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Instead, a Senate committee on Tuesday shelved the treaty until fall, when it faces an uncertain future in the midst of a hotly contested election season.

The White House remains confident that it will get the pact approved eventually, possibly in a postelection lame-duck session, and it accepted the delay as a way to win over Republican senators who asked for more time to address their concerns. But even if the treaty does pass in the end, the long process of negotiation and ratification has pushed back the rest of Mr. Obama’s program and has raised obstacles to the more controversial measures.

This is a major embarrassment for the president, and yet another sign that he is losing political capital at a frightful pace. Moreover, it’s one more indication that lawmakers will become increasingly resistant to the president’s agenda, as regards both domestic and foreign policy (the Senate already blocked the confirmation of his ambassador to Syria).

It also highlights how inept is his foreign policy team, and how inapt is the administration’s “jam it through” strategy when it comes to national security:

Some conservatives said that Mr. Obama’s agenda was never all that realistic and that he would be wise to seek a broader consensus. “Trying to do treaties and national security policy as if they’re health care is a bad call,” said one such critic, Henry D. Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. “You don’t do this by one vote. You do this by overwhelming majority. They need to learn to work with the other side.”

And at least for now, the Obama team concedes that its dream of a second arms treaty with Russia is kaput.

As a substantive matter, this is a positive development. In addition to the treaty’s other infirmities (most glaring, the impact on our ability to proceed with missile-defense development), there are real constitutional concerns about a treaty that embodies Obama’s fetish for multilateral institutions. Jack Goldsmith and Jeremy Rabkin explain:

[New START creates] a Bilateral Consultative Commission with power to approve “additional measures as may be necessary to improve the viability and effectiveness of the treaty.” The U.S. and Russian executive branches can implement these measures and thus amend U.S. treaty obligations — without returning to the U.S. Senate or the Russian Duma.

Could the commission constrain missile defense? It is empowered to “resolve questions related to the applicability of provisions of the Treaty to a new kind of strategic offensive arm.” The treaty’s preamble recognizes “the interrelationship between strategic offensive arms and strategic defensive arms.” The commission might have jurisdiction over missile defense through this interrelationship. Russia has already warned that it might withdraw from the treaty if the United States develops missile defenses. Limits on missile defense systems thus might be “necessary to improve the viability and effectiveness of the Treaty.”

In short, the Senate should not only be wary of what damage the treaty does to our national security; it should also be concerned about what it does to the Constitution and the Senate’s own powers (“as more authority for making international agreements is transferred to the executive branch and international organizations, the cumulative effect of these arrangements becomes increasingly hard to square with the Senate’s constitutional role in the treaty-making process and, more generally, with separation of powers”).

START is a microcosm of many of the shortcomings of the Obama administration — excessive deference to international rivals, disrespect shown the other branches of government, and political tone-deafness (the Obami really thought this would glide through the Senate?). With lawmakers increasingly willing to flex their own political muscle, the first two of these ailments may be minimized. Unfortunately for the Obami, there’s no magic cure for the third.

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Who Can Trust Sestak on Israel?

Rep. Joe Sestak’s “shut up” strategy followed by his “I’m really, honestly a friend of Israel” isn’t working. The local media have figured out that Sestak’s keynote speech to CAIR is far more revealing than his recent avowals of devotion to the Jewish state. Benyamin Korn writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Does it matter if a candidate for U.S. Senate served as a keynote speaker for an extremist group? Does it matter if he hired one of the group’s staff to serve on his staff? These are some of the questions being asked about Rep. Joe Sestak as voters learn about his ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

After reciting CAIR’s affection for Hamas (“CAIR executive director Nihad Awad has said, ‘I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO,’ the Palestine Liberation Organization”) and its well-known ties to terrorists, Korn observes:

Despite all this, Sestak hired CAIR’s director of communications in Philadelphia, Adeeba Al-Zaman, to work in his new Washington office in 2007. Soon thereafter, Al-Zaman had arranged for Sestak to be invited to speak at CAIR’s Philadelphia dinner that year.

Sestak accepted the invitation to headline the dinner. Members of the Jewish community met with him beforehand and pleaded with him to cancel, citing CAIR’s terrorism ties. But Sestak wouldn’t budge. To this day, Sestak refuses to acknowledge that his appearance at the dinner was a mistake. Instead, his campaign has tried to pressure Comcast to stop broadcasting an advertisement challenging his record on Israel. A letter from Sestak’s lawyer demanded that the ad be suppressed because it falsely characterized Sestak as anti-Israel.

Nor does Korn buy Sestak’s resume puffery that he “put his life on the line to defend Israel.” (“Pardon me for doubting that an Arab army would attack Israel during a joint American-Israeli military exercise.”)

Despite all of Sestak’s huffing and puffing, he has dodged the central concerns about his Israel record. Did he not realize that the Gaza 54 letter was a left-wing slam on Israel? Does he regret his slobbery praise for CAIR and now recognize that it is, in fact, a terrorist front group? Why hasn’t he — if he’s so devoted to Israel — demanded that the U.S. leave and refuse to fund the UN Human Rights Council?

Sestak is walking a fine line here. J Street has ponied up cash and run ads for him, so Sestak can’t fully embrace a robust pro-Israel line. But now that he has been exposed as a pol who “plays footsie with CAIR,” he’s had to rush toward a mainstream position on Israel. In the end, the Israel-bashing left and pro-Israel voters may very well both conclude he can’t be trusted. But CAIR still stands by their man (and he by the group). That should help clarify matters.

Rep. Joe Sestak’s “shut up” strategy followed by his “I’m really, honestly a friend of Israel” isn’t working. The local media have figured out that Sestak’s keynote speech to CAIR is far more revealing than his recent avowals of devotion to the Jewish state. Benyamin Korn writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Does it matter if a candidate for U.S. Senate served as a keynote speaker for an extremist group? Does it matter if he hired one of the group’s staff to serve on his staff? These are some of the questions being asked about Rep. Joe Sestak as voters learn about his ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

After reciting CAIR’s affection for Hamas (“CAIR executive director Nihad Awad has said, ‘I am in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO,’ the Palestine Liberation Organization”) and its well-known ties to terrorists, Korn observes:

Despite all this, Sestak hired CAIR’s director of communications in Philadelphia, Adeeba Al-Zaman, to work in his new Washington office in 2007. Soon thereafter, Al-Zaman had arranged for Sestak to be invited to speak at CAIR’s Philadelphia dinner that year.

Sestak accepted the invitation to headline the dinner. Members of the Jewish community met with him beforehand and pleaded with him to cancel, citing CAIR’s terrorism ties. But Sestak wouldn’t budge. To this day, Sestak refuses to acknowledge that his appearance at the dinner was a mistake. Instead, his campaign has tried to pressure Comcast to stop broadcasting an advertisement challenging his record on Israel. A letter from Sestak’s lawyer demanded that the ad be suppressed because it falsely characterized Sestak as anti-Israel.

Nor does Korn buy Sestak’s resume puffery that he “put his life on the line to defend Israel.” (“Pardon me for doubting that an Arab army would attack Israel during a joint American-Israeli military exercise.”)

Despite all of Sestak’s huffing and puffing, he has dodged the central concerns about his Israel record. Did he not realize that the Gaza 54 letter was a left-wing slam on Israel? Does he regret his slobbery praise for CAIR and now recognize that it is, in fact, a terrorist front group? Why hasn’t he — if he’s so devoted to Israel — demanded that the U.S. leave and refuse to fund the UN Human Rights Council?

Sestak is walking a fine line here. J Street has ponied up cash and run ads for him, so Sestak can’t fully embrace a robust pro-Israel line. But now that he has been exposed as a pol who “plays footsie with CAIR,” he’s had to rush toward a mainstream position on Israel. In the end, the Israel-bashing left and pro-Israel voters may very well both conclude he can’t be trusted. But CAIR still stands by their man (and he by the group). That should help clarify matters.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

How could Rep. Joe Sestak think he was supporting Israel when he called for a “fair” UN Human Rights Council investigation of the flotilla incident? The UNHRC has appointed its kangaroo court. (The identities of the marsupials matter not at all.) The Israeli response: “In response to the UN’s decision, a foreign ministry official said that the UN Human Rights Council’s made its decision in haste, and that it was ‘part of the Rights Council’s obsession against Israel.’ ‘The Israeli probe, conducted with transparency, makes the organization’s probe completely unnecessary,’ the [Israeli] official added.” I think a lawmaker who is really pro-Israel would understand that.

How low can Obama’s approval ratings go?

How long before Democrats throw in the towel on Blanche Lincoln? “Republican John Boozman holds a 25-point lead over Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race.”

How unhappy are they in West Virginia? “Residents of Hawaii led the nation in wellbeing in the first half of 2010, holding onto their 2009 top spot and delivering the highest Well-Being Index score on record for any state since Gallup and Healthways began tracking scores in 2008. West Virginia had the lowest Well-Being Index score, as it did in 2008 and in 2009.” Gosh, money — billions from Sen. Robert Byrd’s handiwork — really doesn’t buy you happiness.

How badly do the Democrats want to get rid of the Charlie Rangel story? “Thursday’s unexpected announcement that the House ethics committee would begin a trial on ethics charges leveled against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) came after a secret, months-long effort to settle the case fell apart, according to several sources close to the situation. The negotiations were designed to avoid the spectacle of a trial by his peers for Rangel, but talks apparently broke down. … One source close to Rangel suggested a compromise still may be reached next week before the opening steps in the trial get under way.”

How negatively have liberal economic policies impacted young Americans? “Today marks the first anniversary of Congress’s decision to raise the federal minimum wage by 41% to $7.25 an hour. But hold the confetti. According to a new study, more than 100,000 fewer teens are employed today due to the wage hikes. … Minimum wage laws are especially detrimental to black workers, who tend to be less experienced or have been trapped in failing public schools. The overall teen unemployment rate in June was 25.7%, versus 39.9% for black teens.” Imagine how Obama would be carrying on about this if he weren’t in the White House.

How in the world are Democrats going to defend this economic record? “New estimates from the White House on Friday predict the budget deficit will reach a record $1.47 trillion this year. The government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. That’s actually a little better than the administration predicted in February. The new estimates paint a grim unemployment picture as the economy experiences a relatively jobless recovery. The unemployment rate, presently averaging 9.5 percent, would average 9 percent next year under the new estimates. The gaping deficits are of increasing concern to voters.”

How about a moratorium on apologies in the Shirley Sherrod incident? None of them behaved well, and we’ve really heard enough from all of them for a good long time.

How could Rep. Joe Sestak think he was supporting Israel when he called for a “fair” UN Human Rights Council investigation of the flotilla incident? The UNHRC has appointed its kangaroo court. (The identities of the marsupials matter not at all.) The Israeli response: “In response to the UN’s decision, a foreign ministry official said that the UN Human Rights Council’s made its decision in haste, and that it was ‘part of the Rights Council’s obsession against Israel.’ ‘The Israeli probe, conducted with transparency, makes the organization’s probe completely unnecessary,’ the [Israeli] official added.” I think a lawmaker who is really pro-Israel would understand that.

How low can Obama’s approval ratings go?

How long before Democrats throw in the towel on Blanche Lincoln? “Republican John Boozman holds a 25-point lead over Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race.”

How unhappy are they in West Virginia? “Residents of Hawaii led the nation in wellbeing in the first half of 2010, holding onto their 2009 top spot and delivering the highest Well-Being Index score on record for any state since Gallup and Healthways began tracking scores in 2008. West Virginia had the lowest Well-Being Index score, as it did in 2008 and in 2009.” Gosh, money — billions from Sen. Robert Byrd’s handiwork — really doesn’t buy you happiness.

How badly do the Democrats want to get rid of the Charlie Rangel story? “Thursday’s unexpected announcement that the House ethics committee would begin a trial on ethics charges leveled against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) came after a secret, months-long effort to settle the case fell apart, according to several sources close to the situation. The negotiations were designed to avoid the spectacle of a trial by his peers for Rangel, but talks apparently broke down. … One source close to Rangel suggested a compromise still may be reached next week before the opening steps in the trial get under way.”

How negatively have liberal economic policies impacted young Americans? “Today marks the first anniversary of Congress’s decision to raise the federal minimum wage by 41% to $7.25 an hour. But hold the confetti. According to a new study, more than 100,000 fewer teens are employed today due to the wage hikes. … Minimum wage laws are especially detrimental to black workers, who tend to be less experienced or have been trapped in failing public schools. The overall teen unemployment rate in June was 25.7%, versus 39.9% for black teens.” Imagine how Obama would be carrying on about this if he weren’t in the White House.

How in the world are Democrats going to defend this economic record? “New estimates from the White House on Friday predict the budget deficit will reach a record $1.47 trillion this year. The government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. That’s actually a little better than the administration predicted in February. The new estimates paint a grim unemployment picture as the economy experiences a relatively jobless recovery. The unemployment rate, presently averaging 9.5 percent, would average 9 percent next year under the new estimates. The gaping deficits are of increasing concern to voters.”

How about a moratorium on apologies in the Shirley Sherrod incident? None of them behaved well, and we’ve really heard enough from all of them for a good long time.

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Sestak Did It for Israel

The Pennsylvania media is on to Joe Sestak’s strategic gaffe:

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak frequently tells supporters at campaign events that he would rather risk his job than shirk a principle. The Delaware County Democrat says it is for that reason that his campaign has been demanding that television stations across the state, and Comcast here in Philadelphia, pull ads created and funded by private groups attacking his run for the U.S. Senate.

But by attacking his attackers, does Sestak help draw attention to their claims?

That seemed to be the case with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is running an ad on 21 TV stations in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton and Johnstown that says that Sestak voted 100 percent of the time with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “job-killing” legislation on health care and energy.

Two stations in Pittsburgh pulled the ad for one day, but the resulting media coverage only helped spread the message.

The report points out that the same is true of his unsuccessful effort to stifle the Emergency Committee for Israel. And what does Sestak say, now that it’s apparent his “shut-up” strategy is a bust?

That ad claims that Sestak “raised money for an anti-Israel organization the FBI called a front group for Hamas,” the Palestinian group that funds terrorist attacks on Israel.

Sestak said his campaign asked Comcast to pull the ad because it is “harming Israel’s security.”

“This was not any kind of political calculation,” Sestak said. “For me, this was purely based on how I look at Israel, which is always about security and not politics.”

Groan. He tried to trample on the First Amendment rights of his opponents for Israel’s sake? Good grief. Shouldn’t he then have tried to take down J Street’s ad? I mean apparently debating Israel policy is somehow a threat to the Jewish state. But no, it’s actually a threat to Sestak, one so severe he’s tried to squash the entire discussion.

But if we want to talk about what is good for Israel, let’s ask Israelis. Only about 10 percent of them approve of Obama’s policy, which J Street tells us (most recently in its ad that features Obama quite prominently) is exactly what Sestak is supporting. Oh, Israelis don’t get to decide what is in their security interests, at least according to J Street.

One thing is certain: Sestak and the Democrats are petrified of making Israel a campaign issue. They simply want critics of their approach to pipe down and voters to accept on faith that their self-descriptions as pro-Israel are unassailable. If we weren’t a democracy where all issues of public policy are open to debate and where elected leaders must be accountable for their actions, it would make perfect sense.

The Pennsylvania media is on to Joe Sestak’s strategic gaffe:

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak frequently tells supporters at campaign events that he would rather risk his job than shirk a principle. The Delaware County Democrat says it is for that reason that his campaign has been demanding that television stations across the state, and Comcast here in Philadelphia, pull ads created and funded by private groups attacking his run for the U.S. Senate.

But by attacking his attackers, does Sestak help draw attention to their claims?

That seemed to be the case with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is running an ad on 21 TV stations in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton and Johnstown that says that Sestak voted 100 percent of the time with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on “job-killing” legislation on health care and energy.

Two stations in Pittsburgh pulled the ad for one day, but the resulting media coverage only helped spread the message.

The report points out that the same is true of his unsuccessful effort to stifle the Emergency Committee for Israel. And what does Sestak say, now that it’s apparent his “shut-up” strategy is a bust?

That ad claims that Sestak “raised money for an anti-Israel organization the FBI called a front group for Hamas,” the Palestinian group that funds terrorist attacks on Israel.

Sestak said his campaign asked Comcast to pull the ad because it is “harming Israel’s security.”

“This was not any kind of political calculation,” Sestak said. “For me, this was purely based on how I look at Israel, which is always about security and not politics.”

Groan. He tried to trample on the First Amendment rights of his opponents for Israel’s sake? Good grief. Shouldn’t he then have tried to take down J Street’s ad? I mean apparently debating Israel policy is somehow a threat to the Jewish state. But no, it’s actually a threat to Sestak, one so severe he’s tried to squash the entire discussion.

But if we want to talk about what is good for Israel, let’s ask Israelis. Only about 10 percent of them approve of Obama’s policy, which J Street tells us (most recently in its ad that features Obama quite prominently) is exactly what Sestak is supporting. Oh, Israelis don’t get to decide what is in their security interests, at least according to J Street.

One thing is certain: Sestak and the Democrats are petrified of making Israel a campaign issue. They simply want critics of their approach to pipe down and voters to accept on faith that their self-descriptions as pro-Israel are unassailable. If we weren’t a democracy where all issues of public policy are open to debate and where elected leaders must be accountable for their actions, it would make perfect sense.

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Shut Up, Joe Sestak Responded

Yes, it’s a trend, apparently. Run an add that hits home and the target wants to make sure viewers can’t see it so they can make up their own minds. The ECI launched its opening salvo against Joe Sestak and Sestak’s lawyer rushes in to respond, as Ben Smith reports:

A lawyer for Rep. Joe Sestak, attesting to the Senate candidate’s pro-Israel bona fides, wrote that Sestak had “put his life on the line to defend Israel” during his years in the Navy. The letter, an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Comcast not to air an attack ad from the Emergency Committee for Israel, aggressively makes Sestak’s case on several fronts, but the suggestion that his naval service* in was performed “to defend Israel” is rarely heard outside conspiracy circles.

“Congressman Joe Sestak is the only candidate in the U.S. Senate race who (as an officer of the Navy) was willing to put his life on the line to defend Israel,” Sestak lawyer Jared Solomon wrote Comcast. “It is offensive and outrageous to suggest that he does not stand with Israel.”

Solomon’s letter, obtained by POLITICO,  challenges several other portions of the attack ad, including a claim that he’d helped fundraise for the Council on American Islamic Relations (his appearance was at “a portion of the event explicitly free of fundraising”) and that the group had been called a Hamas “front group” (“the characterization came a year after the CAIR event”).

This is a bizarre and telling move by Sestak on a number of grounds. First, is Sestak saying that he was in mortal peril as commander of a  naval battle group? Sensing that this is a gross exaggeration, his spokesman piped up with a “clarification”:

Sestak spokesman Jonathan Dworkin says the reference was not to any specific conflict, but to a series of operations with the Israeli Military, including a deployment in 2003 to help protect Israel from Iraqi missiles. “There is no suggestion that he served in the Navy for the purpose of defending Israel, only that he was involved in situations with the Israeli military and while serving the United States, he was willing to lay his life on the line in defense of our ally, Israel,” he writes.

Any military service, in my book, should be commended, but we’ve had enough of puffery lately about military credentials and it sure wasn’t the case that he was crawling on his belly through Gaza to protect the Jewish state. But, frankly, it’s hard to tell precisely what he did, because Sestak has refused to release his military records. If they show that he in fact risked life and limb for Israel and put to rest the controversy as to whether he was relieved of command — or told to resign (for creating a “poor command climate”) — why isn’t he putting out his Navy records?

Nor is the lawyer’s argument compelling, let along intelligible, that Sestak wasn’t really accusing Israel of “resorting to collective punishment” when he signed a letter promoted by J Street along with 53 other Israel-bashers. That letter called on Israel to figure out an approach to Gaza “without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza strip.” Huh? I don’t see how Sestak can escape from the text he signed off on.

But that’s not the weirdest part of the letter. He’s essentially saying: “I didn’t actually raise money for CAIR (although there was an admission fee), I just spoke at an event.” And he’s arguing it wasn’t the whole FBI who called CAIR a Hamas front group — just one agent did. Sheesh. I don’t see how that is going to fly. After all, CAIR officials have been the subject of many a legal investigation and have some rather radical views.

In the campaign Sestak’s going to have some explaining to do. Really, is he going to say it was only after the fundraising event that CAIR got the moniker of “Hamas front group”? They had been under investigation, after all, for years. More to the point, does he now understand that CAIR is in fact a front group?

Also, take a look at the letter and exhibits that the ECI submitted in response to the “shut them up” plea from Sestak’s lawyer. I’m not sure how fair-minded people can look at all that and conclude that Sestak has a pro-Israel track record, unless we are willing to concede that “pro-Israel” has no meaning.

Arlen Specter tried to raise many of these same points during the primary, so this isn’t anything new. What is surprising is that Sestak thinks he can muscle his way through the campaign without revealing his Navy records, without expressing any remorse for speaking at a CAIR event (with a Muslim activist who compared Zionists to Nazis) and without explaining what exactly makes him so attractive to J Street. We’ll see if he can pull it off.

Yes, it’s a trend, apparently. Run an add that hits home and the target wants to make sure viewers can’t see it so they can make up their own minds. The ECI launched its opening salvo against Joe Sestak and Sestak’s lawyer rushes in to respond, as Ben Smith reports:

A lawyer for Rep. Joe Sestak, attesting to the Senate candidate’s pro-Israel bona fides, wrote that Sestak had “put his life on the line to defend Israel” during his years in the Navy. The letter, an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Comcast not to air an attack ad from the Emergency Committee for Israel, aggressively makes Sestak’s case on several fronts, but the suggestion that his naval service* in was performed “to defend Israel” is rarely heard outside conspiracy circles.

“Congressman Joe Sestak is the only candidate in the U.S. Senate race who (as an officer of the Navy) was willing to put his life on the line to defend Israel,” Sestak lawyer Jared Solomon wrote Comcast. “It is offensive and outrageous to suggest that he does not stand with Israel.”

Solomon’s letter, obtained by POLITICO,  challenges several other portions of the attack ad, including a claim that he’d helped fundraise for the Council on American Islamic Relations (his appearance was at “a portion of the event explicitly free of fundraising”) and that the group had been called a Hamas “front group” (“the characterization came a year after the CAIR event”).

This is a bizarre and telling move by Sestak on a number of grounds. First, is Sestak saying that he was in mortal peril as commander of a  naval battle group? Sensing that this is a gross exaggeration, his spokesman piped up with a “clarification”:

Sestak spokesman Jonathan Dworkin says the reference was not to any specific conflict, but to a series of operations with the Israeli Military, including a deployment in 2003 to help protect Israel from Iraqi missiles. “There is no suggestion that he served in the Navy for the purpose of defending Israel, only that he was involved in situations with the Israeli military and while serving the United States, he was willing to lay his life on the line in defense of our ally, Israel,” he writes.

Any military service, in my book, should be commended, but we’ve had enough of puffery lately about military credentials and it sure wasn’t the case that he was crawling on his belly through Gaza to protect the Jewish state. But, frankly, it’s hard to tell precisely what he did, because Sestak has refused to release his military records. If they show that he in fact risked life and limb for Israel and put to rest the controversy as to whether he was relieved of command — or told to resign (for creating a “poor command climate”) — why isn’t he putting out his Navy records?

Nor is the lawyer’s argument compelling, let along intelligible, that Sestak wasn’t really accusing Israel of “resorting to collective punishment” when he signed a letter promoted by J Street along with 53 other Israel-bashers. That letter called on Israel to figure out an approach to Gaza “without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza strip.” Huh? I don’t see how Sestak can escape from the text he signed off on.

But that’s not the weirdest part of the letter. He’s essentially saying: “I didn’t actually raise money for CAIR (although there was an admission fee), I just spoke at an event.” And he’s arguing it wasn’t the whole FBI who called CAIR a Hamas front group — just one agent did. Sheesh. I don’t see how that is going to fly. After all, CAIR officials have been the subject of many a legal investigation and have some rather radical views.

In the campaign Sestak’s going to have some explaining to do. Really, is he going to say it was only after the fundraising event that CAIR got the moniker of “Hamas front group”? They had been under investigation, after all, for years. More to the point, does he now understand that CAIR is in fact a front group?

Also, take a look at the letter and exhibits that the ECI submitted in response to the “shut them up” plea from Sestak’s lawyer. I’m not sure how fair-minded people can look at all that and conclude that Sestak has a pro-Israel track record, unless we are willing to concede that “pro-Israel” has no meaning.

Arlen Specter tried to raise many of these same points during the primary, so this isn’t anything new. What is surprising is that Sestak thinks he can muscle his way through the campaign without revealing his Navy records, without expressing any remorse for speaking at a CAIR event (with a Muslim activist who compared Zionists to Nazis) and without explaining what exactly makes him so attractive to J Street. We’ll see if he can pull it off.

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Slip-Sliding away — the Senate Majority, That Is

House Democrats are in frantic mode. Soon, Senate Democrats will be. From the Cook Political Report (subscription required), Jennifer Duffy writes that Carly Fiorina will have to overcome questions about her leadership of Hewlitt Packard but is one tough candidate:

She defends her role and actions at H-P, arguing that she did what needed to be done to position the company in the wake of the dot com bust and for the challenges ahead. The fact that H-P is doing well today would seem to support her case, but it is not a story that Fiorina tells in enough detail on the stump to take the wind out of the opposition’s argument. Instead, Fiorina prefers to focus on Boxer. She questions what the incumbent has actually accomplished in her nearly 18-year tenure in the Senate, and is critical of Boxer’s voting record, saying that she often votes against California’s economic interests. Fiorina believes that the stimulus package, which Boxer touts as a grand success for California, has been a failure that has not produced the promised jobs. She also takes aim at Boxer’s positions on the environment and her stewardship as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Recently, she has said that Boxer hasn’t done enough to ease the water crisis in the state’s Central Valley, accusing Boxer of caring more about protecting the endangered Delta smelt than about getting water to the state’s farmers and creating jobs. Fiorina also takes aim at Boxer’s record on national security, which was the subject of the last television ad she ran before the primary.

It is interesting that, in a year when many candidates are ignoring foreign policy, Fiorina is highlighting it. (“This marriage of national security and domestic policy may become a staple of Fiorina’s argument against Boxer, as will numerous other statements Boxer has made over the years that Republicans contend portray Boxer as out of touch and arrogant.”) Accordingly, the California race is moved to toss-up status.

Then there is Wisconsin:

Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold and his chief Republican challenger Ron Johnson remain locked in a neck-and-neck battle for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Wisconsin finds Johnson with 47% support, while the Democrat earns 46% of the vote.

It is as if the entire political playing field is tipped, and everything not anchored is sliding to one side. And consider if the turnout models are underestimating Republican enthusiasm. Why, then, the field tips at an even steeper angle.

Democrats have been assuring themselves that there would be a point at which the polls reverse course and their prospects brighten. Maybe that’s so. But they are running out of time.

House Democrats are in frantic mode. Soon, Senate Democrats will be. From the Cook Political Report (subscription required), Jennifer Duffy writes that Carly Fiorina will have to overcome questions about her leadership of Hewlitt Packard but is one tough candidate:

She defends her role and actions at H-P, arguing that she did what needed to be done to position the company in the wake of the dot com bust and for the challenges ahead. The fact that H-P is doing well today would seem to support her case, but it is not a story that Fiorina tells in enough detail on the stump to take the wind out of the opposition’s argument. Instead, Fiorina prefers to focus on Boxer. She questions what the incumbent has actually accomplished in her nearly 18-year tenure in the Senate, and is critical of Boxer’s voting record, saying that she often votes against California’s economic interests. Fiorina believes that the stimulus package, which Boxer touts as a grand success for California, has been a failure that has not produced the promised jobs. She also takes aim at Boxer’s positions on the environment and her stewardship as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Recently, she has said that Boxer hasn’t done enough to ease the water crisis in the state’s Central Valley, accusing Boxer of caring more about protecting the endangered Delta smelt than about getting water to the state’s farmers and creating jobs. Fiorina also takes aim at Boxer’s record on national security, which was the subject of the last television ad she ran before the primary.

It is interesting that, in a year when many candidates are ignoring foreign policy, Fiorina is highlighting it. (“This marriage of national security and domestic policy may become a staple of Fiorina’s argument against Boxer, as will numerous other statements Boxer has made over the years that Republicans contend portray Boxer as out of touch and arrogant.”) Accordingly, the California race is moved to toss-up status.

Then there is Wisconsin:

Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold and his chief Republican challenger Ron Johnson remain locked in a neck-and-neck battle for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Wisconsin finds Johnson with 47% support, while the Democrat earns 46% of the vote.

It is as if the entire political playing field is tipped, and everything not anchored is sliding to one side. And consider if the turnout models are underestimating Republican enthusiasm. Why, then, the field tips at an even steeper angle.

Democrats have been assuring themselves that there would be a point at which the polls reverse course and their prospects brighten. Maybe that’s so. But they are running out of time.

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Does the Left Have the Nerve to Run Against Israel?

It’s no surprise that the likes of M.J. Rosenberg, whose hatred of Israel and venom for its defenders is practically unmatched, is screeching that the Emergency Committee for Israel has accused Joe Sestak of being “un-American.” He’s not paying attention — Sestak is being accused of being anti-Israel. A specialist in dual-loyalty charges like Rosenberg should know the difference. And I can’t begin to figure out his bizarre assertion that those who care about Iran going nuclear shouldn’t bother with “local Pennsylvania politics.” It is the U.S. Senate we’re talking about, right? Mr. Rosenberg, not only your animus but also your panic is showing.

But it’s worth trudging through that hooey to get to this comment from a Rosenberg reader:

As a Democrat I hope Sestak wins, but I find it interesting that far from defending his position on the letter about the Gaza blockade, he will now bend over backward to make sure people in Pennsylvania know how much he disagrees with you, Mr. Rosenberg, on what needs to be done with Israel. For the next six years Joe Sestak will say everything and do everything that AIPAC wants and to that I say: AMEN!

Well, this is the rub, isn’t it? Sestak signed the Gaza 54 letter, but now that he’s in a Senate race, he has signed on with a majority of his House colleagues in a letter supporting Israel on the flotilla and implicitly criticizing the administration. Did he have a change of heart, or does he merely lack the nerve to be as forthright about his views with the Pennsylvania electorate as he was with his J Street backers?

And what of the anti-Israel left? Aren’t they just a bit peeved that first Obama and now Sestak has dropped the Israel-bashing? You would think that they, too, would have the power of their convictions. Why do they prefer to fuzz up the differences between Sestak and his opponent on Israel? Wonder if it has anything to do with the political toxicity of their anti-Israel stance. But Rosenberg’s reader has one thing wrong: Sestak isn’t likely to get elected by conning the voters that he is AIPAC’s best friend. J Street — and ECI — will make that very hard.

It’s no surprise that the likes of M.J. Rosenberg, whose hatred of Israel and venom for its defenders is practically unmatched, is screeching that the Emergency Committee for Israel has accused Joe Sestak of being “un-American.” He’s not paying attention — Sestak is being accused of being anti-Israel. A specialist in dual-loyalty charges like Rosenberg should know the difference. And I can’t begin to figure out his bizarre assertion that those who care about Iran going nuclear shouldn’t bother with “local Pennsylvania politics.” It is the U.S. Senate we’re talking about, right? Mr. Rosenberg, not only your animus but also your panic is showing.

But it’s worth trudging through that hooey to get to this comment from a Rosenberg reader:

As a Democrat I hope Sestak wins, but I find it interesting that far from defending his position on the letter about the Gaza blockade, he will now bend over backward to make sure people in Pennsylvania know how much he disagrees with you, Mr. Rosenberg, on what needs to be done with Israel. For the next six years Joe Sestak will say everything and do everything that AIPAC wants and to that I say: AMEN!

Well, this is the rub, isn’t it? Sestak signed the Gaza 54 letter, but now that he’s in a Senate race, he has signed on with a majority of his House colleagues in a letter supporting Israel on the flotilla and implicitly criticizing the administration. Did he have a change of heart, or does he merely lack the nerve to be as forthright about his views with the Pennsylvania electorate as he was with his J Street backers?

And what of the anti-Israel left? Aren’t they just a bit peeved that first Obama and now Sestak has dropped the Israel-bashing? You would think that they, too, would have the power of their convictions. Why do they prefer to fuzz up the differences between Sestak and his opponent on Israel? Wonder if it has anything to do with the political toxicity of their anti-Israel stance. But Rosenberg’s reader has one thing wrong: Sestak isn’t likely to get elected by conning the voters that he is AIPAC’s best friend. J Street — and ECI — will make that very hard.

Read Less




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