Prepare for a Blowout

I am a strong proponent of the idea that candidate recruitment is the ultimate futures market of elections. Collectively, the decisions made by candidates on both sides tell a lot about where politicos on the ground see the political environment headed in the next year to 18 months. It was not surprising that in 2006 and especially in 2008, candidate recruitment on our side sucked wind. Only one Senate race -- Louisiana -- was even remotely considered a Republican pickup opportunity in '08.

For 2010, the story is different. We are by and large getting our top-tier recruits in Senate races, and in more and more House races. And the White House is not getting theirs. The bumper crop of good candidates we had in the 2002 and 2004 cycles appears to have returned. 

Though it's early -- I don't think people thought 1994 could be a really big year until at least February of that year -- I do think we have to prepare for the idea that 2010 could be a big, big year that could put us back within striking distance in both the Senate and the House. Normally, I wouldn't want to raise expectations -- but going back to that candidate recruitment futures thing: if you are remotely thinking of running for office in the next few years, 2010 could be your best shot, and here's why:

  • The horrendous 2006 and 2008 cycles have depressed Republican totals in Congress to far below the historical mean. Though the fact that there were two successive 20+ seat losses in the House and 5+ seat losses in the Senate in the House is historically unique,  collectively they equal one 1980 or 1994-style wipeout -- after which Democrats finally began to recover.
  • The unique confluence of youth and African American turnout for Obama padded vote totals for Congressional Democrats by about 4 points -- and in a midterm -- I'm sorry -- those votes won't be there. We saw this pretty clearly in the Georgia Senate runoff. In 2012, however, those voters might be back -- making 2010 an opportune moment for a promising Congressional challenger to gain a foothold.
  • The Democrats are now clearly responsible for everything, and trying to blame Bush and the GOP wears thinner and thinner by the day. Even if the economy recovers somewhat, and with massive job losses still on the horizon, I don't see people feeling that recovery, let's remember that the economy was in a clear recovery by 1994 but that didn't help Clinton and Democrats.

On a micro-tactical level, Obama may be taking great pains to avoid Clinton's fate on health care, as Ezra Klein details in Sunday's Washington Postbut the broader optics are starting to converge for Obama and Clinton: young, energetic change agents who are being proven ineffective, overexposed, and prone to ADD (Clinton held 38 press conferences his first year, drawing this comparison to Obama's first few days in office).

In many ways, the proving ground for this hypothesis won't be Congress, but the states. There we have 50 distinct political cultures than run in parallel to Washington. And, as Michael Barone notes, the mood there seems to point in the direction of belt-tightening and more humble government, not grandiose new infrastructure or health care schemes.

Rubio v. Crist - a fight for the direction of the GOP

Erick Erickson of Redstate.com has called for a boycott of the NRSC after that body endorsed Gov. Charlie Crist for Mel Martinez's seat over Marco Rubio.

Crist's popularity makes him as close to a sure thing as the Republican Party can find for an empty seat in the election - but Rubio is much more appealing to the base. Rubio's youth, Cuban ethnicity and Catholicism are also a breath of fresh air in a party whose national figures (McConnell, Boehner, McCain, Romney et. al.) are short on all three of those characteristics.

Rubio might do better do stay in Florida and run for Governor - a successful term in the Governor's office would make him 2016 Presidential timber. But he hasn't stepped aside, which would lead to a primary race that would be a microcosm of the broader fight between Republican moderates and right-wingers over the direction the Party should go in.

I like Rubio. His ethnic and religious background, as well as his outsider status, are both welcome breaths of fresh air in a party that hasn't really produced any new figures that are taken seriously outside the party's base. He'd also be a very competitive candidate in a battleground state, and if he won he'd be a valuable asset to the Republican candidate in 2016. Despite this, I think he should stand down in favor of Crist - he's as close to a sure thing as can be found for Republicans this election cycle. He'd free up money and other resources to help Republicans on shakier ground, like Mark Kirk in Illinois. And his already-high national profile would only be increased by a successful Senate campaign. Coming form what has been the quintessential battleground state in the last three elections, he would be a highly visible spokesman for the Republican platform in D.C.

The NRSC is not backing down on the endorsement of Crist over Rubio, specifically attacking the "30 senators" stance made famous by Jim DeMint. With Rubio not ceding to the will of the party, things could get ugly in Florida. Who do you think will win? Who should win? And will the donnybrook in the primaries give the Democrats a shot at the seat?

Marco Rubio: A Modest Proposal

While I'm not a fan of Crist's and I agree with Patrick's assesment of Crist's Senate run, said Senate run, unfortunately, puts us in a bind.  There's no way we can go after Crist without alienating a substantial number of independants.  At the same time Rubio, at least on Paper, appears to be a dream candidate who has the potential to join Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn among our truly fabulous Senators.

Thus, I make the following proposal: Let's clear the field for Crist this cycle and have Rubio keep his powder dry.  Rubio then gets everyone's support to go after Bill Nelson in 2012.


I hope this helps.

Cahnman out.

The Unhelpfulness of Charlie Crist

Unless you've been living in a cave or something, you've heard that Charlie Crist is running for the U.S. Senate from Florida.

This is supposed to be great news. No credible Democrat will now run. And this will save the national party from investing lots of money in holding a seat in a swing state. The logic is impeccable. 

Except for the fact that with Crist out of state politics, it's open season on the Florida Governor's mansion. And holding on there is far from a sure thing, with old warhorse Bill McCullom the likely GOP nominee going up against much buzzed about Dem CFO Alex Sink. 

We might say that the Governorship of Florida is not Washington's problem -- except this is the same sort of short-term DC-centered thinking that gives us establishment favorites inimical to the grassroots. The GOP's revival will not come from Washington or from the Senate. It will come from the states. From an overarching party balance sheet perspective, we need to evaluate the potential loss of the Florida statehouse before stating whether Crist's move is a good thing. 

Florida is one of the few places left with a thriving Republican state party and multiple plausible statewide officeholders waiting in the wings. I would not have minded a competitive Republican primary between Connie Mack and Marco Rubio -- because either could win the seat -- combined with a safe Crist re-elect. The conservative legislature in Tallahassee has largely restrained Crist from enacting Obamaism in Florida. 

On the one hand, I'm glad that candidate recruitment seems to be going pretty darn well in the Senate. However, my antennae stand on end when these recruits are plucked from useful and key positions in the states, because those officeholders are strategically more important to party revival. The class of 1994 was packed with Newt Gingrich/GOPAC recruits from the late '80s for mayors, county commissioners, and state legislatures. Ultimately, we'll be able to tell more stories about successful Republican governance if we can point to a few jurisdictions we actually control, rather than being a slightly more effective opposition on Capitol Hill. 

Saying No to No

Fred Barnes' upcoming article in the Weekly Standard endorses a Republican stance as the "party of No," calling on congressional Republicans to put opposition to President Obama's agenda ahead of finding new ideas to rebuild the party around after the curb-stomping it took at the polls in 2008.

This could work on what are essentially regional issues, like the bailout of former rustbelt titans GM and Chrysler. Obstructionism becomes more problematic on national issues such as healthcare reform.

A Congressional Budget Office study shows that the U.S. has 45 million uninsured citizens. As more and more citizens are laid off and lose employer-provided health care, and as more and more business are unable to afford their employee health plans as a result of the economic crunch, this problem will just get worse over time. The CBO study estimates that 9 million more Americans will be without coverage a decade from now.

A blanket rejection of any health-care reform plan, without proposing a viable alternative, is political suicide. Uninsured Americans from Washington state to Florida will see the Democrats proposing some kind of solution, no matter how expensive or unworkable it really is. Rahm Emanuel and the DNC/DCC war machine will easily be able to portray Republicans as standing between them and the continued good health of their families. The attack ads practically write themselves.

This isn't an endorsement of socialized medicine, or an endorsement of Republicans blindly going along with whatever plan Obama et. al. end up proposing. But Republicans need to have a coherent, realistic alternative plan that helps the uninsured, or else they will hand Democrats the 2010 midterms on a silver platter.

What Killed The GOP?

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” -Mark Twain

The Republican party is undergoing a rapid and drastic change. As we speak, all sorts of factions vie and joust for preeminence within a party that seems to be deflating overnight. People associated with the party for a long time look about them in disbelief, as if after an airplane crash where there seems nothing at all recognizable left of the original vehicle, just little pieces strewn as far as the eye can see.

It is speculated that the GOP have become the new Whigs, and will inevitably be cast aside in favor of a one party state into the foreseeable future. Of course, this sort of speculation is frivolous.

What happened to the GOP becomes clear with the benefit of some distance from the tremendous shifts of the 2006 and 2008 elections. It is linked to a massive shift across the board amongst our media, political class, and intelligentsia that has been so big as to have gone almost unnoticed until now.

The problem with the GOP from an electoral perspective in both 2006 and 2008 stem from a fairly simple source, but that source is deeply rooted and readjustment will inevitably be painful.

As a Congressional staffer, I worked on Capitol Hill, and saw the GOP leadership in the House from a relatively close vantage point. As a member of my generation, and coming as I do from California, I found the culture of Washington DC to be unique, and that found within Republican areas of Congress even more so. That is the first clue as to what went wrong for the party

Washington is anachronistic. The culture is a leftover from an earlier age. While the rest of the nation is culturally very firmly in the 21st century, the area inside the Washington DC beltway is probably approaching the 1980s or so. This cultural divide is a result of necessity, it is the natural effect of the machine that Washington is and the function it serves.

For decades, we were every bit the Republic. We sent our representatives to Washington based largely on our estimate of their judgment, with no idea what issues they may have to face in the years until the next election, and we judged them based on what we thought that they had done, based largely on the reports of a few media outlets and the statements they released themselves. Since the machinery for more direct government simply did not exist, this was the best system we could use, and it worked quite well for a very long time.

In the resulting culture within Washington itself, something I call the “cult of the gentleman”, and more negative people describe as an “old boy’s club” developed. It was the logical creation of our very political system, and it too had it’s uses. In this system, a person sent to Washington had to be a “gentleman” to get anything done. A gentleman was somebody who was first and foremost loyal to his friends, who stood absolutely on his word to his close associates, and who closed deals with a handshake, not a contract, and certainly never a press release. Because representatives were there to act as independent agents on behalf of the voters, and could receive but little input from those voters thanks to distance and technological limitations, they were effectively on their own. They had to rely on their own judgment exclusively, and since the landscape of Washington is composed of other such persons, the first skill they had to know was how to be a gentleman, so as to get along with the other Washingtonians, so that they could get something done; because you could not accomplish anything if you could not sign others on to your initiatives.

This is where “horse trading” comes from. Elected agents would agree to support one another, just as bloggers today mutually link to one another for support. One would vote for the bill his friend proposed, not based on the contents of that bill, but based on his relationship to it’s author. In return, one of his bills would be supported. This was logical, since politicians could rely on face to face contact with people they spoke to every day, and had to rely on one another’s word, just as their constituents relied on them based on their word.

What has happened in the last ten years is a technological revolution in America that is easily as significant as the opening of the first newspaper presses in the American Colonies. This change was rapid, and it has not yet reached the full extent of it’s tremendous impact on our whole civilization. Suddenly, average voters are able to track, through a constant stream of information coming onto the internet, the activity of their representatives in far greater detail than ever before. Suddenly people could speak back quickly and efficiently in real time, and they could use the internet to organize rallies and political activities all by themselves, coming together like the crystal in saline solution; spontaneously, with only a small spark.

In the old Washington, you voted for the bill your friend proposed because he was close and your constituents were far away. It is quickly changing into a situation where your constituents are close and your friend is far away; separated by the barriers to human interaction we all experience as information flows at us in an ever increasing stream. This utterly changes the paradigm for Washingtonians, but they are the last to realize it.

What we ourselves do not realize is the extent to which this has shifted the political game in the United States. Nor do we understand how irrevocable that shift has been. Both the Democrat and Republican parties have for many decades had two fundamental factions within their ranks; “personality politicians” and “ideology politicians”. To a greater or lesser extent, virtually every politician of any party can be placed in one of these two categories.

A personality politician runs on his personality, he makes the case that he can be trusted with the power to represent a given region because of his inherent judgment, character, or wisdom. The ideology politician makes the case that his ideology (which he will elaborate if he wants to be successful) is one which most closely represents the people of his district. This is a divide long understood and written about by political scientists; the obligation of a politician to try to accurately represent his constituents or the obligation of a politician to use his own judgment. There is no one answer to this, it is not black and white, and a politician will always have to strike some balance between what he perceives to be the will of his constituents and what he perceives to be the right thing to do.

As a result of far greater technical ability to follow every word and action of politicians, via people recording them with cellphone cameras, vloggers following them with palmcorders, and the old established leakers and journalists of days gone by, we have become a far more well informed body politic than previously. The result is the triumph of the ideological politician over the gentleman politician.

Now, traditionally, an ideologue was mistrusted in Washington, because they necessarily saw everything through the lens of their ideology. Nobody wanted to work with a guy who lived his life as a result of a political ideology. Why is this? Just think about it, you may vote for a guy who does nothing but spout his political ideology, and who becomes fiery and enraged when somebody strays from the political line, but would you want to have a drink with him in the Republican Club (or local bar)? Even more to the point; would you want that guy in your living room all the time? No, gentlemen, though ideologically slippery, were far and away more congenial to be around, and even when standing in opposition to you, were ready to go out for cocktails after the day’s joust was over. Thus, ideologues gained a reputation as people who couldn’t be taken seriously. They could raise an angry mob back home, but in DC, they couldn’t get anything done, because they estranged people.

But you say, if we are “closer” now to our politicians than we were, shouldn’t the gentlemen be rewarded for being personable? In answer, I ask if you have ever read the comments on your average youtube posting. We do not consider the internet to be equivalent to sitting in the bar with someone or we wouldn’t treat online postings the way we would a bathroom wall at a truck stop. We would never think to write on any part of our homes what we write on online forums. No, we are incredibly critical, often hostile, and always highly ideological when online, and are personable, quiet, neighborly, and uninterested in politics when we meet our neighbors mowing their lawns. That is the America of the 21st century.

Simply put; he is rewarded who can consistently put forth an ideology and intelligently defend it, and is rewarded more to the extent that that ideology is broad and consistently fits with the facts of our world. What a gentleman politician can explain eye to eye in a cocktail lounge inside the Beltway sounds like absurd flip-flopping when he explains it in writing to an online critic. In this environment, ideology is king.

The Democratic party has already dealt with this revolution, but the GOP is only going through this transition now. Back in the late 1990s, I was very surprised at the degree to which the Democratic party was beginning to drift leftward. This accelerated rapidly after President Clinton left office, and I was puzzled, and incorrectly assumed (based on 20th century political calculus) that as they moved hard to the left, they would alienate the center, which they needed for national office.

You saw personality politicians in the Democratic party left behind (Sen. Joe Lieberman is a perfect example). I knew something significant was going on when the Democrats could nominate Lieberman as Vice Presidential nominee for the 2000 election, only to abandon him as too centrist in 2006. How could a party move that much, ideologically speaking, in so short a time? How could Al Gore run as hard left as he could, for as long as he could and still be sidelined and honestly be probably too moderate for today’s Democratic party? How could Hillary Clinton have been undermined and ultimately toppled from the left in 2008? Even more interesting is why the Democrats could move so hard to the left and win such a big majority in the 2008 election if the entire nation has not shifted very much?

Clinton lost in 2008 because she was using the old calculus; you have to win the middle, and personality is more important than consistent ideology. Simply put, in the no holds barred debate forum of today’s America, a politician who consistently maintains a single ideological stance over time will win out over one who does not. Just consider the case of the criticism of Hillary’s vote on the Iraq war. Just look at Barack Obama’s voting record. He is as rock-ribbed liberal as you can be. With so many easy to use online rating systems and sites that describe every vote a politician ever made, it is easy for bloggers and pundits, and anybody else to look at a voting record boiled down to hard facts. It is easier to defend a consistent record from critics who disagree with your premises than to defend an inconsistent record from people who question your judgment.

If we analyze any one vote to make a demonstration, we should look at the most important vote cast by the Republican majority since the decision concerning the Iraq war; the financial services bailout vote of August 2008. In this vote, the GOP was split. The party divided neatly between those who stood by the Bush administration, and those who stood by Republican ideology. Tradition would dictate that a party stand by a guy they had gone to lunches with and spoken to face to face, and who was probably 75% kosher ideologically from a GOP standpoint, not that they would throw an old colleague and fellow gentleman to the wolves the first time he makes a major break from the party line. Tradition was wildly out of date in 2008, as the Democrats, still reeling from their own internal bloodbath, knew perfectly well.

The Republicans were left behind because of the nature of being in power in Washington. Remember where I said the Democratic shift accelerated after the end of Clinton’s Presidency? When a party is in power, they are very busy; they are working with other members of their party inside Washington. Ideas are bouncing from the Republicans in the House and Senate to the White House, back over to the Congress, and being churned over and put into laws or discarded. The fast pace, and volume of work to be done in running our nation do not allow a lot of time for reflection. White House staff consider it normal to suffer a rolling staff turnover as people burn out after a year or two in those conditions. In this environment, with the best and brightest in a party occupied by their jobs, there is no time or energy left for a rethinking of the party itself, and traditionally, this has led to a party too long in power getting out of touch with the country.

In this case, it isn’t just a matter of being out of touch, but a small matter of the most significant communications revolution since radio taking place across the world. The Democratic party was out of power and therefore subject to the rapid changes. This was well documented by the media, who speak of the “netroots” movement. What is not being considered is the truth that this revolution in two way communications is not limited to the left wing in politics, nor is the Internet as a whole liberal; certainly, despite the impressions given by early internet being linked to academia, it is far less liberal than the major conventional media outlets such as newspapers or television.

This brings me to predictions. We see today that the steady, individually tiny, and collectively overwhelming pressures of rapid feedback are utterly transforming our conventional media. Newspapers are increasingly obsolete. If a columnist wishes to be heard, he can make a blog like everybody else and his writing will stand on it’s own merit, not his ability to fight a bureaucratic battle within a little news company hierarchy. If he complains that he needs money, let him make a blog as well. Successful bloggers have found ways to make more money blogging than the average columnist makes writing columns. We, the blogosphere, feel no pity for the newspapers.

Major television, no matter how big the mother company, is not immune. MSNBC was moved further faster, but we see CNN also polarizing in their editorial outlook hard to the left, while Fox polarizes more and more to the right. All the media outlets are giving up the idea of “objective” journalism in favor of the far more honest understanding that everybody has some kind of bias one way or another and it is better for everybody if that bias is known in advance and not concealed. This is precisely what is effecting politics as well. We want reliability and predictability from our politicians and news anchors, not so much personality. This was the death of John McCain, whose war hero record was necessarily non-ideological, and therefore necessarily irrelevant to the principal debate. While Obama could defend a consistent stance, even if it was no the same as the majority of the country, McCain had none. We respect those we disagree with utterly but who honestly believe what they believe and stick to their guns; we do not respect those who seem to have no philosophy whatever.

This is why the GOP seemed like the party of the old boy’s club. This is why the party seemed to have no ideology at all. This is why the GOP leadership seemed to betray the country on the most important legislation in a lifetime, when it so obviously was opposite their ideological stance against out of control government, and it is why the Democrats are veering so hard to the left in so many ways in so short a time.

McCain lost the Presidency when he came back to Washington, suspended his campaign, the nation held it’s breath, and then instead of siding with the vast majority of voters against both an unpopular President Bush and his opponent, he simply echoed both of them on the bailout issue, losing his credibility and watching his poll numbers evaporate. At that moment, his campaign was lost and they knew it.

As a result of this new world, the GOP will re-form. It will do so even if it does not want to, but will be forced to by the will of the American people to have some check on the other party. The Republican ranks will be purged of those who cannot consistently defend their ideology or even explain what it is. Gentlemen will be brutally dropped, just as we saw in the bloodbath that left a former Democratic nominee for Vice President end up supporting the opposite party’s nominee for President only eight years later. What happened amongst Democrats will now happen on an accelerated time scale with the GOP, and it will look messy, but in the end, the party will be reborn far more fit, far more in tune with today’s America, and ultimately, since we have not lurched to the left as a nation, with very good prospects considering that all this is taking place in a center-right country.

For more commentary visit www.jubalbiggs.wordpress.com

Resurrecting the Angry Republican theme

Robert Reich...

Republicans have made no secret of their wish to blame Obama for the bad economy, and to stir up as much populist rage against his so-called socialist tendencies as politically possible. History shows how effective demagogic ravings can be when a public is stressed economically. Make no mistake: Angry right-wing populism lurks just below the surface of the terrible American economy, ready to be launched not only at Obama but also at liberals, intellectuals, gays, blacks, Jews, the mainstream media, coastal elites, crypto socialists, and any other potential target of paranoid opportunity.

Really?  First Republicans criticize big government, then...the Holocaust?  Are these the Democratic talking points? I understand Robert Reich's desire to carry movement water, but I would think he would have the integrity to carry better water than this.

The 1994 Republican Revolution was the result of public rejection of Democratic overreach.  In response, Democrats accused Republicans of being "angry" and unreasonable.  (See the Time "Mad as Hell" cover accusing Newt Gingrich of perfecting "the politics of anger". It ran immediately after the 1994 election)   The narrative was very effective for the Democrats.

Between this and recent attacks on, e.g., Rush Limbaugh, it's clear that Democrats are trying to resurrect this "angry" narrative before the 2010 mid-term election in order to delegitimize opposition to Democratic schemes. 

Leaves His Socks On The Floor

An old friend on mine just got remarried--for the third time. She is drunk with love, text messaging "I miss you" when her new husband is absent for a mere matter of hours. Its terribly amusing, but also a little sad--I remember this same behavior with both ex-husbands. One day she'll walk into the bedroom and see his socks lying on the floor where he dropped them, and the bliss will be replaced with a flash of anger and resentment. The honeymoon will be over.

Maureen Dowd found some socks on the floor.

In one of his disturbing spells of passivity, President Obama decided not to fight Congress and live up to his own no-earmark pledge from the campaign.

He’s been lecturing us on the need to prune away frills while the economy fizzles. He was slated to make a speech on “wasteful spending” on Wednesday.

“You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorate your house and there are times where you need to focus on rebuilding its foundation,” he said recently about the “hard choices” we must make. Yet he did not ask Congress to sacrifice and make hard choices; he let it do a lot of frivolous redecorating in its budget. ...

Blame it on the stars, Rahm, or on old business. But as Shakespeare wrote in “Lear”: “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeits of our own behavior — we make guilty of our own disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars.”

Maureen is not the only one seeing the full bloom of love wilting under the weight of day to day living with the Obama administration. Jennifer Rubin, in a Pajamas Media post, lists the shocked and appalled Chris Buckley, David Brooks, David Gergen and Marty Peretz, as disappointed former lovers.

Some will no doubt chortle over the comeuppance of these media know-it-alls, but in some ways they are ahead of many conservatives who keep insisting that Barry is some evil genius with a plan. More on that later...

Its fairly clear to me that Barack Obama thinks there is one set of rules for George W. Bush, and another set of rules for him. Perhaps its because the mommy-media always picked up his socks for him, but whatever the reason, he seems to think that he can forever point the finger at his predecessor or Congress and safely maintain an Olympian detachment and a contrived centrist image. What was generally perceived as a beginner's mistake--the delegation of the stimulus bill creation to Nancy Pelosi, is more recently being recognized as a pattern--let Nancy do the left-wing dirty work to keep Barry's hands clean.

Yet as these pundit complaints reveal, those watching closely are not fooled, and those not watching closely will inevitably ignore such subtle distinctions and lay the blame or credit squarely at the feet of the administration. The Democrat brain trust seem to think that Obama has some sort of Reaganesque teflon suit he can wear to deflect criticism, and blissfully unaware that the teflon was a result of popular policies that actually succeeded. Reagan's landslide reelection could best be summarized by a question he asked in 1980 and then again in 1984--"...are you better off than you were four years ago?" Having done the big things right, the people weren't much interested in the day-to-day ticky-tack.

right-wrong%20track%20historical%20trend.pngClick to enlarge-->

With a no confidence vote by the financial markets, the moral hazard of Obama's mortgage rescue plan, increasing unemployment and generally no light at the end of the tunnel, its a stretch to claim that Obama is doing the "big things right". Obama's wrong track numbers are in the red zone, and only an "improvement" relative to the spike in October during the Lehman Bros. debacle. Pollster.com aggregates the polls for an average wrong track number of 59%.

Historically wrong track numbers this high have always signaled an election loss for the incumbent during an election year. Clinton had numbers like this in 1994 when Republicans won 54 seats in the House,12 governorships and 20 state legislatures. It also marked the year that Clinton hired Dick Morris and decided to govern with Republicans instead of minority Democrats.

Currently the administration has some cover as there is still a substantial number of wrong-trackers who blame the Bush administration for the current woes, but both time and the growing disillusionment of the politically informed is going to erode that bulwark, and faster than anyone might expect. Truman's famous "The buck stops here" was less an acceptance of responsibility than a simple acknowledgment of the realities of the presidency.

There is no public consensus accepting the Democrat rhetoric that low taxes caused the current economic nightmare, which is simply counter-intuitive to most people. By contrast, the Republican narrative about how Dodd and Franks forced the banks into making bad loans is entirely plausible. Democrats and Republicans might have differing tolerance for corruption, but both have no trouble acknowledging its existence.

Sky-is-falling conservatives need to recognize the relative contributions of various environmental factors in determining the future political landscape. Only eight years after Nixon resigned, and party affiliation dropped to its nadir, Reagan entered the oval office with a Republican majority in the Senate. 2010 and 2012 could be significantly more impressive than that.

The Democrats have laid the groundwork for an ignominious defeat, but the scale of that defeat is entirely in the hands of conservatives who have an enormous amount of work to do to articulate a modern political program that borrows the best from the past, trashes the worst, and adapts to current issues like the environment, immigration, corporate responsibility, etc...

Yesterday I had lunch with some friends who recounted to me the story of an old neighbor who had built a successful business, sold it for 15 million and then preceded to lose it all--to the point that he was living with his adult children. Sounds terrible doesn't it, but this is American, land of the second acts. The same man ran across an interesting piece of exercise equipment at a trade show, and somehow managed to raise a quarter million to buy the rights. That piece of exercise equipment because the Healthrider--a company he sold for 100 million.

Failure always hurts, but its often a remarkable opportunity to move forward unshackled of the necessity to protect what you have. Republicans don't have to play defense anymore and can build a better future from the lessons learned from the past.


2010 Senate: Don't Primary Specter; An Alternative.

Michael Barone makes a typically brilliant point looking forward to 2010:

[I]f I were a conservative cheerleader against the Obama/Pelosi stimulus package, I would be concentrating less of my fire against the three Republicans who supported the Senate version and more on Democratic members of the House and (at least those who are up for reelection in 2010) the Senate.

Given all the talk on the right the past few days, I must go on the record AGAINST a primary challenge to Arlen Specter.  My reason is simple: Arlen Specter is the only Republican who's won Statewide in Pennsylvania at the Federal Level since 2001.  More specifically, he knows how to win in the Philly suburbs.  As Chris Palko has blogged about on this site, Republicans have gotten killed in the Philly 'burbs for the past decade.

A little background: I supported Pat Toomey in 2004.  In 2004, Republicans had a (reasonably) popular President, control of the U.S. House, and VERY narrow control of the U.S. Senate; under those circumstances, it made sense to replace a Liberal Republican with a Conservative Republican.  There was good reason to believe that whoever won the Republican Primary would cruise to victory in the General Election.  As a state with a Democrat Governor and a Republican State Senate, Pennsylvanians are well known ticket splitters.

In 2010, Republicans will only have 41 Senators.  While the President's popularity heading into the election cannot be known, Conservatives should prepare for the worst.  Republicans shouldn't risk a perfectly good Senate seat when a much smarter alternative exists.  Whatever Specter's flaws, a liberal Republican is better than a Democrat.

And what, pray tell, is the Alternative?

That one's simple.

Let's Beat Democrats!

More Specifically, there are 5 (actually 10) Senate seats currently held by DEMOCRATS that we should aggressively target before we counterproductively cannibalize our own.

1) Indiana - While Obama eeked out McCain in this state in 2008, it's historically been a GOP stronghold.  As such, Indiana will be Ground Zero of any backlash against President Obama's economic policies; Evan Bayh will not be able to hide his vote(s) .  If Mike Pence runs for the Seat, so much the better.

2) Wisconsin - While Obama won this state solidly in 2008, it has a history of electing Republicans and Bush almost won it in 2004.  The Incumbent, Russ Feingold, is a far left kook who teamed up with John McCain for one of the all time great legislative assaults on the Constitution.  If Congressman Paul Ryan or Former Governor Thompson could pick up this seat, they would do the nation a great service.

3) North Dakota - This is a state that consistently votes Republican at the Presidential and Gubenatorial Levels yet elects borderline Bolsheviks to the U.S. Senate.  Well, the Radicals Have Taken Over and they just got their way on economic policy.  Byron Dorgan will own the results of President Obama's economic policy.  Most of the statewide offices (at the state level) are held by Republicans.

4) Arkansas -  This state was one of the few bright spots for the GOP in 2008.  Every county voted more Republican than 2004.  Seats like these are the low hanging fruit of any future majority.

5) Nevada - President Obama just insulted Las Vegas.  Harry Reid is President Obama's cheif Lieutenant in the Senate.  Need I say more?

As you can see, pickup opportunities abound in seats currently held by Democrats.  We can do more to influence the agenda in the Senate by picking up these seats than by going after one of our own.  Primary Challenges are a luxury we cannot afford.


In case you would like to know why Arlen Specter deserves to stay in the Senate, I present the following three reasons:

1) The Surge -- In 2007, when the Democrats in Congress wanted to give up in Iraq, Senate Republicans rallied around President Bush and gave him enough breathing room to get the Surge off the Ground.  Arlen Specter was one of those Senate Republicans.

2) John Roberts and Sam Alito -- As Judiciary Committee chairman, Specter did what was necesssary to get President Bush's Supreme Court nominees through the Senate.  He'll do the same with any future Republican President.

3) Senator Chris Matthews -- I just can't handle that.  No way.  I can live with Arlen Specter if it prevents that.

I hope this helps.


Obama Stimulus Will Fall Flat; GOP Must Stand Up and Fight

President-elect Barack Obama has laid out a plan to “create or save” three million jobs during his first two years in office. His plan is to increase government spending, deficit be damned, by at least $775 billion dollars over that same period. While the projects he plans to invest in are things that we Americans can all use, the stimulus plan will be a flop. Here’s how I got here:

Let’s start with the money. Obama plans to increase government spending without any increases in taxes, so that negates his use of PAYGO budgeting. At the same time, the total amount of money per job that he creates or saves will come out to more than $258,333 per job. There are business executives who don’t even make this money for their job, yet Obama, who has never held a private sector job in his lifetime figures the cost of a job to “create or save” at more than one quarter of a million dollars.

Any reasonable businessperson, like myself, will tell you that if it cost that much money to save a job, we would rather sooner terminate the job immediately. The problem here is that Obama and the other people in government have no real concept of what it costs to run a business, generally speaking. The purpose of a business is not to make customers happy or to employ as many people as possible. The end goal of a business is maximizing their profits and making their shareholders money. Those who do not live by that mantra of making money for the company and stockholders quickly go out of business.

The two things that the average person on the street does not realize are how much one billion is and how much one trillion is.  For the concept of one billion dollars, imagine that on the day of the birth of Jesus Christ you were given one billion dollars and had to spend $1,000 each day onward while gaining no interest, you would be still be spending money for at least the next 700 years.  By comparison, one trillion dollars is one thousand times one billion.

Second, according to the CIA Factbook, the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or the total value of all goods and services produced inside the borders of the United States) currently sits at $14.334 trillion. In other words the stimulus is only 5.4 percent of GDP. From here, that percentage goes down fast.

In the Highway Spending Bill that Congress recently passed, less than 26 percent of that money was spent within the first fiscal year. If this holds true, it then means that a value of less than one-and-a-half percent of the nation’s GDP will be infused in to the economy within the first fiscal year of the stimulus bill’s existence. For an economy that will be going in to a deep recession throughout 2009, this does not bode well for Obama.

The end result is an increase in inflation thanks to the increase of the deficit to a level that will approach or exceed two trillion dollars this fiscal year and a slow-to-respond stimulus bill that will actually, when implemented, cause the death of many jobs.

However, that is only half the story about Obama’s economic plans for America. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to get Obama to sign the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) which is Orwellian by name, but will cause considerable damage when implemented and enforced. Barring a miraculous filibuster by the Republicans in the Senate, America’s workforce will become unionized and small businesses will close their doors.

What’s more is that the unions will get the ultimate payback from the Democrats they helped get elected. Their membership and union dues received will increase which will give the unions considerable influence in American politics and with their membership. Also, the union bosses will be able to oversee how each of its members votes in a union election, bringing to an end the secret ballot. If the Senate Republicans cannot stop this bill, small businesses in the United States will either have to shell out more of their money to meet the demands of the unions or they will close their doors, or both.

If this comes in to play, the projections for an unemployment rate of nine percent will look good to Americans because the unemployment rate in the USA will be higher than at any time since Ronald Reagan’s first term following the horrific economic policies of Jimmy Carter. The only difference is that Reagan was able to lower the unemployment rate from its peak in December 1982 of 10.8 percent to 8.3 percent in December 1983 and ultimately to 7.2 percent the very month he won a 49-state landslide win against Walter Mondale. By contrast, Obama won his election with an inflation rate of 1.07 percent and an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent in November 2008.

Finally, research from economists at UCLA determined that the Great Depression lasted seven years longer because of the New Deal. Obama wants to implement the New New Deal almost from the moment he takes office. Considering that the double-digit unemployment rates did not end until 1943, this means that had the New Deal not been implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Great Depression would have ended in 1936 leading to an easy reelection.

The reality is that Obama doesn’t have the luxuries that FDR had when he was President, yet he wants to take us back to the past with an economic policy that exacerbated and extended this long economic slump. If this plan flops (and it will), just like FDR, Obama will come back with a sequel of New New Deal II which will be used as a means to “save” his job during a time of economic distress.

If the Republicans are able to do anything, it will be to vote against the stimulus package and to attempt to block the EFCA. Should this happen, they will have the ability to say that these things are prolonging the economic crisis and that they fought it all the way. If not, they will be on the same side of the line as Obama and the Democrats in 2010 and again in 2012 which could pave the way for two terms of economic agony.

It’s almost crunch time and the Republicans need to fight the expansion of big government early and often, then turn around and use it as a means to defeat Obama and Obamaism when given the opportunities to do so in 2010 and 2012. If not, they will become a permanent minority party with previous successful Presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan as distant memories of what was once great about America, but never will be again.

It’s time for the GOP to be ready to fight Barack Obama when he’s wrong (like on these matters) and Obamaism. 

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