Credit where credit is due

By midnight, we'll know exactly how well the Scott Brown surge worked out. But pundits are already trying to determine "who found Scott Brown". 

Well, I'll do my own chest thumping in due time. But the point is , I simply found what was already there.  So the first person who "found" Scott Brown was the candidate.  There are some things you can't coach, and the ability to do retail politics is one of them.  There may have been rocks lying around the Commonwealth; but it took a skilled candidate to throw them accurately.  Brown wasn't manufactured; he was prepared.

But why did I figure out Brown was up to the task?  Because the bloggers at Red Mass Group  persuaded me.  They spent little time on partisan hyperbole and more time explaining Brown's electoral history (winning a state senate special in 2004 against the national social issue Left) and the dynamics on the ground in MA. Most importantly they confirmed that this was a close analog to the 2007 MA 5 special election, which I was convinced at the time would have been won with sufficient resources,

So, Rob and RMG. you made a believer out of me and I spread the word. The "inside" person who sold Scott was his state GOP chair, Jenn Nassour.  She got people outside MA involved; including CT state chairman Chris Healy.  In mid December, long before anyone noticed, a robust voter contact plan had been formulated which was being executed outside the glitz of the media spotlight.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to have assisted Jenn on this project.

We'll let the voters speak, and hope ACORN doesn't pipe in, but the ball got to the goal line and maybe the folks who brought it down the field deserve a hand.

  

4 Web-savvy Ways to Fight Vote Fraud in Massachusetts

Its been said that Democrats have two growing electoral bases: trial lawyers and voter fraud.

For me, Vote fraud is defined as anyone who illegally casts a vote for a candidate that should not be allowed to vote.

A very common form of vote fraud is voter registration fraud ( Check these links out.  )

Also, John Fund has an excellent book that i highly recommend reading.

Republican candidates who get screwed in elections by Leftist-sponsored/encouraged  voter fraud is so common that its deserving of its own Wylie Coyote routine.

This year, its time we stand up and fight.

So, today we fight back.

And we fight back with Web 2.0.

Here are four simple ways to report voter fraud:

 

Twitter | use #votefraud hashtag

 

YouTube | visit http://www.youtube.com/group/votefraud09

 

 

Flickr | visit: http://www.flickr.com/groups/votefraud

 

Facebook | visit: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=214486540096

 

 

 

Benko's Attack: Setting the Record Straight

This morning I awoke to a "public flogging of Patrick Ruffini" from Ralph Benko, an enthusiastic proponent of new media in the conservative movement in D.C. He was responding to my recent piece on the "Obama Disconnect" -- the lively debate surrounding Organizing for America and Obama's loss of grassroots mojo from the campaign.

Ralph attempts to connect my skeptical view of Organizing for America (and indeed the Obama campaign) to disdain for the tea party movement. It's a pretty big leap, and one superseded by my numerous posts on the actual tea party movement (here, here, and here). 

Erick Erickson has come out in my defense but highlights this quote he says is "rubbing people the wrong way:" 

 

Now, what happens when the campaign goes away? What happens when the enthusiasm inevitably ebbs and the hard work of governing begins? The immediate benefits of a bottom-up strategy become less clear. You revert to traditional instincts, where powerful obstacles stand in the way of getting things done — even amongst your base, and the wielding of massive political machinery cannot be left to amateurs.

This would be damning if it were actually about the conservative movement, but it's not. It's about Obama, and the shift from the faux-bottom up ethos of the campaign to the top-down work of governance. Actively throughout the post, I was putting myself in the shoes of a David Axelrod, first (some might say cynically) embracing the "bottom-up" energy of supporters in the campaign because of their financial and organizational strength, then jettisoning them when that enthusiasm invariably ebbed when they came into power. Isn't the story of Massachusetts right now the extremely fired up Republican base versus the listless, moribund Democratic base? The quote is a commentary on the reality of Democratic politics right now, not the very opposite phenomenon that is the dominant reality in the Republican party. 

There is a legitimate question of what happens when a party comes to power, and the role of the grassroots in that shift.

There is no question that grassroots politics is harder when you are in power. That is just a fact that I think requires no further explanation. The MoveOn.org / OFA base is not in the room when Obama horsetrades on health care with Harry Reid, the unions, or the Blue Dogs. This invariably leads to compromises the left doesn't like. But, news flash: there were lots of things the right didn't like about the Bush Administration, from Medicare Part D to the bailouts. And I would remind Ralph that I advised a party-line Republican vote against the bailout.

Does the base tend to get sold down the river more when one is actually in power? Yes. Do I like that, as Ralph suggests I do? No. But I am also realistic enough to recognize that it's a distasteful reality and the price of actually being in office. And that's ultimately why you have a movement: to minimize deviation from principle as much as possible and to set standards for those pesky professional power-wielders. 

Right now, the right is in a different moment. The role of the movement is not to serve as a check on the elected officials because the elected officials are largely irrelevant. The role of the movement is to expand the opportunities for capturing ground as much as possible. Massachusetts would not have been possible without the grassroots deciding to make this the cause it did. If we win, it will be their victory. And the fact that a victory will have a profound and lasting effect on the policy of the United States is the ultimate testament to things the grassroots can do that the establishment can't. 

 

The Democrat's 2010 Problem

By now, everybody knows about the shockingly bad electoral conditions for Democrats.  If a Republican has a good chance to win Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, then almost every Democrat in the country has to be scared stiff.

But the electoral problem creates a more immediate predicament for Democrats, and I think we're going to see two sustained Democratic freak outs as they try to figure out how to address this.

  • The 2010 elections may mark the end of the Democrat's ability to move a lot of the really big legislation/regulation.
  • But if they try to move the really big legislation/regulation before the 2010 elections, they're only going to make their electoral situation worse.

The first Democratic freak out will be an internal Congressional fight in 2010 over whether to (1) move big and fast while they still have the votes, or (2) slow down and preserve as many seats as they can.

The second Democratic freak out is going to occur in 2011 and beyond, when Democrats try to figure out what the lesson of the 2010 elections really is.

  • Progressives - and especially the netroots - will say the lesson is "Damn the Republicans, Full Speed Ahead", but that's what they always say.  Revolutionaries like bold action more than practical details.
  • Moderates/pragmatists will say the lesson is "don't try to do too much, take smaller steps, make reasonable compromises".  But that is more effective at maintaining power than accomplishing major policy goals.

I think Congressional Democrats are going to become awfully pragmatic.  I'm not really sure where the White House will end up, especially if Rahm Emanuel leaves.  We are definitely going to see a lot of bargaining and ugly deal-making.

Nobody would have predicted this a year or two ago, but....is this going to be the triumph of the DLC over the Progressives within the Democratic Party?

The Obama Disconnect: A Belated Response to Micah Sifry

Before the new year, Micah Sifry came out with a provocative, much-discussed piece on the failures of the Obama organizing model in government. At once, the piece is a surprising indictment of the Administration's modus operandi from one of its supporters, but the reasons the indictment came about are not surprising at all. Like 43 similar outfits before it, the Obama White House is essentially a top-down operation.

Indeed, it's easy to dismiss Sifry's ideal of autonomous, almost leaderless political movements as essentially incompatible with the work of government. The contrast between the populism of the Obama campaign and the unmet promises of the Obama Administration is an easy one to make, but I suspect there's a tad of inflated expectations at work, borne of a misunderstanding of the fundamental motives of Obama for America and the community organizing spirit that seem to lay behind it. Sifry is disappointed that the fervor and "bottom up" organizing of the campaign hasn't translated to the White House, but when has the excitement and lofty goals of a campaign ever translated fully into the drudgery of running the federal government? Is such a transference even possible?

Probably not. The job of a campaign is not to transform the ethos of governance. The job of the campaign is to win the campaign. The job of the Administration is to transform the ethos of governance. Whether one leads to the other is entirely extrinsic to the campaign since the White House involves a totally different set of actors, more likely to be experienced government hands like Rahm Emanuel than Alinskyite field organizers. We can discuss what is and is not personally important to Obama as a community organizer all we want. But the imperatives of governance are completely different than those of a campaign, as Obama learned taking office in an economic crisis and George Bush learned after 9/11. 

Rather than buck the tide of conventional "top-down" politics, the campaign's "bottom up" grassroots emphasis was actually top-down perfected for the Internet era -- a logical and sensible response by the campaign to Obama's celebrity. 

In the end, the campaign did not have to make any hard decisions that allowed supporters to organize in new ways. Rather, I would argue, the supporters made the decision on their own, as expressed in the tremendous and early self-organized action for Obama early on, and the campaign would have been brain dead not to play along. (Many campaigns are still blind to this, even today, but the default baseline position for a campaign at the national level is to play along when supporters start doing massive amounts of stuff on their own.) 

The campaign's decision to default to open is expressed in Obama campaign manager David Plouffe's book, The Audacity to Win. At the outset, it wasn't clear that Obama's campaign would be anything other than a traditional exercise. As Plouffe writes early on

We raised $4 million online, a significant amount but far less than our fund-raisers wanted. Our new media team were very careful about how often we asked people for money by e-mail. We wanted our online contributors to have a balanced experience with us, thinking that if they felt part of and connected to the whole campaign, they might be more generous over time. The fund-raisers, who felt the pressure I was putting on them to post a big number, wanted to ask for as much as possible, as often as possible, starting right away. These were some of the tensest disputes I had to navigate throughout the whole campaign, and they left a lingering sore spot that did not heal for over a year. The finance team really believed that the new media team was underperforming financially, and the new media team thought the finance team viewed them and our supporters as an ATM.

Though it's ultimately clear where the campaign came down at the end of the day, Plouffe doesn't really evince bold conviction that the new media guys were right from day one. Here we see the traditional top-down playbook lingering on within the Obama campaign. Now, if Obama the community organizer started out running a fairly traditional campaign catering to the donor class, and in fact, ran a fairly textbook Senate campaign in 2004, what changed in the heat of the campaign? Plouffe doesn't seem to indicate that there was any altruistic, philosophical instinct to buck the finance team's approach, beyond a general sense that what the online people were doing seemed to be working. If there was a sudden epiphany by Axelrod or Plouffe to buy into bottom up, community organizing methods, it was probably a transactional, reflex response to the 20,000 person crowds, the e-mail signups, and the online fundraising. When you have a candidate like Obama, "letting go" and being bottom up is not simply a noble, unconventional, damn-the-consequences move. It's pretty darn profitable, generating more signups, more activity, and more money to feed the top-down parts of the campaign.

Now, what happens when the campaign goes away? What happens when the enthusiasm inevitably ebbs and the hard work of governing begins? The immediate benefits of a bottom-up strategy become less clear. You revert to traditional instincts, where powerful obstacles stand in the way of getting things done -- even amongst your base, and the wielding of massive political machinery cannot be left to amateurs. Either way, the decision to go "bottom up" is a traditional reflex response by smart people who realize they can get more done with bottom-up than with top-down in a campaign. And the reversion to "top-down" is a similarly calculated response to the fact that the financial and organizational benefits of bottom-up do not seem to apply to an Administration. Plouffe admitted this much in his interview with Ari Melber in defending the decision to downgrade New Media in the White House. Now, this may be wrong, short-sighted, or ignoble, but BOTH the bottom-up Obama campaign and the top-down Obama Administration were calculated strategic decisions made in response to specific situations of the moment. Let's not kid ourselves that the community organizing rhetoric was how they actually intended to govern.

Scott Brown takes the lead in Massachusetts

Democratic oriented polling firm Public Policy Polling has dropped a bomb. Republican Scott Brown has taken the lead in the MA special senate election.

Buoyed by a huge advantage with independents and relative disinterest from Democratic voters in the state, Republican Scott Brown leads Martha Coakley 48-47

I've taken a lot of heat from trolls here about how this was a winnable race,; well, I would point all those trolls tonight to the Obama Adminstration's doorstep, as this was tonight's panic-striken communique. Evidently lying about the polls to their own supporters is now de riguer, however. 

 While the large majority of Massachusetts voters support the Democratic candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley, special interests have poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars to mislead voters -- and the traditionally low turnout in special elections means this race could be very, very close.The stakes here are incredibly high. You know how hard we've fought and how close we've come to finally passing health reform. But also know this: To get the job done, we need Martha Coakley's vote in the Senate. 

Looks like Barack Obama has a lot more use for Martha Coakley than her own constituents 

Scott Brown needs our help to get over the top. Join the fight.

 

The Tea Party Challenge

Mark McKinnon (a colleague of mine at Arts+Labs) writes about the uneasy dance between the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement.

Much of the media and most Democrats are dismissive of what is truly a grassroots movement. But the Tea Party has shown remarkable energy in its short life span ... It’s a very interesting dance right now watching the courtship between the movement and GOP candidates and officeholders. ... [T]he movement is wary of being identified as “Republican” or being controlled by any individuals or organization ...

The Tea Party crowd is unlikely to actually become a third party, but their ability to leverage energy behind candidates and policies could be very similar to what MoveOn.org has accomplished on the left. Movements are also often identified by a clear leader. The question that remains: Who will that be?

I think it is an open question whether the tea party dynamic should really be called a "movement" yet.  There is a fine line between movement and mob, and that line is defined by whether they are making progress or noise. 

The Tea Party outrage could organize around viable policies and strategies to accomplish their goals. That would be a movement.  But if it does not identify viable policies and strategies to accomplish their goals - and leadership to move them forward - then the outrage without progress will eventually reduce them (us) to a mob.

However, I'm not sure a tea party movement will resemble Moveon.org.  A Democratic activist once told me he was surprised that (he'd heard) the largest Tea Party email list was only about 50,000 people.  Compared to Moveon.org's many millions of emails, that seemed inconsequential.

That's a key misunderstanding.  The Left think this is an organized, top-down effort - a few organizations spinning up the sheep to do their bidding. That's why they kept insisting this was "astroturf".  But that's exactly wrong (and a serious under-estimation of the legitimacy and broad resonance of the outrage).

The tea party movement is not a single organization with millions of email addresses.  It is tens of thousands of small groups and individuals, each of which has dozens, hundreds or thousands of email addresses.   The tea party movement really is a decentralized, spontaneous, grassroots reaction.

Of course, that has up and down sides. Instead of organizing to accomplish specific victories (as Moveon.org has done on occassion), they may more closely resemble the anti-war crowd - full of sound and fury, but without much specific direction. The anti-war "movement" eventually became alienated or folded into organizations like Moveon.org.

The immediate problem both Tea Party activists and Republicans face is that, while they know what they don't want, they don't have a lot of clear ideas about how to accomplish what they do want. "Be principled" is not a strategy. 

The Tea Party crowd may not end up being a movement, but that's ok.  The energy itself is important to maintain until the policies and organizing vehicles do emerge.

Democracy and Empowerment

Micah Sifry writes an important essay about hope, change and disillusionment: "The Obama Disconnect: What Happens When Myth Meets Reality".

[T]he image of Barack Obama as the candidate of "change", community organizer, and "hope-monger" (his word), was sold intensively during the campaign. Even after the fact, we were told that his victory represented the empowerment of a bottom-up movement, powered by millions of small donors, grassroots volunteers, local field organizers and the internet. [...] The truth is that Obama was never nearly as free of dependence on big money donors as the reporting suggested, nor was his movement as bottom-up or people-centric as his marketing implied. [...] 

The problem for Obama and the Democrats today, as they head into 2010, is that much of their activist base appears to have swallowed too much of the wrong half of the myth: they thought that Obama would be more of a change-agent, and never really embraced their own role.

I wrote about this in 2008: "The election of Obama did not empower people. It empowered politicians. ... Hope and Change got people on board the Democratic bus. Political convenience will throw them under it."

Sifry has recognized a deep flaw in the Democratic/Progressive message: Progressives preach "empowerment", yet they constantly move power to Washington, DC and away from local and state government.  As a matter of pure statistics, individual voters have more power at the local level than the State level, and more power at the State level than the Federal level.  Decentralization + voter mobility is even more empowering.

And yet, power continues to consolidate in Washington, DC.

Ezra Klein has been arguing that "a political system too dysfunctional to avert crisis is also too dysfunctional to respond to it."  David Roberts has said that critically important issues rest "in the myopic, sociopathically indifferent hands of Ben Nelson, who represents one-half of one percent of U.S. citizens".  And you know what?  They're right.  While we may disagree on the policies that ought to be enacted - and on whether the problem is the filibuster or the public choice theory problems - it is true that there are many structural, political flaws in our collective decision-making process that make it difficult, perhaps impossible, to address difficult problems effectively.

Progressives continue empowering Washington, DC, but what they are ultimately empowering is a Single Point of Failure.

This discrepancy between the Democratic message and reality represents an opportunity for Republicans to both discredit the Democratic message and pursue a better, more reality-based agenda.  If Republicans want to pick up these voters alienated by the Obama Myth and tap into America's deep, populist interest in limited government and individual freedom, they should take advantage of this opportunity to legitimately "empower the people"

Evidence Scott Brown is Within Single Digits in Massachusetts

My initial post on Scott Brown drew a pretty good reaction, and this response from Michael Barone is a must-read. Barone argues if Republicans are able to seriously contest Massachusetts, and in a race where Democrats are the heavy sentimental favorites after the passing of Ted Kennedy, that could have a kind of terrorism effect on wobbly House Democrats that will force many more to retire, and inspire strong Republican candidates to jump into the race in blue districts. This could set the stage in a very nice way for November. 

Absent a scientific poll of the race, two recent bits of analysis suggest we may be headed for a close race on January 19th. 

The first is the "citizens' poll" being undertaken by Republican activists frustrated by the lack of recent polling. This shows Scott Brown ahead, and the methodology consists of randomly scouring the phone book in select areas. From the photo below, it's a hearty effort, but definitely homegrown: 

The results through New Year's Eve were Brown 241, Coakley 216, Undecided 63. A further 201 refused and 213 were left pro-Brown phone messages. That works out to a slight Brown lead of 44.6 to 41.5 percent among those who responded. 

But that comes with a big caveat: the areas polled were limited to Worchester and Cape Cod, with a little Quincy thrown in. These areas do not look like the rest of Massachusetts. In both Worchester and Barnstable (Cape Cod) counties, Obama defeated McCain by a margin of 56 to 42, or a margin 12 points lower than his statewide performance.  

Adjust the margin, and this would put Coakley 9 points ahead statewide. 

As a point in Brown's favor, there's no attempt made to screen voters in the survey. Essentially, it's a poll of adults, not registered voters, or even likely voters. In this environment, I imagine a likely voter screen would help Brown to the tune of about 5 points. Anecdotal information from their responses also suggests Brown voters are way more fired up about turning out: 

Many Brown supporters were enthusiastic and upbeat. Statements included: "What other choice is there 'but' Scott Brown?; "There's a lot riding on this"; "Our country is at stake."; and "God help us if we don't get Scott Brown elected."

To the contrary, Coakley voters seemed down, dull, and disenganged. Is it any wonder not one Coakley voter expressed optimism.

 This is valuable information. I wonder what such a poll done of 3-of-5 or better voters on the statewide voter file would yield. 

A second attempt to fill the void comes from RCP's Sean Trende, who looks at the composition of the electorate in Virginia and New Jersey compared to 2008, as well as the vote swing from Obama to McDonnell and Christie. If Democrats, Republicans, and Independents swing to the Republican Brown as they swung to Republican gubernatorial candidates in both states, that would make for an exceedingly narrow Coakley win of 51.1 to 48.9 percent. Though we are accustomed to thinking of Virginia and New Jersey as two distinct races, interestingly the final numbers suggest a rising tide lifting all Republican boats. In terms of vote spread, McDonnell performed 24 points better than McCain, and Christie performed 22 points better. A similar swing in Massachusetts would get Brown to within 2 to 4. 

I don't know that there is a scenario that would show Scott Brown ahead right now, but there are plenty of scenarios I could see that would show this within the margin. And conditions right now seem optimal: a fired up Republican / Tea Party base that is stirring beneath the surface, and a complacent Democratic Party. The question is what happens if a poll does show the race close? The campaign would then take on a whole new dimension. Will the entire electorate expand in a way that would likely benefit Coakley? Democrats will pull out the stops to nationalize the race, and would play the Kennedy card as they have so many times before. But without a Presidential race on the ballot, which is typically the only thing that can create downballot coattails, will it work? Is there a way that a close race could pull in more marginal Republican voters excited about the possibility about picking up a seat in Massachusetts without bringing out more Democrats, enough to close a 3 point gap? We'll know in 18 days. 

Full disclosure: As discussed in my previous post, my company provides some online services to the Brown campaign, but we're not involved in the campaign day to day. 

Top Ten Political Events of 2009

Economic Crisis and Fiscal Incompetence

While it is obvious that the decline in the economy and the rise of unemployment above 10% make one of the most important stories of the year, the government response to this crisis is really an even bigger story. The decision to address the crisis with uncontrolled and poorly directed spending, causing further economic decline and an exploding debt which may be impossible to resolve without defaulting on debt obligations, will have consequences which last for decades. Gross fiscal irresponsibility including bailouts for favored industries, handouts to political allies and the largest budget increase in history while continuing to escalate the war in Afghanistan showed such economic ignorance, greed and irresponsibility that it actually woke the sleeping voters and may lead to one of the greatest political upheavals of our times in 2010. More Coverage.

The Rise of the Liberty Movement

The economic crisis spurred the emergence of a powerful non-partisan movement for smaller government, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty. The people rose up in the millions and shouted "stop" at a government they view as out of control. This was manifested in the Tea Party protests and a rise in activism from independent voters as well as a pronounced political shift to the right on economic issues in the Republican Party. As the people expressed their displeasure in the streets and in the polls and in raising spokesmen like Glenn Beck to national prominence, Republican legislators actually heard the message and stood firm in opposition to every major spending measure in the Congress in a remarkable show of political resolve. More Coverage.

Climategate

When Russian hackers released a decade worth of emails between top climate scientists it stopped the efforts of global socialists to implement draconian environmental regulation dead in its tracks. The evidence of a conspiracy to manipulate, misrepresent and conceal scientific data was impossible to write off and it eviscerated the Copenhagen Climate Conference and left Al Gore hanging in the wind. More Coverage.

The Health Care Debacle

The health care debate exposed the dark and rotten underbelly of partisan politics to the public in a way which hadn't been seen since the days of Richard Nixon. An awakened electorate got to watch Democrat leaders engaging in every kind of bullying and bribery to pass legislation to which their constituents were overwhelmingly opposed both on the right and left. The issue served as a vehicle for exposing partisan corruption of the media and the disdain of legislators for any interests but those of the political class. As voters watched in horror their eyes were opened to the blatant corporate takeover of the establishment left and the gross corruption of the political process. More Coverage.

Liberty Defiant in Honduras

With international interests including the United States arrayed against them, the people of Honduras defied the world by demanding that the rule of law and the legitimacy of their constitution be recognized in opposition to the attempt of Marxists to subvert their political system. Despite all the forces arrayed against them, the people of Honduras prevailed and remained free. More Coverage.

John Mackey Speaks Out

Everyone is picking Sully Sullenberger as their hero of the year, but his remarkable competence was not expressly political in nature. The real political hero of the year was John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods who defied his own left-leaning customers and risked one of the most successful emerging businesses of the decade by defending his vision of 21st century capitalism and publicly suggesting some rational alternatives to Obamacare based on his successful experiments in his own business. More Coverage.

Unrest in Iran

After a suspect election led to protests, government crackdowns led to further protests and further crackdowns to the point where Iran has developed a serious anti-government movement with the potential for a revolutionary uprising. The heavy handed violence of government forces in attacking protesters and assassinating outspoken opponents has shredded the mask of democracy which had cloaked the harsh rule of the Mullah oligarchy. The combination of middle class discontent, angry and persecuted ethnic minorities and a young population fed up with cultural isolation may be too volatile for the theocratic regime to keep under control. More Coverage.

The UndieBomber

A madman with flaming underpants reminded us at the end of the year that the problems with international terrorism and defending the homeland were far from resolved. The convoluted process by which ample warnings of his intentions were ignored and mishandled showed both problems in our current security apparatus, but also the failures of the administration as they responded with pathetic denials and ridiculous suggestions for impractical responses. It also gave us new heroes in the passengers of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 who took action where the government had failed and saved their own lives on Christmas in the air over Detroit. Read More.

The Scozzafava Disaster

The tumult surrounding the candidacy of Dede Scozzafava in the 23rd Congressional District in New York exposed the weaknesses of both the Republican establishment and the rising far-right opposition. The selection of Scozzafava by the political leadership of the state showed a disregard for the preferences of Republican voters which led to a backlash in support of what turned out to be a very unappealing alternative in the form of inarticulate boob Douglass Hoffman. The far right tried to flex its muscles and managed to force Scozzafava out of the race, but Hoffman was just too weak a candidate and they ended up giving the seat to the Democrats. There is an important lesson about compromise and listening to the people to be learned here, but it remains to be seen whether any of the factions in the GOP will heed it. Read More.

The Return of Sarah Palin

For good or ill, 2009 showed us that Sarah Palin was not just a flash in the pan and was not going to go away. Despite continued derisionm from the media and the left and despite the refusal of blue state bookstores to even stock her campaign memoir, she made the top of the bestseller list and was very well received in her nationwide tour. She continued to demonstrate that whatever her shortcomings, she is unflappable and continues to have a strong national appeal. Read More.

Also Noteworthy

If I were greedy I'd want to pick an 11th and 12th story deserving of recognition for 2009. #11 would be the purge of grassroots activists in the Republican Party of Florida and the backlash which looks likely to unseat State Chair Jim Greer. This struggle is a microcosm of the fight between the GOP grassroots and establishment which is going on nationwide. #12 would be the very conservative Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous ruling granting gay marriage rights in that very red state on firm constitutional grounds, a strong reminder that the defense of individual rights is a conservative position.

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