You are currently viewing archive for November 2006

17/11: Had Enough?

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Evidently, not. GOP re-elects leadership (Washington Post story here).

As I kept saying, our leadership elections were much more important to us and the nation than the Democratic canvass. Sure enough, while we watched the Pelosi follies and rubbed our hands together with glee (check out the spate of articles this morning predicting doom for the Dems), we quietly opted against reform in our own party.

What were we thinking?
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
What does the Pelosi defeat today mean?

1. Nancy Pelosi is not going to be an intimidating all-powerful Speaker.

2. Nancy Pelosi is not a very good vote counter.

Both of those things augur well for President Bush and a center-right 110th.

More basically, today's events are not important in themselves. Right now, K-Fed is still better known to most Americans than Nancy Pelosi. Specific scandals and this kind of misstep will not play a large role in the next election. Remember: our leadership elections are much more important for us politically than anything Nancy Pelosi will do this week.

Just for kicks: Why did she do it?

Speaker Pelosi attempted to reward a loyal friend, knock out an old rival and, most importantly, appeal to her anti-war base. Murtha was an anti-war rock star on the scale of Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan. The anti-war zealots were unanimous in their support for Murtha, and I am betting that they appreciate Pelosi's overture.

16/11: Newt Again

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Today, Newt is in the Wall Street Journal arguing for a Ronald Reagan-esque coalition of conservatives that transcends party lines:

"[T]he Democratic victory makes it possible to re-establish the conservative Democrat and House Republican coalition which made the Reagan legislative victories of 1981-82 possible. Tip O'Neill was the liberal Democratic speaker when Reagan became president, but he did not [actually control] a liberal majority in the House. [D]espite a seemingly liberal Democrat lock in a 242-192 majority, they lost control of the floor on the most important bill [tax cuts] of Reagan's first term.

He has this exactly right. President Bush needs to employ Reagan's "boll weevil" strategy of 1981. Read the op-ed in full here.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
For several weeks I have resisted commenting on the Jane Harman-Nancy Pelosi-Alcee Hastings triangle of intrigue story, which involves the chairmanship of the extremely important House intelligence committee. Mainly, I have been doing my best to follow my own advice and give Speaker Pelosi some latitude in the opening moments of her leadership. However, the reportage and analysis from Ruth Marcus, a Washington Post columnist, merits attention.

Two weeks ago, Marcus discussed Pelosi's potential choice between Alcee Hastings and Jane Harman within the context of enmity between Pelosi and Harman, partisanship, racial politics and other considerations (read "An Unintelligent Choice" here ).

Today, Marcus fired on Pelosi once again. This time taking aim at her decision to support John Murtha over Stenny Hoyer for majority leader. Judging Murtha "Unfit for Majority Leader" in light of his "grainy" ethical past, Marcus proclaimed:

"I wrote a few weeks back that Pelosi's first test as speaker would be whether she picks Florida's Alcee Hastings -- who was removed from his federal judgeship for agreeing to take a bribe -- to head the intelligence committee. As it turns out, I was wrong. Pelosi's first test was how to handle Murtha. Whatever happens tomorrow, she flunked. Whether she'll get another failing grade on Hastings remains to be seen."

Today's (Wednesday) column in full.

Also in the Post today, media critic, Howard Kurtz offers thorough analysis concerning the evolution of this story from non-issue to above-the-fold event. He asks an important question: "So why didn't the media jump on this earlier?" And Kurtz also confronts the role of the Post as Hoyer booster and chief Murtha accuser (read here).
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
1. The Democrats seem intent on a swift withdrawal from Iraq (I will refrain from calling that "cutting and running" because it makes some people so mad). The key for President Bush has always been to win--and win quickly. In the words of Al Davis: "Just win, baby." Winning takes care of everything. If it is a matter of patience or a minor adjustment, perhaps the next two years holds redemption for the President.

If the tide turns in Iraq in a noticeable way before 2008, the public will repudiate this historic midterm election. They will be asking "who were those guys," and the Democrats will have repeated the Federalist Party's mistake at the Hartford Convention. If not, and we really are in a morass, thank God for the Dems and the restless American electorate.

2. For the GOP, right now, their own leadership contests are much more important than the Democratic leadership canvass. I meant to say this yesterday, and Tocqueville hinted at it this morning. The GOP needs honest and courageous and intelligent leadership. The same-old-same-old is not good enough right now.

14/11: More on Newt

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A few days ago I noted that Newt Gingrich was busy making a lot of sense, offering ideas and offering himself as a figure around which conservatives might rally. All of these things, by the way, are things that Newt does very well. He is arguably the most under-appreciated figure in the conservative political movement.

Here are some bullet points from his piece in Human Events Online today:

The political problem:

"Republicans, in two short years, gave up the advantages on taxes, balancing the budget and controlling spending that they had spent three generations earning.

"On Katrina, controlling the border and Iraq, Republicans gave up the advantage as the party of management that could get things done -- an advantage they had held since the 1950s."

The political solution:

"[Be more conservative.] We should appeal to the Blue Dog Democrats who claim to be conservative. We should appeal to their voters and their supporters back home. Even more, we should appeal to the majority of the American people by returning the Republican Party, once again, to the party of reform, ideas, solutions and common-sense conservatism.

"We should rebuild the grassroots conservative movement. From the Reagan Revolution of 1980 through the Contract with America in 1994, it was this movement from outside Washington that carried us to the first center-right majority governing coalition in more than 60 years."

Take Heart:

"This was not a realigning election as 1994 was. Voters did not vote "for" the Democrats but "against" Republicans. Now, it will be up to us to see that the results of the 2006 election serve as a temporary but necessary corrective interruption in our goal of getting to a conservative governing majority. Take heart, while there is much to be done, I believe if we are focused, disciplined and we work together, we will Win the Future for America."

An epilogue:

"Just yesterday it was reported that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is supporting Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for majority leader. This is a sign that Pelosi, despite all her talk of moving to the center and reaching out to conservatives, will govern from the left. It is a direct assault on the moderate wing of the Democratic Party and a deliberate break with the second-ranking Democrat in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.). The next test for whether Pelosi will govern from the left or the center will be if she appoints Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), the impeached former federal judge, to chair the Intelligence Committee. No national security supporter will be comfortable with Hastings' having oversight of the nation's secrets, but the pressure on Pelosi to appease the Black Caucus is immense. Stay tuned."

The article in its entirety here.

As I said earlier, Newt emerged last week as the conservative candidate for 2008. Mitt Romney may have something to say about that--but I am on record as skeptical of Romney's ability to win the Republican nomination this time around. We'll see.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Several of my colleagues in the faculty office building, in response to the historic election, posted signs outside their offices that read: "Happy Days are Here Again." I hope so.

There are some that make a compelling argument that the GOP, long a quite successful loyal opposition party, failed as a ruling party. By the same token, one can make the argument that the Democratic Party failed as a loyal opposition party.

Frankly, if a Democratic Party-controlled Congress means long-term security and prosperity, I am happy for the GOP to maintain a minority status for the next generation. I would gladly surrender power for unity and strength.

Many of us noted that many Democrats suffered from what we laughingly called "BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome)"; that is, no matter what the President said, some automatically responded in a negative and emotional way. Now the worm has turned.

The new reality. The American people have spoken. It is now time for Republicans to model mature behavior and engage the new congressional leadership. It is our duty to accept that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are the duly elected, legitimate voices of the electorate.

We should argue for our principles. We should represent our constituencies. But we should not go out of our way to exaggerate the faults of the opposition. Speaker Pelosi may be a "San Francisco liberal," but she will lead a Congress that is center-right. Her challenge is to represent all the people in a way that reflects a broad consensus. If she does not, we will not need to wait long for our chance to set things right.

In short, let us give the new leadership a chance to articulate their vision. What do they think this past election meant? If they get it right (with our help), we all win. If they have it wrong, if they attempt to misread the mandate, the American people will have another opportunity for correction in two years.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gateway Pundit has a look at the squeaky clean (sarcasm alert) Democrats now taking control after voters rejected the "culture of corruption.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
1. Newt Gingrich is making the rounds and, as usual, has a lot of this right. He emerges as the conservative candidate for the 2008 nomination. Assuming Rudy stays out, it looks like a two-man race between Newt and John McCain. Volumes more on that in the next two years.

2. John Bolton. President Bush gave up Don Rumsfeld. If the Democratic leadership is serious about engaging in the new tone of cooperation, they can confirm John Bolton. Or, at the very least, they can resolve to discuss his nomination on the merits of his tenure at the UN as opposed to something he might have said in the 1980s or his alleged propensity to yell at subordinates. See this as 1) a test of good faith on the part of Democrats and 2) the skill of the President in obtaining compromises. Long shot: I predict the President wins Bolton's confirmation.

3. Robert Gates comes in as a DOD secretary as a member of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. In essence, Gates embodies the new bipartisan direction. Here is a full list of the members:

James A. Baker III
Lee H. Hamilton
Robert M. Gates
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.
Edwin Meese III
Sandra Day O'Connor
Leon E. Panetta
William J. Perry
Charles S. Robb
Alan K. Simpson
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
A lot of talk on the radio and posting on the blogosphere that the Republicans lost the election because they did not keep faith with their basic values. Voters then punished them for this apostasy. We'll know later perhaps just why the results went the way they did.

I want to bring up the question suggested by the comments referred to above: how do you change the direction of a political party? One way, suggested by pundits today, is that you punish them at the polls. OK. That might or might not work. It is a quick action that can make a person feel good for a time. But, it seems to me that this is the wrong way to go about changing a party, whether that change is a new direction or a return to core values.

The longer, slower, much harder way to influence a party is to work from within the system: join the party, become active in local elections and local committees, network with other likeminded activists who also are burrowing away within the party structure, encourage and work for and contribute to candidates you can support. Pay attention to local boards, especially school boards. Run yourself. Eventually become a county chairperson, or support someone for that position who shares your vision. Pay attention to platforms and their creation. Think of yourself as part of the process, not simply as a voter who may choose to stay home or something to "punish" a party for going astray. Don't think of yourself simply as a consumer, choosing and rejecting products; think of yourself as a producer.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gateway Pundit has this material on Libertarians and this election, crediting them with providing the Dem margin of victory in Montana and Missouri.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
1. The Cook Political Report. Charlie Cook and his organization are awesome. Right on target once again. Three cheers for Jennifer Duffey and Amy Walter; they were right on the money.

2. Me. I got pretty close on the House and went 8/10 on the Senate (which would be a pretty good batting average in baseball), but I missed the big pick: loss of control in the Upper Chamber. Although I had Virginia as the key race, I had Allen squeaking by. I am still surprised that he lost--granted, I was one of the few surprised by this. (A review of my Senate picks here).

3. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are losers for all their cheerleading in advance of the election--and their sudden about-face "I told you so" recriminations the day after. (For another post on another day: Rush and Sean have it all wrong on immigration and minimum wage.)

4. Karl Rove and the theory of "turnout over persuasion" are losers (a review of my post considering the two schools of campaign strategy here).

5. Joe Lieberman is a big winner (a review of my posts on Joe Lieberman here). (FYI: Kos is a big loser--but not significant enough to merit his own number).

6. Mike DeWine and Jim Talent are major losses for the Senate and the United States. They are statesman of the first rank. So much of politics is timing. It is always a tragedy when good men get swept up in the zeitgeist of an election. Claire McCaskill may prove a great senator; we will wait and see. Sherrod Brown is in the Ted Kennedy-John Kerry class, and he will prove much too liberal for Ohio.

7. Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Minimum Wage win (see this post for a review of those issues as campaign levers). The Democrats wrecklessly gambled minimum wage on the election, which was risky, but they got away with it. Good for us. More on immigration and minimum wage as the debate unfolds.

8. The conspiracy theorists who assured us that diabolical Republican forces would rig the election through electronic voting machines lose again; my prediction: they are beat but not broken. They are silenced for now--but will be back soon.

9. The biggest loss in my book, however, is the Senate. I really hate to see the Senate turn over. I am happy that the GOP lost the House; we deserved to lose the House; the country is better off for the GOP losing the House. The Senate is a different story. The Upper Chamber is the more dignified body; the council of wise men. The "saucer that cools the fiery hot liquid of democratic-representative government." The Republicans are great at running the Senate.

More to the point, I hate to see the Republicans lose control of the Judiciary Committee. The Democratically controlled Judiciary Committee gave us the Robert Bork hearings and Anita Hill and the ultra-politicization of the judicial branch (not that the GOP did not return fire during the Clinton administration). But this all started when the Democrats won the Senate in 1986 and decided to teach Ronald Reagan and conservatives a lesson.

The change in chairmanship from Arlen Specter to Patrick Leahy is not a plus. We will see if the claims of a new tone and the end of partisanship are for real, but I have my doubts. One other thing: I trust Joe Biden as chairman of Foreign Relations (in fact, I have very high hopes for his leadership). However, trading John Warner for Carl Levin on Armed Services is not a happy development.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
1. I hate to see Santorum leaving the Senate. Perhaps, though, this will free him up to take a presidential run in 08. The other Republican names most talked about are not that exciting to conservatives.

2. I also hate to see Talent go. He was an able Senator.

3. We'll see what Pelosi & Co. do in the next two years, but if the left demands payment for services rendered, then it could become harder for Hillary or whomever to run as a Democrat in 08.

4. I see this election as being more about rejection of the Republican incumbants than than an affirmation of a Democrat message: they basically offered no message except that Bush and the Republicans were bad people. If Democrats start acting like they have a mandate for a liberal turn in government, then they will overplay their hand.

5. A victory for Big Biotech in Missouri with the narrow win for the amendment that guarantees patentable, profitable opportunities for biotech companies. (Not that the amendment was marketed this way.) One firm provided 97% of the funding behind this amendment.

6. John Kerry is probably sleeping off a very satisfying drunk: had the Dems not done as well as predicted, he would have become the scapegoat. As is, he can continue to entertain presidential fantasies.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Quick Thoughts:

1. Back to work for the GOP. Losing is a painful but necessary and constructive part of life.

2. We need to "dance with who brung us." The Grand Old Party of this election was not the party of Ronald Reagan. We need to be the party of morality, frugality, patriotism, integrity, compassion and vision. We were not that party this time around. We don't deserve to win--until we embody those ideals again.

3. Gridlock is good. Irrespective of what the mainstream media says, the country is actually in pretty good shape. The best thing that could happen for the nation right now is for Congress to go on a two-year hiatus. God protects small children, drunks and the USA (de Gaulle? Bismarck?). Wall Street agrees.

4. Nothing passes without the consent of George Bush.

5. Oversight is back in vogue.

6. Immigration and Minimum Wage are in play.

7. Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman are personally invested in our success in Iraq. That is good news for the USA.

07/11: Exit Polls

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
One of these days the exit polls are going to be accurate.

Is that day today? We will see.

Here are some of the exit numbers floating around:

Casey 61 - Santorum 38
Cardin 51 - Steele 48
McCaskill 53 - Talent 46
Webb 55 - Allen 45

For a moment, let's be optimistic and assume they are skewed in favor of the Democrats (as they have been in the past), which would mean:

If the Talent-McCaskill race is dead-even (50-49), let's adjust the rest of the races by three points:

Casey 58- Santorum 41
Cardin 48- Steele 51
Webb 52- Allen 48

That is a bit better. On the other hand, the VA race seems the bell-weather. If the GOP is going to lose VA--it is going to be a long night, most likely.

More importantly, let's see what the big turnout numbers mean.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
Gateway Pundit is on top of the Missouri races. Turnout today looks like it will be huge, perhaps 70% in some areas of the state. The thinking is that the larger the turnout the better for Talent.

Update at 4:51. From Gateway Pundit. Turnout in the City of St. Louis looks to be high, perhaps 60%. High turnout in the city is good for McCaskill since the vote usually goes Dem. (And this figure would not count the cemetary vote which also goes Dem in St. Louis.)
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
I have been too busy to think politics for several days. (Pastoral duties including a funeral yesterday and one tomorrow, plus preaching in two churches in Iowa over the weekend.) So I now offer some comments that are not completely thought out.

1. I was in the 1st Congressional District in Iowa Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Yard and roadside signs were about even between Braley (D) and Whalen (R). I was somewhat surprised to see a large number of Braley signs in farm yards. Over Sunday lunch in Waterloo with a group of people from the church I asked for predictions. One woman was active in Republican politics and answered that she thought the outcome would depend on voter turnout. I think this race is too close to call.

2. Sunday late afternoon I was in Pella at a family home when the phone rang. It was a prerecorded call from Rudy Guilliani on behalf of the Republican candidate for governor Nussle. While this race is close, I am going to predict Culver (D). The Pella area has been a Republican stronghold in Iowa for several years, and if the Repubs are still paying attention to their base areas on the Sunday before the election, then things are not good.

3. Missouri, my home state. I listened to some Missouri radio stations while driving the rental car from Des Moines to Waterloo Saturday evening. What I mostly heard were McCaskill ads and they seemed pretty strong. The race appears to be so close that I am going with McCaskill (D) over Talent (R). Democrats will win close statewide elections in Missouri until fraud and corruption in St. Louis, and some other places, are cleaned up.

4. My general sense is that the Republicans have the momentum going into today. I think they'll hold the Senate and keep the Democrats to a narrow control of the House.

07/11: Election Day

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Not much left to say. Today America speaks.

Having said that, I will have commentary throughout the day.

Some things to talk about:

1. George the lion-hearted. Although the conventional wisdom seemed to argue against it, President Bush personalized and nationalized the election over the last two weeks. Even more courageous, as every poll indicated that Iraq was a losing issue, the President took to the stump and preached Iraq. For all of us who believe that elections should be about major issues, we must give the President credit for that decision.

2. Anything less than a "wave election" will be a demoralizing failure for the Democratic Party in the light of the great expectations.

3. My prediction: the system will work, and democracy will prevail.

4. May God bless America.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
On Fox News Sunday today, Mara Liasson noted that Harold Ford and Michael Steele have run the best campaigns for the Senate this cycle. She is absolutely right. Ironically, they are both likely to lose. Of course, they are both African American. Interestingly, one is a Democrat running in a center-right upper-South state (Ford in Tennessee). The other is a Republican running in a solidly Democratic mid-Atlantic state (Steele in Maryland).

Most likely, they will both run close races--but fall short. Ford has been tremendous, but Steele has been the biggest surprise. As the red-hot Democratic superstar, Barack Obama, stumped for Steele's white opponent in Maryland this week, I could not help but think that Steele had proved himself the most articulate and dynamic of the new generation of African-American politicians.

The Democrats need a fifteen seat gain (or sixteen--depending on Gene Taylor) to win control of the House, which they will achieve. The House will change hands as a result of what happens on Tuesday. The only real argument is about margin. I do not dismiss the predictions of a 30-seat swing (or more)--but a spread of that magnitude strikes me as improbable. The word on the lips of every pundit this last fortnight has been "wave election." A 30+ margin would mean a tremendous wave. I am not convinced that this midterm presents that sort of political storm. On the other hand, a message that strong is not impossible. We will see.

For the Democrats to win control of the Senate, they need to net six seats on Tuesday. Baring a political tsunami, however, the GOP should beat back the late Democratic charge:

Rhode Island: Lincoln Chafee, America's most liberal Republican senator, will lose RI, which has not generated more than 40 percent of the popular vote for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988. This very blue state will elect a blue senator (+1 for Democrats).

Pennsylvania: Two-term GOP incumbent Rick Santorum has run ten points behind Bob Casey for months. No reason to expect anything unexpected (+2 for Democrats).

Ohio: As much as I hate to see it, all the polling indicates that Republican incumbent Mike DeWine, an excellent senator, will fall to unabashedly ultra-liberal Sherrod Brown. Although I am still hoping for a miracle here, it looks like curtains for the center-right DeWine (+3 for Democrats).

Maryland: Although Steele has run a great race in Maryland (and I give him a slight chance for pulling off a huge upset), he is unlikely to win the seat vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes in the rock-sold blue state (no change, +3 for Democrats).

New Jersey: The other state in which a Republican candidate, Tom Kean, Jr, seemed in position to potentially pick up an opposition seat looks increasingly secure for the short-tenured Democratic incumbent, Bob Menendez (no change, +3 for Democrats).

Arizona: Republican incumbent Jon Kyl holds (no change, +3 for Democrats).

Montana: Scandal-plagued Republican incumbent, Conrad Burns, looked all but out of the race two weeks ago. He has come back. Montana is a strong red state. The President has campaigned for him. This is a true toss-up, but Burns has yet to hit 50 percent in any of the polls. Most likely, Burns falls just short. Tester wins by a nose (+4 for Democrats).

Which leaves the most important three races:

Virginia: I predicted a month ago that Allen would hold. Frankly, the contest appears much closer than I thought it would be at this point. No matter, I continue to pick VA for Republican incumbent George Allen (no change, +4 for Democrats).

Note: Many observers have called Missouri the bell-weather state--but Virginia is the state that Republicans really cannot afford to lose.

Tennessee: Although this race seemed extremely close even a week ago, the inherent Republican advantage seems to have caved in on the impressive Democratic candidate, Harold Ford. Bob Corker should hold the Republican seat vacated by retiring Majority Leader, Bill Frist (no change, +4 for Democrats).

Missouri: GOP Republican incumbent Jim Talent, who won election four years ago with a razor-thin margin, faces a dead-heat against an attractive Democratic challenger, Claire McCaskill. This contest may be the closest of the cycle. Both of these candidates have won and lost statewide elections by fractions of a percentage point. This race is impossible to call with any certainty, although there are some indications that the vote may be breaking against the stem-cell amendment and for McKaskill. On the other hand, if my calculations hold up to this point, this state will not determine control of the Senate. Having said all that, I pick Talent because he is an excellent senator, and I want him to win (no change, +4 for Democrats).

Republicans hold (51-49).
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
I do not think I ever have linked to an Ann Coulter essay. Usually I am in agreement with her, so its a matter of style rather than of substance. As I hope you've noticed, this blog aims for an even-handed, thoughtful tone.

But, her recent column in Jewish World Review is worth reading, if only for one question she poses: will any Democrat gains next week match historic patterns for 6th year presidential terms?

In other words, the proper context in which to understand any shifts in seats next week is not merely the change from one Congress to another, but how well the party out of power has done in off-year elections, especially 6th year elections.

And, it is beginning to look like even if Dems make gains, they will fall short of historic patterns. So, what's wrong with the Democrats? And if they pick up seats, is it really a mandate?
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
A wonkish debate is going on right now among campaign insiders: Will the GOP turn-out machine pull this rabbit out of the hat? Because Karl Rove insists that he is supremely confident that the GOP will hold the House, he has a lot of people in-the-know (who probably should know better) very nervous. Is this guy really going to beat us again?

An aside: on the lunatic-fringe side of the ledger, a debate is going on right now as to whether Karl Rove and Halliburton can steal the election through "rigged" voting machines. This debate among conspiracy theorists presents a very real problem, if, somehow, the Republicans were to hold the House. That is, we could very well see an irate splinter of the Democratic Party's most radical element take to the streets in mass protest.

Back to the more sane debate: the debate is really between the forces of "turn out" and the adherents of "persuasion." A few years ago, we heard non-stop chatter about "swing voters." Remember that? Those voters who could be persuaded regarding issues like the economy, health care, deficit spending, national defense, etc. The "independents."

However, for the last few election cycles, the buzz word has been turn out. The new conventional wisdom held that Americans had basically made up their minds about politics. They could not be persuaded; they could only be mobilized to vote or depressed into staying home. So we have heard statements like this: "Hillary energizes the Republican base;" and "the Gay Marriage issue is designed to mobilize evangelicals" (who, if they come out, will vote Republican).

Well, which is it: persuasion or turn out? The answer is "YES." It is both. This is why the GOP is in trouble. Americans are extremely unhappy with Iraq, the Bush administration and the Republican Congress. For all the talk about turn out and party infrastructure, policy and character still matter.

The GOP forgot that Ronald Reagan beat the media and the awesome Democratic infrastructure (without the help of a friendly conservative alternative media, conservative think-tanks or Karl Rove's ground forces). How did he do it? Ronald Reagan brought a cogent message to the American people with style, sincerity and wit.

The only saving grace for the GOP this time around is that the Democrats are just as lost as the Republicans. Neither John Kerry, Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi approaches the sublime political artistry of Ronald Reagan.

The silver lining: we may be on the verge of a new cycle in which policy and results matter to politicians once again.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Incontrovertible evidence that we dodged a bullet in 2004:

"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member, or American who was offended."

--From the tortured soul of John F. Kerry (the brief statement in its entirety).

Caution: this story has run its course. Republicans should not hang their hats on this Kerry debacle, which will not turn the tide of this election.
Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
From Charlie Cook (courtesy of National Journal):

"The bottom line is that at this stage, Republicans should consider themselves lucky if their net losses stay in the 20-25 range in the House, four or five seats in the Senate, and between five and eight governorships. It would be a tough election, losing their majorities in the House and governorships, but it would fall short of the devastating losses that are possible. But the chances of this thing going bigger -- far bigger -- still exist, and there are quite a few veteran Republican strategists, people who have done tons of races in all kinds of states and districts for many years, who are bracing themselves for that distinct possibility."

The analysis piece in its entirety.

Remember: Charlie Cook is the best (and he generally leans Republican).

Category: Politics
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Six days out.

The Kerry misstatement is a gift. I am convinced that Kerry did not mean what he said; just as I am convinced that George Allen had no idea what macaca meant. But there they are: on tape; both running off at the mouth. We are definitely living in the "You Tube" world. For Kerry, as it was for Allen as well, there is justice in this massive misunderstanding. The intended joke that misfired was a shot at President Bush's education, which, ironically, is very similar to Kerry's--only better. Kerry in his own inimitable and humor-challenged style blew the line. Once again, who's the dummy here? Who is the king of the malaprop?

An aside: part of the problem for Kerry on this PR disaster is that what he actually said (as opposed to what he really meant) resonates with a sub-set of commonly held beliefs among some of his adherents. The Kerry advocates on C-SPAN this morning were divided between callers explaining what he actually meant and those defending him on the merits of the assertion that the army was for the poor and uneducated.

But I am not sure how long this story can play. Without the Washington Post and/or NYT behind it, this moment will lose its momentum fairly quickly. This will not hang around in the MSM like the Allen story. Admittedly, I am surprised at the attention it has garnered already--due, in part, to the astuteness of the White House (and the helpful assist from John McCain) and, more importantly, to Kerry's clumsy and bombastic denials and non-apology.

Again, the irony is thick: "Bush is a dummy; I am smart." But here I go again falling into the pit I built for my idiotic opponent. "I can't believe I am losing to this guy."

For the record, an aggressive NJ state supreme court ruling in favor of same-sex coupling was also a gift. But if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it really make a sound? That story does not seem to have any traction.

Bottom line: Don't count on either of those missteps to save the GOP.

There was a story making the rounds yesterday that indicates that the election coverage this cycle favors the Democrats. And we are fairly sure that cigarettes are bad for your health. I understand the psychological need for stories that confirm what we already know (see: we're not crazy), but we need to get beyond that.

For a long time we have known that no GOP candidate can win nationally without finding a way around the mainstream media. Just do it!

Disturbing thought on early voting: All the good voters have voted. The voters, who are left, for the most part, are the ones who care the least and are the least informed. If they are "guilted" into voting, they will make their decisions based on which candidate moves them the most emotionally with the most effective television ad or some other campaign tool.

One last thing: Who's going to win? Still too tough to call. The Cook Political Report is suggesting a 30-vote swing in favor of the Democrats in the House and perhaps loss of control in the Senate as possible-to-likely. That is bad news for the GOP. Cook doesn't go off half-cocked.

The President is amazing. I love that he and Rove have defied the conventional wisdom and attacked. The Democratic Party dared him to make this about him, and he accepted the challenge (after this is all over, we may say he "took the bait"). You would think that a president with an approval rating in the high-30s would be foolish to nationalize a congressional election--but the truth is that he had little choice. If the option was talk about Foley, corruption and the abominable Republican Congress or talk about Bush, the President and Rove were right to pick Bush.

No one who understands what is happening right now on the ground in 435 congressional districts is talking about demoralized cultural conservatives. The GOP base in now on the march. Rove touts the structural advantage of the Republican campaign apparatus and incumbency, and he is right, but it remains to be seen if that is enough.

We will see. We do not have long to wait. This time next week.
Category: Politics
Posted by: an okie gardener
With the Kansas City Star reporting the Missouri Senate race between Talent (R) and McCaskill (D) a dead heat at 49/49, perhaps a relatively small thing could tip the scales. Gateway Pundit has this report of the emerging scandal in which a McCaskill ad uses an Iraq veteran making what more and more appear to be false claims.

I am a Missouri native. For some context: there are lots of veterans in Missouri, including large numbers of folks who have served in Iraq through the Guard. Sullivan County, my home, has a small population (Milan, the county seat has less than 2000 people and it is far and away the largest town) but a large billboard on the courthouse lawn with the names of those who have or are serving in combat zones since 9/11. Its a long list for a small population county. Anything that a veteran and/or service member could take offense at is potentially big.

And, I'm sure Missouri Dems want to bind and gag John Kerry until after the election.