Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tom Bevan at realclearpolitics has an interesting piece on Barack Obama today. I still believe that the Democratic nominee will be named Al or Hillary with a governor like Vilsack, Richardson, or Warner in the VP slot but there is still a lot of time left and anything can happen. Obviously, Obama has the best oratory and writing skills of the aforementioned candidates.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

It look as those who thought that divided government would bring serious earmark reform are going to be disappointed as this NY Times article points out.

A particularly humorous quote:

“I happen to be a supporter of earmarks, unabashedly,” said Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, the Democrat set to become chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for labor, health and human services. “But I don’t call them earmarks. It is ‘Congressional directed funding.’ ”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., urged taking a step back, away from "the political agenda," in considering judicial appointees.

"You know, these are important lifetime appointments. These men and women who serve on the bench, we really trust their judgment and their wisdom and giving these political litmus tests I don't think is in the best interest of justice in America," said Durbin, who will be the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate."

Hopefully he will remember these words when he deals with President Bush's nominees in the future. If not, perhaps Republicans can remind him.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Democratic politicians and sympathetic journalists are constantly fond of telling the American people that we are the wealthiest country on Earth before lamenting some aspect of this country's domestic or foreign policy. Usually, a declaration that we are the wealthiest country on Earth is followed by a criticism of the number of people in this country that lack healthcare.

I am not sure how these politicians are concluding that we are the wealthiest country on Earth or in the history of the world but if you go by GDP per Capita or GNP per Capita or purchasing power (which are all typical measures of a country's wealth) we are not the wealthiest country on Earth and it would be nice if somone called them on it.

Furthermore, many of these same politicians who claim that “we are the wealthiest country on Earth” never seem to give due credit to one of the main reasons, free trade, and in fact many of these same politicians are the most ardent protectionists.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Disregarding the ideological bias of the writer, Jonathan Chait, he actually makes a few good points:

"Well, let's go to the exit polls. If Republicans lost because they abandoned conservatism, you'd see a big drop-off among conservative or Republican voters. Didn't happen. In 2004, 93 percent of self-identified Republicans voted for President Bush. This year, 91 percent voted for their GOP House candidate. The percentage of voters who identified themselves as conservatives barely budged, falling by just two points, from 34 percent to 32 percent, according to exit polls.

All the GOP losses occurred in the center. In 2004, Bush lost among independents by just a single point. In 2006, independents voted Democratic by a massive 19-point margin.

When conservatives try to get more specific about why voters turned against them, their explanations make even less sense. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a leader among conservatives in the House, suggested that his party apologize to voters like this: "We've overspent, badly, and it was offensive to you as well as our conservative principles."
But exactly how have Republicans overspent?

The largest spending increases under Bush, by far, have come in defense and homeland security, which conservatives support. The next biggest item is the Medicare bill. Horribly designed though it was, you can't say it was unpopular. Poll results indicate that about 90 percent of the public support adding prescription drug coverage to Medicare."

Although, he does fail to acknowledge the possibility that Republicans might have lost among independents because of spending increases, overall this seems to lead to the conclusion that Congressional corruption, voters' desire for change, Congressional competence, and Iraq amongst other issues played a more major role than spending.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It looks unlikely that Bloomberg will run. I do find it odd that neither George Will or Mayor Bloomberg for that matter do not seem to give any credit to the good national economy for at least part of New York City’s financial health and low crime rates. With the Stock Market reaching all-time highs, it is not a stretch to believe this has had some impact on Bloomberg’s success as Mayor.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Giuliani's possible run in 2008

After former Mayor Giuliani recently filed the necessary papers to form an exploratory committee (a first step in a Presidential run), there has been endless speculation about his potential candidacy including advice from political consultants in this Sunday's New York Times. My thoughts are as follows: he was an excellent Mayor and would probably make an excellent President, but Rudy Giuliani can't win the Republican nomination.

It has little to do with his social positions on issues like guns, gay marriage, and abortion. The gun control issue he can chalk up to states' rights as New York City isn't going to have the same gun policy as Nebraska or at least so the logic goes (I have previously blogged that I don’t think states’ rights on guns is a particular good idea but it is the majority opinion right now). He is pro civil union and not gay marriage and while the issue will hurt him in the primary it wouldn't destroy him. More Republicans are coming around to this position and it is judges that matter the most, and he has already been a staunch advocate for Alito and Roberts. His strong position on judges would also help mitigate any fallout from his position on abortion. Furthermore, Giuliani is personally religious and almost became a priest, which would make him more palatable to the religious community who would disagree with some of his positions on social issues.

That said, he still can’t win and the reason is he has too much personal baggage and too many prominent enemies to do so. The African-American community in New York disliked him, including many if not most of its prominent leaders. Former Mayor Koch and Dinkins hate him with Koch actually writing a book about it. His first wife was his cousin, which would strikes voters at least initially as weird and his second wife wouldn't say if she voted for him in his Mayoral re-election campaign and with whom he underwent a very messy and public divorce. One of his deputy mayors Russell Harding was the Liberal party boss’s son who it seemed he appointed (at least in part) in order to help obtain their endorsement. Giuliani’s father was allegedly in the mafia. Bernie Kerik, his former business partner was his former driver and the one he appointed head of the Police Department. While he was quite good as the city’s top police officer, his qualifications probably didn't warrant the job. Kerik’s recent legal problems would also come up in any campaign considering his close business and personal relationship with Giuliani.

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg and more research would probably demonstrate more personal problems. Giuliani could win the nomination with his positions if primary voters were willing to forgo his personal baggage which they would be unlikely to do. I wish the situation was different as I personally like him but I just don’t see any conceivable possibility of his winning the nomination despite the fact that he did such a good job both as mayor and in the aftermath of 9/11.

I suspect he knows this as well, but filed to allow for months of speculation which will help upgrade his political capital and help his business interests. It could also lead to a cabinet position in a Republican presidency and maybe even in a Democratic one. Despite his personal baggage, I believe he could be confirmed and would be a good Attorney General.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

From the NY Times , "reflecting that strategy, Mr. Bush sent Congress a slate of conservative judicial nominees, which was taken as a provocation by Democrats who had previously rejected them. A close associate of Mr. Rove’s suggested that the strategy was first to placate conservatives, then tack to the middle to strike deals with Democrats on immigration reform or Social Security. "

This is a pretty solid strategy as both Justices Alito and Roberts enjoyed majority support from the American public and it would seem that the new round of nominees would do likewise. I plan to blog on it when I have more time but I believe Judges is Senator Schumer's achilles heel and an issue that Republicans can win on if they nominate qualified people like Roberts, who are personable and not too far to the right.

While I am skeptical that a deal can be reached on social security, it is worth a try. Furthermore, social security is currently a losing issue for Republicans so reaching a bi-partisan deal would be preferable to the status quo.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I have previously written on this blog that opponents of Bush 43's administration now lavish great praise on his father (who in most cases they vehemently opposed at the time) as a way of attacking the son.

You are already beginning to see it with Milton Friedman, who sadly passed away yesterday. I am by no means an expert on Friedman or his economic or political beliefs, but if how one chooses to donate their money means anything, it appears that Friedman was supportive of the Republican Party to the end.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Republican's Secret Weapon in '08-a Bloomberg Run

I find it interesting that Democratic strategist Bob Shrum has already announced that Mike Bloomberg can't win as an independent. He is correct of course but what he conveniently fails to mention is a Bloomberg Presidential run as an independent would be horrible for Democrats and great for Republicans.

Mike Bloomberg's handlers have quietly been looking into the possibility of a Bloomberg run in 2008. Their attitude is why not. He has astronimically high ratings in the largest city in the country and was able to win re-election by an overwhelming margin in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 6-1 and the electorate is clamoring for bi-partisanship. Ross Perot was actually leading briefly in 1992 and Bloomberg, not only has the advantages that Perot has of being a successful businessman who is beholden to no one but actually has a successful political career and is less gaffe prone.

I will try and blog in more detail on this subject at a later date (especially if it becomes increasingly likely that it will happen) but it is likely that socially liberal, pro-business Democrats are going to be frusturated with the Democratic nominee, who is likely to engage in populist economic rhetoric while ignoring issues like abortion and gun control and kind of equivocating on issues like gay marriage. Mike Bloomberg, who claims to be a "centrist" (which he is for New York City), is actually more socially liberal than almost any credible Democrat challenger.

There are plenty of Democrats, especially amongst the superwealthy, that don't like the Democrats rhetoric on free trade. These include influential executives like Marc Andreessen, Robert Rubin, Mort Zuckerman, and Ron Burkle. Influential media people like: Peter Beinart, Tom Friedman, and Jacob Weisberg. As Marc Andreessen put it about the Kerry campaign, "I was also not very happy to be called a "Benedict Arnold" traitor in his speeches."

Why would these socially liberals who don't like Democratic economic rhetoric (and possible policies) and tend to be more hawkish in a liberal way in international affairs want someone like John Edwards when they can have Mike Bloomberg? Why would they not want someone who is unabashly pro-gun control, pro-choice, will have a litmus test for judges (Bloomberg opposed John Roberts), pro-gay mariage, pro-Israel, and will push for more free trade agreements and likely have a economic policy similar to "Rubineconomics"?

If Bloomberg can demonstrate that he has any chance of winning many of these high-profile donors will either back him or sit the race out. While Bloomberg may draw some socially liberal Republicans; this is more likely to be in blue states or among Republicans who are now starting to vote Democratic in Presidential elections anyway and is unlikely hurt the Republican candidate in the general election.

However, he has the potential to swing states like Pennsylvania to the Republicans where he can cut into the Democratic lead in places like the mainline and also potentially make states like Florida less competitive for Democrats by cutting into their vote in traditional strongholds like South Florida. Similar to liberal Republican turned independent John Anderson's run in 1980, a Bloomberg run could be very good news for Republicans.
A good piece in Newsweek by Howard Fineman of Nancy Pelosi's mistake in the leadership race.

Just on a side note, why did Republican-leaning influential bloggers, journalists, and pundits wait until after Trent Lott was appointed whip to complain? Since he won by one vote, surely any kind of orchestrated campaign against his ascension to the leadership position probably would have worked. It seems like it is too late, unfortunately, to do anything now.
This is pretty funny, compliments of UPI and the powerline blog (go to the blog to see the accompanying picture)

"An ABC News reporter said the incident occurred Tuesday outside of the Old Senate Chamber as members of the new Democratic leadership, of which Kerry is not a part, left the chamber en route to the Ohio Clock Corridor to discuss leadership elections, the incoming majority's agenda and Iraq.

The ABC reporter said Kerry left the room behind Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Caucus Secretary Patty Murray, D-Wash.; and Caucus Vice-Chair Schumer, D-N.Y. However, when Schumer noticed Kerry, D-N.Y., walking behind him, he turned and said something to the Massachusetts senator that caused him to stop.
Kerry waited for the Democratic leaders to walk ahead and then ducked between two statues. The ABC reporter speculated that Schumer may have told Kerry to stay clear of the leadership shot."

First, rule of being a Democratic member of the Senate is never get between Senator Schumer and a TV camera and this rule seems to be especially applicable to John Kerry. I almost felt bad for Kerry. Well almost...

Hoyer wins: A wise decision

Although luckily Steny Hoyer won (149-86); I do find it odd given the margin of victory that John Murtha claimed to have the votes last night on Hardball. Either it was just a strategic ploy, alternatively he really can't count votes, or just Democratic Representatives were afraid to openly voice their opposition to his candidacy. Unfortunately, I think it is the latter and not either of the former options, which may be an insight into the hardnosed tactics that Pelosi is willing to employ to get her way and the level of fear in the Democratic Caucus in openly defying her.

Most Ethical House ever?

Nancy Pelosi stated that, "the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history." Yet the words appear, although not surprisingly, to already ring hollow.

Some excerpts from the Murtha/Hoyer leadership battle:

"One conservative Democrat said that a Murtha-Pelosi ally approached him on the House floor and said pointedly: "I hope you like your committee assignment, because it's the only one you're going to get."

In a phone call initiated by Murtha that same day, the lawmaker told the longtime politician that he had already signed a letter of support for Hoyer. The congressman said he was stunned when Murtha told him, "Letters don't mean anything."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Martinez is no Miers

While I am not surprised at the conservative opposition to Mel Martinez's appointment to RNC Chair, I am surprised at some of the libertarian Republican opposition to Martinez and comparisons to another Bush appointment: Harriet Miers. The claim that Bush is appointing a loyalist to the job is true, but so what. Any RNC or DNC head that is appointed while a member of their party is President has always been a loyalist. McCauliffe, Brown, and Rendell were appointed DNC chair during the Clinton presidency and were all considered close to Bill Clinton and Mehlman and Gillespie were both named RNC chair during the Bush Presidency and enjoy close personal ties with this President. Below is an e-mail I wrote to a prominent libertarian Republican on the subject:

Your principled opposition seems to be geared more to opposing the Bush agenda as opposed to promoting the Libertarian agenda. Additionally, it seems in your promotion of Shadegg and Pence, you finally recognize that Libertarianism is not synonymous with social liberalism as Blunt and Boehner are probably more socially liberal than either of the aforementioned leadership candidates.

My main contentions with Senator Mel Martinez are as follows: he represents a swing state and endangers himself politically by taking certain positions at the RNC which are at odds with his state and the limited amount of time he has to devote to the job as RNC head- as Senator is quite time-consuming. This is in variance to Ken Mehlman who could devote his time exclusively to being RNC head.

Your argument that he is Harriet Miers is off-base as Martinez is an elected Senator and has a compelling life story. He is perfectfully qualified for the job and as a self-described Libertarian you should like his stance on immigration which is drawing the ire of other conservatives.

If you were concerned about promoting libertarian ideals you would be better served by reserving your wrath for the Murtha-Hoyer race and would have been more vocal in your opposition to Trent Lott’s ascension to the number 2 spot in the Senate Caucus. Murtha and Lott are two of the biggest pork-barrel recipients in Congress and Murtha has a history of spotty judgment in his dealings with lobbyists.
Trent Lott defeated Lamar Alexander for the whip position in the Senate. The Republicans in the Senate made a poor decision as they passed over a fairly uncontroversial Senator, whose campaign manager saved Bob Corker's campaign in Tennessee, for a candidate with a troubled past on racial relations and a reputation as one of the biggest pork barrel recipients on Capitol Hill.

If Republicans wanted to resuscitate their reputation as the party of fiscal discipline and opposition to corruption, they have a weird way of showing it. Lott, who is the brother-in-law of famed trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs (and has been accused of helping him in the past) has not been shy about expressing his bitterness about being forced to step down as majority leader.

He has never appeared contrite and seems not to recognize the political damage (as well as the stupidity of his comments) caused by his comments and many bungled apologies . He attacked critics including Bill Frist in his book, Herding Cats: A Life in Politics and continually was known to be a royal pain in the butt to Senator Frist in passing legislation.

This is a step in the wrong direction for Republicans.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

John Murtha with the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be making a strong run for Majority Leader. The race against Steny Hoyer doesn't fit under the typical liberal-moderate match-up in the Democratic Caucus as Hoyer is more fiscally conservative but more socially liberal than Murtha. Murtha's possible ascendency is bad news for those who care about good government as he is known as a pork barrel spender and a favorite of military lobbyists , which is especially disconcerning in a time of war amid allegations of possible war profiteering.

A Hoyer win would be a positive outcome for anyone who cares remotely about getting rid of or at least limiting Congressional corruption and would also demonstrate the limits of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's power. Hopefully, Hoyer can pull it out.
While I don't agree with Michael Kinsley's analysis of Jim Baker, I do find it odd that the Baker Commission is composed of mostly people that have no foreign policy experience or insight. It seems that whoever created the commission stacked it so that Jim Baker's opinion would become the recommendation of the Commission. Hence, it was appropriately named:-)
Nice to know that Montana Voters elected such an urbane fellow to represent them:

"Democratic Sen.-elect Jon Tester of Montana looked a little overwhelmed on his first day...

The Capitol police weren't quite ready for Tester, a farmer with a throwback flat top haircut and fingers missing on his left hand from an old accident with a meat grinder. They asked him to empty his pockets for inspection.

"Just like at the airport, you put it all through?" Tester asked.

The officer nodded, then recognized the newcomer and waved him through."
Independent political Analyst Stuart Rothenberg makes some good points in analyzing the blame game now taking place between Conservatives and Moderates (I would add a third category liberals as there are still a few liberal Republicans left including Lincoln Chafee) within the Republican party. I don't agree with everything he says as I believe Congress deserved as much or more of the blame than the President, but his general conclusion that "Conservative and moderate Republicans need each other to gain power" is right on.

Mel Martinez as the new RNC Head

Mel Martinez has been appointed the new head of the RNC. On its face, this would seem to be a good appointment as Martinez has a great life story of coming over to this country by himself from Cuba as part of the Pedro Pan program and is a charismatic and articulate spokesman. However, there are two problems with the appointment: The first problem, is that as Senator he already has a full schedule and it will be difficult (even while not running the day-to-day operations of the RNC) to fulfill both duties and the second problem, which is a bigger problem is that he represents a swing state and as such positions he represents as RNC Chairman may hamper his ability to get re-elected as Senator as Florida (his margin of victory in 2004 was razor-thin).

If the Republicans wanted to appoint a Senator as Chairman, they could have done so as I believe the first problem I alluded to is not as important as the second. Governor Rendell was able to fulfill his DNC duties while serving as the Mayor of Philadelphia. However, the second problem is going to be difficult as it will be hard for him to defend certain national Republican positions without making himself unpopular in Florida. Republicans may have been better off appointing someone from a safe seat or a non-politician in the mold of Mehlman.

However, I am hoping that I am wrong and he will do an excellent job.

Webb's spin Campaign

This will be my last post on the Jim Webb’s success Senatorial campaign (hopefully) but I just wanted to say something after the spin his campaign has been engaged recently despite winning the race.

Jim Webb in his victory speech had the nerve to claim he ran a clean campaign and won on the issues. This ridiculous as once you got past his opposition to Iraq, he really had few innovative ideas. This is in keeping with S.R. Siddarth’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post in which he claimed that Allen tried to play the “race card”. Why on Earth would someone who is up significantly in the polls and has presidential ambitions try and play the race card? Siddarth’s argument is ridiculous on its face. Furthermore, for Webb to claim he ran a clean campaign is ridiculous as he was the benefit of one of the nastiest campaigns in recent memory by his subordinates. One in which he never seemed to acknowledge or denounce.

His opponent, George Allen, was called all kind of names by Webb supporters on the Raising Kaine (the blog that was affiliated with his campaign). These included calling Allen: a racist, an anti-semite, and in one of the worst smears, macacawitz (in light of Allen’s recently discovered Jewish heritage).

Webb's record on race which was barely examined was less than ideal to say the least. He previously called affirmative action "state-sponsored racism" which likely would have been the kiss of death for any Republican politician. He has since conveniently modified his position to support affirmative action for blacks and poor whites from Apalachia. Webb could not deny that he might have used the n-word in the past or that he has written fondly of his confederate heritage.

The fact was Macaca combined with the allegations against Allen lost him the race. Allen was leading by a sizable margin before the Macaca incident. Allen, may or may not be a prick, but he was a good and popular Senator and he would have won if the campaign focused on the issues.

For a good article describing Webb’s views, please look at Andrew Ferguson’s article.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chafee makes a politically poor decision

Today, the recently defeated Republican Senator from Rhode Island wrote an op-ed in the NY Times where he attacks the Bush administration policies. He previously made comments that he was considering leaving the Republican Party . His comments make no sense for the following reasons:

(1) If he wanted to leave the Republican Party, he should have done so a year or two ago. If he had wanted to become an independent and caucus with the Democrats like Jim Jeffords or alternatively wanted to become a Democrat he could have done so and it would have been to his political benefit to do so. He not only would have been re-elected but would have easily won re-election as a Democrat. Instead, he not only lost a time consuming race but now looks incredibly disloyal as the RSCC dumped millions of dollars into his campaign for both the primary and general election and vindicates those who supported his primary opponent.

(2) He is not particularly politically astute. The title of the article, "Holding to the Center, Losing My Seat" indicates that Chafee is not considerably knowledgeable about the American electorate. His positions are that of a liberal and not of a centrist. As one liberal columnist pointed out there was almost no discernible difference between Chafee and his liberal Democratic opponent Sheldon Whitehouse on the issues, the only major difference was party affiliation.

While he voted with the Republican Party over 50% of the time it was almost always on procedural issues as opposed to substantive issues like taxes. The only three major issues he sided with Republicans were CAFTA, tort reform (which some Democrats supported) and confirming John Roberts. In the case of Roberts it should be noted that he reluctantly supported him and many in the Democratic Caucus voted for because of Roberts' tremendous performance before the Senate Judiciary despite extreme pressure from liberal interest groups for a filibuster.

He is to the left of the American electorate on: judges where he favors a litmus test based on abortion, gay marriage, at the time Iraq (although now his position is in the center), guns, taxes, and a host of other issues. While I agree with some his positions and while he can argue that the Republican Party has moved too far to the right, he should be able to recognize that he is not the center. Senator Zell Miller, was never called a centrist, but was aptly named a Conservative or sometimes a Conservative Democrat. His positions were not only to the right of the Democratic caucus but also to many Republicans by the end of his short Senate tenure.

Senator Miller recognized this and typically argued that his conservative positions were in the mainstream for the state he represented which is true, just as Senator Chafee's liberal positions were in the mainstream of Rhode Island constituents. However, Miller unlike Chafee seemed to recognize that his positions were not centrist ones in the country as a whole.

(3) There is no advantage to him switching parties now that he is out of office as the Democrats have no incentives to do him any favors and Republicans are probably upset with him.

So all in all, he chose a poor time to lash out at the current administration and to contemplate switching parties.

Praising Bush 41 to criticize Bush 43

It is interesting that so many politicians, pundits, and journalists who didn't care much for Bush 41 when he was in office, now praise him as this great internationalist and pragmatist now that he is out of office. This is especially odd coming from journalists as at least one well-known study noted only 7% of them voted for him link
Basically, he generally gets praised by people who didn't really like him at the time but hate his son as way to act like they are criticizing the President in a more non-partisan way. There are many people who disdained President Reagan during his presidency, who now invoke his name on a regular basis in order to criticze the current President as if to say, "he is no Reagan" leaving aside the fact that they hated Reagan to begin with.

Many pundits also talk about the great stability we had in the Middle East under Bill Clinton and Bush I, while conveniently forgetting the kind of "stability" that existed. While things could be worse and maybe now are worse, they were not exactly paradise then. There were: corrupt oligarchs heading up most Arab countries, a plethora of religious extremists who occupied positions of power bent on spreading their hate-filled ideology, countries like Saudi Arabia used their oil money to finance madrassas and terrorism, and little comparative economic growth and high unemployment relative to other parts of the world despite tremendous natural resources.

While these problems still exist, it is false to act like the status quo was wonderful. The status quo helped bring about Al-Qaeda. Maybe this President's policy in Iraq is a failure (which I am not yet willing to concede) but at least he tried to change the Middle East. This President, to quote Bill Clinton’s recent remarks on Bin Laden can say, “At least I tried” to fundamentally change the status quo in the Middle East, this is more than I can say for either of the two previous Presidents.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The NY Times populism seems to agree with the points I made earlier:
"Even among the most socially conservative, there is a strong streak of economic populism that is a unifying force."
See Harvard Economics Professor Greg Mankiw's post on the AMT Not sure if he is correct but he makes some thoughtful points and ones that people in red states are likely to make.

Republicans not getting it done in the Senate

In 2004, President Bush narrowly won the electoral college but won 31 out of 50 states. Even discounting the fact that a few of these states only went narrowly to the President, Republicans even in a bad year should be controlling the Senate. Although the country is split population-wise there are more red/red leaning than blue/blue leaning states.

The Democrats now have both Senators in MT, ND, and have a split in SD, all of which vote heavily for Republicans in most Presidential elections.

Republicans, given the built-in advantage they have in the Senate, should be doing a better job.

Populism and Not Moderation won out

From David Brooks's column "The Middle Muscles In" (which I think you'll be able to get to during TimesSelect free access week):

"On Tuesday, 47 percent of the voters were self-described moderates, according to exit polls, and they asserted their power by voting for the Democrats in landslide proportions....Their disaffection with the G.O.P. was not philosophical. It was about competence and accountability....So voters kicked out Republicans but did not swing to the left. For the most part they exchanged moderate Republicans for conservative Democrats. It was a great day for the centrist Joe Lieberman, who defeated the scion of the Daily Kos net roots, Ned Lamont. It was a great day for anti-abortion Democrats like Bob Casey and probably for pro-gun Democrats like Jim Webb. It was a great day for conservative Democrats like Heath Shuler in North Carolina and Brad Ellsworth in Indiana....Realignments are achieved by parties that define big new approaches to problems (see F.D.R.’s Commonwealth Club speech), and neither party has done that yet.
In the meantime, if I were a Democrat I’d be like Lee Hamilton, the former Indiana congressman and serial commission member. The country is hungering for leaders like him: open-minded, unassuming centrists who are interested in government more than politics."

This is a topic that I have kind of beaten to death but the more I keep reading about how, "moderates won" I feel the need to blog about it. Unfortunately, David Brooks as per usual is given to broad generalizations and his evidence leaves much to be desired. Sorry to keep on picking on Brooks who sometimes writing interesting columns but I don't think he displays a good grasp of domestic politics in some of his columns either because he actually doesn't know or alternatively he is disregarding the facts to spin certain results.

(1) "47 percent of the voters were self-described moderates." The key words are self-described. Lot of people describe their positions as moderate but are not when you compare them to the average American voter. At top law schools, moderate means you don't think everything Bush does is evil just most things. Better data would have broken down these voters by their positions on a variety of issues and past voting record to see if the way they self-described themselves matches with reality.
(2) Populism won, not moderation. When Republican politicians are pro-life, they are called social conservatives and unfairly they are usually labeled extremists in blue-states. Being pro-life and favoring the overturn of Roe v. Wade is a respectable position but a minority one (although sizable), so classifying a candidate who is pro-life as moderate is not entirely accurate.
Furthermore, most of the candidates mentioned in his story like Heath Schuler did not run as third-way Democrats but as populists. They ceded ground on social issues as they completely blurred the difference between their and their opponent's positions on abortion and guns and instead campaigned on pocket-book issues like health care, minimum wage, and in Schuler's case protectionism.
(3) There is a a discernable difference between populism and moderation even though the two are often confused although I would expect a little better from an op-ed columnist at a major newspaper. This is the reason why liberal bloggers are enthusiastic about politicians like Brian Schweitzer, Jon Tester, and Jim Webb and unenthusiastic about politicians like Rahm Emanuel, Hilary Clinton, and Joe Lieberman. The latter are at least in theory moderates, the former who are more conservative on social issues are populists. They are not one in the same. (4) Brooks can spin it anyway he likes but in actuality voters rejected his positions (especially his foreign policy) as they chose populism. Brooks is a social liberal, free trader, and foreign policy hawk and the swing voters in this election (the Reagan Democrats) rejected his platform. (Yes I realize he was not running for office but he does have a core set of his beliefs that were rejected at the polls).
(5) From Weekly Standard
"On Election Day, Democrats had their largest gains in districts where a moderate-to-liberal Republican was replaced
by a liberal Democrat.
Political scientist Thomas F. Schaller, author of Whistling Past Dixie, points out that 10 of the 28 most liberal House Republicans lost to Democrats and that a third of Republican-held seats in the Northeast switched parties." So in essence in these districts, moderate-to-liberal Republicans lost out and party-line Democrats won, which depicts more evidence that Brooks' conclusion is incorrect.
From Bob Novak's column: Novak
"One reason for hurrying Senate confirmation of Robert Gates as secretary of defense through the lame-duck session of Congress is to avoid confrontation with an old enemy: James Webb, who will be a Democratic senator from Virginia in the new Congress starting in January.
During President Reagan's second term, Gates and Webb clashed as colleagues. Webb as secretary of the Navy objected to plans by Gates, then deputy national security adviser, for U.S. warships to protect oil platforms in the Persian Gulf. The hot-tempered Webb made clear his irritation with the soft-spoken Gates.
Considering his background, Webb is likely to go on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The White House wants to confirm Gates before Webb is sworn in."

While it probably makes sense from a foreign policy standpoint to have Robert Gates confirmed as soon as possible, I don't believe the White House should be worried about Jim Webb. If Webb vocally clashes with Gates, it is going to hurt Webb in Virginia. He campaigned on a platform to end partisanship in Washington D.C. amongst other things. Mr. Gates barring any unforeseen revelation is going to be confirmed. The person most likely to get embarrassed and damaged politically through any clash is Webb.

Anyone who doesn't think the Libertarian Party is a joke, please watch this video
This video is hilarious, although it is kind of scary that any party would not nominate a guy with these views. Long live the amero:-)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Carville Changes his Tune

Then: A November 14, 2004 appearance on Meet the Press:

MR. CARVILLE: Can I finish? I'm not going to be--in most Democrats, the nature of being a Democrat is we're just--that's just not--we won't be--we're not going to be an anti-gay party. We're not going to be. We're--I can be conflicted about abortion, but I'm not going to be a member of a political party that tells some 32-year-old single mother of two that, you know, "You can't have an abortion," whose ex-husband might beat the living dickens out of her. I can--we can say we can have a better alternative, we can be about different things but that's not the nature of being a Democrat.

Now: November 10, 2006

The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.
Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."

So now it is suddenly okay to have a self-proclaimed very religious (did a commercial in a church), pro-life, pro-constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, head of the DNC?

So either Carville is a complete hypocrite which is a distinct possibility or alternatively Harold Ford Jr. lied about his beliefs in his recent Senate campaign. I happen to believe the latter and not the former but the jury is still out.

Angry bloggers defend Dean and attack establishment Democrats

This had to happen eventually but it is great and terribly amusing that it is happening so soon. Internet bullies make for a good laugh:-)


Carville wants a war
Fri Nov 10, 2006 at 10:58:14 AM PST
It looks like Carville and his DC-elite buddies in DC
want a war:
Some big name Democrats want to oust DNC Chairman Howard Dean, arguing that his stubborn commitment to the 50-state strategy and his stinginess with funds for House races cost the Democrats several pickup opportunities.
The candidate being floated to replace Dean? Harold Ford.
Says James Carville, one of the anti-Deaniacs, "Suppose Harold Ford became chairman of the DNC? How much more money do you think we could raise? Just think of the difference it could make in one day. Now probably Harold Ford wants to stay in Tennessee. I just appointed myself his campaign manager."
Dean was elected. If Carville has a master plan to stage a coup against Dean, I'd love to see it. But I doubt the state party chairs who provided Dean's margin of victory are going to get too torn up about the fact that Dean is helping fund their resurgence.
Carville needs to shut the fuck up. If he wants a war, we'll give him one.
And it won't be a war that DC can win.
There's more of us than there are of them.

A different take on Northern Virginia

This is a reply from one of the readers of this blog, who happens to live in the DC Metro area and is more knowledgable than me on both Northern Virginia and Virginia politics:

"I have four thoughts on the suburban voter issue. First, as an initial matter, the problem is mischaracterized. It's notthat people who voted Republican ten years ago are now voting Democrat.Rather, those old voters have been diluted by new voters. For example,ten years ago, Faifax County (VA) had 100,000 Republicans and 50,000Democrats. Those 100,000 Republicans are still there, but now there arealso 100,000+ Democrats. On the other hand, ten years ago, LoudonCounty was farm land. Now there are 50,000+ Republican voters there.As long as we stay about even in old suburbs like Fairfax, and keep theedge in new suburbs and exurbs like Loudon, we'll be fine.

Second, we do need to regain our edge on fiscal issues. Democrats havebeen successful in achieving moral relativism on taxes and the deficit.If we regain credibility on those issues -- not a hard task -- we willstrongly improve in the suburbs.

Third, at the state and local level, we need pragmatic candidates.Kilgore didn't lose the governor race in Virginia last year because hewas too conservative. Rather, Kaine won because he talked about roadsand zoning. Maybe those are wonkish issues that favor Democrats, but Ithink they are non-partisan issues. That is exactly how Arnold won inCalifornia and how "we" held the governor's mansion in Massachusetts forso many years, and that is why Democrats have seen modest gains at thestate level. (Sidenote: social wedge issues can work with suburbanvoters, but they have a short shelf -- Kilgore could have been the rightcandidate in 2004, when people were concerned about gay marriage, butnot in 2005, when the issue was passe).

Fourth, we've been so successful in deregulating the economy, that manyvoters in the far west and northeast no longer have an incentive to vote Republican. Similar to point two, once voters start seeing the differences again between Democrats and Republicans on economic issues,we'll see an uptick in suburban/moderate support."

Emerging Majority/Perot Voters

While I don't agree with most of what John Judis has to say; after all he is a very liberal (former socialist) and partisan Democrat who predicted incorrectly in 2000 that there would be an emerging Democratic majority in this country
he agrees with me (and most analysts are now concluding) so he can't be that bad:-) that it was the Perot/Reagan Democrats who switched in this election and gave Democrats the victory.
"Perot, of course, vanished from the scene after attempting a repeat performance in 1996. But the constituency he had spoken for remained and even grew. In 1996, Clinton and the Democrats won back many of these voters, but, after September 11, they gravitated toward the Republican Party, helping to account for Republican success in 2002 and 2004. In this election, however, independents flocked back to the Democrats. Nationally, the Democrats won independents by 57 percent to 39 percent. In the East, the margin was 63 to 33 percent; in the Midwest, 56 to 41 percent; and, in the West, 58 to 35 percent. Democrats also did well in many of those Western and Midwestern states where Perot had won over 20 percent of the vote in 1992: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas (where the Democrats won two of four House seats and the top state offices), Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
The Democrats also made gains amo
ng a critical subgroup of independents--the white working-class voters known as Reagan Democrats. In the Midwest, Democrats won these voters (most clearly identifiable in the polls as voters with "some college") by 50 to 49 percent. White working-class support accounted, among other things, for Democratic victories over Republican incumbents in three predominately white downscale Indiana congressional districts that had backed Bush in 2000 and 2004."

Just to poke a little fun at him, notice his book, "The Emerging Democratic Majority" is conspicuously absent from this tnr bio
I suspect that he will now start touting his analysis again and claim that 2000-2006 was just a hiccup along the way. He seems to be doing that in this article by citing 9/11 as opposed to Democratic policies that ruined the "Democrats emerging majority".

I am of the opinion that Republicans and not Democrats have the better chance of being the majority party, as African-Americans (and other minorities) are unlikely to continue to vote for Democrats 90% of the time in the future unless the Democrats manage to anger the Perot voters again. The New Deal coalition broke apart over issues like affirmative action and there seems to be no reason why something similar can't happen as the interests of these voters are diametrically opposed on a number of issues which are bound to come up in the future.


I wonder if the DLC will still be as vocal in supporting non-partisan districting after their recent electoral success, as Democrats now control the majority of the governerships. I suspect not. When was the last time you heard the Democrats and newspapers like the NY Times complain about the electoral college? Suddenly, the electoral college wasn't so bad after 2004 in which Bush handly defeated Kerry in the popular vote but narrowly won the electoral college.

If Democrats in states like New York and Illinois start pushing for more redistricting, Republicans should start advocating for non-partisan redistricting in those states and they should be able to dig up plenty of past Democratic quotes in support of such a plan.
Interesting article in The Hill newspaper about Republican Hill staffers reaction to the Rumsfeld firing (um resignation) a day after the election.
The Hill

Overall, I think the net benefits of firing Rumsfeld (getting rid of an unpopular figure, demonstrating flexibility, etc.) say six months ago versus now slightly outweigh the possible drawbacks (endless hearings on the war, the base getting upset, etc.). Although I don't think it would have made a huge difference overall it probably could have made a difference in a few closes races like Virginia and Montana.

The resignation the day after the election showed the President was a loyal guy who allowed Don Rumsfeld, to leave in a dignified manner (which the President has done with everyone who has shown him loyalty) and cared more about loyalty than politics but I think the Republican reaction is understandable.

In other news, Ken Mehlman is resigning as head of the RNC.
This is typical as most RNC heads serve for one election cycle. Mehlman did a great job with fundraising, made no gaffes unlike his counterpart at the DNC, and implemeted a fine GOTV effort, so overall I would say he did a good job. That said, I don't think he was forceful enough in his defense of candidates and the RNC when they were falsely accused of racism through the Harold Ford ads.

He also spent too much time courting the African-American vote, which was just as poor for the GOP in this election as in others. Perhaps Katrina ruined it for the GOP, but perhaps not. He spent a good deal of time recruiting African-American candidates who couldn't win because of their conversative positions on social issues in purple or blue states (i.e. Swann, Blackwell, and Steele). This outreach was essential and may pay dividends in the future but in this type of election a more narrow focus might have been preferable. Perhaps, installing Michael Steele as the head of the RNC will lead to a significant increase in the percentage of African-American votes for the GOP, I hope so.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A more optimistic note

Although I am really planning to stop blogging for a bit, I just wanted to make a few points, which I didn't adequately convey previously on the blog: (1) The President's popularity is likely to go up as it has been steadily rising. The economy is good, he will probably sign into law a popular but probably misguided federal raise of the minimum wage and the Iraq situation will have significantly improved or we will have given up on it and it will be less of an issue of '08. (2) As the Democrats have de-emphasized social issues like abortion and conveniently ignored others like guns, Rockefeller Republican territory in places like CT and PA should be fertile territory again if Iraq goes away with a good candidate and with Republicans out of power an issue like Schiavo will become less likely to happen. Furthermore, red state Democrats will start having to vote on issues like gay marriage which will further divide their caucus. (3) I think we will get back Foley and Delay's seats once we run candidates who can actually have their name appear on the ballots. Probably Ney's as well unless Ohio completely collapses for us. The gap between Democrats and Republicans in the House will at the very least close. The pessimism that I displayed on the blog owed in part to my disappointment over the election and it is entirely possible that Republicans can take back both houses in ’08, if the right Presidential candidate comes along. That said; never underestimate the power of incumbency. Crawford, Texas is represented by a Democrat and in red seats the leadership will give a lot of help and leeway to the politician. Stephanie Herseth in South Dakota, the reddest of the red is a prime example.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New House Leadership and wedge issues

Hopefully, this will be my last post for awhile so I can start doing something productive for law school, but with the recent loss of the House and the Senate (AP called it for Webb) the Republican will be looking for new leadership (literally and figuratively as Hastert will not seek election as minority leader).

There appears to be two candidates already interested in running: John Boehner and Mike Pence. I don't believe either of these two candidates should be the next face of the house leadership. Boehner was part of the troublesome response to the whole Mark Foley scandal, which no doubt cost Republicans some seats. He is meticulous in his appearance but is not really a polished speaker for the cable news shows. Furthermore, despites promises to the contrary he showed little willingness to tackle corruption and ethics in his short stint in the number two post and with his part in the Foley scandal may have even helped exacerbate the problem. The only benefit I see to having him is that he is from Ohio, a state in which the Republicans are currently struggling in.

Mike Pence is the leader of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which is the caucus of conservative members in the House of Representatives and has increased in membership to over 70 members. It is considered a good bet that he or Mike Shaddegg will make a run for the leadership post but not both and most are betting on Pence. The RSC's argument is that Republicans lost in this election cycle because they violated their conservative principles and while this may be partially true on spending, as I post elsewhere they mainly lost in addition to the unpopularity of the Iraq War and because many of the Conservative positions taken by Republicans (i.e. Schiavo intervention) are not that popular with the public at large.

While Pence comes from a public relations background and would be good on shows like Meet the Press, his desire to move the caucus to the right is not the correct move.

While I think the fortunes of Iraq will no doubt influence the '08 election, there are numerous things on the domestic front that Republicans can do to improve the possibility of picking up seats in the next cycle. Republicans will need to eliminate pushing for some items on their platform that are especially unpopular, advocate better for some existing ideas which could be popular if the public better understood their position, and come up with some new ideas.

My ideal pick for the Republican leadership would be David Dreier. He is highly articulate and more than holds his own even in a hostile liberal environment like the HBO show Politically Incorrect. A good debater and speaker doesn't just speak to party faithful but can go into hostile territory and change people's minds. He is pro-choice but reasonably conservative on most other issues and would help Republicans win back some of the seats they lost this election, in areas where someone like Denny Hastert couldn't campaign. Much the same way having a pro-life leader in Harry Reid lets Democrats appeal to a broader range of people, a smart articulate guy like Dreier could expand the base. The bad news he is rumored to be a homosexual, which I don't really care much about but many religious conservatives would mind.

If Republicans can find someway to make Dreier palatable to the base, he would be an excellent pick. If not, hopefully someone else will step forward. Congressman Cantor, the only jewish Republican in the House is supposedly a rising star and holds a leadership position. Don't know much about him, but perhaps he would make a good choice.

Just going off topic for a little bit, Republicans will need some wedge issues for the next election. Wedge issues tend to win elections. In 2004, it was gay marriage and the Iraq War (which had the time Republicans were united on). In essence, a wedge issue unites your party while dividing different constituencies in the opposing party. Democrats had the wedge issues in this election: stem cell research, illegal immigration, and the Iraq War.

Stem cell research killed Jim Talent in Missouri as the business community Republicans and prominent Republican politicians like former Missouri Senator John Dansforth and Governor Matt Blunt favored the Missouri ballot iniative while the majority of Republicans were against it, especially the social conservatives. As a result, Talent gave an answer that satisfied no one on stem cell research, his oponent united almost her entire party on the issue, and Dansforth refused to endorse Talent in the race, which in a close race this issue probably made the difference.

Democrats were able to localize illegal immigration and while House Repubicans tried to do it (but it harder as the leader of the party, President Bush, vocally advocated on this issue) and some cases were successful, the issue really divided their party in states like Arizona. The Republicans lost Jim Kolbe's seat in Arizona after nominating minuteman Randy Graff in the primary over his more moderate oponent and J.D. Hayworth a reasonably popular conservative Republican incumbent who made opposing illegal immigration into his signature issue also lost his race.

The Democrats in this election were also able to unite among a policy of calling Iraq a mistake, while Republicans (especially incumbents) had a tough time defending their vote but trying to take various nuanced positions on what should be done next.

In the next election, the Republicans will have to look or find issues which unite their caucus while divide the Democrats.
A number of other blogs have picked up the protectionist stance that many of the freshly elected Democrats have.

Why Republicans are better on trade

This post is meant as a rebuke to all (usually pro-free trade Democrats and Libertarians) those who claim the parties are equal on trade issues. I list the reasons why this is the case below:

All of the major Republican-leaning think tanks: CATO, AEI, Heritage, and Hoover support free trade as do the three major conservative magazines: The Weekly Standard, National Review, and the American Spectator as well as the Wall Street Journal editorial page. The Democratic think tanks and magazines are much more divided on the issue with liberal-affiliated magazines and think tanks being adamantly opposed to free trade and some more neo-liberal magazines like The New Republic being more supportive of these agreements. Combine this with the Republican traditional support of the big business community versus the labor community's support of Democrats and Republican elected officials on average have a much better record on trade.

The swing voters in this election and in many if not most elections is Reagan Democrats/Perot voters. These voters are usually either independents or registered Democrats but quite socially conservative, which is why there are more registered Democrats in this country but more conservatives as well.

In order to appeal to these voters, Republicans usually tout national security and social issues, while Democrats tout economic policies. In other words, since populism (both social and economic) appeals to these voters, Democrats need to oppose trade agreements along with embracing other populist economic policies (universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, etc.) while Republican politicians can appeal to these voters on social issues. Guns for awhile was quite effective (which is why the Democrats gave up on that and many Democrats in this election were pro-NRA), gay marriage, and a few others. So while some Republicans in textile or manufacturing states may also take the anti-trade view, the majority not need and will not in order to appeal to these voters.

These reasons in the aggregate are why Republicans have and will continue to have a better record on free trade than Democrats.

Rasmussen Polling is great

While polling is typically filled with inaccuracies, Rasmussen polls have proven again to be the best. Below is the real and last final results in these races (the top one is the actual and below that is the predicted result).

Nation's Closest Senate Races
Actual Election Results
As of 8:00am 11/8/06
Rasmussen Final Poll
Lieberman (I) 50%
Lamont (D) 40%
Lieberman (I) 48%
Lamont (D) 40%
Cardin (D) 54%
Steele (R) 44%
Cardin (D) 50%
Steele (R) 45%
Stabenow (D) 57%
Bouchard (R) 41%
Stabenow (D) 56%
Bouchard (R) 40%
McCaskill (D) 49%
Talent (R) 47%
Talent (R) 49%
McCaskill (D) 48%
Tester (D) 49%
Burns (R) 48%
Tester (D) 50%
Burns (R) 48%
Menendez (D) 53%
Kean (R) 45%
Menendez (D) 48%
Kean (R) 43%
Brown (D) 56%
DeWine (R) 44%
Brown (D) 54%
DeWine (R) 43%
Casey (D) 59%
Santorum (R) 41%
Casey (D) 55%
Santorum (R) 42%
Whitehouse (D) 53%
Chafee (R) 47%
Whitehouse (D) 52%
Chafee (R) 44%
Corker (R) 51%
Ford (D) 48%
Corker (R) 51%
Ford (D) 47%
Webb (D) 50%
Allen (R) 49%
Webb (D) 49%
Allen (R) 49%
Cantwell (D) 58%
McGavick (R) 39%
Cantwell (D) 54%
McGavick (R) 42%

Zogby on the other hand was terribly inaccurate once again. Kudos also to Larry Sabato and his staff for once again making very accurate predictions in an election cycle that was difficult to predict.

tough losses

Tough losses. Some of these seats Republicans can get back in the mid-west and west like the former Delay seat, the Ryun seat, and Pombo seat but in the northeast (NH, CT, PA, NY) it will be very tough. For example, the Republicans lost New York, District 2 seat when Rick Lazio ran for the Senate in 2000 and they have never mounted a credible challeng for it. In District 1, Tim Bishop won it narrowly in 2000 after some real gaffes by his opponent and once again it has been smooth sailing for him. Unfortunately, Democrats will have a majority for at least a few cycles unless the Republicans have another wave or strong Presidential contender in '08 (which I blogged previously I don't see) with coattails.

Arizona's 5th: Harry Mitchell (D) 51 percent, J.D. Hayworth (R) 46 percent
California's 11th: Jerry McNerney (D) 53 percent, Richard Pombo (R) 47 percent
Connecticut's 5th: Chris Murphy (D) 56 percent, Nancy Johnson (R) 44 percent
Florida's 22nd: Ron Klein (D) 51 percent, Clay Shaw (R) 47 percent
Indiana's 2nd: Joe Donnelly (D) 54 percent, Chris Chocola (R) 46 percent
Indiana's 8th: Brad Ellsworth (D) 61 percent, John Hostettler (R) 39 percent
Indiana's 9th: Baron Hill (D) 49 percent, Mike Sodrel (R) 46 percent
Iowa's 2nd: Dave Loebsack (D) 51 percent, Jim Leach (R) 49 percent
Kansas' 2nd: Nancy Boyda (D) 51 percent, Jim Ryun (R) 47 percent
Kentucky's 3rd: John Yarmuth (D) 51 percent, Anne Northup (R) 48 percent
Minnesota's 1st: Tim Walz (D) 53 percent, Gil Gutknecht (R) 47 percent
New Hampshire's 1st: Carol Shea-Porter (D) 51 percent, Jeb Bradley (R) 49 percent
New Hampshire's 2nd: Paul Hodes (D) 53 percent, Charles Bass (R) 45 percent
New York's 19th: John Hall (D) 51 percent, Sue Kelly (R) 49 percent
New York's 20th: Kirsten Gillibrand (D) 53 percent, John Sweeney (R) 47 percent
North Carolina's 11th: Heath Shuler (D) 54 percent, Charles Taylor (R) 46 percent
Pennsylvania's 4th: Jason Altmire (D) 52 percent, Melissa Hart (R) 48 percent
Pennsylvania's 7th: Joe Sestak (D) 56 percent, Curt Weldon (R) 44 percent
Pennsylvania's 10th: Chris Carney (D) 53 percent, Don Sherwood (R) 47 percent
GOP open seats lost:
Arizona's 8th: Gabrielle Giffords (D) 54 percent, Randy Graf (R) 42 percent
Florida's 16th: Tim Mahoney (D) 49 percent, Mark Foley/Joe Negron (R) 48 percent
Colorado's 7th: Ed Perlmutter (D) 55 percent, Rick O'Donnell (R) 42 percent
Iowa's 1st: Bruce Braley (D) 55 percent, Mike Whalen (R) 43 percent
New York's 24th: Michael Arcuri (D) 54 percent, Ray Meier (R) 45 percent
Ohio's 18th: Zack Space (D) 62 percent, Joy Padgett (R) 38 percent
Texas' 22nd: Nick Lampson (D) 52 percent, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R) 42 percent
Wisconsin's 8th: Steve Kagen (D) 51 percent, John Gard (R) 49 percent

A devastating loss

A devastating loss, no other way to spin it. I think the President will do surprising well working with the newly elected Democats (many of them Reagan Democrats or Perot types) as he did in Texas. That said, it is pretty bad for Republicans and bad for anyone who takes a forward looking approach to economic issues.

My main disappointment is George Allen losing (most likely). I believe he ran a bad campaign but the situation was considerably exacerbated by the fact the press disdained him and refused to give him the benefit of the doubt on anything and wrote profiles of opponent Jim Webb that just scraped the surface.

For example, the press could have at least investigated more into the circumstances surrounding Webb's resignation after less than a year as Naval Secretary. Does he have a problem working with others? This could be problematic in the chummy world of the Senate. If the press investigated Allen's divorce, why not Webb's previous two? Why did his son leave Penn State in the middle of his academic career to fight in Iraq, a war which his father adamently opposed? It seems odd that his son was not in ROTC and did not join one of the academies but instead chose to enlist in the military in the middle of his academic career. Did he have a different view of the war, did he not like school, that might be something that was relevant? Jim Webb, previous called affirmative action state-mandated racism, which he backed away from coveniently to support it for blacks and poor whites (just the voters he needed), so a question to follow up with would be would he make illegal for latinos or ethnic minorities to get affirmative action? He previously refused to shake John Kerry's hand and called Clinton immoral, why does he now hold a favorable opinion of both men. These are all questions that voters should have known before casting their vote.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Republican reaction to this election

All independent political analysts are predicting a sizable Democratic win. Almost all polls show a Democratic takeover of the House and at least a pickup of 3-4 seats in the Senate. This is likely to prompt some Republican soul searching. There are some who will probably blame the war in Iraq for Republican losses and others who will blame the losses on the way the war was waged and the incompetence of people like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremmer. However, this issue will be tangential to the main issues that will be seen as the cause of the Democratic gains: Republican’s domestic spending, corruption, and incompetence.

Conservative Republicans will likely take issue with some of the big spenders on the appropriation committee and with earmarks but this is unlikely to address the larger issue of why the Republicans failed: which is the Republican base wants too much. Libertarian Republicans want school vouchers, social security reform, more trade agreements, and lower spending and possibly a flat tax. However, many of these positions are unpopular with the general public and libertarian Republicans are unwilling to do the necessary lobbying through advertisements and editorials necessary to create the conditions in which the majority of the public will support these issues. They have stood idly by while protectionists like Sherrod Brown have criticized every trade agreement and the only murmurs they have made were with the temporary steel tariffs. They sat idly by while President Bush went around the country to rally support for privatization accounts, meanwhile those who opposed it took to the media to convince the American public that was too risky. The proposal was finally killed for good by an article in the New York Times magazine section.

Social Conservatives seem to believe despite all evidence to the contrary that people support: Roe v. Wade being overturned, the federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case, a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and are against the federal funding of stem cell research. While social conservatives do a much better job than libertarian Republicans in terms of the lobbying of their ideas (with the exception of stem cell research where they actually have a better case but were late on lobbying) are more divisive and increasingly unpopular.

I have taken security hawks off this list because they seem to have reasonably tempered their positions on North Korea and Iran, given the unpopularity of the Iraq War but they were also part of the problem.

Republican elected officials should not take away from this election that they have to pander more to their base although they will have to be more fiscally responsible but their base has to demonstrate some political support for some of their ideas, otherwise some of their ideas will have to remain just that ideas and not legislation.

Hopefully, Republicans will not take the wrong message away from this election. Strong national defense, the power of the free market, and individual choice are all popular ideas and ones which hopefully will not be lost as a result of this election.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Libertarians lose, populists win

Despite Libertarian complaints about Republicans, the Republicans have consistently advocated for Libertarian economic policies and defended unpopular policies like social security reform, not raising the minimum wage, and free trade. Social security reform and future free trade agreements will not happen with a Democratic Congress or Democratic Senate but as I have previously posted the minimum wage will likely be raised and universal healthcare is likely to be proposed again.

Libertarians who hope divided government will curb spending will likely also be disappointed as Democrats have not named a single program they will cut but have proposed numerous other programs they will introduce and complained about existing programs being underfunded.

Libertarians who complain about Republicans will likely have second thoughts after two years of a Democratic Congress.

Schumer's superb job

During my junior year of college I interned for Senator Schumer. At the time I was an independent who was willing to work for either party and I came away with two impressions of the Senator: (1) he wasn't a particularly caring person or good person to work for and (2) he had a great political mind. As the head of the DSCC in this election cycle he has made a number of great political moves:

(1) Getting Paul Hackett out of the primary and clearing the nomination for Sherrod Brown. While Brown is an uninspiring politician and an ardent protectionist, he was just the boring candidate the Democrats needed for the manufacturing heavy state of Ohio. Hackett was a loose cannon who would have continually made news that would have hurt Democrats in other races and made the Ohio race at the very least, competitive.

(2) Getting John Kerry to apologize. Kerry was all prepared to continue his attacks on Republicans in wake of his apparent joke gone bad and Schumer called and apparently got Kerry to issue a retraction. This stemmed the bleading from Kerry's gaffe and after two days the news switched to other topics.

(3) Clearing the way for Bob Casey Jr. in Pennslyvania. While many Democratic loyalists were unhappy with this decision, Casey would not have run if he didn't have a cleared field in the primary as his dream has always been to be governor. A divisive primary or a candidate like Joe Hoeffel would have made this a far more competitive race.

(4) Forcing out Senator Mark Dayton. Senator Dayton was polling very poorly and he claimed one of the reasons he decided not to run was because Schumer kept bothering him about fundraising. Another good decision as this seat went from being a toss-up to solid blue.

(5) Backing Jim Webb in the Democratic primary. Webb has been able to appeal to disgruntled Republicans and Reagan Democrats and has turned this race into a nailbiter which effectively ruined any chance George Allen has at being President. The alternative Harris Miller would have made for an easy Allen win.

(6) In general, he has been a great fundraiser who has typically outraised his counterpart, Elizabeth Dole at the NRSC, and has created a great rapid response operation.

All this I reluctantly have to admit as someone who wants the Republicans to keep as many seats as possible.
Great article in the national journal and this blurb gives good insight on the Virginia Race:

"Talk about a train wreck -- and Webb was simply a bystander. "This has almost nothing to do with Webb, who, as a candidate, has clear liabilities," said Duke University political scientist David Rohde. "The macaca incident gives people doubts that they didn't have before. Remember, this is a state that elected a black governor [Douglas Wilder in 1989]. Virginians don't like to see themselves as racists."
Webb's liabilities on the campaign trail are easily identified: He appears uncomfortable talking about himself, doesn't speak in neat sound bites, is no glad-hander, and is as close to an anti-politician as there is in this cycle's races. A first-time candidate, Webb is a decorated marine who served in Vietnam and was Navy secretary under President Reagan before becoming a novelist. Before this campaign, he had been a Republican who called the Clinton administration corrupt. He even supported Allen in 2000."

Who will take it in 2008?

I guess with the midterms just a day away, its not too early to talk about 2008. I am not too pleased with the GOP's prospects in 2008.

The real problems is that the Republicans in '08 have no viable candidate right now and history demonstrates that the party out of power during a two-term incumbent presidency usually wins (Bush I being the exception not the rule).

Gingrich doesn't have the people skills necessary. He has some interesting ideas but if you ever watch him work a crowd on C-Span you realize that he doesn't really enjoy interacting with people. Furthermore, he has significant personal baggage.

McCain is reasonably old and in fairly bad health. He is not palatable to the base not because of his voting record which is fairly conservative but by his lack of partisanship (much like Lieberman) and the perception that he cares more about earning media acolades than his party.

Romney is a one term governor who had a successful business career but a mediocre stint as governor and would probably not be re-elected back in Massachusetts. Furthermore, he has flip-flopped on a number of social issues to present himself as the conservative alternative to McCain, when Romney used to be regarded as a moderate.

Giuliani, is my personal favorite candidate but he has way too much baggage from both his personal life and political dealings (i.e. Bernie Kerik and political deals with the Liberal Party boss Harding). He also made many prominent enemies in New York like Mayor Koch, who really dislike Giuliani and will go out of their way to hurt his chances of becoming president.

Right now, I am still waiting for a viable alternative to emerge but barring that I suspect that headlining the '08 ticket will be either Romney or McCain.
This is just a very interesting article: Chalabi What I find particularly interesting is the mention of how Chalabi interferred with a 1996 C.I.A. plot to overthrow Saddam Hussein. ("Then there was the time, in 1996, when Chalabi interfered with a C.I.A. plot to topple Saddam).

Premusably then-President Clinton and then-Vice President Gore must have approved of the C.I.A. plan, which makes it especially odd that Gore railed against the authorization for the war in Iraq in 2003. There are many plausible explanations for this but it is interesting that a Democrat-led U.S. government would have approved of this.


While Professor Dan Drezner noted that some are claiming the recent polling data shows a Republican surge, I am unfortunately skeptical. The new Survey USA poll casts some doubt on Dan's theory as well as it puts Jim Webb up 8 points in VA. It just seems there are wide discrepencies between polls. I tend to trust Rasmussen the most given his accurancy in the last view elections and Zogby the least based on past results (2000 not withstanding). For a good article detailing Zogby's methods which I find antiquated see

The main two moves I have seen in a variety of polls are in the Montana and Rhode Island races where the gap has closed between the candidates and this is due more to the individual candidates than to the Republican party's increasing popularity. The fact that both of the Republicans candidates (Lincoln Chafee and Conrad Burns) trailed for so long and by so much is more surprising than their recent surge. I don't particularly like Burns but he is running in a heavily red state against a really inexperienced candidate, Tester, who has some fairly odd positions. A liberal Republican like Chafee whose father was the most prominent poltiician in the state, should have been doing better previously.

In other close races, the lead in the Talent/McCaskill race in Missouri really alternates depending on poll. In terms of the Webb/Allen race, I was more surprised at the backfiring of the leaked book material which gave Webb a surprising lead than I am that the race is now tied in some polls (although as mentioned above not in others). Allen at the beginning of the campaign was an extremely popular politician in VA. If he wins it will be less about a surge and more about him being a better qualified candidate who jut ran a poor campaign. As shown at powerline he was also in part a victim of really bad and sometimes unfair press from the Washington Post.

The new Rasmussen poll actually shows the Democrat Harold Ford Jr. surging as he has narrowed the gap to 4 points, while other polls had previously shown Corker pulling away. Which provides evidence that is less about a surge and more about individual candidates. In just another interesting tidbit about this race is that 25% of Tennessee voters have already voted and it would be interesting to see if the polls are accounting for this and it would seem Ford who was leading through most of October would benefit from early voting.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Final predictions

Republicans 52
Democrats 48 (including Sanders and Lieberman)

House of Representatives
Republicans 214 (unfortunately, but some of those seats they will take back in 2008)
Democrats 221

Republicans 23
Democrats 27

I am trying to make accurate productions here but I hope I am wrong.

George Will and the election

While this is a good article by Conservative columnist George Will,

I have to say that he is incorrect about the leftward trend of the west. The same argument has been made by Ryan Sager in his new book The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party.

However, their analysis is flawed, there isn't as much difference between southern Republicans and western ones as Sager and Will make out. While Western red states are more anti-government and a little less religious than the deep south, they are not libertarian in the CATO Institute mold (i.e. pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, illegal immigration). Montana still voted for a ban on gay marriage and the South Dakota legislature signed into law a bill banning abortion except when the life of a mother is in danger.

Furthermore gubernatorial races are only marginally decided by events at the federal level. One of the most "blue" states, Massachusetts hasn't had a Democratic governor since Michael Dukakis in 1991. That hardly means that Massachusetts is trending Republican. It is typically a sign that since the legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic, that Massachusetts voters wanted some balance and in many cases the Republicans have ran some appealing candidates like William Weld and Mitt Romney, while the Democrats have run some lousy candidates.

There is probably a similar explanation for what has happened in the western states. Furthermore some of these western states that have been called red states are in fact purple. Colorado for example was represented in the Senate by two Democrats at one point, one of them being the liberal Gary Hart.

The real problem for Republicans is that they are losing more of the socially liberal, pro-business Republicans who have traditionally occupied places like suburban Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Considering many of these Republicans are wealthy, that may be problematic when it comes to fundraising in the future.
I am not sure if he is correct but he makes some interesting observations:

What Happened to the "Paper of Record"

The NY Times will not be endorsing any Congressional Republicans this year. It is ironic that the NY Times which is considered part of the "mainstream media" won't endorse any Republicans but the NY Post which is considered part of the "conservative media" has endorsed Senator Schumer and Eliot Spitzer in the past and is endorsing Andrew Cuomo for Attorney General in this election cycle.

I find it also odd that they claim, "[o]ur only political loyalty is to making the two-party system as vital and responsible as possible." Instead out of their eight regular op-ed columnists: there are six highly partisan Democrats, one libertarian (John Tierney), and one so-called conservative. The one Conservative, David Brooks, meant to provide false ideological balance to The Times instead typically devotes his columns writes to analyzing sociology using broad generalizations. When he does decide to devote his column to politics, we are left reading articles defending Senator Lieberman, praising Senator Obama, or attacking partisans on both sides. In fact, there are few if any columns by David Brooks providing the Conservative argument on an issue and usually when there is, he then he continues on to demonstrate why he believes there is a sensible middle ground between that and the liberal position.

Meanwhile, Frank Rich launches ad hominem attacks on a regular basis against Republicans and any Democrats he believe have strayed from the party line. He he has become increasingly nasty in his attacks which go far beyond a rejection of Republican policies or politicians. Could you imagine the NY Times having Ann Coulter as an op-ed columnist? No, of course of not but that think it is perfectly fine to have the left-wing equivalent.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

People in Glass Mansions shouldn't throw Stones

What Senator Kerry said was terrible and inaccurate to boot as many who join the military especially those who get into the highly selective military academies are good students. Even assuming Senator Kerry meant to poke fun at President Bush for not studying hard (which seems to be the case) that is still ridiculous and hypocritical although admittedly not nearly as offensive. Senator Kerry it turns out had slightly worse grades at Yale
2005/06/07/yale_grades_portray_kerry_as_a_lackluster_student/ than the President and he voted for the Iraq War, despite his subsequent denials.

In general, it is kind of odd that a man that graduated from: Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business School has had his intelligence continually questioned. While President Bush was not the greatest student and connections obviously helped him get into the aforementioned schools, it is likely that he learned something along the way.

Furthermore, all Senator Kerry had to do was apologize but instead his initial reaction was to lash out at his critics in equally offensive language. Democrats running for Congress and the Senate in this election cycle have made an issue of President Bush's performance in the oval office, this incident illustrates that the Democratic replacement would have been worse.

The winner in this election is ... the NRA

There was a time in the mid 1990's when prominent members of the Democratic Party (and some Republicans) were on the offensive against the NRA (see and now it seems that the movement has completely died out. You have prominent Governors like Bill Richardson and Brian Schweitzer getting NRA endorsements and liberal bloggers like dailykos saying it is an issue of states' rights. The Chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, also has been endorsed by the NRA in the past and potential Vice Presidential Candidate and former Virgina Governor Mark Warner also received an A rating from the NRA.

None of the Democrats running for Senate are running on gun control and two of the Republicans that are likely to lose, Mike DeWine and Lincoln Chafee, are both pro-gun control.

Unless another obesse filmaker takes up the cause, it looks like the NRA has won.

I really don't enough to comment on gun issues, but I will say that I think the states' rights arguments are poor ones. While in 1789 it made sense to have states' rights when it came to gun control, it no longer makes sense when it is quite easy for one to engage in interstate commerce. If Pennsylvania has lax gun laws and New York has strict gun laws, all a New York resident has to do is either go to Pennsylvania him/herself to get a gun or find someone who is in Pennsylvania willing to sell him/her a gun. In essence, any kind of strict gun control laws in one state are almost completely thwarted by other states.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I have removed my previous post on this article
as it appears that Vanity Fair took comments out of context.

A serious charge made

I am a little skeptical of the validity of this charge because as instapundit notes it probably would have been noticed by the press awhile back but if it is true it just might make the difference with the undecided. Plagiarism is a serious charge and one that should not be taken lightly. Therefore, if it is not true, it is just another in a long list of mistakes made by the George Allen campaign.

What the Republicans should have ran on

Why Republicans chose to run on national security as opposed to the economy and judges is beyond me. The Republicans could have ran a positive campaign instead of the one they ran and which will probably result in the loss of the House and 3-6 Senate Seats.

The money quote is:

“I don’t know of another election cycle in which the economy was so good, yet the election prospects for the incumbent party looked so bad,” said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist. “If something goes wrong, Republicans are to blame. If something goes right, Republicans don’t get credit.”

Some more good economic news

In Defense of Joe

Although I would prefer Connecticut to be represented by a moderate Republican like Governor Rell, I have a lot of respect for Senator Joe Lieberman. I believe he has been treated really unfairly by his own party and if I had any second thoughts about being a Republican (which I usually don't), his treatment would surely cure that. This was an e-mail I sent to a highly partisan Democrat who works for both Brian Schweitzer, the Governor of Montana and serves on Ned Lamont's campaign. To be fair, he was nice enough to respond but I have not sought his permission to post his response.

Hi (named deleted),

I find it quite inconsistent that you would adamantly oppose Senator Joe Lieberman, who is socially progressive and work for Brian Schweitzer who seems to be quite conservative on any number of issues. You have accused Senator Lieberman of being disloyal to the Democratic party yet it is Governor Schweitzer who supported a Republican Presidential candidate in 2000 and would consider doing so again in 2008. From the NY Times Magazine Section, "Schweitzer remains an iconoclast; he says he supported John McCain’s presidential bid in 2000, though he has since soured on McCain because of the way he has courted the religious right, and he says he is now intrigued by the possibility of a presidential run by Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, in 2008. “If he gets the nomination, I might support him,” Schweitzer told me."

Both John McCain and Mitt Romney have claimed to be conservative Republicans yet Governor Schweitzer previously supported the former and would in the future consider supporting the latter. It is also slightly ironic that both of these men are quite hawkish while Schweitzer claims to be against the Iraq war. So my hunch is that Governor Schweitzer is either more liberal in private than his stated public positions or alternatively that you in essence are a two issue voter (free trade and Iraq) or alternatively perhaps you don't like Senator Lieberman for reasons other than his voting record.

Please clear up how you in good conscience can oppose Joe Lieberman for not being a sufficiently partisan Democrat while you support and work for Brian Schweitzer.

Good article from the National Journal

A Letter on free trade and the consequences of this election

This was an e-mail I wrote to a prominent international relations Professor who also runs a popular blog. Unfortunately, he agrees with my points but cares more about Congressional oversight.

Given your vast knowledge of international and domestic politics, I am shocked that you have not blogged on the possible repercussions on future free trade agreements as a result of this election. In this election, in the battleground states (Rhode Island, even Ohio, Montana, Missouri, and Virginia) the Republican incumbent in each state has a very good/ excellent record on free trade, while the Democratic challenger is advocating protectionist policies. Senator DeWine in Ohio is likely to lose in part because of his past support of trade agreements. Unfortunately in these states and in general, free trade has almost no constituency while the anti-trade movement has a large number of volunteers. Even though the stock market overall benefits from trade agreements, investors (especially hedge funds) can make money in a bull or bear market and are not going to waste political capital to lobby or vote based on this issue.

Why are academics like yourself (who along with journalists with economic backgrounds are typically the biggest proponents of free trade and can influence public opinion) not doing anything to help these incumbents or at least attack the Democratic party’s recent record and rhetoric on trade? Instead, you and others like Tom Friedman act like there is some kind of moral equivalence in the President’s temporary relatively modest and temporary tariffs in Pennsylvania and in the almost the entire Democratic Caucus's opposition to almost all trade policies. While DLC politicians used to be overwhelmingly in favor of free trade, that has changed with leaders of the DLC like Senators Clinton and Bayh and Congressman like Artur Davis and Rahm Emanuel opposing CAFTA and Bayh's recent harsh rhetoric on trade issues. The hypocrisy is also overwhelming when you have politicians like Ned Lamont whose wife's venture capital fund lists one of their specialties as outsourcing, denouncing trade agreements.

There is a difference between supporting almost all trade agreements and distancing yourself from "outsourcing is good" rhetoric which is political suicide and those who vote against any trade agreement. At this rate, there are going to be few politicians of any party promoting free trade. Why would Republicans or politicians of any stripe want to support these agreements if they are getting little credit and much condemnation for doing so?

You have a chance to make a difference and influence people on this issue, hopefully you will do so.