Monday, December 25, 2006

Although Senator Dole, did a bad job as NRSC Chair, she is not the main culprit in the Republican loss, as some apparently are suggesting.
If these pollsters are correct and I suspect they are, it was the Foley scandal that actually proved to be decisive.

Elizabeth Dole is responsible only in part for the following reasons:

(1) She didn't raise enough money. This is the only cycle that I am aware of that the DSCC outraised the NRSC. Not only was she outraised but she was outraised by $30 million dollars. While one can chalk that up to a bad year for Republicans, RNC Chair, Ken Mehlman, easily outraised his counterpart, Howard Dean.

(2) Senator Schumer seemed to generate considerable more buzz for what he was doing than Dole did for the NRSC. Furthermore, he was more effective at getting their message out. He was also better at recruiting candidates but I blame that less on Dole and more on the fact that this was always considered to be a tough election cyclce for Republicans.

(3) It was wise to support Chafee in the primary as no independent pollster believed his primary opponent, Steve Laffey could win. However, her committee shouldn't have been wasting money running attack ads against Laffey. Perhaps Chafee would have lost the primary without this help but the NRSC was too heavily involved in this race. This not only offended many Republicans, who correctly saw Chafee as an apostate and not a maverick, but also wasted much needed campaign money. Furthermore, she should have gotten a pledge from Chafee both on Bolton and staying in the Republican party. After all that money was spent on him, he should not have been holding a press conference right after the election, where he indicated he would contemplate switching parties.

Still, it is not her fault. At most, money would have made a difference in Virginia or Montana and perhaps Missouri. Spending additional money in Rhode Island, Ohio, or Pennsylvania would have been a lost cause. Montana, Conrad Burns should be pointing the finger at himself and not anyone else. If he wasn't so scandal-ridden he would have rode to an easy victory in a red state over a second-rate opponent. It was relatively quite cheap to buy ads in Montana and Republicans would have spent more but the race only got close at the end. Missouri, it seemed that the Republican party became divided by stem-cell research and I am not sure additional ads would have a difference. Virginia, I believe it would have made a difference. As I have blogged previously, I thought Webb ran a really nasty campaign and Allen at points didn't respond. However, it did seem whenever Allen went negative (leaking the book passages), it seemed to backfire. But perhaps the NRSC airing negative ads would have worked.

Dole, did a second-rate job and it is likely Norm Coleman would have done better. However, to blame Dole is ridiculous. Mehlman, did a much better job than Dean and it didn’t seem to make a significant difference.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rahm Emanuel-a profile in positive campaining:)

Any doubts on the veracity and meanness of Democratic campaigning should be quelled by this recent profile of Rahm Emanuel by the Democratic journalist Ryan Lizza, who would presumably show Emanuel in the best light possible.
After all, this is the same journalist who wrote the damning piece on George Allen and most of his writing (while quite good) is written from the viewpoint of a partisan Democrat.

For example he continually refers to Emanuel as a centrist and New Democrat despite all evidence to the contrary. Emanuel votes overwhelmingly with the Democratic caucus and almost never seems to defy caucus interests. He states, “I think,” he finally says, with none of his usual swagger, “we have to go back to Social Security and Medicare, to turn out older voters.” This is hardly a new Democratic idea and pretty much the repetitive Democratic strategy in every election is to scare seniors on issues like social security. His “brain trust” consists of James Carville and Paul Begala, both of whom would be classified as liberal populists.

Here are some of the choice quotes from the piece and my analysis:

(1) “Rahm flashes the impatient stare that is a cross between contempt and pity, followed by a sigh and a long, uncomfortable silence. I brace myself for the tirade—or the freeze-out. He’s been known to meet reporters for lunch or dinner and, if they fail to impress, spend the meal ignoring them. And within the first forty-five seconds or so of our first interview, he called me a fucking idiot—though I soon learned I wasn’t special in that regard. James Carville, Rahm’s pal since their days together on the 1992 Clinton campaign, later told me not to sweat it: “Everybody is a fucking idiot to Rahm.”

Amazingly, he gets pretty good press coverage for someone who treats the press in such a hostile manner. Could you imagine the press coverage someone like Tom Delay would have gotten if he called an interviewer an idiot? This is the first time a political junkie like myself has even heard of the nastiness emanating from Emanuel’s mouth. I am sure if a Republican had said the same thing, a lot of people would have heard.

(2) Do you still think the Democrats are nicer?

“Instead of a national referendum on Bush and on Washington corruption, it looks like Rahm and his lieutenants will be forced into a race-by-race dogfight, which means they’re going to have to get dirty. Or dirtier.
It so happens that earlier this very day, a story began to break about a Republican representative of a sprawling district in central Florida, and as we near the end of our meal, Rahm is anxious for an update. He asks his communications director, Bill Burton, who has joined us for dinner, to retrieve the story, and Burton pulls the article off the Web site of the St. Petersburg Times. “A Democratic congressional candidate is calling for an investigation of Rep. Mark Foley,” Burton reads, “over an e-mail exchange he had with a teenage boy who had been a congressional page.” For the first time all night, Rahm cracks a smile.”

After a possible criminal action has taken place, Emanuel seems to exhibit no concern for the teenagers involved or the consequences that this will have on the American’s public overall opinion of Congress but mainly seems to be content that this will have political benefits.

I wouldn't be surprised if he leaked the information himself. As this story points out, he knew about the scandal far in advance but basically lied about any knowledge prior to the election in a Clintonian fashion.

(3) This choice quote from his deputy and protege, John Lapp- (“Whalen,” he screams at one point, referring to Republican candidate Mike Whalen of Iowa, “that fat piece of shit. I want to mount that bastard!”).

(4) “His phone manners are hilariously bad (“Hey, dickhead, call me back” is how he leaves messages for Lapp), but in his defense he speaks to everyone—reporters, candidates, Nancy Pelosi, even his own mother—the same way.”

What a really nice way to speak to his subordinates. For a party which claims to represent the little guy and unions, it is great that he sets such a nice example of how to treat employees. Also a great way to establish collegiality and civility in the Congress.

(5) “He asks Quinlan about New York, where Tom Reynolds has become vulnerable in the wake of the Foley scandal. This race is about more than just picking up a seat, though. Reynolds is the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the equivalent of the DCCC, so just pinning him down in a tough race has strategic value. In previous cycles, there was an understanding that the heads of the two campaigns wouldn’t go after each other, but Rahm doesn’t play by those rules”

Which begs the question, what rules does he play by?

(6) “When Adam Nagourney, the chief political correspondent for The New York Times, calls Rahm in late October to interview him for a story about how Democrats are giddy about their prospects, Rahm delivers a tongue-lashing unlike anything I’ve ever heard from a United States congressman. “That’s not something I care about!” he screams into his Razr. “That’s Washington gobbledygook. That’s Washington talking to Washington. Do you know one voter in America who votes because Washington has a conversation with itself? Do you know one?” There is a pause. “Your mother! That’s fucking it, Adam! Nobody gives a fuck what Washington has to say, including me. Okay?””

Of course, “the paper of record” failed to report this outburst. I guess that didn’t fit under “all the news fit to print”. Do you think if a Republican right before the election demeaned the chief political correspondent for the New York Times, it would have been reported? I do.

Do Republicans run nastier campaigns?-The recent 2000 and 2004 elections suggest they do not

Unfortunately, a myth has been perpetuated that somehow Republicans run meaner and nastier campaigns than Democrats. This is just blatantly false. This has taken on new heights with recent claims that Ford lost because of those idiotic but not racist "playboy" advertisement. In fact, Ford actually closed the gap between the airing of those ads and the election. Jonathan Martin partially debunks those in measured terms. However, I would go father in my criticism of this ridiculous revisionist history and note that the ad actually backfired. They were denounced immediately, by his opponent Bob Corker, who realized this. Furthermore, while stupid, the ad was not racist. As one commentator pointed out if the woman in the video had been black as opposed to a white blond woman, Democrats would have charged that Republicans were perpetuating a negative stereo-type on black women. Basically, you couldn't win either way.

Tom Friedman who claims not to do "domestic politics" despite all evidence to the contrary. He really should state given his limited knowledge he shouldn’t speak on domestic politics but does so repeatedly anyway. Last week on Meet The Press he talked about this Rovian plot to divide our country, as his supposedly Conservative colleague at the New York Times, David Brooks who was on the show with him, just looked on and let it slide.

Just look at the recent Bush/Kerry or Bush/Gore campaigns at how the Democrats campaigned against Bush. In 2000, Democrats stated that Bush was unqualified and the only reason that he was able to run because of his family name (and usually accompanied by pejorative and demeaning speak about his “daddy”. Don’t believe me, just google the following term, “Bush, daddy’s boy” and see how many entries come up. Furthermore, without any kind of proof they have consistently spread the fact that he did cocaine. The NAACP ran one of the nastiest ads in history basically stating that Bush was a racist because he opposed hate-crime legislation. This was the despite that his family (if you want to get into families) had a long tradition of supporting civil rights and his opponent’s father (Senator Al Gore Sr.) was an ardent segregation who voted against the Civil Rights Act. Yet, no one associated with the Gore/Lieberman campaign came forward to denounce the NAACP’s ad. Despite being called a coke addict, a racist, and a moron, the typical Bush retort against Al Gore was that he was a flip-flopper, inauthentic, and part of the morally corrupt Clinton White House. It is safe to say that one set of insults is considerably worse than the other.

In 2004, Kerry consistently accused Bush of lying to get us into Iraq, despite his vote in favor of the Iraq War resolution and his running mate’s co-sponsorship of the resolution based on nearly the same evidence. They also continually stated that Bush somehow was responsible for the failure to capture Bin Laden at Tora Bora, when it is in fact disputed that Bin Laden could have been captured there or was even there. Additionally, it seems odd that a commander-in-chief who defers these decisions to experts (military commanders) should be held responsible for this. Kerry continually referred to it being the worst economy since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. As we all now know, that was blatantly false and the economy was growing at a very fast rate when he made those comments.

In response, Bush called Kerry a liberal, which all independent analysis including the National Journal found he was (and despite his moderate campaign rhetoric, his post-election voting record has confirmed) and a flip-flopper. There is constant talk about Kerry being “swift-boated” but once again the leader of that group John O’Neill claims to have not been a Bush supporter in 2000 and much of the allegations remain disputed. Hardly, equivalent. For God’s sake, the Democrats have turned Karl Rove’s name into a four-letter expletive. I cannot recall the Republicans doing that with Paul Begala, even though he is as nasty as they come. Don’t believe me see these comments on a 2002 edition of Crossfire: "They had this murderous animal cornered in the caves of Tora Bora and Bush wimped out. Like his daddy let Saddam Hussein off the hook, Bush didn't send the troops in to get him. Is there something genetic with the Bushes that they can't finish a fight?"

Now of course, all these Democrats praise Bush 41 for not going after Saddam but of course in 2002, he was a wimp according to Begala and other Democrats.

Sandy Berger, new information emerges

In a story, that is unfortunately getting scant media attention, the report on Sandy Berger's destruction of classified documents just came out.

For commnentary on this, see Professor Dan Drezner's post.

This warrants at least some media coverage. A national security advisor destroying classified documents is serious business. Hopefully, someone will eventually shine a lot more light on this and investigate more thoroughly.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bonilla goes down in defeat

I can't believe the Republicans blew this seat. Given the split of the district, Ciro Rodriguez may now be there for awhile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This story seems to be getting a lot of press as well it should. The head of the United States House Intelligence Committee seems to need a crash course about Iraq. It is nice that Nancy Pelosi is playing politics with the Intelligence Committee in a time of war. I am sure Nancy Harman would have known the answers to Jeff Stein's quiz.

From the Tucker Carlson show:

"Democrat Silvestre Reyes of Texas was recently chosen for the sensitive position by Nancy Pelosi, incoming speaker, after someone reminded her that her first choice, Congressman Alcee Hastings of Florida, had once been impeached and removed from the federal bench for corruption. Whoops.

Until yesterday, Reyes was not a controversial choice. Then he made the mistake of sitting down with Jeff Stein. He‘s an editor of “Congressional Quarterly.”

“What Muslim group makes up Al-Qaeda,” Stein asked. “Predominantly Shiite, probably,” Reyes replied.

Not only was that the wrong answer, it was an absurd answer. Al-Qaeda exists, in part, to kill Shiites or, as Stein put it in his piece, quote, “If a Shiite showed up at an Al Qaeda clubhouse, they‘d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.”

Stein then tried again, asking Reyes about Hezbollah. The answer, quote, “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah,” long uncomfortable pause, “Can I answer in Spanish?”

As it turns out, Reyes didn‘t know the answer in any language, though it‘s telling that when pressed, he claimed limited English proficiency.

The interview got more embarrassing from there. You can read it yourself. It culminated with Reyes unable to explain or possibly even to remember his own proposals for Iraq.

The point is Reyes was ignorant, painfully so. If you‘re planning to run the United States House Intelligence Committee, that‘s a big problem.

There are a number of lessons here, but the most obvious is this. If you‘re going to attack the president as stupid, you‘d better be smarter."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hamas has apparently met with senior Democratic officials. I have to imagine this will be a big news item in the next few days, weeks, or even months.

Especially of note is this information:

"The source also noted that Hamas made some achievement on the American front thanks to a meeting held with senior members of the Democratic Party.

He refused to elaborate on the meeting and where it took place, claiming that Hamas is not interested in harming the Democrats' chances to win the 2008 elections."

So it appears that Hamas wants a Democratic President. Can Democrats really dispute at this point, that the Republican party is a better friend of Israel? Sure they can impugn their motives for doing so (that somehow Evangelicals want to convert everyone) but on the merits it seems they have little to dispute.

Furthermore, what does it say about your party, when a terrorist organization (Hamas) wants you to win?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Libertarians and Democrats

This article on the libertarian overture to the Democratic party is generating a lot of buzz. As I blogged about previously, despite many people having some libertarian leanings, I think the actual number of libertarians as the CATO Institute defines libertarianism is quite small.

That said, I thought this was an article worthy of discussion. My first point is I am skeptical of Mr. Lindsey's motives. No one trusts a frontrunner whether it be in sports or politics. It is interesting that Mr. Lindsey and other CATO Institute scholars didn' propose this alliance in 2004 but waited until 2006 when it looked (correctly) that Democrats would take at least one house.

Furthermore, Mr. Lindsey may be pro-choice and pro federal spending on stem cell research but Libertarians themselves are divided on those issues (see Ron Paul or Steve Chapman). Libertarian (big or small l) and social liberalism are not one in the same and are too often confused. As I have blogged about previously, Goldwater the libertarian Conservative ran against Rockefeller the social liberal and they disagreed on more than just economic principles.

Here are a host of major issues that almost all Libertarians of the CATO Institute variety and liberals disagree on:

(1) Guns (except those liberals in pro-gun states who are doing so now for political expediency. Do you know of any non-rural blue state where a Democratic Governor is pro gun?)
(2) free trade
(3) size of the government in general
(4) socialized healthcare
(5) foreign policy on humanitarian interventions (no prominent libertarian that I am aware of favors going into Darfur)
(6) tax cuts
(7) minimum wage
(8) social security
(9) affirmative action
(10) differences still on immigration as libertarians tend to favor guest worker programs more than liberals do
(11) environmental regulation
(12) Judges (see Libertarian scholar Richard Epstein's version of a good judge versus a liberal's version)
(13) reimportation of Drugs
(14) Campaign Finance Reform

The representatives with the most libertarian economic views (i.e. Tom Coburn and Shaddegg and Pence) also have very socially conservative views as does the one libertarian in the house, Ron Paul

Even if the Democrats were to adopt Robert Rubin's fiscal policies (and he moved to the left on free trade recently) and move away from their recent Buchananite trend, it is still unlikely that libertarians (small or large l) would flock to the Democratic party. Did they do so under DLC President, Bill Clinton? No. DLC Democrat politicians (if the term still has any meaning) are more pro-business than other Democrats but they are not necessarily more capitalistic and there is a discernable difference between the two. Clinton, it could be argued was a crony capitalist as opposed to a true believer in the free markets.

Realignment or hot air? I think is the latter and not the former. See this article if you have any doubts.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Another article on a possible Bloomberg run. As I blogged previously this would be great for Republicans. It already demonstrates that pro-business Democrats like Michael Steinhardt would prefer to support someone other than the Democratic nominee.

I am beginning to question the genius of Mark McKinnon though although as a McCain advisor he might have more sinister reasons for touting a Bloomberg run, i.e., to convince Republicans that if they don't nominate McCain that a third party candidate like Bloomberg will emerge and hurt them.

From the article-"Said GOP strategist Mark McKinnon: "In any third-party effort, you want to start late. You gotta catch lightning in a bottle, not let yourself get stale. If Perot had waited to start his campaign until after his daughter’s wedding, he would probably have been president.”

Anyone, who has examined Perot's personality and poor debating skills realizes that Perot wouldn't have become President even if he had started his campaign later.

Bolton resigns

It is disappointing that John Bolton resigned his position as UN Ambassador today notwithstanding his ridiculous mustache:). From a political standpoint, I think Republicans would have done well to push forward his nomination as they would have forced Democrats to say why a seemingly very well qualified Yale Law graduate should not be confirmed. Democrats would have been in the position of defending the United Nations as such unfailing organization (not a majority opinion in this country) not worthy of a guy willing to stand up for American interests and pro-Israel Democrats like Senator Schumer would have had to defend blocking the re-appointment of a man who was unpopular in the international community in large part for standing up against the inherent anti-Israel bias (and resolutions) at the UN.

John McCain put it best: "His resignation today is less a commentary on Mr. Bolton than on the state of affairs in the U.S. Senate. For over a year, Democrats blocked his nomination in the Foreign Relations Committee, preventing an up or down vote on the Senate floor. In so doing, they have deprived America of the right man at the right time at the U.N."