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SATURDAY, JANUARY 23, 2010
AN OLD GIMMICK, EXPOSED AGAIN – AT 8:05 P.M. ET: Apparently there is this individual named Ellie Light. She likes President Obama. And she lives everywhere. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical “Letters to the Editor” in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers. Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper’s circulation area.
“It’s time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can’t just wave a magic wand and fix everything,” said a letter from alleged Philadelphian Ellie Light, that was published in the Jan. 19 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News.
A letter from Light in the Jan. 20 edition of the San Francisco Examiner concluded with an identical sentence, but with an address for Light all the way across the country in Daly City, California...
...Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.
Isn't travel great, and broadening?
And what is "Ellie Light's" explanation?
“I do not write as a representative of any organization,” she said in an e-mail. “The letter I wrote was motivated by surprise and wonderment at the absence of any media support for our President, who won a record-breaking election by a landslide less than 18 months ago, and now, seems to be abandoned by all, supposedly for the infantile reason that he couldn’t make all of Bush’s errors disappear in one day.”
Absence of media support? What media is she looking at?
Generally, newspapers have asked letter writers for address verification. That practice may be fading, however, under financial pressure. If Ellie Light continues her antics, the money might have to be spent again.
Maybe the president can give Ellie an ambassadorship.
January 23, 2010 Permalink
ANOTHER GIFT FROM YEMEN – AT 5:12 P.M. ET: Once again we are blessed with another expression of multicultural respect. From ABC News:
American law enforcement officials have been told to be on the lookout for female suicide bombers who may attempt to enter the United States, law enforcement authorities tell ABC News.
But remember, if you see a Yemeni woman at the airport, with a bulging burka, and you hear something ticking, first check your own prejudices and preconceptions. Then, after the blast, treat her exactly as you would treat any other passenger.
The president says those are our values.
One official said at least two of them are believed to be connected to al Qaeda in Yemen, and may have a non-Arab appearance and be traveling on Western passports.
Okay. Modify the above instruction. She may be wearing a ski outfit and be ticking. Same caution.
The threat was described as "current" but not imminent, said the official.
I wonder how they determine that. Do they get a peek at the bomber school's grading book?
Let's see: "Liela: Almost ready, but needs extra work in wiring."
"They have trained women," said former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant.
Separately, Britain raised its terrorism threat level to "severe," its second-highest level, days before London hosts major international meetings on how to deal with militancy in Afghanistan and Yemen. Britain's threat level had been labeled "severe" for several years before being lowered last summer to "substantial."
COMMENT: Whatever label is used, the danger is real and great, and, as the saying goes, they only have to be lucky once.
January 23, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA AT REDUCED GALLUP – AT 4:51 P.M. ET: The Gallup presidential approval poll just released confirms the bad news for Obama.
Gallup shows approval and disapproval tied at 47%, the first time in the Gallup poll that disapproval of Obama has tied approval. This is not as bad a result as Rasmussen is reporting, but Gallup polls among adults, whereas Rasmussen surveys likely voters. Polls among likely voters tend to show a slightly better number for Republicans.
The president is in trouble, and there's nothing in political sight that will get him out of his problems, unless he makes some course corrections.
January 23, 2010 Permalink
THIS IS COMING FROM SOMEWHERE – AT 11:24 A.M. ET: We've been pretty focused on domestic politics, but the Iran clock is ticking. Each day brings its rogue regime closer to a nuclear weapon, a device that can be sailed into an American harbor in the hold of a ship, dooming an American city to destruction.
President Barack "deadlines are flexible" Obama set a deadline of December 31, 2009, for Iran to show progress in scaling back its nuclear program, under international supervision. That deadline has passed, and Mr. Obama shows his usual lack of urgency.
But French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been saying some intriguing things, and he wouldn't be saying them unless he's getting information from somewhere. Consider:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Israel will not sit idly by while Iran continues work on its nuclear program, Israel Radio reported Saturday quoting London-based newspaper Al-Hayat.
According to the report, Sarkozy, who recently met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, reportedly told him that France has proof Iran is working to develop an atomic bomb.
That is unconfirmed. But if the French president said that he has proof, he is the first major leader to say so. Good reporters will get on this story and try to determine whether the West really has such proof, and how solid it is. Our own intelligence organizations are revising the notorious 2007 National Intelligence Estimate declaring that Iran had stopped work on a weapons program in 2003. But intelligence agencies are political bodies. Reportedly, the new NIE will still hedge.
"Israel might take action to prevent the Iranian regime, which wants to wipe it off the map, from obtaining a nuclear bomb," Sarkozy reportedly said.
I can't believe he'd say that without advance word from Israel.
France has been tougher on Iran than Obama has been. Is he now taking the lead in forming Western policy? With Obama politically weakened, and increasingly ridiculed abroad, I wouldn't be surprised. The French love to rub our noses in it, and this is one time when we may deserve it.
January 23, 2010 Permalink
RECOVERY? WHAT RECOVERY? – AT 10:58 A.M. ET:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates rose in 43 states last month, the government said Friday, painting a bleak picture of the job market that illustrated nationwide data released two weeks ago.
The rise in joblessness was a sharp change from November, when 36 states said their unemployment rates fell. Four states -- South Carolina, Delaware, Florida and North Carolina -- reported record-high jobless rates in December.
New Jersey's rate, meanwhile, rose to a 33-year high of 10.1 percent while New York's reached a 26-year high of 9 percent.
Analysts said the report showed the economy is recovering at too weak a pace to generate consistent job creation.
"A lot of states that had started to add jobs (in November) gave up those gains in December," said Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director at Moody's Economy.com.
COMMENT: There's an old saying – you've all heard it – that a nation can talk its way into a recession, or even a depression. Morale is a critical factor in a country's economy. People buy when they feel good about things and about their prospects. They hold back when they don't. Right now morale is sinking again. More and more economists are talking about a "double dip" recession. And our government continues to borrow money at a frightening pace.
If a foreign enemy ever did to America what America is doing to itself right now, it would have a moral right to declare victory.
And what will the president say about it? We'll hear from him this week in his State of the Union. Why am I already applauding with only one hand?
January 23, 2010 Permalink
YEAH, IT'S SETTLED SCIENCE - LAUGH NOW - AT 10:45 A.M. ET: Every day that goes by we seem to learn, from the British press if not from the American, that the house of cards known as "the settled science of climate change" is collapsing a bit more. From The Times of London:
The Indian head of the UN climate change panel defended his position yesterday even as further errors were identified in the panel's assessment of Himalayan glaciers.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri dismissed calls for him to resign over the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change’s retraction of a prediction that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.
But he admitted that there may have been other errors in the same section of the report, and said that he was considering whether to take action against those responsible.
“I know a lot of climate sceptics are after my blood, but I’m in no mood to oblige them,” he told The Times in an interview. “It was a collective failure by a number of people,” he said. “I need to consider what action to take, but that will take several weeks. It’s best to think with a cool head, rather than shoot from the hip.”
COMMENT: Yeah, let's keep a cool head here. (I'm surprised he still thinks, in an age of "warming," that heads can remain cool.) Let's not look too closely.
The UN, already one of the most corrupt organizations on Earth, is confronted with still more problems in its "definitive" work on climate change.
And in the United States, the Obama administration, clinging to the Al Gorist party line, refuses to reconsider its policy that there's nothing to see here, nothing to see. All settled.
The Republican Party, as part of its 2010 platform, should call for a massive evaluation, under the direction of respected and neutral scientists, of the "science" involved in the global-warming issue. is it real science, or is a lot of it political science? Is it based on solid, proved research, or is at least some of it based on the need to conform, the better to get government grants and admission tickets to prestigious academies?
Our side can make quite an issue of this, as the public has become increasingly skeptical of the repeated claims that the sky is falling and the ocean is rising.
January 23, 2010 Permalink
MORE GRIM POLLING NEWS FOR OBAMA – AT 10:24 A.M. ET: The president's poll numbers, which had been rising slightly in the Rasmussen survey, have slipped back to their depressed, endangered species, levels. This deterioration has followed Tuesday's Massachusetts massacre:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-three percent (43%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -19 (see trends).
These figures come from nightly telephone surveys and are reported on a three-day rolling average basis. Today’s update is the first based entirely upon interviews following Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts and the Approval Index has fallen eight points since Tuesday morning.
Overall, 44% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That’s down four points since Tuesday morning and matches the lowest level of overall approval yet recorded for this President. Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters now disapprove.
Will Mr. Obama, and the Chicago troopers around him, realize the reasons for his slide, or will he, as he did yesterday, do a Jimmah Carter and dig in to promote and defend failing policies?
Ah. To see or not to see – that is the question.
January 23, 2010 Permalink
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2010
THE SMOKING GUNS – AT 8:54 P.M. ET: The great Newsbusters site has examined how John Edwards's revelation that he is the father of his mistress's daughter was played by the major print media. Please remember that Edwards was a U.S. senator, a vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket who came within one state of being "one heartbeat away," and a serious contender for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. He also has nice hair.
That story couldn't so much as garner a single front-page story from any of the nation's top five major newspapers - USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times or The Washington Post. And only The Wall Street Journal, found the story worthy to print on its second page, not to mention the fact that it is a business journal.
Edwards admitted in a statement on Jan 21 that he was indeed the father of Frances Quinn Hunter, saying, "It was wrong for me to ever deny she was my daughter." The story of his affair with campaign staffer and videographer Rielle Hunter broke last summer when the National Enquirer busted Edwards in a Los Angeles hotel for cheating on his cancer-stricken wife.
So where was this prominent story placed in the nation's most respected and circulated newspapers? With exception of the Journal, it was buried deep in the A-section of the aforementioned papers, with the exception of the Post, which didn't even find it newsworthy enough to put in its first section:
USA Today - 4A
The Wall Street Journal - A2 (teased on front page)
The New York Times - A12 (teased on bottom of front page)
Los Angeles Times - A13
The Washington Post - C2 (teased on bottom of front page)
The New York Times clearly thought that an international story about the politicization of the sport cricket was more newsworthy than a scandalous admission by a former vice presidential candidate. Yes, "Cricket Team Snub Reeks of Politics to Pakistanis" made it onto page A-6, while "Edwards Admits He Fathered Girl With Mistress" appeared way back on page A-12.
COMMENT: Yet, when the Pulitzers are given out, you may be sure that it will be the establishment papers that will grab the lion's share (or the lioness's share, depending on how you view the gender issue).
The question is: What else aren't we being told? I'm afraid the list may be much longer than many Americans think, starting with the real military situation that prevailed in Vietnam in 1968, when many "leading" journalists told us that our cause was hopeless, when history shows we were doing quite well.
We need a free press. It's critical. But our free press needs reform.
January 22, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA DEFIANT – AT 7:17 P.M. ET: The question of the week, which we've reported here, is whether President Obama will choose to be Jack Kennedy or Jimmah Carter. Will he recognize his errors and try, as Kennedy tried, to correct them. Or will he go holy, holy, holy, as Jimmah did, pushing his purity all the way to defeat by Ronald Reagan.
We look for signs. So far, Jimmah seems to be winning. The New York Times reports:
ELYRIA, Ohio — President Obama, striking a no-retreat, no-surrender posture in the wake of his party’s humiliating defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race this week, vowed Friday to press on with his expansive domestic agenda — including a health care overhaul and tough new restrictions on banks — even if it meant he had to “take my lumps” from political critics.
No, my friend, it isn't political critics from whom you're taking your lumps, it's the American people. But Obama cannot fathom that "the masses" would turn against him.
The president used the word “fight,” or some version of it, more than 20 times.
Churchill used it, too, as in, "We shall fight on the beaches..." The difference is, Churchill meant it.
Mr. Obama vowed to “never stop fighting for policies that will help restore home values.” He promised that he was “not going to stop fighting to give our kids the best education possible.” He pledged he would not “stop fighting to give every American a fair shake,” to continue fighting for a new Consumer Protection Agency and for openness in government. And of course, Mr. Obama pledged to fight for jobs.
“So long as I have some breath in me, so long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I will not stop fighting for you,” Mr. Obama said. “I will take my lumps. But I won’t stop fighting to bring back jobs here.”
Say what? He's fighting for openness in government? Like the way they put together health care "reform"? He's fighting for education, the way he's caved in to the education unions? He's fighting for jobs? What jobs, other than those in government?
Mr. Obama’s new bellicose rhetoric comes as his advisers have concluded he must strike a more populist tone, to tap into the anger many Americans feel about bailouts on Wall Street while Main Street is suffering. At the same time, the White House is trying to frame the midterm elections on terms that will be favorable to Mr. Obama, by casting him as someone who will stand with the little guy — even if all those fighting words contrast with his image as a politician who cares about bringing people together.
That's the problem. The president is always running for something, posturing, winning debate points. It's the governing part he doesn't care for.
While here, Mr. Obama made a plea for the health care bill, which is in disarray now that Scott Brown, the Republican, has been elected senator in Massachusetts, depriving Democrats of the 60th vote they need to pass a sweeping overhaul.
Conceding that the plan had “hit a little bit of a buzz saw this week,” Mr. Obama acknowledged that the process “has been less than pretty” and that the measure was so big and unwieldy it looked like “a monstrosity,” creating fear and anxiety among ordinary Americans. But he made the case that passing the measure is an imperative.
“This is our best chance to do it,” the president said. “We can’t keep on putting this off.”
In the immortal words of the philosopher George Gobel, "Wait a gosh-darned minute." Didn't Nancy Pelosi just say she didn't have the votes to pass the thing? Didn't Chris Dodd recommend that the Dems take a timeout on health care? And if the current bill is "creating fear and anxiety among ordinary Americans," why not revise it? Who writes these speeches?
Mr. Obama, naturally, attacked Washington, the standard practice for politicians in trouble:
With all the problems he faces in the capital, he sounded especially happy to be let loose for a few hours.
“It’s just nice being out of Washington,” he said, adding, “I mean there are some nice people in Washington but it can drive you crazy.”
Guy, you asked for the job. Don't blame Washington.
COMMENT: Some of this reminded me of Jimmah Carter's "national malaise" speech, in which he attributed his woes to a great national malaise.
The president is certainly not wrong on everything, any more than Carter was. But, like Carter, he isn't very good at governing. You can't just have a good cause. Health-care reform, as Scott Brown said just yesterday, is a perfectly good cause. You have to know how to execute it, and present it to the American people. Until the president realizes his mistakes, he'll never correct them. He will be Carter, not Kennedy.
January 22, 2010 Permalink
THIS IS HILARIOUS – AT 5:48 P.M. ET: Yeah, I can just see it – the editor of the National Enquirer stepping up to the podium at Columbia University to receive the Pulitzer Prize. But, you know, the guy might deserve it. From the Washington Post:
The executive editor of the National Enquirer says he plans to enter his paper's work on the John Edwards scandal for a Pulitzer Prize.
"It's clear we should be a contender for this," Barry Levine said by phone Thursday, hours after the former presidential candidate admitted what the paper had been reporting all along: that he is the father of Rielle Hunter's baby. "The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, was able to publish this reporting."
While the staff never doubted its reports that Edwards had fathered a daughter with his former campaign videographer, Levine said, "there is vindication, finally. Mr. Edwards kept the story alive much longer than it needed to be kept alive with his denials. He has only himself to blame."
While the Enquirer stories may or may not be prize-winning material -- the paper's most significant disclosures came in 2007 and 2008, and this year's Pulitzers will honor material published in 2009 -- there is no question that the tabloid scooped the rest of the media world.
When the Enquirer first reported in 2007 that Edwards had had an affair with Hunter, the former North Carolina senator dismissed the account as tabloid trash. The rest of the media, having no independent proof, steered clear of the story, even as Edwards, aided by his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth, was mounting an aggressive campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
COMMENT: The rest of the media had no independent proof because it wasn't interested in the story. Edwards was posing as a populist liberal, and he got a pass. It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last.
The Enquirer won't get a Pulitzer, but the incident is instructive: Sometimes the best journalism is done by the least likely people. Often the the most mediocre, the laziest, the most conventional journalism is done by "respectable" journalists who go to tea in Georgetown and never dig beneath the surface, especially when favored people are involved.
You know, maybe Columbia could do us all a favor by awarding a special Pulitzer to the Enquirer, just to put a scare into the usual suspects. Like chicken soup, it can't hurt.
January 22, 2010 Permalink
BRITAIN RAISES TERROR ALERT – AT 5:16 P.M. ET: The cousins across the pond assure us that they don't see anything imminent, but they do see something coming. (Try figuring that out.) From The Times of London:
Britain's terrorist threat level was raised tonight from “substantial” to “severe” - meaning that counter-terrorism agencies believe an attack is “highly likely."
The measure was approved at a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee and announced by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary.
The Times understands that the decision to raise the threat level is connected to the conference on Afghanistan taking place at Lancaster Gate, London, next Thursday.
Sources said there had been intensive discussions throughout the day relating to intelligence suggesting a possible attempted “spectacular” by an al-Qaeda affiliated group.
But the shift was also described by one source as “precautionary” rather than rooted in any firm information that an identified terror cell was plotting an attack.
COMMENT: Britain has a split personality on terror. On the one hand, some of its security services are first class, and internal security has, for the most part, been taken seriously. On the other hand, political correctness in Britain is a high art, and Arabist circles still wield great power.
In a way, Britain hasn't changed since before World War II. Then there were those, like Churchill, who pushed for full mobilization to confront Nazism. There were others who were openly sympathetic to Hitler. The BBC in the thirties, by the way, was led by a man who despised Churchill and what he stood for. Nothing has changed.
January 22, 2010 Permalink
DEMOCRATS FRIED, SAYS COOK – AT 9:43 A.M. ET: Veteran political analyst Charlie Cook, writing in National Journal, has no good news for the Democrats:
Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown's victory in Tuesday's special election for the Senate should serve as an air-raid siren for the Democratic Party. Warnings began sounding last summer, and by now it seems impossible for Democrats to deny that something has gone terribly wrong for their party. In the year since President Obama's inauguration, their celebration has turned into a nightmare.
Joy to the world.
For Democrats, the first step toward recovery is admitting they have a problem: Over the past 12 months, they have badly damaged their brand.
Is there a Liberals Anonymous? Do you get up and say, "I'm Martha, I'm a liberal, and I want to stop"?
On recent GOP victories:
These successful Republican candidates were able to take advantage of the vise grip in which Obama and his party are caught. A large group of Americans are upset that the president and congressional Democrats have focused so much on health care and climate change, seemingly at the expense of the economy and jobs. Another group is furious about the expansion in the size, scope, and reach of the federal government and the explosive growth of federal spending over the last year, albeit on top of an orgy of deficit spending under President Bush and the GOP majority. These two forces are squeezing Obama and his fellow Democrats from opposite directions, doing grave damage to him and his party.
And national defense is a factor as well. Any Democrats interested?
To the extent that they show up, Democratic voters can generally be counted upon to support their party's candidates this year, just as Republican voters can be expected to toe the line for GOP candidates, assuming that "tea party" supporters don't nominate some unelectable ones.
But independent voters are the largest voting bloc in Massachusetts, as they are nationally. And independents showed on Tuesday that they have little patience left for Democrats. Of course, Democrats' woes are not limited to the Bay State. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted January 10-14, shows the two parties running even at 41 percent each in the generic congressional ballot test, a bad result for Democrats because the gauge tends to tilt about 3 points in their favor. Even more worrisome for them is that among voters with the highest interest, those most likely to turn out, Republicans hold a huge 15-point lead, 50 percent to 35 percent.
Any Democrat with a pulse ought to be extremely alarmed by now: The same wave of independent voters that swept away the GOP's majorities in the House and Senate in 2006 could do the same to Democrats, at least in the House, this November 2nd.
COMMENT: Harry Reid's pulse has always been a question mark.
One problem facing the Dems is that the party's intellectual leaders have contempt for the very people they claim to champion. It's been a problem since the Eugene McCarthy movement of 1968. Unless that changes, the party can look forward to a hostile army of voters, most of them labeled "independent."
January 22, 2010 Permalink
THE PRESIDENT AND THE MONEY MEN – AT 9:22 A.M. ET: Very, very revealing. Mr. Obama is doing the populist dance right now, claiming he represents the common American in a death duel with the vultures of Wall Street.
Well, there are certainly vultures on Wall Street. Some of them have been my neighbors. But, as the Washington Examiner points out, they don't exactly see this president, or his party, as enemies, and we have to wonder why:
"If these folks want a fight," President Obama said Thursday, tossing a rhetorical barb at Wall Street, "it's a fight I'm ready to have."
But what if they don't want a fight?
They don't seem to have their dukes up.
For his presidential campaign in which Wall Street regulation was a mantra, Obama's top source of funds was investment bank giant Goldman Sachs, whose employees, partners, and executives gave him $995,000 -- that's the most any politician has raised from any one company in a single election since the age of "soft money" ended..
...The "securities and investment" industry has favored Democrats by more than a two-to-one margin so far this cycle. The top eight recipients of Wall Street PAC money this election are all Democrats.
Hmm. Does the Progressive Caucus in the House know about this sinning?
And 10 days ago, once it was clear Martha Coakley's campaign was in trouble, Citigroup's PAC cut a $2,400 check, while many lobbyists representing Goldman, Citi, and Morgan Stanley shelled out for her Capitol Hill wine-bar fundraiser.
They should ask for their money back, with interest.
Obama's record as a bailout booster also makes it tough to buy his current schtick as anti-Wall Street crusader.
Remember, Obama, as the presidential nominee and head of the party controlling Congress, could have blocked Bush's bailout in late 2008. Instead, he rallied behind it, and rewarded its architects -- Timothy Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke -- by promoting Geithner and renominating Bernanke.
So when Obama, touting his bank tax, says "we want our money back," recall that it was Obama who helped the banks take your money -- without asking you. It's as if a mugger took your wallet and gave it to Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, and then posed as your champion by promising to raise Blankfein's taxes.
But everyone who opposes the bank tax -- which, of course, the banks will just pass it through to customers -- will be tarred by the Democratic machine as siding with Wall Street over Main Street. Same with Obama's proposed financial regulations, even though they would institutionalize bailouts by dubbing Goldman Sachs and its ilk "Tier One Financial Institutions."
The press will follow Obama's rhetoric over the coming months, and paint him as the scourge of Wall Street. It's more illuminating, though, to follow the legislation -- and follow the money.
COMMENT: That is good reporting. I haven't seen an equivalent exposé in the respectable media.
January 22, 2010 Permalink
GOP AIMS FOR OBAMA'S SENATE SEAT – AT 8:48 P.M. ET: After Massachusetts, the seat most coveted by Republicans is the one vacated by President Obama in Illinois, and now held by machine hack Roland Burris, who isn't running because he knows he'd get three votes, five on the outside. The GOP has a shot, as reported by the Chicago Tribune:
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois race for an open Senate seat may be the biggest political battle of 2010, at least when it comes to bragging rights.
This is the seat held by Barack Obama before he moved to the White House. It would be a major victory for Republicans to take the president's old seat out of the Democratic column in a state that, on paper, is strongly Democratic.
To pull off that coup, Republican leaders are backing Mark Kirk, a commander in the Naval Reserve and five-term congressman with moderate views on issues like gun control and abortion.
Kirk faces some quiet rumbling in his own party, but it hasn't dented him:
Kirk outrages some conservative activists, who consider him a traitor to fundamental Republican principles, but that hasn't translated into significant support for any of his rivals in the primary. One group recently canceled a debate because it couldn't find evidence that any of Kirk's opponents reached even 5 percent in opinion polls.
The Dems have a bit of a talent shortage:
There's more competition in the Democratic primary race, and more vulnerabilities.
State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is the apparent front-runner based on name recognition and fundraising. He also oversaw an investment program that lost $150 million that Illinois families had set aside to pay for college. It doesn't help that his only other job was with his family's troubled bank.
Make him secretary of the treasury.
David Hoffman, former prosecutor and inspector general for the city of Chicago, may be Giannoulias' most aggressive challenger, but he hasn't had the money to reach most voters.
Cheryle Jackson, head of the Chicago Urban League, has a natural political base as the only black candidate in the field. She also was a high-ranking aide to disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, something that opens her to questions about ethics and judgment.
Yeah, I'd say so. That's a safe statement.
Attorney Jacob Meister has presented himself as an outsider, someone who is more in touch with business owners than with politicians. He, too, lacks the money for a major campaign.
And the gorilla in the room:
Complicating things even further, this particular Senate seat is entangled in the Blagojevich scandal.
The former governor is accused of, essentially, trying to sell the seat and name the buyer as Obama's replacement. Even after his arrest, Blagojevich went ahead and appointed Roland Burris to the seat. Burris gave conflicting, incomplete answers about how he came to get that appointment, which triggered an ethics investigation and made Burris so unpopular that he decided not to run for a full term.
COMMENT: Kirk may not suit all Republican tastes, but this is a time for practicality. He's a solid guy, respectably conservative, with a fine record and a strong record, especially on national defense.
The last GOP senator from Illinois was Peter Fitzgerald, who didn't run for reelection. The last significant Republican senator from the state was the unspeakable Charles Percy, who was a Republican in name only, and a man who yearned to be accepted by the Eastern establishment. His daughter, Sharon Percy, is married to Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. To Percy, it's the Rockefeller thing that counts.
We're backing Kirk.
January 22, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA LOSES TO ANYONE BUT REAL LIVE PEOPLE – AT 8:35 A.M. ET: Huh? What, you ask, does that headline mean?
It turns out that Fox News has a new poll pitting President Obama in a hypothetical matchup against...well, here it is:
A new Fox News poll has President Obama losing in 2012 to a generic Republican candidate -- but mostly stomping a few big-name Republicans. Which leads one to wonder -- who is this generic Republican who could beat him?
According to the poll, Obama beats Mitt Romney, 47 percent to 35 percent, defeats Sarah Palin, 55 percent to 31 percent, and makes a quick business of Newt Gingrich, 53 percent to 29 percent. What, no Santorum?
Generically, Obama loses to an unnamed Republican, 43 percent to 47 percent.
Translated: The Republican Party may need a fresh face because the worn ones aren't playing very well. Romney does best, but Romney was a weak primary candidate and even he loses by 12 to Obama, although keeping Obama under 50%.
The fact is that the president retains a great deal of good will. He has a strong minority base, and a number of other Americans – I hear it all the time – don't want the first black president to fail.
Still, his electoral strength is eroding:
Moreover, the number saying they would "definitely" vote to re-elect Obama has declined -- going from 37 percent in April to 26 percent in October to 23 percent in the new poll.
It's very early, but the Republicans must start to present new faces. They will begin that process after the State of the Union message next week, when the GOP reply will be delivered by newly sworn Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia. Good choice.
January 22, 2010 Permalink
OBAMA'S FUTURE – AT 8:07 A.M. ET: As the pundit class contemplates President Obama's future, the Gallup organization examines the past, and what Mr. Obama might have to face in his second year in office:
PRINCETON, NJ -- Most of the last eight elected U.S. presidents, starting with Dwight Eisenhower, saw their approval rating drop in the second year of their presidency -- on average by five percentage points. According to Gallup historical data, only George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush avoided a second-year drop; Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan experienced the greatest declines in public approval from year one to year two.
Barack Obama begins the second year of his presidency Wednesday after averaging 57% job approval during his first year in office. But his recent approval ratings have generally hovered around the 50% mark, with his fourth quarter average (spanning Oct. 20 through Jan. 19) at 51%.
This decline in Obama's approval rating over the first year of his presidency is not an auspicious sign for his second year, based on historical patterns in Gallup's data. The presidents who experienced the greatest declines in support from their first to second year in office had already shown clear signs of decay over the course of their first years in office (based on a comparison of their first and last quarterly approval averages of their first year in office).
Thus, it appears that if significant momentum in either direction is established over the course of a president's first year in office, that momentum has carried over into the second year. However, two of the presidents who had difficult second years -- namely, Truman and Reagan -- were able reverse that momentum in time to win re-election.
The bottom line for this year:
The obvious political peril for Obama -- as was the case for Truman, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton -- is that his second year coincides with midterm congressional elections. When presidents' approval ratings have been below 50% in a midterm election year, their party has tended to suffer heavier seat losses.
COMMENT: One key question not discussed by Gallup is whether the president can control his own party. A good chunk of that party apparently expected Obama to lead a chant of "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your internal combustion engines." He hasn't quite gotten to that, and there is as much disenchantment on the left as there is with the nation's moderates, although for different reasons. The California kamikazes – who provide a great case for interning some Americans in wartime – are already urging Obama to lurch further left and charge into the minefields.
So, going into midterms, an increasingly unpopular president is leading an increasingly dissatisfied party whose base tends to show up only when it is emotionally and spiritually moved. If Republicans play it right – and that's a big if – 2010 can be a year when Scott Brown of Massachusetts led one of the greatest political comebacks in modern history.
January 22, 2010 Permalink