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REPORT ON OUR SUBSCRIPTION DRIVE
Our first subscription drive of 2010 ended yesterday.
Results: Not bad. We reached 82% of our financial goal, and about 76% of the number of new subscribers we hoped to attract. There are still some mail subscriptions expected.
Goals are set thoughtfully, but, by definition, they can only be approximate. Given the economy, and the fact that we're not yet in the heat of the election season, I think our results are quite respectable.
As a result of this drive we're about 64% of the way to financial stability. That's awfully encouraging, considering that most sites on the internet attract minimal financial support. We began asking for subscriptions only 21 months ago. We have an incredibly loyal, and responsible, subscriber base, which I hope will grow and grow.
My personal thanks to our older subscribers who added to their subscriptions to make this drive successful, and a special welcome to our new subscribers.
We'll have another drive in summer as we get into the proper confrontational mood for the elections ahead.
And then there's the matter of 2012...
MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010
OBAMACARE BY THE NUMBERS – AT 8:01 P.M. ET: Various news sources this evening say the Dems are still approximately five votes short in the House on Obamacare. Situation very fluid.
The Dems claim they will make no further changes in the bill that will, presumably, be voted on later this week. So now it's pure arm twisting that will be the torture of choice.
A Wall Street Journal column this morning examines the stunning results of a new poll on Americans' feelings about Obamacare:
Voters in key congressional districts are clear in their opposition to what they have seen, read and heard on health-care reform. That's one of the findings of a survey that will be released today by the Polling Company on behalf of Independent Women's Voice. The survey consisted of 1,200 registered voters in 35 districts represented by members who could determine the outcome of the health-care debate. Twenty of those members voted for the House bill in November but now may be reconsidering. Fifteen voted against the bill but are under tremendous pressure to change their vote.
The survey shows astonishing intensity and sharp opposition to reform, far more than national polls reflect. For 82% of those surveyed, the heath-care bill is eit her the top or one of the top three issues for deciding whom to support for Congress next November. (That number goes to 88% among independent women.) Sixty percent want Congress to start from scratch on a bipartisan health-care reform proposal or stop working on it this year. Majorities say the legislation will make them and their loved ones (53%), the economy (54%) and the U.S. health-care system (55%) worse off—quite the trifecta.
COMMENT: Results like this have no impact on the left-wing shock troops of the Democratic Party. They see this as their moment to change America. Even the loss of Congress in November is not too great a price to pay.
The Dems see this as an event very similar to the passage of civil-rights legislation in 1964. They are wrong, of course, but there's no reasoning with them. They feel they are heroic. I doubt if many of the leading leftist Dems have actually examined what the bill says. It's the ideology, my dears...and all those invitations to give commencement speeches.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
MR. OBAMA, LOOKS LIKE THE CHURCHILL GUYS ARE COMING BACK – AT 7:37 P.M. ET: We haven't focused on it yet, but Britain will hold a general election this spring. The exact date has yet to be set. They do things a bit differently in the mother country.
The president of the United States has made a specialty of snubbing Britain in his first year in office, the better to diss the old empire. As you'll recall, he returned to Britain a bust of Winston Churchill that had rested in the Oval Office when Bush was in residence. Churchill didn't apparently make Obama's cut of great men. I mean, he's not up there with Reverend Wright or Mayor Daley.
Britain today is governed by the Labour Party, and you'd think Obama could make some common cause with those British leftists. But wait. For Barack, it gets worse. The Churchillians are coming, the Churchillians are coming. At least, it looks that way. From Britain's Sky News:
An Opinium survey for the Daily Express gives the Tories an 11-point lead and ICM/Guardian figures put the party nine points ahead.
The latest results come after the gap narrowed for several weeks, fuelling speculation there will be a hung parliament after the next election.
Opinium's figures put the Conservatives on 39%, Labour down two to 28% and the Liberal Democrats on 16%. This result would translate into a 40-seat majority for the Tories, according to the paper.
The ICM poll gives the Tories 40% - up three on last month's survey. Labour had the support of 31%, and the Liberal Democrats received 20%.
COMMENT: That's not a guarantee of victory, of course, and a minority coalition could still be formed. But I want to see the day – oh, I want to see it – when a prime minister from Winston's old party strides into the Oval Office, maybe carrying that bust back with him.
Advice to Barack: Take Churchill back. Maybe read some of his speeches. Y'know, you could learn.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
SAN FRAN NAN ADOPTS THE CHICAGO MACHINE – AT 7:22 P.M. ET: John Fund, in today's Wall Street Journal, reports that Nancy Pelosi and her loyal court are adopting Chicago methods to deal with Dems who won't bow down to the royal decrees on health care:
...the Speaker and her allies are brandishing more sticks to corral the necessary votes. MoveOn.org has been raising money to finance liberal challengers to vulnerable House Democrats who vote against the bill. Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, leader of pro-life House Democrats who oppose the Senate's abortion funding language, tells Robert Costa of National Review that he has even been threatened with ethics complaints.
The left has always been good at purges. Now, with modern gimmicks like Photoshop, it's even easy for them to get rid of difficult congressmen in photographs and replace them with good friends.
Likewise, the Service Employees International Union, which stands to gain many unionized members if health care passes, has also been active. New York Democrat Mike McMahon was visited by a top SEIU official and told that he won't get union funding if he votes "no." Indeed, union representatives hinted they might look for a primary challenger or third-party candidate to run in his Staten Island district.
But Fund says the thug tactics may actually backfire:
Such threats may not be as effective as liberal interest groups hope. Mr. McMahon's district voted for John McCain last year and Democrats know any last-minute primary challenger to Mr. McMahon would likely lose to a Republican in the fall, even if he or she succeeded in toppling the incumbent in the Democratic primary. Threats by MoveOn.org and SEIU against many incumbents are also less than believable simply because the filing deadline to mount primary challenges has already passed for more than 40% of House seats. Meanwhile, the debate over health care has dragged on so long that many Democratic members are now clearly more worried about the impact on general election voters than on the party faithful.
COMMENT: The vote count continues. Nan wants a vote no later than Saturday, but the counters still aren't sure they'll get what she needs to seize one sixth of the nation's economy.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
PENNSYLVANIA JOKER – AT 7:11 P.M. ET: Arlen Specter, formerly a member in so-so standing in the Republican Party, flipped not long ago and became a Democrat, apparently fearful that the GOP would not renominate him. But a recent, respected poll shows Specter slipping behind Republican Pat Toomey:
A new Susquehanna Polling and Research survey runs counter to some other recent polling, and shows Republican Pat Toomey with a lead over Sen. Arlen Specter (D).
General Election Matchup (700 LVs, 3/3-6, MoE +/- 3.7%)
Toomey 42 (+1 vs. last poll, 10/7-12)
Specter 36 (-6)
Und 18 (+6)
Toomey leads among Republicans (75-9) and independents (40-30). Specter, just over 10 months after switching parties, has the support of only 59 percent of Democrats.
Pennsylvania is traditionally blue. The GOP would like nothing more than to regain the seat lost when Specter switched parties. It may happen, but Pennsylvania is one state where Republicans will have to fight to the finish to stay ahead.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE – AT 10:06 A.M. ET:
March 15 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and the U.K. have moved “substantially” closer to losing their AAA credit ratings as the cost of servicing their debt rose, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
The governments of the two economies must balance bringing down their debt burdens without damaging growth by removing fiscal stimulus too quickly, Pierre Cailleteau, managing director of sovereign risk at Moody’s in London, said in a telephone interview.
Under the ratings company’s so-called baseline scenario, the U.S. will spend more on debt service as a percentage of revenue this year than any other top-rated country except the U.K., and will be the biggest spender from 2011 to 2013, Moody’s said today in a report.
COMMENT: And what are the Democrats about to do? Why, they're about to pass, if they can scratch up the votes, a health-care plan that will make our economic situation even worse.
What planning. What vision. That Obama, I knew he could do it.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
ANOTHER RISING REPUBLICAN – AT 9:19 A.M. ET: One of the major political stories going today is the rise of conservative Marco Rubio in Florida. He is challenging incumbent Republican Governor Charlie Crist for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, and will probably win. The Wall Street Journal runs an excellent profile on Rubio and the views that propelled him to the top of the heap:
Mr. Rubio nods when I mention his former longshot status. "When I got into this race, I understood that all the traditional metrics of politics were against us. Name recognition, money, trappings of office, connections, endorsements, you name it.
"Obviously, things have happened outside of our control since then," he smiles.
With a now-infamous photo of Mr. Crist embracing President Obama during a visit in February 2009, Mr. Crist put himself on the wrong side of the tea party wave that was building. Mr. Obama had come to Florida to sell his stimulus plan, and Mr. Crist's hug was easily portrayed as embracing a new, unwanted era of super big government.
Mr. Rubio says he won't shy away from social issues if asked. He is pro-life and says he would support a Senate filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee under some circumstances. But his campaign is staking out an updated version of the Reagan agenda. "We're focused on jobs and national security," he says, "because those are the great and profound national issues of our moment and that's what 95% of our campaign is based on."
Front and center is the idea that, fiscally, the federal government is running off the rails. That Washington should be "taking borrowed money to fund the general operation of government," he says, "and that somehow the government will build so many roads and bridges that everyone will have a job for the next 30 years is absurd."
Which leads to Job One: To get spending under control in Washington, Mr. Rubio would support a constitutional amendment to balance the budget, something Florida already has in place...
...Entitlement reform is next. "I know . . . people don't like to talk about it," but Mr. Rubio says the country has to look at changing the Social Security system for people who are 10 or more years away from retirement age...
...Part and parcel is authoring a new tax code "that creates a competitive environment in America."
Rubio is getting powerful support:
A few weeks ago, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush finally broke his silence in the Crist-Rubio battle. He called Mr. Crist's support for the Obama stimulus spending bill "unforgivable" and a "mistake," saying the bill was more about advancing a permanent left-wing agenda than meeting an economic emergency.
"Most Americans support the notion of limited government. When the Republican Party has been about those things, it's been successful," he says. "When it's been about anything else it's been unsuccessful."
COMMENT: Rubio is spirited and impressive. The challenge will come in the general election. Florida is, on social issues, moderate. Rubio is a movement conservative. That may not wear well in certain parts of the state.
Also, Rubio must pace himself. Fast rises often lead to overexposure and turned-off voters.
Rubio has enormous potential. He should, however, take a lesson from Ronald Reagan, who understood that America is idealistic, but not ideological. Reagan was a conservative with a smile, an optimist, the kind of man Americans like to elect. All ideologists have within them the tendency to become scolds. Rubio must resist that. Reagan was elected governor in a moderate state. Rubio can win in Florida by following the Reagan example.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
THE TOYOTA MYSTERY SOLVED? – AT 8:31 A.M. ET: Regular readers know that we've been following the Toyota story closely, in part because it's analogous to the global-warming saga, a great deal of political science, very little real science.
If Toyota has "sudden-acceleration" problems, why did we not know it a lot earlier? Toyota is the world's largest auto company. There are millions of Toyotas on the road. Did any of you readers ever have a sudden-acceleration problem in a Toyota, or know of a friend or relative who did?
It's now clear that there are going to be many false claims. But is there a problem at all? The Atlantic has a superb piece on the subject:
The Los Angeles Times recently did a story detailing all of the NHTSA reports of Toyota "sudden acceleration" fatalities, and, though the Times did not mention it, the ages of the drivers involved were striking.
In the 24 cases where driver age was reported or readily inferred, the drivers included those of the ages 60, 61, 63, 66, 68, 71, 72, 72, 77, 79, 83, 85, 89--and I'm leaving out the son whose age wasn't identified, but whose 94-year-old father died as a passenger.
These "electronic defects" apparently discriminate against the elderly, just as the sudden acceleration of Audis and GM autos did before them.
Hmm. Maybe we're getting somewhere.
In the original Sudden Acceleration Incident craze that afflicted America in the late eighties, the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration eventually ruled that the problem was "pedal misapplication," aka stepping on the gas when you meant to step on the brake. These incidents were highly correlated with three things: being elderly, being short, and parking (or leaving a parking space). The elderly are more prone to the sort of neuronal misfiring described in yesterday's New York Times. Shorter people have to hunt more for the pedals. And starting up from a complete stop is the most likely time to press the wrong pedal.
The problem with that conclusion is that there's no big story in it, there's no lawsuit money in it, and there's no "consumer advocate" publicity in it.
The story examines, with charts, a history of "incidents" of "sudden acceleration."
At any rate, when you look at these incidents all together, it's pretty clear why Toyota didn't investigate this "overwhelming evidence" of a problem: they look a lot like typical cases of driver error. I don't know that all of them are. But I do know that however advanced Toyota's electronics are, they're not yet clever enough to be able to pick on senior citizens.
Unfortunately, that won't help Toyota much. It will still face a wave of lawsuits, and all the negative publicity means that it may be hard for the company to get a fair trial. Even if it does, the verdict in the court of public opinion will still hurt their sales for some time to come.
COMMENT: Auto safety is a serious subject, and automobile companies, especially American ones, have very dark histories in this regard. "Safety doesn't sell," Lee Iacocca, a wildly overrated executive, once famously said. American companies had to be forced, literally, to install safety equipment. Today they're different, and emphasize safety, and they've found that it sells.
But past irresponsibility doesn't mean every charge against an auto company is accurate. Beware of "sudden acceleration." It has that "global warming" ring.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
AND NOW FOR THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE – AT 8:18 A.M. ET: The leftist Democrats do indeed love the socialized health plans of Britain, Europe and Canada, as long as they personally have an alternative. Those plans are so cozy, so warm, so inclusive and multicultural. They are also failures. London's Daily Mail reports on what may well be the American future:
Up to 20,000 people have died needlessly early after being denied cancer drugs on the National Health Service (NHS), it was revealed yesterday.
The rationing body NICE has failed to keep a promise to make more life-extending drugs available.
Treatments used widely in the U.S. and Europe have been rejected on grounds of cost-effectiveness, yet patients and their loved ones have seen the NHS waste astronomical sums.
Last week it emerged that £21billion - a fifth of the entire annual budget - was spent on failed schemes to tackle inequality.
NICE, the National Institute of health and Clinical Excellence, promised a year ago to make it easier for drugs for rarer cancers to be approved.
But since then four drugs which could have benefited 16,000 people have been turned down outright and a further six which could have helped 4,000 more have been provisionally rejected.
Just five drugs have been accepted - benefiting 8,500 people - says a damning report by the Rarer Cancers Forum. Drugs for rarer forms of cancer are often much more expensive than those for common tumours because pharmaceutical companies cannot make economies of scale.
COMMENT: Ask the relatives of Britain's deceased victims what they think of the National Health Service.
Can this happen here? Of course it can. If a private insurance company can deny a claim, imagine what a powerful government entity can do, especially one kept in business by a political party.
And wait 'til the elderly are told that they must die because increased attention must be given to "the children," the usual line, especially children in groups that will vote reliably Democratic.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
COUGH NOW – HEALTH CARE UPDATE – AT 7:54 A.M. ET: The momentous week begins. Democrats dream that, by next week at this time, as the president is winging toward one of his many youthful residences – this one Indonesia – he will be in effective control of one sixth of the American economy. They call it health-care reform. We call it government malpractice.
Republican star Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman who takes his work seriously, puts it very bluntly in the Washington Post:
Today, the House Budget Committee is to mark up a "reconciliation" vehicle, initiating the greatest expansion in government and entitlement spending in a generation through a partisan process to push "health-care reform" across the finish line.
Despite claims of transparency and calls for a "simple up-or-down vote," there is nothing simple about this process. This convoluted legislative charade demonstrates how far the Democratic majority has wandered from real health-care reform and cost control, employing any means to achieve political victory.
When you're trained in Chicago politics, this is the way it's done.
Through any analytical lens, the legislation will not address the central problem of skyrocketing health-care costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that families' premiums could rise 10 to 13 percent; private-sector actuarial estimates top these already high numbers. The higher costs are driven by federalizing the regulation of insurance, narrowing consumers' options and reducing competition among providers. The health-care market would be dominated by government programs and the largest insurance companies, operating as de facto government utilities.
If this debate had actually been about health care, we could have worked together to get a grip on costs, make quality care more accessible, address exclusions for preexisting conditions and realign the incentives of insurance companies with those of patients and doctors. Yet this process -- including its embarrassing conclusion -- demonstrates that the debate has never been about health-care policy but, instead, paternalistic ideology.
I'm glad someone finally said it, and said it well.
Should the Democrats' health-care train wreck make it to the president's desk, it will be a pyrrhic victory, and its devastating consequences will take their toll on our health-care system, our budget and our economy.
COMMENT: Paul Ryan is, figuratively, just what the doctor ordered – a conservative who studies hard and prepares his comments carefully. Watch him in the future. He is dead on.
March 15, 2010 Permalink
SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2010
INCREASINGLY DELUSIONAL – AT 8:27 P.M. ET: The palace guard in Washington is starting to act like men trapped in a bunker, with the enemy armies surrounding them. From Byron York in The Washington Examiner:
Top White House adviser David Axelrod says that if Congress passes the Democrats' national health care bill, it will be politically impossible for Republicans to undo the changes brought by the massive legislation. "I say, Let's have that fight. Make my day," Axelrod said on "Meet the Press." "I'm ready to have that, and every member of Congress ought to be willing to have that debate was well."
Make my day? When White House advisers start to think they're Clint Eastwood, we're all in trouble. Peter Pan, yes. But not Clint.
Axelrod made the point as he put forward the now-common argument that House Democrats who have already voted for the health care bill once should do so again because they will be attacked by Republican opponents this fall whatever they do.
That's right. Why drive halfway over the cliff when you can go all the way? Makes sense, doesn't it?
"I've said many times that they've got a vote that Republicans and the insurance industry and others can run against them already," Axelrod said. "What they don't have is the accomplishment. If this bill passes, this year, children with pre-existing conditions will now be covered. There will be an end to lifetime caps and annual caps on what the insurance companies will cover, so if you get sick you won't go broke, if you get sick they won't throw you off your insurance. The doughnut hole will be filled in, so senior citizens will save hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs. The life of Medicare will be extended, and on and on and on."
A few problems there, as York points out:
There are holes galore in Axelrod's statement. The Senate health care bill, for example, does not eliminate the insurance coverage caps as Axelrod claims. Bans on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions have been scaled back. And experts agree that taking money out of Medicare, as the bill does, would not extend the life of Medicare if that money is used to pay for the new health care entitlement instead of shoring up Medicare. Nevertheless, Axelrod said he is ready for a fight.
COMMENT: Who cares about facts when you can follow a party line and feel good about yourself? What a week coming up.
March 14, 2010 Permalink
UNBELIEVABLE...WELL, MAYBE VERY BELIEVABLE – AT 7:03 P.M. ET: John Hinderaker at Power Line alerts us to the latest obscenity from the bizarre world of major media. It seems that The New York Times, not to be outdone by the publisher's friends on Wall Street, now pays out the big bucks for failure, and the publisher is first in the gravy line. From the New York Post:
Top executives at the beleaguered New York Times Company reaped hefty rewards last year, with Chairman Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger more than doubling his total compensation to $6 million.
CEO Janet Robinson got even more, reaping $6.3 million, a 31.9 percent hike.
The pay numbers were disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings yesterday.
This is the newspaper that constantly lectures us on our obligations to our fellow citizens. Pinch was a hippie in the 70s, and still considers himself a man of the people. What people?
The increases come against a backdrop of declining ad revenue, layoffs, frozen pension plans, unpaid vacations and a 5 percent pay cut for most of the rank-and-file workers last year.
"Our members are really unhappy with what is happening," said Bill O'Meara, president of the Newspaper Guild of New York. "They made a voluntary sacrifice to give up some of their pay to help the company out. People are losing their jobs still."
Maybe the working stiffs at The Times now realize the kind of management they really have. Forget those liberal editorials. This is Real Life.
One corporate governance expert warned that even if a publicly traded company's compensation committee OK'd the compensation, it could backfire in the court of public opinion.
"I think the board may want to weigh the consequences of rewarding their executives, who may be worthy of the increases, against the damage that may occur to the company's reputation," said William Sannwald, a business professor at San Diego State University.
COMMENT: They won't weigh anything. Sulzberger is chairman because he comes from The Times's ruling family. It's like being a journalistic Windsor.
Sickening. Pinch Sulzberger couldn't get a job on his own newspaper in an open market. He should set an example. Instead, he mocks the very institution he's helped to destroy.
March 14, 2010 Permalink
TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH CARE – GET IT WHILE YOU CAN – AT 5:27 P.M. ET: As of this hour, Dems say they don't have enough votes to pass health care this week, but are confident they'll get them. From AP:
The House's chief Democratic head-counter, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, said Sunday he hadn't rounded up enough votes to pass President Obama's health care overhaul as negotiations head into a make-or-break week, even as the White House's top political adviser said he was "absolutely confident" in its prospects.
The administration gave signs of retreating on demands that senators jettison special home-state deals sought by individual lawmakers that have angered the public.
Which means the Louisiana Purchase and similar bribes will probably be in the final bill.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs predicted House passage this week, before Mr. Obama travels to Asia, a trip he postponed to push for the bill.
"This is the week where we will have this important vote," Mr. Gibbs said. "I do think this is the climactic week for health care reform."
Mr. Obama's chief political aide, David Axelrod, said Democrats will persuade enough lawmakers to vote "yes."
COMMENT: This will be an absolutely momentous week in American political history – a naked attempt, against public opinion, to grab control of one sixth of the American economy. By tradition, huge policy bills have always had bipartisan support. This one doesn't, and it's being pushed by a Chicago hustler who promised, during his deceptive 2008 campaign, to bring an end to the partisan bickering in Washington. He's made it much worse.
March 14, 2010 Permalink
TOYOTA AND GLOBAL WARMING – AT 11:42 A.M. ET: No, that's not the title of a term paper. It's a thought. Follow the Toyota story closely, and you'll see a resemblance to the global-warming hysteria. How much of the Toyota scandal is about engineering, and how much about grabbing a buck? Consider:
A federal safety investigation of the Toyota Prius that was involved in a dramatic incident on a California highway last week found a particular pattern of wear on the car's brakes that raises questions about the driver's version of the event, three people familiar with the investigation told the Wall Street Journal.
On Monday James Sikes, 61 years old, called 911 and told the operator his blue 2008 Toyota Prius had sped up to more than 90 miles per hour on its own on Interstate 8 near San Diego. He eventually brought the vehicle to a stop after a California Highway patrolman pulled alongside Sikes and offered help.
During and after the incident, Sikes said he was using heavy pressure on his brake pedal at high speeds.
But the investigation of the vehicle, carried out jointly by safety officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota engineers, didn't find signs the brakes had been applied at full force at high speeds over a sustained period of time, the three people familiar with the investigation said.
We reported on this driver just yesterday. Turns out he has a troubled financial past and a checkered business reputation.
A draft memorandum obtained Saturday by The Associated Press also said investigators were unable to make a Prius speed out of control as Sikes detailed.
During two hours of test drives of Sikes' car Thursday, technicians failed to duplicate the same experience that Sikes described, according to the memo prepared for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"Every time the technician placed the gas pedal to the floor and the brake pedal to the floor the engine shut off and the car immediately started to slow down," the memo said.
"Unintended acceleration" is a big lawsuit term. I'm not an engineer. I don't know if it's real or not. But don't get carried away. When there's money available, claims will follow. As with global warming, look with two eyes.
March 14, 2010 Permalink
IS THE WHITE HOUSE GETTING THE MESSAGE? – AT 11:01 A.M. ET: A year ago, the public couldn't get enough of Hollywood-on-the-Potomac star Barack Obama. Now, well, maybe the word "overexposure" is the word. Or maybe "incompetent" is more to the point. From The Politico:
Moderate House Democrats facing potentially difficult re-elections this fall have a message for President Barack Obama: don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Interviews with nearly a dozen congressional Democrats on the ballot this year reveal a decided lack of enthusiasm for having Obama come to their districts to campaign for them—the most basic gauge of a president’s popularity.
Some cite the president’s surely busy schedule. Others point to a practice of not bringing in national politicians to appear on their behalf. While these members aren’t necessarily attempting to distance themselves from the administration, there is nevertheless a noticeable reluctance to embrace him by a certain class of incumbent now that the president’s approval rating has fallen to a new low in the latest Gallup survey, 46 percent.
Politico notes that George W. Bush suffered a similar fate, but also notes the difference:
The difference, however, is that Bush was narrowly elected twice in a country divided between red and blue states, while Obama shredded that map. With his success in the interior West and upper South, Obama was thought to be such a political asset that he could play most anywhere in the country.
No longer. When you're presented as a new deity, and you don't perform godlike acts, people get bored.
I don't recall a president slumping this quickly, and this decisively. We caution, of course, that Obama might be able to reverse his decline. And Republicans can stumble badly. But right now the incumbent looks like the Edsel of presidents – introduced with a roar, and increasingly ridiculed.
March 14, 2010 Permalink
OH DEAR, ANOTHER FAILURE – AT 10:41 A.M. ET: The Obama administration's half-hearted policy toward Iran has already failed, and other nations are trying to patch the holes in the ship so it sinks more slowly. From Reuters:
(Reuters) - A U.N. resolution on new sanctions against Iran may not be ready until June and if a vote on it fails, European states could take unilateral measures instead, French and Finnish ministers said on Sunday.
China has already announced that it opposes new sanctions, so, unless they are watered down simply to bar the sale of Frisbees to Tehran, the vote will fail. Europeans are now taking the lead:
If the United States, Britain, France and Germany -- the four leading the drive for sanctions that are expected to target Iranian banks and senior members of the Revolutionary Guard -- fail to secure U.N. backing, the EU looks likely to join the United States in imposing unilateral sanctions.
Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, who is hosting a weekend gathering of foreign ministers from the EU and Turkey in Lapland, said on Saturday there was "consensus enough" in the EU for unilateral sanctions and said it would be discussed at the next EU foreign ministers' meeting on March 22nd.
COMMENT: What is needed is strong American leadership. What we're getting is weak American leadership, in the hands of a man far more interested in appeasing Muslim extremists than confronting them.
Iran is proceeding with its weapons program. Nothing has stopped Tehran. Obama has essentially taken the military option off the table, dramatically reducing any clout we might have. Iran will get the bomb. Obama will blame someone else.
March 14, 2010 Permalink
WHAT KIND OF PRESIDENT? – AT 10:15 A.M. ET: Once again Toby Harnden of Britain's Telegraph nails Barack Obama and his presidential character.
This time Harnden, who has done some of the best commentary on American politics, uses the political execution of the White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers, as the launch point for his conclusion:
Bitter and jobless after being replaced by a leading Democratic fundraiser, shunned by Obama's inner circle and the subject of the usual finger-pointing anonymous briefings, Rogers is now fighting back. Her sorry tale says much about how the Obamas have failed to change Washington and how they blame others for their own failings...
...Rogers fell to earth with a crash last November when three gate crashers managed to get into Obama's first state dinner. The Social Secretary, naturally, was not on the gate but inside the event, resplendent in a Comme des Garçons gown.
Then the whispering began. Fellow Obama cronies like Valerie Jarrett - who lives in the same Georgetown apartment block - cut her off. Rogers was told she had to resign. And then news of her resignation was leaked before she could line up another job. All along, White House aides now confide, Rogers was a show horse rather than a work horse, someone who boosted herself at the expense of the First Couple and viewed the Obamas as a business.
As if White House aides don't see him the same way.
The lavish social events that Rogers arranged despite the recession were not only signed off on by the Obamas but were part of their self-conscious attempt to create a new Camelot.
That narcissism has led to an increasingly disconnected presidency. Obama holds campaign-style rallies but he preaches about what he desires rather than listening.
When someone hooted during a recent Obama event in St Louis, the President suggested it was a Republican politician because "they don't like it when we're talking the truth". His opponents are not just wrong - they lie.
Perhaps Mr Obama's biggest political flaw is that he seems to view himself as the personification of virtue and right-thinking. If Americans do not want health care reform, it's because they are too stupid to realise they have been hoodwinked by Republicans.
If he is criticised for throwing lavish parties and portraying himself as a glamourous reincarnation of John F. Kennedy without attending to the details then the person to blame is the Social Secretary. With his polls numbers still sinking, however, the chances of voters blaming someone else for this hubris recede by the day.
COMMENT: The public is not only starting to blame Obama politically, I'm getting the sense that the American people are starting to dislike him personally. They're doing what they couldn't do during the campaign – they're seeing through the false charm and shallow intellect.
No, this is not a new Camelot. There really wasn't an old one in the early sixties either. It was an invention of Jackie Kennedy, after her husband's assassination.
But Kennedy and Obama are entirely different. With all his flaws, and his privileged upbringing, Kennedy had paid some serious dues in the Pacific in World War II. He stuck around the U.S. Senate long enough to learn the job. He wrote about, or wrote with others about, great themes. Obama wrote two books primarily celebrating himself. Kennedy respected the need for military power and for a strong America. Obama doesn't seem even to identify with his own country. Kennedy had the ability to inspire young people well into his presidency. Obama's inspiration ended the day he was elected.
There'll be a presidential election in two years. We have work to do. I want to see a replacement in the Oval Office in January of 2013.
March 14, 2010 Permalink