Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
"Another not so good week for the president. Augusts are generally a cruel month for presidents because no news only makes the press dig harder to find bad news. Going on vacation is a good idea because the president gets to reduce the heat. Still, there have been a number of left-right lightening rods during this administration but maybe none hotter than Attorney General Eric Holder's new appointment of a prosecutor to investigate CIA treatment of prisoners. If sores were already open, this act threatens to pour salt and vinegar on the wounds. Obama's initial message of healing rifts has been lost. But remember, and I've said this before, Obama was toast last August and won."
From May 11-14, 2009, Resurgent Republic conducted an extensive survey of registered voters regarding the debate over harsh interrogations of high-value al-Qaeda detainees. The survey specifically asked about criminal investigation of those involved in conducting enhanced interrogation techniques:
Congressman A says there should be a criminal investigation into the Justice Department lawyers who wrote legal memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques. We need to hold people accountable for their advice justifying what was really torture.
Congressman B says there should not be a criminal investigation into harsh interrogation techniques. That investigation would divide the country, turn policy disagreements into criminal charges, and have a chilling effect on future efforts to keep America safe. We should thank the people who kept us safe, not prosecute them.
Sixty-two percent agreed with Congressman B, including a vast majority of Independents (66-29) and an overwhelming majority of Republicans (79-18). Democrats were evenly split (47% favored Congressman A and 45% favored Congressman B).
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Nevertheless, the president could help revive the GOP. In Commentary, Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson observe:
Obama’s overreach has created a measure of opportunity for Republicans. The question is whether that opportunity will be grasped. Can Republicans overcome their manifest problems and succeed in preparing themselves for a restoration of public trust, and can they do so not only by appealing to new groups but also by offering compelling answers to pressing public needs?
They offer a thought-provoking primer, urging Republicans to take a full-throated stand on national defense, develop a reform agenda, and restore their reputation as the party of community and order. And they stress the importance of demeanor:
Running through this account of domestic and national-security issues is an attitude toward public life and toward public discourse. Tone and bearing are terribly undervalued commodities in American politics. On the whole, people drawn to a party like to feel that those representing the party are both amiable and peaceable. This hardly precludes conviction and tough-mindedness when it comes to articulating policy. Democracy was designed for disagreement, and the proper role of an opposition party is to oppose. But anger, personal attack, and extreme language do nothing to expand the appeal of a party in trouble.
Monday, August 24, 2009
As of this writing, Republican conservatives lack Voinovich’s self-awareness, and seem eager to recreate the backlash that crippled Clinton in the first year of his presidency and led to the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. That backlash required unleashing a latent conservative majority in the South and to a lesser extent the West in districts that had been voting for Democrats largely for historical reasons. Republicans cashed in on them in 1994, but they cannot do it again—most of the Democratic-held districts that Newt Gingrich was eyeing fifteen years ago are now solidly Republican. Meanwhile, the older Republican seats in the Northeast and Midwest are gone. Republicans cannot form anything close to a majority.
Many veteran Congressional election watchers, including Democratic ones, report an eerie sense of déjà vu, with a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats. A new Gallup poll that shows Congress’ job disapproval at 70 percent among independents should provide little solace to Democrats. In the same poll, Congressional approval among independents is at 22 percent, with 31 percent approving overall, and 62 percent disapproving.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Now, I’ve said this before; I want to repeat it so that every member of your congregations understands this: If you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan ...
You’ve heard that this is all going to mean government funding of abortion. Not true.
These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation.
[F]rom 1900-1952 unified government was the norm in Washington. During those years, the same party controlled the presidency and at least one branch of Congress 22 times, while Republicans and Democrats split power only four times, according to political scientist Morris Fiorina in his book Divided Government. But since 1952, unified party control--the conditions we face now--are more rare. Voters split control in 17 elections between 1952-2008 and opted for unified control only eight times. For the past 50 years, not too long after one party achieves unified control, Americans almost reflexively put the other in charge of at least one branch of government.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
If somebody’s excited about NASCAR, that means they’re excited about cars. And we want to make sure that people know what great American cars are, and obviously it’s understandable at a time when GM has gone through some tough times, that they may need to cut back sponsorships briefly, but over the long term, if we look 5-10 years out, I think they’re going to come back stronger than ever, and I think their association with NASCAR makes a great difference.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Q Okay. Rahm Emanuel said last week about public options, "a goal of this legislation on health care reform is to lower costs and improve competition. The goal is nonnegotiable; the path is" -- leaving out the public option. And today you have said -- you've not declared the President would veto a bill without a public option in it. Taken together, should we therefore assume, with those two comments on the record, that a public option is simply not essential, an essential component, of a finished product on health care reform?
MR. GIBBS: I think the President --
Q And if not, explain to me why not.
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think the President, again -- don't quote Rahm, don't quote me, quote the President. I think if you look back at the transcript from the press conference we did a couple of Tuesdays ago, I think the President addresses this.
Q Well, speaking of press conferences, Friday in L'Aquila the President laid out what he called his "clear parameters." Public option was not listed among the clear parameters he mentioned.
MR. GIBBS: I'd have to go back and look at the transcript.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Pivoting off of one of the few policy spats in Monday night's presidential debate in South Carolina, Hillary Clinton hit Barack Obama on Tuesday for wavering on his support for a single-payer health care system. In a video put out on YouTube, the Clinton campaign contrasts portions of the debate - in which Obama says "I never said we should go and try to get single payer" - and a speech Obama gave to the AFL-CIO in 2003 - in which he says, "I happen to be a proponent of single-payer health care coverage."
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Lessons that we've learned in the VA can actually be exported to other systems out there. One specific issue, in addition to letting your readers know that if you're in the VA or TRICARE this will not force you to change systems — people should also know though that if they are eligible for VA benefits but, for example, live in an area where they might want to get a better deal because it's closer, for example, then veterans would be eligible potentially for this health care exchange where they could select from a different set of plans and still receive some help in paying for their premiums, depending on what their income levels were. So it'll actually give them more choice and more flexibility.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
OBAMA: Normally, you don't raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven't and why we have instead cut taxes. So I guess what I would say to Scott is his economics are right, you don't raise taxes in a recession. We haven't raised taxes in a recession. We don't have a...
TODD: But you might for health care. You might for the highest -- for some of the wealthiest.
OBAMA: The -- we have not proposed a tax hike for the wealthy that would take effect in the middle of a recession. Even the proposals that have come out of Congress, which, by the way, were different from the proposals I put forward, still wouldn't kick in until after the recession was over. So he is absolutely right, the last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up -- take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.
The Budget proposes allowing most of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to expire in 2011, as scheduled, for couples making more than $250,000 and individuals making more than $200,000 per year.
Nearly one year after the election, we can significantly revise some of the now-conventional narrative threads. The Obama victory was historic, but it was not surprising; Obama shifted, but did not redraw, the electoral map; race and class mattered, but not in the way people assumed they would matter; and partisan loyalty was powerful even as partisan defections like Colin Powell’s garnered headlines. Furthermore, it is simply too soon to tell how and how much campaign tactics mattered, whether this election’s outcome constitutes a realignment in voting behavior, and whether Obama has emerged with a mandate.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
When Richard Nixon won the presidency, the silent majority of Americans was white and conservative. The demographics of this country have changed, and that change is now accelerating. Voters are getting younger, more racially diverse, and less tied to organized religion.
There is some truth here, but a careful look at the data reveals a different picture.
Black and Hispanic political participation has grown over time. Even so, new Census statistics show that three-fourths of the 2008 electorate consisted of non-Hispanic whites.
In 1974 (RN's last year in office), the General Social Survey found roughly equal percentages of liberals and conservatives in the population. In 2006, conservatives outnumbered liberals by 8 points, and a Gallup survey indicates the conservative lead has grown even more. Granted, self-identification can be slippery, since the definition of terms can shift over time. And on certain social issues (e.g., gay rights), opinion has become more liberal. But in other respects, it is hard to argue that RN's America was more conservative. Despite a modest inflation rate, he faced pressure to impose wage-price controls. When he yielded -- which he later acknowledged as a mistake -- public reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Today, even President Obama is not talking about such measures.
As for religion, there has been a great deal of hype about a Newsweek cover proclaiming the end of Christian America. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, the share of Americans who say they have no religion is at a high -- but is still only 15 percent. That figure has barely increased since 2001, and self-identified atheists and agnostics make up less than 2 percent of the population. When Gallup asked respondents if they had attended services during the last seven days, 39 percent said yes. That figure was statistically the same as the 1972 figure of 40 percent.
Of couse, serious problems do confront Republicans in general, and Sarah Palin in particular. But it is a serious misreading of the data to suggest a sudden leftward shift that rules out GOP victory.