Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Novembers Election after Wisconsin

What’s New Today

Story #1 looks at the importance of Wisconsin after last night’s victory for Scott Walker.  #2 is a progressive rationalization of what was going to happen last night in Wisconsin.  #3 has a gloomy future in view of the recall.  We are no longer in the era of a growing economy and have to take from someone to give to someone else.  #4 looks at the exit polls last night and wonders if Wisconsin is in play.  #5 is a strange video of a disappointed supporter of Barrett thinking Democracy is dead since he didn’t win.  #6 sees Obama’s prospects for a major improvement in the economy as slim to none.  #7 looks at Bill Clinton’s role in this election.  #8 finds numerous errors in a recent NYTimes editorial.  #9 looks at Obama and it seems he is self-destructing.  #10 talks about how negative Mitt Romney should go. 

Today’s Thoughts

Obama’s joint fund-raisers with movie stars and lottery winners opens him up to criticism and mockery.  Rush Limbaugh has now dubbed him “Barack Hussein Kardashian.”  

Exit polling was very bad in the Wisconsin election.  It called the election a tie and said men were for Walker by 13% while women were for Barrett by 12%.  Walker won by 7%. 

Obama is working his fingers to the bone to try to save jobs—or at least one person’s job.  He will attend five fund raisers on June 6. 

1.  The Importance of Wisconsin

President Obama holds multiple paths to re-election, with a handful of battleground states being able to slip away without leading to his defeat. But each possible outcome on his campaign map has always shared a common trait: winning Wisconsin.

A Republican resurgence here, which has burst into full view as the party determinedly defends its sitting governor in a rare recall election, is spilling into the presidential race. The result is poised to shape the general election fight between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney, who intends to add Wisconsin to his list of targeted states. 

The president is bracing for a difficult set of challenges, which began last week when an uptick in the unemployment rate provided a fresh reminder of the beleaguered domestic economy and the deepening financial uncertainties abroad. A Republican victory here could set off a wave of adjustments in the lineup of swing states. Even before the outcome of Tuesday’s vote is known, Democrats are warning that Wisconsin is far from a surefire win in November

“We are tremendously polarized,” Mike Tate, the Wisconsin Democratic chairman, said in an interview on Sunday. “We’re going to remain a very competitive state heading into the fall.” …

CNN had a story (taken down after the election results became obvious) that the exit polls showed Obama significantly ahead of Romney contrary to the other polling data.  But the exit poll also said the vote was a tie and it ended 53-46 percent in favor of Walker.  This is a disaster of huge proportions for the Democrats. 

2.  Wisconsin gives Progressives something to build on

On Tuesday, all eyes will be watching to see whether Wisconsin voters will keep labor-bashing right-winger Scott Walker (R) in the governor’s mansion. But win or lose, the real story is the 15 months of people power leading up to this day. The real lesson lies in more than a year of progressive organizing, petitioning, canvassing and campaigning for the cause. The real result is a progressive movement that is deeper and broader than before.

When Walker’s opponents needed 540,208 signatures to trigger the recall election, Wisconsin’s progressives responded by collecting more than a million. They filled 152,000 pages— weighty evidence of the power of a group of people determined to right a wrong.

And the effects have rippled outward. The sight of 70,000 protesters — teachers, firefighters, nurses, students, parents with children – occupying the Wisconsin State Capitol in February 2011 ignited activists around the country. Just as the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt motivated people around the world, including in Wisconsin, the occupation of the Madison statehouse helped inspire the occupation of Wall Street a few months later.

Let me state the obvious: I want the recall to succeed. A victory for Democrat Tom Barrett would not only create an opportunity to roll back Walker’s worst anti-labor, budget-slashing measures, but would also send a clear message to those who are masquerading as deficit hawks around the country: We’ve had it with starve-the-beast politics. We’re done with leaders whose idea of austerity is to cut education, health care and vital public services in order to give more tax breaks to their millionaire friends…

This is an example of rationalization at its finest.   The fact is with all those protests, with the million signatures (which is almost the number of votes Barrett got), Walker still won.  This is something for Conservatives to build on.  Today the people who are enthused are not the progressives or the unions; it is the 42% of Americans who identify as conservatives. 
3.  No Recall
For disappointed Democrats, seduced by early exit polls into a vain hope that the union-busting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker might actually be recalled from office late last night, the good news is that some of their pre-election spin still holds up. Yesterday’s recall vote is not necessarily a bellwether for the general election, not necessarily a sign that Mitt Romney can win a slew of purple states, not necessarily proof that the country is ready to throw in with Walker’s fellow Wisconsinite Paul Ryan on issues of spending and taxation.

But neither is it anything like good news for liberalism. We are entering a political era that will feature many contests like the war over collective bargaining in Wisconsin: Grinding struggles in which sweeping legislation is passed by party-line votes and then the politicians responsible hunker down and try to survive the backlash. There will be no total victory in this era, but there will be gains and losses — and the outcome in the Walker recall is a warning to Democrats that their position may be weaker than many optimistic liberals thought.

To understand the broader trends at work, a useful place to turn is Jay Cost’s essay on “the Politics of Loss” in the latest issue of National Affairs. For most of the post-World War II era, Cost argues, our debates over taxing and spending have taken place in an atmosphere of surplus. The operative question has been how best to divide a growing pie, which has enabled politicians in both parties to practice a kind of ideologically-flexible profligacy. Republicans from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush have increased spending, Democrats from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton have found ways to cut taxes, and the great American growth machine has largely kept the toughest choices off the table.

But not anymore. Between our slowing growth and our unsustainable spending commitments, “the days when lawmakers could give to some Americans without shortchanging others are over; the politics of deciding who loses what, and when and how, is upon us.” In this era, debates will be increasingly zero-sum, bipartisan compromise will be increasingly difficult, and “the rules and norms of our politics that several generations have taken for granted” will fade away into irrelevance.

I’ve seen writings like this before.  It was during the Jimmy Carter era when nothing was going right and the left put forward the idea that the Presidency was too big for any one man.  Ronald Reagan came in and that story ended, but it seems when difficulties happen and the left’s stock solutions don’t work, we find ourselves in a different era in which nothing works in.  That is another form of liberal rationalization and it is bunk.  Much as we haven’t entered the era of peak oil (in fact we may be in the beginning of the era of fossil fuels) so to America is not at the end of its good days.  The problem is that for Progressivism, it may be the end of days as their solutions simply don’t work.   

4.  Is Wisconsin in Play?

The Wisconsin exit poll evidently reported the race for governor in the recall ballot as 50%-50%. With 92% of the vote in, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s excellent website reports the score as 54%-46% Walker. Let’s say that’s the final results: only 13% of precincts from Milwaukee County and 3% of precincts from Madison’s Dane County—the Democrats’ two reservoirs of big majorities—remain uncounted. It has been emblazoned on mainstream media that the exit poll also showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in the state 51%-45%. But if you think the exit poll was 4% too Democratic—and that’s in line with exit poll discrepancies with actual vote results over the last decade, as documented by the exit poll pioneer, the late Warren Mitofsky*—that result looks more like 49%-47% Romney. Or assume the remaining Milwaukee County precincts whittle Republican Governor Scott Walker’s margin over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to 53%-47%, which looks likely, the Obama-Romney numbers would look like 48%-48%.

You bet it is. 

5.  Despite what he says, this isn’t the death of Democracy 

It appears to this Barrett supporter, Democracy means his side winning. 

6.  Obama’s Economic Problems

President Obama has almost no significant new openings to rev the stalling U.S. economy before November -- not with Congress as collaborators, at least. So what can he do?

The White House says the president will deliver a speech describing his economic vision this month. Offering a public address is Obama's favored fallback when triggering a new phase of economic attention. The president is still touting his American Jobs Act of 2011, but his spokesman said Monday that Obama will continue to search for “potential new ideas.”

“It’s not okay to simply root for failure,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “There’s a lot that can be done right now.” Asked to identify those individuals allegedly rooting for economic failure, Carney pointed to Congress. “There’s at least a failure to act,” he argued. “Congress has failed to act.”

Carney said there is “no mystery” about initiatives Congress could have embraced to put teachers, firefighters, construction workers, veterans and others into jobs. He suggested if Congress had enacted the president’s jobs plan last year, the country would not be experiencing unemployment above 8 percent three years after the recession officially ended. “We would be in a different situation and a different employment picture than we’re in,” he said….

So here’s what Obama is going to do—blame the Republicans.  He’s not going to okay Keystone.  He’s not going to open up drilling in the gulf and elsewhere.  He’s not going to approve LNG plants.  He’s not going to suspend any of the new regulations his government is burdening small business with.  He’s going to point his finger at someone else. And he’s going to lose in November.

7.  Whose side is Bill Clinton On?

Last week, former President Bill Clinton disavowed a central theme of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Tuesday, he added that a key piece of the White House’s policy agenda doesn’t make much sense to him either.

With friends like this, Obama’s political enemies don’t need to do too much.

In an interview with CNBC that his office was scrambling to clarify Tuesday night, Clinton sided with congressional Republicans over Obama in calling for Congress to temporarily renew the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts — but he also heaped praise on private equity companies like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, pleaded ignorance for his past gaffes and asserted his independence from the Obama campaign message operation.

It was Clinton in full Mr. Hyde mode — in a flashback to the deep and lasting tensions between the Clinton family and the Obama team that still linger from the bitter 2008 primary fight.

The interview was part of a whirlwind television tour Tuesday afternoon, with Clinton spending also granting interviews to NBC, PBS and CBS that followed up on his turn last week on CNN, when he referred to Romney’s business background — which the Obama campaign had spent days tearing apart — as “sterling.” Once again, Clinton was sucking up all the media oxygen and generating dozens of headlines about an intra-party split between the two presidents

I agree with Dick Morris who thinks Clinton wants Obama to lose.  I don’t think he’s forgiven him for taking the Presidency away from Hillary and the adoration away from him.  As Charles Krauthammer said he thinks Clinton is a double agent. 

8.  NY TIMES Editorial:  Chock full of Errors

In an excellent NRO essay today, law professor (and Becket Fund senior counsel) Mark L. Rienzi explains that a recent New York Times house editorial that criticized Catholic organizations for challenging the HHS mandate “is wrong in every conceivable way about the mandate, religious-liberty law, and the lawsuits.” (Anyone detect a pattern in NYT editorials?) Rienzi makes five straightforward points. Here’s an excerpt from his first point, his rebuttal of the insipid contention that the lawsuits seek to “impose one church’s doctrine”:

The question is not whether contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs will remain legal and available — it is whether religious organizations can be forced to provide free access to them. No one is forced to work for a Catholic institution. And those who do are perfectly free to get these drugs on their own, for free from the government, or from the many sources that willingly distribute them. Indeed, in no other context has anyone ever suggested that an employer’s failure to distribute an item for free is “imposing doctrine” on anyone. Catholic institutions also do not give out pornography, Big Macs, or trips to Disneyland. Failure to provide these things for free does not impose anything on anyone or restrict anyone’s freedom in any way. Overheated claims to the contrary cannot be taken seriously….

This should be of concern to everyone.  The mandate is an assault on the First Amendment while saying it is a war on women is absolute rubbish.

9.  Obama Appears To Be Self-Destructing

Swing voters are forming a similar opinion about President Obama, who sometimes seems as if he's deliberately trying to dismantle the coalition that elected him in 2008.

Mr. Obama won the Jewish vote by an astounding 52 percentage points. But -- thanks chiefly to his policies toward Israel and Iran -- he's lost more support among Jews (16 percentage points) than among any other ethnic group, according to a Pew survey in February.

Mr. Obama won the Catholic vote 54 percent to 45 percent. Four years earlier, Sen. John Kerry got only 47 percent of Catholic votes -- and he's Catholic.

The president's share of the Catholic vote is sure to shrink, thanks to the administration's plans to force Catholic institutions to offer birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance policies and to Mr. Obama's embrace of gay marriage. Pennsylvania Democratic state committeewoman Jo Ann Nardelli cited her concerns about gay marriage when she announced May 23 that she has turned Republican.

Not just Catholics are upset. In Mississippi last week, seven local elected officials cited the president's gay marriage stance as the reason they are switching from the Democratic Party to the GOP.

People in upscale suburbs -- which have been trending Democratic since 1992 -- tend to be more liberal on social issues. Mr. Obama won half the votes of voters with household incomes of more than $100,000. But these people haven't liked Mr. Obama's economic policies or his class warfare rhetoric. They voted Republican, 58 percent to 40 percent, in 2010….

It’s amazing how the left keeps saying the right has gone off the rails and has driven out the moderates.  Gay marriage, enforced mandates on the Catholic Church, rules that basically are killing the coal industry, Democrats switching to the Republican Party, etc.  It’s not the right that has gone off the deep edge, it is the left. 

10.  How Negative Should Romney Go?

In an appearance on Monday’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume was asked by host Bill O’Reilly just how negative he thought former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney should go in the presidential campaign against President Barack Obama.

According to Hume, there will be some negative ads from Romney, but nothing like Obama who has really no other alternative.

“My thought about that would be that Romney will undoubtedly run a lot of ads that add up to saying that, and he will say it a lot himself and so will his surrogates on the campaign trail,” Hume said. “I think Romney has — look, I think Obama’s record is such a burden to him that he has no real choice but to go negative and go negative hard, which to a great extent he has.”

The reason Romney shouldn’t go as negative, Hume said, was to set up a contrast between him and the negativity of Obama.

“I think Romney is in a different position because when people turn to the prospect of, ‘Well OK, what happens if we elect him’he needs to radiate something of a positive spirit … I would just say that people need to believe that if they turn to him, he can make things better. And if he seems morose and negative all the time, he’ll fail to convey that sunny spirit. He needs a bit of sunlight in his message and I think that’s important to him. In a way that’s the game and it’s too late for Obama. He can have all the sunlight in his message that he wants. The results kind of speak for themselves.”

This makes sense for Romney especially since Obama will go very negative and will lose voters’ approval for his “being a nice guy” image. 

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