Fragility = Power for Pelosi.

A mostly political Weblog.
Nov. 20 2006 7:11 PM

Fragility = Power for Pelosi

It would be too humiliating for her to fail.

I've now run into too many smart and connected political insiders who believe that ex.-Gov. Mark Warner didn't drop out of the presidential race solely in order to spend more time with his dad   and his daughters. . ... kf supports renewed reportorial focus on this matter! ... 4:02 P.M.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nancy Knows: Think Democratic congresspersons who voted for Hoyer over Murtha were protected from the wrath of Pelosi because the election was conducted by secret ballot? Not exactly. Dena Bunis of the O.C. Register reports:

Going into the election, Pelosi and her lieutenants believed the vote would be close. Pelosi was making phone calls late into Wednesday night trying to persuade members to vote for Murtha.

But the ballot was a secret one. So members who supported Hoyer but didn't want to anger Pelosi just told her what she wanted to hear.

Inside the room where the election was being held, there were boxes for members to drop their secret ballots. Pelosi and her crew watched as people voted. Some members actually brought fellow lawmakers with them when they marked their ballots so they could prove to Pelosi that they did vote for Murtha. And because the Murtha vote ended up being so small, the Pelosi forces can count almost down to the last ballot who voted for Murtha and who for Hoyer. [E.A.]

The members who told Pelosi they'd vote for Murtha and then voted the other way could be eager recruits for Tim Noah's maybe-not-so-premature campaign. ... P.S.: Doesn't this limit Pelosi's ability to replace Jane Harman with Alcee Hastings on the Intelligence Committee?  If Murtha was strike one, and replacing Harman with Hastings is strike two, will Hoyer's legions feel like waiting for strike three? ... The answer, of course, is that it would be highly embarrassing to dump the first female House speaker after a minute and a half in office. That has to be one of the main pillars holding Pelosi up, no? Maybe Sirota is right! Thanks to the stunning Murtha miscalculation, Pelosi's weakness is now her biggest strength--the threat that any further defiance will force her humiliating collapse. Fragility=power. In this respect she is not unlike Nuri al-Maliki. ... [Thanks to reader b.h.] 12:09 P.M.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

I'm with CW: Tom Maguire gives the award  in the hotly-contested category of Silliest Contrarian Argument that the Murtha Maneuver was Really a Win for Pelosi to ... David Sirota! 6:16 P.M.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

They said the Pontiac Aztek couldn't get any uglier. They were wrong. .. Update: Actually, it's so ugly it's .... 7:42 P.M.

bhTV: Bob Wright's post-election euphoria is giving way to nagging doubts about the Democrats' strategic prowess! No kidding. ... P.S.: That's not bedhead  I have. It's a perverse and juvenile form of hathead. ... 6:32 P.M.

Pence: Still  Scammin'! David Frum argues that GOP Rep. Mike Pence's "idealism and seeming guilelessness" are potential defects in a minority party leader. The problem with Pence's bogus immigration "compromise," Frum says, isn't that Pence tried to con conservatives, but that it was Pence who "got suckered."

Do I believe that the Pence plan was Pence's own handiwork? I do not. Somebody else devised it - and then persuaded Pence to adopt it as his own

Hmm. I rise to the defend Pence's cynicism and guilefulness. On Laura Ingraham's radio show, he gave the impression that he'd abandoned the Pence plan  (which would reward illegal immigrants by letting employers arrange for them to become guest workers--the technical wrinkle being they'd have to leave the country briefly or perhaps just touch base at a border station).  But in this Tuesday interview with Mary Katharine Hamit becomes clear Pence still backs the Pence Plan, and indeed intends to bring it up again if the opportunity arises.

As I told all of my colleagues, I stand by the legislation that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson and I built, that we put border security first, and then create a guest worker program outside of the United States, only after completed border security measures. And applicants to that guest worker program would have to leave the United States of America to apply. We add into that strong employer enforcement sanctions. I believe then and I believe now that is a solution that could work and could be acceptable to many conservatives, me included. But I want to say again, that ship has sailed. That compromise will not be considered. We are going to get the McCain-Kennedy Bill. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs a math lesson. They have the math; they have control of the floor of the House and Senate now. I was heartened to hear Senator Jon Kyl expressed the willingness in the last twenty-four hours to use a filibuster in the Senate to stop an amnesty bill. I will look forward to being the power of the House minority effort to back that rhetorically and to use every weapon in our arsenal. The American people do not support amnesty and do not want to see Congress pass amnesty legislation. With that being said, I still believe the idea that we floated with a good one, and if we were in a different universe, I would still be advocating for it. [E.A.]

In other words, he's been trying to con gullible conservatives into thinking he's abandoned his con. Meta-fraud! By Frum's lights, he's the perfect minority leader. ... P.S.: To hear Pence oleaginate on Ingraham's show, click here. ...  5:38 P.M. link

You have to read those WaPo photo captions carefully. It's where they sometimes put the news. From the caption on an AP picture of the border fence in San Diego:

With the Democratic Party in control of Congress, Hispanic political activists are preparing for a big push toward reform, which would include repeal of the Secure Fence Act.

5:15 P.M.

P elosi's " big win": That Democratic leadership race is no big deal! In a few weeks virtually everyone will have forgotten about the Pelosi-vs.-Hoyer dustup. Except Pelosi! Here's the most telling paragraph in today's excellent Romano/Weisman Washington Post report:

For the most part, lawmakers, Hill aides and some outside advisers -- even some close to her -- say they are at a loss to explain why Pelosi has held a grudge for so long, because she clearly has the upper hand as leader of the House Democrats. They suggest that part of what rankles her is that Hoyer is not beholden to her and feels no compulsion to publicly agree with her on every issue. This, allies say, she sees as a sign of disloyalty. [E.A.]

Wow. What about 149 people who publicly disagree with her? [More than 'disagree'--ed Defy!] ... 2:46 P.M. link

'We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it": Pelosi puts her prestige on the line, in a self-conscious display of strong-arm tactics that sound like they were taken from bad movies,** and gets creamed. For some reason House Democrats decided they didn't want an old-school influence jockey who couldn't string five coherent sentences together without embarrassing himself to be their #2 national spokesman! Influence Peddler:

So now we know which of Pelosi's nightmares she will live for the next two years. The first act of her new majority was give her a 'no-confidence' vote.

And it isn't really a divided caucus, either. The vote for Hoyer was 149-86. That's not really all that divided.

So what does this show? That House Democrats will defy Pelosi, that she is out-of-touch with the will of her caucus, and that Hoyer has a sizeable constituency of his own. By making this such a high-profile, high-stakes contest, Ms. Pelosi may have graduated Mr. Hoyer from second-in-command to legitimate rival - something that would not have happened if she had not tested her influence in this contest.

At least she's not the vindictive sort! ... Meanwhile, the HuffPo "Fearless Voices"site has replaced regular programming with somber classical music. ...

**--Sample of the failed high-schoolish Pelosi-camp tactics, from WaPo:

One conservative Democrat said that a Murtha-Pelosi ally approached him on the House floor and said pointedly: "I hope you like your committee assignment, because it's the only one you're going to get."

10:15 P.M.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Alert reader R.H. suggests Rahm Emanuel as a compromise Majority Leader if Murtha is too tainted and Hoyer's relations with Pelosi are too strained. ...P.S.: Then Arianna will be happy and The Note will be happy! ... 9:02 P.M.

They sneered when kf suggested that press-fave Rep. Henry Waxman, who voted for the war, might have a problem investigating topics like the administration's pre-war manipulation of intelligence. Comes now Matthew Yglesias, writing about Jane Harman, to suggest that:

[Li]ike all people who voted for the Iraq War, she has a problem investigating the administration's pre-war manipulation of intelligence.

If Harman loses her chair because she supported the war, shouldn't Waxman lose his? 8:00 P.M.

Now they tell us, Part XXVIII: THe NYT's military analysts discover that many anti-war figures, including General Zinni, think the Dem-proposed "phased withdrawal" strategy in Iraq is a really bad idea! ... Update: But NBC's Andrea Mitchell is reporting that "phased withdrawal," accompanied by "deadlines" will be the recommendation of the Baker-Hamilton commission! ... 4:35 P.M.

Even the liberal Joe Conason is disappointed in Pelosi:

As Ms. Pelosi takes up her constitutional responsibilities, she will hear many people say that she is no different from her tainted predecessors, that all politicians are crooked, and that Democrats are just as compromised as Republicans. Her most important responsibility is to prove those clichés untrue, but her attempts to enforce her personal agenda have only made that crucial task more difficult.

If she fails to deliver reform, her historic reign will be disappointing—and possibly quite brief.

2:35 P.M.

"Murtha Calls Ethics Bill 'Total Crap'": Pelosi's pick off to a great start!. ... P.S.: If Tom DeLay said that, you think it might get some coverage?... You'd think this might sink Murtha. [Update: No. Update: Yes.] ... Via IP, which also cites an example of Pelosi's subtle armtwisting

Baltimore Sun's Hay Brown reports the speaker-in-waiting is playing hardball: She summoned Rep.-elect Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to her office to ask why Gillibrand was supporting current Dem whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and, completely coincidentally, asked for Gillibrand's committee preferences

Update: But it's really great crap! According to TPMMuckraker Murtha's allies are saying he was 'misconstrued' and 'taken out of context.' ... More: On Hardball, Murtha had two strategies on "crap." The first was to try to claim it was the corruption that was "crap." When that didn't fly, he said only meant the bill was "crap" in relation to the more urgent need to act on the Iraq war. Nice try! The problem is in his initial discussion of the issue, Murtha gave away why he really thinks the new ethics rules are "crap"--that they are, in Chris Matthews' words, "Mickey Mouse." Here's the transcript:

MATTHEWS:  OK, let's talk about the Congress today and I have—watching this and having worked up there, and we were old friends, we still are friends, I'll admit that, I don't mind admitting it.  Let's talk about the system today.  When a congressman—when you pass a bill on the Hill that says you can't take a lunch, a hamburger from, a steak, or a trip, whatever, do you think that makes the Congress cleaner?

MURTHA:  Let me tell you.  There's a lot of crap going on in Congress all the time.  Guys violate the law, some do.  But the problem we have is a few people violate the law and then the whole Congress has to be changed.

MATTHEWS:  Okay.  Is it Mickey Mouse, or, as you said, apparently at this meeting with the Blue Dogs the other night, total crap to tell people you can't take a lunch from somebody?  Where do you draw—where is your position on ethics right now?

MURTHA:  Let me tell you, I agree that we have to return a perception of honesty to the Congress.  I agree with what Nancy's trying to do.  The crap I'm talking about is the crap that people have violated the law, the crap that the kind of things that have happened with Abramoff, the kind of things that have happened with some of the members—

MATTHEWS:  But that's not what you said.  Didn't you say it was total crap, what she was proposing?

MURTHA:  What I said was, it's total crap, the idea we have to deal with an issue like this, when—and it is total crap that we have to deal with an issue like this when we've got a war going on and we got all these other issues -- $8 billion a month we're spending— [Emphasis added]

The most likely interpretation--that Murtha thinks the new ethics rules are 'Mickey Mouse'--is still fairly damning. Murtha's obviously comfortable with the system as it now runs, as long as his Hill colleagues stay barely on the right side of the legal line. I'd thought the Democrats' point is the system as it now runs--even as it legally now runs--is corrupt. ... P.P.S.:   Mad-for-Murtha HuffPo  isn't exactly all over this story, though if you drill down long enough you'll get to the damage-controlling Hardball interview. ... 

P.P.P.S.--Conversations with the NYT Search Engine: 

  • Your search for Murtha crap in all fields returned 0 results.Did You Intend to Search for Martha crap ?

Uh, no. But thanks! 2:00 P.M..

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Common Ground! Bevan against overpaid CEO's. 6:10 P.M.

kf Covers the Arts: Rigoloofah!  4:32 P.M.

According to KLo of The Corner, Rep. Pence no longer supports the Pence Plan on immigration.** The Pence Plan, of course, was a total scam, as discussed here. ... Old saying: "Man who tries to con with scam once may try to con with scam again!" I don't think backing off his plan is enough to clear Pence's name. ...

** Update: What he actually says--on  Laura Ingraham's radio show--is that yes, he "put some ideas out there" but the "debates" about them are  "a thing of the past."   He sounds way too slick. ... 2:30 P.M.

Murthanoia: I initially figured Pelosi's support for Murtha was the pro forma support of a friend. It seems I was wrong--she's really going for it. From The Hill:

"She will ensure that they [the Murtha camp] win. This is hard-ball politics," said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), a longtime Murtha supporter. "We are entering an era where when the Speaker instructs you what to do, you do it..." [E.A.]

Meanwhile, Murtha claims he's the victim of a "swift-boating attack" when really it's just the MSM playing post-election catch up, notes Influence Peddler. ... P.S.: Of course, more Murtha thrashes around like a frantic whale, the more attention he attracts--and the more he puts Pelosi's rep on the line, and the more he makes her pull out all stops to help him. See  this Corner analysis  (also via IP). ...  1:50 P.M.

Whose Agenda II: Alert reader G, in an email sent last week, has a Darwinian take on the question of what the Dems should do on immigration:

I  can't think of a less effective move to establish a commanding national presence than to bail out an unpopular and recently repudiated President on an issue he couldn't even get his now-thumped party behind.

Meanwhile, the NY Post's Orin-Eilbeck notes:

Some Bush loyalists note that two hardline anti-illegal immigrant Republicans in Arizona lost their House seats as proof that there's support for legaliztion. But that's a misreading. A Bush push for legalization would risk more GOP rebellion.

The strongest opposition to illegal immigration is coming from heartland America and even the Northeast. Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), one of the toughest foes of legalization, won his re-election handily. And one of the few Republican moderates to survive, Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), said he turned against the Bush plan because voters in his swing district hated it (he also came out for firing Rumsfeld).

And few of the Democrats who upset Republicans in swing districts ran on legalization of illegal aliens - indeed, many raced to support the Republican plan to build a 700-mile border fence.

1:00 P.M.

KosPros: Kos is planning"the rise of a professional netroots activist class."   What's troubling about this idea? Some partly-contradictory possibilities:

1) The Netroots Pro class will constantly need to gin up new causes to keep itself in business;

2) They'll pander to the mindless "Fight Club" tendencies of their partisan followers;

3) They'll tone themselves down to avoid chasing away big advertisers like Chevron;

4) They will become just another interest group that needs to be appeased;

5) Politicians will be tempted to do the appeasing by buying them off, rather than accomplishing anything. If Hillary Clinton, say, were to give Kos an exclusive interview which attractsd a lot of views of pages with ads on them, that goes directly to Kos' bottom line. If Hillary gives 60 Minutes an interview, that goes directly to CBS' bottom line, of course. The difference is that CBS isn't supposed to be an idealistic political actor (and also probably that a big political "get" means less to CBS than to a political blog).** ....

6) If Kos himself gets to choose who joins what he calls the "corps of 'fellows'" that gives him a whole lot of power, doesn't it?

[How is what Kos' pros would do any different from what kf does?--ed It isn't, as far as I can see. All these problems are inherent in the advertiser-supported blog model. And everyone who wants should join in the fun of acquiring those problems. But there are virtues to having an activist class that's not professional, maybe. Amateur activists can only be bought off by actual reforms. If they don't get what they're campaigning for, they're unhappy. If professional activists don't get what they're campaigning for, they've still fed their families for a year. ...[Don't be silly. Amateur activists can be awed by a lunch--ed That's now. When they get more cynical and jaded they'll stop being such cheap dates.]

**--On the other hand, CBS may be better able to sell a one-time ratings spike to advertisers. Blogs sometimes have trouble selling unanticipated hit windfalls, I'm told--it's much easier to "monetize" a steady flow of traffic. But that only means that, a politician who wants to buy off a blog would have to dole out lots of little tidbits rather than one big interview. ...11:57 A.M. link

Blogging Caesar has a handy table of as-yet-undecided House races, which he pledges to update.  If the candidate who's leading in each race winds up winning, the final House breakdown will be 232 Dems, 203 GOPs--the same majority Hastert had  at the start of the last Congress. ... 11:17 A.M.

Monday, November 13, 2006

House of Murth? A reminder of Rep. John Murtha's  energetic 1980 efforts to bring jobs to his District. ... Attention TV producers: There's video! ... 7:15 P.M.

Now they tell us: LAT on Harry Reid's honest graft! ... TPM Muckraker discovers "less than squeaky" Dems! ... 2:56 P.M.

Schisms: Roots vs. Rahm! ... Soros/ Streisand Ethicists vs. Pelosi Peaceniks!  ... [link via Drudge ] ...  Update: More anti-Murthism here. ... 2:34 P.M.

UPI: "Dem Congress May Scrap Border Fence"

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told reporters this week that he expected to "re-visit" the issue when he becomes chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in the 110th Congress, which has a Democratic Party majority.

Someone (Hugh?) might ask  Tony "The Fence Is Going to Be Built" Snow if Bush promises a veto. ... The administration is clearly relying on the tremendous appeal of a fence on the right to buy it a lot of support when it comes to guest-workers and semi-amnesty (sorry, "earned legalization"). My sense is that this calculation is pretty savvy--if you give the right a fence they'll agree to almost anything! Or way too much anyway. But Bush can't have it both ways--using the fence to buy off the right with one hand while allowing (encouraging?) Democratic repeal of the Fence Act with the other. 12:57 P.M. link

Paranoia Realized: Influence Peddler hears, from a "very high level" Dem Senate source, that it's "full speed ahead" on immigration reform--contrary to  today's WaPo story. It's not clear, however, that IP is saying the high-level House Dem leadership agrees. ... P.S.: IP also thinks Pelosi's already made a big mistake  on another front. ...12:26 A.M. link

Escape from Pinchistan? It's Nov. 13--isn't it time For the NYT's visionary Pinch Sulzberger to lock Friedman, Krugman, Dowd, Brooks and Suellentrop, et. al., back in their pay-to-read dungeon after a week of free access for all? But the cold steel doors don't seem to have slammed shut yet. ... Is the crack in the TimesSelect wall going to be like that crack in the Berlin Wall? ... Once they've tasted freedom ....  Update:  Brutal. Back to your cell, Krugman! Those impoverished Arab millions yearning for your insight--forget them, Friedman! As they will forget you. ... Project Lifeline: Send the Times pundit of your choice an email just to let them know you remember them. [You have to be a TimesSelect subscriber to send them emails--ed  That Pinch is a madman! He's thought of everything. ... The cocoon is impregnable!]...  12:11 A.M. link

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Just asking: Whose Agenda?: In the NYT today Toner and Zernike describe all sorts of wholesome little populist reforms  the incoming Rahm-Dems want to achieve--health care for children, changes in the Medicare drug program, tuition aid, etc. Do these Dems really want Congress tied up for months in a messy, potentially party-splitting and '08-endangering fight over immigration reform (and legalization of illegals and sanctions against employers) just because the younger Bush and Karl Rove decided years ago that this (along with taking out Saddam) would be part of Bush's legacy? Without Bush's willfulness, would anybody have put "comprehensive" immigration reform on the front burner? It's certainly not something these new Dems ran on, by and large. The press is baying mindlessly for a bipartisan agenda--but whose agenda: Pelosi's or Bush's?...

Update: Michael Tomasky argues the press' portrayal of the incoming Dems as socially conservative is miselading--a well-publicized handful are, most aren't. Tomasky asks:

Why would Democrats, having finally regained control of the legislative calendar, schedule a vote that highlights their divisions?

Tomasky's talking about abortion and gay marriage, but you could ask the same thing about legalizaton of illegal immigrants, no? ...

In the days after the election, Democratic leaders surprised pro-immigration groups by not including the issue on their list of immediate priorities. Experts said the issue is so complicated, so sensitive and so explosive that it could easily blow up in the Democrats' faces and give control of Congress back to Republicans in the next election two years from now. And a number of Democrats who took a hard line on illegal immigration were also elected to Congress.

It's the CW!  Now I'm suspicious. Bush badly wants a "comprehensive" bill, after all. Are "Democratic leaders" just playing hard-to-get in the press, holding out for concessions on other issues? [The paranoid mind at work--ed. They told you to say that, didn't they? It's part of their plan.] ... See also Drum (and his commenters). ...

Aha: As if on cue, Yglesias argues  that Dems should take an immigration deal, in part because Bush is desperate and "more Latino citizens = more Democratic voters over the long term."  But why would Republicans buy that argument? Doesn't the bill need at least some Republican support (other than Bush)? ... P.S.: Yglesias wants a bill that's "long on amnesty earned legalization and short on guest workers." His cross-out, not mine. Isn't a bill that's 'long on amnesty' kind of "explosive," just as WaPo says? 11:41 A.M. link

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Weird that the NYTWaPo, and  LAT  obituaries for Jack Palance don't talk about Contempt. He was fantastic in Contempt--famously so, I'd thought. 7:59 P.M.

Go Ahead, Blame Rove!Slate's  John Dickerson says Republicans "Don't Blame Rove." But he makes a good case for blaming Rove before he makes the case against it:

1. After the national horror of 9/11, Rove chose to please the president's conservative base rather than seize the historic moment of national unity by pushing a more moderate set of policies. ...  [snip]

2. It was Rove's idea to push for Social Security reform after the 2004 election. He kept pushing it long after voters had told pollsters they didn't want it. He wildly misread the national mood, woke up the left, and saddled Republicans in Congress with a loser issue. Then, he pushed for comprehensive immigration reform, angering a different portion of the base.

3. He and Bush delayed announcing Rumsfeld's departure. Had Rumsfeld left two months ago, you can bet George Allen and Conrad Burns wouldn't be planning their retirement parties. [Emphasis added]

If all that's true, Republicans would have to be morons not to blame Rove. I know some Republicans who aren't morons. ... 11/13: See, for example, Orin-Eilbeck. ..

Update: It's easy to do after the fact--but Newsweek describes Rove as a deluded, isolated, obsessive, relying on semi-secret technical knowledge to overcome his large policy blunders:

Rove blames complacent candidates for much of the GOP's defeat. He says even some scandal-tainted members won when they followed what he calls "the program" of voter contacts and early voting. "Where some people came up short was where they didn't have a program," he told NEWSWEEK.

 3:56 P.M.

Is something wrong? Only 6 plugs for Andrew Sullivan's book on his blog (not counting the two large reproductions of the cover). We expect more! 3:51 P.M.

Attention, President-Elect Calderon: Bush Press Secretary Tony Snow, in a post-election interview with Hugh Hewitt, is really, really insistent that  Bush will build the border fence.

"The public needs to know, I'm telling you right now, the fence is going to be built. "

Snow promises "certainly, more than a hundred miles" by 2008, if I read the interview correctly.  1:05 A.M.

Just a reminder: Rep. Henry Waxman, the aggressive incoming liberal chair of the House Government Reform committee--who is chiding his Republican predecessors for not investigating (in AP's words) "the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, the controversy over the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name, and the pre-Iraq war use of intelligence"-- voted for the war. ...  All future beat-sweeteners  about Waxman should be required to (unlike AP) mention this fact before reporting Waxman's righteous indignation. [Can't he complain about how the war was executed?--ed Sure. But complaining about the manipulated pre-war intelligence is a bit much. Maybe he was duped by all that manipulated pre-war intelligence--ed. Please.He's a smart, well-connected, experienced guy. I think he's hard to dupe.] 12:34 A.M.

Friday, November 10, 2006

To "Fight Club" Democrats**: Given the near-disaster of John Kerry's initial "I apologize to no one" reaction in the flap over his troop comments, do you think maybe Bob Shrum had a point when he chose not to immediately fight back in the Swift Boat controversy of 2004? [The point would be a) sometimes fighting back isn't the smart thing to do or b) some clods are really bad at fighting back?--ed Both, but mainly (b)]

**--Tom Maguire's term. 6:16 P.M.

Ford's new  Fusion sedan has received  shockingly high reliability ratings from Consumer Reports. That has to be good news for the workers in the assembly plant where it's produced ... in Hermosillo, Mexico. ...  To be fair: Some Fusion engines come from Ohio. The Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS, both assembled in Detroit, also did very well. ... 3:41 P.M.

Jared Paul Stern Item of the Day: A PR triumph for Sitrick & Co. 3:32 P.M.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Lou-ing: More on the new "non-comprehensive" Democrats: This email from an experienced immigration hand who disagrees with me on the issue--

What's REALLY important is that of the 27 or 28 seats where a Democrat replaced a Republican, in at least 20, the Democrat ran to the immigration enforcement side of the Republican: don't let Hayworth and Graf** fool you, cuz those two examples ain't fooling Rahm.

Mark Krikorian makes a similar point:

What's more, if legalizing illegals is so widely supported by the electorate, how come no Democrats campaigned on it? Not all were as tough as Brad Ellsworth, the Indiana sheriff who defeated House Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Hostettler, or John Spratt of South Carolina, whose immigration web pages might as well have been written by Tom Tancredo. But even those nominally committed to "comprehensive" reform stressed enforcement as job one. And the national party's "Six for 06" rip-off of the Contract with America said not a word about immigration reform, "comprehensive" or otherwise.
 
The only exception to this "Whatever you do, don't mention the amnesty" approach appears to have been Jim Pederson, the Democrat who challenged Sen. Jon Kyl ... by touting a Bush-McCain-Kennedy-style amnesty and foreign-worker program and even praised the 1986 amnesty, which pretty much everyone now agrees was a catastrophe.
 
Pederson lost.

Dreaded kf welfare analogy: After the 1994 midterm elections, welfare reform was the one big domestic issue that the new incoming Congressional majority had in common with the damaged President they'd just defeated. "Comprehensive" immigration reform is in the same logical position (with the parties reversed). The difference is that in 1994, Gingrich's Republicans had explicitly campaigned on welfare reform. Pelosi's Democrats have run away from "comprehensive" reform. That may not be enough of a difference, and there are differences that run the other way--arguably Bush is more desperate for an immigration bill than Clinton was for a welfare bill. But it's grounds for hope.

**--Hayworth and Graf are two heavily pro-enforcement Arizona GOPs who lost, and whose loss is being reflexively cited by pundits as evidence that an anti-"comprehensive" immigration stand didn't work for anyone. (Hayworth's actually still holding out a slim hope that uncounted ballots will save him). 9:24 P.M.

"Now they tell us" about Alcee Hastings: JustOneMinute on the NYT's sudden post-election discovery of a potential Pelosi problem. ... P.S.: Here's the proof  of the Times'pathetically thin coverage of this issue. ... 9:03 P.M.

Not So Fast! Maybe "comprehensive" immigration reform isn't a done deal. Here, via Polipundit, is the immigration position of ... Senator-elect Jim Webb:

The immigration debate is divided into three separate issues. How can we secure our border? What should we do about the 11 million undocumented workers? And, lastly there is the guest worker question. It is necessary to separate out the 3 issues. The primary concern must be securing the border. Immediate action is needed to stem the flow of illegal border crossings. Approaching the issue using an omnibus bill that attempts to solve all three issues simultaneously creates a political stalemate that delays the border security solution. There is a consensus that our border security must be improved and we should act on that consensus as soon as possible. Once the border is secure we can develop a fair solution to other immigration issues.  [E.A.]

That doesn't sound "comprehensive" to me. That sounds like "enforcement first, then we'll talk."

More: In attacking the "Lou Dobbs Democrats," Jacob Weisberg lumps opposition to illegal immigration with trade protectionism as part of the "economic nationalism" advanced by  so many of the now-famous Dem "moderates" who won this year. That's very CFR of him, along with the not-so-veiled suggestion that advocates of border control are racists.  But the immigration half of this Democrats' new Lou Dobbsianism does suggest that Bush and McCain might have a harder time selling "comprehensive" reform than I'd feared. Here are some Weisberg characterizations:

 Here is a snippet from one of [Senator-elect Sherrod] Brown's TV spots: "I'm for an increase in the minimum wage and against trade agreements that cost Ohio jobs. I support stem-cell research, tighter borders, and a balanced-budget amendment." ...[snip]

In Virginia, apparent winner James Webb denounced outsourcing and blasted George Allenfor voting to allow more "foreign guest workers" into the state. In Missouri, victor Claire McCaskill refused to let incumbent James Talent out-hawk her on immigration. ...[snip]

An even harder-edged nationalism defined many of the critical House races, where Democrats called for a moratorium on trade agreements, for canceling existing ones, or, in some cases, for slapping protective trade tariffs on China. These candidates also lumped illegal immigrants together with terrorists and demanded fencing and militarization of the Mexican border. In Pennsylvania, Democratic challengers Chris Carney and Patrick Murphy defeated Republican incumbents by accusing them of destroying good jobs by voting for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and being soft on illegal immigration.

P.S.: Weisberg distinguishes "economic nationalism" from the more "familiar"--and presumably more benign--"economic populism":

Nationalism begins from the populist premise that working people aren't doing so well. But instead of blaming the rich at home, it focuses its energy on the poor abroad.

So does Weisberg think it's ok to blame "the rich at home" for working-class living standards? That's not very centrist or DLC-ish.  And I don't believe he believes that explanation. The claim that uncontrolled immigration does have the effect of bidding down wages, meanwhile, is quite plausible and consistent with normal market economics of the sort the DLC usually endorses.  It's also consistent with support for free trade--the argument would be that it's easier to support free trade if Americans can at least get good wages for those unskilled jobs that can't be shipped abroad (the so-called non-tradable sector). In fact, that seems like a much more plausible combo than the coupling of free trade with Clintonian "worker retraining  programs" whidh, as Weisberg notes, never amounted to much. ...

See this excellent essay by DLC-type Brad Carson. ...  7:24 P.M.

Egg on CNN Poll Face? As ABC's Note points out, by one measure those final three polls showing a Republican comeback turned out to be quite accurate. It's just that, as so often happens, the "comeback" didn't keep coming!  ... The final vote (as measured by exit poll) was 53-45 Dems over GOPs. The three 'GOP comback' polls understated that 8 point Dem advantage by 1 percentage point (Gallup), 2 points (ABC) and 4 points (Pew). Meanwhile, the four polls showing no pro-GOP movement overstated the Dem advantage by 5 percentage points (Fox), 7 percentage points (Time), 10 percentage points (Newsweek), and an embarrassing 12 percentage points for CNN. ... 3:16 P.M.

Vilsack vs. Iowa: Isn't Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack's presidential run  more good news for the Democrats--he'll be the favorite son in Iowa's caucuses, meaning other candidates will have a ready-made excuse to skip them and the press will have a good excuse to downplay them? Maybe the sweet, polite fools who fell for the John Kerry authorized bio won't get to do similar damage in 2008. ... P.S.: The CW is presumably that this is also good news for Hillary, who wasn't looking like the likely Iowa winner (and maybe bad news for Edwards, who was). ... Update: Several emailers suggest that Vilsack isn't nearly popular enough in Iowa to clear the field  the way Tom Harkin did. But he only has to do well enough to give Hillary a plausible excuse for skipping Iowa, no? ... More: Everybody still seems to think I'm wrong about this. I probably am! ... 2:34 P.M.

Sleeping Giant Watch: That front-page Wall Street Journal article on the "Crucial Role of Hispanics" in the Democrats' victory-- cited by Alterman, among others--would be more convincing if it came with some actual numbers about the size of the Hispanic vote. Yes, according to exit polls "Hispanics favoring Democrats over Republicans by 73% to 26%." But what percent of the overall vote, in what races, was Hispanic? ... P.S.: Even a follow-up WSJ story  [$] has no numbers, only a (highly plausible) claim of "an increase in turnout" among Hispanics, attributed to Sergio Bendixen. ... P.P.S.: No turnout numbers here either. ...

Hispanics accounted for 8 percent of the total vote. That is about equal to the Hispanic vote's record turnout in the 2004 presidential election, and much more than its turnout in previous mid-term elections. [emphasis added]

You can be impressed with that or not impressed with that. But what's the excuse for leaving that mildy hype-deflating figure out of stories on the "crucial role" of Hispanics?  12:46 P.M.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Bloggingheads 2006 Post-Election Special: Kaus hits bottom!2:27 P.M.

PoliPundit's compiled a useful list of "bright spots" for conservatives from last night. It's not long! 5:16 A.M.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Shocker of the Night: On MSNBC, Bob Shrum says Harold Ford wasn't populist enough! ... 10:09 P.M.

Obvious Big Post-Election MSM Theme #!: Why can't more Republicans be flexible like Schwarzenegger? ... [Theme #2?--ed 'The Red state/Blue state divide is over!'] 9:35 P.M.

Is it possible the anti-race preference Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will win? I'd vote for it, but the establishments of both parties had opposed it.. ... 9:12 P.M.

NBC's anchors Russert, Brokaw and Williams can't be Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative--that wouldn't do!--but they can be relentless, tedious advocates of bipartisanship and moderation. Isn't that an ideological position too? ["Bipartisanshp" is a blazing arrow pointing at ...-ed "Comprehensive" immigration reform, I know.] 8:17 P.M.

It looks like Clay Shaw, who played an important and honorable role in the 1996 welfare reform--in part by detoxifying Republican anti-welfare rhetoric-- will lose. ... [You like a Republican? What a surprise?-ed Hey, I like Sheldon Whitehouse! I saw him at a fundraiser--he was charmingly wonky. He should be a good senator from Rhode Island  (even if he's too violently opposed to the No Child Left Behind law).] 8:06 P.M.

Just Asking 2: How annoyed must Chris Matthews be at having to share his anchor desk with Keith Olbermann? 8:02 P.M.

Just Asking: What does it tell you about a political party if in a year of epic disaster for their opponents the best they can hope for is a 51-49 majority in the Senate?  ... Update: Matt Yglesias says it tells us the Senate is constitutionally malapportioned. I agree. But that's still a problem for the Dems! And many readers email to point out that only a third of the Senate was up for election. That's true too. But it's also true that the Democrats have had other elections, with other Senate seats, to build a stronger majority and they haven't. ... The 2004 election, with its famous "wrong track" numbers, should have been good for the Democrats, while it's hard to imagine a more favorable climate than the current one. ... Six years into the last Republican two-term President, in 1986, the Democrats gained eight seats to achieve a 55-45 majority. And Ronald Reagan's sixth year wasn't nearly as bad as George W. Bush's sixth year. ... If this is the high water mark for the Dems in the Senate, it's a low high water mark. ... The same can probably be said for the House, though it's too early to tell exactly how big Pelosi's margin will be. ... 8:21 A.M.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Analyst Charlie Cook is standing by his "wave":

Seven national polls have been conducted since Wednesday, November 1.  They give Democrats an average lead of 11.6 percentage points, larger than any party has had going into an Election Day in memory.  Even if you knock five points off of it, it's 6.6 percentage points, bigger than the advantage that Republicans had going into 1994.

Furthermore, there is no evidence of a trend in the generic ballot test.  In chronological order of interviewing (using the midpoint of field dates), the margins were: 15 points (Time 11/1-3), 6 points (ABC/Wash Post), 4 points (Pew), 7 points (Gallup), 16 points (Newsweek), 20 points (CNN) and 13 points (Fox). -- From Cook Political Report email update. [Emphasis added]

7:57 P.M.

Bloggingheads Pre-Election Special 2006: Featuring moments of deep paranoia.  ... And comments! ... 3:08 P.M.

Polycameral Perversity: This is a perverse election.

1. We'd like to punish President Bush. If I could get Bush out of office now with my vote I'd exercise it immediately. But we can't get rid of Bush. We can only defeat his party in Congress.

2. One effect of a Dem House takeover is the radically increased probability that Congress will pass a version of Bush's "comprehensive" immigration reform, including some sort of not-very-difficult path to full citizenship for illegal aliens now living in the U.S. ("semi-amnesty"). The Republican House majority, after all, has been the only thing standing in Bush's way. In other words, a Democratic victory would punish Bush by giving him a gift of his top domestic legislative priority.  Perverse! It would be easy to live with the perversity if Bush's plan were sound policy--but it's more Iraq-style wishful Bush thinking: a) thinking that granting amnesty won't encourage more foreign workers to try to come here illegally to position themselves for the next amnesty; b)  thinking that a Republican administration will administer a tough, effective system of sanctions against any employers who hire those illegal workers. If you believe that, you probably believed we could just train the Iraqi police force and then everything would calm down over there.

3. If the GOPs lose, it will be primarily because of Iraq--but it seems unlikely that a Democratic victory will actually have a huge effect on American policy in Iraq, at least for the next two years. (Alter agrees.) Bush will still be president, remember (see Perversity #1). He will have to deal with the mess he's gotten the nation into. And it's not as if the Democrats have a raft of solutions that are better than the ones the Baker Commission will come up with. Nor does it seem likely that the Democrats will join with Bush to take responsibility for any new strategy he chooses. But the Dem victory is likely to limit Bush's options--e.g. making it harder for him to credibly threaten a long-range American military presence. Since extricating ourselves from bad military situations (e.g. the Korean War) often requires issuing threats (even nuclear threats) and making promises of military protetion, these new limits may not be a positive development even for those who'd like to get out of Iraq quickly.

The implications of these unintended-but-not-unanticipated, consequences for Tuesday night seem clear to me: the best outcome would be if the GOPs retain the House (thwarting Bush's immigration plan) but decisively lose the Senate(punishing Bush and establishing a mechanism for the hearings and oversight Dems like Alter want). This, of course, is the least likely thing to actually happen. Perversity #4.

Update--Perversity #5: I make a big deal about how it would be better if the Dems lost the House battle, but in the only House race on my ballot, I voted Democratic (absentee). Why? My Democratic congresswoman, Jane Harman, is moderate and responsible. I like her, even if Nancy Pelosi doesn't. ... 12:38 P.M. link

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Professor Franklin now seems under-impressed with the three polls showing a Dem downturn. ... Plus a new CNN poll  shows a Dem generic gain. ...10:40 P.M.

Andrew Sullivan  says

The Democrats, in a divided government, will also have to take responsibility for the hard choices involved in wartime.

Does he really believe this? Are the House and Senate Democrats going to sign on to a new post-election strategy in Iraq after having just succeeded by sitting on the sidelines and opposing? I don't think so. ... P.S.: Sullivan also declares

One party hegemony produces corruption and unaccountability.

Isn't it unified government that tends to produce accountability by lodging responsibility with one party. Thanks to unified government, we know which party is responsible for the Iraq war. If the voters don't like the war, which appears to be the case, they can effectively punish the Republicans.. ...   Divided governments--to the extent that they actually result in shared responsibility--also diffuse accountability. You don't know which party to blame. ... P.P.S.: Even if the Democrats take Congress, I don't think voters in 2008 will have much trouble figuring out whom to blame for Iraq, but that's only because I don't think the Democrats will really share responsibility. ... P.P.P.S.: And if the Democrats really do gain a solid hold on Congress, and the Republicans nominate, say, Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft for president, don't you think Sullivan may suddenly rediscover the virtues of unified government?

Extra credit: Sullivan is a) displaying the wishful-thinking tendency that led him to become a bullying proponent of the war in the first place; b) demonstrating the any-weapon-to-hand argument style that so endeared him to his subordinates at The New Republic;c) riven by doubt, as usual. ... 10:05 P.M.

Good News for John Kerry!  Pollster.com's Charles Franklin says

 the wave boosting the Democrats crested about 10 days ago.

Franklin said this before today's trio of polls showing the race tightening, notes Influence Peddler. ... Is it all John Kerry's fault? Ten days ago was Thursday, Oct. 26.--but Kerry's comments didn't come until four days later. That means the Dems had started downhill before Kerry even opened his mouth. ... P.S.--Musil and Maguire, Getting Higher:Man Without Qualities, who also saw a Dem slide before it became official, surfs the anti-wave further than I would.  ...  See also Maguire. ... P.P.S.: Maguire unsuccessfully  tries to come up with an anti-Pelosi bumper sticker. How about "Alcee, Amnesty, and Abortion"? ...  7:04 P.M.

It's official! The new Gallup/USAT poll shows the same pro-GOP trend among "likely voters."

A Democratic advantage of 23 percentage points a month ago and 13 points two weeks ago is now down to 7.

Gallup is the third poll to come up with this finding. It's a Trend. You'd have to be Adam Nagourney to ignore it now!6:52 P.M.

Tight Like That? A good tip from RCP's John McIntyre:

Keep an eye on the Gallup generic ballot number coming out tonight, if it shows movement similar to the ABC/WP poll there could be a big surprise brewing for many people cocooned in Washington.

In 2002, remember, it was a generic ballot shift at the last minute--downplayed by the NYT's Adam Nagourney--that signaled a disappointing day for Democrats. I don't expect that to happen this time, but ...

Update: A Pew poll also shows a dramatic tightening-- from an 11 point Dem advantage a couple of weeks ago to a 4 point Dem advantage this weekend. One more example and it will be a Trend. ... P.S.: Generic polls may be lousy indicators of what's going to happen in 435 House races, and any individual generic poll could be right or wrong. But when several such polls point in the same direction, it would seem to have some weight at least on the question of who has momentum. I actually expected a last-minute shift to the Dems. ... Of course, the last minute has not arrived yet. ...

More: A knowledgeable emailer notes that in both polls the GOP comeback occurs mainly among "likely voters." The generic Dem lead among the larger group of "registered voters" remains impressive, though it's shrunk a bit. ... That doesn't make the GOP surge phony--assuming the methods the polls use to select "likely voters" are reliable. ... 11:49 A.M.

All Hands on Deck! The Big Finish. ... 11:49 A.M.

Saturd ay, November 4, 2006

Another polling triumph for Zogby. ... 8:18 P.M.

Update: Does Pelosi = Semi-Amnesty? Michael Barone says yes  (though as a "comprehensive" man, he doesn't seem upset by the prospect, and indeed may prone to  Barnesian wishful thinking).

MICHAEL BARONE: If John Conyers will be chairman of the Judiciary Committee which handles immigration . . . I expect that they would be pushing for something like the bill that passed the Senate this year with guest worker legalization provisions to come before the House. And it would have — it would tend to have a majority of votes in the Democratic House, I think. [On Special Report with Brit Hume]

8:11 P.M.

Patterico 1, Keller 0: The New York Times has corrected the amazing Kate Zernike piece that managed--as Patterico's Pontifications pointed out--to give a false, heavily spun account of a two-sentence John Kerry utterance.

A Political Memo article yesterday about the fallout for Senator John Kerry over what he called a "botched joke" referred incompletely to the differences between prepared remarks and what he actually said about the Iraq war to students at Pasadena City College in California on Monday. Mr. Kerry not only dropped the word "us," but he also rephrased his opening sentence extensively and omitted a reference to President Bush. Mr. Kerry's aides said that the prepared text read: "Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush." What he said: "You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

That's OK as far as it goes. But they left out the rest of the correction:

A reference that wasn't 'incomplete' would have vitiated the central premise of the article, which was that Kerry had gotten into trouble "with a single word — or a single word left out of what was supposed to be a laugh line directed at the president ." The Times would have been left with a large blank space on Page A-24 or might have had to confront the possibility that Senator Kerry had badly misread the prepared joke in line with preexisting beliefs about the academic achievements of American military personnel. Several layers of skilled editors instead let the reporter's deceptive ... excuse us, incomplete reference go through rather than confront that issue a few days before an election. The editors in question have been transferred to the TimesSelect-in-the-Schools marketing division. The reporter has been assigned to cover Senator Kerry for the rest of the decade.

5:44 P.M.

Lou Dobbs just said on CNN that "falling home prices" were a threat to "the American Middle Class." I must be behind. Wasn't it only a month or two ago that rising home prices were a threat to the American Middle Class? The American Middle Class loses either way! It's in worse trouble than I thought. ... A wake-up call! 5:20 P.M.

Frid ay, November 3, 2006

Is "TimesSelect Free Access Week" the sign of desperation I think it is? 4:37 P.M.

Tomorrow's Dick Morris Column Today: The so-called "Incumbent Rule" holds that undecided voters break almost uniformly against an incumbent--meaning that if in the final pre-election polls an incumbent isn't over 50%,** he or she is toast. The 2004 presidential election defied the rule--Bush got his share of the undecideds. But just in case the Rule still has some juice, it's worth applying it to the current hot Senate races. Here's the result:

Missouri: Talent's in much bigger trouble that it seems. The poll's are close, but he's the incumbent, and he only has 46.5% in the RCP average.

Montana: Burns is in less good shape than recent reports would indicate. Sure, he's surging. But he's still around 45%.

Virginia: Allen is a goner. The polls are neck and neck, but they're neck and neck at 46%

Michigan:Stabenow's at over 52%--she'll win.

Rhode Island:Chafee at 40%? See ya!

The Incumbent Rule, in short, gives the three closest Senate races in which there's an incumbent, plus Michigan and Rhode Island, to the Dems. Looks like a Democratic Senate. ... But wait--what's this:

New Jersey:Menendez is leading by 7, but he's still at 48.5%. Not so fast!

Again, this isn't what I think will happen. It's what the Incumbent Rule thinks will happen. It could be right.  ... One reason it might be wrong, in addition to those cited by Mystery Pollster, is, yes, the Feiler Faster Thesis. Given the increased speed of information processing by the voters, even challengers seem old and familiar--like incumbents--by the end of a typical, interminable statewide election campaign. The basic principle of the Incumbent Rule--that voters will take a fresh pig-in-a-poke over an incumbent they don't like--no longer applies. By next Tuesday voters in, say, Montana might have heard so much about John Tester that he seems like an incumbent, not a fresh unknown. ...

**--For an example of Morris invoking the incumbent rule in the unlikeliest of circumstances, see this summary of a Hannity & Colmes appearance11:47 A.M. link

Thursd ay, November 2, 2006

Kaus Silent as CNN's Zahn Fails to Crucify Coulter! Media Matters  sleazily quotes the anti-Kerry things I said on CNN Wednesday while excising the anti-Bush things. (Here, via Atrios, is an uncut transcript.) ... 9:20 P.M. 

All Hands on Deck: With a week to go before a close election, the New York Times continues to move beyond Democratic cocooning (though it does some of  that  too) in the direction of flat-out misrepresenation. Kate Zernike's Kerry story not only doesn't ever get around to telling Times readers what Kerry actually said--it leaves the clear impression that what Kerry said was something different (and more benign) than it was.** Patterico prosecutes. ... P.S.: Kerry's comments aren't a scandal, let alone a three-day scandal. ("KERRY SAYS SOMETHING STUPID"--is that news? It's Kerry!  He's our national doofus. Dog bites man.) But the startling deterioration of the NYT is a scandal, maybe. [Via Insta]

Update: Maguire says Zernike's a repeat offender. ...

**--If Kerry had just dropped "a single word" from his prepared text--what Zernike identifies as the problem--he wouldn't have generated any controversy. The problem is he dropped that word plus the whole next sentence, leaving the distinct impression that he'd misread the passage to fit with an Early Vietnam-era view that those who don't do well in college wind up serving in the military. 11:27 P.M.

This anti-Burkle item in the L.A. Weekly doesn't add much, but does serve as a reminder: Are the feds ever going to actually bring charges against Jared Paul Stern, the now-ex-Page Six writer secretly taped by Burkle allegedly shaking Burkle down with a cash-for-coverage offer? It's been 7 months since the incident, Alan Mittelstaedt notes. ... P.S.: At this point, does Burkle even want an indictment, which could have the side effect of putting his name back in the headlines about the time his non-bachelor buddy Bill Clinton's wife is running for President? [Thx to alert reader Jared Paul Stern] 7:21 A.M.

Wednesd ay, November 1, 2006

Beyond Cocooning: The Feiler Faster  principle will probably take care of John Kerry's Iraq gaffe  long before it has any significant effect on the midterm vote--but the NYT's Adam Nagourney wasn't about to rely on that. Instead, Nagourney comes close to arguing that Kerry affirmatively helped the Dems because his remarks provoked an attack from President Bush, and "in the process, Mr. Bush brought renewed attention to the war in Iraq ..." Hey, that's the sort of wacky contrarian take a blogger might have! In applying such impressive ingenuity to the pro-Dem shaping of the news, Nagourney has triumphantly gone beyond cocooning--loosely defined as looking in a crowd of news stories for the most comforting friends--and into the realm of active spinning. A breakthrough, of sorts. ... Compare:WaPo's unimaginatively straightforward coverage of the same incident, quoting an unnamed strategist who merely "said the Kerry comments are an unnecessary distraction but would soon be forgotten." 9:50 P.M.

Tuesd ay, October 31, 2006

Pelosi = Amnesty? Rich Lowry thinks so:

On immigration, it was only the House Republicans who stood athwart the Senate and a Bush-Democratic accord on what is effectively amnesty for illegal immigrants and insisted instead on tougher border enforcement. And there might be substantially fewer of these Republicans after Nov. 7. A Pelosi speakership could represent the final breakthrough for Bush's lax immigration policy, which was first forestalled by the 9/11 terror attacks and then by the opposition of conservatives in the House.

This election, therefore, is about amnesty as much as it is about Iraq or taxes. There are limits to how much a Democratic congressional majority could directly affect Iraq policy, and Bush would veto any tax increases. It is immigration where there could be real action. [E.A.]

So does Influence Peddler, who offers some fresh reasons why. 1:43 P.M.

kf opens up comfortable 11 day lead on Orin:

Pelosi is Hillary's fatal fem: SEN. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she wants Democrats to win the House and make San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi the first woman speaker, but that might ruin Clinton's 2008 dreams.

The problem? Pelosi comes across as a shrill anti-military, anti-prayer, sharply partisan super-liberal who angrily insults Republican foes as "immoral" and refuses to work with them on anything. [snip]

"The one good thing that would come from a Speaker Pelosi is the first taste of a feminist in a nationally visible executive role," says GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway.

     --Deborah Orin-Eilbeck, New York Post, October 31, 2006

Nancy vs. Hillary: [snip] ... Isn't it possible that--if Pelosi assumes the speakership and flops as badly as some Dems fear--she'll perform an opposite function, namely souring the voters on the idea of a female executive.

     --kausfiles, October  20. 2006

Faster Party-Switching? Maybe the polls showing an unprecedently rapid Dem gain in party I.D. are wrong, as Michael Barone suggests. Or maybe party I.D. is just one more thing that's moving faster  these days. 12:09 A.M.

Mond ay, October 30, 2006

Hot New House Polls: A new wave of 41 Majority Watch robo-polls ** shows Dems leading outside the margin of error in 222 seats, leading by less in 18 more--for a likely Democratic gain of 19-39 seats. ... P.S.: See also Mystery Pollster's seemingly scientific "mashup" of the two most recent Majority Watch polls, revealing a continued, if small, Democratic gain for the month of October. ... P.P.S.: How does MP's calculation, which adds up voters in 30 contested House districts, differ from that Greenberg/Roper/NPR pollkf sniped at a couple of weeks ago That's easy. The mashup effectively samples 30,000 voters; Greenberg/Roper only sampled 1,000. ...

**--This is also the last wave of Majority Watch polls scheduled before the election. ...  2:29 P.M.

Sund ay, October 29, 2006

I've been trying to figure out if a Democrat-led House would actually pass some version of the Bush-McCain semi-amnesty immigration bill. Everyone I talk to in Washington pooh-poohs the idea, arguing that Pelosi-led Democrats will never give Bush something he wants. I'd like to agree, but I'm skeptical. The only thing standing in the way of the Bush legislation was the Republican House, and if that's gone ... . Plus, there will be intense pressure from Latino groups for Democrats to take advantage of the rare welfare-reform-like opening in which a President is willing to defy his own party's Congressional caucus. Not to mention all those new citizens for Dems to register. ... V-DARE immigration-restrictionist Steve Sailer is skeptical too, though he notes the possibility of a split among the Dems, with a significant Lou-Dobbsy "preserve unskilled wages" faction finally emerging. But Sailer leaves out the possibility of a McCain presidency--which would presumably mean at least four more years of White House pressure for "comprehensive" reform. ... P.S.: Anyone who can help me think through this somewhat crucial question, please e-mail. ... 9:55 P.M.

If that anti-Harold Ford ad-- the one with the white bimbette saying "Harold, call me"--was "playing to racial fears" about interracial dating, was it intended to stir up whites who might fear miscegenation--or black women who might resent it if they thought Ford habitually went out with white women? ... [Both?-ed Sure--a twofer. But the MSM only brings up the "appeal to racist white voters." ] ... P.S.: Does anybody still buy the idea that the reaction against this ad is going to save Ford? [Corker, apparently--ed What does he know?] ... 8:17 P.M. link

Why I don't believe any of the 'Karl Rove is optimistic' stories: Ambinder's Reason #7..... 8:04 P.M.

Peggy Noonan makes a point so true one forgets to think it: Thanks to the genius of our Constitutional system, the wrong name will be printed on millions of ballots.

This is two weeks ago, from a Bush appointee: "I hope they lose the House." And one week ago, from a veteran of two GOP White Houses: "I hope they lose Congress." Republicans this year don't say "we" so much.

What is behind this? A lot of things, but here's a central one: They want to fire Congress because they can't fire President Bush. [E.A.]

For their part, many Democrats are acting, emotionally, as if they can 'stop the madness' by electing Speaker Pelosi. But they can't. That's one reason the Catharsis Theory of the election--that Republicans will benefit if voters vent their pent-up frustrations in 2006 rather than in 2008--may be wrong. Won't there will be plenty of ongoing frustration if even a solid Dem victory doesn't change much? ... P.S.--Just a Reminder: In a parliamentary, or even quasi-parliamentary, system, Noonan's restive Republicans could replace their leader now, when it's in the national interest to do so. ... Yes, yes, I know that if our system allowed a "no confidence" vote, Lincoln might not have survived the dark days of the Civil War. But for every Lincoln, it seems like there are three George W. Bushes or Richard Nixons or Jimmy Carters--presidents granted constitutional tenure that extends well past their terminal loss of effectiveness. .. 3:17 P.M.

Saturd ay, October 28, 2006

The battle for Robert Reich's soul between his natural instincts--he's a theater guy--and the desire for academic respectablity has been won by ... well, watch this video in which Reich stands on his head and proclaims, "The economy has gone to shit." ... There hasn't been a more poignant cry for attention since Kim Jong-il exploded a nuclear device. ... [ via NewsAlert] 4:05 P.M.

RCP's new "Battle for the House" scorecard page is highly clarifying, and much more useful than their old page, which simply ranks seats in order of vulnerability. ... 3:59 P.M.

Frid ay, October 27, 2006

105,000: That's the number of Latinos in four states that Democracia USA claims to have registered. It's also the only actual number I could find in Nicole Gaouette's familiar rah-rah piece about how anti-immigrant rhetoric and fence-talk "galvanizes Latino voters," which "could tip elections not only in Colorado, but in Arizona and Illinois as well."  She could be right! But she's not convincing. ... 4:30 P.M.

I try to roll my eyes like Bob Wright. ... 3:53 P.M.

Here's an NBC Nightly News segment ** containing a clip of President Bush signing the Secure Fence Act. Am I crazy, or does he seem not very happy doing it? He slaps down his pen in I-hope-that-keeps-you-happy fashion and gets out of there fast. ...

**--All Hands On Deck: As predicted, NBC buried the fence-bill story and Brian Williams gave it a pissy lead-in ("As NBC's George Lewis tells us tonight, though the fence has a lot of fans, others say it won't fix anything. ...") No fence proponents are shown. An activist, Juan Jose Gutierrez, says "our Latino community" will view the fence as a "frontal attack" for which proponents will "pay a high political price."  Gov. Schwarzenegger is presented as if he were a surprise critic though nothing he says is especially critical (he calls it an "incomplete reform"). ...This may be an instance where the Halperin Jujitsu Effect  actually applies--the segment is so annoyingly slanted it has the effect of angering conservative, anti-MSM fence supporters and mobilizing them far more efficiently than a balanced or pro-fence presentation would. Yet the people who put together the NBC report undoubtedly thought they were striking a midterm blow against the base-appeasing House GOP. ...

P.S.--People Power!  The National Review makes a point  that, I think it's fair to say, will never be made on the NBC Nightly News:

On the issue of immigration, majorities of Republicans in both the Senate and House have sided with their conservative base against not just left-wing civil-rights groups and elite opinion, but also a business lobby accustomed to plenty of cheap labor, Republican-party poobahs, and President Bush. They have withstood withering press criticism and pressure from their deep-pocketed donors.

True, they were also doing it to save their political asses, given the views of the people who actually vote for them. Still! It's worth noting that the supposedly all-powerful GOP fatcat business lobbyist contributors were in fact powerless to stop the fence. ... 12:46 P.M. link

Thursd ay, October 26, 2006

Quote of the Day:

The court, by the way, is not being activist. It had no logical option but to apply its equal protection clause to everybody.-- Andrew Sullivan on the N.J. Supreme Court's gay marriage decision.

Huh? a) The creation of a new protected class is pretty close to the paradigm of judicial activism; b) The final step taken by the New Jersey court may have seemed the "only logical option" only because of all the earlier activist steps the N.J. courts had taken to help bring the law to the point of giving some-but-not-full marriage rights  to gays; c) As Amy Sullivan might argue, the breathtaking speed with which this sort of radical cultural change has gone from being unmentioned to being a litmus test for all rational people is one of the things that worries ordinary voters and turns them into cultural conservatives even though, were activists like Sullivan a little less self-righteous and condescending ("no logical option") these voters might be persuaded to try worthy experiments like gay unions and gay marriage. [But Sullivan's a doubting, Burkean proponent of conservative limited government, not an "activist"--ed. Right. Sorry. I forgot.]

Update--Quote Andrew, follow Amy: Reader A C-W emails:

But what about the Feiler Faster thesis, of which you are the chief proponent?  Wouldn't that predict less backlash for the NJ ruling than the Massachusetts ruling?  After all, people have had two years--eons in Feiler time--to process gay marriage.  I'd say that a majority of the country believes (believes, not desires) that gay marriage will be legalized within their lifetimes, something which seemed impossible only 5 years ago.

Excellent point. The Feiler Faster Thesis, remember, holds that voters now process information comfortably at what used to seem like "breathtaking speed." Why doesn't this apply to the gay marriage movement? Here are some possible answers: a) It does. Gay marriage, as A C-W (along with Andrew Sullivan) notes, is being accepted relatively rapidly. b) Just because you process information about new social trends rapidly doesn't mean you approve of them. Specifically, it doesn't mean you approve of judge-made social transformations. You can "process" that development by disapproving of it. Undemocratic judicial imposition of gay unions arguably retards their acceptance; c) One of the things voters might be scared of is precisely that some sort of Faster principle will be applied to speed up social change, with disastrous unanticipated consequences (the same way, Amy Sullivan claims, voters are scared of letting scientific research proceed willy nilly with cloning, etc. "without ever having a conversation as a society about the moral issues involved." Given that concern, framing the gay marriage debate as "law" and "logic" against prejudice is analogous to framing the stem cell debate as "science" and "progress" against faith-based Luddism. The framing itself is what's most alarming. ... 

P.S.: See also Drum, and his commenters. ... Drum writes, in part:

Sullivan wrote "Here Comes the Groom," an article for the New Republic that defended gay marriage, in 1989. The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that the state needed to show a "compelling state interest" in order to continue denying gay people the right to marry. Vermont passed a civil union law in 2000 ...

Four years from a provocative Andrew Sullivan TNR cover story to the law of Hawaii? Yes, that's alarmingly fast. Especially for constitutional law, which can't be repealed by simply electing new leaders. Especially for a change in family structure. (How many years did it take monogamy to displace polygamy? You mean how many millenia.) ... 

P.P.S.:Slate's Dahlia Lithwick joins Andrew Sullivan in declaring (and not just once!) that "there is nothing 'activist' about [the N.J.] decision." It's just as cracked when she says it. 11:37 A.M. link

The Suspect Halperin Jujitsu Effect: If I read it correctly, Wednesday's ABC Note came close to arguing that when the MSM chooses to emphasize and anti-GOP story line--a classic example is the NYT's clucking front-page placement of the GOP Ford/Playboy ad controversy--it actually helps the Republicans, because such stories

produce an Old Media reaction (pro-stem cell research, pro-Fox, pro-Hollywood, pro-Ford) that Republicans can use to go to the base and say, "Don't let the Old Media steal this election!"

Under this perverse-yet-plausible theory, if the MSM really wanted to destroy the Republicans they would produce nothing but anodyne, pro-GOP stories from now until Election Day. Then the Republican base would stay home and the Republicans would lose. It's an idea that goes against all the fight-back instincts of the Democrats' Kossack netroots, but that doesn't automatically make it right. I'm skeptical. ... 11:15 A.M. link

Wednesd ay, October 25, 2006

Dems Dodge Big Gay Bullet? It seems to me the New Jersey Supreme Court has--perhaps non-accidentally--denied Republicans the powerful base-mobilizing weapon that a ruling mandating gay marriage would have given them. Sure, New Jersey proponents of gay marriage have been more or less invited to return to court if the legislature doesn't call the equal package of rights it grants gay couples "marriage." But by kicking the nomenclature question to the legislature, and giving them 180 days to resolve it, the New Jersey justices avoided having the state instantly become, as the AP's pre-decision build-up put it, "the nation's gay wedding chapel." Unlike Massachusetts, AP's Mulvihill notes, New Jersey doesn't have a "law barring out-of- state couples from wedding there if their marriages would not be recognized in their home states."In other words, had the New Jersey Court gone all the way and required gay marriage, the next two weeks might have been filled with stories of happy gay couples from across the nation buying plane tickets to Atlantic City for their expected weddings. Only a Liberal Media Conspiracy of unprecedented self-repressive power could have kept the hype from driving cultural conservatives to the polls. But now court's decision will slide from national consciousness almost immediately, no? Unless Ken Mehlman wants to spring for the plane tickets. ... 11:03 P.M. link

Faster Foley: Foley? That rings a bell. I remember there was something about a guy named Foley a while back. ... 10:05 P.M.

Tuesd ay, October 24, 2006

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter-- writing on the magazine's new group blog--explains why Barack Obama is a mortal threat to Hillary Clinton's presidential hopes, even if he doesn't win. ... 11:07 P.M.

Momentum- c hanger? Looks like that big N.J. Supreme Court gay marriage decision will be handed down before the election-i.e. tomorrow--after all. ... See earlier blog posts here, here, and  here for why this might make the Republicans' day. ...[Thanks to alert readers E.V. and R.H. and P.A. and P.R. and S.S. and A.D.S. Via Volokh Conspiracy.]10:15 P.M. link

Writes Itself: You had to go to page A18 of today's NYT  and dig for a few paragraphs to find out that Speaker-Expect Pelosi--a woman who apparently needs a Cray XT3 to update her enemies list--will pass over Jane Harman and select either Alcee Hastings or Silvestre Reyes for chairmanship of the intelligence committee. Hastings, as the next-most-senior Democrat, has to be considered the frontrunner. He has at least  one little problem, though.

DEMOCRATS SAY THEY MIGHT NAME FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE IMPEACHED* FOR BRIBERY TO HEAD INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE

How hard is that ad for the GOPs to whip up? Make Pelosi deny it! Why does the RNC have those millions to spend anyway? Hastings is to Democrats as Foley is to Republicans. ... 2:54 P.M.

Mond ay, October 23, 2006

Modified Limited Hangout: According to the Chicago Tribune,

House Republicans especially saw the border-fence measure as excellent proof to voters that Republicans are serious about cracking down on illegal immigration. So they wanted some pomp and circumstance surrounding the bill-signing.

But Bush, who is holding out for "comprehensive immigration reform'' that acknowledges the millions of undocumented immigrants already living in the United States, plans to sign the fence bill in a relatively low-key ceremony in the Roosevelt Room on Thursday morning. [E.A.]

It seems to me that, by downplaying the fence, he's sacrificing a big 2006 GOP selling in the vague, slightly fearful pursuit of the Latino vote in the long term. It still makes no sense to me. Does Bush think the GOP is in such a strong position that he can win the midterms without every advantage he can bring to bear? Why not have a big, spotlighted ceremony at which Bush declares this the first, necessary and relatively non-punitive step toward larger reform? It's not as if Latinos aren't going to find out the bill was signed. ... Bush's action reinforces my earlier paranoid thought: He doesn't really care that much about winning the midterms. Or, at any rate, he cares less about them than about what he imagines as his "legacy"--a semi-amnesty that somehow turns Hispanics into permanent Republicans. ...11:59 P.M.

All-Hands-On-Deck MSM Drive for Victory! ABC's The Note has a thorough and knowing outline  of "How the (liberal) Old Media plans to cover the last two weeks of the election" to try to ensure the GOPs do not regain any initiative. ...All ABC's Halperin & Co. left out, as far as I can see, is Point #13: Bury the news about the Secure Fence Act (if Bush doesn't bury it first!),Point #14: Do not mention the name "Alcee Hastings,"  and #15: 'Keep Foley Alive!' (though that may no longer be possible, even on NPR). ... 2:58 P.M.

Sund ay, October 22, 2006

Dead Again? Incoming e-mail: "word from Havana has it there are quite a lot of troops on street since yesterday and other cities...and rumors that Castro may have died...." 11:59 P.M. link

Blog-Proof Fence: Bush will no doubt sign the Secure Fence Act any day now. ... Update: Congress has sent the bill to Bush. (Here's the  record on Thomas.) Presumably this means he'll sign it--maybe even in public! The signing statement could be a piece of work, though ('Nothing in this legislation shall be construed by the executive branch to mean I actually have to build the thing'). ... 7:52 P.M.

Is this why Rove is smiling? Influence Peddler  speculates that a pro-gay-marriage ruling in New Jersey, expected any day now, might "energize Republicans to come to the polls to register their displeasure by voting against [Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Robert] Menendez." But why do we think a New Jersey pro-gay-marriage ruling will only have an impact in New Jersey? It might signal to voters nationwide that a judge-made gay marriage trend threatens to sweep large chunks of the nation--it won't just be bottled up in Massachusetts anymore. If you oppose gay marriage that might bother you, and motivate you to vote, even if you live in Missouri. Or, say, Tennessee. Or even Virginia. ... [Story started on Hotline

Update: Never mind! The New Jersey court doesn't have to issue its ruling before its Chief Justice retires on 10/26, according to the Star Ledger. [Thanks to alert reader P.R.]

Update Update: Never mind "Never mind"! ...7:41 P.M. link

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Bloggingheads--Bob Wright's videoblog project. Gearbox--Searching for the Semi-Orgasmic Lock-in. Drudge Report--80 % true. Close enough! Instapundit--All-powerful hit king. Joshua Marshall--He reports! And decides!  Wonkette--Makes Jack Shafer feel guilty.  Salon--Survives! kf gloating on hold. Andrew Sullivan--He asks, he tells. He sells! David Corn--Trustworthy reporting from the left.  Washington Monthly--Includes Charlie Peters' proto-blog. Lucianne.com--Stirs the drink. Virginia Postrel--Friend of the future! Peggy Noonan--Gold in every column. Matt Miller--Savvy rad-centrism. WaPo--Waking from post-Bradlee snooze. Keller's Calmer Times--Registration required.  NY Observer--Read it before the good writers are all hired away. New Republic--Left on welfare, right on warfare!  Jim Pinkerton--Quality ideas come from quantity ideas. Tom Tomorrow--Everyone's favorite leftish cartoonists' blog.  Ann "Too Far" Coulter--Sometimes it's just far enough. Bull Moose--National Greatness Central. John Ellis--Forget that Florida business! The cuz knows politics, and he has, ah, sources. "The Note"--How the pros start their day. Romenesko--O.K. they actually start it here. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities--Money Liberal Central. Steve Chapman--Ornery-but-lovable libertarian. Rich Galen--Sophisticated GOP insider. Man Without Qualities--Seems to know a lot about white collar crime. Hmmm. Overlawyered.com--Daily horror stories. Eugene Volokh--Smart, packin' prof, and not Instapundit! Eve Tushnet--Queer, Catholic, conservative and not Andrew Sullivan! WSJ's Best of the Web--James Taranto's excellent obsessions. Walter Shapiro--Politics and (don't laugh) neoliberal humor! Eric Alterman--Born to blog. Joe Conason--Bush-bashing, free most days. Lloyd Grove--Don't let him write about you. Arianna's Huffosphere--Now a whole fleet of hybrid vehicles. TomPaine.com--Web-lib populists. Take on the News--TomPaine's blog.  B-Log--Blog of spirituality!  Hit & Run--Reason gone wild! Daniel Weintraub--Beeblogger and Davis Recall Central. Eduwonk--You'll never have to read another mind-numbing education story again. Nonzero--Bob Wright explains it all. John Leo--If you've got political correctness, he's got a column ... [More tk]

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