Anti-Obama downballot boomerang?

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Oct. 14 2008 6:11 AM

Anti-Obama Boomerang?

Why more votes for McCain might mean more Dems in Congress.

(Continued from Page 5)

Jonathan Alter, Joe Klein, Richard Cohen, David Ignatius, Jacob Weisberg: all former McCain admirers now turned brutal critics. Equally if not more damaging, the shift has been just as pronounced, if less operatic, among straight-news reporters. Suddenly, McCain is no longer being portrayed as a straight-talking, truth-telling maverick but as a liar, a fraud, and an opportunist with acute anger-management issues.

I know Jon Alter. Jon Alter is a friend of mine. He's very good at what he does--I couldn't do it. He wrote an excellent book, has a lot to say. But he's not exactly someone you look to as a political weather vane. Alter is totally for Obama and has been since the beginning of the campaign. If Jon has "turned" brutally against McCain in the final weeks of the campaign that is as predictable as the Giants going into a prevent defense with a two touchdown lead and a minute to go.** ... But of course he hasn't "turned"--missing from Heilemann's piece is any evidence of Alter favoring McCain at any earlier point in the campaign, let alone evidence of Alter favoring McCain once he was the nominee running against Obama. The same goes, to a lesser extent, for his fellow Chicago Dem (and head of the Slate Group) Jacob Weisberg. Nor is it exactly surprising that Klein, Cohen and Ignatius would be on Obama's side in the end.  ...

It's one thing to have pro-Democratic, pro-Obama media favoritism: That's just the way it is. Political reporters have opinions. Better blatant than latent.

It's another to have that very favoritism used as evidence that McCain is blowing it, losing his reputation for "integrity" and his "gold plated brand." ...

P.S.: It might seem as if the MSM reaction against McCain's shift to negativism has "driven the final nail into his coffin," as Heilemann suggests. The Feiler Faster Thesis says no--given the speed with which the country now processes information, there's plenty of time for several dramatic twists and turns, including lead changes. Obamaphiles (in the press and elsewhere) are deluding themselves, I think, if they think they can ride the economic crisis and the reaction against negativity to victory in a month. Plus Obama's not that far ahead

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**--I worked with Alter at Newsweek in the 1988 campaign. We were for Dukakis. ... 1:57 P.M. link

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Fear of 60: If there's a good chance that the Dems will achieve a theoretically filibuster-proof majority of 60 in the Senate,  shouldn't that change the dynamic of the race? It certainly changes the nature of the prospective Obama presidency. It means he might come under intense pressure to do something big about health care. And it is a blazing arrow pointing in the direction of the Employee Free Choice Act, more commonly known as "card check," which would constitute a fairly fundamental revision of our basic economic laws in a direction designed to unionize a large chunk of the economy (at the cost of doing away with the secret ballot in union certification elections). ... Currently about 12.6% of all U.S. jobs are unionized, though that includes the union-heavy public sector. How much of the economy would be organized after the secret ballot is eliminated? At the Dem convention I heard figures ranging from about 15% to 25% (the latter estimate derided by some as extreme). ... .

Since I think a dramatic increase in unionization is not the way to help those on the bottom of the job market--it's more likely to introduce inefficiency and inflation, compared with the proven Clintonite remedy of achieving a low unemployment rate--the looming 60-Dem threshold evokes mixed feelings, if not actual dread. I think I'd rather have Obama win a big victory while the Dems struggle to a narrow win in Congress than what we're likely to get--namely the reverse. (It's a measure of Obama's troubling weaknesses that he's lagging so far behind the underlying Dem legislative wave.) ...

This morning some idealistic, well-scrubbed 10 year olds down the street were raising funds by selling "Obama Lemonade."  Do they know it's really Card Check Lemonade?!...

Mickey's Assignment Desk: It would be good to have a seat by seat analysis of: a) Whether all 60 prospective Dems will actually side with labor to break a card-check filibuster--or whether some independent-minded Dems might defy union-enforced orthodoxy and join the McGovern wing of the party. b) Whether the unions even need 60 Dems to pass the card check bill.  Maybe they could rely on liberal GOPs like Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, or Olympia Snowe to break a filibuster even if the Dems win only, say, 58 seats. [Update: Collins, at least, is anti-card check, I'm told.] ... 1:38 A.M. link

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