Archive for May, 2011

NY26 and the Democratic Comeback

Congratulations to Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who just won in heavily Republican New York Congressional District 26. She defeated Republican Jane Corwin almost exclusively on the issue of Medicare, which was wisely raised by Hochul first thing in her campaign.

The NY26 election is a referendum on the Ryan “Plan” (as much as you can call “eliminate medicare to pay for tax cuts to the rich” a PLAN) and on the GOP Tea Party movement. Already, politically astute Republicans like Peter King are taking note of the results and trying to steer their party away from the extremes offered by Paul Ryan’s immoral budget. (Even Newt Gingrich refers to the Ryan plan as extreme.)

Also, I think the parallels are striking when you compare NY26 to Scott Brown’s election to the US Senate. Hochul was outspent by her Republican opponent (and assorted conservative political groups from around the nation) but won due to grassroots effort and a better, clearer message. Democrats running in 2012 could learn a lot from Hochul’s successful campaign strategy.

Scott Brown, by the way, is also distancing himself from the lunacy of the Ryan plan. Any Republican official that wants to keep his/her job will follow suit.

NY26 is a bellweather as we gear up for the 2012 election season.

Israel Freakout

As usual, the right was all over Obama before he even delivered his Arab Spring speech on Thursday. The universal talking point from the right (and it’s eerie how they all used this exact language) was that the President “threw Israel under the bus” with his speech. Specifically, they point to the bit about 1967 borders as evidence, conveniently ignoring even the rest of the same sentence, which emphasizes mutually-agreed “swaps.”

Really, the right freaking out over Israel is nothing new. Many pundits on the right subscribe to the “Israel can do no wrong” theory of international relations, often for biblical reasons. This is a dangerous mix of religion and national policy, to be sure.

And, right wing or otherwise, the pro-Israel lobby in this country is extremely, immensely powerful. This weekend, President Obama addressed AIPAC, the largest pro-Israel group in the USA. (Interesting factoid from AIPAC.org: “Except for the State of the Union address, the AIPAC Policy Conference is the largest annual bipartisan gathering of U.S. senators, representatives, administration officials, diplomats and foreign ambassadors.”) The reaction to the President’s AIPAC speech was positive. So much for the hot air from the right that Obama is somehow anti-Israel.

Incidentally, Herman Cain served up his first gaffe as a declared Presidential candidate over Israel, when he flubbed a question about the “right of return,” a major Palestinian issue. His shoot-from-the-hip answer pulled him away from his otherwise pro-Likud narrative. (Netanyahu re-iterated Friday that right-of-return is something that Israel, under his leadership, is not interested in.) Basically, he pulled a Palin.

The Arab Spring has the potential to become a huge, sweeping pro-democracy movement across the entire middle east. President Obama is reaping the benefits of his 2009 speech to the Arab world as well as his carefully-considered approach to middle east countries (each situation is unique, no boilerplate diplomacy here) coordinated with Secretary of State Clinton. But don’t expect the right to give any sort of foreign policy credit to President Obama any time soon.

Dropping Like Flies

The field of GOP Presidential candidates is quickly turning into a race not to be the guy or gal to lose to Obama.

Trump is out, and no one will miss him.

Chris Christie — the bully of New Jersey — is out. He’ll crack his knuckles for four more years before jumping in.

Haley Barbour is out. I’d put a good ol’ Southern joke here, but I’m plumb out.

Huckabee is out, as he announced right after playing bass with Ted Nugent… stay classy, Huck.

So who’s still around?

Newt is in. Can’t wait for his own large library of gaffes to bring him down.

Ron Paul is in. If he gets the Republican nomination, then the GOP has an easy scapegoat for the loss that will set back Libertarian inroads within the GOP for a decade.

Herman Cain is in. He seems to have some grassroots support on the far right, but no one knows who the hell he is. And don’t bother me with the “no one knew who Obama was either” comparisons. After Obama’s 2004 DNC speech, every Democrat in the USA knew who he was (and probably wished he was our candidate instead of John Kerry).

Romney is in, though the GOP base will never support him because Romneycare and Obamacare are so similar.

Michelle Bachmann? Sarah Palin? Rick Perry? Gary Johnson? Tim Pawlenty? Rick Santorum? Mitch Daniels? The list of GOP “maybes” leaves me feeling confident about 2012.

And, with voters waking up to the destruction wrought by GOP-controlled state legislatures across the nation, 2012 is looking like a great year to be a Democrat.

We got Osama!

Congratulations to our troops and intelligence services that worked for a decade to get Osama! This is a moment for all Americans to celebrate; right now (just finished watching the President speak) they are dancing in the streets in front of the White House.

I wonder what happens next? I hope we haven’t damaged our relationship with Pakistan, and I hope we can now get serious about ending the war in Afghanistan. The TV pundits are focused on the domestic consequences — are we going to see heightened security? I predict that not much will change on the home front.


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