David Kirkpatrick

February 13, 2009

Gregg withdrawal postmortem

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:12 pm

I’m not really sure why the GOP is excited about Gregg’s flip-flop on wanting the Commerce Secretary position in Obama’s cabinet. Pretty much every source confirms he lobbied for the job, and it’s very clear he hand was forced by the party apparatus to withdraw. And this is a victory?

I’m thinking a party disliked by a majority of Americans may be well on its way to being reviled and rejected. The base is rallied once again, but the base is tiny and dwindling.

Here’s some analysis of the situation and opinion on where both Obama and the GOP go from here:

From Politico:

Judd Gregg was all but dead to his Republican colleagues just a few days ago, another collaborator drinking the Obama Kool-Aid.

But the New Hampshire senator’s surprise decision to remove himself from consideration as President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary Thursday has provided the GOP with a new rallying cry, and a new hero against a foe who just a few weeks ago seemed almost unassailable.

In a way, it’s all a testament to just how far the Republican Party have fallen; what passes for victory now is an embarrassing flip-flop by an admired GOP senator and the passage of a massive economic recovery bill that most Republicans on the Hill oppose bitterly. When Obama’s stimulus bill clears the House today, Republicans will celebrate by pointing to how much House Democrats did without them – and then hope against hope that voters don’t notice if the economy improves as a result.

From Ben Smith at Politico:

But Emanuel said that they recognized they had overdone their initial outreach to Republicans and had offered “a sharp message for the last week.”For now, the hard-charging chief of staff added, “He has an open hand, but he has a very firm handshake.”

Translation: Yes, the president will continue to do obligatory outreach to the GOP, but he’s not going to be burned again by an out-of-power and toothless minority for the sake of appearances.

Still, a key question emerging from this week is whether Obama will be stronger and more popular, or weaker and less popular; and whether the GOP has gained either leverage or a stronger outlook for the midterms. Neither is entirely clear yet, but it strikes me that the White House still has the strong hand, and the GOP — aside from three senators — remains a very weak minority.

Why Gregg should be embarrassed from Michael S. Roth

Reading the announcement of Senator Gregg’s embarrassing withdrawal from consideration for Secretary of Commerce, I began thinking about the temptation to maintain one’s purity by staying away from people one doesn’t always agree with. In the case of the would-be Secretary of Commerce the issue might have simply been Republican pressure to close ranks around unthinking obstructionism (the old fashioned way to avoid responsibility), or perhaps it was just that he discovered a principle “in his heart” that he just didn’t realize he had when he lobbied for the post. The tendency to avoid working with people who might not share your ideas is having catastrophic ramifications that extend far beyond Washington.

In a period of national crisis patriotism means working with people with whom you do not always agree. It means sacrificing ideological purity in order to become more effective at working toward a common purpose. Patriotism or purity? We need leaders who see the common purpose and will pragmatically work to get us out of this ever deepening crisis.

From Andrew Sullivan:

The great tragedy of the Gregg withdrawal is that this was precisely what he had been selected to achieve. The chance of real entitlement reform – the one thing that can indeed put the US back on a path to fiscal sanity – is real in the first year of an Obama presidency. But it will require bipartisanship; and if a decent fiscal conservative like Gregg is simply forced by his own party to have no role in it, then it will not happen. My sense is that this is indeed why he felt it necessary to withdraw.

The GOP is not interested in the long term fiscal health of this country. Their reckless stewardship over the last eight years proves that. They are not interested in helping this new president, who has done everything he can to create a civil atmosphere, to use this moment to prevent the worst in the short term and move to improve matters in the long term. Instead, they spin.

October 25, 2008

Palin “goin’ rogue”

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:55 pm

Look for a lot more stories like this over the next while — up to election night and beyond. The GOP is fractured already and only getting worse.

From the Politico link:

Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.

“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

“I think she’d like to go more rogue,” he said. 

October 14, 2008

The numbers game works against McCain

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:07 pm

In almost every way posible right now.

From the Politico link:

Barack Obama has erased traditional Republican advantages in four key bellwether counties that President Bush won in 2000 and 2004, according to a new Politico/InsiderAdvantage survey. Each county is critical to the outcome in the battleground state where it is located.

In Washoe County, near Reno, Nev., Obama leads McCain 46 percent to 45 percent , with 6 percent undecided. Obama posts a wider 50 percent-44 percent lead with 5 percent undecided in Raleigh, North Carolina’s Wake County, and another 6 point lead in Hillsborough County, Fla., where Tampa is located. There, he edges McCain 47 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent undecided.

Among the four counties tested, McCain leads in only one: Jefferson County, Colo., a populous Denver suburb. McCain is ahead there by a margin of 45 percent to 43 percent, with 8 percent undecided.

At first glance, these Politico/InsiderAdvantage numbers might not look so troubling for McCain, who trailed Obama by 10 points in an ABC/Washington Post national survey, released Monday.

But these four counties are crucial battlegrounds in four of the most competitive states in the presidential race. In recent years, the Republican path to the White House has run through these areas.

August 13, 2008

There’s a bit of a lull …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:30 pm

… in the presidential race right now. Obama’s in Hawaii on vacation and GOP insiders are charting his every move hoping for a misstep.

From the Jonathan Martin link:

The RNC, hoping against hope that Obama will get in some windsurfing on his vacation, is keeping close tabs on the Democrat as he enjoys some time off in Hawaii.

They just sent over this bulletin: “The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports Barack Obama ate popcorn and watched the 3:40 showing of the Dark Knight in theater 9 yesterday.”

And McCain can’t jump high enough to get the media’s attenttion.

From the Daily Dish link:

After Britney-Paris week, McCain’s media exposure drops again. Al Kamen notesthat both DNC and RNC websites are virtually ignoring McCain:

The two Web sites at first glance seem almost interchangeable. In fact, it was hard to find a mention of John McCain on either of them. Obama dominates both sites pretty much equally, though the GOP site also has some prominent blasts at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Al Kamen quote at the end of Sullivan’s post is something I’ve read in multiple places on both the left and the right. The entire GOP machine and McCain seem much more focused on Obama rather than their own message. Maybe that comes from completely losing the path over the last seven and half years under Bush 43.

Personally I’d like to see the GOP be forced to take a long walk in the electoral desert to determine exactly what the party wants to be. Is it a Christianist organization that is pro-business? Or is it closer to Goldwater, and even Reagan to a great extent, and a party where the government stays as far in the background as possible, fiscal sanity rules the day and civil liberties mean something? I think the three-legged stool is broken, maybe permanently.

Of course during this walk in the desert I hope the party is well provisioned with an aged single malt, a few Titleist sleeves and a niblick (9 iron for those who don’t know your clubs.) In that case I might join in the walk every once in a while.

July 30, 2008

McCain and the tax question

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:47 pm

The title of this Jonathan Martin post at Politico is, “Why is McCain not slamming the door on taxes?” That is a great question. Here’s a blog post of mine with a great link to head to when comparing the two candidate’s tax plans.

I feel like I’ve been blogging a lot more about Obama than McCain, but frankly McCain is doing very little that is interesting or inspiring and I don’t really have any interest in piling on the negative posts like more partisan blogs are currently enjoying. I did post on an anonymous GOP strategist describing his campaign tactics as “insane.” And I considered dedicating a post to his well-documented problems with the personal computer, and now his campaign’s fumbling with the Web 2.0 crowd with ill-conceived projects like BarackBook.

See how easy it is. I spend a short graf explaining why my McCain blogging might seem light and I found it impossible to ignore two negatives. And that’s without mentioning Huckabee likening McCain’s efforts to Bob Dole in 1996.

Back to the original link, Martin asks a great question. Why isn’t McCain taking the tax issue by the horns and speaking to the fiscal conservative leg of the GOP stool? This past Sunday on “This Week” he was asked if he’d consider raising payroll taxes to address Social Security. McCain said, “There is nothing that’s off the table.”

I don’t expect a “read my lips” moment of disingenuity out of McCain, but taxes is one place he can really set himself apart from Obama. All this may just come down to his very inartful dancing around issues where he differs from the base, doesn’t want to/can’t lie (I pick the latter), and has to come up with a sentence construction that remains true to his beliefs while placating the hardline GOPers listening.

I really don’t see him riding Iraq into the White House.

Beyond the convoluted statements, my corollary guess is McCain just isn’t comfortable talking about economic issues. He’s admitted to not truly understanding that policy area and it’s an area he’s not going to be actively involved in if he were to win the presidency.

From the very first link back up in sentence number one:

By his positions, he meant that he opposes raising taxes.   He reitereated this stance yesterday at a town hall meeting in Nevada with a one-word answer: “no.”   He’s been similiar unequivocal when asked the same question in the past.

But McCain’s refusal to slam the door Sunday on Social Security has worried some Republicans who not only are concerned for philosophical reasons, but because it could have the effect of diluting McCain’s claim that Obama is the tax-increaser.

“If Mr. McCain can’t convince voters that he’s better on taxes than is a Democrat who says matter-of-factly that he wants to raise taxes, the Republican is going to lose in a rout,” said the Wall Street Journal editorial page today in a scathing editorial.

July 15, 2008

Is Obama damaging …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:56 pm

… his “brand?”

Byron York at the National Review Online crosses the border to talk to a Democratic source and thinks Obama is diluting what got him this far.

From the link:

I just got off the phone with a well-connected Democrat, trying to get a better read on this Democrats-miffed-with-Obama stuff.  It’s real, he said, and more serious than the mostly process concerns outlined in the Politico story.  Yes, party leaders are irritated at the Obama campaign’s go-it-alone style.  “Another Democrat said that they want to do this without help from anyone inside the Beltway,” my source says, “because they want to arrive in town and not owe anyone anything.  Which is a big gamble, because if it doesn’t work, everyone is going to blame the hell out of them.” 

March 6, 2008

Clinton staff mental meltdown

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:01 pm

After a successful series of votes on Tuesday it looked like Team Clinton was gaining steam and some media traction.

Then this happens.

From the Politico link:

Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson, taking the campaign a bit meta on a conference call today, attacked Obama for attacking Clinton, and compared him to a notorious Clinton foe.

“When Senator Obama was confronted with questions over whether he was ready to be Commander-in-Chief and steward of the economy, he chose not to address those questions, but to attack Senator Clinton,” Wolfson said. “I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president.”

Here’s the Obama campaign response from the same link:

UPDATE: Obama spokesman Bill Burton responds:

It is absurd that after weeks of badgering the media to ‘vet’ Senator Obama, the Clinton campaign believes that they should be held to an entirely different standard. We don’t believe that expecting candidates for the presidency to disclose their tax returns somehow constitutes Ken Starr-tactics, but the kind of transparency and accountability that Americans are looking for and that’s been missing in Washington for far too long. And if Senator Clinton doesn’t think that the Republicans will ask these very same questions, then she’s not as ready to go toe-to-toe with John McCain as she claims.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I doubt anyone is going to look favorably on the Clinton campaign bringing up Kenneth Starr in any capacity. And to compare Obama to Starr is so ridiculous, it would be laughable if weren’t so pathetic.

I see some real blowback with this line of attack. I’m betting the Obama campaign feels like they were just handed a two-by-four full of nails to use and batter Clinton with for a few media cycles.

For more on Clinton’s refusal to turn over tax returns, particularly these last few years of rapid wealth growth and interesting business deals from Bill, check out Sullivan’s take at the Daily Dish.

February 20, 2008

Wisconsin Dem fallout

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:15 pm

Obama wins in a somewhat surprising landslide last night in Wisconsin.

Here’s a bit from Ben Smith:

Senator Barack Obama picked up steam with ninth straight victory in Wisconsin, beating Senator Hillary Clinton in a state where she had no clear excuse for defeat, and leaving her no leeway at all for further major losses.

His win sets the stage for showdowns in Texas and Ohio on March 4, two states Clinton’s supporters acknowledge she must win.

Here in another piece from Politico Clinton’s problems seem to be mounting according to exit poll data. The post says Obama neutralized Clinton’s strength with women voters and “devastated” her with men.

The post goes on to say:

Obama also demonstrated continued improvement with whites, working class Democrats, and rural and suburban voters since Super Tuesday.

He split white women, marking about a 10-point improvement since early February. He also won half of married women, and even won single women. Obama took six in ten white men, a demographic that has shifted between the two candidates throughout the race. His white male support also marked about a 10-point improvement since Super Tuesday.

Regionally, the news was no better for Clinton. Obama won a majority of suburban voters, something Clinton did on Super Tuesday. He split rural voters, whom Clinton had won by about 20 points two weeks ago. Clinton also had won a slight majority of urban voters then. Obama won Wisconsin city dwellers by about a two to one ratio.

Clinton is in serious trouble if Texas is an absolute must-win, and it seriously looks that way. There are signs her team is already spinning for a possible loss in Texas, something that was unthinkable for them very recently.

Her “ready to lead on day one” team has acknowledged they miscounted the way delegates were awarded in the Lone Star State. They over-counted the number of delegates coming from the Latino heavy Valley, an assumed Clinton stronghold, and under-counted the delegates coming from urban Houston and Dallas, two areas of Obama strength.

And that’s not even taking into account the weird primary-plus-caucus of this Texas vote. Obama has excelled in caucuses, and doesn’t seem to be as caught with his pants down, so to speak, as the Clinton campaign on the Texas vote.

At this point I wonder if Clinton is willing to step aside if she loses Texas, or realistically if the vote is even close. Even the worst case scenarios for her campaign that had Obama dominating post-Tsunami Tuesday February didn’t take into account a series of complete blow-outs. It was always guessed with the Democrat’s proportional delegates split, she could hold her own pledged delegate-wise even losing. Instead she’s been losing by close to, or over, 60% in many states.

Obama has the pledged delegates and all the momentum. My guess is after Wisconsin, the mountain just got too high for Clinton. The fat lady hasn’t sung, but she’s done warming up and is standing stage right waiting on her cue.