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Sen. Saxby Chambliss wins the runoff in Georgia, denying the Dems a filibuster-proof majority. Saxby’s win reinforces McCain’s Georgia win and the GOP inroads into the South in the 2008 presidential election
[It's a comedy!]
Three weeks after his election as president, the public’s confidence in Barack Obama remains “remarkably consistent” and “doesn’t yet appear to be have been affected, positively or negatively, by news coverage of the president-elect’s staff and Cabinet appointments, or by reports of his economic and other policy plans,” Gallup reports this morning.
The polling firm’s daily tracking poll now shows 65% of those surveyed say they’re confident in the Democratic president-elect’s ability to be a good president. The figure has stayed between 63% and 67% since Election Day. Margin of error: +/- 3 percentage points.
Source: USA Today
In the wake of the Republican defeat, there has been much recrimination and finger-pointing over tactics and strategy. Was the Sarah Palin choice fatal? Should John McCain have suspended his campaign during the financial crisis?
But the larger issue is whether 2008 was a “realigning election” that went deeper than the candidates or the current issues. The jury is still out as to whether Democrats can turn one sweeping victory into a generation-long dominance of the White House. A key element in a possible structural shift favoring Democrats is the changing demographics of the electorate. The U.S. is growing bigger, increasingly diverse and more cosmopolitan — and the GOP seems on the wrong side of all these trends.
The United States is the only developed country that is projected to add lots of new residents by mid-century. In 2006, the nation’s population reached 300 million. The Census Bureau estimates that the U.S. will get to 400 million by 2039. To put this growth in perspective, consider that even China (yes, China) will not add 100 million people by that date. The U.S. will gain more new residents in the next three decades than the current population of Germany — the largest European Union nation.
With each decade, more than 22 million potential new voters will enter the electorate. Parties that fix on a strategy may find that it is unworkable in just a few cycles. The Republican Party’s idea of stoking its base to gain office assumes a somewhat static voting public, which, given the dynamic nature of American demographics, is a faulty notion.
So who are most of these new people? The quick answer is both recent immigrants and their American-born offspring. By 2043, the U.S. may be a majority minority nation. Another scenario is that a high rate of intermarriage among whites and minorities may open to question the whole notion of who is “majority.” The bottom line for Republicans is that no matter how this population is defined, an increasing number of current minorities are voting for Democrats.
Republicans can, of course, switch their strategy and make more direct appeals to minority voters. As recently as 2004, President George W. Bush almost won the Latino vote. But at the moment, the Republicans seem branded as the party of white people. Furthermore, much of the Republican base — especially those listening to talk radio — believe the U.S. is being flooded with immigrants (legal and illegal). It may be hard to pivot and embrace diversity without alienating the GOP base. By contrast, many whites in the Democratic Party are comfortable with diversity and now form a transracial coalition with minority voters.
As the U.S. expands and diversifies, it is becoming more urban. The Census finds that 83 percent of Americans live in metropolitan areas and that well over half live in regions with more than 1 million residents. By other calculations, two-thirds of people added by 2040 will settle in just 20 megapolitan areas — massive urban complexes that contain more than 5 million residents.
Were just the big metro areas to vote, the presidential race would be a rout every time. The Democrats dominate major urban regions. An analysis by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech found that Barack Obama won the votes in the nation’s top 50 metro areas — often by double-digit margins.
Worse for Republicans, in 2006 and 2008, Democrats significantly expanded the areas of the metros they won. Their electoral dominance has spilled out of cities and close-in suburbs and now reaches into the kinds of sprawling subdivisions that were once reliably Republican. The suburbs in key swing states such as Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia played a particularly decisive role in delivering the presidency to Democrats.
Republicans must adjust to the demographic shifts sweeping America or risk being politically marginalized. Most significantly, the party needs to recognize that there are simply not enough rural white voters to balance the growing number of minority voters and cosmopolitan whites living in big metro areas. If Republicans think 2008 went badly, try running the same kind of small-town-flavored campaign in 2020. At that point, the vastly expanded and racially diverse metro areas in Texas and Georgia could tip those once reliably red states to the Democrats.
Robert E. Lang is co-director of the Alexandria, Va.-based Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech and an associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech’s School of Planning and International Affairs.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Republican Party has hit a new low.
Just 34 percent of Americans in a Gallup Poll released Thursday say they have a favorable view of the party, down 40 percent from a month ago, before the election.
What’s worse: 61 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party.
According to Gallup, that unfavorable rating is the highest the polling organization has recorded for the GOP since the measure was established in 1992.
The poll of national adults was conducted on November 13-16 with a three percent margin of error.
The numbers are slightly up from a CNN poll released last week that indicated a 54 percent unfavorable rating for Republicans. Only 38 percent of those polled had a favorable rating for the party.
Meanwhile, Democrats continue to bask in the glow of President-elect Barack Obama’s historic victory on November 4. The Gallup poll suggests that 55 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, with 39 percent saying they have an unfavorable view. Those numbers are mostly unchanged from a mid-October survey.
As the debate rages within GOP ranks over where to take the party, the poll might offer some guidance.
Most Republicans — 59 percent — want the party to become more conservative, according to the poll. Another 28 percent want it to remain about the same ideologically, while only 12 percent would prefer to see the Republican Party become less conservative.
Independents are split on whether the party should track left or right: 35 percent of independent voters say the GOP should become more conservative, and 35 percent say less conservative.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) conceded his reelection race to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) on Wednesday afternoon, averting a potential recount and solidifying a seventh takeover for Senate Democrats.
Stevens congratulated Begich, who less than a half-hour earlier told reporters that he had not heard from the incumbent.
Begich’s win was called by The Associated Press on Tuesday night and hands Democrats a 58th seat, with two GOP-held seats still outstanding. A large portion of absentee ballots delayed the result.
Stevens’s campaign said in a statement: “Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected.
“My family and I wish to thank the thousands of Alaskans who stood by us and who supported my reelection. It was a tough fight that would not have been possible without the help of so many Alaskans — people who I am honored to call my friends. I will always remember their thoughts, prayers and encouragement.
“I am proud of the campaign we ran and regret that the outcome was not what we had hoped for. I am deeply grateful to Alaskans for allowing me to serve them for 40 years in the U.S. Senate. It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with Alaskans of all political persuasions to make this state that we all love a better place.
“I wish Mayor Begich and his family well. My staff and I stand willing to help him prepare for his new position.”
Begich defeated the Senate giant by a 3,724-vote margin after absentee and early votes were counted, a stunning end to a 40-year Senate career marred by Stevens’ conviction on corruption charges a week before the election.
Begich’s victory gives Democrats their 58th Senate seat, with the party still awaiting a pending recount in the too-close-to-call Minnesota Senate race and the Georgia Senate runoff next month. If Democrats win those two seats, they will reach a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Democratic prospects of reaching 60 seats didn’t look so bright the day after the election. In Alaska, Stevens led Begich by more than 3,000 votes. In Minnesota, Republican Sen. Norm Coleman was holding a narrow lead. GOP Sen. Gordon Smith had not yet been declared the loser in the Oregon Senate race and in Georgia, Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss was just over the 50 percent mark necessary to win re-election in Georgia.
But over the ensuing two weeks, the landscape began to tilt in the Democrats’ favor. The Associated Press declared Jeff Merkley the winner over Smith in Oregon, Coleman’s lead shrank to 215 votes, Chambliss fell just short of the 50 percent threshold necessary for an outright victory, and Begich captured a majority of the nearly 90,000 absentee and early votes that were counted after Election Day to win the Alaska Senate seat.
Now, with the prospect of 60 Senate seats hanging in the balance, both parties are throwing everything they can at the two remaining undeclared races, pouring money, lawyers and field organizers into Georgia and Minnesota.
Developments on the ground suggest Democrats have a fighting chance of picking up both seats.
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Stiff Republican Resistance Could Force Democrats to Wait for Obama and Their Party’s Enlarged Majority to Take Office
WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats are scaling back plans for an economic-stimulus package as partisan deadlock clouds chances for passage of either that measure or a proposed bailout of Detroit’s auto makers until the party’s enlarged majority convenes in January.
Democratic leaders want to move legislation that would give a jobs-producing jolt to the economy. They also support proposals to toss a $25 billion financial lifeline to Detroit. But it isn’t clear either of those steps can pass before January, when President-elect Barack Obama and a new, more heavily Democratic Congress take office.
The biggest problem is in the Senate, where Democrats have only a 51-49 edge until year’s end. The Bush administration is balking at the Democratic agenda, and Republicans in the House and Senate are growing more vocal about their concerns, especially concerning the auto package.
“The financial situation facing the Big Three [auto makers] is not a national problem, but their problem,” said Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.
In the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, the Ohio Republican, assailed the proposed aid to Detroit as “neither fair to taxpayers nor sound fiscal policy.”
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said Thursday that he knew of no Republicans who would support the $25 billion proposal by Democrats, and said he is disinclined to move a bill without bipartisan support.
“I’d want to be careful about bringing up a proposition that might fail,” given that a rescue plan would be more likely to pass under an Obama administration, the Connecticut Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill. “There’s some political considerations that need to be made over the next few days.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada still plans to move forward next week. “Senator Reid still believes it is important to address this crisis plaguing our auto industry,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley, adding that bipartisan cooperation will be needed. “We cannot do it without the support of Senate Republicans, who I hope will join us to pass a bill that saves the jobs and protects the livelihoods of millions of hard-working Americans.”
Mr. Dodd, meanwhile, wants to add foreclosure relief to an economic-stimulus package. He expressed frustration Thursday with efforts to help distressed homeowners by the private sector and the Bush administration, which was supposed to make foreclosure relief a top priority in the $700 billion rescue packaged enacted earlier this fall to stabilize financial markets.
“We want to see more progress,” Mr. Dodd said, adding he is prepared to legislate — “now, if possible” — to address the problem.
Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska spoke at The Republican Governors Association in Miami on Thursday
MIAMI — Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska did something here on Thursday that she did not do in her entire campaign as the Republican Party’s vice presidential nominee: she stood behind a lectern and held a news conference. She was asked what had changed.
“The campaign is over,” she said.
Granted, the question and answer session lasted only four minutes, and for only four questions. As she stood on a stage in a hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay, surrounded by 12 fellow governors, Ms. Palin was asked what message she hoped to get across.
“I’m trying to convey the message that Republican governors are a unique team,” said Ms. Palin, who said she was uninterested in discussing the campaign.
But Ms. Palin did allow herself a look back after the brief news conference ended, as she addressed a session of the Republican Governors Association and told them that she had managed to keep busy since their last conference.
“I had a baby, I did some traveling, I very briefly expanded my wardrobe, I made a few speeches, I met a few VIPS, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey,” she said.
And yes, she spoke again of “Joe the Plumber,” the Ohio man who briefly dominated the McCain-Palin campaign and its talk about taxes.
Ms. Palin thanked the people who attended her rallies, including young women she hopes she has influenced.
“I am going to remember all the young girls who came up to me at rallies to see the first woman having the privilege of carrying our party’s VP nomination,” she said. “We’re going to work harder, we’re going to be stronger, we’re going to do better and one day, one of them will be the president.”
That raised again the question surrounding Ms. Palin since the election ended: will she run in 2012?
“The future is not that 2012 Presidential race, it’s next year and our next budgets,” she said. It is in 2010, she said, that “we’ll have 36 governors positions open.”
Ms. Palin tried to downplay her celebrity (even after a week in which she was featured in interviews on NBC, FOX News and CNN). In her speech, she tried to change the focus from herself to the work that Republican governors must now do, including developing energy resources to health care reform.
“I am not going to assume that the answer is for the federal government to just take it over and try to run America’s health care system,” Ms. Palin said. “Heaven forbid.”
She implored her fellow Republican governors to “show the federal government the way,” while also reforming their own party.
“We are the minority party. Let us resolve not to be the negative party,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us build our case with actions, not just with words.”
Her appearance was the highly anticipated moment of the conference, coming a day after other emerging governors spoke about the direction of the Republican Party. Entering the political wilderness after its losses this month, the group that many consider its future met to talk about what went wrong, and what to do next.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who was very nearly Senator John McCain’s running mate this year, told the decidedly subdued, post-election conference Wednesday about a revelation he had recently while looking into the bathroom mirror at his home in Minnesota.
Mr. Pawlenty said that after wearily returning from the campaign trail, he looked at himself in the mirror and complained about what he saw to his wife, Mary. “I said, ‘Mary, look at me,’ “ he said. “ ‘I mean, my hairline’s receding, these crow’s feet and wrinkles are multiplying on my face by the day, I’ve been on the road eating junk food, I’m getting flabby, these love handles are flopping over the side of my belt.’
“I said, ‘Is there anything you can tell me that would give me some hope, some optimism, some encouragement?’ “ he said. “And she looked at me and she said, ‘Well, there’s nothing wrong with your eyesight.’ “
As his fellow governors laughed, he came to the moral of the story: “If we are going to successfully travel the road to improvement, as Republicans, we need to see clearly, and we need to speak to each other candidly about the state of our party.”
The long, sometimes painful post-mortem of the election — where Republicans were widely repudiated, losing the White House and more seats in Congress — began in earnest here among Republican governors, a group that has traditionally served as a wellspring of new ideas and talent for the party. It was, at times, a bit glum.
Frank Luntz, the communications strategist, gave the Republicans a slideshow describing how Republicans have just endured their worst back-to-back elections since 1930 and 1932. And Mr. Luntz said that the prospect of sharing his polling research with a group of Republicans gave him pause. “I understand how Dr. Kevorkian feels at an AARP convention,” he said.
Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, another rising star in the party who is considered potential presidential fodder, said that the party needed to recapture the high ground on the ethics and good government, and that it could draw lessons from the high-tech campaign that Barack Obama waged.
“We should learn from that,” Mr. Jindal said.
Mr. Pawlenty kicked off the conference with a somewhat gloomy appraisal of where things stand for the Republican Party.
“We cannot be a majority governing party when we essentially cannot compete in the Northeast, we are losing our ability to compete in Great Lakes States, we cannot compete on the West Coast, we are increasingly in danger of competing in the Mid-Atlantic States, and the Democrats are now winning some of the Western States,” he said. “That is not a formula for being a majority governing party in this nation.”
“And similarly we cannot compete, and prevail, as a majority governing party if we have a significant deficit, as we do, with women, where we have a large deficit with Hispanics, where we have a large deficit with African-American voters, where we have a large deficit with people of modest incomes and modest financial circumstances,” he said. “Those are not factors that make up a formula for success going forward.”
“There will be calls, and voices across the country for Republicans to return to traditional conservative approaches in almost all respects,” he said, adding that there would also be calls to modernize the party.
“The good news is both are true, and both can be harmonized in my view,” Mr. Pawlenty said. “We can be both conservative and we can be modern at the same time.”
Mr Obama’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said yesterday that the plight of automakers was one of a number of issues discussed in a two-hour meeting with Mr Bush to discuss the transfer of power at a time of war and financial crisis. Other issues included housing, mortgage foreclosures, and, more generally, “the need to get the economy back on track”.
The parlous state of the American car industry was highlighted last Friday when General Motors – the biggest US car manufacturer – reported a $2.5 billion net loss for the third quarter, bringing its total losses to nearly $57 billion since the beginning of 2005.
Ford Motor Company’s $129 million quarterly loss, meanwhile, brought to nearly $24.5 billion the deficit it has run up since plunging into the red in 2006. The privately-held Chrysler LLC is also thought to be fast running out of cash – one reason, analysts believe, why its parent, Cerberus Capital Management, was so eager to sell Chrysler to General Motors.
The New York Times, citing unnamed people familiar with the discussion, said that Mr Obama went into his post-election meeting with Mr Bush primed to urge him to support emergency aid for the car industry.
The Bush Administration is reluctant to give carmakers access to the bailout fund, even though the Democrats say it could legally do so.
Linking the issue with the Colombia free trade deal could delay any move until after Mr Obama’s inauguration on January 20. US union leaders oppose the agreement because of numerous murders of trade unionists in Colombia at the hands of right-wing paramilitary squads closely linked to the Colombian armed forces.
This failing economy and troubled auto industry is the perfect storm for Obama and the Democrats, if the auto industry was strong — how could you get it to change direction? The writing was on the wall some eight years ago that the oil age was coming to an end – that to continue to pursue it would lead us into difficulty. And it was one of the hallmarks of Al Gore’s presidential campaign. Now we have seen the results of continuing down the same path. But with this disaster or more stripping of the sector – there is opportunity; the free market idea is to allow the auto industry to fail, or it can be bailed out under conservative socialism, or we can forget about the old titles and give the auto-industry the money it needs but with the strings attached – that it retools for the future car. Why can’t we have a hybrid/electric or an electric SUZ? And this merchandise can be exported – the market should be thrilled.
Bush is arguing – he’ll give Obama this – if in return Obama cedes with the Republican position on trade with Columbia. And it is a weak argument – because what Obama is saying – we will be happy to trade with you – but you are going to have to pull your act together when it comes to workers rights. This carrot and stick approach may do more to change conditions in Columbia – than all the diplomacy in the world. Doubtful if this is a chip that can be traded because it has a long term goal.
WASHINGTON — The struggling auto industry was thrust into the middle of a political standoff between the White House and Democrats on Monday as President-elect Barack Obama urged President Bush in a meeting at the White House to support immediate emergency aid.
Mr. Bush indicated at the meeting that he might support some aid and a broader economic stimulus package if Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats dropped their opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia, a measure for which Mr. Bush has long fought, people familiar with the discussion said.
The Bush administration, which has presided over a major intervention in the financial industry, has balked at allowing the automakers to tap into the $700 billion bailout fund, despite warnings last week that General Motors might not survive the year.
Mr. Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders say the bailout law authorizes the administration to extend assistance.
Mr. Obama went into his post-election meeting with Mr. Bush on Monday primed to urge him to support emergency aid to the auto industry, advisers to Mr. Obama said. But Democrats also indicate that neither Mr. Obama nor Congressional leaders are inclined to concede the Colombia pact to Mr. Bush, and may decide to wait until Mr. Obama assumes power on Jan. 20. [...]
As the auto industry reels, rarely has an issue so quickly illustrated the differences from one White House occupant to the next. How Mr. Obama responds to the industry’s dire straits will indicate how much government intervention in the private sector he is willing to tolerate. It will also offer hints of how he will approach his job under pressure, testing the limits of his conciliation toward the opposition party and his willingness to stand up to the interest groups in his own. [....]
Obama has called on the Bush administration to accelerate $25 billion in federal loans provided by a recent law specifically to help automakers retool. Late in his campaign, Mr. Obama proposed doubling that to $50 billion. But industry supporters say the automakers, squeezed both by the unavailability of credit and depressed sales, need unrestricted cash now, simply to meet payroll and other expenses.
On Friday, Mr. Obama said he would instruct his economic team, once he chooses it, to devise a long-range plan for helping the auto industry recover in a way that is part of an energy and environmental policy to reduce reliance on foreign oil and address climate change.
Democrats close to both Mr. Obama’s transition team and to Congressional leaders seemed willing to call Mr. Bush’s bluff, calculating that he would not want to gamble that G.M. — an iconic, century-old American corporation with business tentacles in every state — would fail on his watch and add to the negative notes of his legacy. Also, economists as conservative as Martin Feldstein, an adviser to a long line of Republican presidents and candidates, have called more broadly for stimulus spending of up to $300 billion.
The major automakers — G.M., Ford and Chrysler — are each using up their cash at unsustainable rates. The Center for Automotive Research, which is based in Michigan and supported by the industry, released on Election Day an economic analysis of the impact of one or all of them failing. If the Big Three were to collapse, it said, that would cost at least three million jobs, counting autoworkers, suppliers and other businesses dependent on the companies, down to the hot-dog vendors and bartenders next door to their plants.
Organized labor is not the only interest group with influence in the Democratic Party that is weighing in as Mr. Obama plans his transition. Environmentalists are adamant that any aid be conditioned on the auto industry’s dropping of its opposition to higher fuel-efficiency standards and investing more in new technology. That puts them at odds with unions, who oppose any strings, leaving it to Mr. Obama to mediate.
Both as a candidate and now as president-elect, Mr. Obama has been in contact with former Vice President Al Gore, who last year won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. In a column published in Sunday’s New York Times, Mr. Gore wrote that “we should help America’s automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new start-up companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available.”
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That whole anti-American, friend-to-the-terrorists thing about President-elect Barack Obama? Never mind.
Just a few weeks ago, at the height of the campaign, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota told Chris Matthews of MSNBC that, when it came to Mr. Obama, “I’m very concerned that he may have anti-American views.”
But there she was on Wednesday, after narrowly escaping defeat because of those comments, saying she was “extremely grateful that we have an African-American who has won this year.” Ms. Bachmann, a Republican, called Mr. Obama’s victory, which included her state, “a tremendous signal we sent.”
And it was not too long ago that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, accused Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”
But she took an entirely different tone on Thursday, when she chastised reporters for asking her questions about her war with some staff members in the McCain campaign at such a heady time. “Barack Obama has been elected president,” Ms. Palin said. “Let us, let us — let him — be able to kind of savor this moment, one, and not let the pettiness of maybe internal workings of the campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment that we’re in. And God bless Barack Obama and his beautiful family.”
There is a great tradition of paint-peeling political hyperbole during presidential campaign years. And there is an equally great tradition of backing off from it all afterward, though with varying degrees of deftness.
But given the intensity of some of the charges that have been made in the past few months, and the historic nature of Mr. Obama’s election, the exercise this year has been particularly whiplash-inducing, with its extreme before-and-after contrasts.
The shift in tone follows the magnanimous concession speech from Mr. McCain, of Arizona, who referred to Mr. Obama’s victory Tuesday night as “a historic election” and hailed the “special pride” it held for African-Americans. That led the vice president-elect, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., to get into the act. During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he no longer recognized Mr. McCain, an old friend. Now, he says, “We’re still friends.” President Bush, in turn, also hailed Mr. Obama’s victory, saying his arrival at the White House would be “a stirring sight.”
Whether it all heralds a new era of cooperation in Washington remains to be seen, and it may be downright doubtful. But for now, at least, it would seem to be part of an apparent rush to join what has emerged as a real moment in American history.
The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin said she was hard-pressed to find a similar moment when the tone had changed so drastically, and so quickly, among so many people of such prominence.
“I don’t think that’s happened very often,” Ms. Goodwin said. “The best answer I can give you is they don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and they recognize how the country saw this election, and how people feel that they’re living in a time of great historic moment.”
Others in the professional political class were not so sure. Some wondered whether simple pragmatism was the explanation.
“My experience is, it’s less an epiphany and more a political reality,” said Chris Lehane, a former Democratic strategist who worked on the presidential campaign of Al Gore. “I’m thinking they will continue in this direction so long as the polls indicate it’s a smart place to be.”
There are notable exceptions: Rush Limbaugh has given no quarter. And while his fellow conservative radio hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have noted the significance of his victory — on Wednesday, Ms. Ingraham said “Obama did make history” and “It’s not the time to vilify him” — they seem to be in line with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. Relishing his new role in the opposition camp, Mr. O’Reilly said, “The guy is still a mystery, so our oversight will be intense.”
Some lawmakers also do not appear inclined to give up the fight. Representative John A. Boehner, the House minority leader, has already criticized Mr. Obama’s choice of Representative Rahm Emanuel, Democrat of Illinois, as his chief of staff.
But other people who opposed Mr. Obama, like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, have good reason to try to make up with the winning ticket. As an ardent backer of Mr. McCain, Mr. Lieberman angered the Democrats, who in 2000 nominated him as their vice-presidential candidate. After losing a Democratic primary challenge in 2006 and then winning as an independent, he still continued to caucus with the Democrats.
Attending an event with Mr. McCain in York, Pa., in August, Mr. Lieberman said the race was “between one candidate, John McCain, who has always put the country first, worked across party lines to get things done, and one candidate who has not.”
As a speaker at the Republican National Convention, Mr. Lieberman went further than Democrats expected by criticizing Mr. Obama for “voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground.” (Mr. Obama voted for bills that included plans for withdrawal from Iraq and against others that did not.)
This week Mr. Lieberman, who has been asked by the Democratic Senate leadership to consider giving up his position as the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a statement congratulating Mr. Obama for “his historic and impressive victory.” It continued, “The American people are a people of extraordinary fairness.”
Marshall Wittmann, a spokesman for Mr. Lieberman, said that as far as the senator was concerned, “It’s over, and it’s genuinely time to find unity and move forward behind the new president.”
And what about that whole bit about Mr. Obama not always putting his country first? “He believes that President-elect Obama — and, then, Senator Obama — is a genuine patriot and loves his country,” Mr. Wittmann said. “The only point he was making in his campaign was about partisanship.”
Mr. Obama is apparently ready to bury the hatchet with his new fans. “President-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants to put partisanship behind and work together to solve the many challenges confronting the country,” said Stephanie Cutter, a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team. “We’re pleased that others do as well.”
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, who will help decide Mr. Lieberman’s committee assignment, sounded less ready to forgive, at least when it came Mr. Lieberman’s support for Mr. McCain. “Joe Lieberman has done something that I think was improper, wrong, and I’d like — if we weren’t on television, I’d use a stronger word of describing what he did,” he said on CNN Friday.
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s big victory could provide Democrats with a road map for an even bigger electoral majority in the future _ something that seemed implausible just four years ago.
Obama won in the suburbs of key states, expanded Democratic majorities in big cities and made inroads into rural areas that had been off-limits to Democrats in recent presidential elections. He also proved that a black presidential candidate could make Democratic gains in some of the whitest counties in the nation _ even though in much of the Deep South, his race still appeared to turn voters away.
Nationwide, Republican John McCain won a majority of the white vote in Tuesday’s election. But Obama, who will become the nation’s first black president, actually fared better than Democratic nominee John Kerry did among white voters in 2004 _ and he did it in some unlikely places, according to an Associated Press analysis of election results.
“Every president wants to build or maintain a coalition for success, to establish a permanent imprint politically,” said David Rohde, a political scientist at Duke University. “If the Democrats can avoid screwing up, this can be a politically transformative event.”
As expected, Obama did well among low-income voters. But he also won over the wealthiest Americans, despite promising a tax increase for those making more than $250,000 a year. Obama won 52 percent of the vote among those with family incomes of more than $200,000 a year, according to exit polls. That’s a 17-point improvement over fellow Democrat Kerry.
Obama also won a majority of the Catholic vote, something Kerry didn’t do, even though Kerry would have become just the second Catholic president.
And Obama rocked the youth vote, which has Democrats hoping they can hold onto the voters of the future. Obama won 66 percent of the vote from 18 to 29 year olds, a 12-point improvement over Kerry.
Four years ago, the Democrats were looking at a shrinking electoral map as they suffered through hard-fought losses in Ohio and Florida. Suburban soccer moms seemed to be trending Republican, while much of rural America was solidly red.
It turns out those suburbanites weren’t so wedded to the Republicans, after all.
Obama did well in key suburban counties in Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Indiana, winning all four states carried by President Bush in 2004. He also made inroads in heavily Republican rural counties, even if he didn’t win a majority of the vote in those areas.
In Florida, Obama made significant gains among voters living along the Interstate 4 corridor, a swing area from Orlando to Tampa. He won Osceola County, home to Kissimmee, and Orange County, home to Orlando. Up the Atlantic Coast, Obama also improved on Kerry’s numbers in Duval County, home to Jacksonville.
In Ohio, Obama won Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, a county that Kerry lost in 2004. He also made significant gains in suburban counties in northwestern Ohio as well as those near Columbus in the center of the state.
In Indiana, Obama won a larger percentage of the vote than Kerry in every county, helping him to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1964.
Virginia exemplified Obama’s Southern strategy. Obama built a lead in the fast-growing suburbs of Northern Virginia, territory that is more friendly toward Democrats, while limiting his losses in the southern part of the state, which is more Republican.
Much was made of Obama’s lack of support among white working class voters in his epic Democratic primary battle with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. And in the general election, Obama did lose among whites without college degrees.
But in many of the nation’s most rural, white counties outside the Deep South, Obama did surprisingly well. He didn’t always win a majority in those areas, but more often than not, he did better than Kerry did four years ago.
About 1,360 U.S. counties have populations that are more than 90 percent white. Obama won only 249 of those counties, but he received more of the vote than Kerry in nearly eight out of 10 of them, according to the AP analysis.
Obama won in overwhelmingly white counties throughout New England and in parts of the Midwest. He won some of the whitest counties in Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin and his home state of Illinois. He didn’t win many of the whitest counties in Kansas or Idaho, but he fared better than Kerry in most of them.
The South and Appalachia were the exceptions.
In Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, Obama fared worse than Kerry in all 49 counties where whites make up 90 percent or more of the population.
There were similar, but less severe, patterns in the Appalachian states of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Obama did much better in faster-growing Southern states along the East Coast, such as North Carolina _ where he bested Kerry in two-thirds of the predominantly white counties, and in Virginia, where he out polled Kerry in 22 of the state’s 31 predominantly white counties.
Democrats hope the high-growth areas in the South will help them increase their toehold in a region that has largely been shut off to Democrats in the past two presidential elections.
“The people who have moved there are better educated and they make more money. It’s just a different demographic mix,” said Don Fowler, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee from South Carolina. “That’s the South of 2008.”
11:00 pm So farewell then, Grosvenor Square US Embassy. Here we are, standing in line late at night in the November drizzle outside of Eero Sarienen’s unloved Modernist expression of US imperial self-assurance (what would a new Embassy in Battersea commissioned under an Obama administration look like? An environmentally-sound yurt?) when we could be tucked up on the sofa watching the election returns with Jeremy and a milky drink. But no, we’ve been unable to resist the lure of mingling with the movers-and-shakers.
The streets are even more barricaded than usual. There are several lines to go through the airport-style metal detectors, two for people without handbags, the others for handbag carriers. “There’s the Shadow Education Secretary”, a well-dressed young person, who must be a Parliamentary junior aide or researcher, exclaims (bite back the excitement!). As we finally gain admittance to the building, we hear the unmistakable tones of Janet Street-Porter.
The front of the Embassy has a huge projection of stars enlivening it. A Dixieland band plays partygoers in, and a co-ed squad of teenage cheerleaders performs intermittently on the front portico.
It’s a far cry from 2004, when, under the austere former Ambassador William Farish, there were no decorations, no bands, and really not much effort to appear welcoming. Similarly, in 2004 the Embassy was filled with Marines in camouflage battle dress standing stock still on the edge of the room, like military-themed living statues. Tonight if there’s a military presence, it’s invisible.
The first floor lobby is absolutely rammed. And at certain bottlenecks, it’s worse than the tube at rush hour. Silent screens above our heads project the latest from America’s CBS, MSNBC, and Fox networks, as well as the BBC. But the polls haven’t closed so all everyone’s doing now is vamping till ready.
It’s slim pickings on the celeb front. Josh Hartnett is the only sighting so far, unless you want to count Jonathan Dimbleby. There are several former significant political figures – Charles Clarke, David Davis, Alistair Campbell – but current Westminster stars are thin on the ground, unless you want to count Lembit Opik.
Bars serving California wines, bourbon, and Jack Daniels (though most people want water) are staffed with friendly volunteers and waiters circulate with foie gras puffs and lamb on bread squares. Sober, business-like dress is the order of the day, enlivened here and there with an Uncle Sam hat or Statue of Liberty crown. One glamourous party, however, didn’t get the memo. Four women in killer heels, tight dresses, lavish furs, and eye-blinding jewelry waft through the crowd, in which they are as exotic as Berbers.
Purely out of self-interest, I’m hoping for Obama victories in Indiana, Virginia, and North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. These polls will be closed by 1:30, and if he takes three out of five, it’s over and I can go home at a reasonable hour.
Downstairs in the basement there’s a large rather grim room with acoutic-tiles on the ceiling. Here a country and western band and later Glen Tillbrook, late of Squeeze, entertain the crowd. The air is thick with the smell of grease from the Burger King stand.
There’s also a theatre with a large screen showing CNN’s election night coverage. Every seat is filled as are the aisles. This is an audience fascinated by arcane in-depth breakdowns of key counties in Virginia.
The energy is strangely subdued. But the Democrats have been here before. In 2004, buoyed by the exit polls, the atmosphere in the early hours of the Embassy’s election night party was exuberant. No one could believe Bush would get in twice. But then, as we moved towards 2 am and it became clear that despite Iraq, despite Abu Ghraib, despite My Pet Goat, despite everything, the American electorate were going to come back for seconds, the festive spirit slowly deflated, like the air leaving a balloon. So no one’s getting too excited just yet. It’s as if everyone is collectively holding their breath.
The crowd seems evenly divided between the parties, although expatriate Americans tend to be disproportionately Democrats (expatriate Republicans are atypical of the breed because they have passports and are not afraid to eat furrin food.) They may have come from small-town “real” (in Palin-speak) America originally, but now have the kind of jobs that have relocated them to Britain, so presumably at some point they moved to the big (Democratic) city. Or else they left the real America as fast as they could of their own volition and just kept going.
12:30 am Indiana is too close to call. This is usually a rock-ribbed Republican state. A harbinger of things to come?
1:00 am Now things are starting to get interesting. Obama has won New Hampshire. McCain has won Georgia. Virginia is too close to call. And the Brits are all leaving so it’s now possible to get seats in the theatre. You have to feel for outgoing Ambassador Robert Tuttle. A genial Reagan Republican although appointed by W, he has to listen as all these freeloaders who’ve been scoffing down his food and drink cheer whenever a state is called for Obama and groan when it goes for his party.
1:30 am Tension you could cut with a knife. McCain is on 34 electoral votes, Obama on 74. North Carolina too close to call. These are all states that Bush won in 2004 and that Obama has a chance in.
1:45 am Look, there’s the Embassy party on the BBC screen as the heads of Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad are interviewed
2:00 am The loudest cheering of the night as Obama takes Pennsylvania. Obama supporters start to let out their breath and feel happy. Florida still too close to call.
3:00 am Ohio is called for Obama. Blinking, those of us wearing Obama buttons finally start to believe we’ve won, as predicted. Our long national nightmare is over. The junta has been deposed. Time to head for the coat check.
Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole casts her vote in Salisbury, N.C., Tuesday.
Reports indicate that Democrats appear close to ousting two incumbent Republican senators, as the party continues in its efforts to build a dominant majority in the Senate.
Around 8:15 p.m. Reuters and Dow Jones both reported that Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has defeated Republican Sen. John Sununu, who has been a long-time target of Senate Democrats. Meanwhile, Fox News Channel projected that Democrat Kay Hagan would defeat incumbent Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole in the race for a key North Carolina seat in the Senate. The Associated Press followed up by calling the race for Hagan at around 8:45 p.m., noting that Hagan knocked Sen. Dole — one of the biggest names in the Republican Party — out of the U.S. Senate after just one term in office.
The win for Hagan — a Democratic state senator — comes amid a Democratic push to make inroads in the South as part of a plan to build a filibuster-proof, 60-seat supermajority in the Senate. In its closing days, the contest between the two had become increasingly rancorous, with Sen. Dole’s campaign airing a television ad accusing state Sen. Hagan of having ties to an atheist lobbying group. State Sen. Hagan, who describes herself as a devout Presbyterian and is a Sunday school teacher, filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court on Thursday demanding the ad’s removal from the air. A Hagan spokeswoman called the ad “unconscionable,” the Journal reported.
College students on the NAACP’s ‘Vote Hard’ bus tour encourage people to vote in the George Washington Carver Homes housing project in Selma, Ala.
WASHINGTON — The national and state Democratic parties are spending far more heavily than their Republican counterparts on field operations, after years of ceding the advantage in ground-level organizing to the Republican voter-turnout machine.
Finance records show Democrats have hired five to 10 times more paid field staff in swing states than the Republicans.
Democrats have set up 770 offices nationwide, including in some of the most Republican areas of traditionally “red” states — like one in Goshen, Ind., a manufacturing town with a population of about 30,000. It is the seat of Elkhart County, which voted for President George W. Bush in 2004 by more than 40 percentage points. By comparison, Republicans have about 370 offices nationwide.
The focus on the ground-game is a change from past election cycles, when the Democratic party’s prime objective was getting as many broadcast ads on the air as possible. In recent campaigns, Democrats outsourced their ground organization to outside groups, such as labor unions and liberal activists.
The year’s change is made possible by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s historic fundraising. His campaign is doing its own advertising, taking that pricey burden off the parties. Campaign-finance data show the Democratic Party has essentially ceded television advertising to Sen. Obama’s campaign. In 2004, the Democratic Party spent nearly $120 million on advertising in support of then-nominee John Kerry, compared to only $500,000 this fall.
And the Obama campaign also is pouring money into state-party budgets. The senator’s presidential campaign along with the Democratic National Committee have put at least $112 million into state parties in recent months, a review of campaign-finance filings shows. They have poured $6 million into both North Carolina and Virginia and even sent $1.8 million into Montana — nearly two dollars for every resident of that state.
We really feel that this election is going to come down to our ground organization and what happens in the final days of the campaign,” said Jen O’Malley, the Obama campaign’s battleground-states director.
Four years ago, the party’s get-out-the-vote effort was largely run by an independent group named America Coming Together, or ACT, which was financed with $164 million from rich liberals but legally prevented from coordinating with their candidate. The group was criticized by some Democrats for not reaching deep enough into the outer suburbs and rural areas, where Republicans were victorious. ACT was also legally restricted when it came to mentioning candidates, and was fined $775,000 after allegedly attacking President Bush in its voter drives.
Republicans say their volunteer-based turnout machinery from 2004 is intact and more than twice as productive as last cycle in making phone calls and house calls. “This operation is working on all eight cylinders,” said Rich Beeson, the political director of the Republican National Committee and a veteran of the 2004 effort. “It’s doing what it was designed to do.” The party has been honing the same model for eight years, developing veteran volunteers who often work full-time without pay.
Republican spending on field staff has grown just slightly since 2004, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis covering reports from the presidential campaigns, as well as national and state parties. The GOP spent an estimated $22 million on personnel from June 1 to Oct. 15, compared to $19 million over the same period in 2004.
Democrats have increased their staff expenditures from $30 million to $56 million — and they employed an estimated 4,500 workers making more than $1,500 a month as of mid-October, the latest information available. Sen. McCain and the Republicans had about 1,100 at that point.
The expansion was made possible by Sen. Obama’s decision to decline public financing for his campaign, freeing himself from its spending caps. Instead he has relied on the legions of supporters who have already contributed over $600 million.
Sen. McCain is limited to spending the $84.1 million he accepted from the government after his September nomination. Sen. Obama is on track to spend more on television advertising than any candidate in history, likely spending more than $100 million on ads in October alone.
This is an evil article – though it sums up the feel perfectly!!
Democrats have seen Gore and Kerry lose ~ as there are two weeks left ~ this is not the time to boast.
Though fighting words like when Obama said – ‘that’s why we are going to BEAT you come Nov,’ — sounds good to me!
The Democrats are poised on the brink of victory. And they cannot stand it. The news is too good. Something has to go wrong.
On Saturday, Charlie Cook, an independent analyst and author of the Cook Report, wrote: “This election isn’t over, but it is looking very bad for Republicans — and seems to be getting worse.”
This plunged the Democrats into a deep gloom. Good news is always bad news for them.
On Monday, CNN’s John King announced: “Most top [people] in the McCain campaign now believe New Mexico and Iowa are gone, that Barack Obama will win New Mexico and Iowa. They are now off the dream list of the McCain campaign. More interestingly, most top people inside the McCain campaign think Colorado is gone.”
Democratic pessimism deepened when, that same day, Chris Cillizza and Shailagh Murray wrote in The Washington Post: “In the 13 battleground states that require voters to register by party, there are nearly 1.5 million more Democrats than at this time in 2004. The comparable Republican numbers, by contrast, have fallen by 61,000 during that time. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 3.3 million in these same 13 battleground states, roughly double the edge — 1.8 million — they enjoyed over the GOP four years ago.”
“We have been on the precipice of victory before,” Dan Pfeiffer, an Obama spokesman, told me. “You have never seen a more superstitious campaign than ours. We do not talk about victory.”
Talk about it, no. Plan for it, yes.
Can it get worse for the Democrats? Yes! On Tuesday, The Associated Press wrote: “Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spent $87.5 million last month and began October with nearly $134 million in the bank. The numbers illustrate his vast financial advantage over John McCain, his Republican rival, in the final stretch of the contest. McCain ended September with $47 million in the bank.”
The story went on to note that Obama “spent $65 million in advertising in September to McCain’s $22 million. In October, he has outspent McCain 4-to-1 in advertising.”
Awful news. Obama has a money problem. And you know what it is? He might run out of time to spend all the money he has! Election Day might come and go before Obama can spend the $5 million a day he is now raising. (If this does happen, I suggest he borrow a page from Oprah and buy everyone in America a Pontiac. Just as a gesture.)
Obama himself has reacted to the dismal drumbeat of good news. At a fundraising concert in Manhattan last Thursday featuring Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, Obama got up and said: “Don’t underestimate the capacity of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Don’t underestimate our ability to screw it up.”
Which is the prevailing mood in the top echelons of the Democratic Party right now. The McCain campaign cannot possibly be as hapless as it looks, party leaders feel. It is lulling the Democrats into complacency. The Republicans have to have an October surprise, because the Republicans always have an October surprise.
Besides, the robocalls could work. Never underestimate the power of the robocalls. Because people really like getting robocalls, right?
And rumors are now flying that McCain has proof that when Obama was in the second grade he once ate paste.
You are at home, it is dinnertime (which is when they call you because they figure you are at home then), and you are either trying to relax or get the kids fed, and the phone rings and it is this recorded voice saying: “I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers.”
And does that make you feel more or less positive about John McCain? Does it persuade you that McCain has a plan to save the economy? Or to help you pay your mortgage? Or that he has a steady hand on the tiller?
For the robocalls to be effective, the Republicans would need Bill Ayers to plant bombs today and not when Barack Obama was 8 years old. They need Ayers to plant bombs in key states right now with stickers on them that say: “I am Barack Obama, and I endorse this bomb.”
But McCain may have found his October surprise after all. In Bensalem, Pa., on Tuesday, McCain said: “Now, I’m not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between swing states. But I think I may have detected a little pattern with Sen. Obama. It’s pretty simple, really. When he’s campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he’s campaigning in Tampa Bay, he ‘shows love’ to the Rays.”
And rumors are now flying that McCain has proof that when Obama was in the second grade he once ate paste.
The Democrats are fearful of all this. The Democrats are always fearful.
“We have been on the precipice of victory before,” Dan Pfeiffer, an Obama spokesman, told me. “You have never seen a more superstitious campaign than ours. We do not talk about victory.”
Talk about it, no. Plan for it, yes.
The boy who would be obsessed with the facts – while most of us would have been satisfied that we had blocks as a child – Karl Rove would have counted his — and moved to sorting them out into colors and levels of importance.
WASHINGTON — Karl Rove has inspired a generation of Republican imitators, Democratic vilifiers and, in this election, a term that has reached full-on political buzzword status: “Rovian.”As in, this presidential campaign has been rife with “Rovian tactics” in recent days. This essentially means aggressive tactics — or dirty, in the view of Democrats, who use the term often, and not lovingly.“John McCain has gone Karl Rovian,” Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. said at a recent campaign stop, a variation on a standard stump line from Senator Barack Obama’s running mate.
On Fox News after the presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers
Karl Rove, of course, is the revered and reviled Republican maestro who has become ubiquitous in his new career as a commentator, columnist and conversation-starter. He left the Bush administration 13 months ago, yet continues to loom over a campaign that has become the backdrop for his post-White House reinvention.
On Fox News after Tuesday’s presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers, a guilt-by-association tactic that many Democrats decried, naturally, as “Rovian.” Last weekend, Mr. Rove said on his Web site, Rove.com, that Mr. Obama, based on a compilation of recent polling, would win 273 electoral votes — enough to defeat Senator John McCain if the election were held then. While polls had shown the momentum swinging to Mr. Obama, to hear the so-called architect of the Bush presidency saying so was deemed a watershed development among political insiders.
“His name seems as pervasive now as it ever was,” Dan Bartlett, the former senior counselor to President Bush, said of Mr. Rove.
Indeed he does — even though the patron with whom Mr. Rove will always be tied, Mr. Bush, owns some of the lowest presidential-approval ratings ever; even though the “Republican realignment” Mr. Rove once envisioned seems a far-off fantasy.
But Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand, forming the basis of his lucrative post-White House career as a reported seven-figure author, six-figure television commentator and mid-five-figure speaker.
He was in Philadelphia on Monday for a “debate” with former Senator Max Cleland, the Georgia Democrat who lost an arm and two legs in Vietnam. Mr. Cleland lost his 2002 re-election bid after his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, questioned his commitment to domestic security, running an advertisement featuring likenesses of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Many Democrats remain bitter over that defeat, for which Mr. Cleland still largely blames Mr. Rove.
“It’s a source of income for me,” Mr. Cleland said of the Monday joint appearance, sponsored by an insurance trade group, for which he said he was paid $15,000. (Mr. Rove’s speeches reportedly bring $40,000.)
Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand
Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”
It can pay to be the devil himself, or at least thought of that way. “There is an incredible amount of interest in what Karl Rove has to say,” said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, who appears with Mr. Rove on Fox News.
Mr. Wolfson said he was amazed by how often Democrats asked him what Mr. Rove was like off the air. “When I say he’s nice, people look at me like I’m nuts,” he said.
Mr. Rove declined an interview for this article, but engaged somewhat by e-mail. He said little on the record, ignored some questions and was dismissive of others. “Look,” he wrote, “I don’t mean to be rude but I have so much on my plate that my brain explodes when you ask questions like how much of my time I spend on each of my activities or how did I apply skills to my new chapter, et cetera. I can answer simple questions of fact but I am stretched through the election.”
But it clearly delights him, for instance, that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts went on about “the smears of Karl Rove” during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in August. Mr. Rove helpfully pasted a passage from Mr. Kerry’s speech on Rove.com, under the headline “The Losers Have Spoken.”
Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”
Two top McCain campaign aides, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, worked closely with Mr. Rove in the White House and are commonly referred to as “Rove protégés,” a designation that both dispute. Mr. McCain’s top advisers shudder at the perception that Mr. Rove is calling shots for their campaign — in part because his reputation is toxic among many swing voters, and perhaps the best-known victim of “Rovian” hardball tactics was Mr. McCain himself in the 2000 Republican primary campaign.
People close to Mr. Rove said he was determined to leave his mark on this race through public channels. He prepares diligently for his television appearances, and sprinkles his commentaries with the kind of wonkery that goes well beyond the repertoire of most talking heads. (“The Urban Institute and the Brookings Institutions did a study of the Obama tax plan,” Mr. Rove said on Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes” after the Tuesday debate. “The top 5 percent will pay $131 billion more in taxes.”)
Shortly after Mr. Rove left the Bush administration, the Washington lawyer Robert B. Barnett negotiated contracts for Mr. Rove — as a paid speaker, as an author, as a Fox News commentator and as a columnist for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal.
“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,”
Rove.com provides listings of Mr. Rove’s television appearances and columns, an outlet for Mr. Rove to respond to attacks against him in the news media and a place in which he links to articles about himself. “Karl tends to follow what is being said about him, somewhat obsessively I think,” said Scott McClellan, a former White House spokesman under Mr. Bush.
Likewise, Mr. Rove’s public words are closely scoured for hidden meaning. He recently said on Fox News that Mr. McCain’s campaign should be doing more to connect Mr. Obama to the former executives of the fallen lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The next day, Mr. McCain’s campaign released an advertisement doing just that.
“Is John McCain’s campaign taking political directives on how to handle the economic crisis from Karl Rove?” asked the columnist Sam Stein, writing for The Huffington Post.
Political strategists and analysts note the telltale “Rovian” influences on the McCain campaign, especially since Mr. Schmidt was given day-to-day authority in July. The campaign has taken a more aggressive tack against Mr. Obama and developed a sharper rapid-response apparatus, said Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist. (“Very Rove,” Mr. Rollins said.)
Over the summer, the McCain campaign embarked on the classic Rovian strategy of taking an opponent’s perceived strength — in the case of Mr. Obama, his international popularity and ability to draw big crowds — and tried to turn it into a liability, likening Mr. Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,” said Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist and a friend of Mr. Rove, conveying a mixture of suspicion and admiration.
IF you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.
Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history — in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.
At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!”
“I’ve got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,” Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.
Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.
All’s fair in politics. John McCain and Sarah Palin have every right to bring up William Ayers, even if his connection to Obama is minor, even if Ayers’s Weather Underground history dates back to Obama’s childhood, even if establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform. But it’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.
By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete.
What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.
By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.
That’s a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family” was how a McCain press release last week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 — when Obama was 8.
We all know what punishment fits the crime of murder, or even potential murder, if the security of post-9/11 America is at stake. We all know how self-appointed “patriotic” martyrs always justify taking the law into their own hands.
Obama can hardly be held accountable for Ayers’s behavior 40 years ago, but at least McCain and Palin can try to take some responsibility for the behavior of their own supporters in 2008. What’s troubling here is not only the candidates’ loose inflammatory talk but also their refusal to step in promptly and strongly when someone responds to it with bloodthirsty threats in a crowded arena. Joe Biden had it exactly right when he expressed concern last week that “a leading American politician who might be vice president of the United States would not just stop midsentence and turn and condemn that.” To stay silent is to pour gas on the fires.
No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler — who in the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”
It wasn’t always thus with McCain. In February he loudly disassociated himself from a speaker who brayed “Barack Hussein Obama” when introducing him at a rally in Ohio. Now McCain either backpedals with tardy, pro forma expressions of respect for his opponent or lets second-tier campaign underlings release boilerplate disavowals after ugly incidents like the chilling Jim Crow-era flashback last week when a Florida sheriff ranted about “Barack Hussein Obama” at a Palin rally while in full uniform.
From the start, there have always been two separate but equal questions about race in this election. Is there still enough racism in America to prevent a black man from being elected president no matter what? And, will Republicans play the race card? The jury is out on the first question until Nov. 4. But we now have the unambiguous answer to the second: Yes.
McCain, who is no racist, turned to this desperate strategy only as Obama started to pull ahead. The tone was set at the Republican convention, with Rudy Giuliani’s mocking dismissal of Obama as an “only in America” affirmative-action baby. We also learned then that the McCain campaign had recruited as a Palin handler none other than Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina consultant who had worked for George W. Bush in the notorious 2000 G.O.P. primary battle where the McCains and their adopted Bangladeshi daughter were slimed by vicious racist rumors.
Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.
No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”
This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.
The operatives who would have Palin quote Pegler have been at it ever since. A key indicator came two weeks after the convention, when the McCain campaign ran its first ad tying Obama to the mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Rather than make its case by using a legitimate link between Fannie and Obama (or other Democratic leaders), the McCain forces chose a former Fannie executive who had no real tie to Obama or his campaign but did have a black face that could dominate the ad’s visuals.
There are indeed so few people of color at McCain events that a black senior writer from The Tallahassee Democrat was mistakenly ejected by the Secret Service from a campaign rally in Panama City in August, even though he was standing with other reporters and showed his credentials.
There are no black faces high in the McCain hierarchy to object to these tactics. There hasn’t been a single black Republican governor, senator or House member in six years. This is a campaign where Palin can repeatedly declare that Alaska is “a microcosm of America” without anyone even wondering how that might be so for a state whose tiny black and Hispanic populations are each roughly one-third the national average. There are indeed so few people of color at McCain events that a black senior writer from The Tallahassee Democrat was mistakenly ejected by the Secret Service from a campaign rally in Panama City in August, even though he was standing with other reporters and showed his credentials. His only apparent infraction was to look glaringly out of place.
Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black — as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign “suspension,” a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.
The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder.
To see how fast the tide is moving, just look at North Carolina. On July 4 this year — the day that the godfather of modern G.O.P. racial politics, Jesse Helms, died — The Charlotte Observer reported that strategists of both parties agreed Obama’s chances to win the state fell “between slim and none.” Today, as Charlotte reels from the implosion of Wachovia, the McCain-Obama race is a dead heat in North Carolina and Helms’s Republican successor in the Senate, Elizabeth Dole, is looking like a goner.
But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and Obama have to get there safely. The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.
How could John McCain think the economy was sound ~ for who?
He has admitting in the past ~ not understanding the economy ~
And Palin is clearly clueless. She spent 88 days working as governor out of 19 months. Palin once walked in to a meeting of Alaska’s Mayors ~ where they had just taken a vote ~ on whether anyone of them had met with her ~ few raised their hands ~ the story goes that Palin entered the meeting spoke for a few minutes ~ then told everyone there she had to cut the meeting short as she was on her way to an anti-abortion rally. The whole thing is being to look way too maverick!
I am forced to admit a fatal fascination with Sarah Palin. I think that some very sharp Republican operatives have ensnared me in a magician’s trick. Boy, that ol’ maverick John McCain really gambled on this one. And it looks like he has come up all aces. Polls tighten, and Electoral College estimates swerve close enough to concern anyone hoping to end our current Bush nightmare.
So let’s review what is at stake. Maverick claims that only he can define victory in Iraq, regardless of Iraqi sentiment, U.S.-Iraq agreements, or popular yearnings. Maverick claims he will institute new energy initiatives after a career of voting down alternative energy development. Maverick claims that the Bush tax cuts are the only means to getting us out of our current economic woes, even though he vigorously opposed them seven years ago during a much stronger economic phase.
You can add your own list of horrors that we will continue to struggle with-health care, growing income inequality, warfare in place of diplomacy, torture, executive overreach, court appointees. But hand it to Karl Rove’s doppelganger-we are talking Sarah, not talking issues.
So the Republicans gamble all on a little known woman, hoping that her unseemly side stays hidden for 60 days. Let me posit an election guess. Somehow, the potential bombs that are strewn throughout her Alaskan story will fail to ignite. McCain will carry this newfound enthusiasm pulling down enough states to scare prayers out of Democratic secularists. However, he will not crack the glass ceiling of 270 electoral votes. He would need to run the table of all possible states in play and just like Gore and Kerry he will get tripped up somewhere. My guess would be Ohio as the Dems control the state voting apparatus this time.
So what gives with the Palin fascination? Mrs. Palin clearly shows how reckless Senator McCain has become, how little he is in personal control of his party’s agenda. Much has been made that her vetting was short on depth and length. He wanted Lieberman or Ridge, politicians who unfortunately were DOA for large segments of the Christian right. Who controlled this VP pick? Who is running the show?
What happens if Sarah Barracuda becomes president shortly after winning the election? Can anyone safely say? This election is not about the issues per the Republican campaign chief. Smart move, as focusing on the issues will bring the GOP nothing but electoral disaster.
I foresee a real possibility that Sarah Palin will blow up in the Republicans’ face. The pastiche she has cobbled together is full of holes. She “sold the plane on eBay”? No, she listed it there, but sold it at a loss through a broker. She said “thanks, but no thanks” to Congress on the bridge? No, in fact Alaska kept the money. She wants privacy for her pregnant daughter? Then why parade said daughter and fiancé in front of the nation?
Yes, my fatal fascination with Mrs. Palin has all the earmarks of watching a car crash. Will she escape serious harm? Troopergate? Whose-babygate? National Enquirer snooping? Will the entire charade blow up with some level of proof about their allegations of an affair? McCain’s gamble on the inexperienced Mrs. Palin is only troubling given that we have a scant two months to know if she can handle the job. It is possible that this gamble will backfire catastrophically and harm the Republicans for years. I’ll be watching closely, fatally fascinated, yet praying that Barack keeps his focus on the issues.
Source: Wednesday’s Journal