Thursday, January 24, 2013

Go for Unconditional Surrender: “Pulverize” the GOP

“There’s a moment of opportunity now that’s important. What’s frustrating is that we don’t have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the opportunity.”

--Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s communications director

"The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat. . . Obama’s only remaining option is to pulverize.”

--John Dickerson, liberal CBS political director, in “Slate” 

To these quotes from Obama’s side, add this analysis from conservative Peter Wehner, writing in Commentary:
You are either with Obama–or you are with the forces of cruelty and bigotry. In Obama’s world, there is no middle ground. He is the Voice of Reason; those who oppose him are the voice of the mob. They are the ones who (to cite [the inaugural address]) mistake absolutism for principle, substitute spectacle for politics, and treat name-calling as reasoned debate. . .And for all of his self-perceived similarities with Abraham Lincoln, he is the antithesis of Lincoln when it comes to grace, a charitable spirit and a commitment to genuine reconciliation. Mr. Obama is, at his core, a divider. He seems to relish it.
We have several times acknowledged that “Politics is a continuation of war by other means." I wrote it and I meant it. But even I failed to imagine that because World War II, our last good war, ended with the allies settling for no less than Germany’s and Japan’s unconditional surrender, the modern-day political analogy for that war might be a call to--in House speaker John Boehner’s words--"annihilate" the GOP opposition (picture).  But lo, that very goal is now before us.

In 1972, I did understand in similar terms what Nixon was aiming to do to Democrats. As commander-in-chief, Nixon in his war in Indochina had the full powers of the office at his disposal, not only the U.S. war machine but also the CIA with its range of “dirty tricks” capabilities. Yet Nixon’s most important enemies were domestic, not foreign, and that darned Constitution prevented him from going after them with a similar set of tools. Thus, 1972’s secret Watergate attempt to bug the Democratic party headquarters.

Perhaps in part because the media have Obama’s back while Nixon’s major enemies began with the media, Obama has more freedom to go after Republicans without openly breaking the law. We recently showed how organization, concentrated amounts of money, and a quasi-legal negative campaign helped turn the 2012 Senate race in lightly-populated Montana from GOP red to Democratic blue.

To capture the U.S. House, and thereby regain total control of Washington, Democrats need only win the equivalent of 11 “Montanas” in 2014 (Montana has 1 million people, House districts average 650,000, Democrats need 17 more seats to capture the House, 17 x 650,000 = 11 million, or in population terms, 11 Montanas).

In the 2012 Montana Senate race, both parties together spent $50 million, one of the most expensive per-voter races in the country. If Democrats alone, therefore, spend $500 million to contest vigorously the, say, weakest 25 House seats held by Republicans, total victory is possible.

And for Democrats, raising $500 million is nothing. Obama has kept his campaign organization alive, an organization that raised $1.1 billion last year, has money left over, has a supporter data base of 12 million e-mail addresses, and is headed by Jim Messina, a Montana University graduate who oversaw the Montana senate campaign mentioned above that could be a prototype for what will happen in 25 GOP House districts nationwide.

Consider these additional facts:

1. Though Republicans have 16 more seats than the minimum needed to control the House, Democrats in 2012 captured 1.1 million more votes total in House races than did Republicans.

2. There are 16 House Republicans representing districts Obama carried.

No wonder Boehner fears “annihilation.”

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