Saturday, November 08, 2014

Yin-Yang D.C.? You’re Kidding, Right? (Reprising 2006)

So Republicans won big, and Washington is once again evenly divided--Democratic President, Republican Congress. Time for yin-yang: compromise and work together for the good of the nation?

GOP guru Karl Rove writes:
Republicans shouldn’t rest on their laurels or reach for last year’s congressional playbook. Voters expect constructive action, not obstructionism. They want Washington to work and lawmakers to get things done. Their expectations are low because their distrust of politicians is high. So surprise them. The rewards will be great if the GOP shows it has a governing agenda.
Republicans should go big, pushing a comprehensive reform agenda even if the president objects. Republicans should try working with Mr. Obama to forge legislative compromises. But if he refuses to engage, Republicans should move, although they must be willing to defend their proposals with conviction.
In other words, “no ‘yin-yang’ here!  Republicans are aiming to occupy the White House in 2016, with or without Obama’s help.”

Here’s what I wrote in 2006, after a similar opposite party (Democratic) triumph over an increasingly unpopular president (Bush). With words changed to update the entry; it reads well for 2014:
yin-yang unity is not to be. Why?
• The country is pretty evenly divided into two warring camps. The Republicans [first] nationalized congressional elections in 2002 and 2004, turning out Democrats for being wrong on the War on Terror. Now we have a [seventh] straight nationalized election, this time [again] by the [Republicans] running in every section of the country against [Obama] and [a poor economy]. Nationalized elections and polarization are the result of efficient political operations that find and bring home their voters. These nationalized elections are here to stay, and will keep America divided.
• [2016] will shape the next two years in Washington. [Republicans] in Congress aren’t interested in passing the kind of legislation [Obama] might sign. They’re interested in electing a [Republican] president in [2016], so they can truly take over. Every issue they push through Congress will be designed to divide [Democrats] from the national majority, so that [Republican] control will replace divided government. Every Congressional investigation of [Obama] administration wrongdoing will reach for the same objective. Taking over Congress is just a first step to true power.
• Only united government produces real change. The last [great] burst of real Democratic creativity came in 1964-65, when in the aftermath of Kennedy’s assassination, Democrats had the full control they needed to pass tax reform, civil rights legislation, Medicare, and the National Education Act. Reagan had a burst of creativity in 1981-82, because a Republican Senate and Southern “Blue Dog” House Democrats provided the majority needed to cut taxes and the size of government. [I]n 1995[-96], [Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich] united to produce welfare reform and the balanced budgets that turbocharged our late 1990’s economy. Clinton needed Republicans to give him a record to run on for re-election. And Gingrich fully understood he was aiding Clinton’s re-election. [Today's Republican] leaders, unlike Gingrich, hope for their own president in [2016]. Once everything is [red], [Republicans] will achieve their next burst of creativity.
Unified rule can blow up in your face.  To hold [Democrats] together [in 2009-2010 when Democrats had all the power, Obama hewed] to . . . the views of his extremes ([Democrats pushed] programs supported by [only Democrats--their “stimulus” and especially Obamacare]). Extremism ended up costing [Democrats] the [next] election. The same thing happened in 1993-94, the [previous] time Democrats controlled everything.
And here’s a bigger “but.” We have discovered another regular pattern--Republicans do better in low-turnout mid-term elections, Democrats do better in presidential years. It is markedly less likely that the Republicans will win in 2016, following their Tuesday mid-term triumph than it was that Democrats would win in 2008 following their (rare) mid-term victory in 2006. When their base shows up at the polls, Democrats win the popular vote--five of the last six presidential elections.

Republicans have their work cut out for them in 2016.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Obama Goes to Iran

Underlining the importance the Obama administration places on turning Iran from enemy into U.S. partner, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes likened an Iranian nuclear deal to Obamacare in a talk to progressive activists last January (audio here):
Bottom line is, this is the best opportunity we’ve had to resolve the Iranian issue diplomatically, certainly since President Obama came to office, and probably since the beginning of the Iraq war. So no small opportunity, it’s a big deal. This is probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy. This is healthcare for us, just to put it in context.
Rhodes also said at the time that the White House wants to bypass Congress, which likely would seek to block any such deal:
We’re already kind of thinking through, how do we structure a deal so we don’t necessarily require legislative action right away. And there are ways to do that.
Matthew Continetti of the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which obtained the tape of Rhodes’ private remarks, noted the Rhodes proposal to bypass Congress echoes what an unnamed “senior administration official” told New York Times correspondent David Sanger last week: “We wouldn’t seek congressional legislation in any comprehensive agreement for years.”

Continetti fears Obama sees an Iran deal not just as his second term health care reform, but as his version of George W. Bush’s Iraq surge: a Hail Mary pass thrown in the fourth quarter in a long-shot attempt to salvage a legacy.

We’ve repeatedly said Obama’s aim is much higher. The president wants his own “Nixon goes to China” historic achievement--a grand re-positioning of U.S. foreign policy, gained by turning our greatest enemy into a new partner.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Democratic Progressivism--100 years plus, still going. . .going . . .

Are Democrats in a rut? Jay Cost of the conservative Weekly Standard writes:
For over a decade, Democrats have been salivating at the prospect of demographic changes propelling them to permanent majority status. Obama in particular has been active on this front, and has ruthlessly divided the country along race, gender, and class lines in the hope of speeding this process along. But he has overlooked two historical realities[:]
  • parties adapt, and; 
  • despite our political class’s pretensions to power, they remain mere pawns [to, in Constitution architect James Madison’s words, a] “variety of parties and interests.” 
So is the public in fact tiring of Democrats’ constant effort to build and hold together its minorities-unmarried women-hip youth coalition? Maybe.

James Taranto in the conservative Wall Street Journal finds even the New York Times concerned about the stridency and bluntness of Democratic attempts to inject race into the mid-term elections. Taranto quotes the paper I brand “the liberals’ Pravda writing:
In the final days before the election, Democrats in the closest Senate races across the South are turning to racially charged messages—invoking Trayvon Martin’s death, the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., and Jim Crow-era segregation—to jolt African-Americans into voting and stop a Republican takeover in Washington.
The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression. And their source is surprising. The effort is being led by national Democrats and their state party organizations—not, in most instances, by the shadowy and often untraceable political action committees that typically employ such provocative messages.
Taranto calls “surprising” the Times story’s "somewhat disapproving tone,” adding, “It’s a news story, but it wouldn’t be hard to rewrite it into an opinion piece arguing that the Dems are getting desperate.”