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Obama plays “race card” in call for 2010 elections? April 27, 2010

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , add a comment

Ed Morrissey

Drudge has this clip highlighted with the headline, “OBAMA PLAYS RACE CARD” in bold letters at the top of the page. Ben Smith at Politico goes with a less-provocative description of “unusual demographic frankness” in describing this effort from the DNC to get the troops rallied for the midterm elections. Both descriptions seem more ironic after watching this wan, mailed-in effort from Barack Obama that reminds one more of his video extolling Martha Coakley’s virtues to skeptical Massachusetts voters:

The Democratic National Committee this morning released this clip of the president rallying the troops, if rather coolly, for 2010. Obama’s express goal: “reconnecting” with the voters who voted for the first time in 2008, but who may not plan to vote in the lower-profile Congressional elections this year.

Obama speaks with unusual demographic frankness about his coalition in his appeal to “young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again.”

Well, at least we know who the DNC doesn’t want around in the midterms by subtraction: older white and Asian men.  At least, that’s a fair interpretation of the President’s otherwise dull speech to the faithful.

It’s not exactly playing a “race card,” which usually means some claim of either victimization or super-credibility for a particular argument, but it’s a little more frank than usual about the motives of political organizations.  No one doubts that both parties approach electoral politics on the basis of demographics; both Democrats and Republicans make quite a show of it, especially when talking to groups that find their basis on ethnicity or religion.  What they normally don’t do is frame it in such an exclusionary way as Obama does in this video.  Is this election really dependent on overwhelming the demographics that he leaves out of his appeal?

In a word, yes.  Obama won’t top this ticket, and with his approval ratings heading steadily south, it’s questionable whether he would help or hurt the national Democratic ticket anyway.  As Smith notes, he needs that surge from 2008 to reappear this year, but Obama’s really addressing the wrong groups if he wants that to happen.  His big problem is that independents have peeled away from the Democrats — and this isn’t exactly the way to bring them back into the fold.

New Poll Finds Voter Anger Drove Results of Mass. Election January 24, 2010

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , 2comments

By Dan balz and Jon Cohen


Political Storm Brewing

Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, antipathy toward federal-government activism and opposition to the Democrats’ health-care proposals drove the upset election of Republican senatorial candidate Scott Brown in Massachusetts, according to a post-election survey of state voters.

The poll by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University’s School of Public Health underscores how significantly voter anger has turned toward Democrats in Washington and how dramatically the political landscape has shifted during President Obama‘s first year in office.

The findings do not provide a political portrait of the entire country in the opening weeks of the 2010 election year. But given that Massachusetts has been reliably Democratic in presidential elections, the results of Tuesday’s special Senate election and the reasons voters sided with Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley speak to broader shifts that have taken place across the country over the past year.

These changes were echoed in national polling and helped elect Republican governors in Virginia and New Jersey in November. Democrats have been put squarely on the defensive. Obama and Democratic leaders are looking for ways to alter the political dynamics in the hope of heading off potentially sizable losses in their congressional majorities in this November’s elections.

Sixty-three percent of Massachusetts special-election voters say the country is seriously off track, and Brown captured two-thirds of these voters on Tuesday. In November 2008, Obama won decisively among the more than 80 percent of Massachusetts voters seeing the country as off-course.

Nearly two-thirds of Brown’s supporters say their vote was intended at least in part to express opposition to the Democratic agenda in Washington, but few say the senator-elect should simply work to stop it. Three-quarters of those who voted for Brown say they would like him to work with Democrats to get Republican ideas into legislation in general; nearly half say so specifically about health-care legislation.

When Obama was elected, 63 percent of Massachusetts voters said government should do more to solve problems, according to exit polling. In the new poll, that number slipped to 50 percent, with 47 percent saying government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.

Like Obama, Coakley won the votes of more than 70 percent of those seeking government involvement, but the bigger pool of voters seeing government overreach helped Brown claim victory.

Health care topped jobs and the economy as the most important issue driving Massachusetts voters, but among voters for Brown, it was closely followed by the economy and jobs, and “the way Washington is working.”

Overall, 43 percent of Massachusetts voters say they support the health-care proposals advanced by Obama and congressional Democrats; 48 percent oppose them. Among Brown’s supporters, eight in 10 said they were opposed to the measures, 66 percent of them strongly so.

Sizable majorities of voters for Brown see the Democrats’ plan, if passed, as making things worse for their families, the country and Massachusetts. Few Coakley voters see these negatives, and most of those backing her see clear benefits for the country if health-care reform becomes law. Less than half of Coakley’s supporters say they or the state would be better off as a result.

Among Brown’s supporters who say the health-care reform effort in Washington played an important role in their vote, the most frequently cited reasons were concerns about the process, including closed-door dealing and a lack of bipartisanship. Three in 10 highlighted these political maneuverings as the motivating factor; 22 percent expressed general opposition to reform or the current bill.

Massachusetts enacted a universal health-care plan several years ago, and the survey shows that it remains highly popular. Overall, 68 percent of the voters in Tuesday’s election say they support the plan, including slightly more than half of those voting for Brown.

Obama also remains popular in Massachusetts. More than six in 10 of those who voted approve of his job performance, with 92 percent of Coakley’s voters expressing satisfaction, along with 33 percent of Brown’s. More than half of Brown’s backers say Obama was not a factor in their vote.

But the Obama administration’s policies draw some fire, with nearly half of all special-election voters either dissatisfied or angry about those initiatives. Three-quarters of Brown’s supporters expressed the negative view.

Despite the resistance to the Democratic agenda, Obama signaled Friday that he will continue to fight for his policies, including health care. Speaking in Elyria, Ohio, the president acknowledged that he had run into “a buzz saw” of opposition. “I didn’t take this up to boost my poll numbers,” he said. He added, “And I’m not going to walk away just because it’s hard.”

GOP policies prove even less popular, with 58 percent of Massachusetts voters saying they are dissatisfied or angry about what Republicans in Congress are offering. Among those voting for Brown, 60 percent give positive marks to the policies of congressional Republicans, but a sizable number, 37 percent, offer a negative appraisal.

The Massachusetts election brought another indication that the Obama coalition from 2008 has splintered, just as the results in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey showed in November.

Compared with the 2008 presidential results, Coakley suffered significant erosion among whites, independents and working-class voters, according to the survey.

In Massachusetts, independents made up about half of Tuesday’s electorate, according to the poll, and they supported Brown by nearly 2 to 1. Obama carried Bay State independents by 17 percentage points in 2008. Among those voting for Brown, 28 percent said they backed Obama over Republican John McCain.

Tuesday’s competitive election caught many poll-watchers by surprise, with news interest in the campaign peaking too late to organize an exit poll of voters on Election Day. The Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University conducted this poll to provide a more complete picture of the stated motivations of special-election voters.

Obama and The Dems Are in Big, Big Trouble Three Reasons Why January 22, 2010

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by Nick Gillespie

Martha Coakley’s resounding defeat in the Massachusetts Senate race is hardly the sort of anniversary gift President Barack Obama could have predicted. Yet there it was, wrapped in a bow and plopped on his doorstep like a flaming bag of dog poo to mark the end of his first year in office.

Among other things, Scott Brown’s upset victory means that Obama, who flew up to the Bay State to campaign for the deservedly doomed Coakley in the race’s twilight, is zero for three when it comes to high-profile two-minute drills for beloved causes (remember getting Chicago the Olympics and putting together a global carbon deal at the U.N climate conference in Copenhagen?).

There are at least three basic reasons, plain as the nose on your face, that the Democrats and Obama are in trouble for the near future:

1. Health care reform is not popular. An ABC News/Washington Post poll published on January 19 has 51 percent against current congressional plans and just 44 percent in favor, numbers that haven’t moved in a month. Other polls show even greater percentages oppose the plan, with all the trend lines over the past year working heavily against the Democrats.

People fear the obvious: “Reform” that increases the government’s role in anything virtually guarantees steadily increasing costs, lower levels of services, and ballooning federal deficits. All the special-interest carve-outs to buy votes from wavering senators and pay down objections from Big Labor didn’t help either, especially on an issue that was not boiling over on the front-burner of voter concerns at a time of prolonged economic crisis.

2. The stimulus and TARP bailouts are not popular. They never were, even back when Republicans were pushing them, and are getting less and less so as it becomes clear that such policies are at best ineffective and at worst horribly counterproductive. During his first year in office, reports Congressional Quarterly, Obama got what he wanted from Congress a record-setting 97 percent of time, so it’s not like he’s simply muddling through with a bad hand. Yet the president (and by extension, the Dems) are tanking when it comes to handling the economy, both in terms of results and job approval. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from January 10 shows just 43 percent approving of Obama’s economic policies, down from 56 percent a year ago.

Simply put, nobody believes that weatherizing vacant homes in Detroit or keeping an already bloated public sector on permanent life support is going to restart the economy.

3. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not popular. Neither is Obama’s foreign policy more generally. According to Gallup, Obama’s reaction (or non-reaction) to the Christmas Day bomber had a marginally positive effect on the president’s marks for handling terrorism, but it remains a fact that his positions on Iraq and especially Afghanistan are at odds with most Americans. Whatever latent peacenik tendencies his supporters and detractors assumed he harbored, Obama has doubled, or even tripled, down in Afghanistan while following the Bush-Petraeus withdrawal plan in Iraq. This may qualify as hope, but it doesn’t count much as change. Especially since we’ve still got no real clear mission in Afghanistan, despite having been there for so long.

Obama’s failure to define a coherent foreign policy is not his alone. At the end of the Cold War, the political class shrugged and almost immediately began to spend “the peace dividend” that came with a winding down of military spending as a percentage of GDP and the federal budget. Both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton cut relative military spending, as they should have. Where they, and Bush II and Obama so far, manifestly failed was in working to build a consensus of what U.S. foreign policy should be. We continue to pay for that failure in wasted dollars and, more damningly, wasted lives.

All is not ashes for Obama and the Democrats, of course. After all, a new AP-GfK poll finds that 49 percent of Americans want the Democrats to maintain control of Congress (just 37 percent are pulling for the Republicans to take charge). The GOP had its run at the top and the results were nothing less than a disaster on just about every front.

For those of us who don’t paint our faces for either the red or blue teams, the tragicomedy of American politics is that each party looks pretty freaking awesome when compared to its counterpart. As bad as Bush was, Obama may well be worse. As rotten as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are, just remember Trent Lott and Dennis Hastert. Now reverse the party affiliations and repeat. In their hour of darkness, all the Dems need to recall is that they are running against Republicans. And vice versa. Independents–the only reliably growing voting bloc in an electorate long since fatigued by two-party politics–are swinging violently against Democrats after throwing the Republican bums out in 2008 and 2006.

The hangover from the first year of Obama and the afterglow of Scott Brown’s stunning senatorial upset can teach the major parties some real lessons: First and foremost, listen to the voters, especially voters who are calling for smaller government despite very tough times. In a recent ABC News/Washington Post survey, 58 percent say they favor smaller government that provides fewer services rather than bigger government and more services (38 percent want that). Moving in that direction would indeed constitute change. For a change.

The way back to voters’ hearts is not through boosting the size and scope of government (something else that Obama and the Dems simply filched from the Bush-era GOP) but by unmistakably trimming some sails. Health care reform, such as it is, should consist of giving individuals more options via a deregulated, non-job-based marketplace where costs are made more transparent rather than less so. It works everywhere else in the economy and will work in health care. Regarding government spending, it means freezes all around and reductions in staff sizes at all levels of government. It means starting (and winning) a debate over ridiculous public-sector retirement packages that bankrupt whole polities for the benefit of a privileged few. With foreign policy, it means thinking through a coherent set of principles that will guide our interactions, and not just our reactions, in the world, focusing on trade rather than aid and warfare. It means fighting terrorism with amply-funded intelligence services rather than the misbegotten occupation of whole troubled regions.

The 21st century has so far been a tremendous disappointment to those of us who remember the end of the 20th. We know that today’s leaders are dogs, but here’s hoping they are not so old that they can’t learn a few new tricks. Especially since we are the ones that will continue paying for their mistakes.

Was the Progressive Cat Let Out of the Bag by Obama? January 19, 2010

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by SusanAnne Hiller

President Obama traveled to Boston to help stop the bleeding of Martha Coakley’s campaign from several self-inflicted wounds. There are many critiques of the speech, with some pundits saying Obama was flat, uninteresting, and full of the usual drive-by campaign rhetoric that we have all become able to recite ad nauseum.

As most of us are aware, Obama–without his teleprompter–rambles, is at times incoherent, and goes on and on to answer a yes or no question. He needs his teleprompter. It’s not like an addiction need, it’s more like ‘I really need my teleprompter, because I don’t want to say what you don’t want to hear’ type of issue.

Obama and his compliant press have tried to manufacture him as a centrist; however, that cover has been blown as of today.

What was stated in the Coakley cheerleading campaign speech in Boston, I don’t think Obama meant to say. He’s been off the campaign trail for so long, that he’s not on his game; I think the misstatement by Obama was a huge gaffe. At about 4:28 during the speech, Obama states:

“…you will carry on the best progressive, forward-looking values…”

He alluded to Massachusetts’ as being progressive and may have thought he was in good company, but for those watching the speech who are undecided and awakened to the whole progressive agenda, maybe not so much anymore. I’ve seen many speeches, and I have yet to hear Obama use the word progressive. He is very careful to hide his progressive roots from the Independent voters who are so critical. It is also further confirmation to the rest of the country, for those who continue to doubt, that he is indeed a progressive and clearly not a centrist

Finally, could Obama have underestimated the people in Massachusetts? Could they be reclaiming their history as it appears? After all, Massachusetts did fire the shot that was heard around the world.

The Police Department That “Acted Stupidly” Endorses Scott Brown January 18, 2010

Posted by seeineye in : Politics , 21comments

by Ed Morrissey

n July, the very last time Barack Obama held a press conference, Obama took the time to offer his thoughts on the professionalism of the Cambridge Police Department in their arrest of his friend Henry “Skip” Gates.   After saying that Sergeant James Crowley “acted stupidly” despite not having “all the facts,” several of Crowley’s colleagues expressed their support of him by announcing that they wouldn’t vote for Obama in 2012.  Their union has found a way to make their displeasure known much earlier — by endorsing Scott Brown over Martha Coakley:

All Members,

Members of our Association have inquired and requested that we endorse Scott Brown in the upcoming election against Martha Coakley. Ms. Coakley along with some of her campaign workers have talked publicly about how her husband is a retired Cambridge Police Officer, giving appearances that she is being endorsed by the Cambridge Police. This may be an innocent insinuation but most do take this as our giving her our support and endorsement. Yesterday, the CPPOA Executive Board voted to endorse State Senator Scott Brown in the upcoming election for US Senate. In an 11 to 2 vote, the Executive Board voted overwhelmingly in favor of the endorsement. We do not endorse anyone who advocates changes in the health care that take away any bargaining rights or increases our cost along with our contributions. Senator Brown does not support the Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Bill and promises to be the 41st vote to ensure its defeat. The current leadership at the state house, as we all know and have seen over the past two years, have an agenda to dismantle all of our hard earned bargained benefits and they will continue to dismantle these until there is a complete change from the top down. Martha Coakley is part of this Massachusetts leadership and she will continue with this agenda, only now it will be at the capital level and we need to stop it. So today, we the members of the Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association endorse Scott Brown for the senate seat vacated by Senator Kennedy.


Stephen Killion
President Cambridge Police

There are a couple of points of embarrassment here.  First, Coakley’s husband, as Killion notes, was a former Cambridge police officer.  Not only didn’t that give Coakley an edge, the 11-2 vote shows that it didn’t make much difference at all.  Note too that the union opposes Coakley expressly on ObamaCare, but from the perspective of protecting their collective bargaining ability.  They’re accusing her of being more or less anti-union, an interesting charge coming from any union towards a Democrat.

The other embarrassment comes with having an AG get opposed by a police union, which we saw in Worcester as well.  We missed another instance of a police organization turning its back on the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the state earlier this week, too — when the State Police Association of Massachusetts endorsed Scott Brown: