November Surprise: Decisions on Immigration, Iran and Other Hot Issues that were Delayed for Political Reasons will be Coming SoonPosted: October 29, 2014
The problem, as the Founders saw it, is to prevent the president or Congress from acquiring unchecked power, as they will inevitably try to do. The solution was to divide powers between the executive and the legislature and hope that they would be constrained by countervailing institutional interests. But Harry Reid is a “party man,” not a “Senate man.”
Mr. Lipson is a professor of political science and director of the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security at the University of Chicago.
Charles Lipson writes: With the midterm elections looming, the White House has delayed controversial decisions and appointments. That makes sense politically. The administration doesn’t want to force Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Michelle Nunn, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, or other embattled Democrats to defend presidential actions right now, or worse, to oppose them publicly. But as soon as the voting is done (perhaps after runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia), several big shoes will drop. Here are the most likely ones.
Obama’s Post-Election Policy Blowout
1) Immigration. How many millions will the president let in? On what terms? One hint: The Department of Homeland Security recently ordered more than four million green cards and visas for next year and says it might order another 29 million for future years.
“All of these matters have been high-profile and potentially deeply divisive. That is precisely why the White House is postponing any announcements. When the administration finally does speak, it will unleash a political storm, even if Democrats hold the Senate.”
The cards would give immigrants who are here illegally the right to continue living and working in the U.S. legally—and perhaps receive a variety of federal and state benefits. Should the president unilaterally issue these cards, there will be a brutal debate over the wisdom of this policy, whether it extends to welfare benefits, and whether the president has the constitutional authority to issue so many cards without specific congressional approval.
“If Republicans win, those winds will reach hurricane force, since the president will likely try to ram everything through a lame-duck Congress. If that happens, consider boarding up the windows.”
2) The next U.S. attorney general. The president wants a crusader on progressive causes and a reliable firewall to protect him, just as Eric Holder has done. Rumor has it that he wants Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has been the point man on racial preferences. Read the rest of this entry »
On that magical night, for the New York Times, on November 4th, 2008, Adam Nagourney wrote:
Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, sweeping away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease as the country chose him as its first black chief executive.
“The election of Mr. Obama amounted to a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies, and an embrace of Mr. Obama’s call for a change in the direction and the tone of the country.”
“…nothing short of a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds epitomized by the tens of thousands of people who turned out to hear Mr. Obama’s victory speech…”
But it was just as much a strikingly symbolic moment in the evolution of the nation’s fraught racial history, a breakthrough that would have seemed unthinkable just two years ago…
To the very end, Mr. McCain’s campaign was eclipsed by an opponent who was nothing short of a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds epitomized by the tens of thousands of people who turned out to hear Mr. Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park in Chicago.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” said Mr. Obama, standing before a huge wooden lectern with a row of American flags at his back, casting his eyes to a crowd that stretched far into the Chicago night…
Good times, good times. Fast forward to October. 7, 2014.
For the New York Times, Jonathan Martin reports:
In This Election, Obama’s Party Benches Him
CHICAGO — When he soared to victory by almost 10 million votes in 2008, President Obama won in states like Virginia that Democratic candidates had not captured since 1964. He was trumpeted as a transformational leader who remade American politics by creating a new electoral map and a diverse voter coalition to shape the Democratic Party for the 21st century.
“But for now he has been reduced to something else: an isolated political figure who is viewed as a liability to Democrats in the very states where voters by the thousands had once stood to cheer him.”
“As November nears, Mr. Obama and his loyalists are being forced to reconcile that it is not only Democrats in conservative-leaning states, like Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who are avoiding him.”
Hmm…A repudiation of a historically unpopular Democrat president and his economic and foreign policies?
Alexander Bolton reports: Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.
In the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, the Democrats are publicly prodding the agency instead of lobbying them directly. They are also careful to say the IRS should treat conservative and liberal groups equally, but they’re concerned about an impending tidal wave of attack ads funded by GOP-allied organizations. Much of the funding for those groups is secret, in contrast to the donations lawmakers collect, which must be reported publicly.
One of the most powerful groups is Americans for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. It has already spent close to $30 million on ads attacking Democrats this election cycle.
Looking for the political middle in Congress? It’s gone.
Check out this amazing chart courtesy of Bill McInturff of GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies — that uses National Journal’s vote ratings to illustrate the decline and near-disappearance of the political middle over the past three decades.
In 1982, there were 344 Members whose voting records fell somewhere between the most conservative voting Democrat and the most liberal voting Republican in the House. Thirty years later, there were 11. That means that in 1982 the centrists — or at least those who by voting record were somewhere near the middle of their respective parties — comprised 79 percent of the House. In 2012 they made up 2.5 percent of the House. So, yeah.
Much attention has been focused on whether Republicans this time will nominate candidates capable of winning key races, which they failed to do in the two previous election cycles. But another interesting question is how Democrats will try to hold onto seats in Republican-leaning states even as Barack Obama maintains his strong tilt to the political left. Read the rest of this entry »
By Ed Morrissey
Surprise, surprise, surprise … or not. Democrats seem poised to relearn an old lesson in the 2014 midterms, which is that gun control is a losing message. In fact, some of them are already learning it — thanks to their own side:
When Congress in April defeated an effort to strengthen the national background-check system for gun sales, it was mostly on the strength of Republican opposition. Less than two months later, proponents of stricter gun laws have decided that a small number of Democrats will make more productive targets.
In the Senate, all but four Republicans opposed the background-check measure. They have emerged mostly unscathed by the various campaigns advocating for stricter gun laws in the wake of the December attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 schoolchildren and teachers. …
In a letter to more than 1,000 donors, Bloomberg called out the four Democrats — Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.). “Instead of rising above politics to pass a law that would save lives,” he wrote, the four senators “sided with a gun lobby increasingly out of touch with Americans’ priorities.”
“The next time these four Senators want you to support them with donations to their campaigns, tell them you cannot,” Bloomberg wrote.
By asking campaign donors to withhold funds, the deep-pocketed mayor went against the will of his congressional Democratic allies, who tried but failed to secure enough GOP support for the gun bill and have warned that public criticism of vulnerable Democrats who voted against the bill will result in Republican gains and less of a chance to enact new gun laws.
First, the strategy of the gun-control advocates — especially Bloomberg, but also Barack Obama and leading members of the Democratic Party — practically guaranteed failure. They whipped up anger and demagogued on the Newtown and Aurora shootings in order to push solutions that would have addressed neither of those tragedies. If all they wanted were expanded background checks, they could have reached out to the NRA and some of these red-state officeholders in the House and Senate to craft a rational approach to that, without waving the bloody shirt constantly. Instead, they pushed for another irrational “assault weapons” ban that would have addressed only a tiny slice of homicides, even though Connecticut already had such a ban at the time of the Newtown massacre, while advocates slimed opponents as massacre cheerleaders.
Next, of course, came the IRS scandal and the exposure of the NSA surveillance programs. Remember when gun-control advocates like Joe Scarborough and Piers Morgan thought that it was irrational to fear that the government would exploit background checks to threaten gun owners? Good times, good times. No one’s laughing about expanding government power on Second Amendment issues when it’s become apparent that some abuses on the First (and possibly Fourth) Amendments have been taking place.
Under those circumstances, what red- or purple-state officeholder really wants to go back to constituents and argue that the government can be trusted to expand tracking of gun sales between family members, and to take guns away based on arbitrary definitions that have nothing to do with realistic relative lethality? They’re going to have enough trouble with these voters distancing themselves from colleagues who went all in on the demonization of gun owners while demanding more government control as the IRS and possibly the NSA was running amok. All the money in Bloomberg’s bank accounts won’t compensate for that problem.
Democrats learned the lesson in the 1990s: gun control is a loser, electorally as well as practically, as cities like Chicago and Washington DC constantly prove. It’s going to be an expensive lesson to relearn, even apart from Bloomberg’s cash blizzard.
via Hot Air
Liberal commentators like to spotlight rifts in the Republican party and self-destructive fights among various flavors of conservatives. In this they often have legitimate raw material to work with.
But I haven’t seen so much introspection in those quarters when liberals do similar things. Case in point: Arkansas, where New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns is running ads against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, who voted against the Manchin-Toomey gun control proposal. These ads could hurt Pryor and, as Time’s Michael Scherer points out, reduce Democrats’ chances of holding onto a Senate majority in the 2014 election.
The chance of Bloomberg’s ads producing an Arkansas senator willing to vote for gun control measures is close to zero. This is a state which has become increasingly Republican in presidential elections since Bill Clinton has been ineligible to run – it went 51 percent-46 percent Republican in 2000, 54 percent-45 percent in 2004, 59 percent-39 percent in 2008 and 61 percent-37 percent in 2012. The only other state to trend Republican in those four elections is Al Gore’s Tennessee: the Clinton-Gore ticket held much of the Upper South for Democrats in the 1990s but has moved sharply away from them ever since.
Nevertheless liberals tried a similar gambit in Arkansas in 2010. Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, up for reelection, riled the unions by coming out early against their card check bill. Again, there was no way an Arkansas senator was going to vote for that. But Lincoln got primary opposition from the more liberal Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who lost by only a 52 percent-48 percent margin. Lincoln then lost the general election to Republican Rep. John Boozman by a 58 percent-37 percent margin, a crushing defeat for a two-term incumbent who was Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. There’s no reason to believe that Halter would have done substantially better.
Note that only 259,000 votes were cast in the 2010 Democratic primary. That’s barely half the 506,000 votes cast in Arkansas’s 1992 Democratic presidential primary–and that may understate the size of the state’s Democratic primary electorate 20 years ago since it was obvious that Clinton would win by a large margin. The Democratic base has shrunk greatly and in the process may have become somewhat more liberal–but that’s not likely to help Arkansas Democrats in the general election.
Mark Pryor, son of a former governor and senator, was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and may have been helped by the fact that the Republican incumbent had divorced his wife and married a former staffer. Pryor had no Republican opponent in 2008. Now it looks like his luck is running out and that his best option is to run against Bloomberg.