Byron York writes:
…In the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 73 percent of registered voters said the country is on the wrong track, while just 18 percent said it is headed in the right direction. The 73 percent figure is the second-highest in the president’s nearly eight years in office.
The poll was no outlier. These are the wrong-track numbers for the last ten polls in the RealClearPolitics average of polls: 67, 70, 67, 71, 73, 69, 79, 68, 60 and 66.
And yet, in spite of clear evidence that a majority of Americans believe the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction, the president exhorted the nation, “Thank you for this incredible journey — let’s keep it going.”
Obama spoke as if broad areas of American life are better than ever, even if there remains work to be done. Read the rest of this entry »
Watch what happens if Hillary Clinton falls behind in the polls
Fred Barnes writes: When a CNN poll last week showed Hillary Clinton leading Rand Paul by a single percentage point (48-47) and only three points ahead of Marco Rubio (49-46) and Scott
Walker (49-46), it was mildly shocking. In April, her lead over the three Republican presidential candidates had been in double digits: Paul (58-39), Rubio (55-41), and Walker (59-37).
But wait. If the next CNN survey shows Clinton actuallybehind one or two or three of the GOP candidates, it won’t be just shocking. It will send Democrats into a near-panic over the possibility of losing the White House in 2016, even with their preferred candidate, Clinton, as nominee.
“Stonewalls can work, but not forever and not in the midst of a presidential campaign. A minimal requirement of candidates is that they converse with the press. It looks bad when they don’t. It looks like they’re hiding something.”
Such a poll result isn’t far-fetched as we watch Clinton’s campaign deteriorate. True, head-to-head matchups this early in the presidential cycle are almost never predictive. But in this case, it’s the psychological impact that matters.
That Clinton’s candidacy is in trouble is indisputable. She’s not threatened with losing the Democratic nomination—at least not yet. She has the well-financed Clinton machine and a national network of supporters on which she can rely. The campaigns of her Democratic opponents are small and weak in comparison.
But the rationale for her bid for the presidency, the strategy of her campaign, and the tactics she’s adopted—all have failed to stop her steady decline. The expectation of Clinton’s glide
into the White House in 2016 is gone.
“What is the rationale for her candidacy? President Obama had a big one in 2008. He would reform Washington, end polarization, promote bipartisanship, and bring about change. As a campaign message, it was appealing. As we now know, his real intentions were different.”
In place of a rationale, there’s an assumption that her prominence, her résumé, and the likelihood of her becoming the first woman president would make her a uniquely appealing candidate. They haven’t. She’s a terrible candidate. She has not only failed to attract big crowds. She’s having trouble raising big money from those described by Politico as “rich liberals.”
“But Obama had a rationale for seeking the presidency. Clinton doesn’t.”
The old adage that opposites attract may apply in her marriage. Bill Clinton is charming, has wonderful political instincts, is a compelling speaker, and has a common touch. She lacks all four. Also, Bill is dynamic. She is lifeless as a candidate. Read the rest of this entry »
Democrats stumble unquestioningly into 2016
Kyle Smith writes: Hillary Clinton is “one of the finest public servants this country has produced” and “a person of extraordinary integrity,” says Mayor de Blasio.
He is completely confident that “measures were taken to comply with the letter and the spirit of the law,” so no biggie that Clinton hid her official e-mail correspondence on her own private servers where they could be protected from scrutiny and/or deleted.
“The real reason Hillary commands such tribal loyalty is that she is, apart from the non-candidate Elizabeth Warren, the only political ‘celebrity’ available, and Democrats are obsessed with star quality.”
De Blasio may have an undeclared interest at stake: Maybe he’d like to be a cabinet secretary under President Hillary. But his unqualified defense of Hillary’s secretive and likely illegal off-the-books communication system is typical of even those members of his party who have little to gain from covering for her.
Hillary is infallible. Hillary is above reproach. She can’t ever, ever have done anything wrong, ever, and even when she has been shown to have done something ethically revolting, the reason we know it’s no big deal is that it is said to be a big deal by those slimy Republicans.
Associated Press? The New York Times? Obvious GOP front groups.
As Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin put it, “People have different ways of communicating. I have a granddaughter who does nothing but text. You’ll never find a letter written with her. So everybody’s different.”
Right, and Bernie Madoff? He just had a different way of managing a hedge fund.
“So oblivious of her own record that she is trying to make an issue of the gender pay gap despite having run a Senate office in which women were paid 72 cents on the dollar compared to men?”
The Democratic Party, with whose members Hillary has had an approval rating of 88% or higher since 2009, has the attitude of passengers on a storm-tossed ship that only one person can steer. “O Captain, my Captain!”
Except they aren’t aboard the ship. The ship is still in the dock. It doesn’t sail for more than a year. The Party isn’t stuck with Capt. Hillary. It could find another leader.
So, why the fervent loyalty to someone with such a troubled ethics record? A woman whose foundation accepted donations from foreign countries while she was Secretary of State? A woman who is such a poor communicator that her approval rating actually dropped while she was on a book tour last year?
“As recently as 1992, the Democratic nominee could be the little-known governor of a tiny state, but today only celebrities need apply.”
So oblivious of her own record that she is trying to make an issue of the gender pay gap despite having run a Senate office in which women were paid 72 cents on the dollar compared to men?
Democrats behave as if Hillary is the only conceivable presidential candidate with sufficient stature, but any Democratic elected official who became the nominee would naturally rake in donations from the usual left-wing groups, massive media exposure and the national high profile that comes with it. Read the rest of this entry »
Premeditated: A new election law leaves the door wide open for abuse in hotly contested races
John Fund writes: Perhaps the most hard-fought Senate race this year will be Colorado’s showdown between Democratic senator Mark Udall and Republican congressman Cory Gardner. The RealClearPolitics average of polls in the race shows Gardner holding a lead of 1.3 percentage points. The outcome may determine control of the U.S. Senate, and the margin of victory could be less than the 11,000-vote margin by which Democratic senator Michael Bennet was reelected in Colorado in 2010.
[Also see: John Fund’s Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy]
But there is a significant difference in this year’s Senate race. In 2013, a new Democratic state legislature rammed through a sweeping and highly controversial election law and convinced Democratic governor John Hickenlooper to sign it. The law, known as House Bill 1303, makes Colorado the only state in the country to combine two radical changes in election law: 1) abolishing the traditional polling place and having every voter mailed a ballot and 2) establishing same-day registration, which allows someone to appear at a government office and register and vote on the same day without showing photo ID or any other verifiable evidence that establishes identity. If they register online a few days before, no human being ever has to show up to register or vote. A few keystrokes can create a voter and a “valid” ballot. Once a ballot cast under same-day registration is mixed in with others, there is no way to separate it out if the person who voted is later found ineligible. Other jurisdictions that have same-day registration, such as Washington, D.C., treat the vote as a provisional ballot pending verification. Colorado immediately counts the vote.
“We have uniquely combined two bad ideas, both of which open the door to fraud and error along with creating huge administrative headaches,” warns Republican Scott Gessler, Colorado’s secretary of state. Along with the liberal Denver Post (the state’s leading newspaper) and a few Republican clerks from the state’s largest counties, Gessler fought passage of the law.
[Order John Fund’s book “Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk“ from Amazon.com]
Wayne Williams is the clerk of El Paso County, which includes Colorado Springs, the state’s second-largest city. He says HB 1303 was sold as a way to “modernize” elections and increase turnout, but it’s fixing a system that wasn’t broken. In 2012, Colorado was among the top three states in the turnout of eligible citizens. Its number of registered voters that year climbed 13.7 percent, well above normal population growth. At the same time, the state’s online voter-registration system processed 250,000 changes submitted by voters, ensuring a more accurate and less duplicative record of the electorate. Read the rest of this entry »
For RealClearPolitics, Carl M. Cannon writes: Irritating phrases and words are not confined to political circles, or solely to Washington, although here in the nation’s capital they burrow in and proliferate like obsolete, but entrenched, government programs. This is a call to arms to fight them—but only metaphorically.
15: “WAR ON [FILL IN THE BLANK]” Syria’s civil war has produced 2.5 million refugees and a death toll of 160,000, a tragedy that has galvanized neither major political party into action. So next time a Democrat brays about the so-called Republican “war on women” or a Republican trumpets the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” tell them you’ve seen what real war looks like—and ask what the U.S. can do to stop it.
14. “TAX HIKE” It’s not a “hike.” What are you going to do, put it in a knapsack and take it for a walk? It’s a tax increase. This usage was coined by headline writers because it’s shorter. Speaker of the House John Boehner, who often employs this phrase, has no such excuse.
13. “RIGHT-WING” This term is bandied about carelessly, usually as a pejorative. In “The Devil’s Dictionary,” Ambrose Bierce defined “conservative.” Here is the entry, in its entirety: “CONSERVATIVE, n. a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.” The converse of “right-wing,” a label freely applied to Fox News and countless Republican elected officials, is not “liberal,” it’s “left wing.”
12. “FRANKLY” Rhett Butler made this word famous, but when politicians preface their remarks with “frankly” (or “candidly”), they don’t give a damn about being frank or candid. Usually, it means they’re about to tell a whopper—or recite a talking point. Listen for this usage from now on. It’s a self-administered lie detector.
11. “TALKING POINTS” Pols who recite self-serving spin written by others while answering basic questions about their jobs are essentially reading the stage directions. It suggests they are too lazy to invent their own fibs or excuses—or that they work for control freaks who don’t trust them to know their own subject matter. This is a discordant trait in a high-ranking official, such as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice or anyone who attended top-notch schools, which also fits Rice. She was a history major at Stanford and a Rhodes scholar with a master’s degree and a doctorate from Oxford.
10. “DOCTOR” In the White House compound and certain media precincts, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden is referred to as “Dr. Biden,” usually in reverential tones. This is understandable—who wants to be called “the second lady”? But, like Susan Rice, Jill Biden has a PhD, not a medical degree. It was also a secret password in the Bush administration to affix “Dr.” in front of another foreign policy official surnamed Rice. Susan Rice, Condoleezza Rice, and Jill Biden are accomplished people, but the old-time newsroom rule is best: If someone isn’t licensed to take your tonsils out, you don’t have to call ’em “Doc.”
[This next one is my personal favorite example of an annoying, overused word–I hear it a lot from POTUS, and also, Brit Hume]
9. “LOOK…” Almost as soon as he arrived in Washington, Barack Obama adopted the off-putting Sunday talk show habit—used promiscuously by Karl Rove—of starting sentences with the word “Look.” Two months after his inauguration, things got so bad that Jimmy Fallon sought to discourage its proliferation by producing a montage, set to music, of Obama saying “Look…” 26 times in an hour-long news conference. To a layman, it sounds like Obama is really saying, “Look here, moron…” But two UCLA professors told Anya Sostek of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that this preamble isn’t as patronizing as it sounds. Manny Schegloff says Obama is signaling that he’s about to provide background information as part of his answer that informs his policy position. His colleague Steven Clayman adds that Ronald Reagan often began answers to questions with the word, “Well”—as a way of preparing listeners for a different answer than they might expect. Or so say Dr. Clayman and Dr. Schegloff. Read the rest of this entry »
For RealClearPolitics, Carl M. Cannon writes: In 2007, while co-writing a magazine piece with Silicon Valley author and entrepreneur Michael S. Malone on best Information Age practices for politicians, I coined a phrase Malone instantly dubbed “the Cannon Codicil.”
“…mismanaging emails and thinking you’ve lost them forever are two different animals…”
Postulating that electronic messages, like diamonds, last for forever, Cannon’s codicil simply holds that “Nothing digital ever dies.”
“…most, if not all, of the missing emails from Lois Lerner and her six IRS comrades with their fried hard drives have presumably been preserved elsewhere.”
Although inspired by the water torture Democrats were then inflicting on Karl Rove over his missing Republican National Committee emails, mostly I was being metaphysical. But now, with the Internal Revenue Service claiming it has lost tens of thousands of emails from Lois Lerner and six of her IRS subordinates, the question in Washington is whether such a thing is technologically possible.
“There is no such thing as completely disappeared emails.”
The interest in those emails is not academic. Lerner is the former government official who oversaw the division in the IRS that was apparently targeting conservative non-profits for stalling and harassment. “I did nothing wrong,” she testified before Congress, but that’s about all she’d say. Lerner deflected further inquiry by invoking the 5th Amendment privilege against incriminating herself in criminal wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »
For RealClearPolitics, Mark Salter writes: You can usually measure the pervasiveness of the criticism directed at President Obama’s policies by how many straw men he slays in their defense. By that calculation, his address Wednesday to West Point graduates — which, in the opinion of the Washington Post, “marshaled a virtual corps of straw men” — is practically an admission that his world leadership is as feckless as his harshest critics insist.
“What would we do without him? How does he always manage to find the middle distance between two nonexistent points of view?”
Bravely rowing with the current of war-weary American public opinion, the president rebuked imaginary calls “for invading every country that harbors terrorist networks.” He chastised unnamed hawks who “say that every problem has a military solution,” and upbraided heretofore unheard critics “who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.” And because he has steadfastly resisted such intemperate importuning, America’s global leadership is as strong as ever.
Never mind that Obama has had to dispatch his secretaries of state and defense to reassure anxious friends and allies around the world they can still trust America’s commitment to their security and a stable world order. Never mind that doubts on that score are far more prevalent today among allies and adversaries than they were when that rash, obtuse George W. Bush was in charge. Never mind that leading Democrats and usually reliable defenders such as Washington Post columnist David Ignatius now worry that this president is incapable of learning from his mistakes. Read the rest of this entry »
The first of two parts
For RealClearPolitics, Adam O’Neal writes: Last month, as the Senate was busy negotiating the final details of its Ukraine aid package, Majority Leader Harry Reid became temporarily distracted with a campaign finance issue. Since winning re-election in 2010, Reid’s campaign had purchased gifts for supporters and donors from vendors like Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Nordstrom, and the Senate gift shop, among others. But one round of spending was directed to a less recognizable firm: Ryan Elisabeth, a jewelry line.
In 2012 and 2013, the campaign spent $31,267 purchasing gifts from the company, which is owned by Reid’s granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid. All told, she took in nearly seven times more cash than all vendors of donor gifts combined during that period of time.
Veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston first reported the news after receiving a tip about the expenditures. (Ryan Elisabeth’s last name did not appear on the FEC reports, and the senator’s office initially failed to confirm her identity.) While Sen. Reid does not appear to have broken the law, he understood that the purchases created a perception of favoritism. Lamenting the unwanted attention heaped on his granddaughter, he decided after the news broke that “it would be best to pay for her work out of my own pocket.”
This was not the first time that Reid had mixed family and politics — or potentially run afoul of ethics rules.
Harry Reid has spent more than 40 years in government, starting as a small city’s attorney and eventually becoming the most powerful senator in the country. He has raised tens of millions of dollars in political contributions, established himself as an institution in Nevada politics along the way, and made himself a very wealthy man. His humble roots — from growing up in a remote desert town to working six days a week as a Capitol police officer while in law school — are legend in Washington and Nevada. Reid exhibits the toughness of a once destitute boy who completely transformed his life through determination, hard work — and good luck. Read the rest of this entry »
Official Washington is always a decade or two behind the American people. That was true in 1963 when Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dream for a better America and it’s true today.
The 1963 March on Washington came 16 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. Robinson did more than make news; he won the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, the MVP award two years later and entered the Hall of Fame in 1962. By then, black ballplayers were part of every major league team.
“For those in power, that was a terrible glimpse into the reality of how irrelevant much of what they do has become”
Another big moment took place in 1955 when Rosa Parks courageously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. Many other events, big and small, changed the nation’s attitudes on racial issues in the decades leading up to King’s most famous speech. But it had little impact on official Washington until the march forced the politicians to pay attention.
But his approval ratings probably won’t sink much more.
Why does the president find himself in this position? The polls provide some evidence, and at least the outlines of what to expect as the president continues battling with Congress over the next few months.
The Real Clear Politics average of national polls found Barack Obama hit a postelection high in mid-December, when 54 percent of Americans approved of how he was handling the job. Considering that his average approval rating in the runup to the election was just 48 percent, and that he had averaged 47 percent in both 2011 and 2010, this was a marked bump. When that rating fell below 45 percent in late July 2013, this was a low not seen since mid-2011.