Wednesday, 05 November 2008

JEFF JACOBY ON YESTERDAY'S ELECTION

Ken Berwitz

As per usual, Jeff Jacoby has given us an excellent column.  This one is on the Presidential election:

SILVER LININGS, EVEN ON THE RIGHT

By Jeff Jacoby

The Boston Globe

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

 

     To be a conservative in Massachusetts is to know disappointment, never more so than on Election Day, when candidates and causes of the right rarely stand a chance. Waiting in line at my Brookline polling place yesterday, I was under no illusion that my vote would change the outcome: Barney Frank would be re-elected to the US House, John Kerry would go back to the Senate, and Massachusetts would vote decisively for Barack Obama. To say nothing of the rest of the nation poised to elect the most lopsidedly liberal government in years.

 

     But why succumb to gloom? Even for a red voter in the bluest of states, Election 2008 has its consolations:

 

     The Clintons really wont be going back to the White House.

 

     We havent seen the last of Sarah Palin, who demonstrated genuine star power as she withstood with aplomb and good humor a vicious assault from the left.

 

     Government financing of political campaigns, always a dreadful idea, is dead. Yes, Obama egregiously broke his solemn promise to accept public financing and its attendant spending limits. But having witnessed Obamas astonishing financial blowout -- he raised well over $600 million, crushing his rival in the money war and therefore in advertising and field organization -- no future candidate will agree to be shackled by those limits.

 

     A turn in the wilderness will do Republicans good. During the GOPs years in power, the one-time party of fiscal sobriety and limited government turned into a gang of reckless spenders and government aggrandizers. If a few years in exile can lead Republicans back to their conservative, Reaganite roots, yesterdays losses will not have been in vain.

 

     But the most lustrous silver lining of all, even for disappointed Republicans, is the racial one. As a politician and policymaker, Obama distresses me; his extreme liberalism is decidedly not what the nation needs in its president. But as a symbol -- a son of Africa elected to lead a majority-white nation that once enslaved Africans and treated their descendants with great cruelty -- Obamas rise makes me proud of my country. The anthem of the Civil Rights Movement was "We Shall Overcome." Impossible as it might have seemed scant decades ago, we have.

I especially like that last point, which my wife and I spoke about just this morning.  I may not like Barack Obama and I may not trust him or his political views.  But I very much like the fact that he, as a Black man, was able to win a national election. 

How many countries in the world could a parallel situation have occurred in?  Not many.


OBAMA'S FIRST APPOINTMENT?

Ken Berwitz

Is Rahm Emmanuel going to be Barack Obama's chief of staff?

If so, it took less than 24 hours to end any pretense that Mr. Obama is going to be a uniter or conciliatory.  Emmanuel is as hardline, take-no-prisoners a partisan as there is in Washington.

Steve Gilbert of www.sweetness-light.com gives us the lowdown:

Post-Partisan Obama Picks Rahm Emanuel

November 5th, 2008

From the elated DNC minions at the Politico:

Obama plans to name Emanuel chief of staff

Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen Jim Vandehei, Mike Allen

Wed Nov 5, 2008

In his first major move as president-elect, Barack Obama has asked Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), a tough-minded tactician with West Wing experience, to serve as his White House chief of staff, Democratic sources tell Politico.

Emanuel has said to friends that he wants and will take the job, but it was not a done deal as of early this morning. Obama plans to move swiftly with his transition announcement and could name Emanuel this week, the sources said. He then plans rapid-fire announcements on his economic and national security teams. 

If Emanuel a member of the House Democratic leadership with ambitions to one day to be House speaker were to turn it down, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) would likely get the nod, the sources said.

Some Democrats have warned that Emanuels take-no-prisoners style could hurt Obama. But the president-elect wants to move fast to push his legislative agenda through the Democratic-controlled Congress and Emanuel knows the Hill and power politics as well as anyone in town.

Obama wants a bad cop, so he can be good cop 90 percent of the time, an adviser said.

Emanuel, who at 49 is two years older than Obama, is the Democratic Caucus chairman, the fourth-highest-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership.

Emanuel was known for his hard-nosed tactics as a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton. After leaving the White House, he returned to Chicago as an investment bank managing director.

Friends of both men say that Obama likes Emanuel, and that Emanuel would be totally loyal. And Obama respects Emanuels knowledge of Washington, including the legislative process, and his reputation for getting things done

In his personal views, hes a centrist, and despite a combative political style, he has good relations with many congressional Republicans, such as Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.).

As we have previously noted, Mr. Emanuel is one of the most rabid partisan politicians in the history of this country.

From a hagiographic piece in Rolling Stone Magazine:

[T]he night after Clinton was elected, Emanuel was so angry at the presidents enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead! and plunging the knife into the table after every name. When he was done, the table looked like a lunar landscape, one campaign veteran recalls. It was like something out of The Godfather. But thats Rahm for you.

So much for the fantasy that Mr. Obama will govern from the center.

Oh, and lest we forget, Mr. Emanuel was on the board of Freddie Mac when it was bringing about our current financial crisis.

But never mind such petty details.

What did you expect?  Gandhi? This is Barack Obama, who has never shown one iota of centrism or openness to the other side of the aisle. 

I can't wait to see who else he picks for his "uniter" administration.

-----------------------------------------------

UPDATE:  In case you have any lingering doubt about Mr. Emanuel's style, here is (equally vicious hatchetman) Paul Begala's assessment of him from a 2006 article in Forbes Magazine:

a "cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache."

steve schneider ken, choosing emanual should ease the anxiety of jewish voters. he is jewish and his father fought for israel. i also agree, he is a partisan, but i expect all of obamas choices will fit this mold and i don't know why anyone would be surprised by this. i expect obama to govern exactly like he said he would. steve (11/06/08)


BUSH'S RAW DEAL

Ken Berwitz

Great thanks to Jeffrey Scott Shapiro for writing the following piece for today's Wall Street Journal (and a little immodest pleasure in noting that I've commented on this a number of times over the past year):

The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace

What must our enemies be thinking?

Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.

[Commentary] AP

According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% -- down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both political parties.

The president's original Supreme Court choice of Harriet Miers alarmed Republicans, while his final nomination of Samuel Alito angered Democrats. His solutions to reform the immigration system alienated traditional conservatives, while his refusal to retreat in Iraq has enraged liberals who have unrealistic expectations about the challenges we face there.

It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right.

Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country's current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a fighting chance of solving them.

Like the president said in his 2004 victory speech, "We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."

To be sure, Mr. Bush is not completely alone. His low approval ratings put him in the good company of former Democratic President Harry S. Truman, whose own approval rating sank to 22% shortly before he left office. Despite Mr. Truman's low numbers, a 2005 Wall Street Journal poll found that he was ranked the seventh most popular president in history.

Just as Americans have gained perspective on how challenging Truman's presidency was in the wake of World War II, our country will recognize the hardship President Bush faced these past eight years -- and how extraordinary it was that he accomplished what he did in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Mr. Shapiro is an investigative reporter and lawyer who previously interned with John F. Kerry's legal team during the presidential election in 2004.

Excellent.  So well said.

And notice that biographical note at the bottom of the piece.  It's not like Shapiro is a Bush acolyte, he is anything but.  It's just that he, as do I, feels President Bush got the ultimate raw deal from some very opportunistic, vicious opponents --- and a media that has given up any pretense of neutrality.

Will George Bush rise up in popularity years after his presidency?  No one knows.  But don't bet against it.


REDISTRIBUTION

Ken Berwitz

Posted without comment:  You decide if it is real or satire:

Obama Declines GOP Request to Redistribute Votes

Posted By Scott Ott On November 5, 2008 @ 8:44 am

President-elect Barack Obama today politely declined a request from the Republican National Committee to redistribute the votes from yesterdays Congressional contests in order to spread the power around.

Its not that we want to punish your success, wrote RNC chairman Mike Duncan. We just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you has a chance for success too. Our attitude is that if the elections good for folks from the bottom up, its gonna be good for everybody when you spread the power around, its good for everybody.

In a brief written reply to the GOP, Mr. Obama said, Our Democrat candidates worked hard for those votes, and it would be a gross injustice to take what they earned by the sweat of their brows and to give it to others who, for whatever reason, did not succeed.

The electoral process, wrote Mr. Obama, allows a person from any background to work hard, to build a strong organization, to raise investment capital and to take the personal risk that is the necessary precursor to any successful venture. When they do that well, and they win, the benefits ripple outward to many others.

The 44th president of the United States added, If you redistribute their hard-earned votes to those less capable, to those who played it safe or who turned in a half-hearted performance, then you remove incentive from the system. In the end, when you aim for equality of outcomes in a particular arena, you inevitably wind up with mediocrity, because men of excellence and ambition will go elsewhere to satisfy their longing for dignity, self-sacrifice and honor.

Sonya Uh, is this for real? So when you want to take money away from those who have earned it by hard work and the sweat of their brow, and give it to others who might not have been so vigilant in earning money and reaching for success, that's something completely different? Wow. (11/05/08)


THE OBAMA ERA

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has won a very convincing victory over John McCain and will be the 44th President of the United States.

Congratulations to him.

Why did Mr. McCain lose?  He lost because he could not overcome:

-the country's supersedingly bad feeling towards President Bush, whom he could not separate himself from; 

-the superior campaigning skills of Barack Obama; 

-the torrent of abusive reporting on his running mate - whose lack of experience in DC made her a very easy target;

-the perception that our horrible financial meltdown was somehow the fault of Republicans; 

-his own awful campaign decisions, which included not attacking Mr. Obama's association with jeremiah wright or his steadfast opposition to BAIPA (the Born Alive Infant Protection Act);

-a media determined to elect his opponent.

That's a lot to overcome.  I wonder if anyone could have done it.

But, regardless, this is now officially history.  We have a President-designate (not President-elect, until the electoral college votes), and it is Barack Obama.  Back to the Senate for Mr. McCain and back to Alaska for Ms. Palin --- unless she becomes a senator too***.

Overall this was a bleak election for Republicans.  But the one silver lining in their dark cloud is that, as bad as it was, they averted an even worse result. 

There was an outside chance that Democrats could have wound up with 60 senators and up to 260-275 house members.  Unless there are a couple of unexpected changes at the very end of things, Democrats actually wind up with 54 senators and 248 house members. 

From these levels, Republicans can lick their wounds and dream of taking the senate and at least closing things up a good deal in the house in 2010.

But,  for now, the Obama era has begun. 

I did not vote for Mr. Obama>  I was (and remain) scared by his agenda - especially while aided and abetted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.  But I do not know how he will perform, so I can hope against hope that things will be better than I expect.

And I certainly do hope they will be.  I wish for Mr. Obama to prove me wrong.   

The better he does, the better off we all are.

-------------------------------------------------------

*** Despite being convicted last month on 7 felony counts of corruption, Ted Stevens appears to have eked out a victory over his Democratic opponent.  There is speculation that he will resign the seat and Ms. Palin, who as Governor replaces him, will do so with herself.  We'll see.....

steve schneider i think a big reason was the success of the surge. mccains own successful strategy put iraq and national security out of peoples minds. very ironic. additionally, there may be people out there like me, who voted for obama for a different reason. i am so tired of dems telling me how great they will run the country so i gave them the opportunity. if they are correct then great for all of us. if they blow it then i will never have to hear it again. steve (11/05/08)


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