Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Election 2012: Four Senate Candidates Worth Backing

Four Candidates Worth Backing

With the federal election less than a week away the time for conservatives to make an impact is drawing near.  It’s not too late to lend a hand by phone banking from home,  writing a check or donating on-line in a number of important elections across the country.

There are a few Republican senate candidates who conservatives residing in either solidly red states or hopelessly blue states should consider supporting.

George Allen-  The former Virginia governor is in the midst of a political comeback this November and is running for the very seat he lost six years ago.  Admittedly it was a tough year for Republicans though Allen made even more difficult for himself by taunting a Democratic field operative at a campaign rally.  Had Allen survived that race, he would have sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and probably won it as conservatives were lining up behind his nascent candidacy.  And then the “macaca” hit the fan. 

Allen is locked in a tight race with Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor and President Obama’s chosen chairman of Democratic National Committee.  Kaine was reportedly on Obama’s shortlist for running mate in 2008 and he is harboring ambitions for even higher office later.  As the presidential race is very close in the Old Dominion, helping Allen would help out Mitt Romney’s chances there.

Tommy Thompson-  Another former governor, Thompson served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.  Thompson is seeking the seat held by retiring Democrat Senator Herb Kohl.  Thompson was elected governor of the swing state of Wisconsin on four occasions and is credited with creating “workfare” while in office. 

Despite his political success in a state is figuring to be important in this year’s presidential election and his conservative credentials as governor, Thompson endured abruising primary en route to winning the party nomination by only three points in a four-candidate field. 

Thompson’s opponent in the general election is Democratic US Representative Tammy Baldwin, one of the most liberal members in all of Congress.  Baldwin has been a vociferous advocate for same-sex marriage since her days in the Wisconsin legislature in the mid-nineties and co-authored a measure to impeach Vice-President Dick Cheney. 

Wisconsin voters should be worried that Baldwin’s focus as a US Senator will be on advancing her radical “progressive” agenda on the national stage and not the interests of her state.  While Tommy Thompson might not be the flashiest Republican running for office in America, “Senator” Baldwin will prove herself to be a constant source of excitement for conservatives of all stripes, social, defense and fiscal. 

The only way to stop Baldwin is to elect Thompson, who has a slight lead in the most recent polls though the presidential race in Wisconsin might carry the Democrat over the line if Obama wins the Badger State.

Josh Mandel-  Admittedly Mandel is a longshot.  His Democratic opponent, incumbent US Senator Sherrod Brown, has led in every poll I’ve seen though Mandel has closed the once large gulf between them.  But Mandel matters for a bunch of reasons. 

First, he’s running in Ohio- the state that the media has been saying that will choose the winner of the presidential election.  Well up until Romney took a slight lead.  The point is the stronger Mandel performs, the better for the top of the GOP ticket in the Buckeye State. 

Secondly, Mandel served in the Marine Corps Reserve and was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2008.    

Thirdly Mandel, who is Jewish, is not your typical Republican candidate for US Senator or for that matter any office higher than councilman.  He’s only 35 years old, which is exactly what the party needs for America to see- that the GOP doesn’t stand for Grumpy Old Politicians.      

Mandel is not a good bet to win but he is a great candidate running in an important state. 

Scott Brown-  The Massachusetts senate race is the second most important election in America.  While he’s not the most conservative Republican in Washington, Brown is the most conservative politician that can win in Massachusetts. And he’s running for re-election against what is perhaps the worst Democrat on the November ballot not named Barack Obama: Elizabeth Warren.

If you think the media’s in the tank for the president, get familiar with their fawning coverage of the leftist Harvard professor.  And the liberal establishment has big plans for her after Warren dispenses with the formality of her victory over Senator Brown.

Though burdened with sharing space on a presidential ballot in a state so blue its resident presidential candidate will be lucky if he breaks 40%, Brown has fought hard to keep the race within the statistical margin of error. 

In their first debate, Brown challenged the Warren, a Caucasian, on her “Cherokee” status and whether she exploited her ludicrous racial minority claim for personal advancement.  While in some cases physical appearances can be deceiving related to ancestry, Professor Warren has as much chance of being taken for a Native American as Joe Biden does as a Mongolian. 

Professor Warren represents the worst in liberal hypocrisy: a class baiting elitist who falsely masqueraded as a member of an ethnic minority to get ahead. 

That a Brown victory helps advance the GOP’s prospects of taking the senate is almost secondary to Warren’s defeat. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Purple Mountain Politics: The Fight for Colorado

If voters in the Buckeye State are agitated from all of the special attention they've been receiving from the presidential candidates, major parties and 527s, they might take some solace knowing that folks in Colorado feel their pain. The Rocky Mountain State has been one of most intensely fought over swing states outside of Ohio. And with Virginia, North Carolina and Florida seemingly drifting towards the Republican column, Colorado's importance rises as a both a firewall for President Barack Obama's re-election bid and as a potential detour around Ohio to reach 270 electoral votes. George W. Bush won Colorado in the razor-close 2000 election, which inspired a wealthy Californian to cook up a scheme where in the future Colorado would allocate its electoral votes on a proportional basis. Had such a system been in place in 2000, then-Vice-President Al Gore would have received enough electoral votes from his competitive second place finish in Colorado to claim the presidency. The idea was based on the hope that the 2004 election would be as close as four years before and thus hand the White House over to the fill-in-the-Democrat nominee. Fortunately the move got exposed for what it was and Bush won by an even bigger margin nationally, which would have made the electoral vote redistribution academic. In another, yet more legitimate, play for Colorado's electoral votes, the Democrats chose Denver as the site of its 2008 convention, where then-US Senator Obama, standing before faux Greek columns in an open air football stadium, delivered his acceptance speech as his party's nominee for president to his teary eyed faithful. After the Democratic Convention left town, Obama's campaign unleashed a torrent of television advertisements linking his 2008 opponent to President George W. Bush, going so far as including in the commercial an image of John McCain, who is partially disabled due to the torture he endured as a POW during the Vietnam War, awkwardly hugging the unpopular incumbent. Perhaps the Obama camp was also looking as much to exploit McCain's age and infirmity with that particular picture. Because McCain refused to budge from his commitment to cap his general election campaign expenditures by accepting matching funds, Obama, who had made the same pledge but later crawfished, was able to dominate the Colorado airwaves. There was also plenty of Obama art to be seen around town. Street artist Shepard Fairey's iconic "Hope" posters were plastered over boarded up storefronts and an impressive mural painted on the rear of the building that housed the popular Rocky Mountain Diner showed a contemplative Obama before a mountain range. The latter would have been the envy of any socialist country that promotes a cult of personality around their leaders. The huge investment by the Democrats in Colorado paid dividends as Obama handily carried the state. But things are different in Colorado this time around. While the Obama campaign is once again heavily investing campaign funds there, a fiscally unfettered Romney campaign is spending big money to win Colorado. In 2008, McCain's ads were drowned out by Obama's media buy. One evening in particular I had seen five Obama commercials before viewing my first McCain advertisement. Things have evened out between the candidates in 2012. In addition to money, Romney is spending a good deal of time in the state. The Republican presidential nominee recently held one of the biggest events of the campaign at the Red Rocks amphitheatre just outside Denver that featured Kid Rock and attracted thousands of people. It was just announced that Romney is returning to Colorado this weekend. In between visits to Colorado, Romney's sons have been meeting with volunteers at call centers that are focused on winning the early vote in 2012. Four years prior McCain had been buried so badly in early voting that he had essentially lost the state before Election Day. Colorado will likely be one of the closest states on November 6th. The most recent poll gives Romney a one point edge over the president though both candidates have traded slight leads over the past few weeks. In addition to the "air war", the Obama and Romney campaigns have assembled aggressive grassroots operations with supporters from the two camps waving posters at busy intersections and canvassing neighborhoods and rallying on street corners. While there are as many Obama yardsigns in 2012 as there were in 2008, this time the Republican candidate has a comparable presence on front lawns. One remarkable thing about the Romney campaign in Colorado is that it's mimicking Obama's first presidential run by attracting participation from people who had not previously been involved in politics. At a rally outside the Denver GOP's headquarters, Craig Romney asked those in attendance to raise their hands if this was their first time volunteering on a campaign. Half of those present did. There's no less than a 75% chance that whoever carries Ohio will be the one dancing with his wife at the January inaugural balls. However, if New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Iowa go to the other candidate, then a winner won't be projected until the most politically important state in the Mountain Time Zone checks in.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Case Against Re-Election

The conservative publication National Review is hawking on its website a poster that lists 689 reasons to vote against the re-election of the president. Granted some of their entries consist of punchlines and multiple refernces to Joe Biden. NR's humorous pokes at the incumbent aside, there are plenty of legitimate arguments why the president should be defeated for re-election as Barack Obama has failed on multiple levels, from policy to leadership. Failure On Energy President Obama's record on energy is disatrous on multiple fronts. First his hostility towards our primary energy resources (oil, natural gas and coal) defies comprehension and leads one to speculate that he's not for an "all of the above" approach to energy but is for a "cold turkey" shift away from our reliance on oil. Secondly, his fervent faith in green energy that are many decades away from remotely displacing oil and coal defies logic, though not politics. The Obama Administration is captive to special interests that have profiteered off his investment of taxpayer dollars into green companies like Solyndra that went belly-up and cost the public nine figures. Executives with that infamous green concern did manage to pay back one debt- to President Obama via campaign donations. President Obama has stubbornly refused to permit the Keystone Pipeline, which would bring in more oil from Canada and thus make the US less dependent on oil imported from outside of North America. His opposition to the Canadian pipeline is a good example of how the president prioritizes the wishes of his green constituency over America's national and economic security, since access to energy is critical to both. An Economic Failure The nation's unemployment rate stands at 7.8%, which is where it stood when President Obama took office. In between then and now, America's unemployment rate was at 8% or higher for over forty consecutive months. The president celebrates that as progress, but I don't think the over twelve million still looking for work were dancing in the unemployment lines when they heard the news. In another statistic that is a measure of how well/ill the Obama economy truly is, over 46 million Americans are on food stamps and tens of thousands are filing for disability. This past June, slightly more people filed for disability than landed jobs. The president has also failed as the country's fiscal manager. Instead of closing the deficits and chipping away at the national debt, his administration has added over five trillion dollars to it. Failure on Foreign Policy Obama's foreign policy has been equally misguided, pulling the missile defense rug out from under our staunch allies in eastern Europe while extending to Russia more trust than advisable. Iran has not shut down its nuclear weapons program but is four years closer to producing an atomic bomb. And while the details about the events that led to the slaying of our ambassador and three other Americans continue to trickle out of Libya, we do know that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other White House officials misled the country by stating that the assault on the US consulate in Benghazi was a reaction to a YouTube video. They either lied to America or revealed themselves as dunces. Being guilty of either charge makes them unfit to occupy the positions they hold. Failure As A Leader Despite being a gifted orator, Barack Obama has tried to distract the electorate from the shortcomings of his first term by engaging in unprecedented demagoguery by a president to demonize the opposition. He's also a hypocrite concerning his pleas for bipartisanship. Joseph Cao, the country's first Vietnamese-American member of Congress, took the president at his word about working with Republicans on Capitol Hill. Cao was hardly a lockstep vote for the GOP, breaking party ranks often to support Obama's agenda yet the GOP freshman had his trust repaid in daggers when the president supported his opponent. President Obama has also dodged accepting any responsibility for the high gas prices and wheezing economy. You'd swear George W. Bush was in his third term the way Obama avoids accountability and furiously shovels fault on to his predecessor. Obama was only a few years removed from the Illinois legislature when he began his quest for the White House. It is with great disappointment that he has not grown beyond his community organizer roots during his time in office. Clint Got It Right While Clint Eastwood's address at the Republican National Convention has been widely panned and mocked, the Hollywood icon said something that is simple yet profound: the guy who was hired four years didn't get the job done and it's time to bring in someone else to do it. Only a blind partisan or someone whose vote is motivated by a far lesser consideration than his job performance could look past the president's record and vote to give him another four year term. Voting for change for the sake of having change is not wise though America has an able and mature alternative to the incumbent in Mitt Romney. The GOP candidate not only represents a different philosophy but a drastically different life experince that has prepared him for the job he is seeking. In contrast to the president's partisan and academic background, Romney was a consensus builder as governor of Massachusetts, a state dominated by Democratic officials on all levels of government. Romney's ascension wasn't based off giving a handful of high profile speeches but real accomplishments, having played the lead role in saving the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and achieving success in business and finance. Rather than being envious or jealous of Romney's earned wealth, Americans should look at his success in the private sector as a statement of qualification that he understands how the economy works and what solutions need to be put in place to create more jobs. I am optimistic that an overwhelming majority of American voters will be guided by reality as it is and not what Obama and his allies try to make it appear to be when they vote on November 6th. President Obama had his chance and it's time to go in a different direction. Mitt Romney should be elected our next president.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Election 2012: The Missing Obama Bounce 2.0

Political observers and wishful liberals have been waiting for the president to receive that surge in the polls that’s due to hit any time now.

After all, we’ve been told he won not one, but TWO debates over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

The post-debate instapolls said one thing yet the national and battleground polls are indicating something else.

Four days removed from the final presidential debate of the election cycle, an event where the president managed to work in an attack on his Republican opponent almost every time he had the microphone, Obama is still trailing in most of the benchmark national polls.

Romney leads President Obama by five points in the Gallup poll and three points in the Rasmussen poll.  The Republican candidate for president also has a one-point lead in an ABC News/Washington Post survey.

The battleground state polls don’t paint a much better picture for President Obama.  Romney leads in two Florida polls (+5 in Sunshine State News and +2 in Rasmussen) and enjoys a lead in two North Carolina surveys (+8 in Gravis Marketing and +1 in Civitas). 

Rasmussen has Romney and Obama tied in Wisconsin, a state where the Republican nominee had been trailing the president in recent polls, and a group called Purple Strategies has the race a tie in Virginia.  Polls conducted by Fox News and Rasmussen each gave Romney a two-point lead in the Old Dominion on Thursday.

The news on the poll front is not all bad for President Obama, who has leads in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Ohio and Colorado surveys conducted by various polling entities, though the president does not exceed 50% in any of the polls.

After winning (according to the instapolls) a debate centered on what was billed at the Democratic ticket’s strength (foreign policy), why hasn’t President Obama experienced his own surge in the polls the way Romney vaulted over the incumbent after the Republican’s strong showing in the first debate?

Pitted against Monday Night Football and the seventh game in the National League Championship Series, 8 million fewer people tuned in to the third debate though the final match-up between President Obama and his GOP challenger still attracted 59.2 million viewers. 

Furthermore the president’s aggressiveness and his zingers made headlines and were recycled through the media for a few days, so the public received secondary exposure to the last debate. 
The debate did not take place in a vacuum so the lack of presidential leap isn’t attributable to an absence of audience.

That Romney has maintained most of his first debate gains might be indicative that many Americans made up there minds after the initial square off with the remaining debates being political theatre for the mostly decided. 

As I pointed out in a previously column, Richard Nixon performed strong in the second, third and fourth televised presidential debates of 1960 but John Kennedy won the debate that counted most, the first.

There are other explanations for President Obama’s relatively static poll numbers.

First, dissatisfaction with the economy cannot be mitigated with pithy one-liners.  Bad times can’t be spun.  There’s only so much damage control any politician can do in a televised debate when the economic reality of the times is there to greet people in the morning.

Secondly, the festering matter of Libya has eroded President Obama’s foreign policy credentials. 

The Obama Administration’s “Who’s On First?” routine concerning Benghazi would almost be amusing if an American ambassador and three others had not been killed. 

Though Romney punted on Libya in the debate’s opening and the media has worked to sweep it under the rug, the issue is still there as are some very important unanswered questions that the White House continues to dodge. 

Third, the president once again failed to offer a compelling defense for the high unemployment rate that has been part of his first term.  Though the final debate was supposed to be focused on foreign policy, the economy made a cameo appearance in the debate thanks to Romney’s linking it to national security.  And the president whiffed it again.

Finally, Obama’s third debate “smack talk”, while music to the ears of his hardcore supporters, came off as unpresidential.  The president may have impaled himself with his own rhetorical bayonet, appearing less worthy of the office he occupies.

Just as only one person at the table had the title, only one person exhibited presidential dignity.  And they were sitting in different chairs.

Scoring points doesn’t help your cause when you’re losing badly on style.

The post-debate polls don’t reflect two victories for President Obama, but a staggering loss in the first and two straight incompletes. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Election Day(s)!

Yes, it’s still October but Louisianans can cast a ballot in the November election at early voting locations, with some parishes having multiple sites, through the 30th. 

Thirty-two states plus the District of Columbia allow early voting, which includes every state west of the Mississippi River but Missouri and Minnesota. 

Oregon and Washington State don’t even have an actual election day as all voting is conducted by mail, which saves money but provides the greatest opportunities for election fraud. 

Early voting is a bonanza for political machines, which don’t engage in convincing so much as hauling and perhaps providing under-the-table incentives along the way- food, booze, cigarettes or cash- for their electoral bounty. 

Election Day is supposed to be when the decision is made, not just revealed.  Furthermore, there have been instances where a candidate had won on Election Day but lost because his opponent ran up the score in early voting.

Early voting benefits political consultants, incumbents and well-funded candidates. 

Because of early voting campaigns have to sustain a high level of media expenditures for weeks and must invest in a protracted GOTV operation rather than focus their resources on a single day. 

Early voting in Arizona for the 2012 presidential election began on October 11th, 26 days before Election Day.  If you had voted the morning early voting started, you would have cast a ballot prior to the vice-presidential debate (which was that evening) and two of the three presidential debates.

According to the National Association of Secretaries of State, the battleground state of Iowa along with four other states opened early voting in September, before any of the presidential debates were held.

The day before early voting began in Iowa, a Public Policy Polling survey had ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at 44%, 7 points behind the president.  The week after the first debate between the major parties’ nominees, a Rasmussen poll had Romney down in Iowa only by 2 points.  Apparently Iowans had learned something about the candidates in that timeframe to cause a significant shift in the polls.

While there are people who knew they were going to vote for President Obama’s re-election in 2012 as early as November 5, 2008 (the day after he won) just as there were plenty of voters who were itching to vote for the fill-in-the-name Republican candidate before Obama had taken his oath of office, states should not encourage people to vote for president before they’ve at least had an opportunity to see them defend their records and articulate their agendas in a debate. 

Voting too early is like being a juror who renders a verdict in a trial after missing half the evidence and testimony. 

There should be provisions in state election laws to ensure the handicapped, servicemen and women and those who work away from home have their voices heard and their votes counted. 

Having thirty “election days” is unnecessary and opens the door for negative unintended consequences, from vote hauling by professional GOTV organizations to inviting people to make uninformed decisions before the maximum amount of information has been presented.

Ideally, the eve of Election Day should be a time of reflection and contemplation about where we are and where we need to be as a country, state and community. 

I’d wager that Americans have spent more time playing Angry Birds than thinking about candidates for the US Senate- the legislative body that confirms cabinet secretaries and federal judges and ratifies treaties. 

The arguments for early voting have merit, mainly providing for convenient civic participation by allowing people to “get it out of the way” and reducing crowds at voting locations. 

But early voting’s virtues are outweighed by its drawbacks: vote hauling, driving up the costs of campaigns and “early voter’s remorse”.

And though I am not an infrequent participant in early voting, I wouldn’t mind waiting  fifteen minutes or more in line on Election Day if it meant those waiting ahead of me were better informed about the decisions they were going to make.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Obama's Benghazi Web of Deceit

On September 12, 2012, President Barack Obama issued a statement on the assault on the diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya. 

The president condemned the “outrageous attack” on the facility without making any reference to it being an act of terrorism though in the second sentence of the second paragraph, the president attributes what happened as being a reaction to an act of disrespect to Islam.

“While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants,” said President Obama.

On September 14th, at the arrival ceremony of the remains of the Americans killed in Benghazi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, “We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with.  It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable.”

Two days later on Meet the Press, Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice denied that the attack was premeditated and that it was a spontaneous reaction to the internet video “Innocence of Muslims”.  “This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world,” said Ambassador Rice.  Ambassador Rice’s assessment was based off of the “best information at present”.

Think for a moment about how absurd their assertion is.

Even though North Africa is a rough place, who brings a rocket propelled grenade launcher to a protest? 

They’re either the most naïve figures on the world stage, and thus have no business crafting our national security and foreign policy, or they are liars of the lowest order and lack the integrity to hold the high offices they occupy.

Right now signs point to the latter.

Recently leaked e-mails that were sent to the White House only hours after the attack cites that an Islamist militant group had claimed responsibility.  None of the communiqués reference a YouTube video.

It appears the president and his administration have engaged in the most egregious coordinated deception of the American public in decades. 

This is worse than Watergate and Iran-Contra. 

The Benghazi misinformation offensive was all about covering their posteriors for the election and the history books, since Secretary Clinton has not yet abandoned her own White House aspirations. 

Blurting out “I’m responsible” in a presidential debate doesn’t bring a convenient closure to the orchestrated cover-up and outright lies the Obama Administration peddled about what happened in Benghazi and the true culprits behind the murders. 

Having a frank discussion about what happened in Libya on September 11, 2012 or asking the president what he knew and when he knew it is not politicizing a tragedy.  On the contrary, doing so honors the sacrifice of those lost by determining the truth of why they died and why they were not given proper protection.

The Obama Administration wants people to believe that he “killed” terrorism by authorizing the Navy SEAL attack on Osama bin Laden’s secret compound in Pakistan, which squares with his re-election bid and conforms to his worldview that the war on terror is truly a very limited engagement. 

And while the deaths of four American members of our foreign service is, as the president put it on Comedy Central (!), “not optimal”, the tragedy is a reminder that al-Qaeda and militant Islamists are very much alive.

There is no Obama foreign policy achievement that could possibly balance out their indifference and/or inaction prior to the attack or their attempt to cleanse their hands of Ambassador Chris Stevens’s blood and fraudulently redistribute it to more convenient villains.

Amazingly nobody within the administration has been held accountable for this disaster, aside from Vice-President Joe Biden casual throwing our national intelligence community under the bus in a televised debate.

President Obama has been accused, rightfully so, of spiking the bin Laden football for political benefit.  You can add that he’s also trying to run out the clock on Benghazi with less than two weeks before the election. 

All we have gotten from the White House thus far is fairy tales, stonewalling, lies, and insults to our intelligence- that being America’s spies and our capacity as individuals to critically think.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Farewell to the Altruistic Warrior

Farewell to George McGovern, the Altruistic Warrior

Over the weekend an important role player in America’s political evolution passed away with the death of former South Dakota US Senator and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern.

McGovern’s nomination signaled a transition between the once dominant ideologue-less machine wing of the Democratic Party to the “true liberals”.  McGovern was the Democrats’ Barry Goldwater. And like his senate colleague from the opposite side of the political spectrum, he was handily trounced in a national election.

 But on the way to annihilation, McGovern changed presidential politics forever as head of a Democratic commission charged with reforming the delegate selection process.  The systematic changes made to the nomination process ended unit rule voting at the conventions and limited the control state parties had on the selection of national convention delegates. 

A consequence of the changes was that states abandoned manipulated caucuses for presidential primaries as a means of allocating delegates. 

Though the rules would only affect the Democratic nomination process, the McGovern reforms ended up changing the Republicans’ delegate selection as well since many states simply fixed the GOP primaries on the same day as the Democratic contests.

To give you an idea of how things used to work, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey did not formally contest a single presidential primary, did not carry a single state and placed 7th with 2.2% of the total ballots cast in the Democratic primaries.  Yet, Humphrey was nominated on the first ballot of the 1968 Democratic National Convention with 1,759.5 delegates (67%). 

Little wonder why so many activists rioted in Chicago.

McGovern benefited from his own rules when he sought the party nomination for president in 1972.  McGovern ran a competitive second against the Democratic establishment’s favored candidate, Maine US Senator Ed Muskie, in the New Hampshire primary and emerged as the candidate to beat thereafter. 

After the collapse of the “inevitable” Muskie, McGovern benefited from George Wallace’s clipping of Humphrey, who entered the race later as an alternative to the grassroots-powered McGovern candidacy.  The split field allowed the McGovern’s niche candidacy to emerge victorious in one of the most fractured presidential nomination fights in modern times. 

But McGovern’s triumph would be fleeting.  Hard feelings by many Democratic party regulars who were humbled by McGovern’s young amateurs (which included the likes of Gary Hart and Bill Clinton) during the intraparty warfare led to a division within the party that would not be healed by November. 

Whatever hope McGovern had of winning the White House was dashed in his bumbling handling of the revelation that his running mate, Missouri US Senator Tom Eagleton, had received electroshock treatment for depression.

The principled McGovern infamously stated that he stood by Eagleton “1000%” before forcing him off the ticket. 

Though the move might have made McGovern look shallow, it cannot be said Eagleton’s jettisoning was undeserved.  It would be later revealed that Eagleton had been Robert Novak’s undisclosed Democratic source behind the “amnesty, abortion, acid” framing of McGovern’s candidacy.

Anyone who honestly thinks that CREEP or G. Gordon Liddy was responsible for McGovern’s political self-immolation and landslide defeat should consider receiving the aforementioned treatment.

“Too bad McGovern didn’t win in 1972,” are words no sane person said even after the tumult of Watergate and the resignation of the 37th president.

The exposure of the dirty tricks squad, the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the presidential complicit cover-up may have confirmed all of the negative things McGovern said about the character of the president and his men, but those revelations in no way made the Democratic Party’s leading peacenik look any more palatable as a president.

McGovern would be the first Democrat to not carry a single southern state in the history of the once-Dixie-centric party.

McGovern’s soft socialism, appeasement posturing and Jane Fonda-esque chumming with the likes of Fidel Castro made him political disagreeable to mainstream America.

McGovern at his best was the epitome of Christian compassion though at worst a naïve unwitting tool of America’s enemies, though his virtues outweighing his sins due to purity of his intent.

McGovern’s lasting reforms to the presidential nomination process and emergence as a true conscience liberal nominee for his party gave him a relevance far beyond his 37.5% of the popular vote plus the Massachusetts and DC electoral votes in the 1972 presidential election. 

On top of his political legacy McGovern was also a decorated military hero.

I’d like to close with a brief story that best sums up McGovern. 

A few years ago I had the privilege of attending a speech he gave at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans about his service as a bomber pilot in the European theatre. 

During one mission, McGovern’s plane had dropped bombs in a rural area and as his munitions fell to the earth, he saw a farmer trying to avoid being caught in the explosion.  McGovern assumed that the unfortunate civilian had died in the bombing and the image had stuck in his mind. 

Many years later he was doing an interview on a German-language television program when he related that particular bomb run and would later learn to his great relief that the “targeted” farmer saw the program and made a point of contacting the station to pass along word that he had survived by jumping in a ditch without a moment to spare.

No matter how the political chips or live bombs fell, McGovern always remained true to his conscience. 

If you could not support McGovern’s positions, you could at least respect his altruism.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Election 2012: And Round Three Goes to....

Last week I thought President Barack Obama won the town hall debate over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

The president was energetic and aggressive, he engaged the participants thus allowing him the opportunity to employ his trademark soaring rhetoric and smoothly got out his talking points.  The downside on Obama’s end was that he came off as snide in tone and rude with his constant interruptions.

In contrast, the ex-Massachusetts governor was overly deferential to President Obama and unwisely chose to engage the president rather than the audience (and by extension millions of television viewers), inviting Obama to bogart his speaking time. 

The upshot for Romney in the town hall debate was that he masterfully took apart the president’s record on domestic affairs, particularly concerning unemployment and the declining quality of life many Americans have endured over the past four years.

What happened on Monday night looked like a reenactment of last Tuesday’s debate, just with an emphasis on foreign policy issues and with a better debate moderator. 

Credit CBS’ Bob Schieffer for “letting the boys play”, being even-handed and avoided drawing attention to himself. 

The president was once again the aggressor swinging away at Romney, who for the most part played rope-a-dope though the ex-governor managed to connect with a few uppercuts.

And once again the CNN insta-poll gave Obama the win on points by eight points, only one more than the president’s insta-poll win in the townhall debate. 

Liberals, who mocked Republican complaints about oversampling Democrats in battleground and national polls, have vociferously derided the GOP-heavy CNN insta-poll, though the network maintains that ithe poll is constructed to measure actual viewers and not necessarily the nation or likely electorate. 

But the polls that matter going into November 6th are those taken in the swing states and though I sincerely felt Obama triumphed over Romney last week, the surveys taken in the days after the town hall debate reflected a growing Romney lead where he was in a deadlock and contracting poll deficits where the Republican trailed the president badly.

Which begs a few questions about presidential debates two and three. 

Is it a case where Americans only cared about the first one, which would mirror what happened in 1960 when Richard Nixon failed to overcome bombing the first debate against John F. Kennedy with strong performances in the remaining debates?

Are the debates being drowned out by paid media and the polls reflecting the impact of increased spending and better advertising by the Romney camp?

Or as I speculated previously when trying to figure out why the president didn’t receive a bounce in the polls after his round two debate victory, that his win in the war of words was negated by his decidedly unpresidential mannerisms?

If the latter then President Obama did not help his re-election cause on Monday evening, where he came off as petulant.  And while his “bayonets” line might have led to hearty cheers at debate watching parties in union halls in deep blue states, his demeaning tone and obvious flub about these war instruments being anachronistic (they’re not) will follow him, particularly in the snarky savage world of social media. 

Expect to see a lot of marines to have some fun at their commander-in-chief’s expense with tweeted bayonet pics. 

As for Romney, in my opinion, he left too much in the playbook and not enough on the field. 

Perhaps in a bit of good humor hangover from the Al Smith dinner, Romney was ridiculously deferential to the president decided not to pursue the Benghazi matter, which is this White House’s greatest foreign policy failure and a visible symptom of the systematic problems of the administration’s global outlook. 

Romney did manage to call the president out on the “apology tour” and he delivered the strongest line of the night where he eloquently stated that the United States does not dictate to the world but has “freed other nations from dictators”.  Romney was also solid on Israel, challenging President Obama with being less supportive of the Jewish State than candidate Obama was in 2008.

Romney shrewdly managed to steer the debate back to the economy and amazingly President Obama testily jumped right down that rabbit hole after him, allowing the Republican to fight on more familiar turf and less advantageous ground for the president.

The Republican presidential nominee’s courtesies to the president concerning the killing of Osama bin Laden drove Donald Trump to furiously tweet his displeasure.  Trump opined that his candidate should “stop congratulating Obama for killing Bin Laden.  The Navy Seals (sic) killed Bin Laden.” 

Trump was right and Romney passed on a golden opportunity to correct the president for stealing thunder that he authorized but did not make. 

Which leaves me to wonder whether Romney intentionally assumed a passive posture in the debate so as not to commit any errors in order to protect a lead.  Politicians that adopt a zone defense strategy tend to be ahead. 
Whether the final president debate moved votes in any direction will not be known until Thursday.  My guess is that the third debate itself won’t matter much with the last two confirming what people saw in the first (Nixon-Kennedy '60).

Romney came off as competent, knowledgeable and presidential in all three debates while the president looked like a desperate politician unable to defend his record yet not unwilling to get personal. 

After six years of soaring rhetoric, controlled speaking environments, screened audiences, a fourth estate that has acted as his political secret service and a podium flanked by teleprompters, the debates have allowed Americans to peer behind the purple curtain to see that they’ve had a state senator for a president all along. 

With the debates concluded and two weeks to go before election day, all that’s left are more advertising, candidate scrambles to purple states, get out the vote operations and the late October/early November surprise the most cynical amongst us assume the White House is cooking up and ready to serve at a politically optimal time.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Election 2012: Le Monde du Obama and the Third Debate

Back in August, former US Senator Gary Hart penned a piece for the Huffington Post where he argued that that President Barack Obama would win re-election by a landslide due to the Democratic ticket’s depth of foreign policy experience.

The article perplexed me, since foreign policy has rarely made a difference in the outcome of presidential elections in the past few decades, largely due to the end of the draft and the shift to an all-volunteer army. 

The other reason why I was a bit surprised by the former Democratic presidential candidate’s assertion was that I never thought the Obama Administration’s foreign endeavors were anything to brag about.

In fact, it might be said with a straight face that Joe Biden is a better running mate than Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Joe’s worst transgressions are mostly rhetorical; the “gaffes” committed by the Clinton State Department and by extension the Obama White House have come with more serious consequences sans laugh track.

The Obama/Clinton foreign policy has been a bumbling series of failures with one shining moment that the president hopes will blind the public from the totality of their failed international initiatives.

Here’s a quick rundown on their record-

The current state of relations with Russia is terrible.  Secretary Clinton’s Carrot Top-esque “Reset button” gimmick was an embarrassment and made us look foolish when it turned out the wrong word had been printed in Cyrillic on the prop.  Instead of sending a signal that the US desired improved relations with Russia, we looked like rubes, which is dangerous when dealing with the Kremlin.

President Obama’s unintended live-mic mention of post-election“flexibility” to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev concerning America’s missile defense was extremely disconcerting and the Obama Administration’s cancellation of planned missile defense sites in the Czech Republic and Poland was a sign that the US cannot be trusted to fulfill our commitments to even our most loyal allies. 

In a pathetic gesture to make us “popular”, President Obama conducted an apology tour to corners of the world that resent us.  The supplications did not pay any diplomatic dividends, but instead broadcast our naiveté that the “grievances” of the world against America are legitimate while the sins of rogue regimes are best left ignored. 

The murderous regime in Damascus apparently has received an immunity stick from the Obama Administration as it continues to kill with impunity protestors demanding democracy in Syria. 

In another example of an ally being thrown under a bus, Israeli security interests have been recklessly dismissed by the Obama Administration yet they naively extend hope for a breakthrough regarding the pursuit of a nuclear weapon by an Iranian government that is only marginally improved from the beards behind the seizure of our embassy staff in 1979.

But the biggest foreign policy albatross hanging around the neck of the Obama Administration is the murder (and possible torture) of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya. 

The State Department’s refusal to provide adequate protection and their coordinated deceit to the American public about what happened represents one of the most serious transgressions ever committed by an administration. 

It is the hope of President Obama that another body will outweigh that of Stevens’s.

President Obama’s greatest achievement in the international realm was the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. 

The president should be recognized for his bold and proper decision concerning the elimination of bin Laden in an operation that took place not only outside the military operation area but only 31 miles away from the capital of Pakistan. 

There were plenty of risks involved sending a covert military force relatively deep into another country.  It could have very well ended up like Operation Eagle Claw, the disastrous Delta Force mission authorized by then-President Jimmy Carter to free US embassy personnel being held hostage in Tehran. 

President Obama has made great political hay of his authorization of the successful mission and I assume television viewers will be reminded as much in the Monday evening debate.

While I believe Governor Romney should recognize the president’s decision as admirable, he should point out that any other occupant of the Oval Office would have given the same order to bring bin Laden to justice. 

Furthermore, Romney should call out the president’s brazen attempt to seize more credit than he deserves.  The mission was carried out by the Navy SEAL team and President Obama’s ad nauseam boasting is an affront to those who risked their lives to do the job.

Or to put it another way, he didn’t kill that.  Someone else did.  That someone being SEAL Team 6.

President Obama will also lay claim for the winding down of the American involvement in Afghanistan though the wisdom of announcing a withdrawal date is questionable.  However the Obama Administration’s position is popular with an American public that wants our countrymen to be removed from the graveyard of empires regardless of the consequences that could follow.

President Obama will also try to do the same concerning the War in Iraq, which ended under his watch though the withdrawal was established under the Bush Administration and the war was effectively won by the troop surge that broke the back of the al-Qaeda network there.  Then-senator Obama opposed the surge.

While President Obama intends to turn the final presidential debate into a “bin Laden’s dead gloat fest”, he will have a lot of explaining to do concerning the a host of other breakdowns and poor decisions that collectively represent the most disastrous foreign policy record in decades.

Former senator Hart’s rosy view of le monde du Obama notwithstanding, the president should have as much difficulty defending his foreign policy on Monday evening as he had defending his economic record in the other two debates.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

CNN Goes C.Y.A.

In the unlikely event that there are folks in the journalism trade who agonize over the suspicion conservatives hold towards the Fourth Estate, CNN’s Candy Crowley did them no favors on Tuesday night.

TMZ, better known as the corner of the internet that acts as the archive of record for Kardashian bikini pics, managed to get their mitts on an internal CNN communiqué from network executive vice-president Mark Whitaker that reads like George W. Bush’s “Brownie, you’ve done a heck of a job” praise for the infamous ex-FEMA head after Katrina.

Whitaker opens up by asking fellow CNN employees to applaud Crowley for doing “a superb job under the most difficult circumstances imaginable.” 


I thought the feminist wing of professional scribes had called assigning a female reporter to moderate the town hall debate demeaning?

ABC’s Carole Simpson, who moderated the first town hall-style presidential debate twenty years ago, said that having female reporters relegated to covering the town hall and vice-presidential debates, was “sexist” (her actual word for it) in advance of Crowley’s moderating her first presidential debate.

It’s ironic that Simpson would degrade her assignment from 1992, which featured three presidential candidates and proved to be a consequential debate when President George H.W. Bush infamously looked at his watch and added to his image of being disinterested with the hoi polloi.

So prior to the debate, Simpson more or less compared running a town hall debate to taking out the trash yet Crowley’s boss at CNN made it out as if she had climbed Mount Everest.

Whitaker continues: “She and her team had to select and sequence questions in a matter of hours, and then she had to deal with the tricky format, the nervous questioners, the aggressive debaters, all while shutting out the pre-debate attempts to spin and intimidate her.”

So with a debate that was to last 90 minutes divided by two candidates plus adjusting for different questioners, the veteran journalist not only had the burden of selecting just over a dozen questions but putting them in order with help from a staff assisting her with this Herculean task.

Oh the humanity.

Whitaker: “She pulled it off masterfully.”

Well Crowley pulled something off masterfully, but not being a good moderator.

The CNN reporter interrupted the Republican nominee for president twenty-eight times; the president only nine. 

What was that compliment Whitaker paid Crowley again?  “shutting out the pre-debate attempts to spin and intimidate her.”

So much for being the Atlantic Wall of debate moderators.  Crowley not only lied down during Barack Obama’s constant interruptions of Mitt Romney, but she also “corrected” Romney while he was arguing with the president.

Crowley was either biased for or star-struck by the president.  Perhaps she was too caught up with the thought of having the first dance at the annual “Nerd Prom”, formally known as the White House Correspondents Dinner.

At one point, Crowley started to sound like Dean Vernon Wormer from Animal House all but barking out “you’ll get your chance smart guy” when Romney insisted on having an opportunity to refute an Obama attack on his comments about the auto industry bailout.

Like the folks at the Delta Tau Chi house, Romney never did get his chance.

Whitaker continues: “The reviews on Candy’s performance have been overwhelmingly positive but Romney supporters are going after her on two points, no doubt because their man did not have as good a night as he had in Denver.”

OK- first, the talking heads at MSNBC don’t count as credible sources of praise and secondly, this “atta girl e-mail” is starting to sound like a Bill O’Reilly “Talking Points Memo”.  With good reason.

Whitaker: “On legitimacy of Candy fact-checking Romney on Obama’s Rose Garden statement, it should be stressed that she was just stating a point of fact: Obama did talk about an act (or acts) of terror; no matter what you think he meant by that that at the time.”

This is revealing.  First, as debate moderator, it’s not her job to “fact check”.  She’s not there to correct the candidates; she’s there to ensure that they follow the established procedures/agreed upon rules of engagement.  Apparently the news executive is as confused as the news reporter on the actual role of a debate moderator.

Crowley was not participating in a Sunday morning news show as a panelist but refereeing.  And she did about as well with her first attempt at this as the NFL’s scab refs.

Secondly, Whitaker is basically admitting that Obama’s claim of calling the Benghazi attack an act of terrorism is bogus and that it’s necessary for one to stretch the imagination to accept the president’s blatant stretching of the truth.

Whitaker then shifts to another grievance: that President Obama got more talking time than Romney.

“On why Obama got more time to speak, it should be noted that Candy and her commission producers tried to keep it even but that Obama went on longer largely because he speaks more slowly.”

Conservatives have hurled many insults towards President Obama but “Droopy Dog” has not been one of them. 

In an attempt to make the case for impartiality on this point, the CNN vice-president proposes a solution: “We’re going to do a word count to see whether, as in Denver, Romney actually got more words in even if he talked for a shorter period of time.”

When I read that gem, I had to Google the story to make sure this leaked memo wasn’t another “Talk Like a Pirate Day” prank. 

When you’re counting the candidates’ words, then you’re engaging in some double-plus “Cover Your Ass” scrambling and searching for any talking point to distract from the totality Crowley’s mishandling of what a feminist reporter called a format so simple to manage that it was demeaning to assign to a woman.

All Crowley needed to do is keep the candidates confined to their talking times and take questions in the prioritized order she and her staff selected.  That’s all…but perhaps not enough for a journalistic “star”. 

Obviously Crowley wanted to make her special night to be her night. 

Less yokels, more Candy. 

Crowley wanted to be more of a part of the debate than her role allowed.

Like Kanye West at the MTV video awards or those two screwballs who crashed Hank Aaron’s trot around the bases after becoming the home run king, Crowley crossed a line of appropriateness and “gonzo’d” the debate by becoming too much of a part of the story.

What Crowley did brought embarrassment to her profession and apparently her employers, who exacerbated matters through an absurd talking points memo intended to reassure the rest of the staff that their colleague “really did great” and to spin it as such.

Presidential Debate II was good for President Obama, OK for Mitt Romney but terrible for Crowley, CNN and journalism in general.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Election 2012: Biden Outperforms Obama, Not Ryan

The first ever presidential televised presidential debate had mixed yet decisive results.

Those who listened to it on the radio thought Vice-President Richard Nixon had won yet people who watched it on the tube thought US Senator John Kennedy clearly outperformed his Republican opponent.

Kennedy won the battle on the tube by his healthy appearance while Nixon looked ill, partly because he was still recovering from the flu.

In the lone vice-presidential debate in the 2012 election cycle, a similar split decision could be made.  People tuning in to the verbal skirmish via radio heard Vice-President Joseph Biden came off as assertive and strong while Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was too deferential for his own good.

Yet the view from the flatscreen painted a much different picture.

Biden must have been unaware of the splitscreen broadcast as he behaved petulantly throughout most of the debate.  Between his smirks, pronounced facial expressions and at times wild body language, the vice-president displayed boorish conduct.

When Biden was not interrupting Ryan during his allotted time, the vice-president looked like a hyperactive college basketball coach.  Biden was more frenetic at the debate table than Mark Cuban is courtside. 

One could say Biden was “unvicepresidential”.

Ryan, almost three decades younger than his opponent, came off mature and with, under the circumstances, a commendable degree of self-control. 

Ryan managed to get in a few solid jabs on Biden, starting off with Libya, the first topic discussed.  Ryan can claim the line of the night with his “The words don’t always come out the right way.  You know how that is, Joe,” retort to the vice-president mentioning Mitt Romney’s 47% comment.

Ryan succeeded in coming off as competent and capable of doing the job as president if circumstances were to call upon him to do so, which was the primary objective for Ryan on Thursday night.

The youthful Wisconsin politician would not be “Quayled” or “Palined”.

Ryan missed several opportunities.  First, after checking his opponent early on for interrupting him, Ryan more or less allowed Biden to constantly barge into his comment time as the vice-president was at times simultaneously acting as participant, moderator and color commentary.

Secondly, Ryan failed to establish himself as unique as a national candidate as he was young enough to have to live with the consequences of the election.  This would have been a strong play for the youth vote, which is trending to Obama, especially if he would have worked it in on his answer to the question about what special trait he would bring to the office.

Third, Ryan couldn’t help himself by talking at times like an economist and not a grocer.  Fortunately for him he did not spend too much time in the fiscal jungle, though it served as a reminder that the names on the 2012 ticket are indeed listed in the correct order.

A CNN instapoll taken at the conclusion of the debate gave the nod to Ryan, 48% to 44%.  That a sitting vice-president, especially one who was elected to the US Senate while his challenger was in the midst of his terrible-twos, was out pointed ought to be a point of embarrassment.

Had Biden toned down his zeal and kept his unruliness in check, he would have not just won the debate but done so comfortably as he was able to do the minimum task of forcefully getting out his party’s talking points, particularly in his enunciations that America’s involvement in Afghanistan was coming to an end.  Period.

Regardless of your position about the wisdom of the termination of our involvement in the nation’s longest war, Biden’s position was popular and effectively delivered.

Biden was like bad cologne: odious while accomplishing the objective of making its wearer’s presence known.  Had President Barack Obama did as much last week, the fallout from the debate would not have been as severe.

The vice-president succeeded in showing some fight, which no doubt fired up MSNBC liberals with his chutzpah while turning off CNN moderates with his poor manners and at times erratic behavior.

The Democratic base was pleased while undecided voters might have been troubled by the fact that Biden was not just a heartbeat away from the presidency but often the face of the nation when meeting with foreign dignitaries. 

The worst that Biden did in the debate was abort any prospect of him one day being elected president, though he did not do any disservice to his party by playing hatchet man. 

On Thursday night, Biden was too much Bob Dole and Ryan was too much Jack Kemp.

The vice-president acted like a DNC chairman preaching to the choir while Paul Ryan was Wisconsin nice, playing for swing voters.

And as more people watched Biden’s behavior on television than just listened to him on the radio, one must concede the debate to Ryan.

Though the gaffe-prone Delaware Blue Hen can take satisfaction in at least covering the spread.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Election 2012: What Biden Needs to Do and What Ryan Shouldn't

“Stand up Chuck, let ‘em see ya!”- US Senator Joe Biden to wheelchair-bound State Senator Chuck Graham at a Missouri campaign rally.

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelet got on the television and didn’t just talk about, you know, the princes of greed.”- US Senator Joe Biden in an interview with Katie Couric in 2008.  FDR was not the president in 1929 and the consumer television had not been created

“This is a big f*cking deal!”- Vice-President Joe Biden caught on an open microphone congratulating President Obama on the signing of his signature health care legislation.

“His mom lived in Long Island for years or so, God rest her soul.  And although she’s- wait- you mom’s still- your mom’s still alive?”- Vice-President Joe Biden speaking about Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen’s still living mother.

“You don’t know my state.  My state was a slave state.”  -Then-presidential candidate Joe Biden making his case that he’s not a typical northeast liberal.  Editor’s note: He succeeded.

“They’re going to put y’all back in chains.” – Vice-President Joe Biden addressing a largely black audience in Virginia, somehow working that line in during a rant on Mitt Romney’s pro-Wall Street economic positions.

The above is the Joe Biden most conservatives are familiar with.

Scratch that.

The above is the Joe Biden most Americans, regardless of ideology, are familiar with, since he tends to only make headlines when he makes a gaffe.

Republicans have eagerly anticipated the vice-presidential debate ever since Mitt Romney announced his fiscal brainiac running mate.  While the thought of a New Gingrich-Barack Obama showdown appealed to many Republicans, a Biden-Ryan debate seemed to be the next best thing.

And while Vice-President Biden has at times come off like Leslie Nielsen’s Frank Drebin character from the Naked Gun movie series, Republicans should acquaint himself with another Joe Biden.

Biden was a candidate for the US Senate when he was 29 years old and defeated a two-term Republican incumbent the same year Richard Nixon carried Delaware by 20 points and 48 other states.

He would be re-elected to his seat six times, including in 1984 when Ronald Reagan carried the First State by 20 points.

And then there was his war on Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.  Though Massachusetts US Senator Ted Kennedy was the leader of the jihad against Bork, Biden did his fair share of damage to Reagan’s choice for a seat on the highest court as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention Biden succeeded in upstaging his boss when he delivered a better acceptance speech than the one given by the top of the ticket.

Biden has been sequestered at a Delaware hotel for days going over research and holding mock debates.  And thanks to his propensity to make outrageous comments, Biden goes into the debate with expectations that were as low as Sarah Palin’s four years before.

To be brutally honest, I’d be shocked if Biden doesn’t win Thursday night, if only because of his decades of political experience. 

Expect Biden to go on the offensive, challenging Ryan on any questionable arguments and facts that were raised by Romney during last week’s presidential debate. 

Furthermore, Biden has probably committed the most radioactive aspects of Ryan’s budget plan to memory and will try to squeeze in a laundry list of the unpopular line items at every opportunity. 

At a minimum Biden only needs to get out the standard anti-Romney talking points without sounding hysterical. 

The ideal would be for Biden to also make Ryan appear unfit to be president, thereby getting the media to focus on the wisdom of the Ryan pick and away from Obama’s record beyond the Democrats’ “GM’s alive and Bin Laden’s Dead” bumper sticker narrative. 

And this will sound ugly to even speculate but Biden will likely trot out his personal familial tragedy in relation to some softball question to attract sympathy from viewers.

In contrast, Ryan will be addressing a real national audience for only the second time in his political life and has the burden of multitasking: introducing himself to America, defending his budget, defending his ticket and making a case that he is qualified to serve as president.

Ryan must avoid trying to do too much and should prioritize his talking points while not addressing every hit leveled by the Biden rhetorical whirligig. 

The Wisconsin Republican should try to emulate the deftly defensive Walter Mondale from 1976 and not the absent-minded professor Jack Kemp from 1996. 

Rather than serving up a collegiate level talk on economic philosophy, Ryan needs to point out the quality of life measures that have plummeted over the past four years in basic consumer talk (or as I like to call it, Price Is Right lingo- which Romney effectively utilized the week before).

Finally Ryan needs to avoid sounding excited.  He has a high-pitched nasal voice that sounds…nerdy when he starts talking fast.  If he can help it, Ryan should minimize the material he provides to Lorne Michaels’s writers. 

A good performance by Biden won’t decide the election, but it would take some of the steam out of Romney’s victory in last week’s debate, which drove up his poll numbers nationally, filled his supporters with hope and his campaign coffers with badly needed cash.

For Ryan, how he does on Thursday night will ultimately affect his presidential aspirations in 2016 more than Romney’s in 2012.  Ryan doesn’t need to rout Biden in the debate to keep the Republican ticket’s momentum going, just not lose.

That said, take the Blue Hen +9 over the RedHawk.

Louisiana 2012: A Tale of Two Polls

Republicans in Louisiana were served some strong coffee last week with the release of new a poll conducted by the Baton Rouge-based Southern Media and Opinion Research.

The survey showed that Governor Bobby Jindal, who was re-elected in a landslide less than a year ago with 66%, now enjoys a mere 51% approval rating.

Democratic US Senator Mary Landrieu, whose prospects for a fourth term in 2014 will be affected in some measure by President Barack Obama’s re-election, fared better in the SMOR poll.

Louisiana’s senior senator received an approval rating of 62%, highest of the elected officials polled in the survey.  All of Landrieu’s campaigns for the US Senate were close, in which she received 50.1% in 1996, 51.7% in 2002 and 52.1% in 2008. 

Republican US Senator David Vitter had a 52% approval rating and Republican Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne was viewed favorably by 47% of the SMOR sample.

The biggest surprise was the poll’s snapshot of the presidential contest in Louisiana.

The Bayou State hasn’t supported a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton’s re-election in 1996 and four years ago Louisiana gave the GOP presidential nominee a majority of 59%. 

The Southern Media and Opinion Research survey pegged former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at 45% and President Barack Obama at 39%, roughly the same showing the Democrat received in 2008. 

Though it’s fair to assume that the outstanding 16% will break heavily to Romney, that Obama’s Republican challenger only had a 6-point lead raised eyebrows.

A week later Magellan Strategies released a poll that painted a much different political portrait.

The Magellan poll gives Romney a commanding 22-point lead over President Obama in Louisiana, mirroring the 2008 presidential race in the state from the other end. 

The GOP nominee for president polled at 59% while the president trails with 36% with 5% undecided.  In a reversal of the other poll’s undecided margin, the remainder will likely break to Obama.

The Magellan poll also paints a far less rosy picture for Senator Landrieu.  According to their numbers 40% would definitely support her re-election while 51% of those surveyed would support an alternative, though no candidate in particular was named. 

In another difference with the SMOR poll, the Magellan survey had Senator Vitter with a 59% approval rating and a 33% disapproval rating. 

Lieutenant Governor Dardenne had a 40% approval rating and a 21% disapproval rating.

Though Magellan did not poll Governor Jindal’s approval rating, they did poll the 2015 race for governor.

Six names were slated in an “open primary” with Senator Vitter receiving a plurality of 31% with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu trailing the Republican by less than two  points.  State Treasurer John Kennedy placed third with 7% followed by Lieutenant Governor Dardenne with 6.5%, New Orleans businessman and one-time gubernatorial candidate John Georges garnered 6% and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain. 

Vitter, Kennedy, Dardenne and Strain are Republicans and Landrieu is a Democrat.  Georges sought the office of mayor of New Orleans in 2010 as a Democrat.

Over 16% of those surveyed expressed no preference.

What to make of these surveys?

First, Governor Jindal has taken major hits on the public relations front with the drastic cuts to the state’s hospital system, which has led to the closure of some facilities that are critical to the health care and economic well being of communities across the state. 

Furthermore the only other time the governor seems to make the news is when the local media promulgates his latest campaign venture out of the state on behalf of Governor Romney’s presidential campaign. 

When considering the avalanche of negative news coverage he has endured, it’s an accomplishment that his numbers are above 50%.  Jindal has governed Louisiana without major scandal and every time a hurricane approaches the Louisiana coastline, the people of the state are reminded exactly why they voted for him twice.

Secondly, I wouldn’t be shocked if Senator Landrieu’s approval rating was above 50% though I don’t think any objective political observer believes her re-elect number would approach 60% in a contested fight. 

Mary Landrieu is a unique politician- she polls well in non-election years, nosedives as the election draws close and then defies political conventional wisdom to win in a hostile political environment for a Democratic candidate. 

For example, she won re-election in a runoff in 2002, against a strong GOP headwind that returned control of the US Senate to the Republican Party. 

Six years later the top of the Republican ticket in Louisiana, John McCain, carried the state with 59%, yet Landrieu still managed to get significant number of Louisianans to split ticket vote, resulting in her biggest majority yet as a US Senate candidate.

Landrieu has not drawn an announced Republican opponent for 2014, though the national GOP will almost certainly invest considerable resources in the hope that the fourth time will be the charm. 

Finally, there is the 2015 gubernatorial race.  Thus far only one of the names listed in the poll has publicly expressed a strong interest in making the race (Strain).  Mayor Landrieu has not even hinted that he is contemplating a bid.  His first political priority will be re-election as mayor in early 2014. 

In all likelihood, the New Orleans mayor’s name was included as a generic candidate to measure Democratic support. 

In order to remain a credible political party, the Democrats can’t afford to make a blanket concession on the statewide level as they did in 2011.

On the Republican end, the Magellan poll confirms the difficulty any Republican candidate would encounter attempting an end-around run on Senator Vitter if he were to throw his hat in the ring for governor. 

Vitter’s 88% showing in the 2010 Republican primary for US Senate demonstrated his high popularity amongst conservative voters and his 19-point margin over Blue Dog Democrat Charlie Melancon in the general election shredded any doubt about his electability. 

Election 2012: The Great Divider

After scoring an impressive debate victory over a president who ascended to the nation’s highest office through his gift of gab, Mitt Romney’s campaign has made its first significant forward progress in the general election campaign.

And his timing could not have been better with early voting already taking place in some states.

Though the “who won the debate” insta-polls swung heavily in Romney’s favor, it took several days for the national and battleground state polls to digest Romney’s triumph.

What was once a column of solid blue (the president’s leads in various surveys) on Real Clear Politics’ poll page now has splotches of red.  Rasmussen, considered to have its sample calibrated to reflect the expected 2012 voter turnout, has Romney at 49% (+2) in the national poll. 

Public Policy Polling, which has been affiliated with the Daily Kos, has Romney at 47% (-2) in Wisconsin.  On the day of the debate, a Marquette University poll had Obama with an 11-point lead in the home of the GOP’s candidate for vice-president.

Another benefit from the Denver debate registered practically overnight: money.

CNN reported that money was pouring into the coffers of Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney Super PAC, within 24 hours after the debate and its founder estimated that it would be one of the most successful fundraising days for the political committee.

Smarting from the humbling at Romney’s hands, President Barack Obama has gone on the offensive, showing more cheek before friendly audiences than he did when sharing the stage with his Republican challenger.

And with Obama’s poll numbers tumbling and Romney’s fundraising numbers on the rise, America will see presidential rhetoric burrow to a new low. 

The president and his allies have already hurled everything and the kitchen sink at Romney since it’s easier to destroy his opponent than to defend his record.

Women are told that Romney will outlaw abortion and have their birth control pills ripped from their hands. 

The Democrats even have a line for those women who are pro-life or don’t think the taxpayers should be footing the bill for their birth control as they claim that Romney opposes “equal pay for equal work”.

Blacks were informed by Vice-President Joseph Biden that a Romney Administration would “put y’all back in chains”.

And when not being threatened with being thrown in manacles, black voters along with Latinos have been alerted that the GOP is trying to disenfranchise them by requiring the presentation of photo identification at polling stations. 

Young voters are warned that Congressman Paul Ryan wants to double college student loan interest and to older voters that the Romney-Ryan ticket seeks to sacrifice their Medicare and Social Security to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, specifically Donald Trump.

The only time President Obama paints his message with a broad brush is when he engages in his now standard class warfare rants, trying to turn renters against owners, employees against bosses and the “have not as much” against the “have a bit more”.

Gender, class and race baiting is all the Democrats have left to offer the country aside from doubling down on reckless spending that has added over $5,000,000,000,000.00 to our national debt since Obama took the oath of office in January 2009.

President Obama has shown a willingness to be as fiscally vulgar as he has been rhetorically and a desperate last-minute taxpayer funded “giveaway” should be expected if things look bleak in late October.

My money is on a “blanket” student loan forgiveness that turns out to be the size of a “dishrag” once the details are revealed. 

In Obama 2.0, hope has been replaced with fear, citizenship swapped with victimization and the promise that “things will get better” substituted with a warning “things could get worse”. 

If voters cannot be “inspired” then they can be stampeded with scare tactics.

Or rented via government programs. 

And as unseemly (at best) and pathetic (at worst) this unprecedented presidential demagoguery sounds to the objective observer, Obama & Co.’s divisive fear-mongering has registered with the populace, especially in the environment the current administration’s policies have created. 

President Obama has no business enjoying even a slight lead aside from the states that have immersed their heads in the blueberry Kool-Aid trough considering the number of Americans who are out of work, the spike in the price of gasoline under his watch and the administration’s sizable contribution to the national debt.

Romney and the Republicans cannot dismiss the Democrats’ “sum of our parts” strategy but must directly address the incendiary charges made against them from president’s mouth and the pro-Obama Super PACs’ direct-mail houses.

The two demographics that will decide the election are women and young people. 

Romney will carry neither group but he must close the gap significantly with the former and marginally with the latter to win in November.