April 21, 2006

But What Do They Propose To Do About It?

The NY Times headline says it all: "Democrats Eager to Exploit Anger Over Gas Prices".

Fine, exploit anger. That's about all they're good at. But while voters are unhappy about gas prices, what reason exactly are Democrats going to give that having them in power makes any difference? They certainly have no track record to boast of.

"While Democrats are eagerly laying blame for the situation on the Republicans, they did little to advance energy measures in eight years under President Bill Clinton. Democrats remain split to some degree over how to proceed, but in general favor greater investment in "clean fuel" technologies, more incentives for driving fuel-efficient vehicles and stronger steps toward reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Those positions were included in a measure sponsored last year by more than 30 Democratic House members who opposed the Republican version of the energy bill. Even so, 75 Democrats in the House and 25 in the Senate voted with the Republicans to pass Mr. Bush's bill.

The recommendations of the memorandum to Democratic candidates include holding a campaign event at a gas station "where you call for a real commitment to bringing down gas prices and pledge that, as a member of Congress, you will fight for families in your district, not the oil and gas executives for which the Republican Congress has fought so hard."

A survey by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research organization, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine suggests that the message could not be more timely. The survey said voters now believed that fears over energy independence rivaled the Iraq war as the leading foreign policy issue for the nation.

Daniel Yankelovich, chairman of Public Agenda, said the survey found that 90 percent of Americans viewed the lack of energy independence as a risk to security, that 88 percent said problems abroad were endangering supplies and increasing prices and that 85 percent believed that the federal government could do something if it tried."

Um, it has been tried. It's called tapping into the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and Democrats are consistently on record as vigorously opposing it every single time it comes to a vote.

Sure Democrats (as noted above) are in favor of "'clean fuel' technologies, more incentives for driving fuel-efficient vehicles and stronger steps toward reducing emissions of greenhouse gases" but how exactly does that lower gas prices? It doesn't. And gas prices are what people are so upset about. You have only two ways to lower gas prices - increase the supply or cut gas taxes - and Democrats don't believe in either. Holding stunts like having campaign rallies at gas stations is about as lame as you can get.

If Republicans in Congress are smart (and there's no reason to assume that they are) they should 1) hammer the Dems over their hostility to ANWR drilling and 2) call for even a modest cut in Federal gas taxes. Both are do-able, practical solutions that would force Democrats to show voters that they are the real price gougers.

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The Democrats' Long Shot

We keep hearing about the possibility of the Democrats taking the House in November. One of the big numbers being thrown around is how they "only" have to unseat fifteen Republican incumbents to take a tenuous one-seat majority of the lower chamber.

But what pundits are forgetting is that in addition to taking those seats, they would have to hold every single district currently held by a Democrat. And, as Nathan Gonzales points out in his column at TownHall.com, no party has managed to do that in the last fifty years. He explains:

"In 1958, Democrats took over 49 seats (defeating 35 Republican incumbents and winning 14 GOP open seats), while Republicans still defeated a single Democratic incumbent. Eight years later, Republicans took over 43 Democratic seats, but Democrats simultaneously took over four GOP-held seats.

In 1980, Republicans took over 37 Democratic seats, but Republicans managed to pick off four seats from the DemocratsÂ’ column. And in 1994, Republicans took over 56 Democratic seats (defeating 34 incumbents and winning 22 Democratic open seats), yet Democrats still won four Republican-held open seats."

Bottom line: As unlikely as it is that Democrats could manage to win all fifteen of the races they would need to take from the GOP, the task becomes even tougher if they were to lose a seat or two of their own.

Gonzales looks at eleven Democrat seats that are vulnerable to flipping Republican. And I can guaranty you that Karl Rove's recent reassignment to political matters will be focused on all of them. So before Dems start to get giddy about their prospects, they better be watching their backs or they're likely to find come November 8th that the make-up of the next Congress will be fairly status quo.

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April 13, 2006

Modern Democrats And War

Liberal Columnist David Corn has a piece posted at TomPaine.com in which he looks at what he sees as political similarities between 2008 and 1968. Essentially, he says that the potential leading candidates for the Democratic Nomination in two years - Hillary Clinton, Russ Feingold & John Edwards resemble those of '68 - Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy.

While I think the comparison is more than a bit of a stretch, the overall comparison may be apt in that modern Democrat Presidential candidates tend to splinter their party in wartime. Unlike Democrats in the early part of the 20th century - FDR against the Nazi's and Japanese and Truman against the Soviets - who united their party against a common enemy, the modern Democrats are fighting with themselves to decide exactly who the enemy is. In both 1968 and today, the leading faction decided that the enemy is not foreign, but rather domestic. For the today's anti-war Democrats, the enemy is actually Republicans (the Bush Administration) and Democrats with strong positions on National Security (Sen. Joe Lieberman).

While normally Corn and I agree on...well, almost nothing, he has one observation that I can buy into:

"There are, obviously, distinctions between 1968 and now. Hillary Clinton is not a commander-in-chief in charge of a tragic war (or the No. 2). There is yet no sizeable antiwar movement, as there was in 1968, for Feingold to use as a base. Edwards is not the vacillator that Kennedy was—although like Kennedy, he does raise poverty as an issue. But it sure seems possible that the Iraq war—if Bush does not achieve his complete victory there in the next two years—has the potential to dominate the Democratic contest and to split the party, as the Vietnam war did in 1968.

For now, the party is repressing those potential differences. Look at the Democrats’ recently released "Real Security" platform. Iraq is covered on page three of the three-page statement. And the plan offers little: "ensure" 2006 is a year of "significant transition" to full Iraqi sovereignty and of "responsible redeployment of U.S. forces"; "insist" that Iraqis make political compromises to unite their country and defeat the insurgency; "strongly encourage" allies and other nations to play a "constructive role." That's not much. The plan says nothing about what should be done if the problem in Iraq is not a self-contained insurgency but a civil war—or something close to it. Should the United States keep 130,000 troops in the middle of a sectarian conflict? Should it pick a side?

Clinton is straddling, not leading, and much of the leadership of her party is essentially doing the same. That might help Democrats in the coming congressional elections by providing on-the-ropes Republicans with little to attack. Then again, it might not. But the conflicts and dilemmas posed by the Iraq war will probably persist. If so, Democrats could find that their biggest challenge is not the Republicans but themselves."

In 1968, Vietnam was tearing apart the Democrat party but it was also tearing the country apart as well. That isn't the case today. In their fervor, the anti-war Democrats are misjudging their reading of the electorate. There's a huge difference between being pessimistic about the current operations in Iraq and a popular uprising to end them at any cost. If the netroots are counting on the later, then they're in for a huge disappointment.

While the anti-war Democrats will not be taking to the streets during their 2008 convention the way they did in Chicago in 1968, their influence will probably be just as significant. Only instead of nominating a Hillary Clinton as their Hubert Humphrey they may very well nominate a Russ Feingold or an Al Gore as their version of the Democrats' 1972 nominee, George McGovern. If this turns out to be the case, don't be surprised if history repeats itself - with a Republican ending up in the White House.

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April 10, 2006

He Will If It Comes Down To It

Since Sen. Joe Lieberman is getting a challenge - albeit a weak one - from within the party, he hasn't ruled out running as an Independent.

“I have not foreclosed the option,” Lieberman said at a news conference at the Capitol. “If I wanted to run as an independent, I would. I’m running as a Democrat. I’ve been a Democrat all my life.”
If it came down to this - if Democrats forced him out - Lieberman would win in a walk. With a popularity rating over 60% among CT voters of all stripes, Democrats would soon realize that Joe gets reelected every six years because he's a mensch, not because he has a (D) after his name.

Go ahead, guys. Push out everyone that isn't a die-hard Bush-hating moonbat. It won't be long before the party that was once the "big tent" will be able to fit into a pup tent.

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April 06, 2006

Who's Sorry Now?

Slap-happy GA Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is all humble and apologetic now for hitting that Capitol police officer. It seems her race card has an expiration date, as fellow Democrats have been avoiding her like the plague.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., expressed "sincere regret" Thursday for her altercation with a Capitol police officer, and offered an apology to the House.

"There should not have been any physical contact in this incident," McKinney said in brief remarks on the House floor. "I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all and I regret its escalation and I apologize."

Quite a turnaround from her earlier position when she accused the cop of "racial profiling", huh? Don't supposed it would have anything to do with this turn of events would it?


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