I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Can The Republican Party Save Themselves?

The general election in November is forecasted to be a landslide victory for the Democrats in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. Some predictions show the Democrats with a 70-seat majority in the House and a 12-seat majority in the Senate. The significance of those types of majorities in both chambers is that the Republicans would be powerless to stop any part of the ultra liberal agenda that Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid are likely to push upon the American public. The argument will be that the American people voted for change in Washington and that change is clearly very liberal.

The Democratic Party has good reason to be optimistic about their impending victories in November. It started in March with the Republican loss of former Speaker Hastert’s seat in Illinois, and continued with another Republican loss in Louisiana in early May. Both of these seats were Republican strongholds for several decades. Nancy Pelosi commented that it is a clear indication that the American people want the change that the Democratic Party is promising.

Of all election years, this one was primed for the congressional Republicans to take advantage of the historic negative approval ratings of the Democratic Party controlled Congress. According to a Gallup poll, a mere 18% of Americans approve of the job that Congress is doing. That number matches a poll from 1992 when that Democratic Party controlled Congress had similar poor marks. That Congress went on to lose control of both Houses in 1994. The Republicans by all accounts should be heading for huge victories in November, but instead they appear to be determined to run head on into a massive defeat.

The Democrats, to their credit, are energized and focused on their election theme of change and hope. The Republicans seem to be still struggling to find a voice, any voice. What I find amazing about the contest in Louisiana in early May was that the Democratic candidate campaigned on his conservative stance on abortion and other social issues. Yet the Republican Party is running away from their conservative positions. They are determined to run as liberals in Republicans clothes. How do they expect to win any election by running away from their conservative base? They simply will not win if their conservative base is not energized behind them. The Democrats won control of both Houses in 2006 in large part to southern Democrats campaigning as conservatives, but yet the Republican leadership appears to believe that conservatism is dead.

Conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity has proposed a 10-point plan for the Republicans to campaign on conservative issues. Will the Republican Party wake up to the very real reality of their downfall? If they continue their march towards the left, I believe that that will suffer a horrendous defeat in November and then blame conservatives for their demise. The conservative base is screaming for some leadership to stand up for fiscal responsibility and lower taxes; for a ban on earmarks; and for sensible solutions to social security, Medicare, and healthcare. We need leadership that believes that the government is not the solution but on obstacle to the American people solving the problems of today. It is not the Government’s job or responsibility to hold the hand of every American and take away all of our fears and problems. Life is full of problems and fear; it is up to the individual how to handle their own lives, not the government. We don’t need a nanny, we need leadership.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Impending Legal Battle Over Voter Disenfranchisement

Last year when the race began to become “important” during the primary season, the Democratic National Committee declared that the delegates from Florida and Michigan would not be seated at the convention in Denver, due to those states defying the party leadership by moving their primary dates. At the time all major democratic contenders publicly agreed with the decision. As the primary season draws to a close, Senator Hillary Clinton has intensified her calls for counting the votes of Florida and Michigan. She clearly needs these votes to close the delegate gap between her and Senator Barack Obama. She won both states in January and hinted that she would work to ensure their votes were not in vain. Obama was on the ballot in Florida but was not on the ballot in Michigan by his own choice.

The Obama campaign, in a move to try to quell the firestorm that will inevitably explode, has proposed that the delegates be evenly split between the two campaigns. This is obviously the best-case scenario for the Obama camp. He is trying to portray that he really does want the voters of Florida and Michigan to have their voices heard, but if this truly were the case he would have kept his name on the Michigan ballot. Failing to do so, has shown that in January he didn’t care enough to allow his supporters to voice their opinions at the ballot box.

Hillary Clinton has asserted her intentions to take this fight to the courts. Her claim is that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has disenfranchised the voters of Florida and Michigan by not counting their votes. Dean has vetoed every proposal to count the votes. Eight years ago, Al Gore took his case all the way to the Supreme Court to force the state of Florida to recount the votes from three select counties; by the way he lost every recount at the time and every subsequent recount. Now the leadership of a major political party is refusing to count any of the votes in two entire states.

On May 31 the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet to decide whether or not the DNC leadership violated party rules by disqualifying the Florida and Michigan delegates. I believe that if the Rules Committee comes back with anything less than a ruling to allow the votes stand as they are with Clinton claiming a majority of the delegates from both states, the Clinton campaign will take their fight into the legal system. I don’t believe Hillary will be successful in her bid to wrest the nomination away from Obama, but the damage will be irreparable. Howard Dean has single handedly turned this election season into a constitutional mess.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Obama's Appeasement Foreign Policy

President George Bush made the following remarks before the Israeli Knesset. “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before, as Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” Almost as soon as those words passed the lips of Bush, Senator Barack Obama and a multitude of his supporters decried the remarks as a false political attack against him. In Obama’s words, "It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack." What could have raised the ire of the presidential candidate? The President never mentioned Obama, or that anyone currently running for President had alluded to such action. Why would Obama jump to the conclusion that Bush was referring to him?
Could it be that back in July of last year at a Democratic debate, Obama expressed his intentions as President to talk directly with Iran without setting any preconditions? He felt that Bush’s policy of only talking to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad under the condition that they stop enriching uranium for nuclear weapons was foolish and too heavy-handed. Repeatedly Obama has asserted that we should talk to our enemies without setting any preconditions. Obama’s own website claims that “Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.” His stance has been called naïve by his opponent Hillary Clinton. After all, her husband’s administration held talks with North Korea and gave them the technology for nuclear power with their promise not to use the the nuclear material for weapons. To the Clinton administration’s surprise, the North Koreans broke their promise and now we are dealing with a North Korean nuclear threat. Does Obama possess some ace in the hole that will ensure Iran would keep any promises that it makes to him?

Look back at the 1980’s and Ronald Reagan meeting with the Soviet Union. He went into the talks unwilling to yield on his position of the United States ability to defend itself from nuclear attack. He walked out of the first meeting with Gorbachev and the media and the Democrats screamed in horror. They believed that he would bring us to nuclear war. They implored him to disarm our weapons and give the Soviets everything they wanted. They believed that appeasement was the best course of action. Ask Neville Chamberlain if appeasing Adolf Hitler worked in the 1930’s? The United States has a standing policy to not negotiate with terrorists or terrorists states. The policy is based upon the philosophy that if you negotiate once, the precedent is set for all future terrorist incidents. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. The are a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, both are terrorist organizations determined to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth. Ahmadinejad is on record stating his goal is to destroy Israel. He also claims that the Holocaust never occurred.

How does Obama plan on negotiating with this type of man? It is the same flawed logic that believes that if we could just sit down with Osama Bin Laden and explain that we mean him no harm, he will just disarm his suicide bombers and send them all home. How do you negotiate with a regime that is intent on eliminating Israel from the Middle East? How far is he willing to go for talks with Iran? Syria? North Korea? Is allowing Iran to take Israel part of the plan, as Chamberlain allowed Hitler to take Poland? Obama’s foreign policy is yet another example of his flowery rhetoric containing no real substance.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Will There Be A Democratic Party Left After November?

Eight short years ago, President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton were on top of the political world. The Clintons left the White House with their party ready to canonize them into political sainthood. Hillary had just been elected to the U.S. Senate from their new home state of New York. Bill was embarking on a very lucrative speaking career. In Democratic circles, the Clintons not only walked on water, but on air as well. Even as late as last year the Clintons were perceived to be the political saviors of the Democratic Party. What an amazing turnaround of opinions.

It started in early January with the tide slowly starting to turn towards Senator Barack Obama. Then Obama won the Iowa caucuses and suddenly some Democrats started to see the cracks in the political façade. Hillary bounced back and won New Hampshire, but Obama had a surprising Super Tuesday. He now led in the delegate and popular vote count. He continued to roll until Ohio and Texas came along when Hillary shocked almost all of the political pundits. Many experts had called for Hillary to drop out of the race before the Ohio and Texas contests, but she stayed in and won. She continued to hang around and won Pennsylvania. The anticipation built into a climatic frenzy waiting for North Carolina and Indiana. Tuesday showed that the Obama campaign had regained it’s traction by winning a decisive 14-point victory in North Carolina and cutting Hillary’s victory in Indiana to just 2 points. Again the calls have started for Hillary to just drop out.

Former Presidential candidate George McGovern called for her to give up and acknowledge that Obama was the eventual nominee. McGovern should know when to give up, after all he did lose his election to Richard Nixon by an overwhelming margin. McGovern only won one state and lost by over 500 electoral votes. Senators Kennedy and Kerry both claimed that the race is over and Hillary should step down. What surprises me is that many Democrats are acting as if the Clintons have changed over the past few months. They seem to believe that Hillary has become a political opportunist and is only interested in making it back to the White House, no matter what it takes. They also are shocked that former President Bill Clinton has come out so strongly in attacking Obama. Bill and Hillary are the same today as they were last year, or in 2000, or even 1992. The Clintons have always been relentless during a political campaign, yet now the Democrats seem to have lost the taste for their tactics. Is it that they have lost their taste for it? Or is it simply that the Clintons have worn out their welcome? Many of their Democratic critics claim that the Clintons will do anything to win and care nothing for their party. They believe that the Clintons have turned into liabilities for the party and are ready to dump them completely. Aren’t the Clinton critics within the Democratic Party just as slimy and hypocritical? After all, they had nothing but praise for the Clintons for the past 16 years, but now they act shocked and offended by the dynamic duo.

Whatever happens over the next few weeks and months, one thing is sure; the Democratic Party has many bridges to mend. Clinton devotee, Paul Begala, has claimed that the Democrats simply cannot win in November with just “the eggheads and the African-Americans”. Hillary has said in the USA Today that she has the “white” vote. Obama alienated many blue-collar voters with his comments about their “clinging” to their guns and their religion because they have no other hope. The Democratic primary season has accomplished one thing. They have successfully divided their party into white elites and the African-Americans voting for Obama, and blue-collar voters and Hispanics voting for Clinton. What will remain of the Democratic Party after this election season is over? I believe that when the Democrats lose their bid for the White House in November, there will be a major shakeup within the ranks of the party.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is Reverend Wright Sabotaging Obama's Campaign?

Is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright purposely sabotaging Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign? After weeks of not hearing a word from Obama’s former pastor, and the media playing a real life version of “Where’s Waldo”, Wright resurfaces to give an interview with Bill Moyers, and deliver speeches at the NAACP convention and the National Press Club. The furor over his controversial statements in his sermons had almost completely died out. What would draw this man back into the limelight? Some have speculated that the good Reverend was hurt by his most famous parishioner’s remarks in Philadelphia on race. Others have suggested that he was upset about being pushed into the shadows by Obama’s campaign. I believe that Reverend Wright believes that there is nothing wrong with his outrageous comments and that he deserves to be in the spotlight, even at the cost of an Obama presidency.

I know the Obama loyalists will attempt to persuade us that there has been no damage done to their sainted one, and that this issue is behind them. The facts, unfortunately for the Obama camp, tell a much different story. Obama’s lead in North Carolina has quickly evaporated over the past week. One poll even shows Hillary Clinton winning North Carolina. Clinton is now leading the polls in Indiana as well. This coming Tuesday will show the true measure of the Wright fiasco. If Obama wins big, then he may finally be able to say that it is in the past, but if he loses or barely squeaks out a victory in a state that he has enjoyed double digit leads, he may as well start packing up his campaign. The Clinton camp will have more than enough ammunition to use to persuade super delegates to switch sides.

Obama believes that he has adequately separated himself from Reverend Wright, but a simple glance back at his statements and positions on Wright’s comments causes more questions to arise. When the first videos of Wright’s sermons were aired, Obama claimed to have never heard these statements and to have been absent from church on those particular Sundays. A few short days later the story had changed slightly to the party line that the words were taken out of context. Then he claimed that Wright was like an uncle that occasionally made outrageous statements, but that he couldn’t disown him. A few days later his pastor was asked to leave the campaign as an official advisor. Last week, Wright shows up on TV and not a word from Obama. Wright goes on to the NAACP convention and makes some of the same comments made famous by the video sermons, but silence from the Obama campaign. Wright goes on to the National Press Club and makes the same claims that he has made many times before, and Obama is now offended.

What took the Senator so long to become offended? There are reports that the campaign conducted polls after the Press Club event and the poll results are what spurred the press conference to denounce Wright. Even if those claims are not true, why did he wait until now to denounce his pastor? After 20 years of listening to this man preach, why were his comments of this week so surprising? If we assume that Wright was not always so controversial, the sermons over the past few years that were made public two months ago contained the same controversial claims that apparently offended Obama a few days ago. Obama’s waiting game calls into question his integrity. Is he really a candidate of change and hope? Or is that just campaign smoke and mirrors to hide the true nature of the man? This whole mess could have been behind him months ago, if he had handled it properly, but as Reverend Wright pointed out this week, Obama is a politician and will say what he needs to say to get elected.