Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Evidence of the Old Normal, I Finally Tackle Van Jones, Corrupt Incorrigible ACORN

President Obama's Poll Numbers -- It Is What It Was
Continuing evidence of a theme that I have been citing for several weeks...we are basically the same divided nation that we were last November and well before then. You have to look all the way back to 1984 the find a Presidential contest to find a popular vote margin in the double digits (Ronald Reagan's thrashing of Walter Mondale.) The "decisive" margins of the last 20 years include George H-W. Bush beating Michael Dukakis by 7%, Bill Clinton beating Bob Dole by 9% and Barack Obama beating John McCain by 7%.

Given this, it is any real surprise that President Obama's popularity has settled in at around 10%?

For a brief period of time, the nation was united behind a leader promising hope and change. In the end, those who voted for him, generally like the path he has charted, those who voted against him generally don't. Kind of makes sense.

President Obama's daily numbers have hit 2 low points, on August 30th and September 11th, which each showed his approve minus disapprove at 8.7%, very close to his 7.2% margin last November. The past few days, following his health care speech, he has seen a modest rebound, to 12.8% in yesterday's data.

The monthly data, which smooths out the short-term bumps, we see a stabilization in September after two awful months in the summer.

These numbers reinforce the partisan divide in congress - members from conservative districts win by opposing the President, members from liberal districts win by supporting him. And the Blue Dogs straddle the line.

A Belated Commentary on Van Jones
Much as it pains me to say it, the Glenn Beck's of the world had this one right. It took me a while to bring myself to write that earlier sentence. No man who supported an inquiry into President Bush under the hypothesis that the former President was complicit or even a co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks deserves to be in an appointed role in government. There is zero evidence to support such a theory. Those on the left who continue to offer this theory are as bad as the birthers on the right. I'm glad Mr. Jones removed himself from public office. The Obama Administration should have done a better job vetting to begin with. It doesn't appear that Mr. Jones' views were a secret.

Just the latest appointment embarrassment from the very complicated but apparently ineffective vetting process. Do better, Mr. President.

ACORN Revealed
Charges last fall that ACORN was involved in voter fraud were fairly tentative. The charges, which centered around clearly fake registrations filed by ACORN employees failed to prove anything other than if you offer money for a filled out voter registration form, you'll get some pretty bad voter registration forms.

Far more disturbing are the documentary shots revealed this week of ACORN employees attempting to aid a man and a woman, posing as pimp and hooker in forging their taxes, even offering advice about how to categorize underage foreign sex slaves to maximize tax benefits (I only wish I were kidding or exaggerating.) And apparently, the corruption is rampant, at least 3 ACORN offices yielded similar results.

Enough with this corrupt organization. Evil is evil, whether it is rooted in the left or in the right. The Senate has voted to ensure that ACORN does not receive public funds. Good for them. The President has condemned ACORN's actions. Also correct. about seeing a few people thrown in jail? Conspiracy to defraud the Federal Government is still a felony.

The Baucus Bill
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has put forward the closest thing to an "Obama Healthcare Bill' that I have seen and...surprise, surprise, the Republicans from the "gang of six" are nowhere to be found. It is clear to me, for both political reaons (see above) and ideological ones (the GOP just isn't interest in an expanded government role in health insurance), this is going to be a partisan debate. The question is whether DEM's can peel off a GOP Senate member or 2 (I'm thinking of you Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe) while holding on to enough liberals in the House to actually pass a bill. It still looks like a lot of needle-threading.

I remain hopeful -- if ever there was a broken, overpriced system in need of reform, our health care system is it. The dual GOP arguments that government insurance will be awful but will also competitively crush private insurance are such an inherent contradiction that I don't even know where to start. Our system is expensive, inefficient and denies all but the most catastrophic care to almost 15% of the population. We all benefit by fixing this.

But we might not, just like we didn't in the 1970s when Richard Nixon and then Jimmy Carter supported universal health care or in the 1990s when Bill Clinton did. The system has continued to get worse since then. The rest of the first world has solved this problem. If the Democratic Party can't figure out how to do it with healthy majorities in both houses, then they deserve to lose lots of seats in 2010....and they will. If they get a law passed, they may still lose seats, but they will deserve the thanks of the next generation.

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