Friday, February 5, 2010

GOP Gives Itself a Shot in IL, Democrats in Disarray on the Hill, On Rahm Emanuel and Things Retarded

Illinois Primary Voters Speak - A Win for Moderates
This past week's Senate primary results in Illinois lend a couple of clear messages to me:
#1 The "Tea Party" Movement is a Red Herring
Scott Brown was never a tea bagger. He was always a moderate conservative, a guy opposed to the Democratic health care plan and worried about runaway spending, but a social moderate and a pragmatist in the best sense of the world. His victory was never a victory for the tea party movement, it was a victory for the GOP and the voices of those who feared a Democratic party with unfettered power.

The tea party did co-opt the Republican Party in New York's 23rd Congressional District this past year, shoving aside GOP nominee Dede Scozzofava in favor of conservative hero Doug Hoffman. The result? They managed to lose a district that is more conservative than the nation, in a year where the country was ready to check the Democrats, letting Democrat Bill Owens slip in with a narrow win.

And this past week in Illinois, the sensible middle spoke again, as moderate Mark Kirk smacked down tea-party hero Patrick Hughes by 37 points to take the GOP nomination for the Illinois Senate seat once held by President Obama and now held by scandal-plagued Blago appointee Roland Burris.

The tea party movement is a joke, a concoction of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and some of their most radical, most Obama-hating friends. They have no platform and no message other than opposing government run health care programs because they might take away people's Medicare (huh?)

This is not to say that anger or at the very least, deep concern, over the proposed policies of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party isn't real. It is very real. No serious person could read the election of Scott Brown any differently. But it's the vast middle that is driving the shift, not the nut cases on the right, who wouldn't back Obama if he changed his name to Ronald Reagan and started watching the 700 Club.

#2 The GOP is In It to Win It
Part of the choice of Mark Kirk is ideological, part of it is pragmatic. Hughes would have lost, and badly. Kirk is a live contender. This race is a true toss-up right now. The GOP has dreams of taking back the Senate and they are showing a willingness to put up moderate candidates in places like Illinois and Delaware to get there. It may not be enough to clear the massive hurdle of 10 seats, but they are clearly playing for keeps, not just to make a point.

While I've devoted most of the virtual ink to the GOP primary, it is also worth noting that State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis won the Democratic primary the same night by a surprisingly narrow 5 point margin against former State Inspector General David Hoffman.

Polling in the heads up match between Kirk and Ginnaoulis is very tight and we'll keep an eye on how the race develops now that the candidates are decided.

Franken Irate, Health Care Going Nowhere, What Jobs Bill?, What the Hell Is Going On?
Senator Al Franken (D-MN) reportedly had an irate outburst with White House staff in a closed-door session with Senate Democrats this week over the lack of a strategy, particularly around health care. He has a point.

Nobody has presented any sort of real viable plan to do anything this year. Sit back and wait is not a strategy, unless the strategy is to hope people forget you spent the last year on this and move on.

The touted Jobs Bill appears on a road to nowheresville. I'm sure a package will ultimately pass, but Senate Democrats appear to be unable to even say what is going to be in a bill, with some even indicating that they might pass some small business tax cuts now and work the rest out later. Really? And this is different from the GOP being in

The Democrats seem to be in utter disarray since Brown's win, which is amazing, because it came on the heels of their strongest display of unity yet, the passage of the health care bill through the Senate. One election really changed all of this? Apparently so.

If Democrats can't find a way to govern with an 80-seat majority in the House and an 18-seat majority in the Senate (that's right, 59 minus 41 equals 18), then they deserve to go down in November. What we are witnessing right now is pretty pathetic.

On Rahm Emanuel
GOP talking heads, including former Alaska Governor, sometimes Fox News analyst and possible Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, have been calling for Rahm Emanuel's ouster following the revelation that he called liberal groups who would campaign against Democrats opposing health care reform "retarded".

It may surprise you to find out that I agree Rahm Emanuel should be fired. Just not for the same reasons.

is the GOP serious? You get fired for saying retarded in a closed-door meeting? Didn't John McCain call Korean's "gooks" in 2000? Didn't they defend Trent Lott apparently advocating segregation at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party? "Retarded" is THAT much further over the line?

Don't get me wrong -- Emanuel was wrong to say it. It is unsightly and mean-spirited. But, Christ, the guy has apologized to just about every developmentally disabled group he can find. Does anybody ACTUALLY think he was talking about developmentally disabled people? If he'd called the liberal groups "developmentally disabled" would it have been just as bad? Are we really that whiny of a nation?

This is NOTHING like Harry Reid's statement, of which I was highly critical. Reid's statement smacked of racism, or at the very least, an utter lack of understanding of the past 40 years. Emanuel's statement doesn't reveal some deep-seated hatred of mentally handicapped people, it was just a poor choice of words from a guy who is famous for poor choices of words.

So why do I think Emanuel should be fired? Because he has been a mess. He is divisive, sets a horrible tone in his dealings with the hill and has managed to simultaneously divide Democrats and unite Republicans. He represents all of the wrong parts of Chicago politics, he is not a true believer in the Obama agenda and as a tactician, he's been ineffective. Obama needs a guy that can get things done on the hill. That clearly hasn't been Rahm.

More Senate updates coming soon....stay tuned.

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