Thursday, October 28, 2010

Political wheel to spin again Tuesday

Republicans will almost surely take control of the House of Representatives Tuesday.

They won't win the Senate, although they'll gain seats. They squandered a chance to win the Senate by choosing too many Tea Party wackos as Senate candidates.

Which is amazing when you consider that two years ago pundits were wondering if the GOP was doomed as a national party.

A combination of the Tea Party, the still dragging economy and relentless propagandizing by Fox News and right-wing talk radio has brought the party back from the brink of the abyss and has them on the brink of their biggest election victory since 1994.

Virginia, were the polls close early, may give an early signal on how the night is going to go.

Expectations have been that Republicans would take out at least two of Virginia's six Democratic congressmen -- freshmen representatives Glen Nye in the 2nd District and Tom Perriello in the 5th. Both have trailed their Republican challengers throughout the race, although the polls in both races have closed over the last week. Still, incumbents polling less than 45% a week before Election Day are probably doomed. In both races the presence of a Tea Party-affiliated independent candidate raises the possiblity that the seat could be won with as little as 45% of the vote. That's probably the best shot Nye and Perriello have.

I either Nye or Perriello survives, the GOP wave may be smaller than predicted.

On the other hand, two races Democrats felt confident about -- long-time incumbent Rick Boucher in the 9th District and freshman Gerry Connolly in the 11th District, have begun to look shaky in recent days. Although he's held a comfortable lead over Morgan Griffith, the majority leader of Virginia's House of Delegates who actually lives in the 6th District,  througout the summer, the most recent poll in Boucher's race showed it deadlocked. Tuesday will show if that poll was an outlier or caught late movement. In the 11th, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has committed $1 million for a last minute TV ad blitz. With the number of incumbents they have in jeopardy around the country, it's unlikely they'd do that if Connolly was safe.

If either Boucher or Connolly go down, the GOP is likely in for even a better night than has been predicted.

The Democrats' problem is the stubbornly high unemployement rate and, let's face it, discomfort in the country that there's a black man in the White House.

They also face the problem that while "It could have been worse," is no doubt true, it doesn't make much of a campaign slogan.

The Tea Party folks are upset about TARP, the bailout of the nation's financial sector. That actually happened under the Bush administration. And, if it hadn't happened, most economists agree we'd have found ourselves in a Second Great Depression rather than a lingering recession. TARP is the best example in the last 20 years of Washington actually working the way it should, with Democrats and Republicans coming together to work in the national interest. It's also, one of the very few things that George W. Bush got right.  The previous Republican president to face a similar economic crisis -- Herbert Hoover -- did nothing, with tragic results.

I guess it's true that no good deed goes unpunished.

The Tea Party was also upset by the bailout of automobile industry, also begun under Bush. Like TARP, it looks like the auto industry bailout is going to work and the American people are going to get their money back. While saving one of the last vestiges of our manufacturing base. Does anybody truly think the U.S. would be better off without General Motors?

The Tea Party (sometimes said to stand for "taxed enough already") is also upset because they believe the Obama administration has raised taxes and engaged in an orgy of spending. Neither is true. A large part of the stimulus package was in tax cuts. About 95% of Americans have seen their taxes go down under the current administration. However, since it's in small amounts by way of reduced withholding, they don't notice. Also, the Obama administration's spending pales in comparison to the $1.3 trillion Bush added to the deficit (actually, he inherited a surplus) through an unfunded Medicare drug benefit, a tax cut without corresponsing spending cuts and  wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was quoted as saying "the thing we learned from the Reagan administration is that deficits don't matter." Apparently they do --  if there's a Democratic president.

The Republicans, including their Tea Party contingent, also say the stimulus hasn't worked. In fact, it has saved 3 million jobs, according to non-partisan experts. And it moved the country out of the recession. Corporate profits have been rising in 2010. However, American companies are still not hiring. Neither the president nor the Congress  has the ability to make them do so.

The real reason Democrats are headed for drubbing Tuesday is the "enthusiasm gap." Republican voters are much more likely to turn out than Democrats. Polls of all registered voters show Democrats doing much better than they are among "likely" voters.

The gap stems from two factors. First, the Tea  Party and their media leaders (Beck, Limbaugh, Palin) have spent the last two years telling their supporters that Obama is a "socialist" and possibly a Muslim.

Meanwhile, many Democrats have become disillusioned because the don't think the administration has been liberal enough.  That's despite the fact that Obama ran as a centrist. Democrats who were looking for a fighting liberal should have voted for John Edwards (before his marital problems surfaced) or Dennis Kucinich.

There is a reason that Democrats should be motivated to vote Tuesday.

This is it:

That's video of the neo-Brown Shirts surrounding Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul stomping on a woman's head because she tried to approach the candidate and ask a question.

That's not the only connection between Tea Party types and violence. Just this week, at an event put on by Virginia's own Rep. Eric Cantor (R-7th), a peaceful protester was slammed to the ground and put in handcuffs.

Similar events have been associated with the campaign of Alaska Senate canididate Joe Miller.

Represenatives of Deleware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell (perhaps the wackiest of all the wack job candidates the GOP has nominated) theatened to "crush" a local conservative radio station if it did not turn over a video tape of an interview with O'Donnell.

And Nevada Senate candidate Sharon Angle has said the Tea Party will need to explore "Second Amendment solutions" if its ambitions were frustated at the polls.

These are not people who are comfortable with Democracy. They only respect the will of the voters if it goes in their direction.

Let's remember that the original Brown Shirts came to power through an election as well.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" - Edmund Burke

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