This is my analysis of the SCOTUS ruling on the healthcare law, and the political implications.
Mitt Romney pulled out a win today in the Puerto Rican Republican Presidential primary. This victory added 20 delegates to his total. As of today, he has a total of 521 delegates. Rick Santorum is in second place with around 253 delegates. With 61 percent of precincts reporting, Romney hauled in 83% of the votes in Puerto Rico. This win is definitely not a surprise, given the endorsement of Republican Governor Luis Fortuno. Romney was also boosted by the statements Rick Santorum made about Puerto Rican’s learning English. The former Massachusetts Governor also came out in opposition to changing the official language in Puerto Rico as a requirement for statehood. This win puts him a little closer to the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Next up is the Illinois Primary, and Romney is hoping for a strong showing there as well. It seems as if the Romney camp is attempting to push the message that it is now time for Republicans to rally around him, and give up their support for other candidates. We will see what happens as the primary contest continues.
I can’t say that I was at all surprised by some of the tactics we’ve seen recently from Republican presidential candidates in particular. Some may say that it’s expected given Republicans history with employing racial politics when necessary, and that the recent statements by someone like Newt Gingrich can’t be that shocking. Gingrich clip below:
He understands exactly what he is doing. Many would argue that some Americans on food stamps take advantage of the system. Some may, but determining the full extent is tricky. Also, unfortunately some Americans hold a belief that African Americans make up a majority of food stamp recipients(actually 33%). Blogger Joshua Green does a great job of explaining why critics of President Obama on this issue should look in the mirror:
The number of food stamp recipients has indeed risen sharply, but this rise began under President George W. Bush and is largely attributable to the recession. Food stamps are an anti-poverty measure, so it’s no surprise that enrollment should rise when large numbers of people are out of work (the number of recipients dropped last month as the economy improved). But recession isn’t the only cause. A Bush administration initiative begun in 2002 dramatically increased participation rates among eligible households, from 48 percent to 72 percent in 2009.
Couple that together with the fact that if he’s the Republican candidate, he would be facing off against the nations first African American President. Gingrich knew that the far right conservatives in South Carolina would eat it right up, and he went with it unfortunately. He’s not the first candidate to stoop to the racial politics of old.
The Jessie Helms “Hands” ad was one of the most memorable political ads of all time. It was both disgusting to watch, and sadly, very effective. The Republican Senator from North Carolina was in a tough re-election fight. His opponent was none other than up and coming Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt. Gantt was African American, and to Helms surprise, he was staying with him in the race. Helms had to drop a bomb, which he did. Racial politics was all too common in North Carolina at the time. Helms knew that he could play to peoples misconceptions about affirmative action, and use it as a wedge issue.
This next ad was unveiled by the Republican National Committee some years ago to attack Memphis Congressman Harold Ford, in his quest to defeat Republican Bob Corker in the Tennessee Senate race. Ford, like Harvey Gantt, was a young, ambitious African American politician that was on the rise. Ford came from a political dynasty, and though he was a Democrat, stayed moderate. This helped to position him to eventually run for the U.S. Senate, and he ran a very close race with Bob Corker. I believe the RNC aired this ad because they were afraid of a Harold Ford upset. Stoking some peoples hatred of interracial relations or dating seemed to be the strategy of choice for the Republicans. Unfortunately this classless tactic worked. Corker squeaked out a close win.
As the 2012 election nears, I only wonder what some of the Republican operatives have up their sleeve. They are very smart, and won’t present ads such as this unless the election seems to be extremely close. I think in 2012 it might be a little tough to produce ads that have such strong racial undertones. My prediction is that ads aired during the 2012 election will be a bit more discreet- just enough to not cause too much of an uproar. I’ll be watching, and analyzing.
I’m quite sure many of you all have been following the drama going on in Wisconsin of all places. All of the uproar is a result of legislation being pushed by Republican Governor Scott Walker that would pretty much eliminate the right of public employees unions to collectively bargain. This has called many to stage massive protests in Wisconsins state capitol. On top of that, the Democratic senators have fled the state into Illinois to avoid giving the Republican majority quorum to pass the bill.
Governor Walker has been publicly supported by the Republican establishment and fellow governors. He seems unwilling to compromise at this point, which I think is a grave mistake. The unions have already agreed to pay more for their healthcare, and other needed cuts because of the tough times, but are holding the line on collective bargaining, as they should. Its nice to see that a majority of the American people agree.
The latest NY Times/CBS News poll showed that 60% opposed weakening collective bargaining rights for public employees unions. Also, 61%(over half of them GOP voters )stated, “that salaries and benefits of most public workers were “about right” or “too low” for the work they do”. On top of that, Wisconsin voters may be having buyers remorse. Nitasha Tiku of nymag.com noted as much in a poll she cited:
But that’s not the only recent poll that could spell bad news for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. If there were a hypothetical do-over of the state’s gubernatorial election, 52 percent of respondents in a PPP poll out yesterday said they would vote for Democrat Tom Barrett, the man Walker defeated, while only 42 percent said they would reelect Walker. That’s an flip-flop from what actually happened in the non-hypothetical elections, when Walker picked up 52 percent of the votes to Barrett’s 47 percent.
Governor Walker…..and other Republicans who think an aggressive, iron fisted strategy towards unions will work are mistaken. I think we all can agree as Americans that the deficit must be reduced, and everyone must sacrifice,including unions. But there is a difference between cuts and trying to eliminate unions completely. As you have seen, Democrats and union members are not afraid to protest and put up a fight. And you also see that Governor Walkers own citizens are turning on him…if only on this issue. Wake up Scotty.
Jamie Radtke, who is the head of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots has officially filed papers today to run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate that will be up for grabs in 2012. Gabriella Schwarz of CNN explained the reasoning for her jumping in the race:
Radtke said the recent tax deal passed by Congress and increased national spending contributed to her decision to run.
The entry of Radtke into the fray could complicate things for George Allen. The former Republican senator who was defeated by Jim Webb in 2006 is widely considered to be seeking to run for the seat again. He only lost re-election in 2006 by 1/3 of a percent(8805 votes), and many believe that loss was due to the fact that he spewed a racial epithet at a Indian American staffer of his opponents campaign at a rally. The former congressman and governor would definitely be the front runner for the Republican nomination. The problem is that Allen is considered an establishment Republican, and that could spell trouble in the primary. Republican voters have not been kind at all to establishment figures/front runners in their party, and many front runners(Charlie Crist, Mike Castle, Arlen Specter) have went down in flames. Radtke will surely run to the right of Allen, and go after him pretty aggressively.
George Allen will be able to raise massive amounts of cash, and put together a top flight campaign operation, but it remains to be seen if he can get enough support from the base to pull out a primary win. Because the likes of Sharon Angle, and Christine O’Donnell have pulled off primary upsets, it would never be too wise to count someone like Jamie Radtke out.
As a Democrat, I am jumping with joy at this situation. If Radtke is able to knock off George Allen, she will have far less appeal with moderate Republicans and independents than Allen would have…only helping Jim Webb’s re-election chances. And even if Allen pulls out a primary win, he may be pretty bruised and battered from a tough primary, and have burned through a lot of his cash fending off a challenger. That would in turn weaken him in a general election battle against Webb. We will see what happens.
It looks like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was wrong all along. During the gulf oil spill, Jindal repeatedly criticized the Obama administrations response to the oil spill, and attempted to portray the response that he and the local officials implemented as much more efficient.
In the midst of the oil spill, Jindal and local officials aggresively advocated the idea of sand berms being built. Despite the fact that numerous scientists and federal government agency officials objected to this idea, Jindal forged ahead, and pressured the federal government to demand that BP pay for the project. The feds relented, and eventually went forward with the project, to the tune of $360 million dollars. The reason that many objected to this idea, was because they stated that it would be too costly, and would do little to capture the spilled oil. Turns out the feds and scientists were right. Below is the press conference in which Jindal announces that the berm project will move forward:
The independent commission that was set up by President Obama to investigate the oil spill concluded that the sand berms were a collosal waste of money, and captured virtually no oil. In a statement, they noted that, “they could comfortably conclude that the decision to green light the underwhelmingly effective, overwhelmingly expensive Louisiana berm project was flawed”.
Blogger Pat Dollard has an interesting theory as to the true reason that Governor Jindal acutally forged ahead with advocating the berm project:
Some have even charged that the plan was nothing more than a multi-million dollar kickback for the governor’s supporters. “The only reason those sand berms are still being built is because Bobby Jindal has supporters he needs to pay back,” a current Louisiana officeholder, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing dealings with the Jindal administration, told Yahoo News back in October. “It’s that simple … follow the money. The people making money off this thing are people that gave money to Jindal.”
I’m glad that the record has now been set straight, and that we now know that Governor Jindal’s berm project was an absolute waste of money, and did little to stop the oil. The facts dont lie governor.
This is the second installment of my column called “Political Survival 101”. I am writing this in hopes that President Obama and his advisors make serious changes politically and policy wise, to ensure that he is reelected in 2012. I think that Obama’s focus needs to be on pushing a few moderate policies in order to protect vulnerable Democratic senators who are looking warily to re-election battles in 2012. Compromise on the tax cuts was a good start, though I feel he should have extracted more from the Republicans.
Currently, the Senate is comprised of 53 Democrats, and 47 Republicans. That is a very slim margin, and can easily be tilted to the Republicans favor in 2012 if we dont immediately shift course. The main Democratic Senators who are the most vulnerable come from mostly states that either supported John McCain by significant margins in 2008, or were only won by slim margins by President Obama . They are as follows:
– Jim Webb(D-VA)
– Kent Conrad(D-ND)
– Ben Nelson(D-NE)
– John Tester (D-MT)
– Claire McCaskill(D-MO)
– Bill Nelson-(D-FL)
Essentially, I think the best strategy the President should employ to protect them is to push all other legislation to the back burner unless it deals with the economy or creating jobs. Dont Ask Dont Tell, the DREAM Act, Immigration, as well as any hot button social issues need to be tabled until after the 2012 election. Issues such as these are exactly ones in which Republicans will hammer vulnerable Democrats with….but only if there are any risky votes taken. Many courageous Democrats representing moderate to conservative districts took tough votes and supported healthcare, the energy bill, bailouts, and other pieces of legislation that were unpopular in their districts. The end result was that 49 Democratic members of the House lost their seats, and 5 Democratic members of the Senate went down in defeat.
Those numbers are grim, but also can be viewed as a wake up call to the President and his advisors. The message they were sent on November 2nd was, “get to the middle fast”. Here are some other nuggets to throw out, courtesy of the American Osteopathic Associations analysis of the midterm elections:
– Republicans won every Senate race along the once Democratically tilted I-70 corridor(Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri)
– Republicans won 22 Democratic incumbent seats and did not lose a single incumbent seat in the South
I don’t mean to minimize the important of issues such as the Dream Act, Dont Ask Dont Tell, or others….but the fact is that putting the American people back to work should be our #1 priority. Focusing solely on that and the economy will be good for the country, and good politically as well. People have a way of acting irrationally when they are unemployed and frustrated(as the midterms showed us), but at the same time forgetting they were mad at a politician when they find a good job, and the economy picks up. Listen up Mr.President.
Honestly, I have no problem with a Republican disagreeing with President Obama’s agenda for legitimate reasons, such as a difference of opinion on policy. They lose my attention when they delve into issues like questioning his citizenship or religion. Those issues have both been addressed by President Obama, and people who still aren’t satisfied are those on the far right, and on the fringe.
One of those individuals is Texas State Representative Leo Berman, who is introducing a bill that will require that all presidential candidates produce a valid birth certificate to get on the presidential ballot in Texas. This is clearly a move that has roots in the fact that some wackos still hold on to the widely refuted claim that President Obama is not a US citizen.
Thankfully, CNN ‘s Anderson Cooper brought Berman on his show, and completely destroyed his entire argument with clear, sound evidence and factual information. What a sight to see. The clip is below: