President Obama’s State of the Union Tuesday night threw down a gauntlet Republicans won’t be able to cast aside simply by saying “he’s dividing us”. His basic thrust was that it’s time for American to actually be America, a challenge this country must embrace if we are to think of ourselves as a world leader. What was interesting, however, was the tack of GOP response to the speech.
Republicans, you see, are in a bind. The establishment of the party is very nervous about the direction the right flank is taking (they’re more scared of Newt Gingrich than Democrats are).
They also know that Mitt Romney, with his $10,000 bets and 15% effective tax rate has absolutely no empathy with the broad swath of the electorate they hope to seduce.
So they let the four presidential candidates and the House leadership say what they wanted, and put their faith in Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to respond. It was Daniels that tried to use the issue of divisiveness to paint the president as ineffective.
Yet a confluence of events rendered the Republicans impotent. When President Obama talked about a 30% tax rate for millionaires, he didn’t have to mention Romney, who does no real work other than run for president but is worth a quarter of a billion dollars. His attempt to portray himself as a captain of American industry through his stewardship of Bain Capital a decade ago hardly rings true.
At the same time, Republican bleating over the president’s defense priorities were made moot when two teams of Navy Seals freed an American and a Dane kidnapped and held hostage in Somalia.
For many, the Barack Obama of the past couple of months bears a much closer resemblance to the guy they voted for in ’08 than the Obama of ’09 and ’10. He seems ready to wield his power more frequently, and to circumvent Congress if they want to play the obstructionist games of the recent past.
The terms executive order and recess appointment will likely be heard more often moving forward toward the November elections. Ironically, the last hope the Republicans have is that the economy craters again, which is in fact a possibility.
That’s why President Obama crerated a new mortgage unit to hopefully guard against a new wave of foreclosures.
Make no mistake. This president is done playing. Now the real battle for the soul of America begins.
|The results of the Iowa Republican Caucuses are now known.
So the candidates, from top to bottom, can now stop acting like they really care one way or the other about the people of that good state.
I asked a Des Moines talk show host about the fact that once the caucuses are done, presidential hopefuls seem to rarely return to the places where they pressed the flesh with such passion for weeks earlier. He said Iowans used to that by now.
Now the roadshow moves to the Granite State of New Hampshire! Who will actually be moving on?
Rick Perry’s gone home to Texas, to “reassess” his campaign. We all know what that means. Just ask Herm Cain.
Michele Bachmann, after saying she’s staying in the race, canceled some campaign appearances in South Carolina.
That leaves Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, Romney, and the only sane person in the race, Huntsman.
Perry and Bachmann may yet continue, but not for long.
And what’s at the end of the rainbow for these folks? More media coverage, for sure. The 24 hour news cycle now demands that each primary until the nomination is decided is the political equivalent of the Super Bowl. That makes it easier for the punditocracy to ply their trade, and cash those checks. By the way, did any of them forsee the “Santorum Surge”? Just asking.
Put bluntly, do any of these people really have what it takes to be President? Can Gingrich get past his past? Will Paul bury his racist and homophobic newsletters? Is Santorum, with his blather about airstrikes on Iran, for real? Is Romney now on a clear path to victory, or will the far right wing of his own party do him in?
For political junkies, this is manna from heaven.
For everyone else, maybe not so much.
For those of you who aren’t political junkies, NY-23 is New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Until Recently, it was represented by John McHugh (R).
President Barack Obama chose him for a post at the Pentagon, setting up one of two races for congressional seats this fall (the other is California’s 10th District). Yet NY-23 has begun to capture the attention of the nation’s celebrity conservatives and Republicans like no other race in a long time.
NY-23 is a three way race, pitting Democrat Bill Owens against Republican Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
Right wing Republicans like Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Michelle Bachman, Steve Forbes, Tim Pawlenty, Dick Armey, and Rick Santorum have flocked to back…..Hoffman the Conservative! Oh yeah, and Congressmen John Linder of Georgia and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas have also jumped on the Hoffman bandwagon.
Newt Gingrich must feel awfully lonely. He’s about the only well known Republican retread backing Scozzafava.
What’s so important about a three way race in upstate New York? Why all this right wing firepower? I’ll hazard a guess.
For Palin and Pawlenty, it’s a chance to burnish their credentials with the conservative base both think they’ll need to run for president in 2012. For the others, it’s a test of conservative strength. It’s a chance to say all is not lost in Barack Obama’s America (you know, the one they want back). They’re banking that voters in upstate New York care about the Bachmans, the Forbes, the Thompsons, the who???
NY-23 is the right on what they hope is the comeback trail. How else top explain why this race threatens to eclipse both the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial contests? Of course, the stakes are high. If all this right wing heft is brought to bear and their guy loses (Owens is currently leading in a couple of polls), what does it say about the true gravitas of the tea party wing of the GOP? Then, on the other side, maybe Doug Hoffman wins. That makes all these right wing Republicans kingmakers in a district most couldn’t find with a GPS. It’s also interesting to hear John Linder in particular bleat about backing Hoffman to end bipartisanship in Washington.
Hey genius, how do you think the seat opened up in the first place? John McHugh, tapped to be Army Secretary, is a Republican! If Owens wins, it will be the first time a Democrat has won the seat in 100 years. No matter what happens, this race has exposed a steel cage match for the soul of the Republican Party.
Do you think it’s worth the trouble, and if so, who will win?