Political Hay

Political Hay

A Spear Trap for 2016

By 6.16.14

It was supposed to be a week in which former First Lady, New York Senator and Secretary of State and erstwhile media darling Hillary Clinton stepped out from five years of peripatetic Obama minioning and mysterious post-concussion convalescence to take her rightful place as the center of political attention.

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Dave Brat and the Return of the Constitution

By 6.12.14

From hundreds of people in every part of the country, I heard complaints about how the ever-expanding federal government was encroaching on liberties we’d always taken for granted. I heard it so often that after a while I became convinced that some of our fundamental freedoms were in jeopardy because of the emergence of a permanent government never envisioned by the framers of the Constitution: a federal bureaucracy that was becoming so powerful it was able to set policy and thwart the desires not only of ordinary citizens, but their elected representatives in Congress.

So wrote Ronald Reagan of the Constitution in his memoirs as he recalled what he learned when touring General Electric plants as the company spokesman in the 1950s and early 1960s. Decades after those tours, as he delivered his final State of the Union address in 1988, now-President Reagan returned to the point, saying:

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Political Hay

The Left’s Hackish Response to Bowe Bergdahl

By 6.6.14

Bowe Bergdahl’s name has been emblazoned across cable news chyrons all week, but on Tuesday Rachel Maddow was talking about a different American POW: Jessica Lynch.

Maddow opened her show with a lengthy recollection of the 2003 rescue of Lynch, who was captured after her vehicle was ambushed on the third day of the Iraq war. Lynch was initially portrayed by the Washington Post as a hero, a “little girl Rambo” as she later described it, who went down guns blazing and riddled with bullets. The story proved a myth; as Lynch quickly clarified, her gun had jammed and she wasn’t able to shoot anyone.

For Maddow, freeing Lynch was analogous to freeing Bergdahl because both had complicated backstories. Only in Bergdahl’s case there are these damned right-wingers we must contend with. She played a montage of conservatives objecting to the prisoner swap that freed Bergdahl. After a phony pregnant pause, she concluded, “On the American right, in Republican politics and in conservative media, there apparently is nothing to celebrate in an American prisoner of war coming home after five years.”

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Can Tom Corbett Win?

By 6.3.14

The number is stunning: Rasmussen released a poll over the weekend that showed Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett — running for re-election in what everyone out there expects to be a GOP year — trailing newly nominated Democrat Tom Wolf by 20 points, 51-31.

Hello? What’s going on in William Penn’s namesake Commonwealth? Since Pennsylvania governors were first allowed to run for a second consecutive term in 1974 — when Democrat incumbent Milton Shapp beat future Reagan Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis — every Pennsylvania governor, no matter their party, has won a second term. Only once has it been close. GOP Governor Dick Thornburgh had a scare in his 1982 re-election bid, but in a Democrat year where Reaganomics had not yet kicked in to rescue the Carter economy, Thornburgh did eventually pull out a squeaker in a year that also saw then-GOP Senator John Heinz win his first re-election in a romp.

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Political Hay

A Sour Texas Runoff

By 5.29.14

We shouldn’t read too much — not yet we shouldn’t — into those Texas Republican primary outcomes hailed, depending on your viewpoint, as victories for patriotism or right-wing nuttiness.

Only about 750,000 voted in the run-off election, whose top contest featured two conservatives vying for the lieutenant governorship. This was a bit more than half the number who voted in the March primary. The statewide Democratic slate in this onetime citadel of conservative Democrats couldn’t win a municipal election. That includes the celebrated State Sen. Wendy Davis, who has offered herself for the governorship.

The Republican primary certainly wasn’t a filtering process for talent. The victorious candidate for lieutenant governor, State Sen. Dan Patrick, makes Glenn Beck (currently a Texas resident) seem like the nerdy guy at the high school prom, wondering whether Susie will dance with him. Not that his incumbent opponent, David Dewhurst, who lost the U.S. Senate race in 2012 to Ted Cruz, is any conservative paladin. He’d been around too long — three terms already. His time to leave had come.

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Why the VA Scandal Is Good for the Left

By 5.22.14

Conservatives are touting the VA scandal as evidence of what happens with government healthcare and, by extension, what we can expect with more government healthcare thanks to Obama-care. They point to the VA fiasco as a microcosm of what Americans can anticipate en masse as “progressives” fundamentally transform healthcare and the nation.

Of course, they’re exactly right. No question. But what they’re missing is how this same insanity is a microcosm of what the left intends, how the left will operate, and precisely where we’re headed as a country. The VA scandal bodes well for the left’s grand designs. How so?

The liberal left, the “progressive” left, the socialist left, the communist left, and whatever other left, will employ the VA scandal as a case study of what happens not when government takes over and destroys healthcare but of what happens when government healthcare is not adequately funded. The problem, leftists will insist, is not government centralization, management, and planning, but the failure of cruel and miserly Republicans to fully fund what needs to be funded.

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Why Republicans Should Consider Ben Carson

By 5.21.14

Philip Terzian, literary editor at the Weekly Standard, has written an article entitled “Inspired Amateurs Should Avoid Politics,” arguing that Republicans should avoid nominating Ben Carson for President. And the editors at The Wall Street Journal have seen fit to print it.

Which leaves only one question. What is wrong with these guys? Do they enjoy losing elections?

First let’s ask this. Why run this article now, more than two years in advance of the Presidential election, and why single out Ben Carson as the “inspired amateur”? If we’re going to complain about amateurs running for President, how about the current occupant of the White House? Well, too late for that.

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The Wrong Fight

By 5.20.14

For many Republican voters, the whittling down of the 2012 GOP presidential field to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum was a window into the alarming state of leadership on the Right and the sorry state of the Republican Party as an electoral force.

Romney was, by most accounts, the “next in line” candidate after running and failing in 2008. The GOP establishment rallied around him just as it had done with John McCain in 2008 and Bob Dole in 1996, with the same disappointing results.

But Santorum, whose 2012 candidacy went further than anyone could have imagined, managed to cobble together a coalition of disaffected GOP base voters out of the wreckage of the Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry camps to emerge as the standard bearer for the conservative wing of the GOP.

Santorum's success was surprising, given that his previous foray into elected politics had been an abject disaster—a 59-to-41 drubbing in the 2006 Senate race at the hands of Democrat Bob Casey that swept him out of office.

For most politicians, a loss like that would be career-ending. But for Santorum, it’s merely a bump in the road.

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Hillary Clinton’s Conundrum

By 5.16.14

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 conundrum: retaining Obama’s coalition, while distancing from his administration. Neither will be easy, but both are essential — especially for her. As she faces a decision whether to run, she also faces the very real possibility that Obama could wind up beating her twice. 

Every Democratic contender, not just Clinton, faces a serious challenge in seeking to hold together Obama’s coalition. The coalition’s components are no secret: young, women, minorities, Independents, and liberals powered Obama to more significant wins than many recognize. Obama won election in 2008 with the largest popular vote percentage of any Democrat since LBJ in 1964. In 2012, he was the first Democrat to win reelection with a popular vote majority since FDR.

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How the Tea Party Got 2014 Wrong

By 5.13.14

The North Carolina Republican primaries were a big day for the Tea Party. The movement had not one, but two candidates campaigning to take on Democratic Senator Kay Hagan in November. Greg Brannon and Mark Harris had millions of dollars spent on their respective campaigns, yet it was obvious early on that this would be another case of the conservative vote being split. It’s become very typical in Republican primary politics.

Without a unified front, the establishment will always win. The time has come for conservatives to cut their losses and work on races where one candidate can overcome a weaker establishment choice.

In another North Carolina primary the Tea Party missed its chance. Frank Roche is an America-first, small-government candidate who challenged pro-amnesty, establishment Republican Renee Ellmers. Ellmers is a unique member of Congress for whom amnesty is not enough and those who don’t support “comprehensive immigration reform” are “ignorant.” Having more than a million dollars in resources, including more than $200,000 from Mark Zuckerberg, Ellmers won the primary with 58.8 percent of the vote.

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