Give the President a Foil - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Give the President a Foil

Re: David Hogberg’s Little Virtue in Losing:

David Hogberg disagrees with an argument that I and several other prominent conservatives have made lately that it might be in the interest of the Republican Party to suffer a political loss in this year’s congressional elections.

One reason I made this argument is because a Republican victory this year may lead to a much bigger loss in 2008. Conversely, a Democratic win this year may ensure that the White House stays in Republican hands.

We don’t have too many data points to prove my point, but here are some examples.

In 1946, Harry Truman’s popularity rating was down to 27 percent. That year, Republicans retook control of both the House and Senate. By using the Republican Congress as a foil, Truman was able to raise his approval rating to 39 percent by 1948, enabling him to win re-election that year.

In 1954, Dwight Eisenhower’s popularity was at 62 percent when Republicans lost control of Congress. Two years later after having a Democratic Congress as a foil, his popularity had risen to 75 percent and won re-election easily.

In 1994, Bill Clinton’s approval was down to 41 percent just before the election. Like Truman, he was able to use the Republican Congress as a foil and raise his approval to 55 percent by 1996 and also gained re-election.

Admittedly, these are all cases of incumbent presidents running for re-election, which Republicans won’t have in 2008. Still, it does appear that losing control of Congress is worth about 13 percentage points to the president’s popularity.

Raw poll data can be found here.
Bruce Bartlett
Great Falls, Virginia

It seems to me that Mr. Hogberg’s article begs the question because the U.S. House is probably the worst part of the government to lose. Yes, the House has adopted the Bush trait of spending on big government programs, or boondoggles, depending on your view. On the big issues that transcend the budget, like immigration or the so-called War on Terror, the House has been on the side of the good guys.

It is the Senate where the GOP has flopped big time. There you have Specter giving cover to the Dems on the Judiciary Committee. You have McCain that completely delights in putting the GOP in between a rock and a hard place. You have Snowe, Collins, Chafee that are more liberal than many of the Dems. You have Graham and Hagel that vie with McCain as the most egotistical and the biggest thorns in the GOP’s side. You have Voinovich who is quite simply a wimp. You have Warner who works with the GOP leadership most of the time, but seems to act up at precisely the worst possible time. And that is just the GOP loser list that I think of off the top of my head.

I would propose that we could better afford to lose the Senate than the House. When we make a mistake in electing a Senator, we are stuck with him/her for 6 years, instead of only two with the House. Yes, we might be in trouble on Judicial or other Executive branch appointments, but it might not be as bad as one might think. I am inclined to think that a case MIGHT be able to be made that the Dems in charge of the major Senate committees would so highlight their partisanship and lack of co-operation that they would have to take a more reasonable course out of sheer necessity. I wouldn’t definitely predict that, but it is at least possible. Oh well, it is something to think about. Especially since there is no real reason for an even semi-competent GOP to lose either branch of the legislature this year. Oh, wait, I forgot we are talking about the stupid party, aren’t we.
Ken Shreve

While I may have to admit that actually losing is the worst of all cases, the fear of losing is indeed a virtue! How else do you explain Leader’s Frist newfound interest in closing the borders? The prancing and preening Republican senators will only be emboldened by a big win this fall.

For years, I have worked, donated, and supported the fat little Republicans only to watch Conservative values being trashed daily. I want this election to be so close that several see their tawdry little lives flashing before their eyes!
Judy Beumler
Louisville, Kentucky
P.S. They will do whatever they do this fall without my money!

Re: Patrick O’Hannigan’s No Need for Grim Faces:

Like Mr. O’Hannigan, I too have been disappointed by the “friendly fire” attacking the Pope. It is clear that many in the West just don’t get it. The Pope’s point was very simple: western culture arose from the joinder of reason and faith. Faith without reason results in abuse and violence. Reason without faith results in immorality and chaos. It is the co-existence of reason and faith that makes it clear to Christians that conversion must be the result of rational argument, not of force. It is the co-existence of reason and faith that has allowed the West to progress scientifically, while also insisting on the protection of human rights and human dignity. It is the co-existence of reason and faith that has created democracy and all its benefits. People in the West should be standing-up for this system and for the cultures it has created — cultures that have produced the upward surge of humanity. Moreover, the Pope should not be condemned for pointing out that it is western Christianity, and western Christianity alone, that has managed to merge faith with reason. If people in the West allow themselves to be intimated by the hue and cry of those that do not value reason quite as much as we do, the West will surely perish.
Petaluma, California

Mr. O’ Hannigan point is obscurely made. Like Muslims, liberals have limits on what can be discussed without indignation. This attitude prevails in the press, in the TV networks, academia, and the movies. The Pope used a quotation from an obscure Catholic scholar from the Middle Ages in an academic setting. The Pavlovian Muslim response of threats, apocalyptic rantings and murder were to be expected and as the does the sun every morning, they showed themselves in every Muslim corner of the globe and in the newly conquered territories of England, France and Germany. The liberal response is just as predictable. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and symbolizes faith, and virtue. All three, Christ, faith and virtue are an anathema to liberals. Thus any time they can vilify a religious leader they do.

So the real difference between liberals is not that liberals love freedom — they don’t; not they love America — they don’t; but that liberals are cowards. Unlike Muslims they are afraid to die for what they believe in: Nothing.
Mike Kelly
Palm Beach, Florida

So the Pope had the courage to speak out against militant Islam. This is more than any of the Worlds Islamic leaders have done. Either they are afraid of, or in sympathy with these murderers. These men acting in the name of Allah train young men, and even women into committing suicide while at the same time killing innocents and destroying in some cases Mosques and other holy places.

But these leaders — like Arafat — stand back on the sidelines. When his time came, he went to Paris to have a French Infidel Doctor try to save his life. He didn’t blow himself up, and die a hero and earn Allah’s s rewards. He died a coward. Another of this type was Saddam — hiding in his spider hole. He could murder innocents, but was a coward himself. How many of they bombers are over 35? Why aren’t these older Jihad leaders doing it? They are cowards — they let innocent young people do their killing and dying. They are making a mockery of the Koran. But Islamic leaders, and really, most leaders of the western World say nothing.

It has been said Pope Pius XII said nothing to stop Hitler and his murder of the Jews. Now a Pope stands up to this type of tyranny and no one supports him. The Pope has no Army, or the recourses of a nation to help him protect innocents that might be killed because of his words, or even himself. Yes he is right. The militant Muslim World is as big a threat to civilization as it was hundreds of years ago when the emperor the Pope quoted made that statement. Anyone who can’t see this is indeed a fool.
Frank Dollinger

Re: Lisa Fabrizio’s Pope Bashers:

And wasn’t it a Moslem who tried to murder Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square?
Peter Skurkiss
Stow, Ohio

Re: Jed Babbin’s A Special Place in Hell:

I just read your tirade against Richard (Dick) Armitage and Colin Powell. While most will question Armitage’s motives for leaking and subsequent silence as you did, others may look at the timing and the culprit. The timing may lead to a pre election exoneration of the Bush administration’s (less) leaky boat, and speak more to the vessel with holes you can drive a truck through at State. The career Democr…er, diplomats and the infiltrated CIA may have gotten their fingers slammed in the door this time. Armitage has been a fixture through many Administrations and may be ready to retire, and fall on his sword. But I think it is probable he may have advised the Presidency much earlier than is believed, and told to keep silent (For what reasons I won’t speculate but could). So much earlier to make one think that maybe Armitage isn’t such a bad egg.
Kenneth Jenkins

Motivation? It’s plain that Armitage used the interview with Bob Novak as a CYA tool. Armitage was a conduit to the media from Powell for the message: State didn’t have anything to do with sending that clown Wilson, it was Tenet’s boondoggle.

Powell’s MO is to never leave fingerprints in dicey situations. Overly cautious, he does his communicating through the press, rather than standard chains of command. That also explains why Armitage never bothered to clear up the misunderstanding about Karl Rove. Namely, it might have resulted in a smidgeon or iota of negativity being directed at Powell. And that, friends, is a no-no.
P.J. Pluth

Hurrah to Jed for the new craven, cowards award, The Armitage Award! As it’s first recipient, I nominate Colin Powell, Secretary of Cravenness.

Re: William Tucker’s Liberals Find Their Groove:

I beg to differ. Rush Limbaugh the Television show did remarkably well while it was on the air. I lived in the New York Market during it production. Mr. Limbaugh’s show regularly beat the Letterman show for the 1st half hour of tit’s time slot. Mr. Limbaugh stopped the show because the syndication company couldn’t secure the best time slots across the country. In the end the Limbaugh TV show was shown at 2:00 – 5:00 a.m.

So please don’t fall into the lie that Rush Limbaugh can’t do Television.
Jon W. Taliaferro

Are you kidding me? Who let this clown write an article without doing his homework. I would gather William Tucker never saw the movie nor is he familiar with electric cars, any cars for that matter. Although he may have a point in the fact that documentaries have control without interference from the audience, so does this idiotic article. Where do I raise my hand and heard my opinion? William Tucker has not researched his material to the point that he’s lying about the facts. Although it does take several hours to “fully” charge an electric vehicle, most people DO NOT drive more than 30 per day, which means that an opportunity charge would only take 30-60 minutes. Not the overnight charge that the author makes it seam. The EV1 was never available to buyers, it was ONLY available as a lease. Customers wanted to buy them, and even when GM was taking the leases back, the waiting list to buy one was over 5000!!!!!! GM refused to sell them and just scrapped them. Mind you, these were perfectly good cars with eagerly awaiting customers. Did the author fail to find this out? Toyota wasn’t afraid to come out with an electric car, in fact, a hybrid IS an electric car. Toyota had a wonderful EV when they used their RAV4 model and converted it to electric. Today, RAV4-ev sell on eBay for more than $50,000 (If you can find them!) well above their initial lease price. These batteries are experiencing no problems whatsoever, even after 150,000 miles! The author also states that Toyota has finally put a plug on the hybrid, which model would that be? I’ve heard of aftermarket companies making kits to supply a recharging opportunity for Prius, and currently working on other models, but not from Toyota. What are his sources?

It seams that Mr. Tucker has his own agenda. Speak the truth!
Richard Farci
St. Petersburg, Florida

As much as I like reading William Tucker and The American Spectator, I have to point out a couple of factual errors in Mr. Tucker’s article.

Mr. Tucker states that “customers weren’t buying them” in reference to the electric cars produced in California in the late ’90s. The truth is GM never offered the EV-1 for sale, and there was a considerable waiting list to lease the cars when GM terminated the program. Likewise Toyota never offered the electric RAV4 for sale to the public. (I’m not claiming that the cars could have been a commercial success with the state of technology at the time; however, to claim that nobody would buy the cars when they were never offered for sale is factually inaccurate.)

Mr. Tucker also states that Toyota has finally relented and offered “electric hookups” in its latest models. I am currently shopping for a hybrid vehicle and after much research and visiting a number of Toyota dealerships I can say with 100 percent confidence that Toyota does not presently offer any hybrid vehicle with plug-in capability.

I agree with Mr. Tucker’s points regarding the liberal use of the so-called documentary to advance a left-wing agenda and even agree that the makers of the “Who killed the electric car” documentary are way off base, but including easily verifiable inaccurate statements in his article undermines his credibility.
Allen Helton

I just finished reading William Tucker’s article entitled, “Liberals Find Their Groove,” which is focused mainly on the EV1 electric car. I was dismayed by the number of misleading statements and factual errors he managed to put into it. This is not the standard of journalism I would hope to see from The American Spectator.

Let’s go down the list, shall we?

First Mr. Tucker implies that keeping the cars charged up was an onerous task. He writes, “Putting an overnight charge on the battery so it can go 120 miles the next day takes four to six hours. All this had no appeal to drivers.” It would certainly be unappealing if drivers had to stand around and watch their cars charge. However, common sense would indicate that nobody really cares how long an overnight charge takes — as long as it’s done overnight. Do you care, or even know, how long it takes your cell phone to charge?

Next he quotes from a report of Vijay Vaitheeswaran: “The vehicle proved to have a much shorter range than I thought it would — closer to 50 miles than a 100.” A little research would have turned up equally compelling reports of drivers getting 150 miles out of NiMH battery-equipped EV1s. It appears highly likely that someone — either Tucker or Vaitheeswaren — confused an earlier model EV1 with PbA batteries for the more advanced NiMH-equipped model. This would not be the first time EV1 critics have glossed over the existence of the revised model and its greatly improved batteries.

Mr. Tucker implies that fans of the EV1 weren’t sincere because, “Significantly, all of these people were leasing their EV1s. None actually bought them.” In fact they weren’t allowed to buy them, the cars were only made available for lease. This is one of the larger complaints against GM’s handling of the EV1.

Mr. Tucker goes on to write that, “In its latest models, Toyota has finally relented and installed an electric hookup.” Not true. Toyota have recently announced their intention to produce a plug-in hybrid car, but nobody’s seen it yet, and nobody knows when it will be manufactured.

Mr. Tucker smells hypocrisy among environmentalists. He wrote, “In fact, most environmentalists enthusiastically supported a ‘hydrogen economy’ until President George Bush endorsed it in his 2003 State of the Union speech. Then it became part of the conspiracy.” I don’t know how many environmentalists he talked to when researching his article, but I know an awful lot of people were skeptical about hydrogen before GW started promoting it. The president’s choice to single out and support a seemingly less promising technology was what set off red flags for many.

And finally, “The plug-in hybrid seems to be the vehicle of choice. It gets more than 30 miles to the gallon and allows consumers to recharge off the electrical grid.” A Toyota Prius converted into a plug-in vehicle (by hobbyists, not by Toyota) reportedly gets 125 MPG. That is indeed more than 30 MPG, but it looks like Mr. Tucker is still selling the concept short of its potential even as he compliments it.
Tony Belding
Hamilton, Texas

Re: Doug Bandow’s The Quality of Cruelty:

Read your absolutely wonderful article this morning and want to say how right you are.

Additionally, I believe Benedict XVI has set the wheels turning and begun the re-education the apathetic West so desperately needs right now: the requirement to understand its history and believe in strengths.

Thank you again.
A. Taylor

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