A Tale of Two Clintons

February 9, 2016

imageEarly voting starts today in Tennessee and New Hampshire kicks off the voting in the Nation’s first primary, where Hillary Clinton faces the prospects of a drubbing at the hands of an avowed socialist.

With that in mind, I have a humorous story I’d like to relate about Hillary Clinton that I was once told while I was at the White House.

Hillary, as you might know, was the first FLOTUS to have an office in the West Wing as opposed to the East Wing. She demanded it.  That was the way things were for Hillary Rodham back in the difficult mid-1990’s.

While Bill would have you begging for something that he really wanted, Hillary had to pry from clenched fists. They would marvel at Bill’s ability to lie and make them like him, and gaze with sideways eyes at the calculating and robotic Hillary.  Where Bill could puff out his lower lip, gently press his thumb in the relative direction of his audience and then get away with murder, Hillary just had to murder.  Bill felt your pain.  If Hillary tried to feel your pain she might break something.  Really, the Clintons were very different people. Different political instincts. Different personalities. Different taste in partners.

For all their differences, Bill and Hillary shared one thing in common: They had mighty tempers. Even in this, though, the Clintons were very different.

Bill possessed a white hot temper that would flash without warning and it would not be uncommon to see the President wrangle a staffer by the collar during one of his perturbances. Bill would bark his angry orders while pinning his assistant to the hallway wall just outside of the Roosevelt Room of the West Wing, but like with most great bursts of violence, it was short lived. A short time later–moments, really, the President would act as though nothing had happened and everyone would go about their business.

Hillary, on the other hand, tightly clutched the reins of a bitter, smoldering anger. This sort of temper was the glacial kind. The kind that grudgingly melts away, revealing to your dismay a far more menacing lake of fury, trapped for what would seem like eons on the other side.  The lake would burst forth from its icy barrier, and engulf and destroy those who crossed it.

Needless to say, you didn’t want to end up on the wrong side of Hillary Clinton’s temperament. Which, of course, is the reason Abraham Lincoln became such a valued member of the Clinton Administration.

In the West Wing, there still sits to this day a white marble bust of Abraham Lincoln. In the 1990’s, Lincoln’s duty station was on a table just outside of Hillary’s aforementioned West Wing office. White House staffers, understandably wary of Clinton’s swings of disposition, took to placing their unwavering trust in their comrades who met with Hillary early each day, and in good ol’ Abe.

The key, you see, was to secretly position the bust of Lincoln each morning to correspond to the First Lady’s mood that day. This way, staffers could take heed of the bust the same way they might regard a railroad crossing gate. They used this crude early warning system to cope with the demands of working 60 to 80 hour weeks in the First Lady’s long pant-suited shadow.

For Hillary, interns adjusted a bust to get in her good graces. For Bill, interns also adjusted busts to get in his good graces, but in this too, the Clintons were very different.


The Coming Electoral Realignment

May 14, 2015

The rallying cry for Democrats after two consecutive electoral victories in presidential cycles has been described variously as the ‘Blue Wall’, the ‘Emerging Democratic Majority’, and as ‘Crusty Old White Male-itis’. The happy refrain for Democrats in all these memes is the same: Republicans are for the foreseeable future going to be crippled electorally by high turnout and growing numbers of minority voters. The GOP is going to keep losing elections for as long as they cling to out of touch Republican principles like the rule of law, respect for life and individual liberty, which apparently–as the conventional wisdom goes, does not appeal to Blacks or Hispanics.

img_3661Similar thinking saturated Republican groupthink in 2004 after Republicans had won the White House for the seventh time in ten elections (and Democrats had only once successfully received more than fifty percent of the vote during that time), until Barack Obama won twice. Success, sans perspective, tends to breed the misplaced expectation that it will continue unabated, and the corresponding rationalizations to reinforce those expectations in spite of facts. Just ask Yankee fans about the mid-2000’s. Or Republicans in the late 2000’s. Or Democrats… In 2016.

The fatal flaw in the permanent Democratic majority argument is hiding in plain sight, if only people looked. Barack Obama performed extremely well among Blacks and Hispanics in both 2008 and 2012, and minority voters are a fast growing segment of the population. The pollyannic plan for Democrat presidential success, driven by growing minority populations and a dwindling White population, makes the mistake of counting on continued Democratic growth from Hispanic and Black demographics and also a static contribution from their White base (yes, Whites are still the majority of Democrat voters).

This is a really, really bad plan. First of all, Democrat election prospects in 2012 hinged on hyper-elevated turnout among Blacks and Hispanics (as well as young voters). Democrats and many pollsters make the mistake of assuming this trend will continue once the first Black president is no longer on the ballot. While it remains to be seen whether Barack Obama permanently changed the electoral landscape in 2008 and forever raised minority turnout in presidential election years, we can safely say that no such trend carried over into 2010 and 2014, when Republicans scored historic electoral victories. When Obama isn’t on the ballot or when he is campaigning for other Democrats, minority turnout returns to historical normalcy. In 2010 and 2014, this meant that Republicans won and the pre-election polls were mostly wrong. Why should we expect this pattern to change in 2016?

The working and middle classes are becoming more Republican. John Judis, repentant author of “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” said on the topic of the middle class: “In exit polling, they can roughly be identified as those who have college—but not postgraduate—degrees and those whose household incomes are between $50,000 and $100,000.” This group is now a GOP stalwart, and is growing in strength, not diminishing. The white working class, roughly defined as white, with no college degree, is gravitating toward the GOP so fast it is a small wonder it doesn’t burn up upon re-entry.

Judis goes on: “In the 1980 presidential election, the white working class made up about 65 percent of the electorate; by 1988, it was 54 percent; by the 2008 election, it was just 39 percent. Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin estimate that by 2020, it’ll be 30 percent of the electorate. On the other hand, voters with college degrees but not postgraduate degrees went from 26 percent of the electorate in 2004, to 29 percent in 2012, to 31 percent in the last election. ”

Thus, the GOP finds itself with one growing demographic and one shrinking demographic–but US demographics are not uniform, everywhere.  There are states where large white working and middle class voter blocs dominate, in the Midwest and Rust Belt. Wisconsin (10 electoral votes), for instance, is 42% middle class voters, and 54% white working class. Obama lost whites in 2012 by 6%. Other states with large white working class and middle class demographics (and generally fewer minorities) include Iowa (6 electoral votes), Michigan (16), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), Minnesota (10) and New Hampshire and her 4 electoral votes. That’s a total of 84 electoral votes that the GOP will be able to claim, possibly as soon as 2016.

Meanwhile, demographic trends in other states with large numbers of gentry liberals like Virginia (13 electoral votes) and Colorado (9), and those with heavy minority populations like North Carolina (15) and possibly even Georgia (16) could find themselves in the (D) column in coming years. That’s 53 electoral votes.

Consider this: When President Obama was elected in 2008, the Pew Research Center found that 44 percent of whites aligned themselves more closely with Democrats, while 42 percent did so with Republicans. In 2014, that two-point deficit for Republicans had transformed into a whopping nine-point GOP advantage. According to Pew, 49 percent of whites now consider themselves Republicans, while just 40 percent view themselves as Democrats. That is terrible news for Democrats. With numbers like that, it might take a decade or so before they can claim states like Georgia and North Carolina.

The map is changing. The only question is when the dam will break.


Is the Republican Party Becoming Too American?

February 4, 2014
Old White men are just itching to take away your rights and build separate restrooms for them "colored folk."

Old White men are just itching to take away your rights and build separate restrooms for them “colored folk.”

We’ve got a problem, old White men!  At least, the conventional wisdom these days says that the Republican Party has a big problem. And really, when I say old White men and Republicans, isn’t it really just a distinction without a difference?  The GOP is becoming way too White.  The implication of course is that the racist platform of the Republican Party (like the respect for life, rule of law, and free markets) is driving minorities away from the party in droves.  How do we know this?  Why, just ask Politico, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the LA Times, SalonSlate, and any other major media publication.  The GOP is ruining the party by becoming too White in a country that is increasingly brown-ish.  There are just millions of Blacks, Asians and Hispanics who are ready and rearing to become goose-stepping TEA Partiers, if only Republicans weren’t so gosh-darned racist.  It’s great advice, except it’s not true.

Election results would seem to bolster the claims that Republican policies can’t appeal to minorities.  After all, CNN exit polls showed that Barack Obama won the support of 71% of Hispanic voters, 93% of Black voters and a healthy majority of any variation of Asian voters.  But, the Republican Party is not becoming more “White.”  At least, not in the sense that Republicans are gearing their policies and message specifically toward (and thereby only appealing to) Whites.  Rather, White People are becoming more Republican, and in that distinction there is a difference.

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Presidential Pool Bracketology: Obama v. Carter

March 12, 2013

Barack Obama (6) v. Jimmy Carter (11)

Another matchup of deeply flawed presidents presents itself here between two Democrats, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. Carter is widely regarded as one of the very worst presidents of all time, but Barack Obama despite and perhaps because of the refraction caused by a lack of historical perspective, is regarded by at least 51% of the population as a pretty good president. The rest of America, not so much.

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Carter tried a little too hard. James David Barber of Duke’s book “Presidential Character” analyzed the modern presidents based on their character traits. Carter reportedly invited Barber to the White House and spent the day carefully scripting his actions so as to produce what he deemed a positive analysis in the next edition of Barber’s book. He was not fooled.

Jimmy Carter, a lowly 11 seed in our tournament, is most known for writing thousands of useless cookbooks and self-help guides once he left office in shame after one term in 1981. During his presidency, he is most known for his platform for human rights. Largely, this was an accident of circumstance stemming from his campaign which polled well when he was seeking the Democratic nomination and needed to woo disparate parts of the Democratic Party to unify behind him. Read the rest of this entry »


March Madness Bracketology: The Presidential Pool

March 10, 2013

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In the spirit of March Madness, I’ve begun to work on a series (that will take as long as it needs to) of blog posts for a presidential bracket. I think it is a fun way to look at some of the lesser known attributes of some of our Chief Executives, to think about what makes a good president, and to perhaps rethink some of our own prejudices and notions about America’s political history. 44 presidents (including two Grover Clevelands) will compete in four different regions for the title of best president of all time. The selection committee has set the field, divided into four regions (East Wing, West Wing, Oval Office and Rose Garden Regions) and the participants will compete based on several criteria:

  • Problems that the president faced internationally or domestically and how he dealt with them.
  • Problems that he caused internationally or domestically and how he dealt with them.
  • How the president affected the prestige of the office or conducted himself.
  • Short term positive or negative effects of the presidency.
  • Long term positive or negative effects of the presidency.
  • How did the president upheld the oath of office?
  • How did he use presidential power?
  • How the president changed or shaped the presidency–was he shaped by events or did he control the narrative?

Fill out your brackets, argue about it with your friends and family, and then strap yourself in for this series. We will start the tournament off with the Rose Garden Region’s play-in games. Read the rest of this entry »


Election Update for October 6th, 2012

October 6, 2012

One month out from the 2012 presidential election, the electoral picture is beginning to look a lot clearer, and a lot closer.  With that in mind, and in the wake of the first presidential debate Wednesday, let us look at an updated projection for November 6th and a new state by state analysis of the swing states.

The color coded electoral map here shows the safe Republican states for candidate Romney in dark red. These are states which Romney will likely win by more than 10 points. A middling shade of red denotes states in which Romney will probably win by between 5 to 10 percentage points. A very light shade highlights states which will be very close, but Romney will eke out a win of between zero and five points. In dark blue, safe states for President Obama’s camp are shown, and likewise the mid-blue and light blue reflect states closer to toss ups. Neither candidate has yet gained enough safe electoral votes to reach the necessary 270 votes to win the presidency. In the map, Romney has established a what I consider a safe lead in states giving him 206 electoral votes (though Romney is shown winning Florida, Missouri and North Carolina by 5 points, Florida is the only state of the three that I consider to still be a state Obama holds reasonable a chance of winning). Obama has accrued 217 electoral votes, leaving 115 electoral votes as ‘toss ups’, in nine states. This means that they are all contests with a margin between 0 and 5% percentage points, and their outcomes are in some doubt.

I will examine the last nine states one by one and postulate on where the electoral vote count will stand on election night on November 6th. Much of the polling of late in the race has been inaccurate at best. The average of many recent polls, according to unskewed polls at website unskewed.com, shows pollsters using a party ID advantage of 4 to 5% for Democrats. In the 2008 elections, Democrat party ID outpaced Republican Party ID by 7 points. In the 2010 elections, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats by 5.4 points. Many polls have assumed that Barack Obama permanently expanded the electorate for Democrats. While true that there is usually an uptick in the opposition’s turnout in mid-term elections, the truth about what voter turnout is going to look like in 2012 is probably somewhere in the middle. In September, the generic Congressional ballot averaged a 2 to 3% advantage for Republicans according to the most accurate pollster in the business, Rasmussen Reports (however, Rasmussen even polls using a D+3 model). This drastically will change some of the poll results that have shown Obama up by a ton. Any objective observer has surely noticed the drop in enthusiasm for President Obama in this election cycle–where are the bumper stickers and the yard signs? Any that I’ve seen are just leftovers that their owners were too lazy to take off after 2008. In reality, I would expect partisan ID in this cycle to fall somewhere in the range of a wash to a slight Republican advtantage. Romney maintains a solid lead among independents as well, which is why most of these polls baffle me so. In any case, on to the states:

First, we’ll start off with the states which have dropped out of the swing state category:

MICHIGAN: Michiganders are responsible for awarding 16 electoral votes, but this is no longer a swing state. I had expressed some hope that Michigan would be contested closely, but thought that Obama would probably win a close contest. Recent polling has given Obama a nearly 10 point advantage. This is, with Michigan’s demographics, an insurmountable margin. Michigan is a state Obama will likely win by 5 to 6%

Next, on to the nine swing states:

PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes were thought by this pundit to be in play. The recession hit Pennsylvania particularly hard just as Ohio and Michigan were affected. However, Romney’s struggle in Ohio to open a lead has led me to believe that Pennsylvania (as well as Michigan) is probably a bridge too far. Obama is performing much better here than he did just months ago, and I am almost ready to declare that Pennsylvania is not a swing state at all. Obama will win by 5 to 6%. A Susquehanna poll shows Romney trailing only by 2%, so there may be hope, but Obama will probably win by 5 to 6%.

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IOWA:

Newly added for this edition, I still suspect that Romney will win the election in Iowa and her 6 electoral votes by a 3-5% margin. Recent polling in Iowa showing Obama leading the race by a couple points, however, obliges me to mention Iowa here, especially since early voting has begun there already. Romney is still likely ahead, given the bent of some of the polls which oversample Democrats, and underestimate Republican voter enthusiasm.

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COLORADO: Colorado’s 9 electoral votes are probably Romney’s to lose. The youth and hispanic turnout in this state will probably not equal those of the last election. In 2008, 54% of the vote went to Obama though, a sign that the jump in Hispanic voters (42% increase in the voter rolls from 2000 to 2010) and the yuppie-boom of the last several years had worked to flip the state from red to blue. It seems that Colorado will be close, but Romney is shown at nearly 50% already by Rasmussen and leads 49%-47%. Romney will win Colorado by 2 to 3%.

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FLORIDA: The 29 electoral votes of the Sunshine State still make it a vitally important swing state, but Romney has built in advantages and the lead there. Democrats have never received more than 51% of the State vote there since 1976. Obama’s performance in Florida in 2008 trailed his 52% performance nationally, and Romney leads by 2 to 3%, approaching 50% according to two recent polls by WeaskAmerica and Rasmussen. I still think Romney wins by 5 to 6% by November 6th.

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NEVADA: Nevada’s 6 electoral votes are historically a center-right swing vote, but even during the last cycle where Republicans swept across the country, and despite having one of the worst economies in the nation, Nevada Democrats have been outperforming their poll numbers by a point or two and held firm in 2010 to upset their GOP counterparts. Democrats have established a solid ground game in the state as well. In my last update, I expected these factors to contribute to the state drifting toward Obama, but Nevada has stubbornly remained a toss-up. In fact, Obama only led by a margin of 49-48 in the most recent polling. With Romney’s lead among independents, and Obama’s organizational advantage in the state, this race is shaping up to be one of the closest in 2012. Romney can definitely win, but I think Obama will just barely edge Mitt here, by a percentage point or two. If Romney loses Ohio, Nevada is probably the only hope for Romney to win 270.

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WISCONSIN: Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes were hotly contested last month with Paul Ryan’s entry into the race, but Obama has managed to put some distance between himself and Romney since. I think that the race is closer than many polling houses indicate, and so does the Obama campaign (they are running more ads in Wisconsin than in Ohio lately) but Rasmussen probably has it pretty accurately at about 49-46 for Obama. Romney will probably close the gap and Obama may only win by a few thousand votes which means the state remains vulnerable, but I think that Obama will retain Wisconsin by less than 3%.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Granite State’s 4 electoral votes represent one of the closest races in the country and the only competitive race in New England (though Linda McMahon’s coat tails may soften Obama’s lead over Romney in Connecticut). Obama managed to win by 9% in 2008 so there would need to be a large turnover from Obama’s 2008 constituency for Romney to win New Hampshire, and that defection appears to be what is happening–some recent polls place the president 5% or so ahead of the former governor of neighboring Massacrapsetts, except for the most accurate, Rasmussen, which has Romney up 3%. This leads me to believe that the race is very close. In my last update I predicted a Romney win based upon gut. However, considering New Hampshire’s familiarity with the former governor, Romney’s strong polling there and Romney’s decisive edge with independents, Romney has the edge here. Romney wins by between 1 and 3%.

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VIRGINIA: Virginia is worth 13 electoral votes and is coming home to Mitt Romney of late. Obama still polls well below 50% and Romney is shown up by a point or two in the most recent polls by WeaskAmerica and Rasmussen. Considering demographics, history and Romney’s lead with independents, Romney seems to have solidified a slight lead in the Old Dominion and appears to be in a stronger position than last month, possessing a 49-47% lead. Romney will will by 2 to 3%.

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OHIO: 18 electoral votes. Ohio is the most important state in this election. If Romney wins Ohio, he probably wins the White House. If he loses the Buckeye State, Obama probably gets a second term. There are only two plausible scenarios where Romney wins without Ohio, and those include Romney winning Nevada or winning Wisconsin. Wisconsin is not likely to go Romney if Ohio doesn’t, leaving Romney a very narrow path to victory if he loses Ohio. However, Obama absolutely must win Ohio or the election is Romney’s. There is a wall in the Ohio voter base of around 52% for Democrats, but that same wall stands at 51% for Republicans. Undoubtedly, this state will be decided by less than 3 percentage points, despite the caterwauling by the mainstream media that Ohio is further gone for Obama than it was in the last election. Obama won by 5% in 2008. Obama is still polling below 50% in Ohio, and Romney is shown in a dead heat there. Given Romney’s lead with independents (16% ahead of Obama) this buoys Romney’s chances in November of winning late-deciders and winning a dead heat. Additionally, voter registration is down from 2008 by 490,000 voters, and 44% of that drop, according to FOX News, is in Cuyahoga County, where Democrats outnumber Cleveland Republicans by a 2-1 margin. This leads me to believe Romney will win by 1, maybe even 2 percentage points.

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David Teesdale, a popular epithet among liberals.


Shark Week Attack on Todd Akin: GOP Eating Their Own

August 24, 2012

Rep. Todd Akin is the victim of a digital lynching and his poorly phrased remarks have been blown completely out of proportion. Akin was trying to articulate that the ‘in the case of rape’ argument against the pro-life cause is a red herring, because it is an infinitesimally small percentage of abortions yearly. He was simply unprepared to articulate the talking point, it seems. If we are going to jump on Akin for this, I literally have a thousand different gaffes to destroy every politician out there.

I will preface my remarks by saying that rape is always wrong, and that victims of rape are the victims of a tremendous evil.  I firmly believe that the death penalty should be reserved for rapists (not the baby created thereby).  With that said, I am not going to waste everyone’s time by repeatedly adding this diplomatic disclaimer to everything I write from here on.  If you have a problem with something I write today, scroll to the very top of the page and read this statement again to ease your conscience.  My job is to seriously tackle real, tough issues, not to regurgitate a bunch of platitudes and politically correct bile. 

Todd Akin should probably drop out of his Missouri Senate race.  I say this, not because of anything Rep. Akin has done, really.  It’s Shark Week, and the GOP sharks are circling Todd Akin, who may be irreparably damaged as a result of the blood in the water.  For those of you who haven’t heard, Rep. Akin has been virtually lynched this week following his remarks during an interview regarding abortion exceptions for rape:

“Well you know, people always want to make it as one of those things where how do you slice this particularly tough, sort of ethical question.  It seems to me first of all, from what I understand from doctors — that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But, let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Definitely a rambling, nearly incoherent remark, and technically incorrect, but not something he should be publicly flogged for.  Rep. Akin, the next day, issued a contrite apology and clarified his remarks:

“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.  Those who perpetrate these crimes are the lowest of the low in our society and their victims will have no stronger advocate in the Senate to help ensure they have the justice they deserve.”

Then the world went crazy.

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