Two sinking parties
For Republicans from vulnerable districts in the Northeast and Midwest, the president has become radioactive, New York Times columnist David Brooks writes, citing an anonymous member of Congress.
“These Republicans return from districts where they are being called upon to give back the money Tom DeLay raised for them, and go back to a Washington where GOP indictments, and hence trials, promise to stretch on for years,” Mr. Brooks said.
“And yet Republicans are not panicked. They know that if the election were held today, their base would stay home, but they look over at the Democrats and say: Thank God for Nancy Pelosi. Thank God for Howard Dean. They see that Dean refers to his base as ‘merlot Democrats,’ and it confirms their suspicion that the opposition party is really run by imbeciles.
“The odd thing is that the Democrats, who have the self-assurance of a beaten dog, feel this way about themselves. Most sense, in their heart of hearts, that they are the Palestinians of American politics: they’ll never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The most common word I hear from Democratic partisans to describe their own party is ‘pathetic.’
“Indeed, when you look at the graphs showing both parties’ approval ratings, it’s like looking at a pair of expert-only ski slopes. A Pew Research Center poll showed the parties’ approval rating plummeting to around 32 percent — below their own bases.
“So politicians are not panicked, but they are mobilized. They have just a few months to redefine themselves and avoid catastrophe. Over the next weeks, we are going to see an ideas race, as both parties hustle to get out new, positive agendas.”
A difficult choice
Conservatives face a tough choice on Harriet Miers, syndicated columnist James P. Pinkerton writes.
“If they keep blasting away at her, they can probably derail her Supreme Court nomination. But if they derail her, there’s no guarantee that the right will get one of its own to be nominated by President George W. Bush or confirmed by the Senate,” Mr. Pinkerton said.
“For all the White House’s efforts to blame ‘sexism’ as the cause of Miers’ troubles, it’s clear that her gender is what’s keeping her from being laughed out of the park. If she were Harry Miers, she’d be on a one-way train to Dan Quayle-ville by now.
“In any case, Miers is a second-rater, at best. And so she caused a flap on Monday when she reportedly told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter that the case of Griswold v. Connecticut was correctly decided by the Supreme Court back in 1965. That’s a reasonable enough position to hold — but it’s not the conservative position. Conservatives believe that Griswold, which guaranteed the right to marital contraception, opened the door to the court’s Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, which guaranteed the right to a far more radical kind of contraception, namely, abortion.
“For Miers to be a self-declared conservative and be on the ‘wrong’ side of Griswold is like a self-declared literature expert’s asserting that Shakespeare wrote the Gettysburg Address — she obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about. (Miers disputes Specter’s account of their conversation, but Specter, who does know what he’s talking about constitutionally, stands by his version.)
“And Miers will continue to have a hard time with these tricky questions, because it’s impossible to ‘cram’ for a seat on the Supreme Court.”
More on Miers
The Republican National Committee yesterday began e-mailing a new daily feature called “More on Miers.”
“This document is geared toward and released to both talk radio and activists across the country,” RNC press secretary Tracey Schmitt tells this column. “Its aim is to draw attention to information about Miers that is not being reported by the mainstream media.”
The initial “More on Miers” e-mail focused on the Supreme Court nominee’s response on judicial activism in the questionnaire submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the endorsement of her nomination by past presidents of the Dallas Bar Association, and a Dallas Morning News op-ed piece about her credentials to serve on the high court.
“As thousands of desperate White Sox fans tried and failed to get tickets for the World Series, I was on the phone abandoning my dignity, begging a Cubs-loving politician to stay the heck away from Sox Park,” Chicago Tribune sports columnist John Kass writes.
“Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich magically scored two tickets. He told me Tuesday that he insists on going, though I pleaded with him, on behalf of all White Sox fans everywhere, not to show,” Mr. Kass said.
“He’s most likely a jinx. And we can’t take any chances.
” ‘Yes, I’m going to try and come Sunday and bring my daughter,’ said Gov. Cubs Fan, who wore Sox black at Sox Park, then said he’d never wear Sox black if the Sox made it to the World Series. ‘I’m going,’ he said.
“No, you can’t!
” ‘Yes, we’re working on the schedule right now,’ said the governor, a good sport for returning my call, and understandably testy, given the fact I keep calling him the ‘Unreformer.’
” ‘I’ll give you an answer: You want to hear it?’ asked Blagojevich. ‘Write this down, and get it right. All right? I love the Cubs, all right? OK. So let me start with that.’
“(Is it just me, or does he sound defensive to you too?)
” ‘And I have a 9-year-old daughter who I’ve raised to share my love of baseball and the Cubs,’ Blagojevich said. ‘I want to take her to a World Series game. As a student of history, while I’m hopeful we can go to a World Series with the Cubs, is that something you want to bet your whole life on? You have to recognize the past,’ he said, meaning that rather than wait and die trying with the Cubs, he’ll take his chance with the Sox.
“As he spoke, I thought of many desperate Cubs fans now eager to cross over to the light. They’re welcome, as long as they watch the game on TV or listen to the radio.
“But I don’t want Blagojevich anywhere near Sox Park.”
The tax issue
“Few followers of the New Jersey governor’s race would have predicted that, three weeks before Election Day, Republican businessman Doug Forrester would be neck and neck with his richer and better-known rival, Democratic Senator Jon Corzine. But a WNBC/Marist poll last week says he is, and a big part of the reason is taxes,” the Wall Street Journal says.
“When registered voters were asked what the ‘top priority of the next governor should be,’ 29 percent answered ‘property taxes,’ which beat out such perennial voter concerns as ‘education’ (9 percent), ‘health care’ (9 percent) and ‘jobs’ (6 percent). It even beat out ‘corruption’ (14 percent), which is saying something in the Louisiana of the Northeast.
“The heavily favored Mr. Corzine was ahead by 18 points a month ago. But now voters say, by 43 percent-39 percent, that Mr. Forrester is ‘more likely’ than Mr. Corzine to reduce property taxes. So much for all those Beltway analysts who keep saying taxes have lost their power as a political issue.”
Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or email@example.com.