The prognosticators are right that swing elections tend to be about the party in power more than the party out of power -- but they can overstate that point, too. To take an example I wrote about yesterday, although Ronald Reagan's approval rating was in the dumps in 1982 (about 43 percent at the time of election day) the Democrats weren't completely able to capitalize as the party in opposition, picking up a more modest 26 House seats (as compared with shifts of 47, 48 and 52 in 1966, 1974 and 1994, respectively) and just a single Senate seat. Just two years removed from a Carter presidency, voters simply were not as quick to embrace the Democrats as they might have otherwise been. This fall, just two years removed from the George W. Bush presidency, will voters really be much quicker to embrace the GOP?
The fight for 2012 is here. Beltway media insiders rejoice!
Who's it going to be? Spunky Sarah? Moneyed Mitt? Holy Huckabee? Some dark-horse candidate flying under the radar? One thing is for sure: While the media clamors for every tiny detail in the looming battle for the Republican presidential nomination, the real fight for 2012 is taking place right before their very eyes.
Conventional-wisdom channelers in Washington, wittingly or not, have already been put to use by conservatives so determined to win that few facts remain untwisted. The fight over the 2010 census, which will ultimately dictate how congressional districts are drawn in 2012 and potentially influence party control of Congress for years to come, has already started.
I was at the gym today running on the treadmill watching Hardball. I do admit my loyalty to the show because of the political coverage, analysis, and theories. I still throw up in my mouth sometimes on some comments but overall, I still remain loyal to the show.
Anyways, I was running at my usual pace of 6.6 miles per hour when Matthews presented his weekly Hardball Award. This week's winner was no other Hillary Clinton. The first woman ever awarded. I starting thinking to myself "Oh gawd, now what did she do that he sees as wrong or intent to undermine Obama's Presidency."
But when he started talking, and I am not joking here, I laughed out loud so loudly, I counted four people who turned around to look. I literally choked on my water because I could not believe what he was saying. Yes Chris Matthews, on Hardball, saying this about Hillary Clinton. I stopped running, scratched may head, and just began to laugh. I even walked over to my cell phone and called a close friend who follows the show. She was simply amazed.(In her defense, she told me early on to get over the Hillary loss in the Primary and support Obama...which eventually I did because of her...Thanks Ms. Davis).
Following Wednesday's revelation by the former National Security Agency analyst that President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program had spied on everyone, quite contrary to what the administration had claimed, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) told MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Thursday that he was "quite prepared to believe" the allegations.
He added: "I think they went after anyone they could get -- including me."
Remember when Thomas Holtz-Eakin, John McCain's top economic advisor, said, essentially, that what John McCain says on the stump does not speak for the John McCain campaign?
He also disputes the way the study takes suggestions McCain has made on the stump out of context. "This is parsing words out of campaign appearances to an unreasonable degree," Holtz-Eakin said. "He has certainly I'm sure said things in town halls" that don't jibe perfectly with his written plan. But that doesn't mean it's official.
No, because that would be crazy talk, for the candidate to actually express his own official policies on the campaign trail.
And then shortly thereafter, it was McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds's turn to make essentially the same case as he directly contradicted John McCain's assertion on This Week that raising the payroll tax is "on the table."
When Fox host Megyn Kelly insisted Bounds stop "waffling" and answer whether a tax increase was "on the table," Bounds replied, "No":
KELLY: Might the Social Security tax go up? Is that on the table?
BOUNDS: No, Megyn, there is no imaginable circumstance where John McCain would raise payroll taxes. It's absolutely out of the question.
Kelly remarked that Bounds seemed to be promoting a different opinion from his candidate. When Bounds said that he agreed with Holtz-Eakin, Kelly interjected, "But you're guy doesn't agree with him.""No," Bounds seemed to admit.
This disconnect between the candidate's rhetoric and the reality of the campaign has been evident in other ways as well, say in how divergent McCain's campaign's tactics have been from his stated pledge to run a "respectful campaign." But amazingly, instead of holding John McCain accountable for his own lapses, his own confusion and his campaign's fall from any standards he may or may not have once held himself to, John McCain's pals at Hardball have a different explanation altogether. You have to see it to believe it:
John McCain is so honorable and straight-shooting that the only explanation for his campaign's headlong dive into sleaze, xenophobia and gonzo bamboozlement is that McCain is so out of it and controlled by his advisors that he doesn't actually know what they're doing in his name.
What the hell is Roger Simon talking about? Uncomfortable with his own campaign? He said he was proud of the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton "celebrity" ad. Or I suppose we're not supposed to take anything he says at face value. Wow, how nice it must be for McCain to have an infinite supply of mulligans.
I should note that following this exchange on Hardball, Simon and Mitchell go from trying to cement a new CW to trying to debunk another, namely that the "celebrity ad" was a net plus for McCain.
Simon: I'm not so sure McCain won last week. He had two incidents that really he's personally not that proud of.
Barnicle: Why did Obama's numbers go down then?
Mitchell: Well, that was the Gallup tracking poll...I don't think these polls are all that relevant now because we're very early in the season, you know this is a national tracking poll that did show a 9 point difference over the week, I don't know if it's directly related.
Of course Mitchell had to follow it up with:
I can tell you knowing John McCain, he would be very offended, and justifiably so, if his advisors said to him, you know [Obama] was going to take the press and then he canceled because he couldn't take this entourage, he would have been offended by that but it didn't happen and he was misled if that's what he was told.
Seriously, is this supposed to be a defense of John McCain? There's a really easy question that this John McCain amnesty theory floated by some of our favorite Villagers today begs, which Josh touched on over at TPM: is this really a quality that we want in our president AGAIN, someone who is so easily manipulated and so insulated from reality?