GOP fails to get Carney (PA-10) to switch parties

Republicans are hoping other Democrats will follow the example of Parker Griffith (AL-05), who switched parties this week. According to the Politico,

Democratic Rep. Chris Carney received a phone call Wednesday from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asking him to consider becoming a Republican, a top GOP official told POLITICO.

A spokesman for Carney declined to say if the congressman was considering such a switch.

"No further comment at this time," said Carney spokesman Josh Drobnyk, who would only confirm that the call took place.

In a brief interview, McCain declined to offer details about the conversation.

"I just said, `Whatever you do, I know that you'll make the right decision for the country,'" said the Arizonan.

Carney defeated Republican incumbent Don Sherwood in 2006. Pennsylvania's 10th district has a PVI of R+8. Carney voted for the stimulus bill and the House version of health care reform, so I doubt he could survive a GOP primary, even though he did vote against the climate change bill.

In any event, Carney has "no plans to change parties," according to a statement he released today.

Meanwhile, conservative Democrats Walt Minnick (ID-01) and Bobby Bright (AL-02) also confirmed that they not switching. Like Griffith, Minnick and Bright have opposed key items of the Democratic agenda.

Update [2009-12-23 21:47:11 by Jonathan Singer]: This story gives me the opportunity to post one of the most memorable political ads of all time, one that really helped seal the deal for Carney in 2006. An ad by his opponent.

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Politicizing Afghanistan

This post is about the politics of the President's Afghanistan speech and policy. For my take on the policy, see Blue Moose Democrat; I am tepidly supportive.

They used to say that politics stops at the water's edge. That hasn't really been true since at least Bosnia, but at least we've managed to cling to some of its rougher edges. Liberals (rightly) balked when Bush the Younger demanded that we go to war in Iraq on scant evidence, but by and large the country united around a military response to 9/11. It was understood that some things were beyond politics - until now. For months, Repubs have been telling us that they would support President Obama's leadership on Afghanistan if he sent thousands more troops there. Now that he is indeed sending the troops, are they rallying behind him?

Not so much. The President gives them what they want, and they still manage to make criticism the centerpiece of their response. Oh, they voice support for the increased troop levels, but there must have been some sort of talking points memo because every single leader's focus is on opposing the fact that it isn't an open-ended surge.

The Repub Party's most recent presidential nominee and point Senator on Armed Services, John McCain, twice emphasized his support for the new surge to NBC's Brian Williams, but the bulk of his words were critical. I don't have a transcript of that particular interview, but he told the New York Times something similar earlier today:

"Dates for withdrawal are dictated by conditions," Mr. McCain told reporters on Capitol Hill. "The way that you win wars is to break the enemy's will, not to announce dates that you are leaving."...

The military strategy appears to be "modeled on the surge in Iraq," Mr. McCain said, which he added, "I think will succeed." Mr. McCain said the United States "should have a goal of being out the day after tomorrow - a goal." But not, he said, a date as specific as July 2011.

The President has not set a date for our withdrawal, merely the beginning of a timeframe. But that didn't stop Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Lamar Alexander, and even the usually reasonable Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) from all saying nearly the same thing (even if our generals and foreign partners haven't). And of course you know RNC Chair Michael Steele was in on the talking points memo. When has he ever pass up a chance to politicize such an event?

"If the president remains committed to this crucial fight, Republicans and the American people will stand with him. But sending mixed signals by outlining the exit before these troops even get on the ground undermines their ability to succeed."

So Michael Steele thinks going to war with an exit strategy already in mind is a bad thing. No wonder he backed Iraq. And you can bet the right-wing blogosphere is and will be even more unhinged than the stately senators. Red State's Erick Erickson:

Barack Obama spoke at West Point tonight on the issue of Afghanistan. In 4608 words, he did not once mention the word "victory" and the closest he came to using the word "win" was those three letters appearing in the word "withdrawing."..

Proving yet again that he is a rank amateur, Obama intends to have a surge of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, but concurrently announce the timeline for their withdrawal. This is akin to announcing to burglars exactly the time at which you intend to depart your house and also announcing you intend to turn off the burglar alarm. Al Qaeda will just wait us out. They'll only need to wait a year. The men who spent years planning 9/11 are more patient than this President who wants instant gratification in a never ending campaign.

Al Qaeda will just wait us out? All 100 of them? Booga Booga! Here's hoping Erickson has managed to find his inhaler in the hours since making that post. But for all that blathering and bloviating, I don't think the right-wing attacks on Obama's speech will amount to much political hay in the long-run.

A Gallup poll out earlier today showed that Obama now has a 35% approval rating on Afghanistan and a 55% disapproval, a mirror image of his July numbers. I expect to see that 35% rise dramatically in next few days, for three reasons. First, his numbers almost always seem to rise after a big speech. Second, although this will tick off a large part of the base (see Jerome's post about Feingold and Grayson earlier today), many more are supportive. Though it's hardly scientific, a Daily Kos reader poll currently registers 44% support for the President's surge and 16% undecided with just 37% opposed. Third, I believe much of the 32% Independent approval and 16% Repub approval was based on the perceived "dithering" of the president (because apparently we learned nothing from Bush's disgust for facts). People wanted a decision. Now that they have one, their minds will change.

McChrystal thinks that with more troops, he can bring more stability. I don't know if he's right, but it didn't fail in Iraq. If Afghanistan is anywhere near the appearance of stable next November, this decision will not harm the Democrats in the midterms, and by 2012, we will hopefully be out or mostly out and this should again be a non-issue. Afghanistan hasn't been a huge electoral factor since 2002, and I don't think it's going to become one now.

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A More Decent Society

Reform would make us a more decent society, but also a less vibrant one. It would ease the anxiety of millions at the cost of future growth. It would heal a wound in the social fabric while piling another expensive and untouchable promise on top of the many such promises we've already made. America would be a less youthful, ragged and unforgiving nation, and a more middle-aged, civilized and sedate one. - David Brooks; NY Times

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Analyzing Swing States: Ohio, Part 1

By: Inoljt,

This is the first part of an analysis of the swing state Ohio. The second part can be found here.

Is Ohio a liberal place? Or is it a conservative place?

I suspect far more people would say the latter rather than the former.

In many respects, Ohio is politically similar to Florida. Both are well-known swing states that hold a bountiful electoral prize. Both lean Republican. Both have large cites that function as pools of Democratic votes. Both also have considerable rural, Republican regions.

But in other ways they could not be more different. Sunny Florida is diverse, growing, and service-oriented. While Florida often votes Republican, it is not exactly conservative. Cold, northern Ohio is a rust-belt giant. It is not very diverse. It is definitely not growing. Florida is new. Ohio is old and conservative.

For the moment Ohio is a bit more conservative than the country at large. For the past eight out of nine presidential elections, it has been a bit redder than the nation. Not much redder, but enough to be noticeable.


I do not think that the future looks bright for the Democratic Party in Ohio. The two are moving in opposite directions. Demographically, Ohio is staying static while the country at large changes. And there are not many truly liberal spots in Ohio - places like Boulder, CO or Seattle. There never were.

Ohio has a lot of unionized, working-class folk who are still voting against Herbert Hoover; they are a core part of its Democratic base. I am not sure how long they will continue to support a party that is becoming, quite frankly, fairly upper-class in ethos. People in West Virginia certainly don't anymore.

Not that Ohio is doomed to become a Republican stronghold. Places like Columbus are rapidly turning blue, perhaps fast enough to offset losses in working-class counties. And it isn't inevitable that those counties will start voting Republican. If West Virginia is a prime example of working-class voters who deserted the Democratic Party, Michigan is a prime example of working-class voters that still support it. Barack Obama won a landslide in that state.

Nevertheless, my gut still tells me that Ohio and the Democratic Party are shifting farther and farther away from each other. These things can reveal themselves very quickly in politics. In 1988, California was a red state that had voted Republican for six elections in a row. Then one day it was won by Bill Clinton - and it has never gone back since then. In 1996 West Virginia had gone blue for five out of the past six elections. Then George Bush won the state - and now we consider it a rock-hard Republican state.

That may be the fate of Ohio.

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Can Moderate Republicans Win Statewide in California?

This Wednesday former Hewlett-Packard CEO and John McCain presidential adviser Carly Fiorina announced her candidacy for US Senate. Her candidacy, Fiorina hopes, will have her take on longtime and proud liberal California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer in the conservative Orange County. While her campaign kicked off with a day-time talk show looking logo and a mea culpa for her lack of voting in California elections (she's missed 75 percent of all votes since 2000, including gubernatorial and presidential elections), Fiorina's campaign kickoff lacked any sort of excitement according to LA Times columnist Michael Hiltznik. However before the very wealthy businesswoman takes on Boxer in the general election in November 2010, she'll have to win the Republican primary in June of 2010. But she won't. She won't lose the primary because of a lackluster launch or a fancy logo or an interesting life story as a female CEO (even though her career as CEO is spotty at best) or a survivor of breast cancer, the problem is Fiorina's politics.

While she announced that she has signed a pledge to never vote for a tax increase, her politics don't fall far right enough for what is remaining of the California Republican party. While Fiorina pledges to be tough on taxes, she falls in line with the John McCain wing of the Republican Party and McCain only received 37 percent of the statewide vote in 2008.

So that leaves the question, what Republican Party leaders can come to California to stump for Fiorina and get national donations? From the 2008 election results, John McCain isn't that person. From his abysmal approval ratings, "moderate" Republican Governor Schwarzenegger won't help on the stump for Fiorina. What about Sarah Palin? She drew huge crowds when she stumped for Vice President in Los Angeles in 2008. Fiorina won't get the Palin wing of the GOP to endorse her because super conservative Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore has also announced his candidacy for Senate. And Palin specifically won't stump for Fiorina after Fiorina famously said during an interview that Palin couldn't be a CEO of a large company. That leaves Megan McCain as the only Republican popular enough in California to stump for Fiorina.

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