How'd That Bipartisanship Thing Work Out For You?

I'd like to ask all of the people who thought trying to reach out to Republicans in a bipartisan manner would be a good idea -- Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama in particular -- how'd that work out for you?

Could the effort at bipartisanship over the last two years have been a bigger disaster? The Democrats allowed the Republicans to make their case for two straight years while Democrats laid down their arms. And it turns out the voters didn't know why they should vote for the Democrats. Surprise, surprise.

The Republicans on the other hand went with complete and utter partisanship -- and it worked! If the Obama White House trusts one more idiot in Washington who says they should try reaching consensus with the Republicans, then they deserve the ass kicking they'll get next time around, too.

We had a Republican strategist on our show tonight and with incredibly honesty he admitted that the idea of "bipartisanship" is something that only benefits Republicans because they never really engage in it and they get the Democrats to do what they want (you can watch it here at the 6:39-7:48 mark). How stupid do you have to be to keep falling into that trap?

I guess as stupid as Mark Penn, who of course predictably calls for Obama to do just that -- again -- for the next two years. But Penn isn't stupid (the Democrats aren't stupid either, they're just supposed to be the patsies that lose to the Republicans in this big corporate game that's being played on us). Penn loves the corporatist, pro-Wall Street, Republican policies and is just using the results of this election to push for them as he did when he was running Hillary Clinton's campaign. How did that work out for him? Oh yeah.

Rush Limbaugh pushed the Republicans to fight and not give an inch to the Democrats. That strategy unfortunately worked. However much you might love the idea of bipartisanship, it has proven to be a terrible political strategy. Exactly as we said in the beginning of the Obama administration, the Republicans had no desire to work with the president on anything. We said the only thing they would want to do is to tear him down. We were right.

That's the Washington reality. If President Obama doesn't adjust to that fact and start fighting back, the next two years are going to be brutal.

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US Mid-Term Election Campaign Reader


Charlie Crist Rolling In Democratic Cash
The share of donors to Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign who previously had given to Democratic candidates multiplied substantially since he left the GOP to run as an independent for the US Senate. An Associated Press analysis shows that donors who previously had contributed to the 2008 Obama campaign made up almost 10 percent of the individual contributors to Crist's campaign in the second quarter of this year. A poll released last month showed Crist slightly ahead of Rubio in a three-way general election matchup, with the Democratic contenders U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek and billionaire businessman Jeff Greene trailing.

On that note, the St. Petersburg Times reports that Democratic pollster and former Hillary Clinton senior adviser Mark Penn and his wife, Nancy Jacobson, are hosting a $4,800-per-person fundraising reception for Charlie Crist at their Washington home Wednesday. Here's the invitation (pdf).

In Illinois, Mark Kirk Alters His Gun Stance
The Chicago Tribune reports that Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for the US Senate seat once held by Barack Obama, has an evolving view on gun laws.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk said Monday that he supports the Supreme Court decision that effectively knocked down Chicago's handgun ban.

The five-term congressman has favored several gun-control laws during his career representing the North Shore. But as Kirk runs statewide for the first time, downstate voters who generally support greater Second Amendment rights are keeping tabs on politicians' stances on gun control.

Kirk's comments, made after a foreign policy speech, come as the Chicago City Council recently enacted new gun-control measures in an effort to thread the needle between keeping guns off the streets and abiding by the court ruling this summer that gutted the city's longtime handgun ban.

After the discussion before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Kirk said he supports the "Heller decision." That is a 2008 ruling that struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban and was used by the court in cutting down Chicago's law.

Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias opposes the Heller ruling.

There's more...

Mark Penn is wrong again (w/poll)

I saw at Iowa Independent that Hillary Clinton's former pollster and adviser, Mark Penn, is claiming there could have been a "different outcome" in Iowa if John Edwards had been out of the race.

My conversations with hundreds of Edwards supporters suggested that many preferred Barack Obama or one of the longshot Democratic contenders to Clinton. David Redlawsk has data to back up my anecdotes:

University of Iowa political science professor David Redlawsk conducted a caucus night survey on second choices. "We asked people `If your candidate is not viable, what will you do?' 82 percent of Edwards supporters said they would support another candidate and 18 percent would not," said Redlawsk. "When we asked which candidate they would then support, 32 percent said Clinton and 51 percent said Obama. Had this actually happened statewide, Obama would have been even further ahead of Clinton."

"As the campaign progressed few Edwards people gave any indication that Clinton was their second choice," said Redlawsk [...].

I stand by my contention that given the Obama campaign's almost unlimited resources and well-executed strategy, there is little Clinton or Edwards could have done differently to win the Iowa caucuses.

After the jump I have a poll about the worst strategic error Clinton's campaign made thanks to bad advice from people like Penn.

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Wanna know whose fault this really is? MARK PENN

"If anything, the country shows every sign of yearning for Clintonism as a governing idea now as much as it ever has."

-- Mark Penn, today in Politico

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On Negative Advertising

Mark Penn takes to The Politico this week in defense of negative advertising, including the "3 a.m." ad his team at the Clinton campaign produced, writing that "[c]lever negative advertising works." I think that's right, to an extent (though it does surprise me at least a bit to be writing here that I think Penn is correct). But I do think it misses something -- that clever negative advertising can work, not that it always does.

A professor of mine, David Menefee-Libey (who actually helped turn me on to blogs back in the early part of this decade), once analogized negative advertisements to a pitcher throwing over to first base to keep the runner honest. Whenever a pitcher makes such a move, the fans groan a bit, and if the pitcher does it too often, they may start to boo. However, if the pitcher doesn't throw over to first base, a runner may be able to get too great of a lead, even to the point at which he is more able to steal second -- which would draw even louder boos from the crowd. In other words, the move is effective and necessary, but it is one that isn't particularly appreciated by the fans -- and if used too much can actually annoy fans nearly as much as giving up a stolen base.

Similarly, negative ads -- or contrast ads, however you define them -- are necessary in politics. Without putting your opponent on the defensive -- keeping them honest, just as a pitcher does to a runner on first base by throwing over to the first baseman from time to time -- their path to victory becomes easier (just as it's easier for the runner to steal first base). But there's a catch to this rule, one that Penn misses (and one that I think the McCain campaign is missing, too): If you go too negative, it can actually be counterproductive, and be nearly as ineffective as running no negative ads whatsoever.

The McCain campaign has indeed been "clever," as Penn puts it, in their hits on Barack Obama. They have been able to get their meme out to the public -- with the great help of the Beltway's establishment media, who has given the ads at least treble the airtime that the campaign paid for -- and shifted some attention in the race.

But John McCain's strategy isn't wholly effective here. It's not clear, for instance, that Obama's numbers -- whether nationally or in the key swing states -- have actually moved down significantly. What's more, although the ads may have gone to some length in helping coalesce the Republican base -- after all, there's nothing like antagonizing enemy to rally the troops -- there is little evidence that McCain's numbers have moved upwards, either.

It may be too soon to see the real movement; it could be that the damage to Obama is long-term, not short-term. But from the vantage of today, about two weeks into the McCain campaign's fiercely negative onslaught against Obama, it's hard to see any tangible proof that the effort has been working (and no, changing the sentiments of Joe Scarborough or Mark Halperin doesn't count). In fact, during the time that the McCain campaign has been investing a serious amount of its time -- and money -- in trying to belittle Obama and his supporters, McCain has almost entirely shied away from presenting any message about his own vision of the country to the American voter. This opportunity cost cannot be overlooked.

McCain will have time to lay out his agenda moving forward. But at the same time as he has been dealing in banalities, Obama has been responding by linking McCain to George W. Bush -- a hit that has the potential to be (and seemingly is) significantly more effective -- while at the same time laying out his own positive vision for the country. And in the end, merely being clever or grabbing the attention of those inside the Beltway isn't necessarily the way to win an election.

There's more...


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