"The worst Democrat in the Senate is still better than the best Republican. After the 2000 election we had a 50/50 Senate, which blocked a few of W's worst ideas from becoming law. "
Very droll. Would you care to name a few of these ideas that Senate blocked? Was it the tax cuts? Was it invading Iraq? Was it privatizing social security? OK, the latter was blocked when the Republicans had a ten seat majority in the Senate.
I was actually going to post that I agree with Chris about Lieberman, but I was going to point out that the interests of progressives and the interests of the Democratic Party are not completely aligned. This happens less often today, but even in 2006 there are at least three contested House races (IA-1, IN-8, NY-24) where its debatable whether the Democratic candidate is more progressive on Iraq.
Also, Gore picked Lieberman to be his VP candidate. He didn't have to, there were half a dozen other names considered. What does this say about Gore?
Not that he is taking my advice, Lamont should probably best do the following:
1) Don't give Republicans a reason to vote for Lieberman, to block Lamont. That means no campaign appearances with Al Sharpton, or even with Hillary Clinton for that matter. The idea is to get Republican voters and conservative independents to think that if Lamont wins, it won't be so bad.
2) Give a few speeches picking up on Schlesinger's points, and even echoing a few conservative positions, for example on fiscal responsibility. This would enhance Schlesinger's stature, and again accomplish the objective of making it less likely Republicans would vote for Lieberman to block Lamont.
3) Stay positive.
4) Press the theme of the reformer vs the machine, which I think Lamont hasn't done and is a big mistake. Lieberman's formula has clearly been Republican support plus machine Democrats, getting him a majority. Reform minded Democrats and independents have to be disabused that Lieberman is somehow statesmanlike. Again, this also makes reform mindede Republicans queasy about voting for Lieberman.
This implies that Lieberman should go negative on Lamont in a big way, his chances depend on Republicans seeing him as the lesser of two evils. So watch for that.
I share Chris Bower's paranoia, but for a different reason: electoral fraud. Given the investigations that a Democratic held House would conduct on the Republicans, even if it doesn't really want to, too many in the Republican leadership has to prevent this to keep from going to jail. Electoral fraud is now just too easy and there are too many incentives for the Republicans to commit it.
Given the large Democratic lead in the generic ballot polls, and now in specific races, the fact that we've had one Republican Congressman resign for bribery and another for pedophia (actually sexual harrassment, but the headlines say pedophila), the collapse of the housing bubble (it was the collapse of the internet bubble that really did in Gore's campaign), continued depressing news from the Middle East, etc., I'm pretty much convinced now that if the Republicans do keep control of the House, it will confirm my view that electoral fraud is being perpetrated on a wider scale than at any time in our history. But it will be spun in the media as an amazing comeback, and all sorts of specious reasons advanced for the Republicans turning things around.
However, I think the most likely scenario is that the Democrats win a narrow majority in the House, say 220-215, then just enough Democrats switch parties for the Republicans to keep control. Or there are alot of people trying to find dirt on Pelosi. But I'm too shellshocked from the last six years to believe that the Republicans will actually lose one.
I can foresee the Republicans keeping control. There are still only a few slam dunk Democratic gains emerging (TX 22, AZ 8, IA 1, that's pretty much it). And I don't see how the Democrats are dealing with any of the three factors Tripp brings up.
There is a fun aspect to this, in that Bloomberg has the personality of a turnip. He was able to get elected Mayor twice by spending something like $80 million, not counting all the "charitable contributions" made in between elections to various politically connected groups, on an electorate of maybe 2 or 3 million. He outspent his opponents four to one and five to one each time (and yes, you can buy an election, if the dollars per voter total ks high enough).
For perspecctive, $80 million is more than Perot spent on his 1992 presidential run. And Perot has some personality and a platform with appeal to the average voter; Bloomberg will basically be running on the platform of the Billionaires' Party. Bloomberg can't outspend either major party candidate, nor can he run up the same ridiculous dollars-per-voter total he did in New York.
In other words, this is a catastrophically bad idea, even from the corporatists' standpoint. Why are they considering this? Its not like either major party candidate will be some rabble rousing populist.
When I said turnout in New York was low, I was thinking of the ridiculous numbers from Brooklyn, where there are a number of competitive races, including two close Congressional races. But Brooklyn has a long and proud tradition of political apathy.
There is a good rundown at the excellent New York political blog Room 8 (http://www.r8ny.com/) on the reasons why the New York primary date was moved to September.
Turnout is really bad in New York. Its so bad that the politicians are talking about moving the primary to June, on the theory that turnout is being depressed by the primary being the day after the anniversery of the WTC attacks (next cycle it will be on the same day!). Campaigns across the state basically had to shut down yesterday.
I don't think that theory completely explains things, but it gives an indication of how bad turnout was today because NY politicians usually like low turnout; the machines get their clients to the polls, no one else turns up, the machine candidates win. While this happened today, for the politicans to be worried means that things are so bad that the legitimacy of the system comes into question.
There is an argument to be made that we are better off having Bolton at the UN, where the worst he can do is embarass us, than in a position where he can do real damage.
On Israel, the country itself is much better off having a US UN ambassador who is actually a good diplomat, and I suspect that is the Israeli government position. I also suspect that the aim of the "Israeli lobby" in the US is not really to help out Israel.
From the standpoint of good government, this is a problem. The public should know more about the congressional leaders. Gingrich has a, well, interesting personality and was able to break through the media wall of silence regarding Congress.
Pelosi is House Minority Leader and is therefore particularly unknown. The Democrats would not have been able to run against Gingrich, or Bob Michel, in 1994. However, look out for Pelosi to be demonized if she does become Speaker, and impeachment becomes an issue. This could well be a problem in a year or two.
First, reading the bios, I had to think for a second or two before realizing that Candidate E was Kerry. I'm a political junkie and could figure out most of the other bios pretty easily (OK, not Mike Gravel's). This shows to me what a poor job the Kerry campaign did in defining their own candidate.
Second, if you read all the bios, doesn't Hillary's seem really weak compared to the others? A one term Senator from a northeastern state who keeps a low profile and is willing to work across the aisles? Except for the female part, this could describe Bob Menendez. As someone pointed out, her only real "accomplishment" has been to screw up health care reform. I think name recognition and money will get her the nomination, but this doesn't look good for the fall campaign.
There are some good ideas here. I think the key thing to understand that if the Democrats gain control of the House, they are simply not going to be able to pass any substantive public policy legislation. They would need an administration interested in public policy for that to happen. We don't have that.
Therefore, the Democrats have to be prepared to be very cynical if they gain control of the House. They have to years in which to try to hold the administration accountable, which they have a constitutional duty to do anyway, and to put out an agenda which will appeal to the public in 2008, even if it doesn't make it into law. And since the agenda won't make it into law, it doesn't have to be completely responsible. Everything has to be filtered through preparing the way for 2008.
Another problem on the policy front is that about two dozen Democratic Congressmen are conservative "blue dogs", representing deep red districts. Unless the Democrats can get more than 250, which is very unlikely, their votes will be needed to pass anything. In fact, if the Democrats gain a narrow majority, say 218-222, I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of conservative Democratic congressmen formally switched sides, allowing the Republicans to gain control (Cuellar being the most obvious candidate). The Democrats did something similar in 1995, to sabotage Republican control of the California State Assembly, and the tactic worked.
The best thing they can do politically, impeach Rumsfeld. They would avoid having to deal with people's deference to the president, which would be the problem with trying to imeach Bush or even Cheney. Force the Republicans to defend how the defense department is being run. The hearings would also be a great platform to carry on some needed investigation.
Here is the big mystery to me about California: why doesn't some eccentric billionaire fund an initiative to split the state up?
Many of California's problems stem from the fact that it is simply too big. Its population is about the same as Spain's. State Senators have more constituents in California than Congressmen. Sacramento is as distant for most people in the state as Washington is.
How can you get a consensus between places as different from Northern and California? Also, Californians are seriously unrepresented in the U.S. Senate, and to some extent in the electoral college, compared to other Americans.
I understand that there are some very conservative rural areas in Northern California, where people get very upset when this topic is broached because they don't want to be stuck in a state with San Francisco, without the reinforcement provided by Orange County and the Inland Empire, but could they really stop a proposal that would be an obvious benefit to everyone else in the state?
I finally did the number crunching on the district lines, and it seems that the Republicans have a 3% advantage due to how the lines are drawn. In other words, the Democrats will probably need to beat the Republicans by 3% in the nationwide popular vote to take back the House. But if they can get more than that, they are likely to do that.
This is not just because of gerrymandering, its more a function of the Democrats piling up votes in urban and to a lesser extent majority minority districts, while losing by smaller margins in rural areas.