Following up on recent news that Karl Rove’s political behavior was being looked into, the WP describes how White House officials gave 20 private political briefings to government agency officials on the 2006 midterms, likely to push them into helping out struggling GOP candidates. “Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics.“
The wreckage of the midterms behind him, disgraced GOP operative Jack Abramoff heads to prison today to begin a 5-year, 10-month stint in the Big House…but, not — according to ABC News — before dropping dirt on Karl Rove and “dozens of members of Congress and staff” including “six to eight seriously corrupt Democratic senators.” Sounds like the Ballad of Casino Jack might keep on keepin’ on right through the next cycle…Let’s hope the Dem Congress are much more vigilant about rooting out the corruption in their midst than were their predecessors.
“An Ehrlich aide who agreed to discuss the strategy on the condition of anonymity said the purpose of the fliers was to peel away one or two percentage points in jurisdictions where the governor would be running behind. No one inside the campaign expected a strong reaction. But that’s what they got.” The WP delves into the sordid tale behind the dirty trick ballots passed around in Maryland last week. (Very Royce–Carcetti, no?) Particularly disappointing (and bizarre), it seems that actor Charles S. Dutton may have been involved in hatching the scheme, although he denies it.
“For the first time in 50 years, the party that controls both chambers of Congress is a minority party in the South. And in the last four presidential elections, the Democratic candidate has either garnered 270 electoral votes, the minimum needed to win, or has come within one state of doing so before a single Southern vote was tallied. Outside the old Confederacy, the nation is turning blue, and that portends a new map for a future Democratic majority.” In Salon, University of Maryland assistant prof. Thomas Schaller suggests the Dems should forget about the South. So, what happened to the 50-state strategy? As the critical importance of Senator-elect Webb’s recent win suggests, the Dems write off any region of the country at their peril.
“‘My job is not to be a prognosticator,’ he said. ‘My job is not to go out there and wring my hands and say, “We’re going to lose.” I’m looking at the data and seeing if I can figure out, Where can we be? I told the President, “I don’t know where this is going to end up. But I see our way clear to Republican control.”‘” Um, you do? It’s the Election 2006 post-mortem y’all have been waiting for: Karl Rove discusses the results of the midterms, and while he correctly cites the war and the GOP’s considerable corruption problem, he still doesn’t seem to get the big picture. Fine with me…Rove, just keep doin’ what you’re doin’. It worked splendidly. Update: More here.
“I frankly think it’s a natural default from the failure of this advice of the people they had. It was impossible to argue anymore that some of the people who got us into this mess were giving good advice.” With Dubya’s White House in shambles, will Bush 41’s team ride to the rescue? Let’s hope so — I much prefer those guys to the militant neocon wing that’s been holding the reins the past six years. Still, as one observer pointed out: “Bush’s mind works differently from the normal political mind…Maybe these Baker guys can talk him off the ledge, but nobody’s done it yet.”
“‘They did this to protect themselves, but they couldn’t protect us?’ another Republican aide said yesterday.” According to Patrick O’Connor of The Hill, many GOP officials are absolutely livid about the timing of the Rumsfeld resignation. “For them to toss Rumsfeld one day after the election was a slap in the face to everyone who worked hard to protect the majority.” Meanwhile, the rest of us have to figure out how to trust this president when even he admits he openly lied to everyone about Rumsfeld’s fate (not that he was garnering a lot of confidence these days anyway.)
“I never saw a real enthusiasm on the Republican side to begin with. There’s none on our side.” The next GOP casualty of the 2006 elections? If the Dems can hold off a vote through the lame-duck Congress, it might just end up being UN rep John Bolton. “The White House formally renewed its request that the Senate take up Bolton’s nomination. But Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, said they continued to resist Bolton’s confirmation and ‘he is unlikely to get a vote any time soon.’” Update: To his credit, outgoing Senator Lincoln Chafee, who earlier announced his opposition to renewing Bolton, is sticking to his guns and siding with the Dems against Dubya on the issue. So Bolton looks to be gone in December…Koo koo kachoo.
“A source close to Allen also told CNN that the senator ‘has no intention of dragging this out.'” It’s (semi)-official: AP and Reuters declare Webb the winner in Virginia, thus yielding a Democratic Senate. Excellent! “[A] Webb aide told CNN that he plans a formal news conference Thursday morning to declare victory.” Update: Now, it’s really official: Allen will concede this afternoon.
“Alas, poor Brit, it was too much for him to bear in the end, I’m afraid. You almost had to feel sorry for the guy…I said almost.” Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir evaluates last night’s election coverage on FOX News. I admit, I also switched over to FOX in the late hours just to revel in all the sweet, sweet schadenfreude. I’m forced to concede, though, that their graphics were much better than CNN’s — you could actually tell how many House seats Dems were picking up all night over the needed 15, while CNN dropped that ball as soon as the Senate got tight. At any rate, for angry right-wing teeth-gnashing, nothing on FOX topped Stephen Colbert’s hilarious speel last night at the end of the otherwise middling Midterm Midtacular (Click on “Stephen Quits,” in case you missed it.)
And another GOP scalp (chalk this one up to Foleygate): Dennis Hastert — who’s inexplicably the longest-serving Republican Speaker in US history (Joe Cannon is 2nd) — is leaving the Republican congressional leadership. Current contenders for his position include former Majority Leader John Boehner, Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, and Joe Barton.