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.
Every single Dem incumbent returned to office. At least 26 more seats in the House. The nation’s first woman Speaker. Six new governorships. At least four Senate seats. And, if all goes well in Virginia (which, at 5am EST, is looking likely — Webb’s up 8,000, which is a pretty solid lead heading into a recount) and Montana (which seems positive for us, albeit less so — Tester’s up 5,000 with 85% reporting), perhaps even control of Congress…Yessir, all-in-all, it was a pretty grand night for us. So, Dubya and Karl…how you like them apples? Update: Make that 28 seats in the House and 5 in the Senate….soon to be six. Congress is ours!
Shady, harrassing “robocalls”, voter intimidation in Virginia, sketchy-acting electronic voting machines: yes, folks, it’s Election Day in America, and the frantic GOP are up to their usual bag of tricks. In the inimitable words of Baltimore Deputy Commissioner for Ops Bill Rawls: “American Democracy. Let’s show those Third World %@#$ how it’s done.“
Regardless, each side has had their November Surprise (for the Left, Haggard’s hypocrisy; for the Right, Hussein’s hanging), and now — at long last — it’s showtime: Time to show “the decider” what we really think of him.
For what it’s worth, I can now personally guarantee at least one vote for the not-particularly-embattled Spitzer/Clinton/Rangel/Cuomo ticket. I even used an old-school levered voting machine, so mine should more likely than not get counted.
Predictions? Of course, I’d like to venture a 1994-like tidal wave, but I’ve been burned by too many election nights in the past. So I’ll play it relatively safe…the Dems win the House, picking up 18-22 seats, and gain four seats in the Senate: Missouri, Montana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (So long, Santorum!) It looked like control of the Senate might’ve hinged on the Allen-Webb race in Virginia, but now that Harold Ford seems to have faded in Tennessee (one has to wonder how much Corker’s gutterball ad helped him), a Dem Senate looks really unlikely. Still, I’d love to be surprised in both states.
The last two times I posted exit polls here (in 2000 and 2004), I’ve been led astray, but if I see anything good from the Senate races, I’ll post it below. In the meantime, the NYT has a quality election guide here, and there are a couple of good explanations of what to look for tonight here and here. On this end, I and several of my friends who’ve been burned over the last few election nights together will be huddled around the TV, yearning to breathe free. Hopefully, at long last, it’ll be our night.
Even in early voting, it seems, the shadiness is rampant: Looka collects a few dismaying articles about the voting machines tending to prefer Republicans this year, regardless of what voters may want. (Sound familiar?) How hard can it be, people? In twelve-odd-years of using them, I’ve never had an ATM screw up or misreport a transaction. If we can do it for twenty dollar bills, we can do it for the franchise.
“Historically, the major parties in America have yoked together the most disparate groups for long periods. The New Deal Democrats were a party of Northern liberals and Southern segregationists. But once Lyndon Johnson committed the Democrats to civil rights for African Americans, the white South up and left — a process that took 40 years to complete but that left the Democrats struggling to assemble congressional and presidential majorities and that converted the Republicans into a party where Southern values were dominant. Now the non-Southern bastions of Republicanism may themselves up and leave the GOP, seeing it as no longer theirs.” The American Prospect‘s Harold Meyerson sees potential for a realignment of northern moderates come Tuesday. Well, let’s hope. Chafee looks like toast (and he’s acting like it, too), but there are still a lot of undecideds — between 15 and 20% — in that Rhode Island race. And, lest we forget, our very own president, much as he’d like us to think otherwise, is a scion of the North as well.
I don’t really have anything to say about Kerrygate, except, well, is it Tuesday yet? Way to stick your foot in it, Senator. But, really, is this all you guys got? Is this all you can conjure, Rove? The whole GOP media onslaught about it reeks of desperation (as do the gutterball ad campaigns), and, hey, I don’t blame them: times are desperate: “‘So many different kinds of scandals going on at the same time, that’s pretty unique,’ Zelizer said. ‘There were scandals throughout the ’70s, multiple scandals, but the number of stories now are almost overwhelming.‘”
It’s true in the West, it’s true in the Southwest, it’s even true among the reddest of the red. And, in perhaps the final straw for the GOP this November, a new poll puts independents breaking for the Dems 59%-31%. Yes, y’all, it looks like a wave is coming…(provided, of course, Diebold doesn’t ride to Dubya’s rescue.)
As Medley pointed out yesterday, Dubya and the GOP are now “cutting and running from ‘stay the course.‘” Instead, Tony Snow tells us, “What you have is not ‘stay the course’ but in fact a study in constant motion.” And that motion, folks, is a full-out freefall. As even Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted yesterday, “We’re on the verge of chaos” And, frankly, that’s being charitable.
“‘The Democrats are going to gain somewhere between four and seven seats,’ said Stuart Rothenberg, author of an independent newsletter that tracks campaigns nationwide.” The WaPo surveys recent trends in the battle for the Senate, concluding that a Dem takeover is still eminently possible, if not yet probable. “Of the battlegrounds of Tennessee, Virginia and Missouri, [Rothenberg] said, ‘They need two of the three, and they have a pretty good chance’ of winning them.”
Another GOP scandal? Oh, why not. This time, the culprit is California Republican longshot Tam Nguyen, who apparently was the mastermind behind 14,000 letters sent to scare immigrants from the polls. “Written in Spanish, the letters advise recently registered voters that it is a crime for those in the country illegally to vote in a federal election, which is true. They also say, falsely, that immigrants may not vote and could be jailed or deported for doing so, that the federal government has a new computer system to verify voter names, and that anti-immigration organizations can access the records.” Nguyen has said he’ll stay in the race against Democratic congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, even though his own party is disavowing him.
“Lame Duck” Dubya and his man behind the curtain, Karl Rove, may be “inexplicably upbeat,” but John McCain is apparently contemplating suicide. Meanwhile, Dems Carville and Greenberg suggest breaking out the party credit cards, while the bellwether state of Ohio sours on the GOP completely. Only 20 days left until Election 2006…
A new minority staff report by the Senate Finance Committee concludes that “[f]ive conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, ‘appear to have perpetrated a fraud’ on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” Among the organizations called out are Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (sheah), an outfit created by Norquist and former Dubya Interior Secretary Gail Norton, whose office was already waist-deep in ill-gotten Casino Jack loot. (In fact, Abramoff’s point person in Norton’s office was CREA’s president, Italia Federici.)
Update: In related news, Abramoff flunky Bob Ney pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and making false statements (without, mind you, resigning his seat in Congress.) While he didn’t speak with reporters, Ney’s written statement noted that the “treatment and counseling I have started have been very helpful, but I know that I am not done yet and that I have more work to do to deal with my alcohol dependency.” Ok, one more time, people. Alcoholism means you drink too much. It does not mean that you bilk the public, indulge in bribes, or send teenagers dirty IMs.
“Before I liberate the speaker so he doesn’t have to stand up here for that long, Speaker, I want to say this to you…I am proud to be standing with the current speaker of the House who is going to be the future speaker of the House.” Hmm…I wouldn’t be so sure. As Dubya bequeaths a “heck of a job, Denny” upon an increasingly embattled Hastert, the GOP moneymen are nevertheless hedging their bets, and are pulling cash out of several races around the country to try to hold the (Maginot?) line in Ohio, Missouri, and Tennessee. The financial “jousting will continue into the final days, but what is clear at this point is that Democrats are playing very little defense in the House and the Senate.“