Month: September 2010

Put one in the Right – Far Right – Column

Florida’s senatorial race draws together a interesting set of issues and alignments.  Leading the race is Marco Rubio, a 39 year-old, staunchly conservative family man of Cuban ancestry.  He was polling so far ahead in the Republican primary that Gov. Charlie Crist dropped out and is now running as an independent.  Rubio leads Crist 40% to 28%.  I almost forgot to mention that there is a Democrat in the race.  He’s Representative Kendrick Meek, who is giving up a safe seat in Congress to make this unlikely bid. He stands at 23%, with Crist siphoning off Meek’s support.  Meek, a black Congressman from Miami, is considered weak in comparison to Crist.  Rather than the Republican vote being split, with the Democrat being the beneficiary, the centrist and better-known Crist has pulled away traditional Democrat support. 

The surge toward Crist may be peaking, as Rubio and Crist have skewered each other with harshly negative ads. Crossover support for Crist shows signs of weakening, but there is no guaranty that Meek will benefit from it. Despite the sponsorship of party headliners, like Biden and Obama, Meek’s candidacy has failed to take off.   Meek’s message is folksy. He shows us that he’s worked to save the Everglades, stop offshore drilling – before and after BP – and is for the people “who take the early bus.”  Nice and light-hearted. It doesn’t say Senator; it says Congressman.

Crist leads with an attack on Rubio, chargin him with using party credit cards for personal use. Crist should know. He’s been accused of inappropriately spending government funds on private matters.  He then goes after  Meek, who was accused of seeking federal funds for a development project, in which the developer paid $90,000 to former Congresswoman Carrie Meeks, the candidate’s mother, as a consultant and leased her a Cadillac Escalade.  The developer, Dennis Stackhouse, abandoned the project and is charged with stealing $1 million.   And you thought Florida was just a pretty place to retire.

Which brings us back to Rubio.  He’s telegenic, earnest and relatively soft-spoken. His theme is:  Preserve America’s Values for Our Children’s Generation.  His website features a picture of his family of six, four members of which are too young to vote for Middle School class officers. Aside from the rhetorical positions on non-voting issues, Rubio’s strongest positions are on government (too big, too powerful) and spending (too much).  He opposes the health care act and tax increases-he would repeal capital gains and reduce estate taxes.  He opposes changes in energy policy, including cap and trade – even if these policies were neutral for budgetary purposes. He favors a balanced budget and reduced spending. In short,no surprises here: a classic conservative profile, all the way down to school vouchers.  He would leave health care to the free market, and he has offered no plan for providing health care to those priced out of that market. He strongly opposes amnesty of any kind to illegal immigrants. 

 Florida has been crucial in most national elections because it is a swing state.  A credible candidate running to Rubio’s left might pick up most of the 51% which Crist and Meek share. But that will not happen. The race will go to Rubio.


Bubba Redux

There’s Bill Clinton again, plastered all over the media outlets.  With Obama being compared to Jimmy Carter, Democrats turn their lonely eyes to Clinton.  He’s still Handshaker No. 1, a bankable, adored draw.

The Obamas turned out at Clinton’s annual Global Initiative. Imagine that?   Bill’s enjoying another comeback.  At the moment, the President’s stock is low, and there are no other Democrats with anything close to presence, let alone charisma.  Clinton still knows how to light up a room.  In the photo-ops the Obamas are outshone by the former President; not even reflected in his glory. 

First, there is a noticeable  absence of any other notable party leader with more than name recognition.   Second, the Democrats are more of a confederation than a party. With the assistance of an exhausted and discredited Republican administration and a weak candidate at the top of the ticket, the Democrats took power in 2008. Two years, later, they are likely to give it up and then some. Although Congress pushed through signfiicant legislation while the Republicans played Rope-a-Dope, the Democrats act like they are on the run, and maybe that’s why they are on the run.  The conventional wisdom is that the administration did not sell its achievements to the electorate. I think Obama is working hard at his job, which can be a full-time position if you’re willing to work. O may be a one-term president because, like Carter, he or his administration do not give sufficient to the political requirements of the Presidency. As war is to negotiation, service is to campaigning. He’s too smart to think that all he has to do is a good job.

Clinton had many bad moments, and his worst moments were far worse than anything Obama has experienced so far. Clinton is as close to a natural politician as there is.  Obama is a moving, brilliant orator and a man of intelligence and integrity.    He doesn’t love the Meet and Greet, and it shows.  One night during the 2007 pre-primaries, the Clintons swept through a dining room from table to table, greeting friends and strangers. Hillary was done after about five minutes. Bill was roaring along until he shook the last hand and bussed the last cheek. She did what was necessary; he did more.

Expect to see Bill on the hustings for candidates in close races. 

Tea Time in New York

After Carl Paladino bested Rick Lazio in the GOP primary, it was widely assumed that Paladino would get stomped by Andrew Cuomo, who is running for the party whose mascot is a Jackass.  Not so fast. Paladino is closing the gap, and moderates, the establishment in the middle, is getting nervous.

Paladino, a very wealthy real estate investor, has no experience in government, although it seems that he was miffed about not getting the opportunity to organize the Obama Inaugural.  Paladino’s playbook so far includes racial gaffes and sexually offensive emails.  Rick Lazio is a tomato can. The GOP tosses him in the ring to make the fight. He’s a good soldier. But to borrow the definition of nebbish, when Lazio walks into a room it’s like somebody just left.

 So, what does Paladino stand for?
He’s an upstate guy, who says Buffalo is a lot like Staten Island and Queens, because you can actually drive there, as opposed to New York. Has he ever been on the Staten Island Expressway or the LIE?

He thinks Gov. Paterson is a pathetic wimp. Check.

Former Gov. Pataki is a degenerate idiot. Check check.

And Manattan: Home to smug, self-important, pampered liberal elitists.  Check, check, check.

Before you allow  Carl Paladino to nestle to your bosom, consider the following:

Illegal Immigrants: Send state police to the Big Apple and “every other sanctuary city in the state to pick up illegals and turn them over to the feds.” You might even think that’s ok.  So how’s he going to do it without state employees?

The Economy: “We talked about $15 billion in increased taxes and fees over the last two years, and [the state] couldn’t find it in their graciousness to lay off one state employee. The people just said, ‘Wow!’ “

There is anger, my friend, righteous anger in the land. Many usually complacent people are in high dudgeon.
The country is overtaxed, underemployed, and people are angry, desperate, and looking for a dog to kick. But laying off state workers, per se, is not a good policy. Making them more efficient is another matter. With unemployment steadying at 91/2%, government layoffs is not only bad economics. It’s bad politics.  Sounds good in campaign rhetoric, like fixing the street lights, but really what will he do?

Those state-operated vigilantes hunting down foreigners?  Who’s going to pay for them? That is not a revenue producing operation.  If the state were his business, he might think about that.   But really it’s rhetroic, designed to raise the dander of the almost-disenfranchised.

Andrew Cuomo, currently New York Attorney General. Why am I thinking about Mark Stein and Mark Greene, and any number of perennial candidates in New York politics who have no currency other than name recognition?  That might be unfair to Cuomo, but I can’t think of a good reason to vote for him, other than that he’s not the other guy.

I give the Tea Party credit for appearing to attack the hegemony of the two-party system. In the end, they may be coopted by the GOP, leaving us where we began. For the moment, I am experiencing a nihilistic ecstacy in imagining that hope may only result from dissolution and chaos.

We can only hope.

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