Hey Ben, even Larry Sabato’s toupee is laughing at you

August 11, 2009

Ben Tribbett (a.k.a. Not Larry Sabato) immolated himself with Duck-Dodgers-like effectiveness today, leaving the Deeds campaign squirreling for cover like Cadet Porky (actually, the cadet was far more intelligent than the Deeds campaign, but I digress).

It all started when Benny was emailed a picture of a Bob McDonnell campaign booth at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show.  Tribett immediately slapped it up on his blog insisting McD had the Stars and Bars (otherwise known as the Confederate flag) in his booth.  Deeds’ campaign manager – Joe Abbey – promptly tweeted the news.

Now, leave aside the fact that for millions of Virginians, the Stars and Bars is not offensive.  Leave even further aside that most of said Virginians who do not take offense are those rural voters Deeds was supposed to steal away from McDonnell.  Finally, just throw over the fence somewhere that Deeds himself took pride in “a house with a portrait of the Confederate flag on the wall” (Washington Post) just ten years ago.

Why do I say that? Because Tribbett and Abbey were wrong (Red State).

Now, these things happen in the blogosphere, and the proper thing to do is admit your mistake and take your lumps.  Sure, Ben would still have to endure SWAC Girl, Shaun Kenney, Riley, Kat, and Mike ribbing you for a while, but hey, these things happen.

But noooooo, Ben decides to dig himself even deeper with a hilarious reach for – you’ll love this – geometry (WaPo)!

“If a confederate flag was placed at the exact median point between the McDonnell booth and a confederate booth and the McDonnell campaign was not smart enough to demand that it be taken down or that their booth be moved, that’s almost as bad as if the flag were at their booth,” he said. “Either way, it shows a real insensitivity to what the flag means.”

AAAACK!  THE DREADED MEDIAN POINT!  WE’RE DOOMED!!!

Now, I have no idea what mathematical genius allowed Tribbett to determine the “exact median point” from the picture, but allow me to use this to establish Blogospheric Rule # Um, we’re supposed to be counting? – When you are forced to resort to a syntactical precision best suited for a college-level dissertation, you lose the argument.

Thus, you get the inevitable smackdown from JR Hoeft – and more to the point, you deserve it, Ben.

On the plus side, at least we know for certain that Ben’s “Alert” photo of Larry S isn’t real.  Sabato’s toupee is too busy laughing hysterically.


Huh? (Part II)

August 10, 2009

While the president’s approval ratings were once again going in the wrong direction this weekend, Creigh Deeds – the Democrat running for Governor of Virginia – decided to change course in his campaign and go after Bob McDonnell hard on the abortion issue.  The move was such a head-scratcher that even the Washington Post called it “risky.”

There are a bunch of reasons why this can blow up in Deeds’ face – it looks like he doesn’t care about the economy; he makes things very embarrassing for some of high-profile RINO defectors (oh, Brandon!); and he upsets all those rural voters he was hoping would split their tickets for him (i.e., Deeds for Governor, Republican for House of Delegates) – so I’ll focus on why I think Deeds decided to go this route.  Unlike my fellow VVer Riley, I don’t see 2005 redux, but an attempt to re-ignite the fading glow from 1989.

That year was the first – and last – time a Democrat ran for Governor explicity and loudly as a pro-choice candidate and won.  I can’t believe it’s a coincidence that said candidate just happened to be Doug Wilder – the very Doug Wilder who is loudly on the fence right now.  Deeds knows he can’t win Wilder over on gun issues, and any discussion of taxes moves Wilder closer to McDonnell.  So I’m guessing Deeds is hoping lightning can strike twice, with the bonus of bringing over Wilder in the bargain.

There are, however, two problems with that theory.

First, 1989 was a very unusual year.  It was the first year in nearly two decades that Americans began to seriously ponder a nation without Roe v. Wade.  The political impetus behind this was Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the first Supreme Court decision to ever allow states to enact fetal protection of any kind.  It was widely assumed that Roe‘s days were numbered, and the pro-choice side moved much faster than the pro-life side on this.  The result was the last Election day sweep for the Democrats in this cycle.  The trouble is, by the time 1993 rolled around, the whole political world had changed.  George W. Bush was replaced by Bill Clinton; Reagan Democrats (social conservatives and economic lefties) were replaced by Perot independents (economically all over the map, but usually left on social issues); and Justice O’Connor of Webster was replace by Justice O’Connor of Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which slammed the door shut on any attempt to overturn Roe.  In Virginia, Mary Sue Terry tried re-running the Wilder pro-choice campaign of ’89, to disastrous results.  In 1997, Bill Dolan – Democrat for Attorney General that year – tried the same thing and was considered so out of touch that the Post endorsed his pro-life Republican opponent (Mark Earley).  Not even Mark Warner, who is avowedly pro-choice, was dumb enough to follow that script.

Today, there is (at most) only four votes on the Supreme Court to reverse Roe/Casey – and the fellow picking the justices for the next three years is certain not to add to that total.

Secondly, the American people have moved away from Deeds on this.  While Gallup no longer records a pro-life majority in America, there is still a pro-life plurality.  The numbers in Virginia are, at best for Deeds, equal to the nation as a whole – meaning he’s bringing forth a divisive issue on which he has the smaller faction.  That’s never a good idea.

Clearly, Deeds is hoping suburban voters in eastern Virginia will be turned off by McDonnell’s views on the unborn.  However, most voters who would disagree with McDonnell also know that he (McDonnell) can do little, if anything, about it right now, so they (Wilder included) will still be open to hearing McDonnell on economic issues while Deeds bangs away on this.  Meanwhile, in western Virginia – where social issues call the tune – Deeds will be wiping out all of his efforts to win over culturally conservative voters.

In short, Deeds is killing two of his own birds with one stone.


Huh? (Part I)

August 10, 2009

While I was up in the land of my birth (New Jersey) tying up some loose ends and generally incommunicado, two very surprising events were brewing.

The first was regarding the president – namely his approval rating since Friday’s unemployment report. I had assumed the report would give the president a boost in his approval ratings and quickly.  Instead, both Rasmussen and Gallup have Obama losing ground since Friday’s numbers (which had samples from Tuesday to Thursday).

Granted, it’s just a weekend, but that was the kind of report in which first impressions were most important.  If that can’t add to the president’s popularity, he’s in a lot more trouble than I thought.

Of course, the voters are in no position to render a verdict on him until 2012, even his allies in Congress are secure until next year.  However, the same cannot be said for Creigh Deeds or John Corzine.  The former is the subject of the other while-I-was-away surprise.


Did Obama endorse Bill Bolling?

August 7, 2009

As just about everyone knows, the president came to Virginia to talk up Creigh Deeds. Interestingly enough, I saw no mention of Deeds’ ticket-mate Jody Wagner.

Now I know why. Take a look at what the president had to say (Charlottesville Newsplex): “I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.”

Well, here in Virginia, the persons most “credited” with the mess would be Governor Tim Kaine and the Finance Secretary whose rosy revenue predictions led to a spending spree that is still being dialed down today (Richmond Times-Dispatch):

Spending in the current Virginia budget for fiscal 2010 will have to be slashed up to $1.5 billion if the most dire economic forecast for state revenue prevails, according to the Governor’s Advisory Board of Economists.

. . .

Even the most optimistic forecast for state revenue during the current fiscal year, which began July 1, still calls for more than $730 million in reductions in state spending to balance the last year of the commonwealth’s 2009-10 budget.

The standard, middle-of-the-road forecast projects a deficit of about $1.1 billion.

. . .

Since April 2007, Kaine has presided over $6 billion in cuts to the $77 billion fiscal 2009-2010 budget.

With the new numbers, the shortfall for this biennium now zooms past the famous $6 billion figure that Mark Warner had made famous.  Congratulations to Governor Kaine, he has even surpassed the Dems’ Jim Gilmore caricature when it comes to revenue shortfalls, well, he and his Finance Secretary who put those numbers forwarded.

Who was that Finance Secretary, you ask?  Why, it was Jody Wagner, Democrat for Lieutenant Governor.

So, by all means, follow the president’s advice, and make sure Jody Wagner stays out of the way.  The easiest way to do that is to re-elect Bill Bolling.


The latest unemployment numbers

August 7, 2009

The new unemployment numbers are out, and the news is better than expected. Job losses were less than 300,000, and the unemployment rate actually fell (although that was due to about 800,000 people giving up on finding a job – as noted by Jim Geraghty).  Even the job loss number itself had a caveat (CNN):

The Labor Department also said that one reason for the declining number of job losses was because cuts had been so deep leading up to July that there were fewer workers to lay off during the seasonal shutdown that happens in some factories, such as those in the auto industry.

In other words, the economy is still very sick; we just saw the symptoms earlier.

So what does this mean over the next few months?  I have some thoughts.

The economy: The more I look at the numbers here, the gloomier I get.  The falling rate appears due to the two factors mentioned above: excessive job reductions in the past that would have shown up now anyhow, and discouraged workers who will probably take the rate reduction as a sign to try getting back into the workforce.  As strange as it sounds, we might actually have the unemployment rate increase next month as a result of the latter.  In other words, this report is hiding the economy’s weakness (unintentionally).

The President: July was easily the worst month of his very young presidency, and arguably the worst month of his political career.  August will be better.  Whatever the reality, the perception of this report will help.  Voters are still upset about health care “reform” – and with more Americans finding out the specifics, economic improvement won’t make the plans look better – but at least some of Obama’s approval rating dive comes from the economy.  Rasmussen and Quinnipac have the president’s approval rating at 50%; expect it to reach 56% in a week or two and stay there for the rest of the month (polls like Gallup, which have the president in the mid-50’s will likely top 60% before cresting).

The president’s agenda: Unclear.  As I said above, the health care issue is being more defined by the various plans’ specifics, rather than the general economic uneasiness that dragged its support down in previous months.  Moreover, the price tag for that and cap-and-trade hasn’t gone away, and will still worry voters.  Congress comes back into session after Labor Day; we really won’t know until then.

The 2009 elections – New Jersey: Forget Corzine.  Voters are angry at him, not Obama.  Every attempt he has made to nationalize his election has fallen flat for that reason.  Down-ticket Democrats may in better shape, depending on how well they can run independent of Corzine.

The 2009 elections – Virginia: Unclear.  McDonnell has tried nationalizing this election as Obama’s approval rating go south in VA, but he has done but by tying Deeds to Obama’s agenda (which is not really popular here) not Obama himself.  So long as Obama’s issues continue to drag (see above), Deeds won’t get much from this.  The only immediate effect will be happier Democrats, which would help Deeds on the campaign trial and in fundraising, but he’ll still need to compete with New Jersey Dems desperate to avoid the Corzine stigma on the latter.

So, in summation, the president will (and should) be happier, but I don’t really think anyone else will benefit, including the American people, who will think things are better than they really are and could be in for a rude shock next month.


Daily Kos: McDonnell +8

August 7, 2009

In their attempt to spin its own poll, Public Policy Polling (a North Carolina polling firm with a Democrat-heavy clientelle), noted the enthusiam gap between Republicans and Democrats in Virginia – hinting strongly that if Deeds could get the 2008 electorate to show up, he’d win.

Well, Daily Kos has answered with a poll that has a nearly exact Party ID match with CNN’s 2008 exit poll (39-D, 33-R, DK has 27-I, CNN has 28-I).

The result?  McDonnell still leads by 8.


“I feel like I’ve been punked”

August 5, 2009

Those were the words of Chris Ann Cleland, real estate broker, homeowners’ association president, Obama voter in 2008, and now, disillusionned and undecided for this fall (Washington Post).

I have repeatedly said that the missing story of 2008 was the 10,000,000 Bush-04 voters who went for Obama last year.  Amidst the talk of re-energizing the first-time voters and younger voters, no one hs focused on the crucial center in the president’s center-left coalition from last year.  That center is unhappy, and the Post found part of its Virginia contingent.

Based on what I’m hearing from the other side (and, of course, they don’t tell me much), I don’t think they get it.  They still think the president has the aura from 2008, and that they can rev up the bandwagon and bring back Sweet November.  If they still think this three months from now, they’re in for a rude shock.


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