Monday, August 9, 2010

Personal Aside: Picks for 2010, Looking Ahead to 2012.

 Feast of St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross  (Edith Stein).*   
  As the Democratic ship Titanic takes on water, the good ship Republican is proceeding apace to score a signal victory in the mid-term elections of November before pulling into port with a new captain for the nation in 2012.  Much of this analysis comes from Mark McKinnon, an astute analyst writing in The Daily Beast. 
     Things look almost too good for the Republicans.   Looking at the map where red states are Republican and blue Democratic, it’s evident that the red eight states in the South and West (Republican) will gain one or more House seats with the biggest gainer Texas.  Ten blue states (Democratic), centered in the Northwest, will lose one or more.   Texas which is spurting in economic growth due to a tough, pro-enterprise governor, will surely fill its extra seat with a Republican. 
                                         GOP Likely to Pick up the House. 
     Across the country, the GOP is distinctly ahead in the run for control of the House where 39 pickups are needed for the derrick to come and uproot Madam Pelosi from the Speaker’s podium.  
     The generic question which asks Americans “which party’s candidate will you vote for in elections for the U. S. House?” has Republicans winning 45 percent to 41.  For  many years—at least as long as I’ve been seriously watching elections as journalist and campaign strategist—the polls have almost always shown incumbents ahead of challengers…for many simple reasons: incumbents have had years earlier to get publicity, staffs to do favors for constituents etc.  
      Another maxim I learned early: an incumbent who’s running at 50 percent approval or lower is in trouble and an incumbent running behind a challenger is in big trouble. Today lots of Dem incumbents are running behind their challengers: one each from Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio; two from Virginia, three from Pennsylvania.  And none of  the Democrats have personal or ethical scandals.  
        In my own dark blue Illinois, home of The Squid, Republicans are favored in three Dem districts: the 11th south of Chicago, whose blue-collar and socially conservative area represented by pro-abort, pro-gay rights Dem feminist Debbie Halvorson is a natural for young, pro-life Air Force National Guard pilot, 32-year-old Protestant Adam Kinzinger…the 14th, the generally conservative district where downstate begins, at least in the westerly direction from Chicago—the district which boasted Denny Hastert as Speaker until he kissed it off  by resigning to become a rich, full-time lobbyist—with pro-lifer evangelical Protestant State Sen. Randy Hultgren favored over pro-abort multi-millionaire liberal non-religiously affiliated Dem Bill Foster… 
    …And a distinct surprise, the 17th consisting of the west central sector of the state including the Illinois portion of the Quad Cities (Rock Island, Moline and East Moline) now represented by liberal Dem Catholic Phil Hare but likely to fall to conservative Catholic Bobby Schilling who captured attention by vowing not to take a fat congressional pension but keep his own private sector one, to observe term limits and “not to vote for any piece of legislation I haven’t read.”
         Republicans thus far are distinctly ahead in national Senate contests. The party is leading in eight seats now held by Dems and is ahead in defending all GOP seats.  
     In addition, Illinois voters have finally…finally…become sufficiently sickened with Squid corruption and unelected, Blago-appointed Sen. Roland Burris to see Republican Congregationalist Cong. Mark Kirk, albeit a liberal who has been accused of stretching his resume and military record out of proportion, running neck-and-neck with Dem State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (Greek Orthodox and Obama’s pick-up basketball buddy) who as chief loan officer of a family bank staked mobster and one-time bordello owner Michael (Jaws) Giorango  to a $20 million loan.
      Republican capture of the Senate at this point looks unrealistic, experts say it can be done after the second election cycle. 
                                      Dem Governorships are Teetering.  
         Nationally, Republicans are ahead in key governorship races.  This includes Illinois where conservative Catholic, pro-lifer Bill Brady is running seven-points ahead of Quinn for governor.  In addition, the following non-incumbent held governorships are veering to Republican control: Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  
        In addition, the GOP is scoring far ahead of the Dems on key issues. Polls show likely voters trusting Republicans more than Democrats in nine out of ten issues including managing the economy.  Voters who list taxes as the highest issue score the highest ratings in U. S. political history.  Republicans are winning on trust—53 to 36 percent.  Moreover 55 percent of likely voters in 12 swing states, including 57 percent of independents,  tell pollsters they are not likely to vote for Democrats if the Bush tax cuts are ended.   
         Moreover Democrats are falling way behind on state legislative races across the country. Up for grabs this November are 83 percent of all legislative seats.   
        Spectacularly to my mind, given the fact that Obama has governed almost entirely from the Left, only 43 percent of Hispanics polled—a major Dem voting bloc—are satisfied with his performance, listing the sagging economy as reason…with 32 percent undecided and a shocking 21 percent who say he rates unsatisfactory. Gallup shows his support at 85 percent among blacks in contrast to the 94 percent he received on election day, 2008 but I don’t believe that figure given the indentured nature of African Americans to the Democratic party…although some may stay home on election day. 
        These Republican numbers are even more revelatory when you consider that in 2008 Obama won by 53 percent—more than any other Democrat except historic winners Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.  But if today’s numbers hold, the Dems in 2010 and Obama in 2012 are in for a seething voter revolution.  Yet there’s more. 
                                    Demographics Favor the GOP.
          Every poll I’ve seen recently shows that Democrats are hemorrhaging whites, men, women and independents. White support dropped from 51 percent in July, 2009 to 37 percent a year later. The party popularity among independents has shrunk from 52 percent to 38.  Numbers of male supporters have evaporated, from 54 percent to 39.  Women: down 14 percent from last year to 45 percent.  Young people who turned 18 in 2008 and voted for the first time supported Obama 2 to 1 with his popularity standing at 73 percent shortly before Inauguration Day.  Now it stands at 57 percent and when paired against any unnamed RepublicanObama trails with voters 18 to 34.  
        With these kinds of numbers, you’d say the Republicans are sure winners in 2012, wouldn’t you?  Nope. Don’t forget: Republicans are  famous for goofing up, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  All you have to do is say over and over to yourself: President Thomas E. Dewey.  
         Much will depend on the identity of the person who runs for president against Obama in 2012.  Thus endeth the analysis, most of the numbers from McKinnon.   
                          Handicapping the GOP Presidential Race. 
         Here they are in terms of today’s popularity, with my comments added thereto. 
         Understand that as of today at least one poll has found that Obama would lose to any Republican.  Quinnipiac University’s highly rated survey shows that Americans would rather vote for an unnamed Republican than Obama in 2012 by a 39 percent to 36 margin.  But let’s assume this will change.  Here are my highly subjective impressions of the logical Republican presidential candidates. They’re all pro-life and anti-gay rights. 
        Newt Gingrich.  A brilliant guy, resourceful speaker and debater, recent Catholic convert.  But Henry Hyde who knew him very well told me that he’s 50 percent genius and 50 percent nuts.  I have to agree. Who else would on becoming the first Republican Speaker in more than 40 years, launch a for profit program to sell his books, a for profit sale of DVDs of him teaching politics…get rebuked by the House Ethics committee for it and engage in an extra-marital affair with the woman who became his third wife, whom he met while cheating on his second?    
       Mitt Romney.  Another well-spoken guy, a masterful organizer who took the Salt Lake Olympics which was floundering in debt and put it in the black. A masterful speaker and spectacular analyst of world economic and military affairs: lawyer and businessman extraordinaire. But as governor of Massachusetts he devised Romney-Care which hangs around his neck like an albatross.  Unless he can explain away the charges that he earlier devised what is unpopular in Massachusetts and is known as Obama-Care lite, he’ll be a loser.  Well-financed but a loser. 
        Sarah Palin.  She has made wondrous strides since her vice presidential foray in 2008.  She has a fan club that embraces not just the Tea Party people but millions in the Republican party.  She’s improved her understanding of the issues but at least in my estimation she’s too slangy like Ethel Merman playing Calamity Jane in “Annie Get Your Gun.”   Much of her slang (“you betcha!”) is not presidential, as per her rough-edged vulgar comment (however true) that Arizona Governor Brewer has more masculine qualities in dealing with illegal immigration than Obama. If she can start sounding like a president, she’d vastly improve.   But I still expect she’ll be No. 1 or 2 on the GOP ticket.  A good omen: Daughter Bristol’s decision to break her engagement to Levi Johnson has spared us a recurring soap opera sure to happen if she married the guy.    
          Mitch Daniels.  I favored the brilliant governor of Indiana who has matchless experience—a success in the private sector, strong force as head of the federal budget office under Bush II and courageous in the Indianapolis state house in bringing a state with budget in the red to where it’s finances are solidly in the black.  But recently he declared that there should be a “moratorium” on social issues like pro-life, gay-rights. He’s a social conservative all right but that statement left me cold.  Besides, how can any president rule off social issues which are so key in this secular cultural climate? I don’t think he’ll ever recover from that gaffe.  
         Haley Barbour.  The governor of Mississippi has been a greatly underestimated force. He was a Washington lobbyist who learned early how to ameliorate hard feelings and get things done.  He took that skill to the Republican National committee and was by all odds its most effective chairman since Mark Hanna, contributing powerfully to the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994.  As governor he has been among the nation’s best, mobilizing the state early so that when Katrina hit the resources were already there.  Again with the Gulf oil spill, he was calm, magnetic—better so than Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, too gaunt, looking like an advance man for a famine. . Barbour’s a dark horse candidate but a very skilled one.  Probably his only electoral disadvantage is a broad Mississippi accent.   
        Mike Huckabee. Polls notwithstanding, anyone who runs against Obama had better be an orator and on top of his game.  Remember when the only thing John McCain could say about rescuing the economy was to end appropriation earmarks? Huckabee’s communications skills are at least equal to Reagan’s.  Since his run in 2008, he’s hosted a Fox News TV program which further honed his already sharpened talents. He’s been a successful governor and is a Baptist preacher so his pro-life, anti-gay rights credentials are in fine order.  He’s a little cornpone and however it happened he freed too many penitentiary inmates early with some disastrous consequences.  But when I hear him make a speech I am struck with how eloquent he is.  At this point I like him best.  Barbour a close second.  
        Tim Pawlenty. A good governor of Minnesota, showed guts in dealing with a liberal legislature  but he’s got stiff opposition from those above. 
        John Thune.  As a junior senator from South Dakota he’s just running for exercise—and the future. 
        Ron Paul. By 2012 he will be seventy-seven, one year younger than Ronald Reagan was when he retired after his second term.  Mass discontent with big government, bailouts and over-involvement in foreign-military affairs have ratified Paul’s early predictions. Who could carry his libertarian banner?  No one appears in sight for 2012 but in the future his son, Rand, if elected Senator from Kentucky, might. 
   *: St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) [1891-1942].  She was a German-Jewish philosopher-nun who became a martyr and saint in the Catholic Church. She was born into an observant Jewish family in Breslau but despite a deep reverence for her mother’s religious strength became an atheist in her teens.  After receiving a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Gottingen it was her reading of the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila that prompted her conversion to Catholicism.  After a few years teaching she run headlong into the anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime.  She entered the Discalced Carmelite convent at Cologue and took the name Sister Teresia Benedicta of the Cross in 1933.  There she wrote a metaphysical tract which tried to link the philosophies of phenomenology with that of Aquinas. 
        To avoid the Nazi threat to Jews, she moved to a convent in the Netherlands but was rounded up with Jews and Jewish converts. The Dutch bishops condemned Nazism’s anti-Semitism and as a result  Sister Teresia and her sister Rosa, also a convert, were captured and shipped to the Auschwitz concentration camp where they were gassed to death  in August, 1949 when she was 50.  She was beatified as a martyr on May 1, 1987 in Cologne by Pope John Paul II and canonized by him in October, 1998.  Strangely and exceedingly short-sightedly, the Anti-Defamation League challenged her beatification as a martyr stating that she was killed because of her Jewish nationality rather than for her faith and…get this…the misappropriation and Christianization of an event that targeted Jews diminishes the memory of the Holocaust. 
         Which ratifies at least to one extent of the statement God Himself made to Moses “oh what a stiff-necked people!”  The Catholic position is that Edith Stein also died because of the Dutch hierarchy’s condemnation of Nazi racism, meaning she died to uphold the moral position of the Catholic Church regarding anti-Semitism and thus was—and is—a true martyr. Someone should tell the Anti-Defamation League that by this idiotic and exceedingly indefensible penny-anti action they are not serving well the sacrifice of Jews and their supporters in the Holocaust.                 

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