Dems have a damaging, protracted fight on their hands

Cross-posted from Redstate.

I have a couple of thoughts about the impact of yesterday’s blowout by Barack Obama over, primarily, Hillary Clinton. The Nutroots, who hate Clinton anyways, are already touting Obama’s win as a "new generation tak[ing] charge". And there’s some logic to that. As if to emphasize that point, Hillary was standing there with Madeline Albright, Bill Clinton, Terry McAuliffe, and Wesley Clark, all Dem leaders from the 90s, almost a decade ago. The Dems picked generational change, and Hillary is touting "back to the future." The establishment wants their power, and they are going to fight for it. Both the length and the brutality of the fight help the GOP in November.

This morning I talked to Danny Diaz, the RNC’s Communications Director and he correctly pointed out that there aren’t that many differences between the Democrat candidates on the major issues. They are "all for higher taxes, a huge government healthcare plan, surrendering in the War on Terror, and defunding our troops."

The upshot is that the Dems are going to have a long primary with two very well funded candidates. The Clintonistas will only give up their power when it is taken from their cold, dead hands. I mean, can you imagine her losing one more race and dropping out? They will tear up Obama, and he will respond tearing her up. And everything that they do will reinforce why Democrats and independents don’t like her. At the same time, both are going to have to run to the left. As Danny pointed out, "the longer it goes on and more liberal positions that they are forced to embrace, the better for us in the general."

Regardless of the question of who we face, our chances in the general just got a lot better. In all cases, the Democratic base will be more split up, and the candidates will be damaged by the nastiness.

Rasmussen: Romney as unelectable as Clinton?

Core Favorability/Opposition Among All Voters

Candidate

Def. FOR

Def. AGAINST

Net

Obama

29%

36%

-7

McCain

22%

33%

-11

Huckabee

21%

34%

-13

Thompson

21%

34%

-13

Edwards

23%

38%

-15

Clinton

30%

47%

-17

Giuliani

23%

42%

-19

Romney

19%

47%

-28

Paul

10%

48%

-38

Bloomberg

5%

49%

-44

Rasmussen has released another set of polling that allows us to compare all the candidates. The summary table to the right captures the main facts. You will recall that there is a horrible environment for Republicans in 2008. On the generic ballot, Democrats crush Republicans. However, Clinton has such an awful public image that the generic GOP problems are counter-balanced. Well, the conclusion from Rasmussen is that Mitt Romney has a comparable problem:

Among the leading Presidential candidates, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have the highest level of core opposition among voters. Forty-seven percent (47%) say they will vote against each of these candidates no matter who else is on the ballot.

Republicans often argue that Hillary is beatable because of this opposition. What about Romney who has no environmental advantages? Back to Rasmussen, which notes that John McCain is doing the best:

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Arizona Senator John McCain. For the second straight month, McCain finds himself with the smallest level of core opposition–just 33% say they will definitely vote against him. That figure is unchanged from a month ago, down from 39% a two months ago and a peak of 42% in June. These results are just one part of the reason that it is a good time to be John McCain.

Assume for a second that swing-voters will be the key in a general election, consider the additional facts among unaffiliated voters:

McCain has the lowest level of core opposition among unaffiliated voters–just 26% are committed to voting against McCain.

On a net basis, McCain (-6) and Obama (-11) have the best numbers among unaffiliated voters. Clinton (-26) and Romney (-20) have the weakest showing among this group.

In other words, the Clinton/Romney unelectability numbers extend into unaffiliated voters. While McCain gives Republicans the best chance of picking up substantial independent voters. That means keeping the White House. 

How to “Beat the Bitch”

In New Hampshire, a die-hard Republican activist blue haired lady asked the question that is on all of our minds:

How do we beat the bitch?

Where "bitch" clearly means "Hillary Rodham Clinton." John McCain gives the answer. With respect and dignity. Unlike Mitt Romney’s attacking her over sex.

Republicans still hate her, as the questioner clearly demonstrates. But independents do not. And John McCain is up in the polls and is respectful, but still connects with the Republican base voters on this issue.

That’s how you "beat the bitch." With respect for "Senator Clinton and anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat Party."

Romney plays for the gutter; attacks Hillary over sex

I’ve been out of the country for about a week. So I come back, and start digging through the news. And I come to this ad by Mitt Romney.

Romney is classing this election up by attacking Hillary Clinton over sex with his "internship" line. I want to be clear about something.

We will lose with this kind of behavior. We will get crushed with this kind of behavior. Attacking Bill on sex in the 90s didn’t work. He left office with twice President Bush’s approval rating.

Furthermore, as I have pointed out repeatedly, Hillary is a crook. She makes Bob Ney look like a choir boy. It is clear that she has been involved in profound campaign finance fraud related to Norman Hsu, etc. There was also the party that she accepted a $1m in-kind for several years ago. There is all the 90s era stuff with Bill.

But attacking her for sex is going to put us in the same place. Mitt Romney should be ashamed of himself, not that he’s capable of that. And not that he’s at any risk of winning the presidency anyways.

Matt Margolis is doing the right thing. Mitt Romney is not.

It’s the economy stupid. Redux

James Pethokoukis, who used to work at IBD and whose writing seems to lean pretty much to the economic right, has a consistent critique of the GOP primary so far. His most recent post is entitled, "GOP Debate Strangely Ignores Financial Turmoil." To be clear, he’s talking about things like the near-doubling of the unemployment rate of the South Florida economy in the last 9 months. Read him. He knows what he is talking about. He has also argued repeatedly that 2008 could be a 1992 redux. Don’t believe him?

Check out some headlines from today and yesterday:

  • FT’s "US loan defaults widen." Meaning that people are defaulting on credit cards and car loans.
  • Dow Jones’ "Americans cashing in their 401(k)s." Meaning that people are struggling for money in the present, so they are giving up parts of their future. Often taking significant penalties.
  • Bloomberg’s "Countrywide to refinance up to $16b in loans." Meaning that Countrywide is being more lenient on defaults,  making it more likely that they are going to get their money back. As the article notes, "Lending has never been an altruistic business, but having lots of failed transactions on your books is never good".

Guys: The economy is going to be a serious issue. Hillary Clinton is, essentially, taking Iraq off the table as a general election issue. She is going to run on health care and the economy. And the field is being set. And the economy is tanking in important swing states.

And we are silent.

Clinton: Listen to political enemies, not terrorists

(Cross-posted from Redstate)

With Hillary Clinton the seemingly inevitable Democrat presidential nominee, conservatives are going to have to start reminding people just how bad "that woman" is.

The good news? There is quite a bit of material to work with. Like this article in The Hill by Alex Bolton. He is writing about a new book by Don Van Natta, Jr., and Jeff Gerth, a current and a former New York Times reporter, respectively. Excerpts:

“Hillary’s defense activities ranged from the inspirational to the microscopic to the down and dirty. She received memos about the status of various press inquiries; she vetted senior campaign aides; and she listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack.

“The tape contained discussions of another woman who might surface with allegations about an affair with Bill. Bill’s supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions."

So she listens in on the conversations of her political enemies? But the CIA better not listen in to the conversation of America’s enemies. Oh no, that’s a violation of their rights!

In August, Clinton voted against an emergency law that temporarily expanded the government’s power to conduct surveillance on American soil without a warrant. The bill was criticized for being overly broad and sidelining the role of a special court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

You can see how she could be a change candidate. In her strange world, there probably isn’t enough hypocrisy and venality in Washington. And she actually could change that.

Clinton’s dishonest foreign policy

The Democrats talk about restoring America’s role in the world. Hillary Clinton, in particular, talks about her ability to do so. Of course, for all of her husband’s post-White House international fame, it is worth remembering how low his international reputation was. This was a guy who used his veto of a UN Secretary-General as a domestic political issue in 1996. This is a guy who signed international agreements with no chance of passing, just to preen for the media. The world understood at the time.

Now Hillary Clinton is trying to remind the world why they hated the Clintons. She wants to submit international treaties to 5-year reviews. If she doesn’t like them she wants to walk away from them.

Hillary Clinton, frontrunner for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, on Monday said that all US trade agreements should be evaluated every five years and, if necessary, amended.

The process should start with the North America Free Trade Agreement, which was the signature trade pact of her husband, Bill Clinton, when he was president.

Don’t these people realize that international trade is now the fundamental building block of our foreign policy? Don’t they understand that our trade relationship is why our relationship with Europe will be good over the long term?

The Europeans have a new term for this kind of politics. Schroederism. After Gerhard Schroeder’s embrace of totalitarian Vladimir Putin and attack of the United States for domestic political reasons. (of course, maybe he just wants a paycheck)

I certainly have a lot of disagreements with the Bush administration on foreign policy, especially on tone. But Clinton’s dishonesty and irresponsibility remind me of why I am a Republican.

See also Dan Drezner, who also gets it.

Hillary’s pork: Crowdsourcing project for the GOP

Yesterday, Kevin Hassett, an economist at AEI and a member of John McCain’s economics team, pointed out something that we forget. Hillary Clinton is a big ole porker:

Democrats have been so busy preparing the coronation of Hillary Clinton that they have failed to train a critical eye on her record.

When it comes to earmarks, an issue that voters responded to more than any other in the last election except for Iraq, her record is about as bad as it gets. If Dennis Hastert was the king of earmarks, Hillary Clinton was his queen. Republicans had their “bridge to nowhere.” Hillary has her knitting mill. …

The Clinton campaign refused to respond at all to requests that she identify her earmarks.

Here’s a project for diligent GOP and conservative activists:

  1. Identify the pork projects. How much taxpayer money does she spend on ridiculous things?
  2. Identify how the projects are being used politically. Which of her donors or allies are making money off of the projects?

We have the time to do the research. And the press believes that the Clintons are crooks. This will just be another fact after Norman Hsu, etc. If we get the facts, I think that these facts will get told on more than Fox.

Clarity on Clinton

Andrew Sullivan makes a powerful argument against Hillary Clinton:

A thief and liar is hired by Clinton. But his thievery is less important to Clinton than his loyalty. After all, his theft was an attempt to keep president Clinton’s failures with respect to al Qaeda under wraps. And so he gets a pardon. Remember: the Clintons are on their best behavior right now. And they still rehire their corrupted loyalists. Like the other royal family, the Clinton court exists to reward loyalty, protect the brand, circle the wagons and to punish dissenters. With post-Cheney executive powers, the potential for the Clinton machine to abuse their power more profoundly than in the 1990s is high.

The Clintons are crooks. No question about it. And the inability of our party to stand anywhere credibly of corruption is going to make it hard to attack her.

Romney’s Clinton problem

Drudge is pushing a story about Hillary Clinton’s health care plan. While Drudge focused on the dollar amount, I saw this:

The centerpiece of Clinton’s plan is the so-called "individual mandate," requiring everyone to have health insurance — just as most states require drivers to purchase auto insurance. Rival John Edwards has also offered a plan that includes an individual mandate, while the proposal outlined by Barack Obama does not.

Especially if Mitt Romney is the nominee, how do conservatives argue against this? Now Matt Drudge, who seems to be a Romney fan, highlights a different issue, the $110b per year price tag. So, one strategy is going to be price tag. After all, that really is a lot of money.

But once we have abandoned the principle of freedom that is inherent in the mandate issue, aren’t we just, to quote Churchill, "haggling over price?" Don’t Republicans lose when we "haggle over price," rather than principle?

And if Romney points out that he no longer supports these, doesn’t this raise the flip-flopping issue?

UPDATE: In the WSJ’s coverage, they point to a Democracy Corps (D, Carville in fact) poll on this:

A Democracy Corp. poll in May found that 66% of likely voters would be much more or somewhat more likely to support a candidate for Congress who proposed a mandate combined with subsidies. Just 15% said they would be less likely to support such a candidate.

It is going to be very hard to stand against this.