Obama and Trust

When Obama is hit with columns like this from the left, isn’t a likely result to actually improve trust in him from the center and improve his credentials with independents? After all, Obama never ran as the candidate of the far left.

Birthers Love Sarah

Public Policy Polling has broken down where the birthers fall in support for candidates. Not surprisingly they only give Obama a 16 percent approval rating. Actually I would have guessed lower. Also not surprisingly, this group which is out of touch with reality prefers Sarah Palin over the other Republican candidates. Her approval is up at 66 percent, followed by Huckabee at 58 percent,  Newt Gingrich at 46 percent, and Mitt Romney at 43 percent.

Here’s an even more interesting way to look at the numbers. Sixty three percent of those with a favorable view of Sarah Palin are birthers. Similarly 53 percent of those who approve of Gingrich, 50 percent of those who see Huckabee favorably and 44 percent of those who approve of Romney are birthers. When these Republican candidates make off the wall statements, keep in mind that they are primarily speaking to their base of support.

Book By Ridge Discusses Pressure To Increase Terror Alert Level For Politcal Gain

During the 2004 election there was suspicion that that the Bush administration was issuing terror alerts for political gain, generally timed to occur whenever Kerry was picking up any momentum.  Tom Ridge had even hinted at this in the past. I suspect that this news report is actually  quite tame as to what actually occurred throughout the campaign. The The New York Times is reporting on a book by Tom Ridge which mentions a case where the Bush administration exerted pressure to raise the threat level:

Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, asserts in a new book that he was pressured by top advisers to President George W. Bush to raise the national threat level just before the 2004 election in what he suspected was an effort to influence the vote.

After Osama bin Laden released a threatening videotape four days before the election, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pushed Mr. Ridge to elevate the public threat posture but he refused, according to the book. Mr. Ridge calls it a “dramatic and inconceivable” event that “proved most troublesome” and reinforced his decision to resign.

The provocative allegation provides fresh ammunition for critics who have accused the Bush administration of politicizing national security. Mr. Bush and his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, were locked in a tight race heading into that final weekend, and some analysts concluded that even without a higher threat level, the bin Laden tape helped the president win re-election by reminding voters of the danger of Al Qaeda.

While this does show the political influences, it would be more interesting if Ridge discussed actual times in which the terror alerts were raised for politcal reasons as opposed  to portraying  himself as the good guy by discussing the time he didn’t go along.

Joe Klein on the State of the Republican Party

Joe Klein calls the Republicans a Party of Nihilists, making the same points I have made in multiple previous posts. This includes their dishonesty in claiming that provisions for end of life counseling which do not differ from bills they have endorsed would create “death panels,” and the claims that health care reform represents government take over of health care when it has been the Republicans, not Democrats, who have been using government to intervene in the doctor-patient relationship. Klein wrote:

To be sure, there are honorable conservatives, trying to do the right thing. There is a legitimate, if wildly improbable, fear that Obama’s plan will start a process that will end with a health-care system entirely controlled by the government. There are conservatives — Senator Lamar Alexander, Representative Mike Pence, among many others — who make their arguments based on facts. But they have been overwhelmed by nihilists and hypocrites more interested in destroying the opposition and gaining power than in the public weal. The philosophically supple party that existed as recently as George H.W. Bush’s presidency has been obliterated. The party’s putative intellectuals — people like the Weekly Standard‘s William Kristol — are prosaic tacticians who make precious few substantive arguments but oppose health-care reform mostly because passage would help Barack Obama’s political prospects. In 1993, when the Clintons tried health-care reform, the Republican John Chafee offered a creative (in fact, superior) alternative — which Kristol quashed with his famous “Don’t Help Clinton” fax to the troops. There is no Republican health-care alternative in 2009. The same people who rail against a government takeover of health care tried to enforce a government takeover of Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life decisions. And when Palin floated the “death panel” canard, the number of prominent Republicans who rose up to call her out could be counted on one hand.

A striking example of the prevailing cravenness was Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who has authored end-of-life counseling provisions and told the Washington Post that comparing such counseling to euthanasia was nuts — but then quickly retreated when he realized that he had sided with the reality-based community against his Rush Limbaugh-led party. Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner for President according to most polls, actually created a universal-health-care plan in Massachusetts that looks very much like the proposed Obamacare, but he spends much of his time trying to fudge the similarities and was AWOL on the “death panels.” Why are these men so reluctant to be rational in public?

An argument can be made that this is nothing new. Dwight Eisenhower tiptoed around Joe McCarthy. Obama reminded an audience in Colorado that opponents of Social Security in the 1930s “said that everybody was going to have to wear dog tags and that this was a plot for the government to keep track of everybody … These struggles have always boiled down to a contest between hope and fear.” True enough. There was McCarthyism in the 1950s, the John Birch Society in the 1960s. But there was a difference in those times: the crazies were a faction — often a powerful faction — of the Republican Party, but they didn’t run it. The neofascist Father Coughlin had a huge radio audience in the 1930s, but he didn’t have the power to control and silence the elected leaders of the party that Limbaugh — who, if not the party’s leader, is certainly the most powerful Republican extant — does now. Until recently, the Republican Party contained a strong moderate wing. It was a Republican, the lawyer Joseph Welch, who delivered the coup de grâce to Senator McCarthy when he said, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” Where is the Republican who would dare say that to Rush Limbaugh, who has compared the President of the United States to Adolf Hitler?