Panic to Win
May 19, 2010
Pittsburgh—Almost all the shibboleths of Washington conventional wisdom took a hit in Tuesday's voting. Yet advocates of a single national political narrative clung to the difficulties of two incumbent Democratic senators to keep spinning the same old tale. It's true that the idea of incumbents and party establishments being in trouble won some support from the defeat of Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary and Sen. Blanche Lincoln's failure to avoid a runoff in Arkansas. But the races tell different stories. Specter, a Republican-turned-Democrat who was defeated by Rep.
The Center Wins. Again.
May 19, 2010
True partisans don’t like to hear this—Texas Democrat Jim Hightower used to say, “There is nothing in the middle of the road, but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”—but American elections are most often battles for the political center. Whoever can marginalize their opponent by identifying them with the far left or right is likely to win. By that measure, the Democrats can be pleased with the results of the May 18 elections.
May 16, 2010
Twelve hours a day for several weeks now, supporters of Tim Burns, the GOP's candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's Twelfth district, have staffed a call center in a mostly-vacant office building in downtown Washington, PA. Bundles of phone cables hang from the ceiling, and the walls are decorated with navy “Tim Burns for Congress” signs and an American flag.
A Few Good Dems
February 15, 2010
The Democrats’ recent electoral woes have been well-chronicled. Within the last six months, the party has been plagued by high-profile losses (Martha Coakley, Jon Corzine), high-profile retirements (Byron Dorgan, Marion Berry), and, yes, even high-profile deaths (Ted Kennedy, John Murtha). Stack those on top of a faltering economy, a stalled-out Congress, and a pissed-off populace (to name just three bits of bad news), and the first Tuesday in November is looking nasty.
February 08, 2010
By last summer, it was obvious that John Murtha did not have much time left in Congress. This was partly due to the efforts of Washington ethics cops and Western Pennsylvania Republicans, both of whom had spent the past few years working feverishly, through either judicial or electoral means, to remove him from office. But more than that, there was the simple matter of Murtha’s health.
Obama’s Other Front: The Hill
December 02, 2009
No matter what you think of it, the kind of troop increase that President Obama announced tonight is going to be expensive. With an estimated $1 billion dollar price tag for each additional thousand troops deployed, the new strategy will drive costs well above the $130 billion originally budgeted by the administration for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2010, likely requiring a supplemental spending bill to pass sometime early next year.
The War Tax Precedent
November 24, 2009
Last week, Congressman David Obey and other top Dems introduced legislation that would impose a surtax to help pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The stated aim of the “Share the Sacrifice Act,” according to a press release, is to "end the practice of paying for the war in Afghanistan with borrowed money": The only people who’ve paid any price for our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are our military families. We believe that if this war is to be fought, it’s only fair that everyone share the burden.
Murtha: Obama Can't Count on Dems for Afghanistan Escalation
November 15, 2009
A striking passage buried in today's NYT lead story on the massive cost of the war: Representative John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania and chairman of a subcommittee on defense appropriations, said in an interview that because of concerns about President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, he thought a majority of the 258 Democrats in the House would vote against any bill to pay for more troops. “A month ago, I would have said 60 to 70,” he said. “Can you pass one?” Mr. Murtha said.
September 12, 2009
How quickly they forget. The 2006 midterm election that gave Democrats both chambers of Congress wasn't entirely a vote of confidence in the party's leadership or policy acumen. It was a vote against the Republican Party. In the run-up to the election, Democrats hammered on the failures of the Iraq war and the incompetency of the Bush administration, but one narrative stuck best: corruption. At the time, Republicans were reeling from a raft of scandals--there was Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, and naughty instant-messager Mark Foley.
Murtha's Good (or Bad) Company
September 09, 2009
The Center for Public Integrity has just put out a useful report showing that John Murtha's pattern of earmarking Pentagon dollars to defense contractors who give lots of money--or are represented by lobbyists who give lots of money--to his campaigns is pretty much par for the course on the defense appropriations subcommittee: Now, a computer analysis by the Center for Public Integrity has revealed that fully three-quarters of the subcommittee members have been involved in similar patterns of behavior — in circles of relationships fraught with potential conflicts of interest, involving former