June 07, 2012
Pro-Merkel Argument Fail
In today's Financial Times, Quentin Peel surveys the many difficulties facing Angela Merkel as she tries to steer Europe out of the latest chapter of its extended crisis, before praising her political savvy: Yet the underlying political reality, both in Germany and the rest of Europe, is that the chancellor is more in tune with public opinion than are many of her critics. The latest opinion poll published by the Pew Global Attitudes survey last month showed that she is the most respected European leader in every country except Greece. The same is true at home.
Mitt Romney weighed in yesterday with another riff on my book that bears a bit of scrutiny. Here’s what he said: A book that was written in a way that’s apparently pro-President Obama, was written by a guy named Noam Scheiber and in this book he says that there was a discussion about the fact that Obamacare would slow down the economic recovery in this country and they knew that before they passed it. But they concluded that we would all forget how long the recovery took once it had happened, so they decided to go ahead.
June 06, 2012
Many commentators have correctly observed that the reelection of Governor Scott Walker is a grave blow to unions, especially public sector unions. They went all in to defeat Walker and, despite the great outpouring of protest last year against his collective bargaining bill, he won by a greater margin this time than he did in 2010. But something else was exemplified by the Wisconsin results. It’s not that unions can’t win a defensive fight.
Dear James Taranto
James Taranto, in his Wall Street Journal "Best of the Web" feature, is taunting me for not replying to his tweet quoting with approval an African American minister (one who supports Sen. Scott Brown's re-election) making what Taranto obviously believes to be a devastating critique of Brown's opponent, Elizabeth Warren. To wit: “Affirmative action—that issue becomes important because it points to who you are,” added the Rev. Jeffrey Brown, executive director of the TenPoint Coalition, who pointed to an assertion that she is 1/32 Cherokee.
It’s always a mistake to over-interpret a single state or local election, because special circumstances unrepresentative of broader trends may have had a large effect on the outcome. Would Barrett have done better if he had been able to deploy against Walker the months and millions he was forced to divert to win his party primary before the recall? What if he had enjoyed the full-throated support of his party from President Obama on down?
I generally have a pretty steely stomach for political machinations (seven years in Washington will do that to a person—I hear tolerance only increases), but there was something a little nauseating about watching the pre-determined defeat of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the Senate yesterday. (“Paycheck Fairness fails in the Senate, as expected,” reported The Washington Post. “Senate Democrats knew they had little chance of passing the Pay Fairness Act on Tuesday,” said NPR.) This legislation addresses the wage gap between men and women.
If you’re waiting for the Romney campaign’s “etch a sketch” moment on immigration, it seems to have quietly arrived. Last week I had a revealing email exchange with a Romney advisor. I had written an item about Mitt Romney’s trouble with the Latino vote and referred to an anti-immigration advertisement from the Romney camp. A few days later, I got an email from an advisor to the Romney campaign, letting me know that I’d mistakenly referred to a Romney ad that ran during the 2007-2008 cycle.
June 05, 2012
Wisconsin by the Numbers Scott Walker cruised to a 53-46 win in the Wisconsin Gubernatorial Recall, stunning Democrats expecting a tight race after early exit polls. Walker's victory was built on a GOP-friendly electorate, even whiter, older, richer, and less Democratic than the 2010 midterms, let alone 2008. Seniors represented 18% of the electorate, up from 16% in 2010 and 14% in 2008. The non-white share of the electorate fell from 11% in 2008 to 10% in 2010, to 9% in 2012. 20% of voters made more than $100,000/year, up from 16% in 2010 and 19% in 2008.
Over the Cliff
The most important congressional debate this year, and maybe for many years after that, will probably take place right after the election. At that point, the lame-duck Congress will take up two huge issues: Automatic spending cuts, set to take place as part of last summer’s debt ceiling deal, and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Pretty much everybody agrees that allowing those two things to happen would undermine the recovery and possibly cause a new recession by sucking so much money out of the economy.
Molly Redden suggests that today’s vote in Wisconsin bears no clear relation to November’s presidential election. I beg to differ. The Wisconsin recall election is to the 2012 general election as the Spanish Civil War was to World War Two—not necessarily a harbinger of the final outcome but rather a preview of strategies and tactics. As such, we’ll get early evidence bearing on some questions that will be important in the fall. Can a labor-intensive ground game match a cash-intensive air war?