I filled out and mailed in my absentee ballot a long time ago, but since we’re coming up on the big enchillada, I figured a post about it might be in order. Most of the choices were obvious (Obama for President, Feinstein for Senator), but here are a few notables:
- House: The recent round of redistricting took me out of the swingy reaches of Jerry McNerney’s district and into a deep-blue district that’s seen some of the toughest intraparty fighting in the state between Congressman Pete Stark, a good progressive and the only “out” atheist in Congress, and upstart Eric Swalwell. I went with Swalwell, though after a good amount of thought. I have no issue with Stark, I like that his atheism bugs the intolerant right-wingers who know and care, and obviously giving up seniority like he has shouldn’t be taken lightly (he would be next in line to become Ways and Means Chairman if Dems retake the House, which is arguably the most powerful committee chairmanship there is). But Democrats aren’t going to retake the House, most likely, and Stark is 80 right now. Seniority doesn’t mean much when you’re not in the majority, and if I thought Democrats were going to retake it before 2016 I probably would have tipped just on Stark’s side instead of going slightly the other way. But now is the right time to get someone in to start building up seniority–frankly, it’s either going to be now, or a few years from now, so it’ll be better for the district for it to be now. Ultimately, I figure Stark will get another term anyway, but I thought this was the smarter move.
- Ballot Measures: You know I voted for Prop 30, a tax measure which is essentially a referendum on whether we get to still have a school system. Voted against Prop 32, a rather audacious attempt to screw unions over again. And I voted for Prop 34 to end the death penalty. All three are knife’s edge at this point, but I have hope.
Any of you out there have tough choices to report, or close races to watch?
Apparently he was too focused on zinging Liz Warren that he forgot to pay close enough attention to the content:
In what may have been the key exchange in last night’s debate in the Massachusetts Senate race, Sen. Scott Brown (R) was asked to name his model Supreme Court justice.
“Let me see here, that’s a great question. I think Justice Scalia is a very good judge. Justice Kennedy is obviously very good. And Justice Roberts, Justice Sotomayor, I think they are qualified people who actually do a very good job.”
Putting aside the question of whether or not Brown meant to name Scalia and then backpedaled after realizing what he’d said–it does seem unlikely that when asked who your favorite justice is, you’d wind up naming half the Court–the most damaging part of this is putting Scalia in the list at all. This is a significant misstep, and even if he wanted to dogwhistle in some way, Scalia is probably the worst person to do it with because of his abrasiveness and frequent condescension to anyone who disagrees with him. The smartest move for Brown would have been to say only Chief Justice Roberts, specifically citing the mandate ruling perhaps as evidence of someone who is willing to cross ideological lines. That would have been perfect, thematically. Not sure I’d agree with that assessment of the ACA ruling, but it’s valid. Even choosing Thomas wouldn’t have been as bad–lauding the usually silent justice for his brilliance even when he disagrees might not have gone over well, but it wouldn’t have been as damaging because Thomas hardly ever says anything. Pair that with, I don’t know, some praise for Breyer, and it’s entirely respectable. Lauding Scalia is the worst possible move he could have made, since Scalia is such a controversial figure, to say the least. Trying to say you’re bipartisan and then citing someone known for relishing in antagonism toward progressives is a self-defeating tactic, to say the least, and reinforces my view of Brown, which is that he basically lucked into the seat in 2010, and that aside from working various resentments he has no real political skill.
No doubt about it that the Warren campaign will use these comments thoroughly in the next few weeks, and there are several ways they can be used. There’s a war on women angle there, since as you might have heard, Scalia is not a fan of reproductive choice. There’s a judiciary issue, since presumably Brown would vote for judges like Scalia that Massachusetts residents won’t like. He would be hard-pressed to say he wouldn’t vote for a Scalia-like nominee selected by Mitt Romney, for example. Of course, he might insist he’ll not do so, but this (along with the obviously untrue notion that he might not vote for Mitch McConnell as leader) puts him on the defensive for the time being. The “they’re all qualified people” remark just smacks of insincerity, and the quote itself tries desperately to be vague. Increasingly, Brown’s campaign is sort of like a better-conducted Romney-Ryan microcosm with a more likable candidate, but with many of the same flaws. The obsession with prepackaged zingers, for one. And you have a candidate who insists on continuing various strategies (Warren’s Cherokee heritage) that by almost any accounting haven’t worked, whose desperation is showing down the stretch as entitled assumptions meet hard realities, and whose campaign is increasingly resting on his own strained sincerity. Warren leads by about five points in most polls of the race–with this flub, that margin might well increase a few points after Warren gets the word out to women voters.
Update: Already getting fundraising emails about this. They’re on the ball, to say the least.
Apparently, the good people of Virginia just realized that it made no sense to vote for a black liberal Democrat at the same time as a racist white conservative, since two polls have Tim Kaine shooting into the lead there. I haven’t heard any reason for why this might happen, other than Virginians finally tuning in and remembering who George Allen was. (“Him?”)
At this point, the consensus seems to be that the Democrats will lose a seat or two. If that comes with trading useless asshats like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman for Liz Warren and Tammy Baldwin (who are both surging), I’ll take that deal. And even though she’s bad on drilling and oil stuff, Heidi Heitkamp seems on the whole preferable to deficit-obsessive/pusillanimous wimp Kent Conrad. So, a slightly smaller but much better Senate Majority looks very much in the cards. And if Harry Reid follows through on filibuster reform, this matters a lot indeed.
Nate Silver has his list of Senate projections up. Definitely worth your time if you’re a political obsessive like the rest of us. I have a few thoughts.
I must admit that I don’t really get what’s going on in Virginia. Kaine is running a few points below Obama in most polls, and given that he was a popular and reasonably successful governor, I’m unsure why he’s unable to break away from George Allen. Sometimes you hear that he’s penalized for his associations with Obama, but the state likes Obama, and I find it hard to imagine there are very many Obama-Allen ticket-splitters out there. If anything, Dems are underrated there.
Also, this is worth saying to people panicking over Ed Linda McMahon in Connecticut:
Undecided Senate voters tend to reflect the partisan makeup of their states. A few cycles ago Tom Coburn and his Democratic challenger Brad Carson were tied in pre-election Oklahoma polling, something like 42-42. Coburn ended up winning 53-42. I don’t have a name for that phenomenon, but the same thing happened last cycle, when Rand Paul was roughly tied with Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky late in the 2010 cycle, only to gobble up all the undecideds and win 56-44. [...]
If my theory holds, the Democratic advantage in Connecticut and Massachusetts should be enough to push our candidates over the 50 percent mark. Likewise, Republicans should be able to pull through in Indiana and probably North Dakota, though the latter is small enough that Democrat Heidi Heitkamp can potential break through with strong retail politicking.
I suspect that Chris Murphy’s numbers are weak because of a very long and divisive primary, which as it happens was against a female candidate, just like the general election. I suspect McMahon’s political career has peaked, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next round of polling had him up by seven or so.
Anyway, lots of things breaking to the benefit of Team Blue at this moment in time.
You had to know this was coming:
Haaretz reported an Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu asked for a meeting with Obama after attending the opening of the UN general assembly in New York in late September. The Israeli prime minister offered to travel to Washington but, according to the Israeli official, the White House said Obama was too busy.
News of the apparent snub came as Netanyahu warned the White House that it had no moral right to block an Israeli attack on Iran‘s nuclear facilities if Washington is not prepared to set firm “red lines” for Tehran, including a deadline for it to meet western demands for a halt to uranium enrichment.
The US national security council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, rejected the idea that Obama is snubbing Netanyahu. He said there will be no talks, because the pair are not in New York on the same day. But Vietor did not address the report that the Israeli prime minister was prepared to meet in Washington.
I’m actually kind of irritated that Obama didn’t meet with Netanyahu. Sure, it won’t accomplish anything, but there’s no risk to it. Declining it outright means another round of “Jews flirting with the GOP?” stories, instigated by Republicans like Shelly Adelson, who are obsessed with this notion in spite of decades of history and every poll ever published. Great. Meeting the guy wouldn’t have annoyed anyone, and no bad press would be involved.
This brings up a strange tendency on the part of the Obama Administration–on a semiregular basis, one sees signs of provocative, aggressive action and rhetoric that are immediately reversed as soon as anyone raises a stink. In this case, I sort of understand it because diplomacy is involved. In countless other cases–I don’t know. Remember how the president tore apart Paul Ryan’s budget plan right in front of him, and then didn’t follow up on it? Or the populist speech in Kansas whose themes lived on only subliminally in the campaign? There are simply too many examples to count during the debt ceiling crisis. And the Administration’s “War on FOX News” that lasted, what, a weekend? Most recently, the deeply silly capitulation to needlessly reinsert the word “God” into the party’s platform. Admittedly, the Netanyahu thing is most likely accidental, Obama’s staff doesn’t realize how dangerous domestically Netanyahu can be–he used to campaign for GOP candidates during his time out of power, lest we forget–and he must be handled very, very carefully. Anything they don’t get just right, he’ll use against them. But time and again, this crew just doesn’t follow through after it throws an elbow, and more often than not, looks impotent and silly walking it back or shrugging it off. This doesn’t apply so much to the campaign, but I really do wonder, finally: what the hell are they afraid of?
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