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Dold Scolds Administration Over Israel

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Blake D. Dvorak

From the Dold campaign (10th District):

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Today, Illinois 10th District Republican Congressional candidate Robert Dold continued to speak out in disappointment concerning the handling of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by President Obama.  This comes amid last week's visit by the Prime Minister to the White House.  The President failed to extend to Netanyahu the opportunity to make a public appearance afterwards or issue a joint statement regarding their meeting--a deviation from the standard White House reception provided to visiting heads of state from a friendly nation.

"I would expect that our Nation's greatest ally in the Middle East would be treated by this Administration with more dignity and respect," said Dold.  "This Administration's actions are unacceptable as they only serve to isolate and pressure our Israeli friends to make unilateral concessions."

Dold, who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington D.C. last week, believes that with Iran ignoring admonishment by the rest of the world to halt its nuclear program, there never has been a more important time for the U.S. and Israel to work in harmony.

"The fact that the Administration's rebuke of Israel has continued, even after Netanyahu's now three-week old apology over the announced building in Jerusalem, suggests a calculated and indefensible policy by this Administration to discredit Israel and its Prime Minister."
Also at the AIPAC conference was Dold's opponent, Dan Seals. The background to all this is the 10th's large Jewish population, which both campaigns are courting heavily. To wit, the Seals campaign last week also criticized the administration over its squabble with Israel:

Illinois Tenth Congressional District Candidate Dan Seals today called on the Obama Administration to defuse recent tensions between the United States and Israel in recognition of the special relationship between the two allies.

Citing the importance of maintaining America's strong relationship with Israel, Seals said that "disagreements between the governments in Jerusalem and Washington are bound to arise, as they would between two close friends, but it is critical that these disagreements are dealt with in private and not aired in public."

"Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East," said Seals.  "As we move down the path of peace," continued Seals, "it is crucial that the United States and Israel move in unison.  While the United States remains totally committed to Israel's security, I urge the Obama Administration to recognize the sacrifices that Israel is making to achieve  peace in such a difficult situation. This administration must bring an end to unhelpful rhetoric and work to forge a stronger, more productive future in the spirit of the special relationship between our two nations."

Seals noted that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and that we should respect Israel's right to manage its internal affairs.
It goes without saying that Seals is the one who's at odd with his party's base vis a vis Israel. At the same time, American Jews aren't known for their love of the GOP.

Giannoulias Web Ad: Really, Mark Kirk?

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Blake D. Dvorak

A new web ad from the Giannoulias campaign:


There are two issues here: The politics and the reality. On the former, the question is whether there will be still be enough anger out there (and there is anger) in November as there is in March. The Democrats gambled that pushing the bill through now would limit whatever political blowback might come six months from now. American memories being what they are (short), it's not such a bad bet as the GOP might think. But if elections are about getting your base out to vote, a bunch of pissed off Republicans is a better Get Out the Vote Effort than a bunch of marginally happy Democrats. (see Democrats in 2006 and 2008.) He just needs to counter all that talk about throwing the kids and granny to the insurance wolves with talk about how much this bill is really going to cost everyone.

The reality, however, is that this bill won't be repealed any time soon, even if the GOP captures Congress in November, and the party knows that -- and Rachel Maddow knows that. However many seats the GOP takes in Congress it will not have the 2/3rds majority to override the president's veto. This is all about November and electoral politics.

Oh, the Hypocrisy!

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Blake D. Dvorak

This "open letter to conservatives" from the liberal TPM Cafe site is making the rounds, because it apparently exposes Republican hypocrisy on a range of issues, from health care to the president's use of teleprompters. I certainly admire the writer's tenacity in tracking down all the links, but, as always with these things, his "evidence" relies a bit too much on one's perspective.

In any case, Eric Zorn posted it, asking if there's a corresponding "open letter to liberals" that does the same thing. I haven't seen one, but I did run across this post from NRO's Jim Geraghty, "The Complete List of Obama Statement Expiration Dates," which in a way does the same thing. A sample:

HEALTH CARE MANDATES

STATEMENT: "We've got a philosophical difference, which we've debated repeatedly, and that is that Senator Clinton believes the only way to achieve universal health care is to force everybody to purchase it. And my belief is, the reason that people don't have it is not because they don't want it but because they can't afford it." Barack Obama, speaking at a Democratic presidential debate, February 21, 2008.

EXPIRATION DATE: On March 23, 2010, Obama signed the individual mandate into law.

HEALTH CARE NEGOTIATIONS ON C-SPAN

STATEMENT: "These negotiations will be on C-SPAN, and so the public will be part of the conversation and will see the decisions that are being made." January 20, 2008, and seven other times.

EXPIRATION DATE: Throughout the summer, fall, and winter of 2009 and 2010; when John McCain asked about it during the health care summit February 26, Obama dismissed the issue by declaring, "the campaign is over, John."
As Geraghty warns, it is a long post, but well worth it.

Health Care Thoughts

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Before The Voting Booth gets back to its regular focus on Illinois politics -- and as I continue to catch up after a week off -- first a few thoughts on the health care bill just passed:

1. Beware the first rule of politics. As I've mentioned repeatedly, the first rule of politics is that things are never as good, or as bad, as they first appear. Remember when Scott Brown miraculously won Ted Kennedy's old seat? Republicans and many pundits (and this blog) saw Brown's victory as a the Gettysburg of the Democratic majority: Obama, Reid and Pelosi had reached the extent of their domination of Washington and what was to follow was a slow but steady readjustment of the administration's and congressional Democrats' goals, all in an attempt to stave off mass defeats come November. Supposedly first on the chopping block: health care. Today, the president's health care bill is the law of the land.

This is not to say that those November defeats still won't happen for Democrats; it's that majorities matter; the power of the president matters; and in the end, one election is only one election. Two months ago, Democrats were in the dumps and Republicans were flying high. Yup, beware the first rule of politics...

2. GOP: Repeal It? Regardless of the Democrats' victory, it is not at all clear -- as the administration and Reid and Pelosi argued -- that the American public won't punish the Democrats in November over this bill. The Democrats' thinking goes something like this: Once Americans come to appreciate all the goodies in this bill, they'll embrace it as fervently as Medicare and Social Security. Maybe, maybe not. But that supposes a pretty dim view of the American public.

It's as if the virtue of a particular bill is based on its popularity. By that logic, giving out free cars to every American is good public policy because, well, Americans love free cars -- and woe to the politician who threatens taking away your free car. Similarly, there are a lot of goodies in this health care bill that Americans will no doubt love, but at what cost? To pay for this health care bill, spending will rise, as will taxes. All that nonsense about this bill cutting the deficit at no cost to the public is the very definition of selling snake oil.

Most Americans understand this, which is why public opinion of this bill is so low. Still, Democrats hope that once things kick in, it'll all be puppy dogs and ice cream. Get real. Most of the bill's goodies don't begin until 2014. The ones that do -- the pre-existing conditions mandate and the ability for children under 26 to stay on their parents' insurance -- start in six months. That is a very short amount of time for the public to embrace this bill and Republicans will be able to campaign on the "Repeal It!" platform successfully. In other words, the overall electoral outlook for Democrats come November remains very poor.

3. The paradigm shift. However, whatever happens in November, Democrats have scored a long-term victory. That's because the federal government is now intimately involved in health care, and once in, it's next to impossible to dislodge. Over time, this will be as accepted as Social Security. You don't hear any serious politician talking about repealing Social Security. They talk about reforming it; they talk about making it solvent; but never repealing it. Meaning, the debate is about how to manage government's involvement, not how to remove it. The same thing will happen to health care. 

And this was a primary objective of Democrats all along: To move the debate to their turf; to shift the paradigm from "should government manage health care?" to "how should government manage health care?". Which is why both sides fought so hard over something the president himself claimed wouldn't do a thing to 85% of Americans' health insurance. It was about getting government in the door, if only by an inch.

4. Taxes, taxes, taxes. Still, it's impossible to say when that acceptance will happen. Could be in a few years. Could be in 10 years. And until it does, Democrats could take multiple beatings at the polls. Because, unlike Social Security in the 1930s, this bill comes during a time of major budget shortfalls. The federal government, and the states, simply cannot pay for all the entitlements out there without a major increase in revenue. What form this will take or when it will happen is not clear. But it will have to happen.

Last night on Special Report w/Brett Baier, Charles Krauthammer made the prediction that the cost-cutting board, which is supposed to find out ways to make health care cheaper, will suggest a national sales tax to pay for all this. Krauthammer believes the board won't make this suggestion until after the November elections, but that it will likely dominate the 2012 presidential race. Conservative or liberal, one ignores Krauthammer to his peril, which means the president has asked his fellow Democrats to make a deal with the devil: Pass the bill, make history, shift the paradigm, but accept that fact that we will have to raise taxes on everyone. 

Oh, Those Unintended Consequences

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Blake D. Dvorak

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Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time:

Illinois' primary election would be pushed back to March under legislation the House sent to Gov. Pat Quinn today.

If the governor signs the measure into law, the state's experiment with a February primary would end after just two elections.
Hey, you don't know till you try, right? I'm sure there were very good, well-researched reasons legislators weighed back in 2007 when they moved to a February primary. You don't just start messing around with well-established voting days for just any reason. And now I'm sure those same legislators have reassessed that earlier decision with equally well-research reasons for changing it back. Three cheers for the democratic process! Hip, hip...Wait...what's that? Oh:

Lawmakers pushed back the 2008 presidential primary to February to try to help then-Sen. Barack Obama get an early win in a big state. That worked. But last month, the early primary date was partly blamed for the debacle that left Democrats with Scott Lee Cohen as the party's lieutenant governor nominee before he dropped out under pressure. Democrats are still searching for a Cohen replacement.
Morons.

Marin: Alexi Facing Heat to Withdraw

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Blake D. Dvorak

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I won't say that Carol Marin's prediction today is the first I've heard or thought about it, but since Marin's sources are a bit better than mine it's probably more than idle musings. From her Sun-Times column:

Prediction: Pressure on Giannoulias to get out

...

Giannoulias has tried to get out in front of the seemingly imminent failure of his family's Broadway Bank, but there's no way to put that story behind him as long as the FDIC could move in at any time and take it over.

Giannoulias met with David Axelrod at the White House on Tuesday. At the same time, Republicans were sending out dispatches with a reminder of President Obama's recent denunciation of "fat cats who are getting rewarded for their failure . . . bankers don't need another vote in the U.S. Senate."

Expect heat on Alexi to exit the kitchen.
First, about that White House pow-wow, the speculation in the media is that the administration will support Giannoulias, but not go out of its way (see here, here and here). This is Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs' formal (a wee bit too formal?) statement on that matter:

Alexi Giannoulias is the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate and has the support and the backing of the White House.
Second, instead of trying to read the tea leaves from press secretaries who are paid to be vague, why not just look at the polling? From TPM Poll Tracker:



FoxChicago reported this morning on a new Rasmussen poll, not yet released on Rasmussen's site, showing Giannoulias +3 (44-41). And as First Read reported, the Giannoulias campaign is pushing back at the idea of withdrawing:

The Giannoulias camp pushes back, noting that at least two polls show him leading Republican Mark Kirk, and that the campaign just signed up a major Obama fundraiser.
For the interested, that fundraiser is Jordan Kaplan, who worked on both Obama's 2004 Senate and 2008 presidential campaigns. Yet Fox's Scott Brown notes that this is a return engagement for Kaplan, who previously worked for Giannoulias back in the exploratory committee days early on. I guess the point is that it's not like the Obama White House "gave" Kaplan to Giannoulias.

Still, the polls are what they are, and they don't (yet) show much reason for Giannoulias to withdraw. Yes, they're closer than Team Giannoulias would like right now when it looks like it's going to be a GOP year. But it's not as if Giannoulias is foundering at the moment.

Getting back to Marin's prediction, much depends on the political fallout from Broadway Bank's imminent collapse. If the heat intensifies, then Giannoulias might have to admit that he's carrying a bit too much baggage in a year that portends huge Democratic losses.
 

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