"Paul Ryan is the Barry Goldwater of 2012."
Obama's re-election isn't a lock, but you can see it from here.
* Whatever folks think of Obama, it's getting to be part of the language that in killing Osama bin Laden, "Obama did in two years what Bush couldn't do in six." And that's even from liberals who have qualms about extra-territorial cold-blooded murder of mass-murderers who haven't first been read their Miranda rights.
* Kathy Hochul is the Dems' Scott Brown, whose upset victory in taking Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts last year was perceived by the Beltway crowd as an anti-Dem turning point. Hochul didn't just win the ultra-red NY 26 congresional seat last night, a seat never held by Dems in its four-decade history, she won by a comfortable margin of 6 points. She took a rock-ribbed, largely suburban and rural Republican district where registered Republicans far outnumber Dems, and has previously been held by longtime GOP Hill leaders Jack Kemp, Bill Paxon and Tom Reynolds.
Hochul's opponent had a big edge on out-of-state funding, as the GOP is whining today, though Hochul's out-of-state progressive support was none too shabby - a warning of scores of vulnerable GOP seats won last year by narrow margins that can be turned if the progressive spirit of 2008 returns. Nor was Tea Party candidate Jack Davis the third-party spoiler that both he and the GOP claim he was.
Hochul ran against Paul Ryan's plan to end the social-safety net, and turned the upstate NY 26 race into a closely watched referendum on Obamacare vs. Ryancare, at least among the Beltway pundits. And Obamacare won. Big. This is a pro-Dem turning point, giving the party momentum heading into a 2012 election cycle well underway.
* The Detroit Three bailout - that is, the rescue of the U.S.-owned auto sector- is a stunning success story. GM and Chrysler were forced into bankruptcy by Obama less than two years ago to finally end three decades of mismanagement. GM is already reporting booming profits. Chrysler today paid back its taxpayer-provided loans to the U.S., Canadian and Ontario governments, at a profit to the taxpayers, and way ahead of time. (GM has already paid back its loans, and more amazing, has already returned to publicly traded status, "Government Motors" no more.) Again, two years ago these iconic giants with all their "Arsenal of Democracy" heritage, and still the guts of America's manufacturing the R&D prowess, were hurtling toward the scrapyard. Now GOPers like Mitt Romney (the GOP's most business-savvy WH prospect wrote a 2008 NYT op-ed titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt"), Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind) (the Detroit rescue "could cause us to become a quasi-socialist country"), and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex) (helping the Detroit automakers is "the leading edge of the Obama administration's war on capitalism") are going to have to explain why they were eager, yes eager, to let the U.S.-owned auto industry die. To let upward of a million U.S. workers lose their jobs. And to leave world's largest vehicle market without a vehicle industry to call its own.
* The GOP-controlled House has of course approved Ryancare. So lacking in folksiness and gravitas is the GOP leadership that it long ago put the until recently obscure Ryan on a pedestal as Its one and only policy guru, the Truth, the Light and the American Way. Oops. Big mistake rolling all the dice on this Wisconsin congressman and professed Ayn Rand acolyte. (Ryan says it was the deeply disturbed narcissist author's "philosophy" that inspired him to go into politics, and he requires his staffers to read Atlas Shrugged.) Ryan today accuses Dems of healthscare-mongering in NY 26. WaPo's Dana Milbank administers the necessary corrective: That it's Ryan getting a taste of his own "shameless demagoguery."
Today, almost every U.S. senate Republican voted for Ryancare, too, as it went down to defeat due to continued Dem control of that chamber. Only five GOP senators broke ranks - the two Maine senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins; the aforementioned Scott Brown, who for awhile now has been voting Bay State values rather than Mitch McConnell's; Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Tea Partier Ron Paul (Kentucky). The 40 others knew they'd lose. but the GOP was determined to make a point. The Republicans' point is, "GOP to seniors: drop dead." That's not how I would put it, and the Dems won't quite put it that way next year, either. But that's how Move.on, organized labor, Daily Kos, the Kaiser Foundation and hundreds of pro-Obamacare support groups - who played a big role in Hochul's out-of-state-funded victory, will play it. Big time. And the evidence of Obamacare's virtues, even before most of it has kicked in, will be on their side.
* The L.A. Times has a poll out today that Americans want to "keep Medicaid as it is." Yes, Medicaid, not Medicare. Medicaid is for poor people, folks not like us, folks we don't see or know. Turns out Americans do care about their fellow citizens. So you know how the American mainstream feels about Ryan and the GOP's proposed dismantling of Medicare. In which seniors - my mom, your uncle - would be left to navigate a private-sector market for insurance coverage that pre-Obamacare has for decades been routinely ripping off amply-witted consumers, much less seniors deep into ALZ. There's a reason why Medicare for half a century has been called "the third rail of American politics." Mess with it and you'll be thrown across the room - or out of office. If a majority of Americans support Medicaid, GOPers have to wonder about the grave they've dug for themselves embracing Ryan's proposed destruction of Medicare, middle-class beneficiaries of which are known to every American family. David Frum, the former Bush 43 speechwriter, isn't exaggerating in saying that "Paul Ryan is the Barry Goldwater of 2012."
I jokingly referred to Obama a while back as the Lion of Abbottabad, Defender of Seniors, Rescuer of the U.S.-owned Auto Industry, Liberator of LGBT's from State Discrimination, Preventer of a Second Great Depression...
There's more. Much more. Starting with keeping more campaign promises - and he made a ton of them - and faster than any of his 43 predecessors.
This is indeed an historic presidency. What you don't hear about is that Obama has reversed the flow of power to an imperial presidency, repeatedly deferring to Congress - ending a dangerous trend dating from TR and manifesting itself especially under FDR, LBJ and Bush 43/Cheney. And you won't hear much about the Obama Doctrine, because foreign affairs - victory on the battlefield excepted - isn't an election selling point. But historians will look back at "Cairo II," Obama's logical follow-on last week from his speech, deep inside the Islam world where America needs to re-win trust, as finally an effective way to use all the tools of "hard" and "soft power" to keep American men and women from dying in distanct conflicts while still heavily infuencing the course of world events. Historians will sift through that and Obama's surprising rapid and seeming effortless success in getting Russia and the U.S. to jointly begin destroying their nuclear stockpiles, as an example to other members of the nuclear club (Pakistan, Israel, India, France, Britain...) on the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world will seal Obama's place among top 10 presidents. And that assumes he quits the WH tomorrow.
Lord knows he's not perfect. Obama should have skipped yesterday's state dinner with Her Majesty and British PM David Cameron (and Tom Hanks and Kevin Spacey) and come home to Joplin, Missouri, where the death toll is 122 and rising. And only then flown back to France for the G8 summit Thursday and Friday. (He twice called off trips to vital U.S. ally Australia.) Obama and the First Lady did make an extended tour of the twister-devasted North Carolina and Alabama, which Obama's words alone transformed from a regional Act of God into a national narrative, as he did in his Tucson eulogy.
Guantanamo's detainee population may be a fraction of its peak Bush 43 size, but the facility is still functioning - a rare and important broken promise. Obama did try to relocate the remaining detainees to a new, unused prison in his own home state of Illinois, but ran into a wall of NIMBY objections, and gave up rather than imposing his will, which he should have done. (It would have been the right thing to do, and also protected his left flank.) Obama has also clung to Bush 43's national security techniques, including rendition. He was vindicated in doing so by the Osama nin Laden kill, an effort he ramped up, to be sure, but which relied on intel work pre-dating his administration. But the Obama explication, dating from 2009, that it didn't make sense to scrap in its entirety what the Bush 43 administration had pain-stakingly learned about America's enemies and how to fight them over the previous eight years has run its course. It needs to be repudiated.
Obama ramped up American forces, to about 100,000, in the feckless Afghan venture with nothing but a sharp escalation in U.S. Afghan military deaths to show for it. Karzai is as reliable an ally as Diem was for JFK, maybe worse. Between now and next summer, the Afghan operation, like the Iraq occupation, will be significantly wound down - out of political necessity, if nothing else. As the Viet Cong were fighting a nationalist cause for their homeland - an unwinnable proposition for an outside force, as the French discovered - the Taliban is fighting an ethnic nationalism cause in its Afghan homeland, which eased the Soviets into bankruptcy and the end of the 73-year-long Soviet experiment in Russia. Americans don't support this war, as they did support the vastly more disastrous Iraqi misadventure initially. Now that Osama is dead, time to declare victory, go home, and let the Afghan warlords who run the place and their poppy-growing sharecroppers carry on with their business. Which, as it happens, is supplying heroin to Europe, not America. Let the Europeans launch their own "War on Drugs" in Afghan, and instead step up support for Mexico's hot war against drug lords south of the Rio Grande.
You remember Reagan's "Morning in America" ads. With their friends in Hollywood, the Dems have vastly more and better material to work with and I only hope they're starting now. (Obama has made a start on building what the Dems hope will be a record $1-trillion warchest. (Yes, trillion, which makes you shake your head about a "democracy" so dependent on politician-supplicants.)
Those ads will pretty much write themselves. Even the visuals are compelling. "This what America would look like if the Republicans had been in charge." And you have shots of boarded up GM factories with workers leaving for the last time. Obama greeting world leaders at the G20 in Pittsburgh who hated America, and weren't shy in expressing their contempt, before Nov. 4, 2008. Talking heads of everyday Americans in Fort Wayne on the relief of having their 20-something kids still carried on their own health insurance policies, thanks to Obamacare. American G.I.'s coming home from Baghdad, and this president, unlike his predecessor, deigning to join the honor guard at Dover Air Force Base, with minimal media present, finally, to mark the return of flag-draped coffins.
"It's dignity in America again." You could get Eminem to point defiantly at the camera and say "This is America. And this is what we do." But actually, Chrysler had to dub Eminen's voice. And they say Obama himself has a pretty good speaking voice.
Ezra Klein: Voters like their single-payer healthcare. (WaPo)
Gail Collins: Democrats Happy Dance. (NYT)
David Frum: Paul Ryan has GOP Headed To Worst of All Possible Worlds. (NPR)
E.J. Dionne: A headline you won't see: "Big Government Bailout Worked." (WaPo)
Dana Milbank: Paul Ryan gets a taste of his own shameless demagoguery. (WaPo)
Jonathan Chait: Buffalo's special election not a a fluke: enthusiasm for Dems is back. (New Republic)
Jerry Zremski: How Hochul won in Buffalo, and why it spells trouble for the GOP. (New Republic)