Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Election Moneyline May 18 Primaries

With it being Election Day in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky (oh, and Oregon) it is time for some odds-making:

Pennsylvania: Democratic Senate Primary
Senator Arlen Specter v. Rep. Joe Sestak
Sestak 3:5
Most likely Sestak's pollster called him in the first week of May and told him he was going to win. The contest has been trending Sestak since February, although is dead-even going into today.  Specter's rationale for switching parties, namely he did not see himself winning a GOP primary, smacks of the stuff that makes people dislike Washington politicians. While there are no silver bullets in political campaigns, this year the magic bullet is anti-incumbency.

Kentucky GOP Senate Primary
Sec. of State Trey Grayson v. Dr. Rand Paul
Paul 1:5
Bad omen for those in the GOP seeking moderation as the Tea Party favorite Paul is set to trounce the establishment candidate. Paul's likely win can be credited to anti-incumbency fervor and is a slap to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who hand-picked Grayson.

Arkansas Democratic Senate Primary
Sen. Blanche Lincoln v. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter
Lincoln 3:2
Halter is playing for a run-off as there are three candidates in this contest (businessman D.C. Morrison is polling around 6 percent) and Lincoln is at 46 percent, Halter in the high 30's.  If recent polling is correct and there is 11 percent undecided and those voters break as they should, Lincoln squeeks by with slightly more than 50 percent thus avoiding a run-off with Halter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crisped Crist

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) is contemplating an independent run for the U.S. Senate.  Down in the polls and likely to lose to the more conservative Marco Rubio in the primary election, Gov. Crist is unready to release his dreams of becoming a Senator.  Red Elephant welcomes him to run as an independent if he withdraws from the August Republican primary election.

It is unacceptable for Gov. Crist to somehow engineer a way to stay in the GOP primary while laying the groundwork for an independent candidacy in the general election ballot if, or when, he loses to Mr. Rubio. Just as it was poor conduct by Doug Hoffman to run as an independent for the U.S. House of Representatives after losing in the GOP primary in NY's 23rd congressional special election, so would it be in bad form for Gov. Crist to replicate the actions of a sore loser.

Primary elections exist so that voters may chose in which direction they want their party to go, and in which candidate they entrust to lead their party.  Gov. Crist may have decided he cannot lead the GOP.  If that is the case he should step aside in favor of Mr. Rubio.  If Gov. Crist thinks he can lead the state as an independent U.S. Senator he's free to make that choice, so long as he does not try to have his cake and eat it too.  Gov. Crist does not deserve to be a Republican candidate and later an independeant candidate after the party rejects him at the polls.

Why Gov. Crist finds himself in this predicament is another matter.  The situation he finds himself is what it is. What Gov. Crist does next will define him as a politician.  Given it is unlikely he wins the GOP primary election, Gov. Crist may need to come to terms with the fact that the career path he desires is out of reach for the moment, but forever out of reach by making the wrong decision.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

First in Flight from Steele

NC Republican State Party Tom Fetzer today called for RNC Chairman Michael Steele's resignation.  This doesn't indicate a Steele resignation is inevitable, but it is a significant crack in the dam that is the RNC Members who have been silent until today.  Probability still favors Steele finishing his term.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Rule of Law

The announcement by American Crossroads, a newly formed 527 committee, that it has hired Steven Law as President and CEO is significant.  Mr. Law has very close ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), having been the Senator's chief of staff and National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director.

There is a potent combination aligning between the American Action Network (a 501 c3 & c4) and American Crossroads. Involved in both of these new groups are Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie.  These are very smart, well connected people who have total understanding of RNC operations.  What this means is that RNC Chairman Michael Steele will stay where he is despite his gaffe prone performance because the real action will be elsewhere operating in a manner such that Steele cannot interfere.

With a reported $30 million in pledges already, American Crossroads is off to a spectacular start and will be a major player in the 2010 mid term election.  Meanwhile, the RNC will have a role in this year's election cycle, but the truth is Mr. Steele is there to keep the seat warm for his successor.  The wager is Steele won't manage to burn the RNC down until his replacement arrives in time for the 2012 presidential election.  There's not indication who that successor might be, but Mr. Law could emerge as a good candidate for the job.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How It Works at the RNC

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is unlikely to resign and more unlikely to be recalled and replaced following recent disclosures about questionable and abhorrent RNC expenses. While anything is possible, the mechanics of replacing a chairman involves too many personalities, making it likely Chairman Steele fulfills his elected term through January 2011. The mechanics of a recall are not the only reason Mr. Steele probably keeps his job. There are two other reasons to consider.

Reason No. 1) with the recent Supreme Court opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission combined with the more recent ruling in the Federal District Court of DC, the RNC is not the place to be for those interested in having a significant impact on the GOP and the mid-term elections this year. The real money is in the non-profit groups (501c4's and c3's; IRS tax designation) groups that will be able to raise and spend corporate contributions. These groups are formed or forming and they will boast heavy thinkers and hitters who normally congregate at the RNC but have decided their brain power and deep pockets are better applied elsewhere.

Reason No. 2) when the GOP eventually nominates a presidential nominee that nominee and their staff and supporters will dictate terms to the RNC chairman, in this case Mr. Steele if he is able to keep his job by getting re-elected in January 2011. Mr. Steele's best bet and hope is that the GOP does well at the polls this November. A good ballot box performance by the GOP this fall will make it hard to remove Mr. Steele from his RNC post. In the event Mr. Steele survives past next January he will be placed on a very short leash by the GOP presidential nominee. Of course, if the GOP wins in 2012, Mr. Steele will reap the benefits and find himself in a plum Administration job thereafter.

So while many Republicans are hoping for Mr. Steele's ouster due to his gaffe prone performance, more likely it is the Democrats who get their wish by seeing no disruption in Chairman Steele’s current term in office.

Friday, March 26, 2010

RNC Strikes Out Swinging for Corporate Dollars

The Republican National Committee lost it's first attempt to restore its ability to raise corporate contributions following the recent Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.  The RNC's argument is that since it is a national party committee active in local and state as well as federal elections the ban on corporate contributions is a detriment to its activities in state and local elections where corporate contributions are legal.

Red Elephant actually agrees with the RNC's reasoning (the reasoning applies equally to the Democratic National Committee, which was not a party to this appeal).  Candidly, Red Elephant has immense distaste for RNC Chairman Michael Steele and so is conflicted about the ruling.  However, the ruling today by the Federal District Court for DC does not seem to square with the recent SCOTUS ruling in Citizens United v. FEC.  That said, it makes sense that this ruling was made as this court was not prepared to overturn the SCOTUS opinion in McConnell v. FEC from 2003.

This further empowers the recently formed American Action Network, which will rise in GOP influence while RNC Chairman Steele grinds his teeth about not being able to play in the corporate contribution sandbox.

The Benefits of Hanging Together

James O'Keefe and his fellow conspirators drew a long straw from the Department of Justice today and had charges regarding their caper at Senator Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) office reduced to a misdemeanor.  It appears the co-conspirators have hung together to fight the DoJ with success, thus proving the axiom of hanging together so as to not hang seperately.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Democrats, Sharks and Healthcare Treasure

Imagine you are a cabin boy on a pirate ship. The captain of the ship tells the crew there’s treasure at the bottom of shark infested waters. Everybody wants the treasure, but nobody wants to swim through the sharks to get it. The problem: the captain wants that treasure and will make somebody go get it. There’s nobody better and more expendable for the job than the cabin boy. The life of the cabin boy is ready precarious under the constant threat of imminent death at the hands of an unruly crew who now cajole the cabin boy into getting the treasure with promises of sharing the riches. To decline means being more savagely treated with the fair prospect of death regardless. Salvation, the captain says, lay at the bottom of the ocean beneath the man eaters. Bring the treasure aboard and life will be much better and safer. The choices are poor, so the cabin boy decides to risk being eaten alive in attempt to make a better life rather than take no risk and live the remaining days in fear of imminent death.

That is the situation in which so many vulnerable House Democrats find themselves today as the vote for healthcare reform looms. Democratic House Members from safe districts are urging their vulnerable colleagues to seize the treasure for them. To help cajole these vulnerable Members they’ve rolled out a doomed cabin boy, former Rep. Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky, who suffered death at the polls after casting the deciding vote for President Bill Clinton’s 1993 budget. To hear The Hon. Margolies Mezvinsky tell it, she was glad to have sacrificed herself to retrieve the treasure for her captain.

Most shocking is that the House will adopt the Senate version of the healthcare bill without a single rescission. Not one! That is a total abdication of the House’s legislative responsibility. But the treasure calls and the House leadership is so intent on winning they will do it at any cost, including sacrificing their own and perhaps their majority. House Democrats take solace in reports by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that say the healthcare bill reduces the budget without mentioning the fact that reductions come on the back of higher taxes. House Democrats are welcome to applaud their deficit reduction efforts, but they will pay the price for doing it by taxing more, not spending less.

Meanwhile, the sharks wait patiently, knowing how many Democratic cabin boys they will need to devour to earn the right to rule the seas; a reward richly deserved for showing the cohesion and patience necessary to have a furious and fulfilling feeding frenzy at the polls.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Desmond Tutu on God's Love

A compelling piece by Desmond Tutu in today’s Washington Post is well worth the time to read. Rev. Tutu lays bare the hypocrisy of religious intolerance saying, “Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?”

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Rove on Redistricting

The Wall Street Journal carried an op-ed on redistricting by Mr. Karl Rove today that is worth a read.  Red Elephant addressed the same topic some months ago.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Glenn Beck The Jester

Glenn Beck lectured the Republican Party on purity before the Conservative Political Action Conference, berating the GOP for spending too much and expanding the size and scope of the federal government. Mr. Beck called on the GOP to show contrition and follow the same twelve steps Mr. Beck took when recovering from alcoholism. The irony that that the explosive spending Mr. Beck decries occurred at the hands of self-proclaimed conservative Republicans, some born again and others recovering alcoholics, who have been the leaders of the GOP in Congress and the White House does not seem to faze his frenzy.

Mr. Beck attacked the “big tent” Republican philosophy and equated the policy to Republican elected officials losing their soul upon arriving in Washington. However, the only forsaken souls are those of conservative politicians who gladly conspired with President George W. Bush to expand the size of government and its debt and deficit. Moderates in the GOP are the ones who have traditionally fought for PayGo legislation that checks government spending with offsetting budget cuts or tax increases; legislation that forces tough decisions by lawmakers when constructing a budget.

Mr. Beck went so far as to impugned President Teddy Roosevelt by confusing Roosevelt’s promotion of philanthropy (a trait central to the American spirit) with progressive government spending when quoting the 26th President. Perhaps Mr. Beck should be aware of another Roosevelt quote: “The men with the muck rakes are often indispensible to the well of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the muck.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Mount Vernon Statement

The Mount Vernon Statement, recently released by leading conservatives, is to be applauded for its sincerity and principled stance. Only in one paragraph does it veer into the paranoid, asserting that the ideas around the founding of the country are under sustained attack. However, this is an effort to fuel a call to action to rally agreeable and persuadable citizens around the statement’s signers. That aside, this is a clear definition of the principles by which these particular conservatives will define themselves and their cause in contrast with their opposition.

Those who read this statement and decide to rally to its call should also realize that those behind the promotion of the Mount Vernon Statement are in the business of politics. Instilling fear of a sustained attack on the nation’s founding principles is a method to mine potential new donors and subscribers to their causes and publications.

The conservatives signing the statement are in the business of promoting and instilling conservative values in legislation which, fortunately, is their constitutional right. The ideal disposition of these same conservatives would be to also recognize the rights of those whom may be in conflict with their personal faith, but inevitably guaranteed the same right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

P.S. Red Elephant gets the intent of the use of cursive font for the signatories, but it's a little hokey.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Hunting for Healthcare Reform

A lobbyist friend described the Democrat’s performance on healthcare reform by equating it to a joke he’d heard. The joke goes like this: a hunter sees a bear and shoots to kill. He misses the bear, who becomes enraged. The bear chases down the hunter, bends him over a tree limb and takes liberties then goes on his way. The hunter tracks the bear again and takes another shot, missing. The bear again attacks the hunter, bending him over a tree for another go then departs again. One more time the hunter tracks the bear and fires, again missing. The bear charges the hunter and pins him to the ground. Snarling, the bear says, “You’re missing on purpose!”

This seems to be the mindset of Democrats when it comes to healthcare reform. They don’t really want it but take the shot anyway despite knowing what’s in store for their failure. There was no will in the Senate to pass a bill that satisfied both the White House and U.S. House Democrats and the threat of a Republican filibuster was convenient. If the Senate Democrats truly wanted a bill on healthcare reform they would have called the Republican bluff on a filibuster. Having had 60 Senators in the Democratic caucus Majority Leader Reid could have forced Republicans to take to the Senate floor and speak continuously to delay the vote, rather than taking the Republicans at their word that an indefinite delay was desired.

This is not to say that Red Elephant thinks the healthcare reform bill was good legislation. Senate Democrat's efforts indicate no desire to pass the legislation. Where there's will there's a way, and if the Senate Democrats had the will they could have made the bill happen before the Massachusetts special election that lost them their 60 seat majority. If there’s any doubt, simple ask oneself, does a bear evacuate in the words?

Monday, February 01, 2010

GOP Heavy Hitters Announce New Initiative

The American Action Network (AAN) is a new Republican non-profit that is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance outside of the structure of the Republican National Committee (RNC). The AAN brings together some of the biggest and best political networks through the participation of The Hon. Jeb Bush and Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS). Joining these Republican leaders is superlative GOP major donor Fred Malek and political mastermind Karl Rove. AAN will be a group to watch going into the 2010 and 2012 elections.

The fact that Jeb Bush and Haley Barbour are involved means that there are nationwide, presidential-level political resources involved. Both of these men have networks that span the American political compass and have decided to apply them on behalf of the GOP via the AAN. These are serious, thoughtful minds with the ability to successfully implement a political agenda.

The addition of Karl Rove speaks to the intent of AAN to organize nationwide and apply the accompanying muscle for the purpose of winning elections. Mr. Rove may be considered negatively by many opposed to his political views and denounced as the Dark Lord of elections, but he has a set of skills like few others. The Democratic and liberal opposition would do well to stay abreast of AAN activities under Mr. Rove’s guidance.

Mr. Malek’s inclusion in AAN speaks volumes to the state of affairs at the RNC. It has been reported and can be trusted that there are many high net worth individuals who have been long time donors to the RNC who are unhappy with the current management of Chairman Michael Steele. Mr. Malek’s decision to be front and center at the launch of the AAN means there are many like him who will choose to put their contributions in the hands of this outfit of powerful thinkers who can get it done at the ballot box.

The initial criticism of the AAN will draw parallels between it, the National Policy Forum (NPF) and the more recent National Council for a New America. The NPF was conceived in 1993 by then RNC Chairman Barbour as a vehicle to raise money, develop policy ideas and germinate those ideas by building grassroots coalitions. The NPF was derailed by questions around a $2.1 million loan guarantee from the U.S. subsidiary of a foreign corporation. The National Council for a New America was launched in 2009 and died quickly of its own accord due to questions around its founding out of the leadership office of U.S. Representative Eric Cantor. The difference is the Supreme Court ruling, particularly in the case of the NPF. With this ruling comes the ability for the NPF concept to achieve expectations in the shape of the AAN.

The AAN has been established and will be developed by influential, wealthy people with the intent of winning elections on behalf of the Republican Party. In turn, the AAN will have the ability to attract grassroots supporters. More importantly, AAN will have the resources to conduct outstanding research that will manifest as persuasive electoral communications. Despite the Supreme Court decision on corporate free speech, the national political party committees are still prevented from accepting corporate contributions. This is a bucket of money the party committees desire to dip into but may not. Thus, while the influence of the RNC will not be wholly diminished, the AAN formation indicates a power shift within the GOP.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Free Speech for Corporations and Unions Says SCOTUS

The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission (FEC) is a significant development in American electoral politics and campaign finance reform that will have deep impact on the 2010 mid-term election. The 5-4 decision reverses precedent that barred corporations and unions from spending money to advocate the defeat or election of a federal candidate up until Election Day.

In many ways this decision is bad for the Democratic and Republican national party committees. While the ban is lifted on corporate and union expenditures, the political parties are not relieved from the prohibition on corporate (or “soft”) money. The danger exists that the major political parties’ voices will be displaced by corporate and union expenditures that will not have to exist under the limits imposed on contributions to federal candidates and committees. Corporations and unions will have the ability to easily allocate and spend money on political campaign messaging while the political parties labor under the expensive burden of raising limited contributions from individual donors and political action committees.

This decision is a boon to the political consultant class. The pool of resources and potential clients now available to the campaign professionals just exploded. Corporations and unions will need these professionals to plan and execute their political expenditures and the political consultant will grow richer and more influential thanks to this Supreme Court decision.

It is worth the effort to read the opinion of the Supreme Court written by Justice Kennedy as well as the dissent by Justice Stevens. The opinion of the Court speaks to the dangers of chilling free speech by not overturning precedent in this case. Justice Kennedy’s opinion also makes the sensible contention that just because elected officials listen and give access to donors it does not mean those same officials are corrupt. Most importantly, Justice Kennedy’s opinion instructs that the corporation has as much right to free speech as any other member of society and thus any laws muzzling corporate speech is a First Amendment violation. Throughout the opinion the argument is made that the court must guard against the role of the FEC as censor as it dictates who gets and does not get a voice in political campaign dialogue and debate.

Justice Stevens’ dissent is long and detailed but also sensible; rejecting out of hand that corporations are members of society (citing that a corporation cannot hold public office and has no soul). Justice Stevens is adamant that the five justices who voted to reverse the lower court’s decision in this case simply expanded the case from its limited nature, thus changing the case in order to change the law (a trend in the federal executive branch most prominent during the recent Bush Administration). The dissent goes on to observe that the majority of the Supreme Court violates the judicial process of maintaining what has been decided (stare decisis), observing that if it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more.

While Justice Steve’s argument is persuasive, sometimes it best to err on the side of caution. “Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut and stretched,” said Thomas Jefferson. Those words are applicable to what is sure to be a continuing debate about campaign finance reform because of this Supreme Court decision.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Election Moneyline - MA U.S. Senate Special

Today is the opening ceremony of the 2010 mid-term elections with a special election for the U.S. Senate to fill Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-MA) seat. Therefore, some odd-making are in order.

It is also worth noting that Republican rank and file, particularly Brown’s major donors and fundraisers are not happy with the national Republican Party’s (e.g. RNC and NRSC) level of support of Republican nominee State Sen. Scott Brown.

Martha Coakley – Democrat
Arrogance and stupidity on the campaign trail are a lethal mixture and she seems to have perfected the concoction in this special election. This race was hers to lose and she may well have done that with the consequences being severe to President Obama’s healthcare agenda.  A Coakley win derails GOP talking points abouts about the mid-term election trend.

Scott Brown - Republican
Brown has the momentum going into today’s election and has to be the favorite despite running in a Democratic stronghold to replace a Democratic icon. This longest of shots is like sinking a jump shot at TD Garden from the roof of a moving car on I-93; don’t be surprised if Brown makes it. While Brown’s win will have been done on the back of displeasure over President Obama’s healthcare reform, it is not a bad pickup for the moderate wing of the GOP.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Small Donors With a Big Voice

Last week the Brookings Institute unveiled a study on how to foster citizen participation through small donors and volunteers to political campaigns, entitled Reform in the Age of Networked Campaigns. The authors are all well known and rightly respected thinkers on campaign finance reform (Anthony Corrado, Michael Malbin, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein). The conclusion of the study is that campaign finance reform should encourage small donor participation so that the percentage of small donations increases with the intent to curb potential corruption. The ideas within the study are sensible. However, it is worth examining whether the proposed reforms could encourage a new source of political coercion.

Timely to this topic is the release of Jaron Lanier’s new book, You Are Not A Gadget. In his book Mr. Lanier ponders whether the “Web’s structure and ideology are fostering nasty group dynamics and mediocre collaborations” (New York Times, January, 2010). While Mr. Lanier’s book is largely about retooling the Web through software revisions and other innovations to combat piracy, his point about hive thinking and the online mob mentality is applicable to campaign finance reform in the context of socio-political media.

The Web offers numerous places for the ideological to find a home and self-polarize. Conservatives tend to take refuge at places like Red State and Free Republic. Liberals tend to congregate at places like Daily Kos and Fire Dog Lake. These sites offer the opportunity to mix and mingle with those of a similar political persuasion and are also involved in issue advocacy (usually to the benefit of candidates aligned with their stated policy interests). These types of sites also assist in candidate money bombs; when candidates set a date to raise a specific amount of campaign contributions. Ultimately, these political ideology sites encourage the type of hive thinking that leads to a mob mentality which, with critical mass, can be very influential in a political campaign contest and upon the direction of a political party. Due to the large numbers of people engaged in politics via social media, these networks can exhibit a great deal of leverage over a candidate and political party.

The assumption in Reform in the Age of Networked Campaigns is that our current mechanism for funding political campaigns encourages corruption; with a few giving a lot to political candidates. Those few who give so much are therefore in a position to influence legislators after the election has been won. It is undeniable that giving money in the manner and amount done by corporate political action committees is intended to have influence on legislators.

When asked during the presentation of their report if their proposals could give rise to further polarization of the electorate, the authors flatly rejected the possibility. The reason for the rejection is that small donors tend not to try lever their small donation (less than $100) with candidates who become legislators. That may be true in the direct mail fundraising paradigm. However, when socio-political media donors band together to give to a candidate the percentage of small donations given with a goal in mind increases. When that increase reaches a critical mass, the band of small donors will have a clear voice that cannot be ignored by candidates, even though those donors may not be constituents.

The overall impact of social media is positive because it increases citizen participation in elections (e.g. President Obama’s 2008 candidacy). But it also raises the potential danger when combing “hive thinking” with the leverage of aggregate donations by small donors banding together who are activated by the impact they can have on candidates by bundling their contributions via socio-political media. This in turn could result in the increase of corruption, rather than its restraint which is one objective of the report offered by the authors of the Brookings Institute study. Candidates will find it is easier to say no to a handful of lobbyists than it will be to say no to large groups of organized small donors with the ability to both vote in a block and voice their demands in unison. That being said, money is an essential element to every candidacy. Greater citizen participation in campaign fundraising means more prospective donors and there isn’t a campaign professional who would decline a bigger campaign budget.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sarah Palin's Favorite Founding Father

Mrs. Sarah Palin recently stated that the founding fathers were led by George Washington. This answer speaks volumes about Mrs. Palin’s basic knowledge about the history of the United States. George Washington, while our country’s greatest president, was not necessarily a leader within the Continental Congress. Such shallow knowledge about the founding of the nation from Mrs. Palin, a person of political influence, is disturbing.

The Continental Congress’ leaders are generally thought to have been those who drafted the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin) as well as John Hancock (president of the Second Continental Congress) who succeeded the first president, Peyton Randolph. There were 56 delegates in the First Continental Congress (there were 253 total attending delegates in both congresses), all of whom were patriots but not all of whom agreed with what the colonies’ disposition should be toward the King of England.

Washington emerged as a leader when selected by the Second Continental Congress in 1775 to be the general of the Continental Army, partly due to his military experience. George Washington is well known to every American citizen and he is cited by most Americans as the greatest American president. Perhaps this is the only founding father that Mrs. Palin has any knowledge of at all.

It is generally accepted that Mrs. Palin has an intellectual handicap. When Mrs. Palin places herself in the public eye it is both acceptable and important to point out her intellectual deficiencies. The point of this exercise is to both be a check on facts and figures espoused on cable television news programs, but also to vigilantly measure her abilities as she pursues greater political influence.

As the topic of founding fathers was discussed by Mrs. Palin it is worth noting arguably the most famous quote from signing of the Declaration of Independence. In response to Mr. Hancock’s urging for the delegates to “hang” together with the announcement of the document, Mr. Franklin said, “We must indeed hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” Red Elephant fears Mrs. Palin will cause the hanging of the GOP with her shallow intellect and pursuit of money, power and fame.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Primary Rules of Engagement

The latest offensive from the Tea Party movement is to warn Republican Party leaders that if they do not adhere to “constitutional” conservatism then they are going to be “ostracized.” Challenging Republican incumbents in primary elections will be the vehicle to punish the GOPers who do not adhere to the movement’s principles. This strategy is perfectly legitimate until it strays into territory explored by the Tea Party movement in New York’s 23rd congressional district and results in a sore loser variable that diminishes the movement’s legitimacy as an enforcer of “constitutional” conservatism.

In NY’s 23rd CD contest the losing GOP primary candidate, who earlier vowed to support his Republican primary opponent in the event she won reversed himself and mounted a third party challenge in the general election. This was an excessively lose application of the rules of primary election engagement that resulted in the escalation of the conflict between conservatives and moderates in the GOP and ultimately resulted in the GOP losing a seat in the US House of Representatives.

The rules of engagement have traditionally been that a primary election challenge is the best method to influence the direction of a political party. Using the rules of engagement of a primary election determines when, where and how force (in this case electoral) shall be used. When these rules are loosely observed (or flatly rejected), the violator abdicates legitimacy. Doug Hoffman competed for the Republican nomination, lost and subsequently sought and received the Conservative Party nomination in the general election contest and ultimately forced out the Republican nominee. Mr. Hoffman, for all intents and purposes, ran under the mantle of the Tea Party Patriots given the climate of the moment.

If the Tea Party Patriots are intent on changing the direction of the GOP (and in turn the US Congress) by engaging in Republican primary election contests then they must comply with the outcome, regardless if their candidates win or lose. To dismiss losing results by later running as third party candidates in general elections clearly implies that those running the movement and their candidates do not intend to influence the direction of the GOP but rather sabotage the GOP.  If the Tea Party's goal is to have influence on Capitol Hill then they should build their own party and allow the Republican Party and its primary voters to take their desired course without intrusion by sore losers.

If Mr. Hoffman’s performance is indicative of what is to come from the Tea Party’s directive to punish Republican incumbents then the movement is as guilty of gaming the electoral system as those they seek to condemn and punish. Such actions smack of vengeance and such vengeful intentions defile the Tea Party’s stated principles.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Political Moneyline

As the 2010 mid-term elections approach Red Elephant will begin to offer odds on incumbent re-election. In the meantime, it is worth assessing the Republican National Committee’s current leadership and whether it survives beyond January of 2011.

Michael Steele, RNC Chairman
Mr. Steele has been too freewheeling at the helm and has made GOP leadership on the Hill anxious. While RE appreciates candor, Mr. Steele has been foolish in stating the GOP will not win back the House or Senate, saying “not this year.” Instead, Mr. Steele should be focused on promoting the gains the GOP could make in November, which it is sure to do, thus instilling optimism in donors and the rank and file. By framing expectations as he has Mr. Steele is likely to be blamed for not doing enough and jeopardizing the party’s future, resulting in likely replacement when the RNC meets in January 2011.