October 25, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Which party will "get the car keys"?
As poll numbers remain stubbornly negative, President Obama has been campaigning furiously in hopes of preventing a Republican takeover of Congress in next week's elections. In a famous speech in Seattle a few weeks ago, he claimed the Republicans had "driven the economy into the ditch" under the Bush administration and didn't deserve to get the car keys back. (See youtube.com.) It's pretty effective rhetoric, at least among that segment of the population that is not totally disenchanted with Obama, but there are serious factual distortions behind his argument.
Actually, given that the Democrats have been in control of the legislative branch since 2007, both parties share responsibility for the economy being "driven into a ditch." It's like when two people are fighting over control of the steering wheel. Likewise, anyone who follows policy matters closely know that it was a rather unintentional convergence of agendas between the Republicans and Democrats in the 1990s that resulted in the Federal budget being balanced. It was not President Clinton's sole doing, as the former president frequently suggests while he has been campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates. It was Clinton's 1993 tax hike combined with the subsequent budget cuts that were passed by the Republican Congress that saved this country from financial ruin, as the Concord Coalition kept warning about. Now the Federal government is back in the same bleak fiscal situation once again, with trillion-dollar deficits year after year, heading straight toward bankruptcy just like Greece, France, and other European countries.* Whether the two parties might tacitly collaborate in serving the broad national interest remains to be seen.
It's almost a given that the GOP will gain a majority in the House of Representatives, with Rep. John Boehner replacing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Control of the Senate is still up for grabs, and the weakness of Tea Party-backed candidates in Nevada (Sharron Angle) and Delaware (Christine O'Donnell) may prove decisive in the Democrats' favor. Will the American people heed the President's dire warnings, or will they forgive past GOP foibles and "give the car keys back"?
Perriello causes car wreck
In a related development, Perriello caused a car wreck last week, making an improper lane change that forced another vehicle off the highway. Fortunately, only one person was injurded. Oddly, however, not many people seem to have heard about this news. Is the mainstream media covering up the incident? See the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In a close race, this kind of thing could end up changing the outcome. Most polls indicate that the incumbent Robert Hurt still has a slight advantage, but there remains much uncertainty, and Perriello could still pull and upset and win reelection. I have been noticing more and more signs along the highway in Nelson County lately, such as the following:
If you don't tie our hands, we will keep stealing...
Personally, I think that's a little unfair to Perriello, who seems like a decent, sincere (if wrong-headed) legislator. I think he meant that the system encourages legislators to "steal" from the public, requiring some kind of reform, but whatever he meant, it was great P.R. for the Republicans.
* Fiscal austerity in U.K.
In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, Prime Minister John Cameron and the Conservative Party are taking a huge political risk, calling for massive cuts in government spending across the board. See the Washington Post Now why can't Republican leaders in the United States do likewise? It's quite a contrast to France, where beleaguered President Sarkozy faces widespread opposition to making modest-scale reforms in government entitlement programs. The strikes continue...
NPR fires Juan Williams
Everyone knows that National Public Radio is a bastion of left-leaning political correctness, but sometimes even they can surprise us with their extreme orthodoxy of opinions. The firing of commentator Juan Williams has elicited jubilation on the right wing, and legal hair-splitting by more moderate conservatives such as Doug Mataconis. I'm not about to jump on the bandwagon to ban all public funding of NPR, but I will definitely postpone my next pledge commitment to the local public radio station. I'm sure NPR will get the message after the November elections...
Virginia politics info
Finally, I have updated the Virginia politics page, with several new (or refurbished) maps showing election results going back to the year 2000.