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12
Several readers pounced on my blog about Obama’s favorable ratings in North Carolina:
 
“Hope that kool-aid tastes good,” one posted.  Another: “Wow. Keep spinning, Gary.”
 
 
“At a time of deepening political disaffection and intensified distress about the economy, President Obama enjoys an edge over Republicans in the battle for public support….

“While the president is showing signs of vulnerability on his handling of the economy — a majority of respondents say he has yet to offer a clear plan for creating jobs — Americans blame former President George W. Bush, Wall Street and Congress much more than they do Mr. Obama for the nation’s economic problems and the budget deficit, the poll found.

“They credit Mr. Obama more than Republicans with making an effort at bipartisanship, and they back the White House’s policies on a variety of disputed issues, including allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military and repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy."
 

 

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10
Sarah Palin is an unending source of entertainment. She’s nearly as funny as Tina Fey’s impression of her.
 
There’s the scrambled syntax – a sure sign of a scrambled mind. The brassy denial of reality. Reading a speech ridiculing President Obama for reading a speech. Attacking the bailout that she and John McCain supported in 2008. Defending Rush Limbaugh for calling people retards while criticizing Rahm Emanuel for calling people retards.
 
And the high point: writing talking points on her hand!
 
It’s no surprise Palin has a passionate following. In a country as great and diverse as America, there are nuts of all stripes. Remember Ross Perot?
 
The only question is how much she can damage the Republican Party before her inevitable flame-out.
 
Go, Sarah, go.

 

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08
Republicans have reason to be confident as filing opens for the 2010 elections. But I’m yet to be convinced this will be another 1994.
 
That year, Democrats – in Raleigh and Washington – were supremely overconfident, all the way to Election Day.
 
Not a problem this time.
 
Still, the cycle favors Republicans. Democrats have won big in the last two elections, so a change is due.
 
Also, Independents – the unorganized third party nationally and in North Carolina – tilt Republican. They’re unhappy, and they’ll probably take it out on the Ins.
 
But there are hopeful signs for Democrats.
 
President Obama is back in campaign mode. He challenged Republicans to a televised debate, in effect, on health care. Don’t underestimate him.
 
Statewide, while the cycle favors Republicans in the legislature, the money and the relative quality of the parties’ campaign teams favor Democrats. But will corporate money change that?
 
Locally, schools will dominate the Wake commissioners’ races, and the school board seems hell-bent on imposing its agenda, regardless of what parents said in the recent survey. That’s a sure-fire way to go over the cliff. Plus, three Republican incumbents are up this year, and only one Democrat.
 
On today’s money, I’d bet on Republican gains, but no replay of the ’94 revolution. And WakeCounty could be the outlier that goes Democratic.

 

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05
It’s the one thing you can count on in politicians: hubris.
 
Exhibit A: John Edwards.
 
Exhibit B may be the newly reenergized Republicans in Congress.
 
They’ve gone gaga over Scott Brown – and their new-found ability to block anything President Obama wants. They’re convinced the November elections will be a rerun of 1994.
 
Not so fast.
 
The Republicans may be headed over the same cliff as when they shut down the federal government – and left Raleigh without passing a budget – after 1994..
 
They look like nothing more than a collection of grim, grumpy old men.
 
Obama has this clearly in focus. And his biggest weapon is his own smiling, confident persona.
 
His strategy is taking shape. It will be Yes We Can versus Just Say No.

 

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02
I have a real problem with the way President Obama blamed George Bush for the budget deficit in his State of the Union speech.
 
But my objection is directly opposite Republicans’. I don’t think Obama blamed Bush enough.
 
As I recall, Ronald Reagan was still blaming Jimmy Carter and the Democrats for everything that was wrong as late as 1984. Obama has another three years to match that.
 
Politically, Obama would be a lot better off if he kept hammering that he inherited an economy that was about to go under – and a budget that already had. Bush, by contrast, inherited a booming economy and a budget surplus.
 
Blame away, Democrats.

 

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28
President Obama showed anew Wednesday night why he got elected – and why he remains the dominant political talent in America today.
 
His speech was masterful. His tone was perfect. And he smilingly skewered a range of targets – Republicans, Democrats, Supreme Court, big banks, you name it.
 
But his positioning was even more important than his performance.
 
The key to his speech was a warning to Republicans in the Senate. In effect, he said that, if Washington doesn’t produce this year, you’re to blame.
 
Republicans have been in high spirits since the Massachusetts election. If they have any sense, they’ll realize they’re on the court with the political version of LeBron James.

 

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25
President Obama made exactly the opposite mistake from Bill and Hillary Clinton on health-care reform.
 
The Clintons drew up a sweeping reform plan in secret, then sent it to Congress, where it died.
 
Obama let congressional Democrats come up with a reform plan. The first time it went to the voters, they voted to kill it. In Massachusetts, no less.
 
History repeats itself. The worst thing that can happen to a President – Democrat or Republican – is to have his own party control Congress. His fate is in the hands of the most extreme element of the party.
 
Now Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have done for Obama what Tom DeLay did for George Bush.

 

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20

 

Up in Washington, DC the Democrats on the City Council have put the Democrats in Congress on the hot seat by passing a law to make gay marriage legal in our nation’s Capital.
 
Now how on earth does that affect, say, Congressman Bob Etheridge who’s running for reelection here in North Carolina?
 
Because Congress either has to approve or disapprove the new law. Except, of course, this being Congress it’s not quite that simple. There’s a third choice: Congress can sit on its hands and do nothing in which case the law automatically takes effect after 30 days.
 
Which is exactly what the Democrats in Congress have in mind. Doing nothing. The question is:  Will the Republican powers-that-be call for a vote?
 
Now you’d think since same sex marriage has lost in every single state where it’s been put to a vote – including Massachusetts – the Republicans would be chomping at the bit for a roll call. But there’s a new theory rolling around Republican circles in Washington that says dodging ‘social issues’ is why Republicans won the Governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey.
 
So Republican leaders at first blush appear no more anxious to hold a vote than, say, Nancy Pelosi.
 
It’s an odd set of circumstances: About the last thing David Price, Brad Miller, Bob Etheridge and Larry Kissell (the Democratic Congressmen running here in North Carolina) want is to take a stand on gay marriage at the start of the election – and they may not have to because the Republican leaders up in Washington may tell them, Look, you don’t want a vote? Fine. Neither do we. Let’s forget about the whole thing.


 

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20
The polls hadn’t even closed in Massachusetts when Democrats formed up the requisite firing squad to fix the blame.
 
In truth, there are three factors here.
 
1. Scott Brown had the greatest gift in politics: an inept and overconfident opponent. Did she really go on vacation in the Caribbean last month?
 
2. Brown was an attractive, likable candidate with a good “narrative,” as they say now.  (“Narrative” used to be called “message.”)
 
3. And the White House lost control of its narrative.
 
The vaunted machine that won the White House in 2008 let the story in 2009 become “higher taxes” and “more spending” – not “get America working again.”
 
Obama never figured out a way to explain to Americans how health-care reform would cure a sickly economy.
 
Back to the drawing board.
 
Footnote: Isn’t it fitting that Massachusetts elected ex-Cosmopolitan model Brown to replace “playboy” Ted Kennedy?

 

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19
Health-care reform may die in Massachusetts today, and Democrats across the country may panic, but a loss in the Senate race won’t be the death blow to the Obama Presidency that Republicans dream of.
 
In fact, Obama wins either way. A Democratic win in Massachusetts guarantees enactment of reform. A Republican win gives him the chance to pivot and blame Republicans for failure.
 
When Obama runs against Washington, he clearly is a better performer than when he runs Washington. Thus it was throughout his campaign.
 
Historically, Democratic Presidents have their toughest times when Congress is overwhelmingly Democratic. See Clinton in 1994, LBJ in 1966 and FDR in 1936.
 
Conversely, Democratic Presidents do best when they can blame the country’s problems on do-nothing Republicans in Congress. See Truman in 1948 and Clinton from 1995 to 2000.
 
In the long run, a Massachusetts defeat may help Obama –help him not only win reelection in 2012, but avoid a Clinton-style debacle in November.

 

 

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