Recent electoral wins have pulled the Republican Party out of a tailspin that started at the height of its power in 1994, but it will be well-selected local candidates, more than the national party, that drives the agenda in November’s mid-term elections.
Tales from the Trail
Has President Obama opened a Pandora’s Box marked “Culture War” by moving — however slowly – to repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military?
Conservative punditry hasn’t weighed in yet. But there’s no reason to doubt the issue will be red meat for those who want to sink the Obama agenda and send congressional Democrats to the unemployment office in November.
“Our service members wear the uniform to fight and win wars, not serve as liberal-social-policy guinea pigs,” Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, tells Time magazine.
Sen. John McCain, a top Republican on military affairs, accused the administration of acting by fiat to circumvent Congress and the military’s chain of command after the Pentagon announced a year-long review of the policy.
“You’re embarking on saying it’s not whether the military prepares to make the change but how we best prepare for it, without ever hearing from members of Congress, without hearing from the members of the Joint Chiefs, and of course, without taking into consideration all the ramifications,” he told Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen at a Senate Armed Services hearing yesterday.
Polling data show most Americans favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military. But the risk for Obama is that Republicans and their talk-show allies will cry up the issue and steer the now palpable frustrations of voters against him and his fellow Democrats.
Democrats, who got a taste of that voter frustration in Massachusetts last month, now hope to win favor by making the economy their top priority.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer favors repeal but seems happy to let the Pentagon take the lead until after this year’s election.
“What I want members to do in their districts? I want them to focus on jobs and fiscal responsibility. Those are our messages,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters. “The American public clearly wants us focused on growing the economy, adding jobs. That is a principle responsibility.”
Fresh from a stunning election victory that shook the confidence of the national Democratic Party, Scott Brown says he’s ready for a showdown with President Barack Obama — on the basketball court.
Brown, known only a few weeks ago as a dude with a truck, says he challenged Obama to hoops when the two spoke by telephone on the night the Massachusetts Republican won Teddy Kennedy’s dyed-in-the-wool-Democratic-blue seat in the U.S. Senate.
“The only time I spoke to him was election night and I did challenge him to pick his best, and I’ll take my daughter Ayla who plays for Boston College, and we’d challenge him to a little 2-on-2. I think we’d have the upper hand,” Brown said in an interview with TV comedian Jay Leno.
“He looks like he’s in great shape. It’d certainly be a tough game,” he said.
Brown didn’t mention how the president responded.
Obama, a hard-core hoophead, has shot baskets on the campaign trail, with U.S. troops in the field and with kids on the South Lawn of the White House. At 48, he would have a two-year advantage over the 50-year-old Brown. But as Sports Illustrated magazine notes, the president can’t dunk and doesn’t have a hoopster nickname.
Brown does have a nickname. At Tufts University, he was known as “Downtown Scotty Brown,” possibly for his long-distance jumpshots. And that’s not all. In a given week, Brown told Leno, he swims close to 2 miles, bikes about 95 and runs 15 or 20 miles.
One thing is clear. President Barack Obama is not afraid of a fight.
He battled all last year with Republicans and some of his own Democrats trying to get healthcare reform through the political headwinds.
Think today’s U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts could be bad news for President Obama? Then consider what pollsters are saying now about the healthcare reform debate’s potential effect on the November congressional elections.
The Democratic Party’s hopes of retaining control of Congress in November are already reeling from a spate of Senate retirements and the political flap surrounding last month’s failed bomb attack on a Detroit-bound airliner. Now comes a potential new hurdle: growing conservatism among the American public.
President Barack Obama may have hoped to limit the political fallout from last month’s attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner by admitting there was a “screw up.” Will firings follow? Some think Obama’s unusually sharp rhetoric raises the odds that heads will roll.
President Barack Obama will tighten airline security today in a bid to thwart any future attack like last month’s plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner. But will that silence his political opponents? Not likely. With congressional elections looming in November, the stakes may be too high.