Tales from the Trail

Frum Obamacare to Waterloo: Where do Republicans find themselves?

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Have Republicans really met their Waterloo? George W. Bush’s former speech writer David Frum thinks so. And he may have a point, though making it in public has proved costly.

Only six months ago, Republican opposition to healthcare reform was whacking away gleefully at President Barack Obama’s approval ratings. An army of conservative Tea Party activists were flooding Washington’s National Mall in a show of force against the Obama legislative agenda. And Republican nice guy Scott Brown was on his merry way to a Senate upset in bluest of blue Massachusetts.

Now healthcare reform is law and newly energized Democrats are moving to counter those evils of Wall Street that voters love to hate. The grass-roots army has brought Republicans one or two liabilities. And Obama’s job approval rating shows signs of firming up.

USA-HEALTHCARE/Meanwhile, whatever happened to Scott Brown? Well, he actually took that bipartisan independent-thinking stuff seriously and  joined Democrats to approve the Senate jobs bill.  As a result, people back home say his folk hero victory has backfired on the GOP.

But Brown and Frum may not be the only Republicans at odds with the straight and narrow. Before Frum left the American Enterprise Institute, Joe Klein says he privately disclosed that the think tank had ordered its scholars to keep schtum about Obamacare. Why? Because they agreed with too many of the president’s objectives.

Palin using her star power against selected House Democrats

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Sarah Palin really has the 2010 congressional elections in her cross hairs now.

As President Barack Obama signed healthcare reform into law, the potential 2012 Republican White House wannabe was out on Facebook with her own campaign to unseat 20 House Democrats who voted for the legislation. The page identifies targeted congressional districts via a map of the United States dotted by white and red cross hairs.

“We’re going to fire them and send them back to the private sector, which has been shrinking thanks to their destructive government-growing policies,” she says in a rallying note to supporters that also seeks donations for her political action committee, SarahPAC.

Palin’s aim is to go after House Democrats who voted for Obamacare and represent districts that she and John McCain carried in the 2008 presidential race.  USA-HEALTHCARE

Tea Partiers converge on Washington to kill the (healthcare) bill

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The rally began with an unaccompanied rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” sung to an oversized American flag hoisted aloft by a middle-aged man dressed like Captain America.

But the Marvel Comics super-hero impersonator was one of the few fringe elements on display, when about 200 Tea Party members gathered in a small grassy park in the shadow of the Capitol Dome with Washington-based organizers from conservative special-interest groups, House Republicans and, inevitably, the news media.

They had come from as far away as Texas, Michigan and Georgia for a “Kill the Bill!” rally meant to launch an 11th hour grass-roots lobbying effort to stop House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats from achieving victory for the Obama healthcare plan.

Coffee Party USA takes on the Tea Party

America’s conservative Tea Party movement may be on the boil, but the left is brewing up its own version in The Coffee Party USA.

The movement has launched itself on the social networking site Facebook where it has acquired more than 50,000 fans over the past month. You can see some news reports and commentary about it here and here and here.

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Under the battle cry “The Coffee Party USA: Wake Up and Stand Up” it is asking people to host a Coffee Party event on their March 13 “kick-off.”

Tea Party activists urged to borrow page from – ACORN

A Tea Party leadership conference in Dallas on Saturday urged the conservative movement’s activists to adopt old-fashioned, get-out-the-vote tactics, including driving people to the polling booth.

“This is something ACORN has been doing,” said Dallas Tea Party activist Lorie Medina, referring to the left-leaning group that conservative Tea Party types love to hate.

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Medina’s presentation — one of several at the weekend conference — focused on retooling the protest movement into a well-oiled political machine that can deliver the vote in primaries and general elections for candidates that subscribe to its view of limited government, low taxes and “national sovereignty.”

Texas Tea Partiers organize by zip codes

In north Texas, the conservative protest Tea Party movement has organized itself by zip codes and hopes it is a model that will be used elsewhere in America as it sets out to “take the country back” neighborhood by neighborhood.

We break down our system by zip codes. This is unique to north Texas I think but we would like to see it adopted elsewhere,” Ken Emanuelson, who is on the steering committee for the Dallas Tea Party, told me on the sidelines of a “Leadership Tea Party” conference being held this weekend.

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The movement grabbed headlines last year as it channeled conservative opposition to President Barack Obama’s policies into natwion-wide protests against bank bail-outs, the drive to overhaul healthcare, and other aspects of the White House agenda.

Democrats may face a new challenge: rising conservatism

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.

Gallup polling data show that conservatives became the biggest potential voting bloc in 2009. Forty percent of Americans called themselves ‘conservative’ last year, compared with 36 percent who said they were ‘moderate’ and 21 percent who described themselves as ‘liberal.’
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The findings, which have an error margin of 1 percentage point, come from an aggregate of 21 separate Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys, spanning nearly 22,000 interviews.

Gallup polling data also show that the number of Americans calling themselves moderate has fallen over the past decade, while conservatives and liberals have gained ground.

Obama’s security tweaks unlikely to quiet political opponents

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.

Take Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, for example. He’s running for governor of Michigan and criticizing Obama’s handling of the bomb plot in hopes of making Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, look soft on security.

“If you agree that we need a governor who will stand up the Obama/Pelosi efforts to weaken our security, please make a most generous contribution of $25, $50, $100 or even $250 to my campaign,” he said in a widely quoted letter to prospective supporters.
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The letter caused an uproar among critics who accused Hoekstra of playing politics with national security. But the security issue seems destined to become a leading theme for Republicans in this year’s election battle for control of Congress, which they hope to turn into a referendum on Obama’s policies.