Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Whopper That Should Have Been Politifact's "Lie of the Year"

I don’t envy the journalists responsible for choosing Politifact’s “Lie of the Year.” Sifting through an entire year’s worth of remarks from the mouths of elected officials is undoubtedly a massive undertaking. I’m sure this year was no exception.

Then, once the “lie” in question is decided upon, Politifact’s editors must deal with the inevitable whining from the individual or group which propagated the winning “lie” in the first place and who now come forward to defend the original statement.

This year Politifact chose well.

As this year’s biggest whopper Politifact chose the patently false assertion, repeatedly made by Democratic politicians and liberal groups, that Republicans were going to “end Medicare” and that Republican policy proposals would reduce benefits to today’s senior citizens. By highlighting this falsehood Politifact brought attention to one of the great political lies, not just of the year, but of the last half century.

But as outrageous as it is, that particular lie--often accompanied by a video that shows an actor portraying Rep. Paul Ryan throwing a wheelchair bound grandmother off of a cliff--isn’t the one that should have received the “Lie of the Year” distinction.

The “award” should have been bestowed on the following statement by socialist Senator Bernie Sanders:

“This country does in fact have a serious deficit problem. But the reality is that the deficit was caused by two wars — unpaid for. It was caused by huge tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country. It was caused by a recession as result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street. And if those are the causes of the deficit, I will be damned if we’re going to balance the budget on backs of the elderly, the sick, the children, and the poor. That’s wrong.”

Sanders wasn’t the first leftist to promote this baseless theory, but his face is attached to a widely circulated internet meme featuring his quote, so for the purposes of this article we’re going to use him as the lie’s symbolic godfather.

In actuality, the lie that our soaring debt was caused by the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq really began with this New York Times chart and was soon adopted by the White House. It then rapidly became a standard liberal talking point and the basis for excusing away the rapid accumulation of debt under president Obama.

And why not? Over the last three years the Democratic Party has sustained itself almost exclusively using the big lie that all of our current problems stem from the actions of the prior administration. Why stray from this demonstrably successful formula?

Of course, the claim is totally bogus.

The reality is while there was a slight uptick in the debt immediately after George W. Bush entered office, the debt as a percentage of GDP remained remarkably stable for the majority of Bush’s two terms. It flat-lined at around 60% of GDP and stayed that way until the economic crisis hit in 2008. That’s pretty much the area the debt had remained since the presidency of George H.W. Bush. In fact, the Bush II debt level remained lower than the debt-to-GDP ratio that existed for the majority of Bill Clinton’s two terms in office.

Only when the financial crisis hit did the debt soar to nearly 80% of GDP. Both the Bush tax cuts and the War on Terror have been in effect since 2001. If the Left’s claims about the debt were true then we would have seen a steady increase in the debt as a percentage of GDP prior to the financial crisis. That didn’t happen.

The truth is that America’s newfound debt comes almost exclusively from the rapid decline in growth that came with the financial crash of 2008 as well as the implementation of TARP, the Obama stimulus, automatic spending increases that occur when more Americans qualify for government benefits and across-the-board, long-term spending increases generated by President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

But this accurate narrative didn’t fit the Democrats’ simplistic class warfare strategy. So they cherry-picked the two Bush-era policies they liked the least and pinned the bulk of the debt increase on the impact of those two policies.

Of course, if we’re going to use the Bernie Sanders standard, it would also be logical to claim that ANY government expenditure over a certain amount that occurred prior to the large debt increase was in fact responsible for the debt increase itself.

Why not blame the spike in the debt on the expenditures which are our nation’s largest to begin with? Those would be Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the annual interest of the debt itself. Every single one of these eats up a far greater chunk of government cash on an annual basis than ten years of the War on Terror or the Bush tax cuts. But that wouldn’t fit into the Left’s ‘blame it on the Republicans at all costs’ narrative, now would it?

Therefore, given that the debt has been the focus of the national political conversation over the last three years, THIS was the lie that Politifact’s editors should have labeled with the “Lie of the Year” distinction.

Awarding this dubious honor to the debt claim would have been particularly appropriate since it appears that the lie has worked.

According to polls by the Pew Research Center, those who blame our debt problem on the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan far outnumber those who blame the recession or the Obama Administration’s feckless spending increases.

Politifact deserves credit for finally calling out the Democrats for their perennial lies concerning Republican plans for reforming entitlements. But they really should have considered the debt lie fire, which has spread from the pants of one liberal to another over the past year.

- Dan Joseph

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Cain Train Wreck

When Herman Cain won the Florida Straw Poll, I updated my Facebook status to read: “Herman Cain has officially peaked.” Over the next few weeks, Cain rose to frontrunner status and it appeared that I had grossly miscalculated Cain’s appeal. Despite Cain’s recent surge, I stand by my initial statement. Ever since his Florida victory, Cain has performed dismally as a candidate. He has made a series of gaffes and missteps that should give serious pause to every conservative considering casting their vote for Mr. Cain.

One week after winning in Florida, Cain found himself rising quickly in almost every opinion poll. It appeared that his rising numbers were coming at the expense of Texas Governor Rick Perry, whose poor debate performances had disappointed many conservatives who had viewed him as the GOP’s best hope to unite Tea Party activists and establishment conservatives.

On October 1st, those intrepid reporters at the Washington Post decided that an old rock at the Perry family hunting ground that once had a racially insensitive name etched on it was front page news. It was a typical hit piece from a typical left-wing media outlet. But, when Cain was asked about the matter, he decided to play the race card--seemingly out of instinct.

"Since Gov. Perry has been going there for years to hunt, I think that it shows a lack of sensitivity for a long time of not taking that word off of that rock and renaming the place,”
he told ABC's This Week.

Yes, it was painted over," he said. "But how long ago was it painted over? So I'm still saying that it is a sign of insensitivity."

Time after time over the last three years conservatives have been demonized with accusations of racism by defenders of President Obama. We don’t like it. For Cain to adopt this tactic with such ease, when there was no evidence of any racial insensitivity on Perry’s part, was a sign that Cain shared the reflexive, race based world view that has outraged conservatives for decades.

But little was said by conservatives concerning Cain’s attack. This was disheartening but understandable given that the Tea Party’s honeymoon phase with Cain had just begun.

A few days later in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Cain said this in response to a question about the Occupy Wall Street protesters who had recently converged in Zuccotti Park.

"Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone's fault if they succeeded, it is someone's fault if they failed.”

Still enjoying the honeymoon, conservatives did not bat an eye at this boneheaded and insensitive statement. Despite the fact that Cain had just handed an incredible piece of general election fodder to the Obama campaign. But, conservatives defended the statement, either as being mostly true or as an example of Cain’s refreshing propensity not to mince words as more polished politicians so often do.

In his first debate as a top tier candidate, Cain was put on the defensive concerning his 9-9-9 economic plan. The plan itself is undeniably an improvement over the status quo. But Cain seemed incapable of defending it against the barrage of attacks and downright misrepresentations launched by his fellow candidates. Cain drifted into a confused non-defense of the plan citing “apples and oranges” instead of numbers and failed to illustrate the simplicity that he had previously bragged about as 9-9-9’s most attractive feature.

Given the fact that 9-9-9 is the centerpiece--and really the sole talking point—of the Cain campaign, his inability to defend it should have once again caused conservatives to reassess their consideration of Cain as the best candidate to face Barack Obama. They did not. Cain’s meteoric rise in the polls continued.

He performed a similarly confusing dance around the abortion issue in an interview a little more than a week later week, waffling horribly on when he would support exceptions to his pro-life stance in a way that would make Mitt Romney blush.

Next came the bizarre commercial starring a cigarette puffing Cain campaign advisor and ending with a bizarre profile of a smiling Cain, set to patriotic music that sounded as though it was recorded in the early 1980’s. While the video went viral, the video made Cain’s campaign look amateurish and weird.

Fast forward to the last few days. The recent sex scandal plaguing Cain may be an irrelevant smear leaked by a political nemesis. But, despite having ten days notice that Politico was going to run with the story Cain appeared to have no idea how to handle it when it broke.

The man, who had built his campaign on not being a typical politician, repeatedly evaded the question exactly the way a typical politician would when asked about the matter. His inconsistent answers have given the appearance of a cover up which is almost always worse than the actual crime in the political world.

Then, when speaking at the National Press Club about this scandal, Cain inexplicably burst into song. A move that can only be described as clownish for someone running for the nation’s highest office and undeniably a bizarre spectacle, far outside of the realm of what most Americans consider to be “presidential” behavior.

Finally, on Tuesday’s edition of Special Report with Brit Hume, panelist Charles Krauthammer decided to test Cain. Krauthammer lobbed a softball at Cain asking him if he thought the sexual harassment charges were racially motivated.

Cain took the bait and once again played the race card. He played it unabashedly and with no regard for the facts.

“I believe the answer is yes, but we do not have any evidence to support it,”
Cain answered.

It’s understandable that after years of having the race card played against us, conservatives would want to give the left a taste of its own medicine. But, despite this urge, Cain’s answer makes us all look like hypocrites and needs to be roundly condemned. Conservatives should not resort to Democratic tactics and this is one of the most egregious and maddening. An African American running for president must not use race as a crutch when attacked. It is a divisive and usually dishonest way of slandering one’s opponents. Shockingly, Barack Obama was quite disciplined in his refusal to cite racism as a factor when asked about attacks leveled against him in 2008. Cain could learn a thing or two from Obama’s successful campaign in which he appeared “post-racial”—a trait that was very appealing to Independent voters.

Herman Cain is a fascinating and likeable guy. He is certainly not a politician and yes, his popularity among the most conservative members of the Republican base completely debunks the myth of a racially insensitive GOP that has been a left wing narrative for so long.

But these are lousy reasons to support a presidential candidate. At this point, Cain’s lack of political polish is becoming more of a liability than an asset. It will almost certainly be a problem if Cain is faced with the unrelenting attacks of a desperate Obama machine next year.

After a month of gaffes and mistakes, it’s time for conservatives to jump off the Cain Train.

-Dan Joseph

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Debate Tips For Rick Perry

On Wednesday night Rick Perry took a huge step toward becoming the Republican presidential nominee. While his performance in his first GOP debate will not become the stuff of conservative legend, it was good enough. He did not embarrass himself with gaffes. He was articulate and there were no signs of the below-average intellect that those on the left have been telling us about for the last few weeks. Simply put, he appeared presidential.

It is worth noting that Rick Perry does not have much debate experience. Some of his past gubernatorial campaigns in Texas have not even included debates. He can be forgiven if he is rusty in the debate limelight the first time around. However, he can not survive if he does not improve on Wednesday’s performance as it included gaping holes that could easily be exploited. Not necessarily by Mitt Romney, but almost certainly by President Obama.

The defining moment of the Perry debate performance was when he took on the issue of Social Security. Perry restated his position from his oft-cited book ‘Fed Up’ calling the program as it now stands a Ponzi scheme(it is) and insisting that the plan absolutely must be reformed if it is to survive (it must).

Generally, any time a Republican so much as mentions possible changes to America’s most beloved entitlement program, Democrats are quick to demagogue that statement and use it to beat the GOP over the head until the political career of the person who said it is over.

Perry bravely and openly talked about the flawed nature of the program and sure enough, within minutes of his statement the Romney campaign issued a press release claiming that Perry was “…committed to abolishing Social Security.”
First and foremost, Mitt Romney should be ashamed of himself for twisting Perry’s position and politicizing this important issue. That’s the kind of behavior that we expect from Democrats and from the “career politicians” that Romney has been railing against in his stump speeches as of late.

But Perry needs to be very careful on this subject. Even if he beats back Romney, the Obama campaign will undoubtedly engage in even more vicious and misleading assaults on Perry’s position in the general election campaign.

Over the next few months, Perry must drive home the idea that he does not want to abolish the program and that the baby boomers will not see any changes to their benefits. Furthermore he must be careful not to give any specifics about his plan to reform the program. At least not until Barack Obama does the same, which is unlikely to happen at all. Any specifics, no matter what they are, will be twisted and deformed by Obama until every senior in the nation has been so terrified that there is a nationwide shortage of adult diapers.

Slightly less consequential was Perry’s answer on global warming. Like a growing number of Americans, Perry is skeptical of the nature and severity of climate change. Due to the current economic situation and legislative realities, no significant action on global warming is likely to occur any time soon. It’s a largely moot issue. Nonetheless, Perry’s skepticism will be used by Democrats—and Jon Huntsman apparently—to brand Perry as anti-science.

The next time the issue comes up, instead of countering with the issue of jobs as he tried to do on Wednesday night, Perry should specifically address some of the reasons for his skepticism.

He could bring up the now infamous East Anglia emails in which scientists were discussing the possibility of rigging global warming data in order to cover for the inaccuracy of climate models.

He might also mention the new findings of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) whose scientists have demonstrated a relationship between cosmic rays, solar variations and changes in the Earth's surface temperature, which could be proven to far exceed the impact of carbon emissions.

Or he might simply point out the consistent failure of climate models to back up the predictions of climate alarmists throughout the years.

Bringing up these points will not only allow Perry to appear thoughtful and informed on the matter, but will also force the Obama campaign to either address these uncomfortable inconsistencies on AGW theory or simply ignore the issue altogether.

But one way or the other, it is not enough for Perry to simply tout his skepticism without explaining in some detail why he is skeptical Failure to do so will lend undeserved credibility to the Left’s claim that Perry lacks intellectual curiosity, when in reality this label better describes those who fail to question the inconsistencies of the claims of the climate change alarmists.

Finally, while no one will deny Perry’s ability to look and sound presidential, there were moments in the second half of Wednesday debate where Perry’s answers were broken up with long pauses. These pauses made it appear that Perry was either tired or simply didn’t know what to say Whatever the reason, the habit was reminiscent of some of George W. Bush’s more uncomfortable unscripted moments.

If he hopes to go toe-to-toe with President Obama, Perry needs to be as consistently eloquent in off-the-cuff situations as he has proven to be when giving prepared speeches.

GOP primary voters are looking for a reason to abandon Mitt Romney completely and move their support to the Texas governor. But they will hesitate if they don’t believe that Perry can match Romney when it comes to making a coherent and convincing case for the conservative cause.

- Dan Joseph

Quiet. Grown-ups are talking.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rick Perry and the Secular Center

When Governor Rick Perry threw his hat into the presidential ring, three things happened in quick succession.

First, Perry almost immediately shot to the top of the GOP polls in the race for the Party's nomination.

Next, sensing that Perry was a serious threat to Obama, the Left began trying to discredit Perry’s economic record in Texas. This failed miserably due to a lack of legitimate economic criticisms capable of sticking to the governor. It will continue to fail given the perceptions about the economic record of the current administrations.

Finally, the left and their allies in the media, quickly turned the focus to Perry’s views on social wedge issues.

Global warming, creationism, prayer rallies, gay marriage and abortion are going to be very popular topics of conversation over the next few months and the focus will come about as an effort by the Left to diminish Rick Perry’s appeal to the secular center.

The “secular center”--a term that you are probably unfamiliar with since I just coined it -- are an increasingly important group of independent minded voters who tend to be young and came out in big numbers for Barack Obama in 2008.

This group—along with 75% of their fellow Americans—have determined that Barack Obama has failed miserably in his economic stewardship. Understandably, they have begun to instinctively tune out Obama when he begins to talk economics in the same way that they tuned out George W. Bush when he was talking about Iraq after 2005.

But, on certain matters, the secular center is still capable of being swayed or, scared really, into putting a clothespin on their nose and voting for Obama a second time, despite all the evidence that Obama is about as competent as president as some of us expected a former community organizer would be.

Like I said before, the secular center is largely made up of young adults.

They attend church rarely, if at all.

They find the idea of creationism absurd.

They do not see any adverse affects to society if gays are allowed to marry each other.

They may sympathize with the pro-life point of view but don’t feel that abortion is tantamount to murder.

In recent years, the secular center has become very wary and at times annoyed by Americans who wear their religion on their sleeves. In a society increasingly driven by science and technology, they view the idea that a 2000 year old book written by men who claimed to speak to God via shrubbery is not necessarily a reliable source. At least not from a fact based, analytical perspective.

So when an individual running for our nation’s highest office starts talking about these matters in the same breath as economic and foreign policy, it’s a big turn-off to the secular centrists.

But in reality, the decision to vote against a candidate based on his or her belief in creationism is as backwards as the belief in creationism itself.

Whoever gets elected president in 2012, the likelihood of substantive changes to controversial social policies that come from the federal government is slim to none.

There will be no constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The national debate on this matter has effectively ended and any further changes to the definition of marriage will be determined on a state by state basis.

Even if Roe V. Wade is overturned, under the most extreme scenario, abortion will remain legal in most states, particularly in more secular states.

Whether Global Warming is a true threat to humanity or not, the issue is dead. There will be no significant action taken on climate change regardless of who holds the White House. There is no appetite in this country for any of the proposed changes. The Climate alarmists have lost.

Is it possible that some schools will teach creationism in conjunction with evolution? Sure. But, so what? The President of the US has no say in what our children learn on this matter to begin with.

One could argue that the religious views that evangelicals tend to hold on this matter will set a bad example for children across America if one of their own is President. However thus far into the Obama presidency, children have not adopted the view that AIDS was introduced into the black community by the US government, a theory for which Barack Obama’s pastor of 20 years was a strong advocate.

On the opposite side of the coin, the president has great power to alter economic policy which affects these secular centrists and every one of their fellow Americans in a very direct way.

As president, Perry can, and will dramatically alter the economic agenda set down by the current administration.

His record as governor is better than that of any other executive in the country in terms of job creation, which is our nation’s most pressing problem and one which has the current president completely and utterly flummoxed.

He will dismantle Obamacare, thus saving the nation trillions of dollars in the long term.

He will overturn the onerous regulations put in place by the various agencies under Obama’s control, which are already crippling American businesses.

And this is where secular conservatives and even social conservatives who understand the importance of the upcoming election need to begin making a pro-conservative case to those on the secular center, who will play a significant role in deciding this election.

The secular centrists need to understand that the decision to base their vote on cultural wedge issues rather than on substantive economic policy matters in this election could very well doom the United States to four more years of economic malaise. Malaise which will be increasing difficult to emerge from, even after the Obama era has passed.

It will postpone action on entitlement and tax reforms that are absolutely essential if we are to get the debt under control and ensure that Social Security and Medicare survive for the next generation.

Rick Perry and his fellow Republican presidential contenders understand that they must win over socially conservative voters in order to win the nomination. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that at times this means saying some things about the origins of the Earth and human sexuality that they know not to be true.

But these candidates must pay lip service to those who are true believers in these ideas, or sacrifice any chance at receiving the Republican nomination, thus also sacrificing their chance to right the current administration’s wrongs and save the nation.

Every secular voter should consider that before eliminating someone from consideration solely based on their religious dogma. Or what a candidate SAYS is their religious dogma.

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Obama's Debt Ceiling Dishonesty For Beginners

It's getting really difficult for me to listen to President Obama give speeches--and it was tough to being with. As his poll numbers drop lower and lower it seems that his talking points become more and more dishonest. Last night he was true to form.

It was a short speech, but it wasn't short on whoppers and misleading statements. Here's a sampling:

"For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card. As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office."

While it's true that the debt has grown since the year 2000--and before that-- neither the Bush tax cuts or the war in Iraq were the reason that the deficit was " on track to top $1 trillion the year [Obama] took office." The reason for that staggering number was a combination of lowered revenues due to the recession and the money spent on TARP. Prior to that, revenues had been spiking upward and the annual deficit had been dropping for several years.

When touting his own debt reduction "plan" and getting ready to make the comparison to the GOP plan that actually exists, Obama said:

"The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President."

This is only true if one views those cuts in the context of the increases that this administration has already made. The administration has hiked annual spending levels. The cuts that are now being proposed simply adjust the spending to levels lower than they are at now. However, the levels will still be higher than they ever have been before. When the President mentions Ike, he is referring to the precipitous drop in spending following World War II. This comparison is misleading and completely irrelevant to our current situation.

"Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach."

At this point, anyone who fully understands the situation should know that even if the deadline passes, America will not default on it's debt obligations. There are more than enough revenues coming in to avoid this scenario and there is no doubt that paying our creditors will be the government's number one priority should the deadline hit.

But, it terms of solely blaming the GOP's "approach" for possible default, it takes two to tango. One could just as easily blame the Administration's seemingly intractable demand that taxes be raised if default were to occur. Which it won't.

"If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks."

Same scare tactic, only this time aimed at scaring a specific constituency. Social Security checks will most certainly be a funding priority should America pass the deadline. Whether the checks go out is the president's decision, but they most certainly will. Again, there will be plenty of revenues to cover this item.

"I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues. But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons. Yes, many want government to start living within its means. And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few."

While it's probably true that the president was elected by people who think this way, members of the new GOP congress were elected by people who reject this type of class warfare and realize that the economic problems of the American middle-class are not in any way related to what the tax-rate is for wealthy Americans.

Call me crazy, but I think honesty in times of crisis is an important trait for the leader of the free-world to have. What we have now is something far different. But he still has the bully pulpit. One has to hope that he is as ineffective in using it to sway public opinion in this case as he was when attempting to sell health care reform.

All politicians play loose with the truth. But not to the extent that this one has in such a relatively short period of time.

- Dan Joseph

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Bachmann Trap

Barack Obama is imminently beatable. There’s no question about it. His supporters who claim differently are doing so in an attempt to convince themselves of the president’s invincibility. Not the public at large.

The 2012 election will, almost certainly, play out as presidential elections always do when a sitting president is running for a second term. It will be a referendum on the incumbent. If the economy is weak, voters will be much less likely to give the incumbent an automatic renewal. They will look at the republican alternative and if that alternative is acceptable, many voters and particularly Independents will swing towards the challenger and put him or her in the White House.

Actually, scratch that. Not “her.” No female will be moving into the White House in 2013. The failure of some party members to understand this simple truth is generating big problems for Republicans at the moment.

Tea-Party conservatives are flocking to Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. Bachmann is intelligent, attractive and a rock solid conservative.

She is also gaffe prone, a favorite target for media ridicule and running 14-points behind Barack Obama in her home state.

But Bachmann supporters don’t want to hear it. While they admit that the media is attempting (successfully) to make her seem mentally unstable and radically right wing, Bachmann fans counter that the GOP should not allow the left-wing media to dictate who we choose as our candidate. They also claim that the reason that the media is attempting to demonize Bachmann is because they fear that she would beat Obama. They also theorize that the primary reason that so many “establishment” Republicans dislike her is because she is too conservative.

While, it is unfortunate that the media should have the power to devastatingly vilify politicians who don’t deserve it, the awful truth is that they do have such power. We don’t have to like it, but denying that character assassination actually has an impact on how voters see candidates is akin to believing that a morbidly obese woman could win a bikini contest because she has a wonderful personality.

Because of who Bachmann is, even her slightest most insignificant mistake will be magnified and be given legs in the media. Fair or not, the steady drip of tiny gaffes--some of which would be ignored if uttered by other politicians--will bury Bachman quicker than you can say “John Quincy Adams.”

Sadly, Bachmann is damaged goods. Worse still she plays into the character that the media has painted of her due to a host of inopportune statements and a manner that some find grating. For Republicans to take a pass on Bachmann for these reasons is not allowing the MSM to pick our candidate. It’s understanding the reality that she’s already been rendered unelectable.

In the long run, the Left may live to regret how quickly they set their sights on Rep. Bachmann. Had they gone easier on her when she first appeared on the scene they would have minimized the risk of the conservative movement coming to its senses and realizing how weak of a general election candidate she would be--a message that Democrats got just in time to avoid a disastrous Howard Dean candidacy in 2004.

While no polls are available on the subject, talk to liberal Democrats around the country and their eyes light up when presented with the prospect of a Bachmann nomination. Whether they are right or wrong, Democratic insiders and grassroots liberals alike truly believe that Bachman—in the absence of Sarah Palin-- would be among the easiest GOP candidates to beat. I’m guessing that they’re right.

When presented with this particular argument Bachman supporters make a legitimate point, but for the wrong reasons.

The Tea Party would have us remember that the conventional wisdom was that Ronald Reagan had no chance against Jimmy Carter in 1980--wisdom that proved to be wildly inaccurate.

But, at the time, the reasoning behind the conventional wisdom was that America would not elect someone as conservative as Reagan--thinking that was based on the success of moderate conservatives like Eisenhower and Nixon and the massive defeat of Barry Goldwater in 1964.

But, Reagan proved that a true conservative could indeed win and today Republicans almost unanimously believe that another trueconservative could duplicate Reagan’s feat. The objections to Bachmann among conservatives arise not because of her staunch conservatism, but because of all of her other qualities.

Some conservatives--most notably Rush Limbaugh--would have us believe that left-wing media types are so terrified of certain candidates--like Bachmann and Sarah Palin-- that they attempt to destroy them so that Obama can avoid having to face them in a general election. Additionally, Limbaugh thinks that the MSM talks up candidates that they think are the most beatable--guys like Romney, Huntsman and Mitch Daniels.

It’s quite a conspiracy theory. But in all likelihood, Rush is giving liberals in the media way too much credit. It’s far more likely that the folks over at MSNBC or the New York Times simply can’t help themselves when a hated target like Bachmann trips up--the same way that conservatives can’t resist going on the attack anytime Al Gore or Barney Frank open their mouths. It’s like catnip for their audience and these media organizations need to satisfy their base, because it’s pretty much all they’ve got at this point.

In the end, Tea Partiers will hopefully come to understand that while they can change the national conversation and the ideological direction of the GOP, they cannot control the effectiveness and reach of the mainstream media. Nor can they control much of the narrative that gets fed to independent voters who, unfortunately, are not listening to conservative talk radio or tuning into the Fox News Channel in the numbers conservatives would like.

In the end, the best candidate for the GOP is the most conservative candidate who can win the general election. It would be imprudent to nominate a candidate who would cause a huge internal fight between the various segments of the party base at a time when the White House is in reach--particularly if that fight is centered on a candidate’s ability to get elected. A party can withstand an internal ideological battle, but the resentment that would be aimed at the Tea Party if it insists on Bachmann and she proceeds to get trounced would be seismic. If, despite warnings about her electability from party leaders, the base stubbornly goes with Bachman and we lose big, the Tea Party will be blamed and its credibility will evaporate. This would be one of the worst things that could possibly happen if we truly want the conservative ascendancy to continue and prevail.

The message of the Tea Party is vitally important to the future of the conservative movement and to the nation as a whole. Unfortunately, many of the candidates that the Tea party has chosen as messengers have proven incapable of generating mainstream appeal--the kind of appeal that those individuals who have been elected to the White House over the last 50 years have enjoyed. A divisive, three-term congresswoman who has had a huge target on her back for the last two-years is a very unsafe bet.

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Young Voters Sticking with Obama

Bad news. It appears that young voters are sticking with Barack Obama.

Despite the mass exodus of independent voters supporting the President in the two years since his inauguration he has not lost much support from voters between the ages of 18 and 34 over that period.

A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that 57% of voters between the ages of 18-34 currently approve of the president’s job performance. That number has not fluctuated much over the last two years. The same poll shows Obama’s approval among all voters at 46% and his approval among self-described Independents at a dismal 43%. Those numbers have declined significantly since the president took office.

While Obama’s approval rating among younger voters is a bit lower than the 66% of this demographic that voted for him in the 2008 election, the difference is almost insignificant. In a presidential election, voters don’t necessarily have to “approve” of an incumbent president’s job performance in order to support him over his rival.

Even so, at first glance, these latest statistics don’t make a lick of sense. When you examine our country’s current economic situation, young people should be more upset than anyone else about the consequences of the Obama agenda.

The youth unemployment rate remains much higher than the national average. The Democrats’ recent spending binge promises to saddle Generation Y with heaps of new debt and the outlook for the future solvency of Social Security and Medicare looks grim, with the president showing no interest whatsoever in tackling the entitlement behemoth.

So what the hell is going on here?

Are young people such huge supporters of cowboy poetry festivals and stimulus-funded turtle tunnels that they are simply willing to overlook the long-term negative impact of Barack Obama’s harmful economic policies and their disproportionately negative impact on their own demographic?

Not exactly.

The issues have a little bit to do with it. Young people tend to gravitate towards easy to understand issues that have a big emotional component. So Obama’s support for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and his appointment of two, pro-choice women on the Supreme Court have helped.

But in reality Obama’s popularity with young people remains largely intact, not because young people agree with the president on specific issues, but because they are not sufficiently engaged to know that they disagree with him.

The election of 2008 undoubtedly energized young people in an unprecedented way and Obama was the beneficiary of almost all of that energy. It was a season of “American” Idol where the future of the country was at stake and Obama was the star.

Presidential elections are exciting and dramatic. They are filled with larger-than-life characters and come with the prize of leading the greatest nation on Earth (or as liberals call it “America.”). They spark an emotional reaction in the voter that a midterm or local election simply cannot evoke. They are special, occurring only two or three times each decade. Yes, presidential elections are sexy. Policy is not.

The election’s crescendo came when California was called for Obama and thousands of young voters gathered to celebrate in Grant Park. They filled the streets, cheering for the hope and change that they had helped create by working for Obama and endlessly promoting him on Facebook and My Space.

But, once the election was over and sanitation workers were done picking up the heaps of garbage that Obama’s revelers left on the National Mall after the inauguration, most of the young voters who had been so pumped up for the better part of 2008 decided to take a nap.

It was like, ‘Hey! Great party, Barack! See you in four years!’

This disconnect was most evident during the national debate over health care reform. Here we had Obama putting on a full court press in an effort to sell his signature program--the centerpiece of his domestic agenda! But the hordes of young voters who once swooned at the sound of Obama’s majestic oratory and chanted “Yes, We Can” in unison were nowhere to be found. Despite the growing opposition to the bill being expressed at town hall meetings around the nation and the growing Tea-Party movement, Organizing for America was unable to reassemble the masses of young activists who had once constituted Obama’s most loyal apologists.

Instead, the Administration was forced to rely on the same big labor elements and lifelong members of the Democratic Party base that they had used to do the leg work for liberal causes for the past 40 years. As we have seen recently, union members are not necessarily the best spokespeople for complex laws as they tend to yell a lot and get arrested frequently.

When it came to the campaign to sell a massive and difficult-to-understand piece of transformative legislation, Obama's throngs of young supporters were nowhere to be found. Not anywhere near as engaged as when the focus was a simplistic message of “hope and change” emanating from the first African- American with a legitimate chance to win the presidency.

Generation Y’s failure to become actively involved in the health care debate may seem like a positive development on the surface as it could be a sign of Obama losing the support of a dedicated part of his base. But given his approval rating among this group, it is dangerous for conservatives to assume that young voters will not be back in force to support Obama’s coming re-election bid.

The health care debate showed us that Obama’s young foot soldiers are almost entirely disengaged. That’s very dangerous, because if they’re only paying attention during presidential election years, they are not aware of all of the damaging policies that Obama is pushing on the nation. As a result, they will see no reason not to defend their 2008 investment and vote for Obama once again in 2012. Lacking a frame of reference, they will hear the charismatic president tout the realized “change” that he promised four years earlier and not give a thought as to whether that “change” has been positive or not.

For all of his faults, Obama is still a cool character with a ton of charisma. A rockstar, if you will. That’s a very powerful influence on the voter who knows little to nothing about the issues being debated.

And what do Republicans have to offer in response? It’s unclear at this point, but looking at the current slate of prospective candidates there’s no one who can come even close to matching Obama in terms of a style that will intrigue young people.

Gingrich? No way.

Mitch Daniels? Boooooring!

Tim Pawlenty? He’s got all the personality of a piece of toast. And not an interesting kind of toast like rye or pumpernickel. Plain white dry toast.

Romney’s ok, but I don’t think he’s going to get through a GOP primary, carrying the albatross of his Massachusettes health care debacle.

Herman Cain? Who? The pizza guy? You’re dreaming!

The only individual I can think of who would be able to appeal to the young the way Obama has is Senator Marco Rubio and it’s more likely that he will be on the bottom of the GOP ticket than the top.

In 2008 Obama won young voters by a whopping 33% over the elderly John McCain and a running mate who turned off younger voters almost as much as Obama turned them on.
Had McCain and Obama simply split the youth vote 50%-50%, Obama would have only won the popular vote by one-half of one percent putting the Electoral College up for grabs.

It is incredibly unlikely that the GOP candidate will come close to splitting the youth vote with Obama this time around, but with the right candidate and the right message, we may be able to improve on the dismal performance of four years ago.

In the meantime, it’s up to you to get out there and update the young, currently disengaged, Obama voter on what has been going on in Washington for the past two years and why they should “change” once again in 2012.

At this point, it’s not electorally essential that we chip away at Obama’s support among these voters. We can win without them. But in the long run it would seriously behoove us to begin taking appeal to young voters into consideration when we are choosing our standard bearers. If we don’t, we risk permanently ceding a generation of voters to the Democratic Party.

Dan Joseph is a writer for CNS News and the author of Generation Right: The Young Conservative in the Age of Obama. He lives in McLean, Virginia with his cat, Rocky.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Politics or Patriotism? Obama’s Big Entitlement Choice

Harry Reid is no patriot. I say that as one who almost always gives politicians on both sides of the ideological spectrum the benefit of the doubt. Even if I vehemently disagree with them, I assume that they ran for office and serve primarily out of love of country and a desire to make the nation a better place.

Not Reid.

Over the last few years Reid has shown himself to be a purely political animal. First came his 2007 comments proclaiming that the war in Iraq was “lost.” His seeming disregard for how this defeatist rhetoric coming from the leader of the U.S. Senate would affect the morale of troops who were in harm’s way in Iraq was shocking and morally repugnant.

Now Reid has emerged as the titular leader of the “do-nothing” caucus when it comes to Social Security reform. His strategy is two-fold. First, he and his associates hope to convince Americans that there is no threat to the future solvency of Social Security. Second, they seek to convince Americans that any action taken to change Social Security will result in complete destruction of the program immediately upon implementation and would put current retirees at risk.

Only someone blinded by partisanship could actually believe that there is no danger to the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare. All of the discussion of the debt and the risks it poses to America’s fiscal future is entirely meaningless unless both parties agree to tackle entitlement reform.

So the G.O.P. is going to try in their upcoming 2012 budget. But they will not be getting any help from Reid and the politically desperate congressional Democrats. It would appear that the only hope of achieving needed reforms is for the president to get on board and shame enough Congressional Democrats into supporting some kind of plan.

Because they are very familiar with the Democrat’s long history of successful demagoguery of the entitlement issue, Republicans are being understandably cautious. So, in an unprecedented show of pre-emptive bipartisanship, the Republican leadership has promised not to politicize entitlement reform for political gain if the President comes forward and is the first to propose a template for changes that would lead to long-term solvency.

There should be little fear of Republicans stabbing the President in the back if he does decide to put something on the table. The conservative base is demanding entitlement reform and has made it very clear that if Boehner and Company don’t take reduction of the debt seriously enough, the Tea-Party will simply stay home in 2012, regardless of the political repercussions. So the entitlement reform ball is now squarely in Barack Obama’s court.

With all eyes on his actions, President Obama, will soon be forced to make a decision that could come to define his presidency. He can either take the traditional Democratic route and shamelessly politicize any Republican efforts to make even minimal changes to Social Security and Medicare. Or, he can throw Reid under the bus and become the President who finally did something about the most serious threat to the nation’s fiscal future.

There is no doubt something very tempting about going with the less patriotic, purely political option. It has a history of paying off.

In 1995 President Clinton successfully vilified very modest cuts to the growth of entitlement spending proposed by Newt Gingrich. He turned the American people against the G.O.P. with dire warnings that Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress would "destroy Medicare" letting the program "wither on the vine." Playing on this fear, Clinton revived his ailing political fortunes and coasted to an easy re-election in 1996.

Coming off a close re-election victory in 2004, President George W. Bush proposed a similarly modest plan to allow younger workers the option of investing a fraction of their Social Security taxes into private accounts. Those classy guys over at the DNC responded to this proposal by creating a cartoon that had the president pushing an old lady off a cliff. Nice. They exhibited no signs of conscience and immediately began making false claims that the plan would rip Social Security benefits away from current retirees, when in fact, the impact of the Bush plan would not have affected any American under the age of 55. The Democrats’ efforts helped sink Bush’s approval ratings into the 30’s and boosted the Democrats chances of taking back the House, which they did in 2006.

Call me crazy, but I don’t believe that Obama is Harry Reid or Bill Clinton. Despite the myriad falsehoods that came out of the Administration during the health care reform debate, I think Obama genuinely cares about the well-being of the nation--even though his ideas for achieving it are usually counterproductive to the goal--and he must understand that no other issue will affect that long-term well-being like the out of control growth of entitlements in the wake of the mass retirement of the Baby Boom generation.

Despite the results of the 2012 election, the president is in danger of leaving behind a relatively empty legacy. The legal viability of Obamacare is in doubt. A big “green jobs” program and “card check” are DOA in Congress and it is highly unlikely that the GOP will lose control of the House within the next two election cycles. Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will soon be forgotten by all but a tiny wing of Obama’s base and on foreign policy matters, the president has largely continued the once controversial tenets of his predecessor.

But if Obama acts in good faith and works with the GOP on this most pressing of matters, not only will he receive most of the credit --one of the perks of being the Chief Executive (see Bill Clinton and welfare reform)--but he has a chance of turning his legacy into one that includes a huge bipartisan legislative achievement. Even his fiercest conservative critics would have to grudgingly admit that this would be a positive mark on the record of an ideological opponent.

So the choice for Obama is clear: shameless politicization and an easier path to re-election. Or, bipartisanship--a step towards a promised tone-change that has never materialized--and movement towards a solution to the entitlement problem. A problem that threatens to cripple our economy under a mountain of permanent, unmanageable debt and will destroy the dream of Social Security and Medicare for my generation and every generation that succeeds it.

The choice is his.

We are about to see what kind of president and what kind of man Barack Obama really is.

It is to be hoped that he won’t follow the cynical and dangerous path that Harry Reid has chosen to tread. If he does, then the last chance to win the entitlement war may very well be lost.

- Dan Joseph

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kristi Keck and CNN Keep the Liberal Spin Alive

Even after being thoroughly embarrassed with their debunked insistence that the Tea-Party was somehow complicit in the death of a 9-year old girl and the shooting of a sitting Congresswoman, the MSM continues to imply--with no supporting evidence--that it was our nation's "overheated rhetoric" that was responsible for the massacre.

Make no mistake. References to "rhetoric" of any kind in regard to this incident is code to suggest that conservative voices pose some type of personal danger to the political class.

In reality the "rhetoric" to which they refer has zero recognizable connection to violence of any kind. It was a fallback.

Once the Leftists in the media realized that the shooter wasn't a Muslim, they had high hopes that the culprit would be a small-government crazy of some kind. When his politics turned out to be impossible to attribute to any commonly held American ideological bent they shifted to feigned concern over the nation's political tone--something that the Left almost magically found religion on after nearly a decade of vitriolic displays during the Bush years.

Willingly the media obliged the spin and now, for some reason, our “heightened” political rhetoric has come under the microscope.

It's a clever straw man worthy of a Barack Obama speech.

There is no evidence that our national political tone or partisan media talking points influenced Jared Loughner in any way whatsoever. But after their electoral rejection and the passing of the gavel, it seemed that in its desire to become relevant again, the Left jumped the gun and the shooter.

This is quite possibly the single worst instance of Left-wing media Bias in modern history. If the nation has been paying attention since the tragic shooting occurred, the exodus away from MSNBC, the New York times and CNN should accelerate.

The smart thing for all news organizations, leftist columnists and Democratic Sheriffs to do right now would be to change the subject and try and avoid damaging your credibility any further. Might I recommend the healthcare reform bill as a topic.

-Dan Joseph

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