Archive for category National Politics

With Cruz, they’d lose

via The Economist (November 27, 2015)

Ted Cruz, a firebrand Republican, peddles a self-serving myth about presidential contests.

THE presidential candidate who has most harmed American politics this year is Donald Trump, a bully who has prospered by inciting rage. Yet from the narrower perspective of the Republican Party, the most dangerous candidate of the 2016 pack may just be Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is rising in the polls by telling conservative activists a seductive but misleading story about how their party wins elections.

Since launching his presidential run, the 44-year-old Texan has built his campaign around a simple pitch: assuring the most conservative third of the Republican electorate, from born-again Christian voters to hardline members of the Tea Party, that they form a cruz controlnatural majority of the conservative movement, and indeed would decide general elections if they would only turn out and vote. In his telling, this stirring truth frightens a cowardly Republican establishment in Washington, which urges conservatives to run to the middle as “Democrats-lite”—whereupon, Mr Cruz argues, “We get whipped.” By way of proof, the first-term senator informs Republican crowds that in 2012, when the party nominated Mitt Romney, roughly half of all born-again Christian voters and millions of blue-collar conservatives stayed home.

New polls show Mr Cruz rising to second place behind Mr Trump in Iowa, which will hold the first contest of the presidential primary season on February 1st. Much of his surge is at the expense of Mr Trump’s fellow-outsider, the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Dr Carson, a devout Christian whose memoirs are a staple for church book-clubs and home-school curriculums, led some Iowa surveys in October. But the doctor has been hurt by amateurish responses to the Paris terror attacks, including a breezy suggestion that a “great nation” like America should not be “afraid” to shoot down Russian planes over Syria, if need be.

Prayerful Republicans have won Iowa in the past and faded soon afterwards, it is true. But Mr Cruz sees openings. The 2016 presidential primary calendar is front-loaded with conservative, pious states, many in the South, allowing Cruz strategists to dream of swiftly dominating the “very conservative” lane of the race, while establishment rivals squabble among themselves. And as Mr Trump’s campaign has taken a more thuggish turn, Mr Cruz has gingerly distanced himself, saying that Republican candidates should remember that “tone matters”. What Mr Cruz will never do is criticise Mr Trump’s angriest supporters, for he hopes to inherit them one day. Instead he presents himself as angry America’s champion in Washington. He calls Barack Obama “an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism”, and has challenged the president to debate the wisdom of admitting Syrian Muslim refugees to America, a plan that Mr Cruz calls “lunacy”.

On November 20th Mr Cruz and six Republican rivals attended a presidential forum in Des Moines hosted by the Family Leader, a social-conservative outfit. A blizzard did not stop 1,200 locals from attending the hustings, which saw the politicians ranged around a mock Thanksgiving dinner table. The Family Leader’s boss, Bob Vander Plaats, set the tone by telling the gathering that “Satan was trying to disrupt our plans tonight” with the snowstorm and other wiles, but that this merely proved that the meeting would be “something special”. The crowd responded warmly to Mr Cruz, who offered stories about religion’s importance in his life, scorn for Mr Obama and exhortations for Christian conservatives to defy “Washington” and unite around a single candidate, or as he put it: “If the body of Christ rises up as one and votes our values, we can turn this country around.”

On paper, Mr Cruz makes an unlikely warrior against elitism. Before entering Texas politics, he was a debating champion at Princeton and a star student at Harvard Law School, later securing a high-flying post as a clerk at the Supreme Court. His wife, Heidi, worked at the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, then for Goldman Sachs, a bank. Supporters are unfussed. They praise Mr Cruz as a “fighter” who battled Democrats and also his own party leaders in Congress, notably when he forced a government shutdown in 2013 in what he called a bid to derail Obamacare. Fans do not care that other Republican senators angrily call the shutdown a doomed scheme whose purpose was to cast Mr Cruz as a grassroots hero. To the grassroots, being disliked in Washington is a character reference.

John Wacker, a manufacturing engineer, recalled being reluctant to put out campaign signs for Mr Romney in 2012 and for the Republican nominee in 2008, Senator John McCain. “They didn’t inspire me,” Mr Wacker explained, before praising Mr Cruz’s “charisma”. Several at the forum relished the prospect of the senator in a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton. “He’d eat her for lunch,” growled David, a campaign volunteer who declined to give his last name, citing his distrust of the press. As for Mr Vander Plaats, his organisation will endorse a candidate before Christmas. But he predicts in a telephone interview that Mrs Clinton is beatable “if we can choose someone who can inspire our base”, adding: “When we choose the mushy middle, we lose.”

Remember Barry Goldwater? He lost 44 states.

Alas for Cruz fans, the senator’s story about a Republican voter strike in 2012 does not add up. Turnout fell among lots of groups in 2012, some of them Obama-friendly. Moreover, turnout actually rose in some of the most closely-fought states. Voting rates also remained pretty healthy among white Protestant evangelicals, who made up one in four of all voters according to exit polls, though they account for only 19% of the population. Conservative Cruz fans may not care, for now. His fable about how elections are won flatters them, after all. As Mr Cruz beamed in Des Moines: “The men and women in this room scare the living daylights out of Washington.” But it is a fable: no Republican has won the White House without hefty moderate support. Mr Cruz is a clever and eloquent man. All the more reason to beware him.

Can Evangelicals Swing 2016 for GOP, as Cruz Says?

From the Wall Street Journal, by Gerald Seib

For months, Sen.  Ted Cruz has been hovering in the middle of the GOP presidential campaign pack, waiting for his moment—and honing his argument for why he has the strategy and appeal that can win for Republicans in 2016.

In a nutshell, the Cruz case is this: There is an army of silent evangelical voters out there, and I can mobilize them. The country has 90 million evangelical Christians, 54 million of whom stayed home on Election Day in 2012, he says. If I can get just 10 million of the no-shows to vote for me in 2016, we win.

Now that Mr. Cruz appears to be making his move—two recent polls show him rising to second place in Iowa, where evangelicals are strong—the question is: Does the math behind his argument hold up?

There is little doubt that a lack of enthusiasm among core voters hurt Republicans in 2012. Still, some in the party are dubious. Implicit in the Cruz case, they believe, is an assertion that mobilizing white evangelical voters is more important than the mission other Republicans put atop their agenda: doing better among the swelling ranks of minority voters, particularly Hispanics.

In a sense, then, the Cruz argument frames a strategic question for Republicans in 2016: Does victory lie in better mobilizing the existing GOP base, or in expanding that base to reflect changing demographics?

Mr. Cruz contends that Republicans lose when they nominate candidates—such as former Massachusetts Gov.  Mitt Romney—who fail to excite evangelicals at the core of today’s GOP. Some 30% of Americans are evangelical Christians, he argues, and the majority of them simply didn’t vote in 2012.

Certainly, low energy overall was a problem for Republicans when they failed to defeat a weakened President Barack  Obama in 2012. The under-enthusiasm was particularly noticeable among white voters, which seemed critical in at least one key state, Ohio. There, the white share of the vote declined to 79% from 83% in 2008, and Mr. Romney got fewer votes overall than  John McCain did four years earlier.

Mr. Cruz argues, in essence, that an energized based of evangelical voters, 76% of whom are white, would make up for such deficiencies, and he is hitting that math hard to mobilize evangelicals to his side. “Christians are staying home,” he told an audience at religiously conservative Bob Jones University in mid-November. “ Well mark my words, we will stay home no more.”

One shortcoming in the argument, though, is that almost half of those in the evangelical population that Mr. Cruz cites aren’t Republicans. An extensive survey of religion in America by the Pew Research Center showed that 28% of self-identified evangelical Christians are Democratic or lean Democratic, and 16% say they have no party leaning. Many evangelicals are African-Americans, a core Democratic audience unlikely to defect.

Meanwhile, many white evangelicals live in reliably red states that Republicans already are sure to win; a higher turnout there would simply run up a larger GOP margin. The broader question, then, is whether there are enough white evangelical conservatives to make a difference in the key states.

In a book titled “2016 and Beyond: How Republicans Can Elect a President in the New America,” GOP pollster  Whit Ayres—who works with Sen.  Marco Rubio’s campaign—writes that relying on finding “missing white voters” is “an excuse to avoid confronting the very real problems facing the Republican Party in a 21st century electorate.”

The number of white votes did drop by 4.2 million between the 2008 and 2012 elections, Mr. Ayres notes, and some of those were blue-collar Americans who didn’t warm to Mr. Romney.

But he also notes that if all those missing white voters had shown up and voted Republican, they still wouldn’t have saved Mr. Romney, who lost by 5 million votes.

The more important trend, he argues, is the steady decline of whites as a share of the electorate, and the steady rise of Hispanic voters. Whites as a share of the electorate fell to 72% in 2012 from 81% in 2000—and will fall further to 69% in 2016. Meanwhile, the share of minority voters will rise to 31% next year from 19% in 2000.

If the next Republican nominee doesn’t win more of the minority vote than the 17% Mr. Romney took, Mr. Ayres writes, he will have to win a hefty 65% of the white vote to prevail. That level hasn’t been hit since the  Ronald Reagan landslide of 1984.

Of course, the two arguments aren’t mutually exclusive: It’s possible to do better among white evangelicals and minorities. That’s a tall strategic order. Still, it may be that performing better among evangelicals is a necessary but not sufficient part of a GOP victory formula.

Trump’s America

Why the Donald is dangerous — The Economist

“THIS country is a hellhole. We are going down fast,” says Donald Trump. “We can’t do anything right. We’re a laughing-stock all over the world. The American dream is dead.” It is a dismal prospect, but fear not: a solution is at hand. “I went to the Wharton School of Business. I’m, like, a really smart person,” says Mr Trump. “It’s very possible”, he once boasted, “that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”

When Mr Trump first announced that he was running for president, he was dismissed as a joke. A wheeler-dealer with lots of experience of reality TV but none whatsoever of elective office wants to be commander-in-chief? Surely, sophisticates scoffed, no one could want this erratic tycoon’s fingers anywhere near the nuclear button. But for weeks now he has led the polls for the Republican nomination, despite saying things that would have torpedoed any normal campaign. Americans are waking up to the possibility that a man whose hobby is naming things after himself might—conceivably—be the nominee of the party of Lincoln and Reagan. It is worth spelling out why that would be a terrible thing. Fortunately, the Donald’s own words provide a useful guide.

Mr Trump is not in thrall to the hobgoblins of consistency. On abortion, he has said both “I’m very pro-choice” and “I’m pro-life”. On guns, he has said “Look, there’s nothing I like better than nobody has them” and “[I] fully support and back up the Second Amendment” (which guarantees the right to bear arms). He used to say he wanted a single-payer health service. Now he is much vaguer, promising only to replace Obamacare with “something terrific”. In 2000 he sought the presidential nomination of the Reform Party. A decade ago he said “I probably identify more as Democrat.” Now he is a Republican.

Blowing his own Trumpet

In an interview this week (see article) The Economist asked Mr Trump why Republican voters seem willing to give him a pass on so many issues they normally hold dear. He took this to be a question about religion, since he is not much of a churchgoer and struggles to cite a single verse from Scripture. “I’m strongly into the Bible, I’m strongly into God and religion,” he declared. But within a few seconds he appeared to grow bored with the topic and switched to talking about how he has “a net worth of much more than $10 billion” and “some of the greatest assets in the world”, including the Trump Tower, the Trump Turnberry golf resort, and so on.

On one domestic issue, to be fair, he has staked out a clear, bold position. Alas, it is an odious one. He wants to build a wall on the Mexican border and somehow make Mexico pay for it. He would deport all 11m immigrants currently thought to be in America illegally. Apart from the misery this would cause, it would also cost $285 billion, by one estimate—roughly $900 in new taxes for every man, woman and child left in Mr Trump’s America. This is necessary, he argues, because Mexican illegal immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Not only would he round them all up; he would also round up and expel their children who were born on American soil and are therefore American citizens. That this would be illegal does not bother him.

His approach to foreign affairs is equally crude. He would crush Islamic State and send American troops to “take the oil”. He would “Make America great again”, both militarily and economically, by being a better negotiator than all the “dummies” who represent the country today. Leave aside, for a moment, the vanity of a man who thinks that geopolitics is no harder than selling property. Ignore his constant reminders that he wrote “The Art of the Deal”, which he falsely claims is “the number-one-selling business book of all time”. Instead, pay attention to the paranoia of his worldview. “[E]very single country that does business with us” is ripping America off, he says. “The money [China] took out of the United States is the greatest theft in the history of our country.” He is referring to the fact that Americans sometimes buy Chinese products. He blames currency manipulation by Beijing, and would slap tariffs on many imported goods. He would also, in some unspecified way, rethink how America protects allies such as South Korea and Japan, because “if we step back they will protect themselves very well. Remember when Japan used to beat China routinely in wars?”

Towering populism

Mr Trump’s secret sauce has two spices. First, he has a genius for self-promotion, unmoored from reality (“I play to people’s fantasies. I call it truthful hyperbole,” he once said). Second, he says things that no politician would, so people think he is not a politician. Sticklers for politeness might object when he calls someone a “fat pig” or suggests that a challenging female interviewer has “blood coming out of her wherever”. His supporters, however, think his boorishness is a sign of authenticity—of a leader who can channel the rage of those who feel betrayed by the elite or left behind by social change. It turns out that there are tens of millions of such people in America.

The country has flirted with populists in the past, but none has won a major-party presidential nomination since William Jennings Bryan in 1908. The closest any true firebrand has come was in 1996, when Pat Buchanan, whose slogan was “The peasants are coming with pitchforks”, won the Republican primary in New Hampshire against a dull establishment candidate, Bob Dole. (Mr Dole later won the nomination.)

Mr Trump is far more dangerous than Pitchfork Pat, for two reasons. First, as a billionaire, he will not run out of money to finance his campaign. Second, he faces so many Republican opponents that he could grab the nomination with only a modest plurality of the vote. The smart money still says that Republicans will eventually unite behind a mainstream candidate, as they always have in the past. But the world cannot take this for granted. Demagogues in other countries sometimes win elections, and there is no compelling reason why America should always be immune. Republicans should listen carefully to Mr Trump, and vote for someone else.

Bird’s Eye View of Congress

by Charlie Cook for National Journal

One of the few political topics on which there is virtually universal agreement—both inside and outside the Beltway—is that Congress is broken.

The longer one has been in Washington, the more one is convinced that something has gone terribly wrong. But once the subject turns to who is to blame, opinions tend to diverge. Funny thing: People who are Democrats and liberal overwhelmingly blame Republicans and conservatives, while those who are Republican and conservative are equally adamant that Democrats and liberals are at fault. Go figure. Try to think of anyone you know who blames his or her own team for a substantial share of the problem. As pollsters would say, it’s a small cell.

To me, the people worth listening to are those who have been in the trenches of political warfare in Washington and have observed the changes over a long period of time—but are no longer combatants. That perspective carries a lot more weight than those of spectators in the upper deck or operatives who simply want to point fingers at the opposing side. With The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis, Tom Davis and Martin Frost, along with Richard Cohen, have written a terrific and insightful book that desperately needed to be written—and that, arguably, no other three people are better qualified to write.

YN4WOM3PDavis, a Republican, served for 14 years in the House, representing the Northern Virginia suburbs. For 26 years, Frost, a Democrat, represented parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas. Each chaired his party’s House campaign committee for four years. Davis went on to chair the Government Reform Committee, and Frost led the Democratic Caucus. I can count on one hand the number of people who have chaired the Democratic or Republican campaign committees over the past 40 years who had both in-depth, granular savvy and a broader, 40,000-foot understanding of politics as it is played in states and districts across the country, and up and down the hallways of the House and Senate office buildings. The third member of the trio is Cohen, who started out as a young Senate staffer and then switched sides to build a distinguished career in journalism. Cohen covered Congress for more than 37 years for National Journal, and he coauthored the Almanac of American Politics for 10 years. No living journalist knows and understands Capitol Hill as intimately as Cohen. It was a treat and an education to work for many years just steps away from him.

Both Frost and Davis are moderates who watched their parties shift. Democrats moved far to Martin’s left; Republicans moved just as far to Tom’s right. This widening gap left each of them more apt than extreme partisans to admit the imperfections and mistakes of his party and the mounting toll on the principle of compromise and the art of governing. Frost’s Texas has become almost a no-fly zone for Democrats statewide. Davis’s Virginia now sports two Democratic senators as well as a Democratic governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general—and no Republican statewide-elected officials.

Davis’s chapter “Divided Government: the New Normal,” walks through the current population and voting patterns that have made the House all but a lock for Republicans these days. He notes that in roughly 80 percent of House districts, Democratic and Republican incumbents’ principal political concern is winning their primaries. Their vulnerability is from the left for Democrats and from the right for Republicans, making legislative compromises across the aisle increasingly difficult to secure.

Both Frost and Davis spend a chapter taking on the very difficult subject of race in American politics. Frost tells of his tenure at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, when pollsters would stop by and talk enthusiastically about how well Democrats were doing among seniors and women. That’s when he would ask for the breakdown of numbers among white seniors and white women. Invariably, these numbers were not nearly so encouraging. But Frost makes the point that Republicans’ dismal performance with minority voters keeps raising the bar for the GOP to attract more and more white voters—in some cases, a bar that’s unreachably high.

Davis provides an interesting history of the evolution of racial voting in this country, with polls showing almost imperceptible differences in the public’s impressions of the two parties on racial issues before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Frost spends a chapter examining the role of redistricting and, with Cohen, contributes a “Moneyball” chapter on the role of campaign finance. Davis takes a close look at the “all politics is local” angle, up to and including then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s shocking primary upset earlier this year. Davis also focuses on the role of independents and the collapse of the middle in politics, while Frost laments both parties’ dangerous obsession with their own base voters and at social media’s role in the growing polarization. Both look at the uniqueness of House and Senate races, which are, as Davis puts it, different animals of the same species. They move on to suggest changes in the operation of Congress and some political reforms that might help fix what is broken on Capitol Hill.

If you are going to read one book this year on what has happened to Congress and why, The Partisan Divide is the one.

The Loneliest President Since Nixon

by Peggy Noonan for the Wall Street Journal

Seven years ago I was talking to a longtime Democratic operative on Capitol Hill about a politician who was in trouble. The pol was likely finished, he said. I was surprised. Can’t he change things and dig himself out? No. “People do what they know how to do.” Politicians don’t have a vast repertoire. When they get in a jam they just do what they’ve always done, even if it’s not working anymore.

barry-150x150[1]This came to mind when contemplating President Obama. After a devastating election, he is presenting himself as if he won. The people were not saying no to his policies, he explained, they would in fact like it if Republicans do what he tells them.

You don’t begin a new relationship with a threat, but that is what he gave Congress: Get me an immigration bill I like or I’ll change U.S. immigration law on my own.

Mr. Obama is doing what he knows how to do—stare them down and face them off. But his circumstances have changed. He used to be a conquering hero, now he’s not. On the other hand he used to have to worry about public support. Now, with no more elections before him, he has the special power of the man who doesn’t care.

I have never seen a president in exactly the position Mr. Obama is, which is essentially alone. He’s got no one with him now. The Republicans don’t like him, for reasons both usual and particular: They have had no good experiences with him. The Democrats don’t like him, for their own reasons plus the election loss. Before his post-election lunch with congressional leaders, he told the press that he will judiciously consider any legislation, whoever sends it to him, Republicans or Democrats. His words implied that in this he was less partisan and more public-spirited than the hacks arrayed around him. It is for these grace notes that he is loved. No one at the table looked at him with colder, beadier eyes than outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , who clearly doesn’t like him at all.

The press doesn’t especially like the president; in conversation they evince no residual warmth. This week at the Beijing summit there was no sign the leaders of the world had any particular regard for him. They can read election returns. They respect power and see it leaking out of him. If Mr. Obama had won the election they would have faked respect and affection.

Vladimir Putin delivered the unkindest cut, patting Mr. Obama’s shoulder reassuringly. Normally that’s Mr. Obama’s move, putting his hand on your back or shoulder as if to bestow gracious encouragement, needy little shrimp that you are. It’s a dominance move. He’s been doing it six years. This time it was Mr. Putin doing it to him. The president didn’t like it.

From Reuters: “‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it?’ Putin was overheard saying in English in Obama’s general direction, referring to the ornate conference room. ‘Yes,’ Obama replied, coldly, according to journalists who witnessed the scene.”

The last time we saw a president so alone it was Richard Nixon, at the end of his presidency, when the Democrats had turned on him, the press hated him, and the Republicans were fleeing. It was Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP’s standard-bearer in 1964, and House Minority Leader John Rhodes, also of Arizona, who went to the White House to tell Nixon his support in Congress had collapsed, they would vote to impeach. Years later Goldwater called Nixon “The world’s biggest liar.”

But Nixon had one advantage Obama does not: the high regard of the world’s leaders, who found his downfall tragic (such ruin over such a trifling matter) and befuddling (he didn’t keep political prisoners chained up in dungeons, as they did. Why such a fuss?).

Nixon’s isolation didn’t end well.

Last Sunday Mr. Obama, in an interview with CBS ’s Bob Schieffer, spoke of his motivation, how he’s always for the little guy. “I love just being with the American people. . . . You know how passionate I am about trying to help them.” He said what is important is “a guy who’s lost his job or lost his home or . . . is trying to send a kid to college.” When he talks like that, as he does a lot, you get the impression his romantic vision of himself is Tom Joad in the movie version of “The Grapes of Wrath.” “I’ll be all around . . . wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.”

I mentioned last week that the president has taken to filibustering, to long, rambling answers in planned sit-down settings—no questions on the fly walking from here to there, as other presidents have always faced. The press generally allows him to ramble on, rarely fighting back as they did with Nixon. But I have noticed Mr. Obama uses a lot of words as padding. He always has, but now he does it more. There’s a sense of indirection and obfuscation. You can say, “I love you,” or you can say, “You know, feelings will develop, that happens among humans and it’s good it happens, and I have always said, and I said it again just last week, that you are a good friend, I care about you, and it’s fair to say in terms of emotional responses that mine has escalated or increased somewhat, and ‘love’ would not be a wholly inappropriate word to use to describe where I’m coming from.”

When politicians do this they’re trying to mush words up so nothing breaks through. They’re leaving you dazed and trying to make it harder for you to understand what’s truly being said.

It is possible the president is responding to changed circumstances with a certain rigidity because no one ever stood in his way before. Most of his adult life has been a smooth glide. He had family challenges and an unusual childhood, but as an adult and a professional he never faced fierce, concentrated resistance. He was always magic. Life never came in and gave it to him hard on the jaw. So he really doesn’t know how to get up from the mat. He doesn’t know how to struggle to his feet and regain his balance. He only knows how to throw punches. But you can’t punch from the mat.

He only knows how to do what he’s doing.

In the meantime he is killing his party. Gallup this week found that the Republicans for the first time in three years beat the Democrats on favorability, and also that respondents would rather have Congress lead the White House than the White House lead Congress.

A few weeks ago a conservative intellectual asked me: “How are we going to get through the next two years?” It was a rhetorical question; he was just sharing his anxiety. We have a president who actually can’t work with Congress, operating in a capital in which he is resented and disliked and a world increasingly unimpressed by him, and so increasingly predatory.

Anyway, for those who are young and not sure if what they are seeing is wholly unusual: Yes, it is wholly unusual.

Now We Can Get Congress Going

By John Boehner and Mitch McConnell
Wall Street Journal
Nov. 5, 2014 7:12 p.m. ET

Americans have entrusted Republicans with control of both the House and Senate. We are humbled by this opportunity to help struggling middle-class Americans who are clearly frustrated by an increasing lack of opportunity, the stagnation of wages, and a government that seems incapable of performing even basic tasks.

Looking ahead to the next Congress, we will honor the voters’ trust by focusing, first, on jobs and the economy. Among other things, that means a renewed effort to debate and vote on the many bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support, but were never even brought to a vote by the Democratic Senate majority. It also means renewing our commitment to repeal ObamaCare, which is hurting the job market along with Americans’ health care.

capitolFor years, the House did its job and produced a steady stream of bills that would remove barriers to job creation and lower energy costs for families. Many passed with bipartisan support—only to gather dust in a Democratic-controlled Senate that kept them from ever reaching the president’s desk. Senate Republicans also offered legislation that was denied consideration despite bipartisan support and benefits for American families and jobs.

These bills provide an obvious and potentially bipartisan starting point for the new Congress—and, for President Obama , a chance to begin the final years of his presidency by taking some steps toward a stronger economy.

These bills include measures authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers; the Hire More Heroes Act, legislation encouraging employers to hire more of our nation’s veterans; and a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

We’ll also consider legislation to help protect and expand America’s emerging energy boom and to support innovative charter schools around the country.

Enacting such measures early in the new session will signal that the logjam in Washington has been broken, and help to establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build upon.

At a time of growing anxiety for the American people, with household incomes stubbornly flat and the nation facing rising threats on multiple fronts, this is vital work.

Will these bills single-handedly turn around the economy? No. But taking up bipartisan bills aimed at helping the economy that have already passed the House is a sensible and obvious first step.

More good ideas aimed at helping the American middle class will follow. And as we work to persuade others of their merit, we won’t repeat the mistakes made when a different majority ran Congress in the first years of Barack Obama’s presidency, attempting to reshape large chunks of the nation’s economy with massive bills that few Americans have read and fewer understand.

Instead, we will restore an era in which committees in both the House and Senate conduct meaningful oversight of federal agencies and develop and debate legislation; and where members of the minority party in both chambers are given the opportunity to participate in the process of governing.

We will oversee a legislature in which “bigger” isn’t automatically equated with “better” when it comes to writing and passing bills.

Our priorities in the 114th Congress will be your priorities. That means addressing head-on many of the most pressing challenges facing the country, including:

  • The insanely complex tax code that is driving American jobs overseas;
  • Health costs that continue to rise under a hopelessly flawed law that Americans have never supported;
  • A savage global terrorist threat that seeks to wage war on every American;
  • An education system that denies choice to parents and denies a good education to too many children;
  • Excessive regulations and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up costs for families and preventing the economy from growing;
  • An antiquated government bureaucracy ill-equipped to serve a citizenry facing 21st-century challenges, from disease control to caring for veterans;
  • A national debt that has Americans stealing from their children and grandchildren, robbing them of benefits that they will never see and leaving them with burdens that will be nearly impossible to repay.

January will bring the opportunity to begin anew. Republicans will return the focus to the issues at the top of your priority list. Your concerns will be our concerns. That’s our pledge.

The skeptics say nothing will be accomplished in the next two years. As elected servants of the people, we will make it our job to prove the skeptics wrong.

Mr. Boehner (R., Ohio), is the House speaker; Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) is currently the Senate minority leader.

A Shellacking for Obama

How he can salvage his final two years after losing the Senate.
The Wall Street Journal

On the night of his 2012 re-election triumph, following his victory speech, President Obama walked off the stage and made separate phone calls to Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic campaign chairman Steve Israel . He told them he would spend the next two years helping Democrats retake the House in 2014, and he pledged to raise $50 million and devote his 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina to the task.

Two years later we know how that turned out. The Republicans on Tuesday defeated at least four incumbents to take control of the Senate and are adding to their majority in the House. Add the GOP sweep of most of the close races for Governor, including in states Mr. Obama won twice, and the vote is a major repudiation of the President’s governance.

That 2012 episode, reported at the time by the Washington Post, speaks volumes about the reason. Mr. Obama has consistently put liberal policy demands and partisanship above the goals of economic growth and compromise. Far from cementing a Democratic majority, his political posture has helped the GOP make a comeback. The question now is whether he will change enough to salvage his last two years as President.

Liberals are busy discounting Tuesday’s results as meaningless, a “Seinfeld” election about nothing, and it’s true that Republicans failed to offer much of a unified policy agenda. Yet the one issue that has been on the ballot everywhere this year is President Obama and his record.

The main common Republican theme has been linking incumbent Democrats to Mr. Obama and his 42% approval rating. In left-leaning Colorado they have moved the polls by charging that Mark Udall had voted with the President “99% of the time,” and in other states it was 96% or 98%. Mr. Udall lost.

Those Democrats in turn studiously avoided appearing with Mr. Obama, much less having him campaign for them, and the Senate challenger in Kentucky famously wouldn’t even say if she’d voted for him. Georgia Democrat Michelle Nunn identified herself explicitly with George H.W. Bush. Mr. Obama was consigned to campaigning in heavily Democratic states, like Maryland.

Democratic incumbents claimed their votes for the President’s agenda were mostly “procedural,” but the problem is that all of them were with the White House on every vote that mattered. Each of them provided the last “aye” to get ObamaCare through the Senate. Most Democrats barely defended ObamaCare while promising vaguely to fix it, and GOP Senate candidates ran more ads against ObamaCare in October than on any other issue, according to Kantar Media/CMAG.

The GOP’s Senate sweep is especially impressive when you consider that they held all of their current seats, and they picked up Democratic seats in two states, Colorado and Iowa, that Mr. Obama carried twice. The last time the GOP defeated more than two Senate Democratic incumbents was in 1980. Majority Leader Harry Reid ’s strategy of shutting down the Senate stands repudiated.

The GOP also added to their House ranks, with a chance to have the largest Republican majority since the 1950s, and maybe the 1920s (if they hit 247 with a gain of 14 or more). That would be a cushion against potential losses in 2016 and give Speaker John Boehner more policy running room. After losing 63 seats in 2010, Mr. Obama appears to have lost more House seats for his party in midterm elections than any President since Eisenhower, who lost 66 in 1954 (18) and 1958 (48).

And flying below media radar, the GOP could add to its already large advantage in state legislatures—the building blocks of policy experimentation and future candidates for Congress. So much for Mr. Obama’s ambition to be the liberal Reagan.

***

The liberals who have cheered on Mr. Obama as he drove his party into this ditch are now advising that he should double down on partisanship. Veto everything. Rule by regulation, including a vast immigration diktat that would poison any chance of bipartisan and thus politically durable reform. Demonize Republicans at every opportunity to elect Hillary Clinton in 2016.

If we judge by Mr. Obama’s six-year record, that is what he will probably do. But there is a better way that would do more for the country and his own legacy. Start by recognizing that many Republicans want to do more than merely oppose him. They know their own political brand needs burnishing, and that even their most intense partisans want some results from electing Republicans.

Above all that should mean focusing on measures to lift the economy out of the 2% growth trap of the Obama years. We offered this same advice in 2012, pointing to the way rapid growth had helped Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan survive the traumas of their second terms.

Mr. Obama preferred the partisan satisfaction of forcing Republicans to swallow a tax increase, and he has insisted on $1 trillion more as his price for any entitlement reforms. He has preferred gridlock to ending automatic defense spending cuts. The result: Slow growth and falling incomes for all but the wealthy. This is not a legacy a liberal President wants to leave.

The way to avoid it is to work with Republicans in Congress on pro-growth policies. Several could be quick and easy victories. Repeal the medical-devices tax and fix ObamaCare’s bias against hiring full-time employees. Pass fast-track trade authority and the pan-Pacific trade pact. Liberate energy production and export. Trade more defense spending for more dollars for roads.

Immigration and tax reform would take more time, but both are also possible if Mr. Obama is willing to share credit and settle for less than everything he wants. The realist in us doesn’t expect he’ll take any of this advice, but it’s the only way he’ll revive his broken Presidency.

Landrieu, Mayo and Edwards Stand Little Chance in the Runoff

by Scott McKay via The Hayride

It may seem a victory of sorts for the Louisiana Democrat Party that in the three major races extant in this year’s election cycle they still have three candidates alive in a runoff this morning.

But the Democrats, and their candidates, shouldn’t take much joy in that fact. Mary Landrieu, Edwin Edwards and Jamie Mayo should all concede their races today and move on with their lives.

It’s the intelligent, and merciful, thing to do. Admit defeat and bow out gracefully.

For neither Landrieu, nor Edwards, nor Mayo are their races winnable. The margin of defeat awaiting them in December will be humbling. It will damage the Louisiana Democrat Party for years to come. Now is the time to set pride and vanity aside, and do what’s best for their families, their party and the people of Louisiana.

To all three of you, get out of your races.

Mayo was the sole Democrat running in Louisiana’s 5th District congressional race. The Democrats talked a big game about the get-out-the-vote operation they were going to support him with this year and how that 5th District race was going to be competitive, and even winnable, for them.

Mayo garnered a pitiful 28.22 percent. There was a Green Party candidate running in the race who managed 0.69 percent. The other 71 percent went to the seven Republicans and one Libertarian running in the race. There is no reason to believe Mayo will fare any better in the runoff than he did in the primary. With Ralph Abraham, who as of October 15 had managed to fuel his campaign with just under $500,000, now consolidating the Republican vote behind him a beating of gargantuan proportions is in the offing. Abraham is going to stomp Mayo by at least a two-to-one margin on Dec. 6.

There is no particular purpose in running a month-long campaign destined to be doubled-up by a better-funded opponent more in tune with the wishes of the electorate. Mayo has already run his race and been judged by the voters. In getting out he can spare the voters a month of TV and radio ads and political mailers. What’s more, he can get back to doing the job he already has, that being mayor of Monroe. His constituents would assumedly benefit from having a full-time, engaged chief executive rather than some political-hack Don Quixote perpetuating division among the public.

For Edwards, whom we already predicted would retire from the race, Tuesday night’s results had to be seen as a repudiation. Some 70 percent of the public took his measure as a candidate and found him wanting. That includes Democrats; two minor candidates with D’s next to their names combined for 4.39 percent of the vote to Edwards’ 30.12 percent. With 34.5 percent as the total Democrat vote Tuesday, which is a reasonable expectation as a ceiling for what he can do in a runoff, the electoral shellacking so long due the most venal and corrupt politician in Louisiana political history awaits him in 31 days.

Edwards has faced just such a wrath of the voters before. In 1987, after four years spent presiding over a disastrous state economy, a corrupt and dysfunctional state government and what could very well have been a conviction on public corruption charges Edwards faced very similar numbers to those he faces today. He got out of that race and let Buddy Roemer claim victory as the top vote-getter among four reform-minded gubernatorial candidates. Edwards did manage to re-inflict himself on the voters four years later and won the worst election in Louisiana (if not American) history, but his final term in office led to more managerial dysfunction, economic malaise and his own conviction on racketeering charges.

Such a squalid and dishonorable record as a putative public servant is the rightful source of shame and penitence. Not for Edwards, who before Anthony Weiner came along held the title of America’s most notorious political attention whore. Up until last night this vainglorious old man persisted in bragging he was a presidential pardon away from getting elected governor and that if he could run against Bobby Jindal he would win. Such is his hubris.

In Garret Graves, Edwin Edwards faces the nemesis to that hubris. Graves, who raised well over a million dollars in coming from bureaucratic obscurity to finish with 27 percent of the 65.5 percent non-Democrat share of the vote last night, might well match his primary fundraising figure by Friday. Raising campaign cash to banish Edwin Edwards into political oblivion might well become a national pastime by the end of this week; one can easily imagine Graves’ coffers overflowing with donations from Maine to Hawaii once the national public sees an attractive young Republican reformer and fighter for Louisiana’s coast matched against so embarrassing a figure.

And for the next month, Graves will delight in putting Edwards on trial before a 6th District public which has demonstrated itself to be a jury not of Edwards’ liking. The mailers and TV commercials and radio ads Graves’ campaign team can light off against him will set fire to whatever he thinks is left of his reputation. Graves himself has already offered up Edwards’ marriage to a 30-something trophy wife as an item of fun, referring to his wife Trina as one of his children, and when he does it he always gets a laugh out of the crowd. It’s only going to get worse, and Edwards, who at 86 years old no longer has the energy and drive of his younger years, has nothing left to offer to the voters, his party or his own ego.

And for Landrieu, Tuesday was an ignominious disaster. Her entire election strategy depended on stealing a march to 50 percent plus one last night. Not only didn’t she meet that goal, she wasn’t close. In fact, until the Orleans Parish vote came in toward the end of the vote-counting she was not only behind Bill Cassidy but under 40 percent. Only when the last 120 or so precincts in Orleans bore their usual Democrat fruit did Landrieu manage to barely inch ahead of Cassidy. She managed just 42 percent.

Where is the ceiling for Landrieu in what is sure to be a more Republican electorate in December? Add the other Democrat votes, those for Wayne Ables, Val Senegal and William Waymire, to her total and she’s just above 43 percent – of last night’s electorate.

Mary Landrieu spent (just as of October 15; certainly the true figure is considerably higher) some $13.6 million on this race. To finish with 10 percent less in November of 2014 than she earned in November of 2008.

Despite the ludicrous statements last night about how the runoff is “the race we always wanted” in what should have been her concession speech, Landrieu has no path to victory in 31 days. What she has in front of her is a trail of tears, and a repudiation by the voters which will destroy her family’s supposed electoral strength in this state.

Bill Cassidy nearly beat her outright last night. Cassidy fell just 16,000 votes shy of placing ahead of her. Meanwhile, Cassidy can count on the vast majority of the 202,000 votes Rob Maness amassed last night, and add to his figure the 27,000 votes fellow Republican Thomas Clements and Libertarian Brannon McMorris brought in. As of right now Landrieu is staring a 57-43 tsunami in the face – with the electorate as it was last night.

We know the electorate will not be what it was last night on Dec. 6. We know that it will be more Republican, and whiter. We know that Landrieu’s incomprehensibly irresponsible and stupid remarks about how Louisiana and the rest of the South are racist and sexist will live in infamy for the next 31 days, and that whiter electorate will offer her its wrath next month. And no, she won’t be saved by an influx of Democrat money and union shoe leather; the national Left isn’t riding to her aid. Not when it has been so thoroughly destroyed across the country. There is no rescue, there is no cavalry, there is no salvation.

There is only defeat, and ignominious defeat, at that.

It’s time for Landrieu, and Edwards and Mayo, to have the humility and the intelligence, and the dignity, to spare themselves and their voters the spectacle of the lost cause playing out to its denouement. It’s time for the three of them to concede their races so Louisiana can join the nation in moving on from this year’s election cycle.

Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues

Weekend interview with the Wall Street Journal

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of “Sexual Personae,” she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled “Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, ” and it’s easy to see why. “If civilization had been left in female hands,” she wrote, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, “Glittering Images,” is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.

Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and “abrasive, strident and obnoxious.” Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (“a true artist”), then blasting ObamaCare (“a monstrosity,” though she voted for the president), global warming (“a religious dogma”), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (“the biggest canard,” yet she herself is a lesbian).

But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.

She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. “The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,” she says. “These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.”

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians “lack practical skills of analysis and construction”) to what women wear. “So many women don’t realize how vulnerable they are by what they’re doing on the street,” she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.

When she has made this point in the past, Ms. Paglia—who dresses in androgynous jackets and slacks—has been told that she believes “women are at fault for their own victimization.” Nonsense, she says. “I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters.” She calls it “street-smart feminism.”

Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. “Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys,” she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. “They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters.”

She is not the first to make this argument, as Ms. Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the “war against boys” for more than a decade. The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.

Ms. Paglia observes this phenomenon up close with her 11-year-old son, Lucien, whom she is raising with her ex-partner, Alison Maddex, an artist and public-school teacher who lives 2 miles away. She sees the tacit elevation of “female values”—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.

By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. “This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralization of maleness.” The result: Upper-middle-class men who are “intimidated” and “can’t say anything. . . . They understand the agenda.” In other words: They avoid goring certain sacred cows by “never telling the truth to women” about sex, and by keeping “raunchy” thoughts and sexual fantasies to themselves and their laptops.

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with “no models of manhood,” she says. “Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.” The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm “inspires me as a writer,” she says, adding: “If we had to go to war,” the callers “are the men that would save the nation.”

And men aren’t the only ones suffering from the decline of men. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become “clones” condemned to “Pilates for the next 30 years,” Ms. Paglia says. “Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly,” adding that online pornography is increasingly the only place where men and women in our sexless culture tap into “primal energy” in a way they can’t in real life.

A key part of the remedy, she believes, is a “revalorization” of traditional male trades—the ones that allow women’s studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).

“Michelle Obama’s going on: ‘Everybody must have college.’ Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum” and “people end up saddled with huge debts,” says Ms. Paglia. What’s driving the push toward universal college is “social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window.”

Ms. Paglia, who has been a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since 1984, sees her own students as examples. “I have woodworking students who, even while they’re in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on,” she says. “My career has been in art schools cause I don’t get along with normal academics.”

To hear her tell it, getting along has never been Ms. Paglia’s strong suit. As a child, she felt stifled by the expectations of girlhood in the 1950s. She fantasized about being a knight, not a princess. Discovering pioneering female figures as a teenager, most notably Amelia Earhart, transformed Ms. Paglia’s understanding of what her future might hold.

These iconoclastic women of the 1930s, like Earhart and Katharine Hepburn, remain her ideal feminist role models: independent, brave, enterprising, capable of competing with men without bashing them. But since at least the late 1960s, she says, fellow feminists in the academy stopped sharing her vision of “equal-opportunity feminism” that demands a level playing field without demanding special quotas or protections for women.

She proudly recounts her battle, while a graduate student at Yale in the late 1960s and early ’70s, with the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band over the Rolling Stones: Ms. Paglia loved “Under My Thumb,” a song the others regarded as chauvinist. Then there was the time she “barely got through the dinner” with a group of women’s studies professors at Bennington College, where she had her first teaching job, who insisted that there is no hormonal difference between men and women. “I left before dessert.”

In her view, these ideological excesses bear much of the blame for the current cultural decline. She calls out activists like Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf and Susan Faludi for pushing a version of feminism that says gender is nothing more than a social construct, and groups like the National Organization for Women for making abortion the singular women’s issue.

By denying the role of nature in women’s lives, she argues, leading feminists created a “denatured, antiseptic” movement that “protected their bourgeois lifestyle” and falsely promised that women could “have it all.” And by impugning women who chose to forgo careers to stay at home with children, feminists turned off many who might have happily joined their ranks.

But Ms. Paglia’s criticism shouldn’t be mistaken for nostalgia for the socially prescribed roles for men and women before the 1960s. Quite the contrary. “I personally have disobeyed every single item of the gender code,” says Ms. Paglia. But men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making.

Sex education, she says, simply focuses on mechanics without conveying the real “facts of life,” especially for girls: “I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented.”

For all of Ms. Paglia’s barbs about the women’s movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women’s movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the “nanny state” mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one “open to stay-at-home moms” and “not just the career woman.”

More important, Ms. Paglia says, if the women’s movement wants to be taken seriously again, it should tackle serious matters, like rape in India and honor killings in the Muslim world, that are “more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus.”

Conservatives’ Suicidal Impulses Are Slowing Cassidy Down

by Jeff Sadow via The Hayride

So Rep. Bill Cassidy a quarter-century ago expressed skepticism about the Strategic Defense Initiative and more defense spending in general. That these remarks of the then-Democrat, now leading Republican candidate for the Senate in Louisiana got reported at all underscores a phenomenon about the propensity for Democrats to make themselves into a ring and fire outwards at their political enemies, while Republicans do a 180 and fire at each other.

Since then, Cassidy has become considerably older and wiser, as his lifetime American Conservative Union voting record of nearly 87 attests, higher than the chamber’s GOP member average of around 84. Yet among some conservatives, he still remains suspect with all sorts of convoluted and unconvincing efforts to paint his as the same as the incumbent that he challenges Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu, no doubt rooted on by the Landrieu campaign that hopes this results in discouraging enough of the conservative vote to fail to turn out to vote in Cassidy and/or has his campaign waste resources by feeling it must respond to the baseless charge that he is not conservative enough.

Only this past week another presumed answer for the small cabal calling Cassidy impure, state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, passed on a candidacy and then endorsed Cassidy, while new Louisiana resident Rob Maness picked up the first substantial endorsement from conservatives that Cassidy has not gotten, which gives him a chance to pull in third-party spending of about 10 percent of what Cassidy has on hand. And don’t be surprised if it wasn’t Landrieu opposition research that found the 1988 letter to the editor now being publicized.

If so, it’s because Landrieu instinctively understands what David Horowitz recently and brilliantly laid out as to why Democrats can win campaigns despite having a message contrary to the reality majorities perceive, precisely because lberalism is not built on reality but appeals to emotion. Horowitz, who began his political life as a committed Marxist, understands well that the political left is built on faith, not reason, with a true belief that it is on the side of history’s inevitable path, and that apostasy to that faith is a sign of immorality whose adherents must be crushed. This panting need to affiliate behind the use of government to bring this transformation provides exceptional unitary impetus.

By contrast, conservatives don’t see themselves as part of a transformational movement simply because they see government not as something to alter human nature (which is immutable and therefore this attempt brings tyranny), but as a necessary evil to temper the worst aspects of human nature. There’s no call to collective action rallying around faith that dislodges reason and unites as in the case of liberals, but instead engages in critical appraisal of government-as-Prometheus, precisely because when unbound it can produce collective action that threatens freedom. This rejection of sublimation of individuality to pursue the collective in favor of equipping individuals to fight sublimation by the collective makes it naturally harder for conservatives to pursue a unified agenda and arouses suspicions that real or imagined “backsliders” already have submitted to sublimation.

Thus, the left tries to exploit these divisions for its own gain, and some are more than willing to be the useful idiots being played. There’s nothing wrong when there is healthy debate and dissent within the right, because this is the strength of conservatism in America in that its ideas are tested and proven through this process, whereas the left hangs on to its bromides regardless of the facts and logic that expose their invalidity, with its preferred method of debate being to shout down opponents by indulging in name-calling, shifting to non sequiturs, and proclaiming inconvenient truths as illegitimate. But at the same time, among Republicans creation of false controversies (egged on by Democrats) and elevating trivial differences over issues into schismatic ruptures only plays into Democrats’ hands.

The Maness campaign is a classic example of this tendency, highlighting a few narrow differences between him and Cassidy, then using this as the basis to declare Cassidy and Landrieu as largely indistinguishable. No serious or studied observer would buy this. In this particular race, with credibility one can campaign on conservative credentials, ability to influence policy, electability, and candidate image, but there’s none with proclaiming Cassidy a RINO.

But the likes of Maness continue to peddle this, Landrieu operatives amplify it, and the media is more than happy to report on it to gain audiences and in the minds of many within it to facilitate liberalism. So do not expect the “challenger to the right of Cassidy” narrative to go away from months to come, because it serves the interests of both certain conservatives and liberals.