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$10 for Tark –Day Three: Messaging the Congressional Democrats

Wednesday, August 26, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

I have hundreds and hundreds of e-mails that I cannot possibly respond to telling me of a $10 or greater contribution to the campaign of Harry Reid opponent Danny Tarkanian. You can contribute online here. You can send a message to Senator Reid here (and I urge you make it respectful and focused on stopping Obamacare.) You can e-mail me at

Key links from Instapundit and Powerline assure that the online world is aware of the campaign to send a message the the Senate Majority Leader that Obamacare has got to be shelved. I hope some of my colleagues on the radio dial pick up on the effort to send a very loud message to Senator Reid. Nothing gets an incumbent’s attention like a check to his opponent, and thousands and thousands of checks to Tark should hopefully see Senator Reid talking with his colleagues about the political peril that Obamacare creates for all of them, even those who can look forward to excellent funding support from unions and teachers. As Danny Tarkanian said on my show yesterday (transcript here), he knows he will get pummeled by negative ads fueled by massive contributions to Senator Reid’s coffers.

But when an issue penetrates and polarizes an electorate in the way that Obamacare has done (and now as the soaring deficits may be doing), the negative campaigns against challengers don’t work nearly as well because the vote becomes a referendum on the incumbent who backed the wildly unpopular program. If Senator Reid allows Obamacare or cap-and-tax to pass, that will be the deciding issue for many Nevadans, and all the money he spends attacking Tark won’t be able to obscure his crucial backing of these deeply unpopular laws.

I interviewed Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, RNC Chair Michael Steele and Politico’s Mike Allen on yesterday’s show, and each guest agreed that American politics are in a policy-driven upheaval right now. (The Pawlenty transcript is here, the Steele transcript here, and the .) That upheaval complicates everything for the president. “[I]f Harry Reid is in the race of his life,” Mike Allen observed, “imagine how that’s going to affect his job of trying to run the President’s agenda.” It will tempt Harry to shelve Obamacare until some clarity arrives in November 2010 about the political staying power of the president.

Michael Steele took out hard after AARP, agreeing that the organization had betrayed its members and explaining that the “AARP is playing to its political interests and agenda and not the interest and the agenda of the people who write them a check every year as dues-paying members. I have, you know, I keep getting these AARP like time to join, time to join. I tear them up and throw them away, because they’re not being really true to what their mission should be, and that is what’s in the best interests of seniors.” The special interests arrayed behind Obamacare have figured out there is an enormous cost to their support. Will they double down even as cracks develop in the Democratic wall of support?

And Governor Pawlenty summarized the emerging issues of the skyrocketing deficits. The Obama deficit dwarfs that last large one left behind by W, and W’s was in response to the market panic. The TARP’s net 300 to 500 billion is nothing compared to the spending orgy unleashed by President Obama, the stunning consequences are just now coming into focus — a $9 trillion deficit over a decade! Pawlenty’s comments:

It not only staggers me, but it frightens me and concerns me a great deal. Hugh, we cannot continue to do what we’re doing in terms of federal spending. We are going to have the federal government equivalent of the home mortgage crisis meltdown. This is a house of cards. It’s unsustainable. It’s going to have intermediate and long term consequences on our economy that are going to be even harder to address down the road. But I will also say this. We have to look each other in the eye and look in the mirror, and acknowledge that regardless of whether we have sent Republicans to the White House or Democrats to the White House, the trend line…or the Congress, the trend line’s been about the same with some exceptions. But basically, Obama has now just exponentially grown the problem. But the problem, at least structurally, existed even before. Now, he’s made it dramatically worse. We have to move towards higher expectations for the folks we send there. But I would go so far as to say this. They’re not going to balance the budget in Washington, D.C. until they have to, and that’s why I’m saying we should get back to a balanced budget requirement for the federal government, at least a movement in that direction, and harness our energy towards that kind of goal, because they won’t do it otherwise.

HH: Now what is the total budget of Minnesota, Governor, in rough terms?

TP: Well, the general operating fund, it’s $30, well, roughly $32 billion dollars for a two year period.

HH: Now the reason I bring that up is that’s a lot of money. That runs an entire state which is a big state with a lot going on and a lot of employment. $32 billion is nothing to these people. They just spend $32 billion dollars, it’s like a burp after dinner.

TP: (laughing) Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. And so it’s become an Alice in Wonderland situation, where we borrow money from the Chinese to pay money to ourselves under the banner of cash for clunkers, so we can feel better about buying cars from ourselves and companies we own, General Motors, so someday, we might be able to pay ourselves back. I mean, think about that, Hugh. That’s literally what we’re doing as a country. I know the program’s popular and all that, but the fact of the matter is we don’t have the money, we’re borrowing money to give ourselves money to buy cars from ourselves, so someday we might be able to pay ourselves back. If you don’t think that’s a symptom of a cultural financial crisis, then I think we don’t have our head screwed on straight. It’s a major problem, and it has to be fixed.

If the Congress doesn’t take immediate steps to fix it –beginning with the shelving of Obamacare which would add trillions more to the already impossibly deep ocean of red ink– the voters will know and the voters will act next November.

What does $10 Buck for Tark say? That you know what is going on and you won’t forget it. That you oppose Obamacae and the massive spending. That the stimulus didn’t, and that growing an economy and thus jobs requires a business-friendly economic policy, not the childish populism of a campus agitator. And that you cannot believe the Administration is prosecuting the very people who were working to obtain information to protect the country.

August 2009 is ending with extraordinary levels of citizen concern over the hard left lurch the country has taken. Senator Kennedy’s death will of course produce some tributes to his unique contributions to the American Republic, many of them good. His role was as a powerful ingredient in the national political stew –a strong touch of left-wing populism, delivered with rhetorical force.

But you never wanted Teddy to lead, as the campaign of 1980 showed. Strong and influential voices on the left matter in America, but never before have they been in the saddle as they are today, and never have we rode so quickly and so far in exactly the opposite direction of where we ought to be headed.

People know, but do the Democrats in D.C. know that they know, and do those Democrats fully realize the powerful political counter-reaction that is building. “$10 for Tark” is the first of many messages to send. Next week I’ll suggest a second strategic campaign of $10 donations, and another one the week thereafter. Each will target a particular sort of Democrat who will have to begin to calculate if they prefer being a Congressman or Senator or prefer supporting the disaster that is Obamacare. These campaigns will be just exercises in message sending, but they could –along with the Townhalls, the protests, the e-mails and speeches– fix the attention of the Congressional Democrats on the cliff the president is leading them toward.

NationalReview’s Jim Geraghty fills in for me today, committed to continuing the “$10 for Tark” effort, and fresh from Jim Moran’s and Howard Dean’s townhall meeting last night. I’ll be back tomorrow.

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