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“Bad Weekend for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” by Clark Judge

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The Monday morning column from Clark Judge:

Bad Weekend for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group ( <> ) and chairman, Pacific Research Institute ( <> )

White House insiders must be holding their heads.

The National Governors Association met in Boston this weekend. Usually NGA meetings rank among the blandest of political events. The convening organization for American governors is bi-partisan. Out of courtesy if nothing else, the fifty state leaders hold their more colorful political pronouncements for other occasions. Good government concerns are more the order of the day, with political jousting carried out within those earnest borders.

Not this meeting. Guns were blazing in criticism of the Obama Administration.[# More #]

Said one frustrated state chief executive, “They [the administration] have oversold the job creation part of [the stimulus legislation]… Whether the president of the United States inherited this [economic] situation or not, he’s now owning it…. [T]o have not delivered [jobs] more quickly has become a problem.”

Said another governor from another region: “Are we just protecting government, or are we really stimulating the economy.”

It wasn’t just the administration’s confusion of growing government for growing the economy that was a problem. Regarding the environment, Politico reported a governor saying, “There’s a balance to be had between the environment and the economy. And it looks as if they’re overtipping that.”

And on the administration’s lawsuit against Arizona over that state’s new law regarding illegal immigration, The New York Times reported this morning another governor complaining, “Universally, the governors are saying ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs’…. And all of a sudden we have immigration going on…. It is such a toxic subject….”

The problem for the White House is not that Republican governors have taken off the gloves. The president and his coterie could brush that aside. It is that all of the quotes above came from Democratic governors.

The White House problem is that it was Democrats who made news this weekend, and they made it criticizing the administration and their own party’s leadership in Congress. As yet another governor of the president’s party told the Times, in joining Republicans wondering why there was no attempt by his party’s Congressional leadership to at least add constructive immigration legislation to obstructive administration lawsuits, “There are 535 members of Congress…. Certainly someone back there can chew gum and hold the basketball at the same time.”

But in the Democratic camp, more than governors are now wondering what is going on inside the Obama administration.

In this morning’s New York Daily News, not ordinarily a source of nationally important comment, ex-Clinton pollster Douglas Schoen, in analyzing the president’s disastrously low poll numbers, said, “The American people, exhausted and demoralized by a sluggish economy, recognize that the stimulus package, as currently crafted and implemented, has at best produced short-term results through subsidization of the public sector. And they are increasingly uneasy about rising deficits, which remain the independent voter’s touchstone.”

He continued, “The left-wing economists urging Obama to ignore the latter concern, and pour more taxpayer money into the economy now, regardless of the impact on the deficits, are prescribing electoral suicide. Obama needs a robust, fast-acting job-creation strategy that doesn’t throw fiscal responsibility to the wind.”
And sounding like a Tea Partyer, he added, “Perhaps [the president] could get behind a federal version of the Office of the Repealer < of the Repealer> proposed by Sen. Sam Brownback < Brownback> , a Republican running for governor of Kansas <> . It would review rules and regulations on the books with an eye to purge old, over-the-top government-imposed burdens that no longer apply.”

November is not a done deal yet. We have a two-party system. It is not enough for the Democrats to fail in governing, as they have. The Republicans must come up with an alternative. This is particularly true this year, when the swing vote in American politics is inclined to see the political landscapes as dominated by only one party, the inside Washington party, with the GOP and the Democrats having morphed into different faces of the same animal.

There is talk of Congressional Republicans issuing a new Contract with America, a pledge of actions the party would take if it were to control the next Congress. Apparently some are afraid of painting in such bold colors as endorsing repeal of Obamacare, stopping further spending of the stimulus money, and continuing the 2003 tax rates. With voter skepticism running so deep, Republican timidity is the greatest danger for the GOP this fall.

This weekend showed that Washington Democrats may be suffering from nearly fatal self-inflicted wounds. But we have yet to see if the Republicans are truly any better.


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