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NYT Thomas Edsall on Obama and the Democrats: “The problem lies with the head of the fish”.

Thursday, November 6, 2014  |  posted by Duane Patterson




HH: If you read one piece by a man of the left about yesterday, go read Thomas Edsall in the New York Times’ Making The President Small. Of course, he gets it. He’s been getting it for decades. Thomas Edsall, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, it’s great to talk to you. 

TE: It’s good to be with you, Hugh. 

HH: Now at the end of your piece when you quote David Leege from Notre Dame, he seemed to make the President a victim when in fact, I think the President’s achieved in his first two years pretty much everything he set out to do. All we’re watching is the unfolding reaction to it, Thomas Edsall. 

TE: Well, I tend to agree that a victim portrayal is not correct, that Obama is, has made his own bed. And he’s paying the price for it at this moment.  

HH: Well, he did, he got Obamacare, he got the financial reform bill, he got the stimulus, he got two Supreme Court justices, he got reelected, and the country basically shuddered yesterday. They don’t like it, do they, Tom? 

TE: Well, I think they shuddered at his leadership, which has been pretty weak in the face of a series of crises, and he has not done on the economic front what clearly the American people want, which is more jobs, better income and growth.  

HH: I don’t know if that’s deep enough. Let me push on this one. 

TE: Go ahead. 

HH: Tom Cotton won by 18 points in Arkansas, a state that has not had two Republican senators since Reconstruction, 18 points against a legacy candidate who was extraordinarily well-funded, who was hidden away from tough votes by Harry Reid. What does that tell you? That’s not just Arkansas turning red. That’s a revolution. 

TE: Well, I mean, it’s a longer issue than we have to talk about it, but I think there are some really serious problems on the Democratic side. And the party has been depending on issues like the war on women and depending on demographics. And it may be running out of gas at this point. 

HH: That’s why I liked your piece. You warned them that they can’t rely on demographic inevitability, which they’ve been doing for a long time. What about the President’s threat today? It had to be considered a threat in his press conference a couple of hours ago. To use unilateral action to cease the prosecution of people in the country illegally, in other words, amnesty by default?  

TE: Well, he’s going to risk a strong Congressional reaction to that if he does it. But to be honest, politically, I don’t know if that’s that dumb a move. It’ll create some howls of anger, and it will increase turnout, probably, among people who are opposed to what he’s doing, but it will also increase support for the Democratic party among Hispanics. It’s one of those political gambles that he may have nothing to lose by it. Listen, he’s not going to run again.  

HH: Yeah, but Hillary is his heir apparent, and she went down and campaigned in Arkansas. She went with Bill to Kentucky on behalf of Alison Grimes. She and Bill, do you think the President cares at all how they fare in this? Or is it all just about his legacy at this point? 

TE: Well, I’m not sure that he is madly in love with Hillary. She ran against him, and it got a little nasty back there in 2008. And she has stiff-armed him a few times recently keeping her distance. So I’m not sure that he is thinking so much of passing his legacy onto her. Well, to be honest, I’m not sure how much commitment Obama has to his own party.  

HH: Oh, I agree with this. I think people have underestimated his detachment from the Democratic machine for a long time. He’s his own guy. He’s a party of one. 

TE: I know. There’s a lot that he should have done as president for his own party, and he has basically seen his party take first a severe hit in 2010, and now an equally severe hit, if not more substantial, in 2014. And he has left the party in, he’s leaving the party, I think, in bad shape for 2016. 

HH: That’s a shambles right now, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz isn’t the person to fix it. Let me close this way, Thomas Edsall. You’ve watched a lot of administrations come and go, Republican and Democrat, and you know talented staff and not so talented staff. If you had to grade the people around President Obama right now against the challenges that they are facing, George W. Bush fired Rumsfeld in 2006, or accepted his resignation. Should the President be cleaning house in the White House because of the quality of his staff right now? 

TE: I don’t know if that’s the solution. You ask what I would grade the staff. I would give them, say, a C- or a D+. I think, but I’m not sure that firing people is going to save him. That’s all. It probably should happen, but I think the problem is really that somehow, Obama doesn’t seem to be connecting as the leader of his party, and as president of the United States. 

HH: I agree with that. He’s connecting with… 

TE: Those are the two things he really has the obligation to do. So firing a lot of people is, doesn’t resolve the issue. 

HH: He’s not alone in this fiasco. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi share, Pelosi less so, because she’s been out of power, but Harry Reid, should they go as part of an attempt to salvage the wreckage of the Democratic Party? 

TE: Well, yeah, that’s, I don’t want to call shots saying that Pelosi or Reid should resign. They’ve had their ups and downs. Again, I think the problem lies in the head of the fish. And the head of the fish is Obama, and he is not exhibiting the strengths that you would want to see if you were a Democrat as the leader of your party.  

HH: Are you disappointed, Tom Edsall? We’ve got a minute left. Are you disappointed by him? 

TE: Obama? 

HH: Yes. 

TE: Yeah, I was never, I wasn’t one of these guys who was wild for him back in 2008, though I thought he was interesting, and I supported him. But I now feel I am disappointed, yes. 

HH: Thomas Edsall, as always, good to talk with you. The story, Making The President Small, the opinion piece in the New York Times, must reading for anyone who wants to know what happened yesterday. It’s in the New York Times. I’ll tweet out the link. Thank you, Thomas.  

End of interview.


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Among The Best Things Of Many Good Things Last Night…

Wednesday, November 5, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Sending veterans of this war –Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst and Dan Sullivan– to the United States Senate, giving national security a new set of voices in that body, men and a woman who can speak with authority on the enemy and the war that the president continues to pretend will end on his command.

Also, the victories of many disciplined but genuinely conservative candidates across the board, including Cory Gardner in Colorado and Doug Ducey in Arizona. The GOP does not have to pretend to be a slightly less profligate version of the Democrats to win, but it’s candidates must be accomplished, upbeat and willing to tackle all issues and comers head on, and with a smile.

Finally, the ascendancy of Mitch McConnell to Majority Leader and the expansion of the House majority behind Speaker John Boehner means that the GOP ought quickly to be able to put on the president’s desk a steady stream of choices, each one of which will define the GOP and the Democrats, and the ones he signs will improve the country. Hope that the GOP charges out of the blocks in January, passes a budget in record time and uses reconciliation to oblige the president to chose common sense or increased isolation and even more desperate approval ratings.

Oh, and one thing more: Not one more confirmation after January, and none in the lame duck if they can be avoided. Harry Reid should get his payback, and that means long term vacancies on many of the federal district and circuit courts and, yes, should one occur, on the Supreme Court. When Harry Reid invoked “the nuclear option” he invited this sort of political retaliation and it is necessary if the GOP is not to be the party of patsies. It will take explaining, but McConnell and GOP Majority Whip John Cornyn are up to that task, and in that principled blockade they will find almost unified support among the rank and file, and more than support, sustained applause.

Off to Louisville, where I will broadcast tonight, with Guy Benson holding down the fort in the Califoria studio. Rarely will a cross country flight have gone so quickly as this one spent sifting the news of a GOP congressional win that ranks with the victories of 1980, 1994, and 2010.

Congratulations, by the way, to RNC Chair Priebus who has again demonstrated genuine mastery of modern American politics. Of course, by guiding the RNC to the selection of Cleveland as the convention site in 2016, we already knew that…

Poll Closing Times

Tuesday, November 4, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
Poll closing times map2014.gif

Note: All times on map image are in Eastern Time.

Our election coverage begins at 6 PM and goes to 1 AM, with Guy Benson joining me in the studio to keep you posted and the results coming as fast as they are available anywhere else.

“Do the Clintons still have their magic?”

Tuesday, November 4, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

This question was posed by The New York Times this morning, and then answered this way:

With Mr. Obama largely sidelined because of unpopularity, Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton became their party’s most in-demand figures on the campaign trail. Between them, they visited 25 states for more than 30 Democratic candidates. Yet some of the candidates they care most about are in peril: Mr. Clinton visited his native Arkansas three times in the campaign’s final month, but his longtime friends running for governor (Mike Ross) and senator (Mark Pryor, the incumbent) are both underdogs. So is Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat challenging Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Ms. Grimes’s family has been close to the Clintons for over two decades, but there is only so much that Clinton-centered rallies, fund-raisers and commercials in these Republican-tilting states can do — raising the question of whether Mrs. Clinton, if she runs for the White House in 2016, will try to compete in states that backed her husband for president but embraced Republicans during the Obama years.

So if, as expected, Senator Mitch McConnell wins re-election on his way to becoming majority leader and Congressman Tom Cotton becomes Senator Tom Cotton with a sizable win over the hapless Mark Pryor,  does that mean Mrs. Clinton doesn’t run in 2016?

Of course not.  She is running even if every single candidate she campaigned beside is wiped out.  She tried to be the Red Cross ambulance at the scene of so many Obama train wrecks, but to no avail.

But you do have to wonder, if she was really that inevitable and that popular, couldn’t she and Bill have pulled at least one of the president’s many Democratic victims to safety?

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