Politics

Blagojevich Reacts to Conviction: ‘I’m Stunned’

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June 27, 2011, 12:10 p.m.

Ex-Speak­er Newt Gin­grich (R) “brushed back ques­tions” about his WH am­bi­tions “but laid out a series of tough meas­ures he said are ne­ces­sary to win a war against rad­ic­al Is­lam” dur­ing a 9/30 for­um in CO.

Gin­grich blas­ted both GOP and Dem ad­mins for “fail­ing to treat the threat of ter­ror­ism with suf­fi­cient ser­i­ous­ness.” Gin­grich: “We need to re­lent­lessly un­der­stand we’re in an ideo­lo­gic­al and in­tel­lec­tu­al war with a group of people who would des­troy us if they could.”

He drew what he termed a “sharp dis­tinc­tion” between rad­ic­al Is­lam and “the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Muslims” world­wide who op­pose the ter­ror­ists. Gin­grich: “The fact is, the most likely per­son to be killed in the world by ter­ror­ists is a Muslim who has not sub­or­din­ated him­self to the de­mands of ter­ror­ists.”

Gin­grich “poin­ted to a re­cent con­tro­ver­sial po­s­i­tion” taken by Pres. Obama as a suf­fi­ciently “ser­i­ous” ap­proach to the ter­ror­ist threat. Say­ing Obama has “done the right thing” sign­ing a doc­u­ment au­thor­iz­ing the killing of a U.S. cit­izen “hid­ing out” in Ye­men who has been call­ing for the death of Amer­ic­ans. Gin­grich: “When you de­cide to fight the United States, you are a trait­or. When you are a trait­or, you do not come un­der U.S. civil law.”

When Gin­grich was asked twice wheth­er he planned to run for WH ‘12 — a pro­spect fueled by his re­cent heavy na­tion­al tour­ing sched­ule and round of pro­voc­at­ive state­ments — Gin­grich “de­clined both times to take the bait” (Lun­ing, Col­or­ado States­man, 10/8).

Knock­ing Newt’s ‘Food’ Fight

Two ex-House GOP­ers who served with Gin­grich “scol­ded their old col­league” 10/7 for his com­ments that Dems are the “party of food stamps.” Gin­grich earli­er in the week wrote a memo to GOP can­did­ates ur­ging them to “draw a sharp con­trast ‘between the Demo­crat Party of food stamps and the Re­pub­lic­an Party of paychecks.’”

Ex-Rep. Mickey Ed­wards (R-OK): “At some point, people will learn to stop tak­ing Newt Gin­grich ser­i­ously. Newt is ut­terly un­con­cerned with the wel­fare of the coun­try … he cares about (a) Newt and (b) power for Newt.”

Ex-Rep. John Hostet­tler (R-IN) “blas­ted Gin­grich from the right,” point­ing out that the ‘94 “Con­tract with Amer­ica” in­cluded a pro­vi­sion that trans­formed fed. food stamp en­ti­tle­ments in­to a state block grant. Once GOP­ers held a House ma­jor­ity, “they failed to make good on that prom­ise des­pite then-fresh­man law­maker Hostet­tler’s ef­forts to do so in com­mit­tee.”

Hostet­tler: “The GOP is the party of food stamps also. The former speak­er’s re­col­lec­tion of his­tory may be a bit foggy. My re­com­mend­a­tion is that the memo needs re­vis­ing” (Kim, Politico, 10/7).

Spin­ning His Web In Char­lotte

Gin­grich “will head­line” a 10/27 fun­draiser for the NC GOP. Gin­grich will be the “fea­tured guest” of the event, be­ing held at My­ers Park Coun­try Club. The money would go to “GOP turnout ef­forts” in Mecklen­burg Co.

There’s some his­tor­ic­al pre­ced­ent for his vis­it: Gin­grich head­lined a ‘94 event at My­ers Park for then-first-time can­did­ate Sue Myr­ick (R). “She went on to win,” and GOP­ers “took the House and Gin­grich be­came speak­er” (Mor­rill, Char­lotte Ob­serv­er, 10/7).

The “if it feels good, do it” school of polit­ic­al de­cision-mak­ing ex­per­i­enced yet an­oth­er pain­ful les­son in its ill-fated ef­fort to re­call Wis­con­sin’s GOP Gov. Scott Walk­er this week. If ever there was a case of a ter­rible idea poorly ex­ecuted, this was it.

Put­ting aside wheth­er Walk­er should or shouldn’t have been elec­ted gov­ernor to be­gin with, or wheth­er he has or has not made wise de­cisions or, for that mat­ter, wheth­er Walk­er should or shouldn’t have taken after the pub­lic em­ploy­ees’ uni­ons, the re­call ef­fort was a mis­take. The exit poll of 2,245 voters con­duc­ted for the tele­vi­sion net­works showed that 60 per­cent thought that the re­call mech­an­ism should be used only in case of mis­con­duct by the elec­ted of­fi­cial, and an­oth­er 10 per­cent said that re­call elec­tions are nev­er ap­pro­pri­ate. When 70 per­cent of the pub­lic thinks that something is a bad idea, it gen­er­ally is — and shouldn’t be done.

Of the 60 per­cent who thought that re­call elec­tions should oc­cur only in cases of mis­con­duct, as op­posed to, say, a policy dif­fer­ence, those voters sup­por­ted Walk­er by 37 points, 68 per­cent to 31 per­cent. Of the 10 per­cent who thought that re­call elec­tions should nev­er be triggered, Walk­er won by 95 per­cent to 5 per­cent. Only 27 per­cent thought that re­call elec­tions can be called for any reas­on; not sur­pris­ingly, this group voted by 90 per­cent to 9 per­cent for Mil­wau­kee May­or Tom Bar­rett, the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee. Look­ing at these num­bers, it’s pretty clear why Pres­id­ent Obama’s cam­paign kept the re­call ef­fort at arm’s length. Even if one dis­agreed with Walk­er’s at­tacks on the col­lect­ive-bar­gain­ing rights of pub­lic em­ploy­ees, this was the wrong fight. The exit poll showed that 86 per­cent of the voters had made their minds up be­fore May 1, five weeks be­fore the June 5 re­call; pre­sum­ably two-thirds or three-quar­ters had made their minds up long be­fore that.

Com­pound­ing the er­ror was the self-in­dul­gence among Demo­crats of hold­ing a di­vis­ive four-way primary on May 8, ef­fect­ively squan­der­ing re­sources be­fore the main event, one in which they were destined to be out­spent.

The exit polls provide con­sid­er­able food for thought. Among the 17 per­cent of the elect­or­ate who are uni­on mem­bers, Walk­er lost by 43 per­cent­age points, with Bar­rett pre­vail­ing by 71 per­cent to 28 per­cent. Of the 32 per­cent who live in uni­on house­holds, the Re­pub­lic­an in­cum­bent lost by 25 per­cent­age points, with Bar­rett best­ing him by 62 per­cent to 37 per­cent. If rank-and-file uni­on mem­bers and house­holds are not pretty close to mono­lith­ic on this ques­tion, it seems like a bad idea to go the re­call route.

The res­ults also say something about the splin­ter­ing of the Demo­crats’ New Deal co­ali­tion. Among the 54 per­cent of voters who are white and did not at­tend col­lege — those com­monly re­ferred to as blue-col­lar whites — Walk­er won by 22 points, 61 per­cent to 39 per­cent. Among the 91 per­cent of voters who are white, he won by 57 per­cent to 43 per­cent. But it’s the gender splits that are par­tic­u­larly strik­ing. Among white wo­men, the Re­pub­lic­an edged the Demo­crat by just 3 points, 51 per­cent to 48 per­cent, but among white males, Walk­er won by 62 per­cent to 37 per­cent. Among all races, Bar­rett won by 5 points; among wo­men, he won by 52 per­cent to 47 per­cent. However, among men, Walk­er’s ad­vant­age was 19 points, 59 per­cent to 40 per­cent.

For or­gan­ized labor, which is fight­ing for its place in Amer­ic­an polit­ics and the eco­nomy, the re­call elec­tion should prompt some soul-search­ing about how this de­cision was made and why, and how such a costly and em­bar­rass­ing epis­ode should be avoided. Un­seat­ing Walk­er in 2014 will be more dif­fi­cult now be­cause of this ill-fated re­call ef­fort. A ton of money that could have been spent else­where for labor-backed can­did­ates and causes won’t be spent be­cause of Wis­con­sin. Al­though each side com­mits blun­ders from time to time, this was a big one.

The fact that the exit polls show that of the people who voted Tues­day, Obama led Mitt Rom­ney by 7 points, 51 per­cent to 44 per­cent, should serve as cau­tion for those choos­ing to over-read what happened. The res­ults don’t tell us so much about na­tion­al trends as they do about the wis­dom of when to pick fights and when to walk away.

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