Blagojevich Reacts to Conviction: ‘I’m Stunned’

Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
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.

What We're Following See More »
Mueller Seeks Documents from DOJ
1 days ago

Special counsel Robert Mueller "is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation." A source tells ABC News that "Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter."

Trump May Be OK with Dropping Mandate Repeal
1 days ago

"President Donald Trump would not insist on including repeal of an Obama-era health insurance mandate in a bill intended to enact the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s, a senior White House aide said on Sunday. The version of tax legislation put forward by Senate Republican leaders would remove a requirement in former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law that taxes Americans who decline to buy health insurance."

Media Devoting More Resources to Lawmakers’ Sexual Misconduct
1 days ago

"Members of Congress with histories of mistreating women should be extremely nervous. Major outlets, including CNN, are dedicating substantial newsroom resources to investigating sexual harassment allegations against numerous lawmakers. A Republican source told me he's gotten calls from well-known D.C. reporters who are gathering stories about sleazy members."

Trump to Begin Covering His Own Legal Bills
3 days ago
Steele Says Follow the Money
3 days ago

"Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who wrote the explosive dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia," says in a new book by The Guardian's Luke Harding that "Trump's land and hotel deals with Russians needed to be examined. ... Steele did not go into further detail, Harding said, but seemed to be referring to a 2008 home sale to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. Richard Dearlove, who headed the UK foreign-intelligence unit MI6 between 1999 and 2004, said in April that Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.