Politics

Edwards Arrives at N.C. Federal Courthouse

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June 3, 2011, 9:57 a.m.

Ex-Clark Co. GOP chair Jim Uster “proved he’s still cap­able of de­liv­er­ing a polit­ic­al mes­sage.” Uster “came to the de­fense of state Sen. Bill Rag­gio (R), who is be­ing cri­ti­cized” by ex-As­semb. Shar­ron Angle’s (R) camp fol­low­ing his en­dorse­ment of Sen­ate Maj. Lead­er Harry Re­id (D).

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

Uster, in a news re­lease: “As the former Chair­man of the Clark County Re­pub­lic­an Party, I ex­per­i­enced firsthand Sen­at­or Bill Rag­gio’s ded­ic­a­tion to the com­mon­sense val­ues and prin­ciples that rep­res­ent main­stream Nevadans. However, Shar­ron Angle’s un­mit­ig­ated at­tack on his char­ac­ter and track re­cord was a clear in­dic­a­tion that she is too far out­side main­stream — so much so that she would be un­able to rep­res­ent Nevada ef­fect­ively in the US Con­gress. As Nevada voters con­tin­ue to learn about Shar­ron Angle’s ex­treme views, they will see that Sen­at­or Rag­gio is ul­ti­mately right about Angle’s dan­ger­ous agenda and vote for Sen­at­or Harry Re­id.”

“It would be smart for Angle’s al­lies to leave the Rag­gio is­sue alone. Des­pite what con­ser­vat­ive aco­lytes are say­ing, Rag­gio’s polit­ic­al cred­ib­il­ity is hard to match” in NV (Smith, Las Ve­gas Re­view-Journ­al, 10/8).

Come Vis­it

Dear­born May­or Jack O’Re­illy re­spon­ded to Angle’s com­ments that “mil­it­ant ter­ror­ist situ­ation” has al­lowed Is­lam­ic re­li­gious law to take hold in some Amer­ic­an cit­ies, in­clud­ing Dear­born.

O’Re­illy: “She doesn’t know what she’s talk­ing about. …the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion is the greatest pro­tec­tion against Sharia law and any gov­ern­ment-con­trolled re­li­gion. … I’m go­ing to send her a let­ter and in­vite her to take a tour of Dear­born. I think she would be amazed” (Oost­ing, MLive.com, 10/9).

Middle-ing

“In a dra­mat­ic shift,” Angle said on 10/9 “she wouldn’t work to privat­ize Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, dis­mantle So­cial Se­cur­ity or dis­miss un­em­ploy­ment be­ne­fits as wel­fare. Angle ad­dressed some, but not all, of the many polit­ic­al at­tacks against her in an in­ter­view with a con­ser­vat­ive ra­dio show host be­fore a crowd of sup­port­ers in Las Ve­gas. Dur­ing the wide-ran­ging chat, Angle dis­tanced her­self from her pre­vi­ous com­ments on gov­ern­ment be­ne­fits.”

Angle “denied she had called for the end of the VA.”

In an­oth­er “slight change” on 10/9, Angle said of un­em­ploy­ment: “We pay in­to it, so in some re­spects, it is an in­sur­ance policy that we bought in­to with our paychecks.” She de­scribed it pre­vi­ously as a “sys­tem of en­ti­tle­ment” (Silva, AP, 10/9).

Dem strategist, on re­cent polls show­ing Angle sur­ging: “Re­id’s people are really antsy. … That’s why their ex­tern­al mes­sage has been to try really, really hard to dis­cred­it these polls. Angle is build­ing a lot of mo­mentum, and they don’t know how to stop it. This is ex­actly what happened dur­ing the primary.”

Re­id ad­viser Sig Ro­gich: “The mo­mentum is with us in this race. … That’s ac­cord­ing to re­li­able data that I’ve heard about. If you look at the struc­ture of those oth­er polls, I think you’ll find the num­bers are skewed.”

GOP con­sult­ant Robert Uithoven: “She’s en­dured three months of be­ing defined by the Harry Re­id cam­paign be­fore she was able to do a really sig­ni­fic­ant me­dia buy. … He had es­sen­tially all of June, Ju­ly and Au­gust to define her and cre­ate some real sep­ar­a­tion, and he wasn’t able to do it. She’s still with­in the mar­gin of er­ror, and if that’s the case go­ing in­to Elec­tion Day, that be­ne­fits the Re­pub­lic­an this year.”

Re­id spokes­per­son Jon Sum­mers: “The real­ity is, our in­tern­al polls have Sen. Re­id up by a few points” (Ball, Politico, 10/8).

Sun For Re­id

Las Ve­gas Sun en­dorsed Re­id (10/10).

The Su­preme Court’s or­al ar­gu­ments on health care last week offered a night­mare pre­view of what could await Wash­ing­ton after the 2012 elec­tion: a polit­ic­al sys­tem that is closely, deeply, and even bit­terly di­vided.

In the Court’s ques­tion­ing on Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law, the ideo­lo­gic­al chasm could not have been great­er between the five Re­pub­lic­an-ap­poin­ted justices and the four se­lec­ted by Demo­crats. And the di­vi­sion of power between them could not have been more tenu­ous.

That’s not an un­reas­on­able ex­pect­a­tion for the align­ment that the next elec­tion may pro­duce on both ends of Pennsylvania Av­en­ue. The most re­li­able pre­dic­tion about Novem­ber may be that it leaves power in Wash­ing­ton more pre­cari­ously bal­anced between the parties than it is today. Al­though Re­pub­lic­ans are favored to main­tain con­trol of the House, few would be sur­prised if their ma­jor­ity re­cedes after the high tide of 2010. The next Sen­ate could be split al­most ex­actly in half, with the ma­jor­ity party prob­ably hold­ing few­er seats than the Demo­crats’ 53 today. And, al­though it’s con­ceiv­able that a re­cov­er­ing eco­nomy could al­low Pres­id­ent Obama to equal his first vic­tory, it’s more likely that who­ever wins the pres­id­ency will cap­ture less than his 365 Elect­or­al Col­lege votes and 52.8 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote from 2008.

In all, the most pre­dict­able mes­sage of 2012 is likely to be that after a surge to­ward the Re­pub­lic­ans fol­low­ing the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, a tide of dis­il­lu­sion­ment with Pres­id­ent Bush that lif­ted the Demo­crats in 2006 and 2008, and a sharp snap back to­ward the GOP in 2010, Amer­ica has re­ver­ted to be­ing a 50-50 na­tion. Which is, of course, ex­actly where we star­ted this cen­tury after the 2000 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign that pro­duced the closest thing to an elect­or­al tie since 1880.

But al­though 2012 will likely show the parties again con­ver­ging in strength, all evid­ence sug­gests that they are di­ver­ging even more in philo­sophy and agenda. In 2000, after all, Bush ran as a “com­pas­sion­ate con­ser­vat­ive” who would gov­ern as “a uniter, not a di­vider.” That proved more of a slo­gan than a com­pass. But this year, the two parties barely even ges­ture to­ward the as­pir­a­tion of re­con­cili­ation.

Mitt Rom­ney, the pre­sumptive Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee after this week’s primary sweep, is of­fer­ing the most am­bi­tious con­ser­vat­ive agenda pro­posed by any GOP stand­ard-bear­er since Ron­ald Re­agan in 1980, if not Barry Gold­wa­ter in 1964. From cut­ting more taxes to con­vert­ing Medi­care in­to a premi­um-sup­port sys­tem and Medi­caid in­to a block grant, he has for­mu­lated a blue­print with vir­tu­ally no ap­peal to Demo­crats. It’s also an agenda scaled to a land­slide man­date that Rom­ney has al­most no chance of win­ning in a coun­try this closely di­vided.

So far, Obama’s second-term policy plans are more mod­est. But, in tone, he is tak­ing an ap­proach that’s every bit as pu­gil­ist­ic. Un­like Pres­id­ent Clin­ton, who launched his 1996 reelec­tion cam­paign by de­clar­ing, “The era of Big Gov­ern­ment is over,” Obama turned to­ward Novem­ber this week by de­noun­cing both the Court’s threat to his health care law and the House Re­pub­lic­ans’ budget draf­ted by Rep. Paul Ry­an of Wis­con­sin. The vast gulf between Obama’s fisc­al pri­or­it­ies and the GOP’s (centered on wheth­er to ex­tend or even ex­pand Bush’s tax cuts for the wealth­i­est) en­sures in­tense con­flict for as long as this pres­id­ent re­mains in of­fice, even if, ul­ti­mately, he would likely pur­sue a bi­par­tis­an budget deal in a second term, as he did in last sum­mer’s debt-ceil­ing stan­doff.

The com­ing Su­preme Court de­cision on health care could es­cal­ate this con­front­a­tion like a gren­ade rolled in­to a bar fight. Sub­stant­ively, the case rep­res­ents the most im­port­ant con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenge to the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment’s power since the epic de­cisions when a con­ser­vat­ive Court in­val­id­ated key pil­lars of Pres­id­ent Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1935 and 1936, notes New York Law School pro­fess­or James Si­mon, au­thor of a re­cent his­tory of that peri­od, FDR and Chief Justice Hughes. Polit­ic­ally, the pro­spect of five Re­pub­lic­an-ap­poin­ted justices out­vot­ing their four Demo­crat­ic-ap­poin­ted col­leagues to over­turn a health care law that rep­res­ents the Demo­crat­ic Party’s most sig­ni­fic­ant le­gis­lat­ive achieve­ment in 45 years prom­ises a firestorm.

The New Deal-era con­front­a­tion de-es­cal­ated quickly when Con­gress re­jec­ted FDR’s Court-pack­ing scheme in 1937 and Chief Justice Charles Hughes (per­haps in tac­tic­al re­treat) steered the Court ma­jor­ity to­ward an in­ter­pret­a­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion’s com­merce clause that up­held Roosevelt’s ma­jor ini­ti­at­ives. It is those rul­ings that today’s five-mem­ber con­ser­vat­ive Court ma­jor­ity could re­trench in the health care de­cision. In the pro­cess, the justices could re­open not only the ar­gu­ment about health care but also dec­ades of leg­al as­sump­tions about what Wash­ing­ton can and can­not do.

The safe fore­cast through the elec­tion and bey­ond is heightened ideo­lo­gic­al con­front­a­tion in both Con­gress and the courts over Wash­ing­ton’s reach. The al­tern­at­ive would be for each party to re­cog­nize that it lacks the elect­or­al sup­port to im­pose its agenda on the oth­er — and in­stead to seek com­prom­ises that re­flect the na­tion’s di­versity of opin­ion. Judging by last week’s ques­tion­ing, the Court seems less likely to point Wash­ing­ton to­ward that con­cili­at­ory path than to­ward a far more con­ten­tious one.

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