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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

Prepare yourself for a nauseating display of shameless grandstanding by the GOP’s most hypocritical Hillary-Haters, otherwise known as the Benghazi hearings, which begin today. At The Week Paul Waldman explains why the whole project may backfire in a big way on the Republicans. “In hearings like this one, the members of Congress often think that the fantastically clever line of questioning they’ve prepared is really going to trap the witness and reveal her for what she is; it’ll be like Perry Mason breaking a witness down until she shouts, “Yes, I did kill him, and I’d do it again!” But that’s not how it usually turns out. More often, the witness looks like the one in command, someone being pelted with unfair and hostile questions from a bunch of partisan clowns who barely know what they’re talking about…A respectful and informative hearing that does no damage to Clinton will be a terrible disappointment,” notes Waldman. And an expensive one as well.
A WaPo/ABC News poll conducted 10/15-18 indicates that 53 percent of respondents believe that Republicans are “mainly trying to damage Clinton politically” in the Benghazi hearings. Only 35 percent agreed that they are “raising legitimate concerns.”
It appears at this juncture that Rep. Paul Ryan’s ploy forcing the GOP’s “Freedom Caucus” to grovel in response to his demands is working rather well. But I wonder if the speakership is really what he wanted — the pitch seemed crafted to elicit a “hell no” response from the yahoos. With benefit of hindsight, it seems pretty clever, enhancing his stature either way. David Hawkings explores the implications for Ryan’s political future at Roll Call, noting that Ryan will be 50 years of age in 2020 and his kids will be teenagers.
Kind of sad to see an end to Vice President Biden’s presidential aspirations. He has long been one of the party’s more capable leaders. He might make an exceptionally-good Secretary of State, a post he once declined in favor of the vice presidency.
Ed Kilgore’s post at right and below on third party prospects in 2016 includes a perceptive take on Sen. Jim Webb’s candidacy and future. Many feel Webb provides a needed voice in the Democratic Party, which seems reasonable. But I don’t recall ever seeing a more stiff and guarded presidential candidate on TV.
You have to dig down to the eight paragraph of this misleadingly-titled CNN.com article to find that “Other polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans support expanding background checks to private sales and sales at gun shows, where people can buy guns without undergoing a background check.”
Mark Niquette’s Bloomberg Politics post, “Democrats Seek to Stem Republican Tide in Off-Year Races” provides an update on what is at stake this year, noting, “Governorships will be decided in Louisiana, Mississippi and Kentucky, where there’s a contest to replace term-limited Democrat Steve Beshear. There are legislative races in four states, one of which will determine Senate control in Virginia, a presidential swing state where the parties have battled over issues including Medicaid expansion. Mayoral contests will be decided in 417 municipalities including Indianapolis, where Democrats want to replace one of only three Republican chief executives among the 15 most populous cities.”
Journalistsresource.org presents some interesting data in “Factors affecting minority-voter turnout: Research,” and also notes that “A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Political Science looks at how preregistration, or the registration of youth before they reach voting age, influences voter turnout. A 2015 study from the University of South Carolina suggests that the Democratic Party and civil-rights organizations can play an important role in mobilizing black voters if they strengthen their organizational features.”
At The Upshot Josh Barro explains why Bernie Sanders is really more of a capitalist reformist than Democratic socialist: “After all, Mr. Sanders does not want to nationalize the steel mills or the auto companies or even the banks. Like Mrs. Clinton, he believes in a mixed economy, where capitalist institutions are mediated through taxes and regulation. He just wants more taxes and more regulation than Mrs. Clinton does. He certainly seems like a regular Democrat, only more so.”

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