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Showing posts from November, 2004

The Coming Reinvention Of The Democratic Party, And What Connecticut Republicans May Learn From It

The reversal of fortunes is too dramatic not to notice. After the 1990 elections, Democrats held a 267-seat majority in the U.S. House and a 56-seat majority in the senate. These majorities dwindled and vanished during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and today they are nearly reversed. In the post election congress, Republicans will have a 231 or 200 majority in the U.S. House and a 55 or 44 majority in the senate. In addition, Republicans have moved into the majority in state legislature and governorships. The Democrats were unable to carry a single state in the South, Western Plains or Mountain States, the fortress of Republican electoral power. Some Democrat Party stalwarts have suggested the trouble lies with the messenger. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Steve Grossman said, “We cannot afford to make the perfect the enemy of the good. We have to broaden our base and not have everyone agree with every principle of the party platform. We have to broaden our appeal witho

Kerry and the Democrats, the Critical Aftermath

Liberals, who lost spectacularly in the recent elections, are being consoled -- by liberals. The results are what might be expected. There is no need to abandon, or even examine, the prejudices that led us to dusty defeat, they say, but some minor technical adjustments may be in order. Stick with your core beliefs, advises Keith Burris, Editorial Page Editor of the Journal Inquirer , but finesse your approach. What Democrats need is to rediscover and reaffirm the old values, which are as solid as the earth itself. They simply need to get back to Jefferson, Jackson and Roosevelt. They do need to be the party that will make national health insurance happen. They do need to be intellectually honest. For example: No, we cannot balance the budget and universalize health insurance at the same time. That does not compute. But we want to get national health care first. Or, Yes, the war was a mistake. A terrible one. Let's talk about how we undo and correct it. They do need to be aggress

The Connecticut Republican Party At Ground Zero

State Republicans in Connecticut must be a bit envious of their national party. Even ardent Democrats who believe that President George Bush is an imbecile – a dwindling number as more and more Republicans are added to the U.S. Congress – allow that the Republicans, led by uber-advisor Karl Rove, the putative brains behind the throne, did a magnificent job in showing Sen. John Kerry the door. While their national counterparts were expanding their political power, State Republicans were losing seats in the legislature. And only last week Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan, formerly the President Pro Tem of the state senate, acting on behalf of Governor Jodi Rell, who was on a vacation not paid for by state contractors, unburdened himself of the following sentiment: "It is outrageous that our state would be seen nationally as the place to buy an illegal license. Worse still, it appears that state authorities failed to act for weeks after being informed by the media investigati

Why Kerry Lost

It’s doubtful that the average American thinks very much about his own past, let alone the past of his nation’ recent presidents. Most Americans are forward looking; something they have in common with tempest tossed immigrants newly arrived in the land of milk and honey. During his first campaign against the current president’s father, former president Bill Clinton was careful not to dwell too much on his dubious past: It took awhile for that past to catch him up with the fleet footed Clinton and grab him by the throat. Clinton’s first campaign was grounded firmly in the insubstantial future. The past belongs to history and may be, especially to those who have lived in it, a twilight shrouded, dangerous terrain. The future belongs to the imagination and is made of “frogs and snails and puppy dog’s tails.” As boys -- who will be boys -- enter their maturity, their pasts, so the poem tells us, are transmuted to “sighs and leers, and crocodile tears.” If John Kerry didn’t get himself a

Rep. Chris Shays Exposes French Perfidy

One question not seriously pursued during the presidential debates concerns the perfidy of trusted allies with respect to the United Nation’s Food for Oil program. In the future, how would presidential candidates John Kerry or George Bush prevent rogue states such as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq from turning UN Oil for Food programs into Oil for Weapons programs? The Oil for Food program was designed to ease social conditions in Iraq by permitting Saddam’s government to buy food and supplies for the country he methodically plundered. But the program was early on subverted by Saddam through a voucher system that rewarded state officials in various countries for political favors. According to a story featured in the “Washington Times,” Patrick Kennedy, a representative to the United Nations for management and reform, told the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, emerging threats and international relations that some member states had “resisted” efforts to put an end to

The Future of Political Parties and the Utopianists

We all know that after reading a news account of his own demise, Mark Twain advised, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” In much the same way, reports that political parties are languishing on their deathbed may be greatly exaggerated – or not. In this talk, I’d like to take you to the early nineteen hundreds and back again to the twenty-first century, so that we might have a rounded historical view of political parties and how they changed over the years. I should begin by putting before you two propositions that few people here may disagree with. The first is that political parties are necessary. The second is that no party can be successful unless it can maintain itself – financially and organizationally. It will come as no surprise that there are dissenters to the first proposition. Some people believe that political parties are an encumbrance to good government. It may be an instance of advanced hubris, but there are political writers abroad in the land who be

Lowell Weicker Comes Up For Air

Just when you think things can’t get worse, things get worse. Today – Sunday, October 17 – I went to fetch my Hartford Courant from its bright blue box. Carrying the five pound thing into the house is something of a chore. It usually takes me ten minutes to weed out the ads and fillers, after which I toss out sections I never read, about three quarters of the paper. Next, I gingerly skip over the usual liberal blabmeisters – Colin McEnroe, for one, though the paper is lush with them– at which point the thing becomes manageable and more readable. Northeast Magazine is usually dense with liberal fodder, but Kevin Rennie , once a Republican legislator, is sometimes elegantly articulate in his regular column. Not today. Rennie, who quickly learned how to make himself indispensable to his liberal handlers at the Courant, launched a paean to Chris Dodd, rather as if the longtime U.S. senator could not retain his seat without plaudits from a moderate Republican. And McEnroe, always toxic

Direct Primaries and the Ends Of Good Government

A distressed liberal writes in a recent column that direct primaries are not working. Direct primaries were “a dud” the columnist declared and added, “For years, we good-government types had banged the drum for election reform. Oh, how we thundered and roared. Outlaw the practice of candidates being chosen in smoke-filled back rooms, we pleaded. Drive a stake through the hearts of party bosses. Put an end to the humiliating and costly system of forcing contenders to beg for delegate support. Dismantle the incumbency-protection system. Reinvigorate our democratic institutions by allowing candidates to circumvent rigged conventions and petition directly onto the primary ballot. “So what was the result? “Of Connecticut's 187 legislative and five congressional districts, a grand total of one person petitioned onto the ballot: Republican Raymond Collins III of West Haven, who was seeking the House seat being vacated by his father. “ All this is very sad, but predictable. Has eve

The Impeachment And Resignation Of Governor John Rowland

Governor John Rowland two days ago threw himself on the mercy of the media. In a written statement, Rowland admitted he had mislead the state's Capitol Press Corp and abjectly apologized. And what was the result? It was predictable, after his stunning confession, that he would be publicly mutilated. Nothing so arouses the media as public confessions of deceit. Two newspapers called for his resignation, firebrand liberals demanded the governor be impeached, and other leading Democrats asked that Rowland step down until federal authorities have completed their investigations. Much of the heavy fire came on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2003. The Hartford Courant ran two stories on page one under the headline "Tomasso Oversaw Cottage Work." One sub-headline read "Contractors: He Hired Them While His Company Sought State Job," and the other read "Rowland: Democratic Leaders Say Governor is 'Looking Into That Opened Pit." According to the story, William Toma

Before And After The Election 2004

Before -- Tuesday, November 2, 2004 On Warren G. Harding's birthday and election day, Andée, her guide dog Jake and I went early to the polls, both of us voting for President George Bush; this even though Hillary Rodham Clinton had left a message on our phone urging us to vote for Democrat Jim Sullivan, who is running against Republican Rob Simmons for the U.S. House of Representatives, and soon to be president John Kerry. The Hartford Courant this year bestowed its endorsement on Sullivan, no surprise, and Bush -- big surprise for the kind of people, usually latte loving liberals, who cherish Courant endorsements. Last election cycle, the Courant endorsed U.S. Rep. Chris Shay's adversary. Shays, a "moderate" Republican," fell into disfavor when he announced that he would support an invasion of Syria, and the Courant flayed him by awarding its endorsement to his opponent. Apparently, the paper reconsidered this year, or perhaps its wrath dropped from it