For the record and as predicted, Senator George Allen has received a slight post debate bounce in the polls, over his democratic challenger Jim Webb.  According to a recent poll by SurveyUSA Mr. Allen now holds a 5 point lead:

In an election for the United States Senate in Virginia today, 9/27/06, incumbent Republican George Allen maintains a slight 49% to 44% advantage over Democrat challenger James Webb.

This recent poll also increases Allen’s September poll average up to 5.3%, as reported by Real Clear Politics. What’s amazing in this poll isn’t that Allen is ahead, but that he is ahead given the borage of negative press he’s seen lately.  The waters in this race were bloodied early with Allen’s “macaca” comment.  Then Allen was asked, and responded angrily, to a question from a reporter as to whether his family was Jewish.  The most recent controversy has arisen over whether he used racial slurs as a student at the University of Virginia. This controversy gained momentum when noted political scientist Larry Sabato, backed up the racial slur story saying Allen did use the racial slur.

Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, would not tell The Associated Press how he knew Allen used the n-word. He told Chris Matthews on MSNBC that he did not know whether it was true that Allen used the word frequently while in college. 

“I’m simply going to stay with what I know is the case and the fact is he did use the n-word, whether he’s denying it or not,” Sabato said.

This should never have become a competitive race. Virginia is a strong red state, although it has been trending democratic in recent years.  Many pundits are now calling this race a toss up.  I’ll go on a limb here and predict that come Election Day Allen will continue to be the junior senator from Virginia.  He bears much of the blame for allowing this race to become competitive, and his chances of becoming the 2008 presidential nominee have been irreparably harmed by all these scandals.

Wallace v. Clinton

By

Filed Under General on Sep 27 

While everyone outside the beltway buzzes about Terrell Owen’s alleged suicide attempt last night, the suits and skirts in D.C. are still debating who won the heavyweight bout between Fox News’ Chris Wallace and former President Bill Clinton. Though, in fairness to Wallace, it was hardly a fair fight. When a former president has an aneurysm and morphs into Barney just two feet from you, your jaw tends to drop.

Here’s just a sampling of what folks are saying:

Clinton’s anger spurs partisan political passions
Defending Bill
Clinton Narcissism Killing the Democrats
Sen. Clinton Rips Rice Over 9/11 Comments
Right, left, Clinton, Fox–Part Deux
Fox admits poor judgment
The Clinton-Wallace Story Keeps Getting Bigger!
Random Musings: Blaming the blame game

The incomparable John Fund has a terrific piece on Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in today’s Opinion Journal. Fund notes that the downward momentum of both George “Macaca” Allen and Bill “Judges-Immigration” Frist has created a void for the ridiculously good-looking, charming Romney. Let’s face it; if you’re a woman you think he’s attractive. If you’re a man you wish you were a woman so you could admit he’s hunkalicious.

A slice of Fund:

FRC officials says they invited Mr. McCain to speak, but he declined. But another potential candidate benefited greatly from showing up. Surprisingly, it was Massachusetts’ Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon with a Harvard M.B.A who governs the nation’s most liberal state. The 1,800 delegates applauded him frequently during his Friday speech and gave him a standing ovation afterward. Mr. Romney detailed his efforts to block court-imposed same-sex marriage in the Bay State and noted that the liberal Legislature has failed to place a citizen-initiated referendum on the ballot. He excoriated liberals for supporting democracy only when they think that the outcome is a foregone conclusion that favors their views. He certainly picked up fans at the summit. “I believe Mitt Romney may be the only hope social conservatives have in 2008,” says Maggie Gallagher, author of a book defending traditional marriage.

Allow me to take a Q-Tip to my ears and press rewind: “I believe Mitt Romney may be the only hope social conservatives have in 2008.”

That’s a huge step in the right direction for the Stormin’ Mormon from Mass. Just six months ago there were whispers that he had zero chance of wooing evangelicals. Maggie is just one, of course, but she could represent the tipping point Mitt needs to find success in the south.

One more tidbit:

But sniping from his home state isn’t the greatest challenge facing Mr. Romney. While he is well known in the early primary state of New Hampshire, he still has scant organization in Iowa, which will vote before New Hampshire. Reporters will continue to dog him over his position on abortion. Mr. Romney says he is now “very firmly pro-life” after having frequently expressed pro-choice views. Last year, Mike Murphy, a strategist for his 2002 governor’s race, raised further questions when he told National Review that, all along, Mr. Romney has been “a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly.” Mr. Romney said Mr. Murphy was speaking only for himself.

But Mr. Romney also has many advantages. He is perhaps the only candidate who can plausibly claim a base in several states. He has a contributor base in Massachusetts; a large reservoir of political goodwill in Michigan, where he was born and his father served as governor in the 1960s; and the loyalty of many Mormons in Utah and neighboring states. He has a built-in corps of volunteers and contributors in any state where Mormons, the fastest-growing religion in America, have a real presence.

Fund must be keeping an eye on PD’s 2008 Power Rankings. We’ve got Romney on the rise, though still behind Maverick McCain, and Allen and Frist dropping like a Paris Hilton album.

Here are a few comments from Chris Wallace, following his interview with Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday.  The full posting of his comments can be read at fishbowlDC.

The President was clearly stung by any suggestion that he had not done everything he could to get bin Laden. He attacked right-wingers–accused me of a “conservative hit job”–and even spun a theory I still don’t understand that somehow Fox was trying to cover up the fact that NewsCorp. chief Rupert Murdoch was supporting his Global Initiative. I still have no idea what set him off.

Former President Clinton is a very big man. As he leaned forward–wagging his finger in my face–and then poking the notes I was holding–I felt as if a mountain was coming down in front of me.

Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN are reporting the rumor that Osama Bin Laden may be dead, although the CNN twist is a little different:

Osama bin Laden has a water-borne illness, a Saudi intelligence source told CNN on Saturday, a report that conflicts with an article in a French newspaper saying that the al Qaeda leader is dead.

What an October surprise this would be. Set aside the fact that it’s only late September. And even if we didn’t pull the trigger, the fact that Osama is isolated in a cave somewhere in Pakistan is due to the military presence of US forces and their allies along the Afghanistan and Pakistani borders. This would be a huge success for truth, justice, and the American way (with or without Superman’s support).

However, there may be a more productive October surprise brewing on Fox News Sunday. The preview of Bill Clinton losing his cool is hitting the airwaves and internet byways. (It can be viewed here (courtesy of Youtube.com).

During the interview Clinton states, “But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try, they did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed.” If you tell a lie long enough, loud enough and often enough, the people will believe it. This may be Clinton’s strategy for defending his “war on terrorism” legacy. But in today’s world, where the big media no longer beat the information drum as loud as they once did, Clinton strategy may do little more than lead the multitudes to the failings he is fighting so hard to hide. He would probably do much better by just staying away from the controversies, and promoting good causes like his tour with George Bush Sr., in the weeks after Katrina. But Clinton has never been great about staying away from the limelight, so let October roll!

Update: here’s the rough transcript of Clinton’s FNS interview; in Wallace’s words, “one of the more unusual interviews.”

And the official transcript is here.

I’m still assuming that most Americans are not yet asking themselves questions like, “What do the latest polls say about the Iowa-1 race?” We are a long way from the midterm elections and people have other things to worry about (netizens from freerepublic and moveon excepted). So, how do things look? Gas prices are down. George W. Bush is out reminding people that he is still the President of a nation at war. The president of Iran (whatever his name is) is reminding people that the U.N. can’t solve everything (anything?). The stock market is up. Most parts of the country are at what is essentially full employment. Iraq is still a mess but not, it seems, getting any worse. Didn’t they just take over military operations or something (yes, in case you missed the 5 second blurb on the news)?

The democrats seem to count on people voting for them because they are not republicans. If the country is in bad shape, it must be the fault of the folks in charge. That might be a good strategy when things are really, demonstrably, undeniably (I get paid by the syllable) terrible. Sorry, but things just aren’t that bad. In fact, even God or Mother Nature or Al Gore or whoever you believe controls the weather seems to be working against the dems. Another major hurricane would have at least given them something to pin on the incumbents.

The extreme left and right are going to vote the party line because, well, I don’t know, but that’s another topic. Just take my word for it. The voters who are up for grabs still haven’t made up their minds but it’s starting to get hard to argue for regime change. Things just aren’t bad enough. Yet.

On Sunday, September 17th George Allen and Jim Webb showed up on Meet the Press.  Allen had a strong showing and Mr. Webb certainly did better than his previous debate.  In the end I think George Allen might have won back a point or two from his recently plummeting poll results which will be welcome news to the GOP.  In the end however, I think he also showed himself to be an injured horse for his eventual White House run.

Mr. Webb’s first sucker punch, delivered not by George Allen, but Tim Russert came with Webb’s first question:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me go back, Mr. Webb, to November of 2000. Here you are, standing with George Allen, endorsing him for the United States Senate, saying this: You endorse George Allen, “Webb said he believes Allen would be a better representative in the Senate on national security issues.” How can you endorse someone and then run against him?

MR. WEBB: I—for two reasons. First of all, I had thought George Allen would be bringing better leadership to the United States Senate, and I have not seen that kind of leadership, particularly in the area of national security, where we have become so vulnerable as a nation. The second is that if you look at what’s happened to the Republican Party over this period, they’re—I’m like a lot of people in this country who affiliated with the Republican Party based on national security issues toward the end of the Vietnam War, were never particularly comfortable with them, particularly on economic issues…

The candidates also sparred over their stances in the Iraq war.  Webb supported his stance that Iraq was a mistake, “This was not a war of necessity at the time…There was no urgency to go into this war at the time that we went into it. And if we had the right people in the Senate, there would have been more questions asked and a better policy in place in order to defeat international terrorism.”

Allen attempted to paint Webb as weak on defense in general, “Jim was opposed not only to the military action now to get rid of—and recently, but he—if it were up to him, Saddam Hussein would not only be in his palaces in Iraq now, he would actually be in Kuwait, because he was opposed to military action back in 1991.”

Tim Russert exposed both candidates as having significant “scandals” that are making their respective supporters cringe.  George Allen’s “macaca” comment was raised again.  This is the scandal that will likely follow Mr. Allen even after the election and may prevent him from being a true contender for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Likewise, Mr. Webb’s historical bias against women in the military might doom his chances as a Democratic candidate:

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Webb, an issue that has now been raised in this campaign, an article you wrote in 1979. Here’s the headline: “Women Can’t Fight.” And you write: “No benefit can come to anyone from women serving in combat. … Their presence at institutions dedicated to the preparation of men for combat command is poisoning that preparation. By attempting to sexually sterilize the Naval Academy environment in the name of equality, this country has sterilized the whole process of combat leadership training, and our military forces are doomed to suffer the consequences….I have never met a woman, including the dozens of female midshipmen I encountered during my recent semester as a professor at the Naval Academy, whom I would trust to provide those men with combat leadership.”

Allen might get a small bump for a good showing, but the long term implications of this tight race are far from over for the junior senator from Virginia.

Update:  The real difference between George Allen and Jim Webb, as they appeared on their debate with Meet the Press (courtesy of NYTimes.com):

 

 

 

If the original right wing conspirator, Pat Buchanan, is correct, the jockey may soon have to update the Democratic front runner. Pat says, Gore Can Beat Hillary for the Nomination:

If Al ran, he would open with a pair of aces. To Democrats, Gore was right on the war when almost everyone else was wrong, which gives him the inside track to the antiwar vote that will be as crucial in the Democratic primaries of 2008 as it was in 1968 and 1972.

Both of the other major antiwar candidates, John Kerry and John Edwards, voted for the war — before they voted against it. Gore opposed it from the outset. And his endorsement of Howard Dean, much ridiculed when Dean disintegrated weeks later, looks less like a political gaffe now than an act of principle.

Buchanan goes on to document Hillary’s slip in the polls, and the huge problems she will have with the democratic base due to her Iraq war stance. This is all the more true in a Clinton vs. Gore nomination fight. There is also the sense among the democratic base that Hillary is unelectable in a general election. While there is no doubt this is indeed the sentiment among a portion of the base, Dick Morris, previous Clinton White House Advisor, turned Fox News Contributor says in the general election Hillary is a slam dunk. During a recent appearance on FNC’s Hannity & Colmes he explained why she does well in a general election:

When Hillary runs, right now she’s getting about the same percent of the vote as other candidates. But she doesn’t just change the numerator, she changes the denominator. She brings into the electorate voters who would not participate. Because the idea of a woman running would be such a cataclysmic idea that would bring so many new voters out.

And white men, already voted to a 110 percent turnout, because there’s no white man that George Bush didn’t bring out into the election that could possibly have voted Republican. But she will change that fundamental construct. And I think that’s the key thing that the anti-Hillary types, who are living within the world as it is, overlook.

So, Hillary is the DNC’s silver bullet after all, but according to Buchanan she may never get the shot. This certainly makes for an interesting Democratic presidential nomination, but until Mr. Gore throws his hat in the ring, or at least makes the possibility a bit more certain, the race is still Hillary’s to lose. So much for the vast right wing conspiracy!

Though my family is grateful for the many flowers and sympathy cards sent our way in recent weeks, let it be known that I’m not quite dead (yet). We used the corpse-like summer news cycle to retool the racetrack and recruit a few new jockeys. No longer will we simply feature a running list of stories on the 2008 race for the White House. We’ve added a few contributors who will digest the news each day and recap it here with their own unique spin.

Most importantly, the rankings have been updated! McCain clings to the top spot on the right and on the left, Hillary, the one-named wonder, remains firmly entrenched at the #1 spot.

So rejoice, race fans, the Derby is back and better than ever. And, as always, be you a liberal, conservative or Liebermann, you’re bound to be offended at some point.

Is this the beginning? Al Gore, while promoting his documentary (not to be confused with a docu-drama; see ABC 8pm. Sunday, September 10th/Monday September 11th) in Sydney, Australia made his most poweful statement yet in reference to a potential 2008 run. According to the AP, Gore states:

“I haven’t completely ruled out running for president again in the future but I don’t expect to,” Gore said before the Sunday night premiere of “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“I offer the explanation not as an effort to be coy or clever. It’s just the internal shifting of gears after being in politics almost 30 years. I hate to grind the gears,” he added.

As I have stated before, Gore plans on running. He just needs the right set of circumstances to do what we all know he plans on doing. There will be a press conference, on a clear sunny day, no so far in the future, where AL Gore will state, “I have heard the will of the people. The urgings of so many americans who spoke to me while I was promoting ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ have made it clear to me that I can not turn my back on the US. So today, I am announcing my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States!”

Once again, people (like us) who pay as much attention to politics as to football are assuming that everyone else does, too. Patriots fans are already standing around water coolers and coffee pots talking about the playoffs and the Super Bowl. Self-proclaimed patriots are reviewing polls and speeches as they try to decide what seats are up for grabs and how the “voters’ mood” is going to effect November’s elections. Some are even trying to handicap the super bowl XLII of politics, the 2008 presidential election (sorry, jockey). It’s all great fun and can raise spirits and/or blood pressure but it will have no effect on the outcome of the contests.

Those who are already talking about a democrat resurgence and takeover in congress are basing their predictions, in part, on what some fans are saying very early in the season. The sad fact is that only a relatively small percentage of Americans have given even a moment’s thought to which party should run the house or senate. Those who will decide the key races in November are in the squishy middle and they don’t care yet. A lot can happen in two months. A lot of money will be spent and a lot of messages fine-tuned. A lot of minds will change.

As we get closer to the election, I will try to look at the political landscape from the non-rabid voter’s point of view. Soccer moms and football fans are going to decide who leads congress. That is exactly how it should be. It’s up to the politicians to make the choice clear.

George HW Bush had his  grocery store scanner experience.  Dan Quayle had his potatoe moment.  And John Edwards had… well; apparently it is for just that moment that Al Gore is waiting.  At least, this is the opinion of the New York Observer.  Al Gore winks and smiles and says he has no plans to run.  Meanwhile, Mr. Edwards is fighting his war on poverty all the way to the front steps of the Democratic National Convention.  As the Observer correctly points out, Hillary Clinton has staked out the middle ground in the fight for the nomination, but there is only so much room to her left.  It is unlikely that both Edwards and Gore could effectively hold that ground.  Mr. Edwards is gathering support as the far left’s poster child.  Mr. Gore will need some excuse, some reason to explain why he did a turn around and ultimately decided to run.  In the absence of Edwards having a truly bad hair day, Mr. Gore’s opportunity might never come.

 

Update: If there is any doubt, that John Edwards’ hair could be his achilles heel check out this video (courtesey of Slate.com).

 

 

Maybe it was just more evidence of David Gregory’s rancorous liberal leanings, or maybe it was a preview of how hot and nasty the eventual 2008 presidential horse race will become. Editor and Publisher has the transcript of the exchange between White House Spokesman Tony Snow and NBC’s David Gregory. Snow accuses Gregory of aptly stating the democratic talking points, and Gregory cries foul. A small excerpt:

Gregory: Don’t try to dismiss me as making a Democratic argument, Tony, when I’m speaking fact.

MR. SNOW: Well, okay — well, no –

Gregory: You can do that to the Democrats; don’t do it to me.

MR. SNOW: No, I’m doing it to you because the second part was factually tendentious, okay? Now, when you were talking about the fact that it failed to adapt, that’s just flat wrong. And you will be — there has been — there have been repeated attempts to try to adapt to military realities, to diplomatic realities, to development of new weapons and tools on the part of al Qaeda, including the very creative use of the Internet. So the idea that somehow we’re staying the course is just wrong. It is absolutely wrong.

GOP potential front runner George Allen has been dogged in the press and polls over the last few weeks for using the word macaca in reference to indian-american youth, S.R. Sidarth, who happenes to also be on the staff of his political opponent. This gaff is much ado about nothing. But Allen’s real macaca was this photo, taken in 1996 in which he is seen with Gorden Lee Baum, founder of Council of Conservative Citizens.

CCC was the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council. It would be a shame if the ’96 lapse in judgement kept Allen from establishing himself as a contender. It is unlikely that it will, but Trent Lott might have said the same thing once.

Robin Toner and Kate Zernike were salavating in their recent story of a democratic House takeover. With the pairs citing of political analysts, such as Rothenberg and Cook, who have increased potential take over numbers, and the all important national polls, I’m left to wonder why any rebublican should even show up on election day. The Senate implosion is also discussed in this mastication of Big Apple dribble. Granted, the outcome is not rosey, but are they realy counting on victories in Tenessee, Arizona, and Virginia. I wouldn’t be measuring Frist’s office for new carpet just yet.