Author Archives: Lance Thibert

The Future for John McCain

by: Lance Thibert

We all know that John McCain lost the 2008 election rather badly, 365 to 173 electoral votes, and 53% to 46% popular vote wise. John McCain, with Sarah Palin, ran one of the most confused, mismanaged and off-message campaigns in recent history. Combined with the unpopularity of President Bush and the general damage to the GOP brand, McCain’s chances were always slim.

 

Like the other presidential candidate from Arizona Barry Goldwater, John McCain will return to the Senate for the rest of his natural life. John McCain has made comebacks from political death before, and he seems on track to rehabilitate himself once again. His role seems veering toward that of a deal-broker once again. Without the need to appease the GOP’s hard right base, McCain can return to being a “mavrick”, (but for real this time). McCain and Obama’s meeting earlier last month showed a defeating looking McCain agreeing to work with a President Obama. John McCain has two choices, he can either keep with his new image as the old man of the Republican party (complete with lost election), or he can actually become Obama’s republican ally in the Senate. Sounds werid doesn’t it?

“Fred Davis, the ad man who served as McCain’s lead media consultant during the presidential bid, said the Arizona Senator would win[d] up as a “dealmaker” and “peacemaker” during the Obama presidency.”

McCain will run for reelection to the Senate in 2010. Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona was floated as a candidate to seize John McCain’s seat in the Senate, however it appears she will be tapped for Homeland Secuirty Secretary. After his dismal presidential run, and the Democratic gains in Arizona, John McCain seems vulernable for the first time in a long while. Democrats seem reluctant however, to seriously attempt to remove McCain from the Senate, as he often acts as a deal-broker in the Senate, often to the benifit of Democrats. For conservatives, McCain acts a RINO straw man that they can use against moderates in their own party. McCain will rebound, thats for sure, but he seems intent on going back to his roots. He will not make an attempt for the 2012 nomination (for obvious reasons), and will have to come to terms with the fact he will never fufill his lifelong ambition of being president. As for Republicans, they can look forward to more tough Senate fights in 2010, and the unenviable task of choosing someone to run against an Incumbent Barack Obama.

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Obama’s Cabinet

By Lance Thibert

 

Week by week, new Obama cabinet appointments continue to make the news, with the biggest one being Rahm Emmanuel as White House Chief of staff. The dilemma Obama faces is to stock his cabinet with Democratic loyalists and reward those who made his victory possible, or take on a bipartisan cabinet in keeping with his rhetoric. A stock cabinet would be more stable, and public disagreements would be possible with a bipartisan one.

As for the other major posts, there are several candidates:

Secretary of State

Candidates:

Hillary Clinton: Would bring strength and a world profile to the job. Would also possibly revive Clinton style foreign policy, as well as a possible “rival power bloc” within the White House.

John Kerry: Strong foreign policy credentials, as well as being an early backer of Obama. A relatively safe pick.

Bill Richardson: Former UN ambassador and Energy Secretary. Richardson has a solid resume, but lacks real dynamism and any real diplomatic breakthrough accomplishments. He is however, one of the only people North Korea will take seriously.

Secretary of Defense:

Candidates:

Bob Gates: Current Defense Secretary with a largely CIA background. Might remain as SecDef in the spirit of Bipartisanship, as he has not been on the job that long, and thus not tied to the Bush failures. Keeping a republican among the Top jobs however, would anger some of the Democratic base that wants nothing to do with anything Bush.

Jack Reed: Democratic Senator from RI, Ex-Army Ranger and a longtime member of the Armed Services Committee. Would be a stock Democratic choice and a safe pick.

National Security Advisor

Candidates:

General Anthony Zinni: CENTCOM commander under Clinton, would be an overall good choice due to experience in dealing with Iraq.

General Wesley Clark: Former NATO supreme commander and an undisputed foreign policy expert. Was an ’04 contender for the Dem nomination. Also, looks like Anderson Cooper.

Attorney General

Candidates:

John Edwards: A longshot considering his scandal, however, if he makes a comeback he could be a good pick.

Tim Kaine: Was on the VP shortlist, as VA governors can only serve one term, his job prospects are wide open after he leaves office.

(If anyone else has any other serious candidates, post them in a comment and i’ll update this post with them)

In other news, Joe Lieberman is likely to keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security committe, that is, until he is up for reelection and the Democrats make a serious effort to unseat him.

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Filed under Democratic Party, Iraq and Foreign Policy, Obama

Whats Next for the Republican Party?

By Lance Thibert

Regardless of how the presidential race ends up, the Republican party will come out of 2008 damaged to the core and internally divided. Even if McCain wins his squeaker by rolling snakes eyes in Pennsylvania, the damage the friction in the Republican party is already done. It was starkly evident in the primaries, with Rudy and McCain as the moderates, and Romney and Huckabee as the conservatives. The conservative wing of the party lost out, and has been pouting ever since, driving down enthusiasm for McCain and depression his turnout. Some think they got what they wanted in Sarah Palin, but she drives away more than she brings in. The recent reports of Palin “going rouge” and acting like a “diva” are driven by sources from within McCain’s own campaign.

Fighting over the RNC chairmanship has already begun, with Mitt Romney looking to pull a Howard Dean and seize the chair for himself. (don’t you just love politics?)

And that’s not the worst of it. Congressional Republicans are in a world of hurt, being hit in their strongholds by democratic challengers. Both Moderate and Conservative GOP senators are being hit hard. The GOP will lose many of it’s moderate incumbents, like Sunnunu in New Hampshire. The GOP recruits this cycle have been weak, often far too conservative in a Democratic year. Case in point, the Colorado senate race. Super-conservative Bob Schaffer will lose to Mark Udall, and Schaffer’s rival for the GOP nomination, McInnis, now says he would have won if they had given him the nod.

“Frankly I have more difficulties with the right wing of my party then I do with taking on a Democrat. Udall was not the biggest threat I faced in the election. My biggest threat was getting through the primary. Both parties have a pretty radical element to them.” -McInnis

The Question is who will control the Republican party? Will the right wing simply seize control of the party mechanics? It’s possible, but their recruits will probably continue to be weak. The two GOP favorites for a run for Colorado governorship in 2010 are Bob Beauprez (again) or, get this, Tom Tancredo. With Beauprez’s dismal result and Tancredo’s utter wingnut status, neither have a real shot. The point is, if the Republicans turn to the right, they will probably get Goldwatered again and again. If the Republicans turn to the center, they will suffer a drop in enthusiasm, fundraising, ground troops, and turnout. However, such a move might bring back states like Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and Iowa. The Blue Dog Democrat tactic of fitting the candidate to his/her district is working, even if that candidate is pro-gun, pro-life, and pro-war. In essence, the Democrats have expanded the tent of their party, while the Republicans have been busy purging all those who aren’t pure conservatives (“liberal” is never used more often as an insult than in republican primaries).

Who  will take over the Republican party after 2008? Only time will tell, but one thing Republicans can look forward to is the probability of infighting within the Democratic party. If Obama can keep things together, and run a unified government (I’m not sure anyone in American politics is capable of this anymore) then things look bleak for the GOP, However, that isn’t likely.

Also, just for the sheer irony of it:

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Filed under Colorado, McCain, Republican

Amendment Overview

By: Lance Thibert

Several recent developments have lightened the massive Colorado ballot, however there are sill a huge number of initiatives and amendments to be voted on.

First off, several amendments have been pulled from the ballot by their sponsors.

Amendment 53:Criminal Liability of Executives when their businesses are found liable for criminal conduct.

Amendment 55: Employers must find Just Cause to terminate the employment of a worker.

Amendment 56:Businesses employing 20+ employees must provide health insurance for employees and employee dependents, would also set up heath care oversight organization.

Amendment 57: Would require employers to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

These Amendments were primarily put forth by labor unions attempting to hit back against the backers of Amendment 47, the right to work initiative that would prohibit mandatory union membership. The reason the union sponsors pulled these amendments was that they reached an agreement with business groups, who agreed to raise 3 million dollars to opposed Amendment 47 in return for Amendments 53, 55, 56, an 57 to be dropped from the ballot.

 

“In an alliance born in part of fear, corporate executives across Colorado pledged to contribute at least $3 million to help organized labor defeat ballot measures that many in the business community might normally support. More than 75 chief executives — including the heads of major companies such as Xcel Energy Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. — agreed to donate money and time to the union cause.”

However, not all business leaders decided to throw their support behind labor.

“Not every business leader could stomach the compromise. Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, said he was glad to see the union-backed measures off the ballot. But he couldn’t bring himself to back labor’s ballot agenda. “We just wouldn’t do that,” he said.”

From: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122299027373800373.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

There are still a large amount of amendments on the ballot, I will provide the amendment, a brief description, and a “controversy rating”. These are my take on the amendments, with a bend towards the informative rather than my opinion. Bias however, can probably still be found.

 

Amendment: 46  “Discrimination and Preferential Treatment By Governments”

Description: Would make all affirmative action programs in the state of Colorado illegal, using the language of anti-discrimination. Ward Connerly is leading the fight for amendment 46 in Colorado, with similar initatives in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona and Nebraska.

Level of Controversy: High, as it effectively ends affirmative action in Colorado.

Amendment: 47  “Prohibition on Mandatory Labor Union Membership and Dues ”

Description:  Amendment 47 would prohibit unions from negotiating “union shop” contracts under which employees would be required to pay union membership. This is the infamous amendment that would effectively break union power in Colorado, well, whatever power it had to begin with. Business leaders oppose Amendment 47 as per the deal with the unions.

Level of Controversy: High, Millions have been, and will be spent for and against this Amendment.

Amendment: 48  “Definition Of Person”

Description: With both Bob Schaffer and Mark Udall against this amendment, and a large campaign to defeat it, the chances of it passing are low. However, legally defining a person as a fertilized egg has provoked a firestorm of controversy in the home of Focus on the Family. Would effectively outlaw abortions and most stem cell research in Colorado, as a start.

Level of Controversy: High, for obvious reasons.

Amendment: 49  “Allowable Government Paycheck Deductions”

Description: Amendment 49 would bar automatic union dues deductions from public employee payrolls, tentatively labelled as “ask first”. Amendment 49 is part of the attack on labor that was launched at the beginning of the year. Business leaders now opposed 49 as part of the deal with labor struck earlier this month.

Level of Controversy: Medium, not as visible at Amendment 47, but works with it to dismantle unions.

Amendment: 50  “Limited Gaming in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek”

Description: Fairly straightforward, would allow gaming (read: gambling) in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. Raising the maximum bet from 5 dollars to 100 dollars. Opponents are generally of the anti-gambling variety.

Level of Controversy: Low, with the economic state of the state and country, any extra revenue without a direct tax is welcome.

Amendment: 51  “State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities”

Description: Would raise sales taxes in 2009 and 2010 to fund services for the developmentally disabled. With a massive base of support and little to no opposition, it will almost certainly pass.

Level of Controversy: Low, no real campaign against it. Die-hard fiscal conservatives may oppose it at the ballot box.

Amendment: 52  “Use of Severance Tax Revenue for Highways”

Description: Amendment 52 would allow the use of severance tax revenues to fund highway construction an maintenance, apparently not allowed currently.

Level of Controversy: Low, as I have no idea why this would provoke controversy anywhere outside of a highway enthusiast club.

Amendment: 54  “Campaign Contributions from Certain Government Contractors”

Description: Amendment 54 would prohibit those who have contracts with the government worth over 100,000 dollars from making political campaign contributions for two years after that contract has expired. Business leaders now oppose Amendment 54, as part of the deal with the unions.

Level of Controversy: Medium-high, as it is part of the 2008 attack on labor that provokes so much controversy and the aforementioned war between business and labor.

Amendment: 58  “Severance Taxes on the Oil and Natural Gas Industry”

Description: Amendment 58 would increase a severance tax, and eliminate a property tax deduction that allows the oil and gas industry to write off 87.5% of their taxes. Proceeds from the elimination of the tax deduction would be funneled into scholarships, wildlife habitats, and clean energy projects.  Opponents charge that it is a tax increase, a charge led by the oil and gas industry and anti-tax advocates. Governor Ritter supports the Amendment and has taken fire for his support.

Level of Controversy: Medium-high, Ad wars have exploded around this issue.

 

 

Amendment: 59  “Education Funding and TABOR Rebates”

Description: Amendment 58 would deal a heavy blow to TABOR, which has had public opinion as well as legislative opinion growing against it as the economy worsens. Bypasses TABOR’s restrictions on spending by creating a new State Education Fund. Has heavy support from democrats and moderate Republicans.

Level of Controversy: Medium, Douglas Bruce and the Club for Growth types that originally pushed for TABOR obviously oppose it.

I was originally going to delve into the referendums, but now that this post is past the 1000 word mark (sorry), I think i’ll save that for the next one or something.

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Filed under Colorado, Media

Two of a Kind

By Lance Thibert

While I am among the first to point out the fallacies in the oft-spouted “both parties are the same” mantra, recent events have humorously, if superficially, made the two presidential campaigns seem like mirror images of each other. The Democratic ticket has a charismatic figure at the head, and an experienced senator in the second slot. The Republican ticket has the experienced senator at the top, and the charismatic figure pulling number two. Support for these two tickets is evenly split:

“In the latest CNN survey of several recent national polls, Obama and McCain are locked in a dead heat at 45 percent each with 10 percent who remain undecided with 50 days remaining until Election Day.”

Take the recent financial collapse on Wall street, both candidates are attacking Wall street for it’s failures, as any good politician will do, yet the seem to be doing it in the exact same way, calling for more regulation. Interestingly enough, both are massive beneficiaries of Wall street political donations. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Though, for those of you concerned about it (I am), it appears that the worst economic damage may have been done, with no other major firms failing, and a surprising amount of order in the markets. That doesn’t erase the fact that it’s been the worst day in 7 years for the market. With the economy as a political issue favoring Obama, a savvy campaign would jump all over this and make it a headline for a few weeks. McCain is weak here, his record on economics isn’t good, and when he said he would read Alan Greenspan’s book, he probably didn’t figure that Greenspan would come out against his tax plan.

 

(Does anyone else find the voice on the above ad to be horribly annoying?)

 

 

However I digress. Indeed both campaigns have taken to using the same slogan, “change we need“, as McCain, being McCain, has decided to fight Obama on his own turf, attempting to seize the mantle of “change” from the Democratic candidate. After Hillary Clinton’s loss attempting to run on experience, and after months of being ignored for trying to run on experience, McCain has apparently decided to use Obama’s campaign as a model for revamping his own.

I would assume this is probably the cause of the two campaigns being similar looking on the surface. Of course, McCain will probably keep his old attacks around on the fringes, labeling Obama a “celebrity” and conveniently forgetting the GOP’s storied history of nominating “celebrity” candidates..Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan, Schwartzenegger, and John McCain. Perhaps…being a political celebrity may not be so bad after all.

If Obama is going to pull ahead, he may need to take the advice of James Carville: get mad, which he may already be doing. Both McCain and Obama have at times portrayed themselves as “above politics” or “post political” and “uniting figures” when in fact, both campaigns have seemingly taken the “old politics” and made it nastier, louder, more divisive and much much more expensive. 

So perhaps in a sense, both campaign’s packages look the same, are delivered in much the same way, and cost about the same, but have very, very different contents when opened.

In a further digression, here is a candidate match game thats a decent use of about five minutes of your time. As Professor Robinson pointed out in class, the website http://www.270towin.com/ gives an excellent idea of what states each Canididate must win. For all the attention that’s been paid to Ohio and Missouri as bellewether states, my money is the good old Nevada will probably be a deciding factor in the race. Leonid Balaban’s entry goes far more in depth on the electoral map, and paints a good picture of just how close the election may get.

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Filed under Campaign Ads, Democratic Party, Domestic Policy, McCain, Media, Negative Campaigning, Obama, Republican

Obama’s Veepstakes

By Lance Thibert

Seeing as one of our classmates has written on a possible choices for McCain’s Vice Presidential pick, I thought I would take it upon myself to write up a list of contenders for Obama’s ticket. He’s already chosen, but we won’t know  who it is until Saturday, at the latest. What I’ll do is give a quick run down of possible VP picks, their pros and cons, followed by my personal prediction. Also, if you haven’t heard, the Obama campaign will be sending out Obama’s VP pick via text message, a rather novel idea that I hope doesn’t show up at 3 am. I’ve added videos of a few of the VP candidates you might not be familar with.

Senator Evan Bayh

Pros: A strong supporter of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary, Senator Evan Bayh brings red state and swing state appeal. (Indiana is fairly well in the Republican column in presidential contests) Generally seen as a relative moderate in the Democratic party. Evan Bayh could possibly deliver Indiana, which narrowly (very narrowly) went to Clinton in the Primary season. With 11 electoral votes, it could be a major win for a hypothetical Obama-Bayh ticket. Not that that really rolls off the tongue very well.

Cons: Senator Bayh is not well known nationally, and not particularly well versed in foreign policy issues. Obama’s major selling point of being against the Iraq War from the beginning clashes with Bayh’s postition of being intially for the Iraq invasion. Another senator on the ticket could leave a lack of executive experience on the ticket as well.

Chances: Fairly good I would say, Bayh is a strong contender for the VP spot, given his heartland credentials and and strong speaking skills.

 

Senator Joe Biden

Pros: Senator Joe Biden of Delaware’s major selling point is his unquestioned expertise on foreign policy issues. Biden is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and fills a major gap in Obama’s resume. The charge that Obama is naive and inexperienced loses quite a bit of steam if Biden, a foreign policy guru, were to be added to the ticket. Similar cases could be made for Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico and Senator Sam Nunn from Georgia.

Cons: An old plagiarism scandal and a tendency to say…off color remarks may hurt a Obama-Biden ticket. Electorally, Delaware is most likely in Obama’s column already, and Biden seems to have little appeal outside of his state, as seen by a dismal 5th place showing in the Iowa caucus (seems like forever ago). Again, another senator on the ticket lacks executive appeal. 

Chances: Good, the expertise on foreign policy is tough to pass up, but almost everything else seems…mediocre.

Governor Tim Kaine

Pros: Under Tim Kaine, Virginia made the list of Pew’s Top Governed States. The possibility of swinging Virginia into the Democratic column is a tantalizing prospect, with 13 electoral votes. A Governor on the ticket would make a good balance with a Senator, bringing executive experience that Independents are fond of.

Cons: Not well known nationally, as the only major national press Tim Kaine has gotten has been as a possible VP pick for Obama. The loss of a Democratic Governor in Virigina may lead to the office being occupied by…George Allen. (yeah, the macaca guy.) Still, a small price to pay. However the biggest downside to a Obama-Kaine ticket would be that both are relatively new, and John McCain could say he alone has more experience than the two of them combined.

Chances: Excellent, Kaine brings a lot to the ticket without much baggage, and fits into Obama’s campaign theme of change quite well.

 

Senator Hillary Clinton

Pros: Senator Clinton’s appeal to white working class Democrats and feminists make her a powerful force in national politics, indeed, she garnered 18 million votes in the primary she nearly won. Would immediately solidify the Democratic base, as well as end any lingering questions about the democratic self-destruct button. Bill Clinton would undoubtedly be a campaign asset in small-town America.

Cons: Clinton’s primary campaign was by an large, a dismal failure. She was the by far favorite to win until Iowa. Her campaign, rife with infighting and factionalism was a model democratic campaign, in line with those of 1980, 84, 90…you get the picture. Clinton is a demon to the right, which may turn up the until now lackluster conservative enthusiasm. The campaign she ran was anathema to Obama’s theme of change, but that could either be a pro or a con. Bill Clinton would undoubtedly say something off-message.

Chances: Dark Horse. It’s possible, just not probable. Obama holds all the cards, he’s got the nomination, most of the delegate’s loyalty, and a massive war chest. Clinton has debt and baggage, but the Clinton name may be something Obama is willing to pay for.

My prediction: I predict Tim Kaine will be Obama’s vice presidential running mate. Ralph Nader thinks it’s going to be Clinton. If Ralph is right and I am wrong…well lets just not go there.

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Filed under Democratic Party, Obama, Swing States, Vice-President