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A National Election, Like It or Not

Posted on Oct 21, 2010

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Let us contemplate the joys of being in the political opposition when unemployment in your state tops 10 percent.

Kevin DeWine, the affable chairman of the Republican Party in Ohio, has a transparent board behind his desk at state headquarters where he scribbles reminders to himself. A permanent fixture is this list of words: “Spending, taxes, jobs, economy, deficit, debt.”

DeWine says he keeps the issues inventory as a reminder to all of his party’s candidates. “If they are not talking about these things,” he says, “they are off-message.”

And his candidates seem to listen. Republican Steve Stivers is in a rematch with Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, one of those endangered-but-still-gutsy Democrats who won’t back down from her support for the new health care law, financial reform or the stimulus. Among the first words out of Stivers’ mouth when I chatted with him over the phone were “the debt and jobs,” followed quickly by “unemployment” and “big spending.”

Thus the key question as the 2010 campaign enters its final days: Is there anything Democrats can do to shake the GOP off its relentlessly effective focus on a handful of themes? These seem to resonate with voters without actually solving any problems. So far, the Republicans have not even been forced to explain how their promises add up. Between now and Nov. 2, will they get away with offering tax cuts and a reduction in the deficit without specifying what spending they would eliminate or trim?


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In the meantime, Democrats have left loyalists such as Kilroy, who deserve better, without the support of a driving national message. There is no Democratic counterpart to Kevin DeWine’s handy list.

For her part, Kilroy doesn’t whine. She’s not the type. In defending health care reform, she cites actual constituents the law has directly assisted. In a nation where some 50 million lack health coverage, Kilroy says, she is proud to have kept her promise from two years ago to take steps to solve the problem.

But she is also thoroughly realistic about the extent to which joblessness has created a double-whammy for Democratic candidates. On the right, she says, “the voters who are worried about change are worried because they don’t have a job.” And on the left, “the ones who are worried because change hasn’t been fast enough are worried because they don’t have a job.”

Kilroy recalls encountering a voter who told her: “I’ve voted for you throughout your career, but I’m not voting for you this year because I don’t have a job.”

She spoke to her constituent about what Congress had accomplished, and also about how the tied-up-in-knots U.S. Senate had blocked other House initiatives.

To which the voter replied: “Do you think I care they’re stuck in the Senate? I don’t have a job.”

Stivers, who lost to Kilroy in 2008 by just 2,312 votes, has had much happier doorstep experiences. “People were mad at George Bush two years ago and they were going to take it out on anyone with an ‘R’ after their name,” he said. This time, they’re eager to talk about—you guessed it—“the debt and jobs.”

What Kilroy has going for her is the determination of Gov. Ted Strickland to get re-elected and the best-organized state Democratic Party in the nation.

Its headquarters in a renovated former Salvation Army building here hums with activity, looking more like a national party command center than the typical ramshackle state party office.

While Strickland trails Republican John Kasich in public polls, he narrowly leads in his own surveys and hopes to overcome the enthusiasm gap with organizational energy. President Barack Obama sees Ohio as a firewall in his 2012 re-election effort, and having a friendly governor would be a major asset. Obama’s visit here Sunday, which drew a crowd of 35,000, was an exercise in firewall-building.

Kilroy, however, could still use the firewall of a simple, coherent national argument. Many of the Democrats’ political consultants warned of the dangers of “nationalizing” the election and preferred a race-by-race focus.

But guess what? This already is a nationalized election. Kevin DeWine’s list is the GOP’s template. Over the coming week and a half, the president and his party need a few good words of their own. That’s the least they owe Kilroy and those like her who were willing to risk their political lives to keep their promises—and his.

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, October 25, 2010 at 11:58 am Link to this comment


GA: Because the Dims turned around and bailed out those lying thieving banksters, among other things.

Lead-head signed TARP into law and his ex-Goldman Sachs Treasurer implemented it. (BTW, the US Treasury made a bundle on those loans.)

Have a look at recent history before posting nonsense.

Politics 101: If the employment rate is high, the PotUS is Number 1. If the employment rate is low, the PotUS is in the doghouse.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, October 24, 2010 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

Apparently the people did get mad, I thought that was why they elected Obama.

But now they are apparently mad at the Democrats. Could anyone venture a guess as
to why? Because the Dims turned around and bailed out those lying thieving banksters,
among other things.

So, here it is, we always hate the party in power. Then we eventually elect the other
party once we forget how much we hated them for screwing us.

Hopefully one day we will realize that they are the same, and all they do is jerk off our
anger to get elected.

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By ardee, October 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

kt2kelly, October 23 at 10:55 pm

Eloquently and very logically done. Funny ( not) that the Left got mad at all those mentions and just as angry at the fraud that is Obama’s health care ‘reform’.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, October 24, 2010 at 7:20 am Link to this comment

k2kelly has nailed the Rep/Tea Party soul or I should say lack of it - a totally amoral Machiavelian selfishness grasping power and wealth at the expense of anybody or anything that gets in its way

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By kt2kelly, October 23, 2010 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

Just in case you forgot!!

You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President. 

You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq . 

You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.   

You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.  You didn’t get mad when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.   

You didn’t get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.     

You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq .     

You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people.     

You didn’t get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.     

You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.

You didn’t get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.     

You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.   

You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans drown.   

You didn’t get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in taxbreaks. You didn’t get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.   

You didn’t get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.   

You didn’t get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.   

No…..You finally got mad

When a black man was elected President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.

Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you, but helping fellow Americans who are sick…Oh, Hell No!!

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Tesla's avatar

By Tesla, October 23, 2010 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

There is no way for the disenfranchised (us) to
tweak, adjust or even reset the current entity that
claims to be our government into something that will
apply the laws of land equitably, enact laws that
promote egalitarian actions or protect us from the
machinations of the top 3% tax bracket, while
protecting U.S. sovereignty from the multi-nationals.

Chances are that my home state will elect a thuggish
republican to the senate next month (first in 20
years) to unseat (by modern standards of overlooking
numerous sellouts) an adequate and semi-liberal
democrat. Truth be told, I am still not going to vote
for either head of the republicrat party and will
vote for anyone from a fringe party that I can find
on the ballot.

We need to stop buying into the matrix established
and controlled by the duopoly in such a way that gets
their attention and will rob either party of crowing
rights when the final tally is announced.

If as much as 6% of the voters who actually vote,
reject the current political paradigm, the machine
may well realize that the end game is about to play

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By aacme88, October 23, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

I will never understand why Democrats came out of the 2008 election in worse disarray than Republicans.  The message of the new administration was “Change”, then they filled the cabinet and upper level positions with retreads from he Clinton administration, who everyone was already aware were part of the problem with the economy. The majority in Congress, they have let the minority wipe up the floor with them, stopping the stimulus in its tracks, watering down the signature bills to the point of pointlessness. Now running the wimpiest campaign in memory. If they manage to pull the election out of their…well, hat, they will have, not themselves to thank, but the dawning stark fear of the alternative.
If they do pull it out, it will be time for a serious discussion of where we go from here.

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By tedmurphy41, October 23, 2010 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

I pity you Americans, like I pity those over here in the UK, that we together do not have a Government, or even a Government in waiting, that has the quality to get us out of the mess that the financial institutions have got us into; the reasoning which I put forward is that our elected representatives are in bed with these same institutions, along with the corporations and unelected millionaires/billionaires.
Tweedledum and Tweedledee doesn’t really make a good analogy but it will have to do when comparing your Democratic party with the Republicans.

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By ardee, October 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette, October 22 at 4:19 pm

The Democrats should hire you!

Seriously folks, the old saw that,“actions speak louder than words” applies here. While, as Lafayette points out there is plenty of ammunition against republican economic positions, one hears only the other side of the argument, and endlessly.

What good does it do for me to point out here that Reagan raised taxes TWICE during his terms of office when that message, which sort of deflates republican talking points if only the voter could hear it, reaches none of them? If the Democrats had stuck to their campaign promises , had worked true to their heritage even, the results would drown out the barrage of GOP false talking points immediately.

I would give you a typical Democratic legislative attempt:

A piece of legislation, guaranteeing medical care for first responders to the World Trade Tower disaster, was withdrawn from the floor of the House never to see the light of day again. Why, you ask? Because the GOP threatened to add a proviso banning the payment of said care to illegal aliens. So, says I? Let ‘em. The bill comes up for a vote, with that amendment attached. The GOP still votes it down and now the Democrats loudly state that fact to the electorate, gaining credit, credibility and votes too.

But no, the Dems withdraw the bill sans fight, sans logic, sans needed care for those heroes. This particular instance can be multiplied again and again as democrats refuse to stand up and fight for any principles whatsoever.

So now the people see the Democrats in the light or what they revealed about themselves , not only these last two years but for at least a decade past. The GOP threatens filibuster, let them damn well do it. The Insurance Industry threatens to withhold campaign funds if Democrats actually pass a decent health care reform bill, pass a decent bill and let them withhold funds. The electorate would respond with an outpouring of contributions.

Better still, the display of principles and courage would gain the Dems votes. But no, only cowardice, incompetence and , sorry, stupidity.

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By Hammond Eggs, October 22, 2010 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment

The Damnocrats don’t have a “driving national message”.  The Damnocrats don’t have anything except their faux rattlesnake skin Republican boots.  What they need, from their point of view, is a plausible and uplifting set of Big Lies to replace “Hope” and “Change You Can Believe In”. No such script is forthcoming.  After Clinton, after Obama, the Damnocrats won’t be able to pull the wool over the eyes of much of their “base” any longer.  There are few sure things in this world but one of them is that after Obama, the next Big Daddy Damnocrat will be a brutal carbon copy of the two previous quislings and corporate stooges.

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By anaman51, October 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

It looks like the “useless eaters” (to quote George H. W. Bush) in this country will get to spend at least the next two years helplessly watching as the funding that keeps them alive is once again stripped away by the conservatives. The Republicans are going to get another chance to kill off everyone in this nation who has to depend on SSI or Social Security for their existence. If you must depend on Medicaid to provide the help you need to stay alive, you get to watch in agony as the Federal funding shrinks even more, so that the states will once again choose to decide which services and medications will be denied to those who desperately need the assistance.

Truth be told, Republicans mostly don’t care if they live or die—-they never have. The value of the almighty dollar has superceded the value of a human life to the extent that the disenfranchised die by the thousands every day, unseen and uncared about.

The senior Bush once called those who have no choice but to depend on our government for help “useless eaters,” which says everything about how the poor, the disabled and the elderly are viewed by conservatives in general. Keeping them alive and well just costs too damn much money, and there’s nothing left to give to the wealthiest one percent of Americans in the form of tax relief.

The shocking part of this is that most Americans don’t care, either. As long as they’re healthy, fed and happy, they don’t care about those who are not. Our nursing homes are filled with the parents of children who are so ungrateful for their parents’ sacrifices in raising them that they can’t be bothered to care for them when they become old and sick. It’s easier to forget them if they don’t have to look at them all the time, so they’re shoved into geriatric hellholes where they’ll be ignored and mistreated. I guess it’s better if they’re badly treated by professionals, hmm?

So, you say that you care. If you care, vote! If you don’t vote, or if you vote Republican, maybe you can volunteer to help bury the people you helped kill.

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By mdgr, October 22, 2010 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Dionne has once again predictably pointed to the same old options. Herein is lots of minutia, wordy diversion and a logic that inexorably reminds Vichy (the Dems) that its true purpose is nothing less than to collaborate and build firewalls.

Not to be a party-pooper, what I’m hoping for personally is a historic conflagration.

I’ll agree with those who say that politics are integral, but I will not agree to the lie that the contemporary politics we’re offered is in any way relevant to the problems facing America or the world.

On another subject, and here I’m playing the role not just of a squeaky wheel but, hopefully, of an unapologetically corrosive acid:

I admire the courage and integrity of Chris Hedges, including his stating that violent confrontation is almost certainly going to backfire. But what Mr. Hedges’ is not saying out loud may be even more significant as what he is saying.

For more on that, you might find his Q&A answers of interest

I find it equally telling that Mr. Scheer took that article down from Truthdig’s Home Page just three days after it was posted.

I see it as one of the most incisive offerings on Truthdig—ever—and Mr. Scheer most recent article suggested that he just had an epiphany about the two party system (Vichy/Berlin).

But maybe not.

Maybe Mr. Scheer’s premature removal of this video/post actually suggests that he too is a collaborator—which is exactly what David Sirota also suggested when he said that many so-called progressive groups are really just shills for Vichy.

In both the short and long term, Mr. Hedges is talking about Resistance and, in the end, a violent collapsing of the State, though rather down the road.

He is emphatically not talking about peace marches from the 60’s where we sang “We shall overcome.”

He is also talking about how at some point—his words, with appropriate understatement—we may need to break the law.

Whether that involves mere civil disobedience or something out of Derrick Jensen’s “Endgame” is yet to be determined.

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By prosefights, October 22, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

Wednesday October 20, 2010 08:25

Hello Mr Heinrich,

We are concerned that large-scale solar generation of electricity may be a fraud.

We read that you voted to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 that would add 11,00 jobs in New Mexico.

From your vote, we presume that you advocate large-scale solar generation of electricity.

New Mexico appears to be best place on the planet to put to test whether large-scale solar generation of electricity is a fraud or not.

Schott solar Albuquerque Mesa del Sol facility apparently draws its electric power from the grid.

We propose that Schott solar be required to erect an array of its own solar panels on Mesa del Sol for a grid-tie system to

A First, generate as much electric power as it consumes.

B Second, additional generation of electricity to pay off the cost and maintenance of its grid-tie Mesa del Sol system over a 20 year period.

C Third, additional generation of electricity of pay for removal and clean disposal its Mesa del Sol system at the end of the 20 years.

Alexander Braun points out in the April 2010 issue of SEMICONDUCTOR International

Since 2002, photovoltaic production has doubled roughly every two years, increasing at a yearly average of 48%, making it the fastest growing energy technology. By 2008, PV installations worldwide had surpassed 15 GW and the end is not in sight. However, as Obi-Wan might paradoxically put it, “There is a Dark Side to sun power.

Eventually, existing installations will reach the end of their useful lifetimes, requiring replacement. One of the seeming contradictions of producing the means to generate clean renewable energy is that you must manufacture them using stuff that can be pretty deadly to the environment such as ammonia, arsine, cadmium sulfate and diborane. And when you discard these installations, effluvia such as arsenic are released during solar cell decomposition, and then there is all that chromium in screws and frames.


But there is more to PV manufacturing than just recycling. According to the SVTC’s white paper, “Toward a Just and Sustainable Solar Energy Industry, although the solar PV boom is still in its infancy, what it describes as “disturbing global trends” are emerging. It goes on to say that a considerable amount of the polysilicon feedstock material - the refined silicon used as crystalline silicon solar cells’ basic material - is produced in countries like China, “where manufacturing costs and environmental regulatory enforcement are low.” It also quotes a March 2008 Washington Post report that at least one plant in China’s Henan Province regularly dumps silicon tetrachloride, a toxic waste product of polysilicon manufacturing, on nearby farmland. The Post quoted Li Xiaoping, deputy director of the Shanghai Academy of Environmental Sciences: “Crops cannot grow on this, and it is not suitable for people to live nearby.”


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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, October 22, 2010 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment


Dionne: A permanent fixture is this list of words: “Spending, taxes, jobs, economy, deficit, debt.”

The “Replicant Experience”:
•  Spending:  Lead-head was elected on the traditional Replicant campaign platform of less government. See Lead-head4s failure at that objective here. The compound growth rate throughout the Lead-head years is just less than 5%. 
•  Taxes: Reckless Ronnie brought down precipitously the marginal income rate during his tenure from 75% down to 27%.  (See here.) It has since gone up to 37%. Reagan also reduced capital gains taxes from 28% to 20%. The consequence of these two drastic reductions is one of the worst distributions of income of any developed country on earth.
•  Jobs & Economy: The Great Recession occurred basically for two reasons: No oversight of fraudulent sub6prime loan approvals (lax creditworthiness standards) and Investment Banking repackaging the Toxic Waste (and creating derivative products) for resale that bought the banking industry to its knees. We are still looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. The Replicants also aided and abetted the dislocation of jobs to the Far East such that American companies could cut costs to maintain profit margins at the expense of American workers.
•  Deficit & Debt: Debt is essentially a function of the two deficits, both chronic; the first being the Federal budget deficit and the second being the trade balance-of-payments deficit. Both create debt that must be sustained by selling T-notes, which are American recognizance of debt owed. The former was significantly worsenedby Lead-head’s war in Iraq (more than $1T spent) and the latter by the persistent habit of Americans to consume foreign goods, commodities and services (oil, gadgets from China, tourism, etc.) The Replicants did nothing to reduce oil consumption, for evidently vested-interest reasons. 

I’ve got the above wrong? Please advise how …

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By balkas, October 22, 2010 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

If kevin wld only explain to us how jobs, taxes, spending, economy, debt; and
not to mention army,cia, fbi, pols, clergy, private spies, congress, WH, media,
schooling, wars, wmd, arms manufacture and sales of it,etetc., [dys] function, we
wld at least have smthing to chew on instead on usual doses of bone-dry bones!

But u’l wait forever to get a politico to stop obnubilating what is crystal clear
[people and their needs] and give angry people only nebula and fabula, audacity
of hope, ‘promises’.
What wld priests do if we did not allow them to make political ‘promises’ [read
lies please]?
For one thing, it wld shut’em up better than any other methodology; includes US
style of torture.[it leaeves no stretch marks or scars]
But, alas, there is ‘free’ speech, but as long as only priests, media and pols do
99.99% of it.
How about on CNN? Isn’t more it like 100%! Recall please that CNN owns 100%
of CNN; ‘free’ speech also.
And since ruling class owns between 90-99% of america, don’t the owners of
america [includes its people: about 95% of them] own all those barrels of money,
army, spies, constitution, laws, congress, media, schooling, etcetc?
Tnx for ur ear, black, white, yellow, olive ears, folks!

PS! So what’s the problem? Since 99.9999% of amers wld die to defend just that!

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