Friday, May 26, 2006

Convenient Federalism

NOW IS AS good a time as any to jump into the gay marriage debate. My interest in the issue does not center on whether gay marriage is acceptable from a moral perspective, but rather why there is such a push by Republicans to make this a federal issue. Why, for example, is the GOP pushing the Marriage Protection Act as a federal issue while at the same time trying to convince the public that abortion should be a state issue? Could it be because the MPA plays well in their polling data and they hope they can use the issue to salvage control of the House and Senate in November? You better believe it.

As usual, my thoughts on this have been triggered by outside sources -- this time Jon Rauch in his National Journal column. Here's a quick highlight:

Two questions for anti-gay-marriage, anti-abortion Republicans: If states can be allowed to go their own way in defining human life, why not allow them to go their own way in defining marriage? Where constitutional amendments are concerned, why is preventing gay couples from marrying so much more urgent than preventing unborn children from being killed?

It is precisely because marriage is so important, and because it is the subject of such profound moral disagreement, that a one-size-fits-all federal solution is the wrong approach. California and Texas, Massachusetts and Oklahoma take very different views of same-sex marriage. By localizing the most intractable moral issues, federalism prevents national culture wars.

Despite this critique, look for this issue to be a big part of the GOP strategy this fall.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Comment of the Week

DON'T FORGET TO post your comments. The best comment of the week (or, in some cases, the ONLY comment in a particular week) will be posted on JIB. This week's comment comes from blogger Jeremy in response to a post about Bush's prime time immigration speech last week:
I think the Senate plan will really have a positive effect on illegal immigration. What better than a 350-mile fence on a 1,900 mile border. Bush says he wants whatever plan will "work". C'mon George.

Why so cynical?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Rejecting the 'Values Voter' Tag

"AN AGGRESSIVELY ANNOYING new phrase in America's political lexicon is "values voters." It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives. This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values and everyone else votes to ... well, it is unclear what they supposedly think they are doing with their ballots."

This from George F. Will in Thursday's Washington Post. It is a must read for anyone who gets fet up with the hijacking of the language that takes place on both sides of the isle (the far Right has been trying to monopolize the word 'family' for years while some on the other side have tried their best to politicize words like 'Christian' --as in 'Christian Right').

But give George Will some credit here. He often seems to be ahead of the pundit curve, resisting some strong Republican currents while maintaining his staunchly conservative viewpoints. To quote Andrew Sullivan, Will's 'rebuke of the "values voter" appropriation is overdue.' Give the column a quick glance.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bush in Prime Time

PRESIDENT BUSH DOES not want to give this speech. Tonight's speech is the political version of a Hail Mary. It's only the end of the first half, but he's so far behind he can't just run out the clock -- he's got to throw one up for grabs. The speech (in May Sweeps prime time, no less) amounts to an admission by the administration that they are in trouble. With poll numbers in the Nixon range, Bush is hoping tonight's address can start to reverse his recent slide in the polls. He's got his work cut out for him.

It seems to me that Bush is in trouble on all three political fronts. He lost the liberals on tax cuts and Iraq (not that he ever had them -- but he's beyond the point where he can get them back). He lost the conservatives on immigration and federal spending. He lost the middle (what remains of it) on Katrina and gas prices.

What's left? Not much. And when you don't have much to work from, the only choice to go after your base. That's Politics 101. Look for POTUS to reach to the right tonight.

I just hope the speech is over before '24'.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

First Day of Snow's Job

AS FIRST DAY'S go, Tony Snow's could have been better. Or could it have? Dana Milbank chronicles Snow's first day on the job as new WHPS in Saturday's Wash Post. Despite a couple of hiccups (intentional?), Snow came across as both knowledgeable and humble (intentional?). It's also clear he is going to play the New Kid on the Block routine as long as he can get away with it. Several times he refused to answer a questions because 'I frankly just don't know enough' about the issue.

Fair enough. Milbank's piece is worth a read.

By the way, JIB gives Snow credit for the Livestrong arm band (see photo).

End of an Era?

IS THE RELATIONSHIP really drawing to a close? The Economist argues that it is, even though Bush still has 2 1/2 years in office and Blair could have nearly four. Read the article here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Farrakhan on the Left, Falwell on the Right

BOY OH BOY, the radio talk show hosts sure had a field day last week when Hillary Clinton decided to attend a rally led by Louis Farrakhan. They ranted ranted and raved about the blatant attempt by Hillary to reach out to her liberal base -- even if it means associating with the 'extreme left.' Granted, it was nothing if not pandering on Hillary's part, but I'm more interested to see what these same hosts say about John McCain's visit to Liberty University next week to meet with the Farrakhan of the right wing -- Jerry Falwell.

That's not my analogy by the way -- it comes from the Senator from Arizona himself in a quote from a CNN interview in 2000:
Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

Pander away Hillary. Pander away McCain.