October 22, 2006


Who are these guys?: Tony Soprano's better known than candidates (DAVID SALTONSTALL, 10/22/06, NY DAILY NEWS)

What election?

In a sign of just how bored voters are by this year's statewide races, a highly unscientific survey by the Daily News found that most New Yorkers have no idea what the candidates even look like.

The News stopped 100 people on the streets of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan and asked them to identify this year's major candidates - plus actor James Gandolfini, aka Tony Soprano - from the pictures shown here.

The results were not pretty.

Only 47 out of the 100, for example, could put a name to Democrat Eliot Spitzer, the attorney general for the last eight years and the odds-on favorite to be the next governor.

Democrats may not have yet reconciled themselves to the need to return to the Third Way of Bill Clinton/George W. Bush, but they have had sense enough to just not propose to do anything at all, which -- combined with the fact that George Bush will be president regardless -- makes this perhaps the lowest stakes election since before the Crash in '29. Why would anyone pay attention?

The Mere Midterms (NOAH FELDMAN, 10/22/06, NY Times Magazine)

In the modern era, though, midterm elections have come to serve mainly as expressions of the public mood. Putting aside especially popular or unpopular local candidates, they offer a snapshot judgment on the president’s performance — more like a midterm exam than a final that really counts. Voter turnout reflects these diminished stakes. Even though control of both the House and the Senate could change, and the late Bush years are politically charged times by any measure, we’ll be lucky if more than 40 percent of the American electorate bothers to vote — as opposed to 60 percent in 2004.

Under the right circumstances, of course, a strong midterm result can directly influence policy making. The 1994 elections that brought Newt Gingrich to power in the House decisively shaped the remaining years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, pushing him further to the right and bringing out his latent tendency to govern every day as if an election were being held the next. And even a lame-duck president can be affected by a clear midterm message if he wants to see his vice president elected and preserve his historical legacy.

This year, though, it is doubtful that the midterm elections will significantly alter the Bush administration’s way of governing.

A Democratic sweep – and then what? (Robert J. Caldwell, October 22, 2006, San Diego Union-Tribune)
[T]here is one especially startling difference between the 1994 GOP blowout and the apparently pending Democratic sweep this year.

In 1994, Republicans nationalized the midterm congressional elections by uniting around a national agenda, Newt Gingrich's Contract With America, endorsed by 370 Republican congressional candidates. In stark contrast, the Democrats this year have no agreed-upon national agenda.

The Democrats' strategy, to the extent they have one, is to make the 2006 midterms a referendum on an unpopular president and an unpopular war. That may be enough to get them elected, but then what?

U.S. to Hand Iraq a New Timetable on Security Role (DAVID S. CLOUD, 10/22/06, NY Times)
The Bush administration is drafting a timetable for the Iraqi government to address sectarian divisions and assume a larger role in securing the country, senior American officials said.

Details of the blueprint, which is to be presented to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki before the end of the year and would be carried out over the next year and beyond, are still being devised. But the officials said that for the first time Iraq was likely to be asked to agree to a schedule of specific milestones, like disarming sectarian militias, and to a broad set of other political, economic and military benchmarks intended to stabilize the country.

Although the plan would not threaten Mr. Maliki with a withdrawal of American troops, several officials said the Bush administration would consider changes in military strategy and other penalties if Iraq balked at adopting it or failed to meet critical benchmarks within it.

China squeezes Pyongyang (Japan Times, 10/22/06)
A series of meetings last week among the foreign ministers of the United States, Japan, South Korea and China were significant for helping the four nations confirm their mutual cooperation in implementing sanctions against North Korea following its first nuclear-weapons test Oct. 9. [...]

It is noteworthy that China, Pyongyang's traditional ally and largest trading partner and aid supplier, is now taking a tough stance toward its reclusive neighbor. At a joint news conference with Ms. Rice, Mr. Li said China will fulfill its obligation under the resolution. He said, "As a member of the United Nations and a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China will, as always, continue to implement our relevant international obligations."

Although he did not specifically mention the cargo inspection issue, Ms. Rice, who also met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, said she was convinced that the Chinese leaders were determined not to allow illicit materials to cross the land border between China and North Korea.

President Hu earlier told Ms. Chikage Ogi, president of Japan's Upper House, that he regrets that North Korea went ahead with the nuclear-bomb test in defiance of China's warnings not to do so. He said, "We need to make the country aware of the strong reactions from the international community" against its nuclear test. At the same time, he called for coolheadedness in dealing with the problem.

China is wary of the possibility that too much pressure on North Korea will lead to a collapse of the Pyongyang regime and an exodus of refugees. But there are reports that China appears to be carrying out inspections of cargo entering and leaving North Korea along the two countries' land border.

Chinese banks have stopped financial transactions with the North under government orders, and China has stopped air services between the two countries. These developments represent a sea change in China's attitude, which had been one of reluctance to take a harsh approach to North Korea.

If the Democrats take Congress, here's what they'd do (David S. Broder, 10/22/06, Washington Post)
No one speaks more authoritatively for the Democrats on defense and national-security issues than Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, both longtime members of the Armed Services Committee. If you want to know what Democratic gains in this midterm election would mean for national security policy, Levin and Reed can provide the answers.

In a telephone conference call with reporters the other day, the two senators outlined the changes in U.S. policy toward North Korea and Iraq that they and their fellow Democrats would like to see. They signal to voters the kind of change a Democratic victory would mean.

In the case of North Korea, Levin called for doing something that President Bush has refused for six years to do — engage directly in talks with representatives of the communist regime. [...]

On Iraq, the two Democrats harked back to the amendment that 39 senators supported during a debate earlier this year — an amendment that called for a start on U.S. troop withdrawals within six months, but set no numbers and specified no target date for ending the U.S. military presence.

Wow, did you feel the tectonic plates shift?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2006 10:21 AM

If there is no tectonic shift, it is only because Bush decided not to live up to his "axis" rhetoric in the first place.

2 party talks mean faster capitulation than 6 party talks, and Kim seems as secure as ever.

Re: Iraq, it's the Nixonian strategy of "Declare victory and go home." This highly successful strategy was followed by a decade of far left Democrat capitulation on every aspect of world leadership.

Posted by: Bruno at October 22, 2006 10:40 AM


You're confusing "victory" with victory. The point of Iraq was to liberate the country from Ba'athism, which is why the Kurds and Shi'a are content and the Sunni upset. That's what victory looks like.

If China is willing to take care of Kim then he's truly powerless.

Iran never should have been part of the Axis. All it did was delay the inevitable Amer-Persian rapproachment.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2006 10:47 AM

So where's St.Hillary in all this? Right now the biggest obstacle to her getting elected in '008 appears to be letting clowns like Levin and Frank and Pelosi and Conyers and McDermott and Kennedy and all the rest run loose for the eighteen months she needs to run her campaign. It's her the Dems should fear, not Rove. (Unless St.Hilary's campaign strategy is one of running as a rational yet "Democratic" alternative to these clowns, but to do that, she'll have to find the power to slap a few down, and she can't be sure they'll cooperate. (Or will they stay bought once they taste their own power, power not dependent on her?) )

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 22, 2006 1:47 PM

Just how does Congress force 2 party talks? Even if it can, how does it stop a breakdown after one day?

As for Iraq, what would stop the President from withdrawing one soldier a day? Full compliance!

Posted by: Bob at October 22, 2006 1:52 PM


RE: Iraq, I agree, however find that the supergeniuses Bush/Rove might have considered a better strategy for "managing client expectations."

Re: Iran, I agree, and await the day you are proven a "supergenius" in your own right.

Re: N. Korea - it is an unmitigated defeat for the US. Kim has Nukes, and will bear no consequences for detonating them.

The recent "toughness" of China is a charade, and will end the moment China and N Korea decide to end it.

6 party talks are only a slower version of failure than 2 party talks.

If this nation is the resolute leader of the Angloshpere that Bush says it is, it will tell China that the price for open trade with the US is regime change in N. Korea.

We could throw them a bone by helping them with their refugee problem when it arrives.

We are either a superpower or we aren't.

Posted by: Bruno at October 22, 2006 2:28 PM

It would have been more appropriate if the Daily News had gone over to New Jersey and showed a photo of Tony Soprano with that state's leading Democratic politicians and asked voters to identify the crook.

Posted by: John at October 22, 2006 3:45 PM

Funniest comment on the midterms was from NRO's self-identified racist and confessed illegal immigrant, John Derbyshire. He urged conservatives to stay home November 2.

The election is November 7. If Derbyshire had half a brain, he might be dangerous.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 22, 2006 5:08 PM

Derbyshire has a brain, but since he's a mathematician it's only tenuously connected with reality.

Posted by: jd watson at October 22, 2006 7:10 PM

Actually, the best thing about the Darwinian Right getting their way in the midterm is that the immigration amnesty they hate would pass.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2006 7:15 PM

North Korea's "nukes" will never explode anywhere but North Korea. When it falls apart the refugees will take down the PRC. Win/win.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2006 7:25 PM

...they hate would pass.

Will the "stay at home and punish 'em" wing of the Stupid Party realize in time that EVERYTHING they hate will pass? Probably not.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 22, 2006 9:20 PM

Actually, Derbyshire isn't a right-winger...once the issue gets away from race. He's aggressively pro-choice on abortion, denounced Bush's Social Security reform attempts, ridiculed Bush's tax cuts, cheered for Terry Schiavo to die, wants out of Iraq immediately, and pledged allegiance to the "old left".

So it's not surprising that he wants the Dems to win. Except for racial issues like Hispanic immigration, he mostly agrees with them.

Posted by: Casey Abell at October 22, 2006 10:10 PM

Yes, but racism gets counted on the Right.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2006 10:28 PM

This month's National Rifle Association magazines have big spreads on what the Democrat anti-gun agenda would be, complete with unflattering pictures of Kennedy, Pelosi, Schumer, Conyers, and a few others. The possible effect of the midterms of confirmation of judges favorable the the Second Amendment was not overlooked.

I saw Pelosi on Meet the Press, today, cynically ducking questions about domestic issues. Those people want to go into the stealth mode, but we are on to them.

The RKBA is America's original homeland security, and the NRA freedom's second army.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 22, 2006 10:58 PM