Democrats should thank the Club for Growth

It’s amazing how much damage the Club for Growth has done to the Republican Party. Susan Demas looks at the fallout.

No group has done more for the party than Club for Growth, the Washington-based anti-tax group dedicated to weeding out RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).

I mean, of course, the Democratic Party, which has been the chief beneficiary of this strategy blessed by the GOP to become even more conservative. Mission accomplished.

Recently, CFG President Pat Toomey stepped down from his job to rid Pennsylvania of the scourge known as Sen. Arlen Specter. In doing so, Toomey’s bludgeoned the Republican Party far more than a few conscience votes by the moderate Republican. Because Specter just switched parties and will almost certainly coast to re-election in 2010. But not before casting critical votes on budgets, health care and cap and trade.

Now the Dems have 60 seats in the Senate, just as soon as the courts finally rule for Al Franken in Minnesota. He’s had a consistent lead and it only looks to be a matter of the GOP running out the clock. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there’s a resolution introduced by a Democrat in the Senate for “Pat Toomey Day.”

The GOP may be “pure” but it has also become far smaller — with only 21 percent identifying as Republicans in the latest Washington Post poll.

Four years ago, when over-confident Republicans thought they would be in the majority forever, the idea of purging the party of moderate Republicans had significant support on the right. How do they feel now?

When you’re in the minority, you need to expand support. Driving away Republicans like Arlen Specter just doesn’t make sense. Listening to many Republicans, however, I don’t expect this to change any time soon. The prevailing sentiment on the right at the moment is seething anger, so don’t wait for cooler heads to prevail.

All this is great news for Barack Obama and anyone who supports his agenda.


Will Tom Ridge run for the Senate now that Arlen Specter is a Democrat?

I’m watching “Hardball” and of course Chris and his guests are discussing the Arlen Specter situation. One talking point involved the possibility that former governor Tom Ridge might run for the Senate and take on Spector in the general election. Lindsey Graham also floated this idea.

Specter was going to have a tough time beating Pat Toomey in the Republican primary, but he would crush Toomey in a general election should Spector run as a Democrat and get the Democratic nomination.

Ridge is still popular in Pennsylvania, but he’s a moderate as well so he might have a tough time beating Toomey in the Republican primary. If he got past Toomey, he would at least have a shot against Spector.

In any event, this is pretty good news for Democrats, though Specter will not always be a reliable vote. Just as the GOP.


Obama’s appointments

So far, Obama’s appointments have been very impressive. A few liberals are complaining that he is picking too many moderates, but that’s just typical griping.

More importantly, liberals like Paul Krugman recognize that Obama is assembling a team of all-stars.

Seriously, isn’t it amazing just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing. For a bunch of people who were written off as a permanent minority four years ago, the Democrats look remarkably like the natural governing party these days, with a deep bench of talent.

That doesn’t mean they’ll succeed — this might be a good time to reread The Best and the Brightest. But what an improvement!


Stephanopoulos praises selection of Rahm Emanuel

This shouldn’t be a surprise, as George Stephanopoulos served with Rahm Emanuel in the Clinton White House. Nevertheless, Stephanopoulos makes some good points as he praises Barack Obama’ selection of Emanuel as Chief of Staff.

He brings a lot of strengths to the office.

He knows the White House. He served there for six-and-a-half years under President Clinton.

He knows Congress. He’s been a member of Congress now for four terms and risen to the number four Democratic leadership position on Capitol Hill.

He knows policy and he knows how to drive policies through the bureaucracy.

He’s also loyal. Obama has told associates he believes he’s “got his back.”

He’ll be a strong presence in the White House.

Emanuel has centrist instincts and understands the dangers of moving too far in one direction in part from the Clinton experience.

There’s been commentary from some Republicans arguing Emanuel is too partisan. But he’s also made a point of reaching out in the House to Republicans and building bridges. He’s had a series of bipartisan dinners over the last several years to build bridges with Democrats and Republicans.

He likely understands that successful presidencies build those centrist coalitions.

This makes sense. Emanuel is tough and abrasive at times, but Obama will set a clear tone for his White House. Emanuel will be a huge asset in managing Obama’s agenda in the House. He helped recruit many of the more moderate members, and he has an excellent relationship with Nancy Pelosi. He’s smart and talented, so he’s a great addition to the team.

Stephanopoulos also reports that “Obama chief strategist David Axelrod has accepted the position of Senior Adviser in the White House.” Axelrod ran a brilliant campaign, and he’ll be a great asset in the White House as well.


Ohioans are against deportation of illegals

The most recent poll in Ohio has some interesting news regarding the issue of immigration.

Let illegal immigrants stay here.

That’s what 56 percent of Ohioans said in a poll conducted this month by the University of Cincinnati Institute for Policy Research — and people polled in Southwest Ohio topped that figure.

In this corner of the state, 60 percent said they favored a government policy that allowed undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and become U.S. citizens if they met unspecified requirements in a certain timeframe.

That puts Ohioans in sync with the rest of the nation, according to a Gallup Poll last year, said Eric Rademacher, the institute’s interim co-director.

If you only listened to Fox News, Lou Dobbs and talk radio, you would assume that the entire nation is outraged by the conecpt of earned citizenship for illegals (which some call amnesty). Last year many in the media assumed that this issue would be crucial in the 2008 elections. Yet we don’t hear anything about it.

All of the Republican candidates who tried to exploit conservative anger about immigration flamed out in the primaries. Even one-time “moderates” like Rudy Giuliani flipped last year and tried to demogogue the issue in order to get the Republican nomination. He got crushed in the primaries.

America is getting serious again. We’re going through tough economic times, so it’s harder for politicians to distract the electorate with side issues like Bill Ayers, guns and illegals.

The next president will have a huge opportunity to pass a common-sense compromise on this issue that beefs up border security and provides a rational method for illegals to earn the right to stay in this country. The political rewards from such a compromise would be significant as well.


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