Friday, December 19, 2014

GOP determined to make Obama’s remaining years meaningless

February 25, 2014 |

There seems to be a growing consensus that the Republicans have a real shot at recapturing the Senate in the next midterm elections, giving them further opportunity, if not total assurance, of making Barack Obama’s next years in office meaningless.

The president understands this and has been pulling out all the stops to try to prevent it from happening. His budget proposal doesn’t include tax hikes or efforts to control Social Security nor has he eased back in the spending. The fundraising to counter enormous amounts pitched into the battle by billionaires like the Koch brothers is underway full tilt. The whole thing looks a lot like the “last great battle of the West,” or should we make that the “South,” where Democrats are conducting a Custer-like stand?

Obviously, one of Obama’s main hopes is that the radicals in the GOP will once again self-destruct by nominating non-winners in the primaries in key red states where Republicans could be expected to win. After all that is what occurred two years ago when a simple policy of putting political common sense ahead of ideological purity would have done the Senate trick. But the party failed in several winnable states by nominating candidates clearly out of the mainstream.

Even though it is pretty early in the process to be making profound predictions about the November balloting, on paper at least Republican candidates should be odds-on favorites. The most competitive races are taking places in states like, Arkansas and Louisiana and Kentucky, where voters long have been hostile to not only Obama’s main initiative, health-care reform, but also his stances on nearly everything else.

Republican candidates need to hold on to what they have and gain six more seats. While it’s not an easy chore, it’s one they believe is well within reach. Eleven races, if not several more, are reportedly competitive. According to national reports, weak candidates could emerge from primaries in Alaska, Georgia, Iowa or North Carolina. The Washington Post in its assessment of the situation quoted Sen. John McCain as “guardedly optimistic,” although warning that the party must nominate candidates who “can win.”

In several states where Democrats are retiring – West Virginia, Montana, and South Dakota – Republicans seem to have the clear advantage. According to the Post, four states where Democrats are up for re-election may hold the key to Senate control, Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. All four were lost by Obama two years ago. North Carolina seems to offer the Democrats the best chance of retaining the incumbent, although Sen. Mark Pryor has a habit of pulling out of trouble in Arkansas. Obama lost the state by 24 points.

We could go on with this, but at this juncture any way, Obama has an increasing unpopularity problem and the Republicans discern they can continue to take advantage of that by turning the election into a referendum on his tenure.

If there is a weakness in this strategy, it relies mainly on exploiting problems in the huge Affordable Care Act, including the continuing startup glitches and the general unpopularity of the program. Is this beating a dead horse, as Democrats contend, or does the strategy still carry enough voter uncertainty and animosity to make inroads in their confidence in Democratic candidates, particularly those who supported the act? This is certain: Republican fund managers are expected to pour huge sums into making this election about Obama on nearly every level.

In the last analysis whether or not enough of the president’s men survive to control the upper chamber and keep the Congress split between the two parties – the House is expected to remain Republican – Obama’s final years in office could be considerably less than he would have wished. At stake is movement on a number of serious domestic issues like immigration reform and education.

Clearly little will be done this year until after the election. Republican House Speaker John Boehner has made that clear. The lame-duck years will be nearly as barren while jockeying for a shot at the White House begins in earnest in both parties. Does anyone understand the true meaning of the word “dysfunction”? As one wag said just look at a Washington map and draw a straight line between 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill. That’s dysfunction.

Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers. Readers may send him email at:

Dan K. Thomasson


Discussion | 15 comments

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  • Mike KirchubelFebruary 24, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    It's very clear what the problem is. Thinking voters will not tolerate another year of Republican obstructionism. Their approval rating is 26%. How low can you go? Limbo lower now.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • StRFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:32 pm

    You are all hopeless, low can you go?...Google Deep underground bases preparing for Armageddon. If I were these people I would leave the country, not dig a hole, you people staying behind in the holes are the suckers the Globalists are using, they will be in Europe, South America and maybe Australia on their private Islands. WAKE UP MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND INTEL AGENCIES...........Read Revelation in the Bible.....Michael is a nag also and should stop Horsing around in Turkey Vulture Gulch.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalFebruary 25, 2014 - 6:43 am

    This would be one of those times where Mike offers a "fact" but fails to provide all the info to reach an informed decision. People are not happy with Congress, period. The approval rate for Democrats is 27 percent. So you could just as easily say that thinking voters won't tolerate where this country is heading. Polls for the 2014 mid terms show it either as a dead heat or an edge for Republicans. If conservatives can communicate a clear and simple message focusing on ObamaCare, a common sense approach to reducing spending (like 1 percent a year across the board) and securing our borders before enacting comprehensive immigration reform, they will take the Senate and render Obama's final years ineffective. That would be a beautiful thing.

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  • 25, 2014 - 6:55 am

    11 million small business receiving rate increases. Not to mention the cancellations keep on coming. rlw's 6 months is almost up. California now has about 500,000 less people insured than when the exchange opened for business. We also know that large rate increases are coming in the exchanges due to adverse selection. That will knock more people the curb. The employer mandate is coming and many large businesses will drop plans and cause massive disruption and many of those people will not be able to procure new coverage.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Oh...............Mr. Practical !February 25, 2014 - 7:23 am

    You are so good.....( Except on Redevelopment...RDAs )....A man of genius has a right to any mode of expression....... Ezra Pound

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Salty DogFebruary 25, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    Another Mike Kirchubel comment another lie, or is CNN and MSNBC lie's no it's Bush's fault.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:21 pm

    Bizzarro-World. Wow.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895February 24, 2014 - 11:03 pm

    The rest of the world must look on in wonder at the last superpower's dysfunction. Most of them are probably glad. I am, sort of, too. Moderates should rule. When they can't, or won't, dysfunction is the better course. Checks and balances. The shame is Obama is a moderate and the Republicans only control the House due to gerrymandering. If we had a true vote for the House, moderates could govern.

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  • Ura LierFebruary 25, 2014 - 6:43 am

    Obama is a "moderate"? And Democrats are blameless in the gerrymander game? Give me a break!

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  • Danny BuntinFebruary 25, 2014 - 5:12 pm

    @Ura Lier: Saying he is a moderate is being generous. Name one thing he has done, which would fall under the liberal umbrella. Take your time, because you are going to need it in your desperate search for liberal actions that do not exist.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895February 28, 2014 - 1:16 pm

    UL: You should change your name to something less offensive. As for gerrymandering, it was unprecedented after the 2010 elections by Republicans, which is what we live with today. And we're talking about today. We've done it right in California. The Republicans can't take the high ground on gerrymandering until Texas follows.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelFebruary 28, 2014 - 1:23 pm

    Like crutchfield, or fdc.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacFebruary 25, 2014 - 7:16 am

    Reduce the army and navy and no more free food for anyone.

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  • LarryFebruary 25, 2014 - 9:29 am

    I have come to the final conclusion that the political party for me is the Republican Party. Why, they know everything about running our government, they are the only one's who pay taxes, they are smarter, immigration reform only applies to Mexicans, let's keep the health insurance the way it is, no to raising the minimum wage, and the main gold is to not support the President on anything that he proposes. I will be telling all of my friends to vote for the Republican Socialist Party.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • patrickFebruary 25, 2014 - 2:06 pm

    Barack Obama’s years in office meaningless.

    Reply | Report abusive comment

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