The Aspen Times has on its masthead:
If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t let it happen.The sad stories of Republican Senator Stevens of Alaska and Democratic presidential aspirant and former Senator John Edwards are recent reminders the wisdom of that warning.
These two scandals are neither identical nor equivalent. Each is bad in its own way. Senator Stevens maintains his innocence. Senator Edwards no longer does. Senator Stevens is under indictment. Senator Edwards is not. But what they have in common are highly embarrassing reports of activities that would normally be considered mortal wounds to a political career. Senator Stevens will certainly have a tough challenge to retain his Senate seat. Senator Edwards will not be the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. The tree of trust and credibility, once felled, can only be re-grown slowly, if at all.
The scandals also have in common a warning about the temptations of high office. By historical standards, these scandals are not the most shocking cases. Given human frailties, they will not be the last. Against scandalous behavior there is the power of self control, the power of the law (when it applies), and the power of the press. When the first two fail, the third is there to remind us that “If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t let it happen.”
The Nevada Democratic Party has ended its strange partnership with Fox News to host a candidate’s debate. PTV declined a live feed for a webcast. John Edwards opted out. Then Bill Richardson, too. Recent jokes by Roger Ailes, President of Fox News, about Barack Obama sealed Fox’s well-deserved fate.
Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford has a novel solution to the whole dust-up over whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi can have a bigger plane for her longer nonstop flights to San Francisco than did ex-Speaker Denny Hastert.
Convene Congress in Denver.
Yup, he really said that:
As population shifts further and further west, it does not seem fair for so many lawmakers to have such trouble getting back to their constituents. Why not a summer home for Congress in Denver? ...
The Constitution does not require Congress to meet in Washington. And wouldn’t it be nice to share those lobbyist expense accounts with restaurants in the heartland?
Hot damn. Who needs the DNC Convention when you can move Congress?
Is the West the new South?
In the same way that Republicans rode to dominance in Southern politics four decades ago, Democrats are now carving out their own expanse of territory – in the nation's cactus-and-cowboy belt.
Oh geese, here we go. Just about every week since the election, and probably regularly from now on, a regional or national publication features an enterprise piece with the following elements:
1. Who are these Western Democrats?
2. They sure do seem to talk different.
3. Well, can the national party use them to fool the rest of the country into thinking they're good ol'down to earth types?
It isn't like each publication has learned something new, that Democrats are being elected in the West, and not just in pockets here and there, but in more and more numbers everywhere. This particular piece doesn't seem to answer the question its sets itself up with (is the West the new South?), but rather answers another question, "is the West the new West?"
The West is not the South, and never will be the South. Not culturally, politically or even demographically.
Until the West grows a lot larger, is probably won't be large enough to be compared to the electoral power of the South. Yes, an important swing region, but not the Solid South in any stretch of the imagination.
Politically speaking the West and the South had generally been able to fall under the same definition of conservative that was under the umbrella of the Republican Party. But, as the South has pushed for a more socially conservative party, the West has bucked:
Bonnie Ward, who lives in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, also in the 7th District, was a registered Republican until a few years ago. Now she's a Democrat.
She believes the GOP has lost touch with independent-minded Westerners by, in part, “cozying up with the religious right.”
Emmett pointed us to the great article from the Salt Lake Tribune that had this great quote:
A Tribune analysis of U.S. House results shows that Democrats have narrowed a 20-point GOP edge in 2000 to a slim 48 percent to 47 percent deficit in 2006. In three states - Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico - Democrats have turned their red states blue, winning a majority in the House races.
...but the article also included great chart that tells the tale. Download the PDF here, or just take a peek (click to zoom):
Kari Chisholm | November 20, 2006 | Comment on This Post (0 so far)
My favorite radio show (though I listen to it as a podcast) is featuring the Montana Senate race. Radio Open Source is a different type of show, in that it uses its blog to develop a scope for how their show will run.
In addition to their listener suggested format, they also regularly interview bloggers who have an expertise in whatever. topic. So get on over there and tell them what's going on in the West and Montana. I've already suggested Matt Singer as one of their guests.
In 1991 the University of Washington Huskies finished their football season undefeated, running over three nationally ranked teams. But, the Huskies ended up sharing their national title with Miami, who went undefeated in what was widely considered a much lesser conference.
This year, UW and Miami would have faced off in a national title game, but back then it was the opinion of the voters that mattered. Makes sense though, Miami was on television on the same time zone as most of the voters who were considering who was best. The University of Washington was foreign and distant.
And, so rules the East Coast Bias.
Things out there are worth much more than things out here. Which is probably the same reason why the only two Senate races featured on the Meet the Press Debate Series west of the Mississippi are in Minnesota and Missouri.
I could see them at least featuring Burns v. Tester.
Everyone was expecting the year to be bad on Republicans, but nobody thought it would be a problem out in the West. Midwest, Northeast sure. But, losing house seats in the West was about as unthought of as losing seats in the South.
That, at least according to Roll Call, is the thought going through the minds of DC pols this week:
“The West is very bad right now, as compared to what it normally is,” conceded one GOP consultant who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The consultant added that while Republican prospects for holding seats in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Indiana still look grim, the drop-off in this year’s GOP vote in several key Western states will be much greater than in those Eastern and Midwestern districts.
“In terms of the difference between the normal Republican performance and what we’re going to see this year, the West is the worst that we’re going to see,” the strategist said.
Last week's news that Idaho may have a Democratic governor in a couple weeks was also reflected upon:
(Idaho Dem chair) Stallings described his frustration with getting Democratic leaders to pay attention to the open Idaho House race this year, given the conventional wisdom that no state that voted 68 percent for President Bush in 2004 would be fertile ground for a competitive contest.
Stallings recalled that after state Rep. Bill Sali (R), who is not well-liked by the state Republican establishment, won the GOP primary he tried to convince national Democratic leaders that the race was winnable.
“They just sort of pooh-poohed me,” he said.
But Stallings did praise Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who has been at odds with his party’s House and Senate campaign chiefs over spending priorities all cycle.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Howard Dean and the 50-state strategy,” Stallings said. “I think he recognized that if the party’s going to be competitive nationally they’ve got to either reach to the South or the West and I don’t see that happening in the South. The West is really the potential for growth.”
The consensus in the story was that the large swath of libertarians out West being pissed off a the GOP, and the demographic changes in places like Nevada, was making the West a bit nicer to Democrats. Just on the surface though, this implies some sort of sameness of Democrats nationwide.
Democrats in the West, though, are different the Democrats anywhere else and this article didn't put that into words. And, that Westerners may be smart enough to recognize the difference between Brian Schweitzer and Joe Biden might make a difference too.
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Kari Chisholm | October 14, 2006 | Comment on This Post (2 so far)
Though it seems to focus a bit too much on the hot button differences between Western Democrats and coastal Dems, such as abortion and gun rights, the San Francisco Chronicle did an all-right piece on the Western Democrat theme.
Here's a particularly good passage:
Some of the Democratic gains in the West can be attributed to the same national trends that endanger the GOP's hold on Congress this year. Bush, who won all eight states in 2000 and 2004 -- with the exception of a 500-vote loss to Al Gore in New Mexico -- is losing popularity. Anger over the war in Iraq and frustration over one-party rule are tempering Republican prospects.
But those who study the West say something more profound and perhaps more lasting is taking place.
As Republicans took control of the South in the decades following the civil rights battle, the party has increasingly embraced socially conservative issues that have far less appeal in the West, analysts say. The GOP's emphasis on banning abortions and same-sex marriage, and promoting prayer in schools do not play so well in the more libertarian West.
Colorado, Nevada and Montana have adopted medicinal-marijuana laws, and Nevada has a measure on the November ballot that would legalize possession of up to an ounce.
Like I said, half of it dwells on the fact that many Western Democrats don't tow the line all that well on social issues, but it eventually gets to the point of style (which is seams to portray as just that, style). There have been better articles written about the Western Democrat trend, but this one isn't the worst.