Obama, the Stimulus and the Permanent Campaign
By Ben Pershing
President Obama has surrounded himself with veterans of the trail and is said to be "maintaining a giant, novel permanent campaign" over at the Democratic National Committee, all with good reason. Because it seems that election season never really ends.
Yesterday's ouster of Rod Blagojevich from the Illinois governor's mansion marked one of the last dominoes to fall in the aftermath of Nov. 4 and the election of Obama. It was his victory and the prospect of an appointed Senate successor that led to the feds' public allegations against Blagojevich. But now the governor is gone and Obama's seat is filled, as are the Senate vacancies he prompted in New York, Delaware and Colorado. Only a few loose ends are left from Election Day 2008 -- the epic Coleman vs. Franken race, now ensconced in court, and House special elections to replace Rahm Emanuel and Kirsten Gillibrand.
At the same time, you can argue that the 2010 campaign has already begun. Wednesday's unanimous House GOP vote against the stimulus bill marked Republicans' first wholesale salvo against the Obama administration and the new ruling order in Washington, a move aimed at reestablishing the party's core identity. The GOP can take heart that its steady drumbeat of Drudge-baiting criticism of the stimulus package -- Sex! Illegal Immigrants! -- might just be doing the trick. The measure appears to be popular overall but may be growing less so among Independents.
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