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Obama's not-so-happy anniversary

A year ago tonight, we saw on the streets of D.C. a lovefest for the ages. Remember? It was an explosion of euphoria. The place erupted at 11 p.m. when the polls closed out west and the networks called the election for Obama. To say that people were dancing in the streets doesn't capture the sizzling energy of the night. People were hugging, kissing, singing, chanting, whooping, hollering. Strangers went up to strangers and said: "I love you!" I took some snapshots for the web at 14th and U and, hours later, down in front of the White House.

A year later, it's a not-so-happy anniversary.

Yes, the Democrats can feel good that they won a House race way up in ... well, Canada. But that was kind of a freak show. The Republican dropped out. The Conservative tried the end-around. It showed a fracture in the GOP between the hard right and the remnants of the GOP middle. But the vote itself is hard to interpret because of the mangled ballot.

Democrats can also argue that there's no deeper significance in the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia. Very small data-set, that one. We're all scientists here, we don't want to stretch the flimsy data to fit any wobbly hypotheses. Deeds in Va. was a weak candidate, just for starters.

That's David Axelrod's message this morning. He points to the N.Y. race as the only one of significance.

But I strongly doubt that Axelrod is saying that privately to the president. If you're the president's political adviser, you're don't get paid to be the happy-talk guy. You get paid for thinking through the all the things that might go wrong. You get paid to be the worrier (the Stephanopoulos trademark in 1992).

And this morning, the simple fact is that two states that Obama won last year, and which were crucial to his electoral vote margin, went back to the GOP. As Dan Balz points out, the Democrats saw a major erosion among several key constituencies. But it's the surge toward the GOP among independents that is most striking. It's like a 30-percentage-point swing, according to the exit poll I saw.

That's the shot across the bow for the Democratic party. Those are the numbers that ought to keep Axelrod's forehead furrowed all day. Elections are won in the middle. Yeah, it helps to motivate the base. It's important to get out new voters. But the numbers are clear, year after year: You go over the top when you win the middle. And that means that party leaders have to govern in the middle, or at least within screaming distance of the middle. (Which is a hard order these days, given GOP fundamentalism and the lack of centrist politicians.)

You don't have to agree with the Wall Street Journal's assessment of H.R. 3200 as the worst bill ever, but the Journal's analysis of the political landscape may be correct: The Dems are on track to get waxed next year if they maintain their current strategy.

There's nothing the Democrats can do about culture-warrior voters, the ones who correctly perceive the Democrats as more liberal on issues such as gay rights, guns, abortion, etc. Those folks are solidly in the GOP camp. But in the middle of the spectrum are lots of people who want competent government that doesn't overreach and pays for its programs. They vote on taxes, fiscal policy, rational military strategy and government regulation that doesn't overly cramp the free market. The caricature of Democrats for decades was that they were the party of tax-and-spend and nosy government bureaucrats -- the Mommy Party and all that. Bill Clinton assured the country that the era of Big Government was over. But B.G. came back under Bush, got huger than ever during the economic crash, and now we're looking at many trillions of dollars of red ink for the coming decade. Obama and his allies have to persuade voters that they're serious about reining in the costs of their programs.

Seems to me that Obama himself is in much better shape, and there's no compelling reason to think he won't win a second term. A double-dip recession wouldn't help, but let's assume we'll climb out of this one and be back in business in a couple of years. The Republicans don't seem to have anyone in his league at the moment -- no one with the charm, intelligence, etc. Gingrich? Palin? Ain't gonna happen; the center doesn't like smartypants politicians and can smell crazy a mile away. Mitt Romney? Fatal authenticity problems. Pawlenty? Um, who dat?

The presidency is unique in this era in that it is not simply a policy job. This is the face of our nation on the world stage and in everyone's living room. The president has to represent us in ways large and small. Whatever you think of his policies, Obama has been graceful and dignified. Thoughtful. Presidential. And so the people who celebrated so wildly a year ago can feel good about that.

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 4, 2009; 8:16 AM ET
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Next: Send in the bears


Let me be the *FIRST* to say that people vote against their best interests all the time. It sometimes makes me long to escape onto an exotic, isolated island, where (in younger days) I could grow my own food, write books, invite my dear friends to co-inhabit, with the understanding that no deliberately uneducated and idiotic control-freaky people need apply.

This wasn't about Obama. This whole thing is silly. We're a country of people intent upon instant gratification and schadenfreudenistic narcissism.

Work awaits, somewhat impatiently.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 4, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Is this too long to fit as a headline?

After Brief Flirtation With Sanity Brought On By Over-Exposure To Dubya, Wing-Nuts In Virginia Return To Form.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I seriously doubt Axelrod is telling Obama much of anything today; they all knew Deeds was toast more than a week ago (and said so, right here in the Post). And everyone knew Corzine was in deep doodoo in Jersey, so no surprise there, either. When entirely predictable results occur, nobody goes running into the Oval Office shouting, "Hey, guess what?" Everybody already knew.

So the GOP beat two seriously weak and lackluster Dems. The deeply wonkish implications of that are...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Oh, sorry, I seem to have nodded off there for a moment.

Meanwhile, in the So You Think You Can Be a Lackluster Third-String Pundit & Where Are Simon Cowell and Henry Allen When You Need Them contest, candidates #5 and #6 havezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Uh. Sorry. Coffee. I need coffee.

*pads back to office to resume ignoring the world and continue revising Chapter 8 through 12 of NJC because I still have no "work" work to do*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I posted about an intriguing new novel, "Woodsburner," at the end of the last Kit, but this Kit provides the segue to Frank Lutz's presentation, during Saturday morning's first session, about his latest work, "What Americans Really Want...Really."

To preface this, I have to say that Saturday's first session was a toss-up for me, since there was nothing that was a definite must-see. We had put our car into valet parking (a festival first for us) at the Intercontinental Hotel at Congress and Seventh, and the Paramount Theatre, one of the venues, was just around the corner from our hotel--the stay earned by staying at six Holiday Inns coming and going to Wyoming in late June.

This year's Texas Book Festival Award went to San Antonian and former Bay Area school teacher Rick Riordan (rye-or-dan), who would kick off the Saturday's schedule a the Paramount, along with "39 Clues" writer Peter Lerangis. But the line for the Paramount was longish, so we decided to walk to the capitol, where I could have seen Richard Russo or Sandra Brown or San Antonian David Liss or a panel presentation titled "Are Books Dead?: The Digital Future of Reading." As a note, my husband chose "Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde" (or as Texans of that era would have said, Clyde and Bonnie)--and loved it.

I opted for Frank Luntz's "What Anerican's Really Want...Really," not realizing that the pollster Luntz is a commentator on FOX and worked on Ross Perot's presidential campaign and a mayoral campaign for Rudy Giuliani.


Posted by: laloomis | November 4, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

The election result that surprised and disappointed me was the anti gay marriage vote in Maine. I hadn't been paying close attention, but I didn't see that coming. If we can't trust New England voters on this one, who can we? I still think it's just a matter of time, given the young vs. old difference of opinion, but maybe it'll be a longer time than I had been hoping. Darn it.

Posted by: -bia- | November 4, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Luntz opened his talk by asking the audience, by a show of hands, how many trusted the federal government in Washington, DC. One person raised his hand. He then asked the group how many people trust Wall Street. Not one hand was raised. He then explained the anger currently being felt by the Ameircan electorate. He asked the group what issue they were most concerned about and a number responded (it was during this portion of the talk I was thwacked in the head by the C-SPAN boom).

By a show of hands, the majority if individuals in the room watch FOX, with a fair showing of hands for CNN. MSNBC drew the least number of hands. A huge majority, again by a show of hands, voted for Obama in the last election.

Then, Luntz switched gears or tactic, devolving into his seven tips for raising morally strong, physically and intellectually strong kids. He showed the strongest campaign statements made last year by both Obama and McCain. He was gentle in his comments about the personaly popular Obama, but he did save his most vile jokes for Hill & Bill (mostly Bill).

Luntz played the gender game, having the audience guess what males and females most value in their personal lives. I was one of a small group left standing at the end of the game--having known that for men it's money and women it's time.


Posted by: laloomis | November 4, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

That said, I was pleased to meet a new gay colleague who had recently chosen to move with his partner back home to the small town deep South. I think it says something about changing times that after leaving as a young man, he didn't feel the need to stay away.

Posted by: -bia- | November 4, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

To sum up Luntz, who would love to see more civility in politics (he abhors nasty town halls), his presentation was a mish-mash of things that I assume must be in his book, but a delighful mish-mash.

Luntz is a *master* showman. He didn't hug the podium, but paced the stage. He engaged the audience, asking their opinions time after time--not surprising for a pollster. He had effective use of audio visuals. He made people laugh time and again; he played to the cute kid in the front row. I left his talk feeling incredibly energized--not a bad feeling after having gotten up at 5 a.m. Saturday.

Two more things. Luntz had weird shoes. Comfortable navy-colored Reeboks, with mesh on the top, with read-and-white striped shoelaces. Not well-coordinated with his sport coat and slacks, but certainly a good match to his book jacket on his latest--the American flag.

During the Q&A, a woman asked why students in school don't use better English, but, unfortunately, she used four double negatives in framing her one-sentence question. Luntz called her out on her grammar, which caused the couple behind me to draw an almost imperceptible gasp. Perhaps it's important to remember that Luntz's previous book is "Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear."

Posted by: laloomis | November 4, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

During the Q&A, a woman asked why students in school don't use better English, but, unfortunately, she used four double negatives in framing her one-sentence question.

Posted by: laloomis | November 4, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: jezebel3 | November 4, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Front page alert, right under Gerson.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Axle-rod just keeps on spinning and Gibbs never loses his favorite toy, his top.

Posted by: inmanorj | November 4, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

You DID stock the Bunker for the anniversary, dincha 'Mudge?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 4, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I am in the bunker right now; we've got hot coffee and tea, the bathroom is clean (extra TP under the vanity) and I'm just about to pop a loaf of bread into the oven to go with the Greek salad that is for lunch. Real goat's milk feta, people!

Posted by: Yoki | November 4, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a naive and unsophisticated analysis that says that "American's vote against their self interest all the time" and we're back to "wing-nuts controlling things in Virginia."

As I have said here and many other places, the deficit/debt issue is going to crush the Democrats in 2010. Even though this was not an election in which the contestants have much influence on national issues, I would certainly view it as a harbinger of a larger trend. The debt is an issue that everyone should care deeply about and is most definitely an issue for which a solution is in everyone's best interest.

You may be saying, "wait, George Bush ran up those debts," but like any other issues, with the passage of time, it becomes the sitting President's problem. (see: Quagmires, Southeast Asia and Middle East) And there is no evidence that Obama or Pelosi/Reid is willing to do any serious thinking about reducing the deficit or attach any particular import to solving the problem.

Part of the issue is that the solution is political suicide because it unquestionably involves raising taxes and cutting spending across the board. Part of the issue is that it's a simple problem to kick down the road farther. In the minds of politicians, 2012 is a lifetime away let alone 2020. There is no collective will to do anything requiring sacrifice now in order to solve a problem that may not happen for 20 years.

Like it or not, the Republicans will be able to make political hay out of this in the near future (notwithstanding the fact that they have done nothing to solve the problem).

They have rediscovered the goal of limiting government and reducing spending, and no one can preach like the (recently) converted. I'd be shocked if they don't have enormous gains in the mid-term elections next year.

Posted by: Awal | November 4, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

As always, Yoki, you are a treasure.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps naively and lacking sophistication, I agree that people vote against their own best interests all the time, and that wingnuts are back in charge in Virginia.

Because, yanno, wingnuts are back in charge in Virginia. And people vote against their own bests interests quite often.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think it might be time for you to go prepare the bunker. Yer startin' to repeat yerself.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 4, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Caitlin is currently running a discussion of her story:


Posted by: DLDx | November 4, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, on your way to the bunker, could you stop and pick up some Breyer's all-natural mint chocolate chip and some brown-edge wafers? Those are the only two items I forgot to stock up on. I'll reimburse you when you get there.

And if we're still in there this evening we may have to use the split-screen on the big 54-inch TV screen, because some of us will be watching Game 6 (Pedro versus Pettit), while on PBS Bill Cosby is getting his Twain award at the Kennedy Center -- and I know how Yoki and some others feel about "the baseball," and we need to accomodate them.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse


I'm not sure how you know what is everyone's best interest? Is it solely economics? Are there other factors that can play in best interst? If I have one issue that I care about particularly, can a vote for it be considered "best interest" even if I'm harmed in some other way? Is it wrong to vote in a way which isn't in one's "best interest"? I voted for Obama and will undoubtedly be harmed economically. Are you telling me I shouldn't have done that?

At the minimum, this was an off-year election which have often been shown to have much higher proportional turnout of Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats. Assuming that those people were a majority of the electorate, were they voting against their best interest?

Is it possible that people don't care about McDonnell's cultural conservatism and believe that he has a better plan to fix economic problems in Virginia. Alternately, is it possible that some people are happy where they are economically but think that his socially conservative positions are in their best interest. The latter position is definitely not my opinion and clearly not yours, but who's to say that individuals haven't done the calculus and believe that it's currently in their best interest.

Listen, I don't hold much truck with the right wing, but I do know that people don't like being told by others what's "in their best interest."

Posted by: Awal | November 4, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

So Cosby is starting in left field for the Yankees tonight?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 4, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge, I'm headed to the grocery store shortly, did you check the beverages? Let me know what I need to buy.

Posted by: slyness | November 4, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

No, Awal, what I'm telling you is to read "What's the Matter With Kansas" by Thomas Frank, which discusses the question of why people often vote against their own best interests, a widely discussed political phenomenon you appear to be completely unfamiliar with. So you need to get up to speed. You don't have to agree with the premise, but you can't continue to think it is some bizarre notion ftb pulled out of her bonnet. It isn't, and she didn't.

Here's a summary fron the Wiki write-up to get you started('s_the_Matter_with_Kansas%3F):

"Franks applies his thesis to answer the question of why these social conservative continue to vote for Republicans, even though though they are voting against their best interests. He argues that politicians and pundits stir the "cons" to action by evoking certain issues, such as abortion, immigration, or taxation. By portraying themselves to be the champion of the conservatives on these issues, the politicians can get "cons" to vote them into office. However, once in office, these politicians turn their attention to more mundane economic issues, such as business tax reduction or deregulation. In order to explain to the "cons" why no progress gets made on these issues, politicians and pundits point their fingers to a "liberal elite," a straw man representing everything that conservatism is not. It is this "liberal elite" that they blame for America's social ills, the general coarsening of American culture, and the lowering of the quality of life of the "cons." However, the politicians and pundits are relatively quiet when it comes to giving reasons why this fictional elite want such things. When reasons are given, they eschew economic reasons in favor of accusing this elite of simply hating America, or having a desire to harm "average" Americans. This theme of victimization by these "elites" is pervasive in conservative literature, despite the fact that at the time conservatives controlled all three branches of government, was being served by an extensive media devoted only to conservative ideology, and conservatives had won 6 of the previous 9 presidential elections. So, "mod" politicians evoke a pet cause of the "cons" in order to get elected, and then while in office votes for economic policies that benefit the wealthier "mods" at the expense of the less wealthy "cons," and when the "cons" get disgruntled with the erosion of their quality of life, the "mod" politicians blame the interference of the "liberal elite" that only desire the downfall of "average Americans."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

In VA we needed the votes of all those young people and minorities that voted for Obama last November. They weren't listening when the President asked to come out and support Deeds.... it's just a sad story now

Posted by: romy557 | November 4, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Surely this is an Onion headline??

Bush, Clinton debate: Radio City

Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 4, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The mixers and tonic water seem to be OK, slyness, unless the Phillies game gets out of hand. But I think we're OK.

Scotty, Scotty, Scotty. You *know* Cos is a Phillies guy.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

McDonnell won because he is telegenic, he outspent Deeds by a wide margin, and he promised candy for everyone and no homework assignments ever. This strategy works well in Virginia (and other places as well) because while we as a nation happily subscribe to "no pain, no gain" in most areas, in politics "higher spending and lower taxes" seems to be our favorite mantra. In twelve whole years we've gone from electing Jim Gilmore on a three word platform "No Car Tax" (and yet somehow those pesky tax bills keep coming to this day) to Bob McDonnell and "Sell the Liquor Stores."

Posted by: kguy1 | November 4, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

McDonnell promised a fix the horrific transportation infrastructure without raising taxes. Deeds was a negative schmuck. Enough people bought into the something for nothing promise again and I live further NE now, but NOVA is still a Disneyland stuffed with jobs compared to most of the country. You all don't know how good you have it at the moment. I'm really curious to see where this magic money is going to come from to not only repair the roads, but actually put in additional ones. I hope you like tolls......

Corzine never should have gotten on the final ballot. Jersey still smells weird.

Posted by: theobserver4 | November 4, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I hope someone Tivoed (sp?) Jon Stewart last night, his political panel speculating about what they will be speculating about today cracked me up.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 4, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I took a second look at car sales. Hyundai and Kia are thriving; Chrysler sinking. Grand plans for Chrysler are totally under wraps. Maybe sell a plant or two to Hyundai? Change a few plants to Fiat, improve quality for Jeep Wrangler and one or two other models, then ditch the rest?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 4, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I thought Aasif Manvi's comments especially hilarious.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

DotC, I saw WaPo's writeup on the Chrysler "unveiling," with a quote about how the company needs to roll out new models, yet I saw a commercial just a couple days ago for the "300" that seemed solidly set in, oh, a 2006 sort of mindset. *shrug*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse


While I don't appreciate your condescending tone, I'm still willing to continue the discourse. I can assure you that I'm fairly familiar with Thomas Frank who is the token left-winger on the WSJ editorial page (I am also very familiar with Frank Thomas, if you'd like to discuss his body of work later. As an aside, 15 years ago a friend and I made a substantial bet on whether Frank Thomas would ever get in the HOF. It was a great bet because it went back and forth for so long.) although I haven't read "Kansas". I am certain that "Kansas" contains many valid points, but I would consider it in no way dispositive any more than a book or article by Charles Krauthammer would be. Frank has a very obvious and unhidden agenda as evidenced by his writing in the WSJ. I could also argue that based on your Wiki summary above, that Frank is wrong on one or more of the central tenets of his thesis. Republican politicians, including Presidents but especially governors, very often make substantial change to immigration and tax issues that they could point to with the "cons."

I don't live in the DC area, so I'm not as familiar with the nuance of the Deeds-McDonnell race, but my perception is that it didn't, in fact, turn on issues related to cultural conservatism. If you take that out of the equation, then Frank's premise wouldn't be particularly valid. One might argue that people of all stripes thought that their "best interest" was in relieving Beltway traffic or enacting a plan that they thought had a better chance of attracting jobs to Virginia that Creigh Deeds' plan did.

Posted by: Awal | November 4, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Just a comment on "Pawlenty...who dat"--I suspect that a lot of people would have said the same about Barack Obama back in 2005 (equivalent point in GWB's second term), and those who did know him would likely have scoffed at his chances of beating HRC (or any other established Democrat) for the nomination, let alone the presidency. A lot can change in a couple of years.

I'm not a Pawlenty supporter, but it's worth remembering that new candidates can emerge quickly--and we have an important national election in 2010 that could signficantly affect the makeup of both the House and the Senate. Let's see where we are about a year from now....

Posted by: oldguy2 | November 4, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

If you aren't familiar with the McDonnell-Deeds race, Awal, then perhaps you shouldn't be commenting on it nor calling ftb's (well-informed) thoughts about it "naive" and "unsophisticated." And if you don't think cultural conservatism was one of the factors, well, the mind boggles and there's not much I could say that wouldn't be even more impolite than I already was.

Regarding the actual merits of ftb's contention, if you are not especially aware of details of the race, McDonnell proposed funding his transportation plan by selling off liquor stores, which would gut the school system of $500 million over two years. The Post in its editorials agreed and said it was a bad plan. So it is well, well within the bounds of the discussion to assert that voting for McDonnell was a vote against one's self-interest if one agrees it would gut the school system of $500 million (a charge McDonnell never replied to, so far as I am aware).

Further, it is commonly held by many that extreme conservs like McDonnell intensely dislike the public school system, and many also understand that people like Grover Norquist advocate a philosophy of strangling government by "starving the beast." Thus it is entirely within the realm of possibility to speculate that McDonnell's apparent disregard for gutting the school system of $500 million may not be simple carelessness on his part, but in fact a calculated tactic in line with the "starve the beast" philosophy.

Now, one can agreed or disagree with all that, but it isn't a "naive" nor "unsophisticated" argument to have. And perhaps when you get to know ftb a little better, you will come to understand that whether you agree or disagree with her upon a point, her analysis is quite unlikely to be naive or unsophisticated. She is, in fact, one of the sharpest tacks in this toolbox.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | November 4, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Someone please tell me why polls say people like Obama but not his policies when they are one in the same, as far as the country's good health goes.

I think those polls are done by mainstream media wanting to encourage everyone to have a love fest with him.

Obama's policies are him. I don't want to like him for playing basketball or taking his wife on a date night.

I want the president to give me good government and nothing else, so please take personal popularity ratings out of the polls.

Posted by: kathy26 | November 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

My latest perceptions about deficits and debt is that stimulus and deficit should be used in recession, and that in good times, the treasury should be restocked. Anyone who fights this logic will weaken the dollar inevitably. In boldface. Which I don't want. The naive are always easily distracted from major economic realignments, they simply can't follow the logic of inflation, or currency markets, minimax solutions, risk management, etc. I have no need to let populist know-nothingism run the economy.

Having said that, Obama's greatest failure in my mind right now, greatest failure to capture the independent center, is his Treasury Secretary, Geithner, who at best was in the middle of the biggest organized scam of the century, should have known it, and is not known to have been a whistleblower of any sort.

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 4, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse


I don't want to bore people here with a flame war, but I would contend that in every instance it is "naive" and "unsophisticated" to diminish one's opposition as "wing nuts" etc.

My original post had essentially nothing to do with the Deeds-McDonnell race per se--merely that for the Democrats at this point to fall back upon the saws of "the right are all wing nuts" and "people are voting against their best interests" is incalculably foolish if they have any hopes of continuing to govern and change this country after 2012.

Posted by: Awal | November 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Since mudge admirably defended the "vote against their self interest" portion of the attack, let me take the "wing-nuts are back in control" portion. McDonnell is a certified diploma carrying wing-nut with a only-lightly disavowed ultra conservative paper trail. It seems he carried majorities nearly everywhere which means he probably held the far right in the rural and exurban areas and got just enough moderates to keep him on top. But he will take his support from moderates that supported him for economic reasons as a mandate on his cultural issues, including defunding public schools, restricting reproductive rights, and expanding gun-owner rights.

The real divide in VA is between NoVa with bad roads and massive congestion and RoVa with bucolic scenic highways (as long as you don't try to change lanes on I-81 with double bottom barreling down the road). Deeds as a rural liberal was combining the smaller half of the two divides.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 4, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I think I said a while back that I thought Deeds was spending way too much time harping on McDonnell's term paper at the expense of refuting his "Rosey Scenario" for paying for everything with nothing. And Kathy - Those popoularity polls do have some import. People vote more with their heart than their mind (see, voting against their own interests, above). Like all polls, they aren't dispostive but they do help give a snapshot of the tenor of the electorate over time. We need to keep reminding ourselves and our friends that Obama inherited a terrible mess, both overseas and domestically. Yes, the bailouts are going to cost us something. But if the government had stood by and did nothing over the past year, we may well have been looking at another years-long depression with 20 or 25% unemployment. If we pull out of this recession and begin reducing the unemployment rate over the next year or so, things will be much better overall.

Posted by: ebtnut | November 4, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Aw, Mudgekins, you are sooooo sweet. And because you hono(u)red me with the designation of my being one of the sharpest tacks in the Boodle toolbox, I merely advise one NOT to sit on me. . . . .

Well, for any number of reasons. Really.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 4, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"Although the hippopotamus does not have a stinger, the wise man would still rather be sat on by the bee." Polish proverb

Posted by: kguy1 | November 4, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Just popping in to say that the Republicans didn't win in Virginia as much as it was that the Democrats didn't campaign. Did any of you see hide nor hair of Deeds, Shannon and Wagner?

I met Wagner at an event last year and thought she was fabulous. Threw my support behind her then but there was nothing to support once she won the nomination.

Creigh Deeds knows nothing about the urban centers of Virginia. He never showed up here (did he show up in Hampton Roads?). He eschewed Tim Kaine and Barack Obama until it was too late.

I guess the Republican ticket winning is a good wake-up call for the Dems of my state. I just wish we didn't have to put up with Ken "The Loony" Cuccinelli as our Attorney General. The fact that he could get elected to statewide office shows how little the Democrats really did to try to win this election.

Posted by: -TBG- | November 4, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

*snort* kguy! You bet! Those hippos are HUGE!

BTW, there's a lovely short article about Obama's brother living in Southern China on the WaPo's front page. He is insanely accomplished (with the word "insanely" modifying the accomplishments -- don't twist my words . . . ) and seems like a cool guy. Perhaps that trait comes with the gene pool.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 4, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Psssssst, Mudge -- tell Awai that I'm really, really funny, too.

Posted by: -ftb- | November 4, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, folks.

As someone once said - "Don't panic!"

And that's all I have to say about that.


Posted by: -bc- | November 4, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

And the answer is always "42".

Posted by: ebtnut | November 4, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

of COURSE popularity polls are important! why do you think so many ppl voted for obama - i hate to admit but i did not vote for the governor race - not that my one vote would have mattered - VA is just to red outside of NOVA.

heroin - i know a girl who was a heroin addict and died from a overdose - she came from a rich and succssful family. i'm just sayin...


Posted by: mortii | November 4, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Ack, mo, your one vote always counts! Well, except possibly in Florida in 2000, but let's not go there...I voted (early) for someone in a non-partisan race because I liked her when she was a news anchor. She turned out to be a right-wing wingnut, but luckily, she lost (I figured her cultural issue views wouldn't be relevant in her position, but I was afraid it might set her up for higher office). I'm hoping that that the tax cap initiative is still failing, and that the "everything but marriage" gay rights referendum is still winning.

Posted by: seasea1 | November 4, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I did see Jon Stewart's panel last night - very funny. David Plouffe was also very good. I actually didn't realize he wasn't still working for Obama.

Apropos of CNN, here's the local take on our election:

Posted by: seasea1 | November 4, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Mo... your vote would have done a world of good. Look at this map before you say "NoVA is blue; the rest of Virginia is red"...

Posted by: -TBG- | November 4, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I am one of those who rejects the notion that McDonnell's victory says anything about Obama. This election was determined by turnout, and Deeds simply failed to incite sufficient passion to overwhelm McDonnell. And I view this as a wake-up call for the Dems. The party out of power is always more motivated than is the party in power.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 4, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

And about Obama. I am just as enthusiastic of a supporter as I ever was. The criteria for evaluating a president isn't always what is done, but also what is not done.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 4, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I dotno but there a lot of us out side Virginia that got a lot of issues.
I guess I could look it up, but what is the unemployment rate in Virginia vs say Oregon?

What is the portion of government employed workers vs private employed workers in Virginia vs Oregon? Maybe that is not a fair comparison as I think a lot of the so called private employed workers in Virginia work for companies that rely on getting money from Uncle Sam or are there to influence Uncle Sam to get more money for the folks they represent.
Just saying the country doesn't just revolve around Virginia.
Let's wait until 2010.

BTW, sunny and warm here yesterday and today. I didn't cover my tomatoes last night and they might have been got a little frost bite this morning. Darn the National Weather Service, didn't give a frost warning last night.

Posted by: bh72 | November 4, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Hi, all! Seasea, David Plouffe may not literally be working for Obama anymore, but I still get, on average, one e-mail a day from Plouffe urging me to work for, donate to, or otherwise get involved with, Obama. I'm sorry to say the thrill is fading - I often move them to my "shopping" folder unread.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | November 4, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Something about a computer in Montgomery messing up the traffic signals. Did anyone notice a group of Mini Coopers going wherever they wanted, fast?

I haven't checked lately, but unemployment in Oregon is probably pretty high. The state's "Silicon Forest" is prone to windfall in economic storms, and the state has a surprising amount of low-tech manufacturing. Sales of high-quality pears, nursery stock, and wine can't be very good right now. I suspect that Oregon-grown noble fir Christmas trees won't be in much demand in places like Florida. By the way, they're magnificent, if you can find one that's a bit lanky, with space to hang the ornaments. Americans have become accustomed to trees that have been pruned like topiary. Conical topiary, the sort Louis XIV would appreciate.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 4, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't look like the Phillies will repeat, they are not done in at 7-3 but their pitchers give runs in almost every innings. Matsui's big night is sinking them.
It was strange to look at an older, heavier Pedro Martinez at the start of the game. I've seen him mostly in his wiry youth as an Expo and I never really followed him through the rest of his career.
The payroll of the Yankees is absolutely astounding. Where do they get all that money? A-Rod's contract sounds to me like it's bigger the Spo's entire payroll back in the day.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear of Oregon's bad news. According to this Wall Street Journal's blog and chart showing September data, Oregon came in #5 in unemployment behind California, Nevada, Michigan and South Carolina.

I wonder how Obama is currently polling in states with high vs. low unemployment? In terms of bellwether elections, I think one to watch is next year's Texas gubernatorial race, particularly the Republican contest between moderate former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and conservative Gov. Rick Perry.

While I'm at it, just wanted to say that we have a new journalism outlet in Texas, a nonprofit newspaper, the Texas Tribune. The enterprise is backed by Texas venture capitalist John Thornton with Evan Smith at the helm as editor-in-chief. Smith, who introduced several authors during the Texas Book Festival including presidential historian Doug Brinkley, gave up his post as editor of Texas Monthly magazine in August.

Posted by: laloomis | November 4, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

The WaPo has a post-mortem examination of Deeds's poor campaign. Obama wasn't his problem, poor strategy, poor execution and a limited war chest did it him.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

scc did him in.

The Fullies are still alive in the 7th. That's good.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I need me one 'o these

Posted by: Jumper1 | November 4, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

bh72 - Since past experience indicates that anyone perceptive enough to enjoy reading & commenting upon the Achenblog is neither ignorant nor stupid, I'm gonna have to assume that you are behaving like a lazy person. Maybe you're exhausted and need more rest.

Since you're already paying for it, you might as well take advantage of the fact that BLS is constantly providing the information that you asked about. But since I know that you won't go to the trouble to click on the link, Virginia's recent unemployment rate is around 6 1/2%, Oregon's around 11 1/2%. Y'all are gonna have to work on that.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 4, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the NY Billionnaires will win their first world series since 2000. That Rivera guy is purty good. I suspect he is expensive as well.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | November 4, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: rickoshea1 | November 4, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Money talks?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | November 4, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

I take it the wrong guys one two nights in a row.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 5, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

SCC: won
I'm so homophonic.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 5, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

yello, you are only 70%

Posted by: Yoki | November 5, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Yes, bobsewell, I'm tired and lazy. At age 72 after working 57 years in the private sector except for 3 1/2 serving my country.
Really haven't kept up to date on on all those .gov sources.
But I do click on many of the links noted here.
The unemployment question was in reference to Virginia vs the rest of the US. The news makes it seem the governor election in Virginia was a referendum on Obama in the rest of the country.
I'm going to rest now. Although I don't have to work tomorrow.

Posted by: bh72 | November 5, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Trust me, brother/sister, you don't even want to try to take me on when it comes to exhaustion & sloth.! They are my defining characteristics. You're merely posing as someone acting the part, based upon your admission that you hadn't bothered to do any research.

Posted by: bobsewell | November 5, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Ha! you made me laugh, bobsewell. Sloth is a great word. Though I do prefer to be thought of as a flaneuese, a boulvardiere, instead of strictly lazy.

Posted by: Yoki | November 5, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Ha! you made me laugh, bobsewell. Sloth is a great word. Though I do prefer to be thought of as a flaneuese, a boulvardiere, instead of strictly lazy.

Posted by: Yoki | November 5, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

i sort of paid attention to the nj race since i'm from there originally. all i can say is that corzine was a bad governor and deserved to lose, which was also aided by a third party candidate. i wouldn't draw too many political conclusions from it though.

Posted by: LALurker | November 5, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse

As likeable as Oregon is, it's had a miserable time transferring from rustbelt + logging + agriculture to tech and biotech. The state was in trouble before the Great Collapse.

Part of the problem is that the state's tax system can't provide much support for higher education, including the Oregon Health Sciences University.

The good news is that Oregon attracts entrepreneurial people who can carry out their businesses from anywhere. The ad firm of Wieden+Kennedy is an example. So is Powell's Books, in its incarnation as an internet vendor. Timber Press. Nike.

Nicholas Kristof's health care column in the Thursday NY Times prompted a long email to my Member of Congress, who is somewhere to the right of the Wall Street Journal's opinion page. He probably thinks Kristof is the son of Soviet spies and a one-man sleeper cell for the revival of Socialism.

GM's keeping Opel: they were suspicious all along about those Russian investors. Much angst in Berlin. Spiegel's headline is "Debakel für Merkel: Krisenkanzlerin versinkt im Opel-Chaos". Der Opel-Magna-Deal ist geplatzt... It's fun browsing the German version after reading the English.

I was dividing perennials in the front yard today. Bromeliads. The good news is that they're ridiculously easy to dig up and replant. The bad is that most of them have saw-edged leaves. A harmless little variety with very dark leaves called "Aechmea 'Puerto Rico black'" is my top pick to multiply and prosper.

Surplus pups and plants are going to a local botanical garden for their big annual sale.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | November 5, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Y'all might enjoy this gem from Gail Collins on the elections:

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 5, 2009 3:46 AM | Report abuse

Damn Yankees. I don't know how anyone can like that team. Rooting for the Yankees to win is like rooting for the homecoming king to be more popular.

Re: politics. I weary of all the "the election of So-and-So means X for the party" blathering. There's only one thing you can say about that sort of thing these days: you never know what in the hell people are going to do.

Posted by: KBoom | November 5, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

KBoom, yeah. It's painful to watch. A team has to have two hot pitchers and some runs in the lineup to play with them. It has been that way pretty much since I have been alive. My dad was a lifelong Yankee fan. From the time that I read my first box score, I disliked them. My mother was from Iowa where, at the time, you were either a Cards fan or a Cubs fan. Somehow, I gravitated to being a Redbird supporter and follower (from afar).

I watched bits and pieces of the game and just saw trouble and pain. My friend was rooting for Philly, but turned to me and said, "I don't even like Philly." I guess that's what NYC and the Yankees do to a guy who grew up in Buffalo.

At 4 runs, we both thought that the game was lost. It turns out, we were right.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. We're going to be different this morning: blueberry pancakes with maple syrup and country sausage on the ready room table. Enjoy!

That Collins column is hilarious, DNA_Girl, thanks for the link. It's refreshing to find a pundit keeping those things in perspective.

Onward into the day! We've in the midst of a spell of lovely fall weather, plenty of sunshine, cool in the morning, nice in the afternoon. It almost makes up for the mess of falling leaves.

Posted by: slyness | November 5, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

*fingers in ears*



Posted by: Scottynuke | November 5, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Dropping in quickly while still at meetings. Accept my apologies if I'm interrupting an interesting discussion by straying on-Kit; I'm not caught up with the Boodle. I wanted to mention that here, voting against one's interest is simple fact. Oklahoma is a poor state. We graduate barely 25% of citizens from college. We're in or near the bottom 10% of virtually every "good" measure (except early childhood edcuation) and in the top 10% of every "bad" measure of quality of life,health, etc. For the legislature and national office, our citizens routinely vote for people who cut social programs, cut taxes to the point the state has few steady revenue reserves when oil & gas receipts are down, oveemphasize social engineering legislation (tatooing eyeballs, abortion) and legislation benefitting large business and corporations at the expense of economic development and even of small business - I could go on. Social conservatism is part of it (being male, I'll never have an abortion but don't want you to have that choice, I'm not homosexual but don't want you enjoy social benefits if you are); part of it is the sense of optimism, if you can call it that, which admits that the citizen either gets no benefit from or is actively harmed by a policy, but if they only had some money it would help them. People vote against their interests of all kinds. There's nothing elitist or even particularly original about this observation, and the legislators who benefit from it rely on it. It is part of the political calculation, on both sides.

Posted by: Ivansmom | November 5, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Archibald, CEO of Black and Decker ... TURNS DOWN a $21 million golden parachute that will be triggered when they finally merge with Stanley Works.

Of course, after reading further, I felt that he would have a hard time finding that $21 mil with all the other benefits.

Well, at least he got the headline.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The Gail Collins op-ed this morning is good...and funny!

Gail Collins is the person whom I most wanted to see at the Texas Book Festival this year in Austin, so I got in line as early as I could--around 1:15 p.m for her 2 p.m. presentation, after hearing the mother-daughter duo, Jane Smiley and Lucy Silag. Which meant that I gave up going to hear Dayton Duncan speak about the national parks (my first choice at 1 p.m., and lucky for me, my husband agreed to stand attend as my proxy) and Taylor Branch speak about the Clinton tapes.

We Collins fans were let into the Paramount Theatre about 1:55 p.m., late, because Buzz Aldrin, who preceded Collins, drew such a big crowd. Before Collins took the stage, I had a good conversation with the head usher, about the three earlier presentations in the theater (more on this later).

I was seated in the front row, to the left of podium. Gail stood to the right of the podium, from the perpective of the audience. I did not expect Gail Collins to be small (short), and from my angle, all I could occasionally glimpse was her head, or an eyebrow, or the top of her head. Had Collins stood behind the oversized lecturn, it would have swallowed her up, devoured her whole. Ten minutes into her talk, I moved to a seat directly in front of her. Let me say one thing about Gail--she has to-die-for, dazzling dimples. Her smile is a national treasure.


Posted by: laloomis | November 5, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

And my nominee for the worst use of column inches and electrons:

Puh-leeze. Athletes display gross behavior in public that has the potential to spread germs? That's barely a Tweet.

Posted by: Raysmom | November 5, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Collins was very organized in her presentation. She was introduced by Austinite and engineer Sylvia Acevedo, who appears on several occasions within Collins' latest book, "When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present." As explined in the Acknowledgement section of "Journey," Collins wanted to tell the story of what happened to American women since 1960 by combining the public drama of the era with the memories of regular women who lived through it all. Collins and her team of interviwers sat down with more than 100 women from around the country, ranging in age from their 80s to their early 20s, who agreed to talk about their lives.

And Collins began her talk Saturday just as I hoped she would, with the words, "Lois Rabinowitz," the comely young woman who was ejected from traffic court for wearing slacks in August, 1960. Collins was at her trademark best, her talk peppered with humor. Why say much about Sarah Palin at all, when a hand gesture will do? As Collins was to demonstrate, causing an eruption of laughter.

Collins hewed closely to the structure of her book, divided into three parts: the way we lived, the ice breakers, and the new millenium. She talked about the first two parts, but not the third, which left me wanting more. She took questions from the audience for 15 minutes.

She signed the earlier book of hers that I had brought along, "Keep the faith." That's the book signature I saw, after I stopped chatting with her. I think I had a visible reaction to the word "faith." I would like to think that one day a woman will be President with more on the Supreme Court and in the halls of Congress, that there will be more equitable pay parity between the sexes, that violence against women will end, that the future will hold a more fair distribution of domestic chores, to name several issues. As Collins latest book made me realize, in the past 40 years, there has been good progress.

Now there needs to be more.

Posted by: laloomis | November 5, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

As seen from south of the sun, Obama's record not so good.

Dollar weak and falling.
Effective bailouts and safety net for the super rich robber barons. VS in Chile economic recovery under way. Expected economic growth 5% in 2010.

Foreign relations:
U.S. as muddled as ever. Obama just another war-mongering president

Chile diverting its business and working on closer ties with Europe and Asia. U.S. becoming less relevant in the region.


Posted by: Braguine | November 5, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Not much different here, north of the border Brag, our dollar is high, recovery technically started in July, housing prices rising, strong housing market in my area and starting to go a little crazy in Toronto. Unemployment is still high though - but that is usually one of the last sectors to recover (correct?), and we will have large deficits to contend with for quite a while.

That said I am not sure how much can be blamed on Obama, he inherited a huge mess, deficit and war costs, etc. Plus world economies are changing with other nations emerging a huge powers.

Posted by: dmd3 | November 5, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I will not pretend to understand any of what makes this work, but I think it is very cool, lazer elevators (to space).

Posted by: dmd3 | November 5, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | November 5, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Well Ivansmom, the motto of Oklahoma as best I can recall from my time living there '74-'85 was "stand next to Arkansas and try to look good by comparison." Course years earlier I lived in Arkansas and their motto then was "At least we ain't dead last, thank God for Mississippi."

Posted by: kguy1 | November 5, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

And ... for something completely different --


Posted by: -ftb- | November 5, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

ok - i'll admit why i didn't vote for gov - didn't like mcdonnell's history on women rights and deeds did nothing to prove he was the better choice - just like RD said.

bh - virginia is a bad state to ask about gov vs non gov jobs - a HUGE percentage of ppl work in the gov here - they even drive from rova (stafford, manassas) - i even know some guys that drive here from westbygodva and DELAWARE... dc is where the $$ is at... you gotta remember - it's not just the white house or the dept of defense, it's also dept of transportation, commerce, state dept is HUGE, very many federal jobs in dc...

AND WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO THE YANKEES TAKE IT AGAIN!!!!!!!! I LOVE THE YANKEES!!! sorry snuke and mudge but ya know that i am a die hard yankee fan!

Posted by: mortii | November 5, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Brag, I think that your assessment is a bit unfair. His only 1/3 of our federal govt. I agree that Obama should be viewed with a questioning eye, but our nation is on a war footing.

By moving this country into a war on two fronts, it was the Bush Administration that "spent the money." They created the potential of loss of national wealth, goodwill and lives. There is a narrow avenue through which Obama can drive this nation that meets with a majority acceptance of any action.

In my eyes and even more so, the economy is severely limited by the mistakes of the past. The corrections are "EXPENSIVE," but the cost should be assigned to those making the mistakes.

Again, emotionally, I am with you. Unfortunately, we have to work within the constraints of the governmental system.

I am very concerned that the Obama Administration is actively preparing for the commercial real estate meltdown. The Brits move to break up banks that have grown to be too big to fail was a really progressive step. Their willingness to accept that there is a terrible national risk to allowing mergers that squeeze the last infrastructure cost and labor cost out of the business is terribly risky for a nation.

The larger the number of totally viable and successful companies that exist in each business sector, the better off we all are.

As mega companies merge, they create a certain level of direct costs to the country and the mergers also ratchet up the related risks of mega-companies.

Of course, when you read the Post and their are actual references to voters saying that Obama is sending this country directly into socialism because of the number of Czars that he employs, then I just have to wonder about our future.

Biting into that thought is like taking a bite of a multi-layered cake of ignorance and stupidity.

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Mo, don't forget the liquor stores. The state of Virginia needs everyone to drink a lot of booze.

Would you like an umbrella in your Mai Tai?

Posted by: russianthistle | November 5, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: seasea1 | November 5, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

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