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The Morning Plum

* Lots to chew over in the new NBC/WSJ poll: It finds that Republicans have rebuilt their coalition after Obama's victory fractured it in 2008, with independents, blue collar voters, suburban women and rural voters all favoring GOP control of Congress.

* Also: Support for Obama's health care law is still low (38 percent) though a majority (55 percent) want Congress to give it a chance and make changes as needed rather than repealing it.

* Depressing: The poll also finds that the Gulf spill is deeply worrying voters -- even as strong majorities still favor expanded off-shore drilling.

* And: Tea Party movement is viewed more positively than the GOP.

* Margaret Carlson neatly sums up Arlen Specter's problem:

Specter's backroom deal with Democrats on his way out of the GOP makes him look like an incumbent of two parties in a year when it's better to be an incumbent of none.

* Glenn Greenwald explains why that Obama quote about Harriet Miers I dug up yesterday is important: It speaks to "the need for Supreme Court nominees with no real record of beliefs to provide meaningful answers to questions during the confirmation process."

* Still more evidence that the RNC's efforts to tar Elena Kagan with Thurgood Marshall's legacy (did I just write that?) are beyond absurd.

* Also in that link: Is Kagan less of an empathizer than meets the eye?

* And: The Wall Street Journal reads Kagan's Clinton-era memos and finds more evidence of centrist leanings.

* But: In a terrific Rachel Maddow segment, Dahlia Lithwick says those Kagan memos are more political strategy recommendations than signs of her ideological leanings.

* Don't miss E.J. Dionne on Kagan's approach to argument.

* More solid reporting on the absurd "judicial experience" attack.

* While you're thinking about other things, there's still health care: The Obama administration keeps up its push on that front today, unveiling new efforts to crack down on fraud in the health care industry.

* Wow: Blanche Lincoln's campaign acknowledges she may be headed for a runoff with Bill Halter, which means she really could go down.

* Every now and then things like this moment flagged by ABC's The Note remind you what a bizarre alternate universe the U.S. Senate is.

* And did Sen. Kit Bond, a frequent critic of the Obama administration on terror, fall asleep for 10 or 15 minutes during a closed-door briefing on the Times Square bomb scare?

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  May 13, 2010; 8:16 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , Foreign policy and national security , Health reform , Morning Plum , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Supreme Court , Tea Party  
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Next: More signs of confidence from Sestak?

Comments

"terrific Rachel Maddow segment [with Lithwick]"

Yes. I saw that and also thought it one of the brightest pieces yet. But who should be suprised? Dahlia is a Canadian, after all.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 13, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Re EJ's piece...

As I mentioned yesterday, I have some fantasies regarding the Kagan confirmation hearings including hearing her, in response to some particularly dim question, suggest that the honored Senator ought to go Cheney himself.

But perhaps a more prudent type of response would be something like...

"That's a VERY good question, Senator! And because I think the answer proper in all aspects and because it is as succinct a reply as could be made by anyone, let me quote Justice Roberts in his reply to that question during his confirmation hearing"

Posted by: bernielatham | May 13, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Those poll findings are interesting but they leave major questions. If we're going to assume a lot of the electorate is angry and hostile to incumbents, what's the cause of that? I can think of general categories of reasons: the recession and mortgage crisis; the clear evidence of malfeasance on Wall Street and in areas of government (a lot of corrupt officials and a lack of regulating by the regulators); the messaging from the Republican Party and winger talk radio and Fox News; the dissemination of Republican talking points in the MSM; the attention given to the Tea Party without much focus on its Dick Armey ties; a latent racism fed by having the first African-American president; fear of change or concern that the change isn't all people had hoped for.

I get all of this. What I don't get is how all this strengthens the hand of the party that brought us so many of the disasters we are trying to muddle through.

Posted by: AllButCertain | May 13, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Based upon the WSJ/NBC poll the "repeal it" mantra by the Republican party in the 2010 election will NOT be a winning issue for them particularly if some of the positive aspects of the bill go into affect this Summer and Fall.

Posted by: maritza1 | May 13, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that with 10% unemployment that Obama's approval rating stands at 50%. That actually is a good sign for his re-election bid for 2012 for the economy most likely will have improved by then. Also the Obama voters will come out in 2012 eventhough they aren't coming out in 2010.

However, the Democrats in the Congress are doing poorly although their approval rating his higher than the Republicans.

Obama could help the Democrats in Congress if he goes after the Republicans as the ones who made the mess while it is the Democrats who are now having to clean it up. It's the "bring the mop" campaining that he needs to do for Democrats in the Fall.

Posted by: maritza1 | May 13, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"The poll also finds that the Gulf spill is deeply worrying voters -- even as strong majorities still favor expanded off-shore drilling"

Wait for the new poll after the oil starts washing up on the Louisiana Coast, probably within a week. Images of black tar covering wetlands, interviews with New Orleans residents gagging on the the odor of oil, dead birds, fish, and turtles, fisherman furious about the loss of their livelihoods, despairing operators of Gulf hotels and restaurants. Watch the poll numbers change dramatically. For us Americans, nothing is real until we see it on TV.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

"Lots to chew over in the new NBC/WSJ poll: It finds that Republicans have rebuilt their coalition after Obama's victory fractured it in 2008, with independents, blue collar voters, suburban women and rural voters all favoring GOP control of Congress."

It won't last, not even until November.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

A question: Has ANY president had more crises to deal with in his first two years than Obama has?

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

@ABC - It's a damned good question. Part of the answer, I'm certain, lies in the project to re-brand Republicans/conservatives - the pretense that Tea Party-approved candidates are somehow a different species than prior Republican candidates. To some degree that is true but the differences usually aren't admirable - less educated, less thoughtful, and more extremist than who they might replace. The romantic/populist presumption that some Joe the Plumber simpleton will somehow magically produce wise governance is now widely held across the right. It's the old anti-intellectual, anti-expert strain of US populism again moving to the fore.

This has all been, it seems to me, very adeptly manipulated by folks like Armey, Gingrich, Norquist, Limbaugh, FOX etc.

And as was the case when Clinton assumed office, the constant barrage of attacks on this administration presents and reinforces the human tendency to give some benefit of the doubt to the loudest voices and to presume that "where there is smoke, there is fire".

And I think, too, the change from a few media centers (such as what we knew when younger) to a near infinite diffusion of commentary/analyses has diminished our sense of community and our ability to forge out some rough consensus.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 13, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"What I don't get is how all this strengthens the hand of the party that brought us so many of the disasters we are trying to muddle through."

ABC this is a truly amazing question for those of us with the ability to think critically. But critical thinking is not something at which the American public excels. Perhaps I could insert the famous PT Barnum quote here. :-)

What bothers me as much as the total dumbing down of our important discussions is the inability for anyone to ever admit mistakes. People who voted for Bush or call themselves Republican simply can't stomach admitting they may have been wrong.

What's humorous in all this was pointed out so well by John Stewart the other night. As we see in this morning's plum Geezer Kit Bond (can't he just amble off to assisted living) is comparing Obama/Holder's reaction to the Times Square bomber to Bush's mistake of invading Iraq on mistaken false WMD evidence. No MORON...Obama/Holder haven't cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars!!!

But Bond's comparison is just the latest that as Stewart points out reveals that the R's know what eff ups Bush/Cheney were...from the oil spill being Obama's Katrina (so Bush did eff that one up?) to Kagan being Obama's Harriet Miers (so you admit Miers was a horrid choice?) and now Bond's comparison to the Iraq invasion(gee Kit you mean you know acknowledge that was a HUGE blunder by Cheney/Bush?)

The R's know they have screwed the pooch.
When they use these absurd comparisons they simply prove it.

What I'm waiting for next is a major cabinet choice that comes up during O's administration. Will the R's call O's choice...Obama's Palin LMAO

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 13, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

There's another issue involved in the less than popular Dem Congress and people's lack of faith. Some Dems are our own worst enemy and drag the rest of the coalition down with them. Below is just one example of a fight going on in the FinReg bill. It didn't help last week that 20+ Dems voted nay on the Brown/Kaufman amendment. It doesn't look like this amendment will pass so Carper is now working behind the scenes with Dodd.

Maybe this is a poor example because most voters won't even know about this, but it's just one in a long string of less than stellar actions on behalf of the people. Obviously, Dems are getting stuff done, thank God, but the perception is not always that great.

"That's what makes a new amendment from Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., so dangerous. Carper's plan is to ban states from enforcing their own laws against big national banks like Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Bank of America. This is an overt attempt to take cops off the beat and allow banks to get away with outright abuses. While doing lipservice to "strong consumer protection," Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., John Ensign, R-Nev., D-Mark Warner, D-Va., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., have all gone to bat for America's largest banks."

"This is the kind of amendment that can actually sink the bill if adopted. For years, federal bank regulators at the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) asserted broad powers to preempt state laws, and courts generally backed them. But in 2009, the Supreme Court reversed those decisions, giving states the ability to go after big banks through the court system. Carper's amendment wouldn't just institutionalize a destructive status quo -- it would actively deregulate, further empowering banks to take advantage of the public."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, here's the link to the entire piece. It's interesting reading if you're into the FinReg debates going on right now.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zach-carter/tom-carper-is-attacking-c_b_573792.html

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Re: ABC's excellent question: That really get to the nub politically-speaking. The GOP's strategy has been very clever: Knowing that the disasters Bush left behind were too momentous to ignore the Republicans have sought to blame Obama from Day One. One tactic was to accuse Obama of blaming everything on Bush even though that was where the blame entirely belonged, Since the GOP is impervious to fact or reality, it simply didn't matter that its initial arguments were dismissed; they knew that eventually the arguments would take root in the MSM. Mission accomplished.

The Democrats must make it clear that every catastrophe we are enduring is the fault of the GOP and its policies. Of course, since the GOP has been successful somewhat with its Don't-Blame-Bush propaganda the Dems must thread a needle but they can do it easily by shifting from blaming Bush to blaming GOP policies. The Dems can't relent. People are angry about all that has gone wrong and they will blame someone. The GOP was smart to try to get out in front with its Teabagger Movement; the Dems must fight back and put blame where it belongs: on Bush, the GOP, and its anti-government, pro-Big Business policies.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

All, very interesting new ad from Joe Sestak:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/05/more_signs_of_confidence_from.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 13, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

A Miracle?

The Miracle Child Survivor?

Really.

What the hell is the matter with the MSM headline writers. Are they all brain washed by the purveyors of ancient superstitions.

When over a hundred people are killed in a plane crash, and one person survives, but suffers two broken legs, it was no divine intervention, that kept that one person alive.

Stop injecting religious nonsense into news reporting.

Miracle; My Arse!!!!

Posted by: Liam-still | May 13, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca: What I find especially annoying is that the Dems are letting Blanche Lincoln pretend to be bearing down on derivatives while they know all along that the legislation is going to be watered-down in the amending process.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Thought Of The Day:


Why is Ms. Kagan's sexual orientation of such great interest to so many Right Wing Politicians, and Media types, but none of them ever wonder about the sexual orientation of The Pope?

Posted by: Liam-still | May 13, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

First Specter and then Lincoln, I might start to get more than cautiously optimistic about the Senate (earlier I though a loss of 1-3 seats was likely) if we knock off weak incumbents and replace them with excellent campaigners like Halter and Sestak.

As always, see Booman -
http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2010/5/12/214359/056

Posted by: PaulW99 | May 13, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne, I wish the new lions of the Senate were more vocal and in our face fighting for the middle class. S. Brown, Kaufman, Franken, Sanders, Dorgan and a few others are really trying but they seem to be over shadowed by the more corporate friendly Dems. We never really get to the point where we're fighting for a better government representative of the interests of ordinary Americans. Frustrating.

I'll take a Dem 24/7 over a Repub any day, but I wish they made their case better to the public.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 13, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca: I think we are in a transition phase. The Dems have to move to their core principles and rid themselves of those who undermine the party from within.

Incidentally, this is NOT the same as what is happening in the GOP. The GOP is being driven into a Goldwater Corner because the only ones who still identify with the party are the Right Wing loons. The Dems own the Middle and it's very wide. All the Dems need do is remember what they stand for while they steer the country.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

"What I'm waiting for next is a major cabinet choice that comes up during O's administration. Will the R's call O's choice...Obama's Palin"

Sweet.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Jobs are created by entrepreneurs looking to fulfill a need or demand for a product or service in society. Consumers create this demand through spending. Spending is limited by availability of savings and/or credit.
Folks, in a nutshell, we blew our wad over the last decade with unbridled, laizze-faire, predatory lending gone amok. This excess of "capitalism" - unrestrained and reckless - was created by a trillion dollar unregulated derivatives market which soaked middle class working American families while enriching a few Wall Street fat cats.
I'm a retired Colorado homebuilder and believe me Republican/tbaggers will destroy this country if they get their way again. Deficit spending is out of control - thanks largely to reckless Republican policies that ignored a balanced budget for short term political gain, with reckles tax cuts for the wealthy and well connected. Republican/tbaggers are ill-informed, priveledged bigots only interested in increasing their power above the interests of the country as a whole. Republicans hypocritically and irresponsibly lay blame for high unemployment solely on Obama.
We need a government that works for the people and rewards those who actually create the necessities of life (food, shelter, education, health care). I am an independent because I respect critical, unbiased thinking. Republicans are puppets, falling in line, manipulated by excessive right wing mind control media and therefore have no real capacity for solving problems. Don't be fooled by their cute talking points and slogans. Dig deep into the issues, get informed, and stand strong against the demagogues on the right.

Posted by: truthseeker13 | May 13, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Jobs are created by entrepreneurs looking to fulfill a need or demand for a product or service in society. Consumers create this demand through spending. Spending is limited by availability of savings and/or credit.
Folks, in a nutshell, we blew our wad over the last decade with unbridled, laizze-faire, predatory lending gone amok. This excess of "capitalism" - unrestrained and reckless - was created by a trillion dollar unregulated derivatives market which soaked middle class working American families while enriching a few Wall Street fat cats.
I'm a retired Colorado homebuilder and believe me Republican/tbaggers will destroy this country if they get their way again. Deficit spending is out of control - thanks largely to reckless Republican policies that ignored a balanced budget for short term political gain, with reckles tax cuts for the wealthy and well connected. Republican/tbaggers are ill-informed, priveledged bigots only interested in increasing their power above the interests of the country as a whole. Republicans hypocritically and irresponsibly lay blame for high unemployment solely on Obama.
We need a government that works for the people and rewards those who actually create the necessities of life (food, shelter, education, health care). I am an independent because I respect critical, unbiased thinking. Republicans are puppets, falling in line, manipulated by excessive right wing mind control media and therefore have no real capacity for solving problems. Don't be fooled by their cute talking points and slogans. Dig deep into the issues, get informed, and stand strong against the demagogues on the right.

Posted by: truthseeker13 | May 13, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Yes, it's SO difficult to understand why so MANY voters will try to dump the incumbent, regardless of party affiliation...

Of course, one might consider the:

-lack of ethical behavior of elected officials, or the
-immense number of 'laws' on the books which purport to protect the public but contain bought and paid for loopholes that a drilling platform can fall through, or the
-amazing rise in new worth of every elected politician once they assume office, or the
-still legal 'revolving door EVERYWHERE in D.C. that results in regulatory agencies effectiveness being reduced to close to zero, or the
-lack of touch of politicians with the outrage at the above and other practices of Congress and government, or the
-appointment/confirmation of an Attorney General of the United States that doesn't know that waterborading is torture, or the
-attack upon a country that had nothing to do with the attack on the United States, or the
-ineffectual, bumbling and unprepared government response to natural disasters, or the
-dimunition of our civil liberties by the Patriot Act and the failure of two governments to restore those liberties,or the
-1,000,000+ other disgusting failures of Congress and the Administration to actually do what is needed to protect this nation and its people...so,

THIS FALL, IN 2012 AND IN 2014, WORK AND VOTE AGAINST EVERY INCUMBENT YOU CAN.

Thaks.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | May 13, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

' IN 2012 AND IN 2014, WORK AND VOTE AGAINST EVERY INCUMBENT YOU CAN."

Thanks, but no thanks. Knee-jerk reactionary sentiment is rarely correct and this is no exception. Some incumbents deserve re-election; others don't. No simple answers, no mindless slogans.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

No mention of the new polls showing huge public support for the Arizona illegal immigration law?

It would appear that large majorities of the public must be Basically bigots. That is what I've read here -- that only racist Nazis support this law. Everyone here was saying it would destroy the GOP nationally.

Guess not. Even a weeks-long propoganda campaign led by Obama and his media friends didn't work.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 13, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@qb:It would appear that large majorities of the public must be Basically bigots.

Hey, qb you got something right. Is hell freezing over? White folks aren't worried about being asked for their papers, so they think a law that only violates the rights brown people fine.

"And despite protests against Arizona’s stringent new immigration enforcement law, a majority of Americans support it, even though they say it may lead to racial profiling." --NYT

As long as white people aren't subjected to unfair laws, its fine by them.

Posted by: srw3 | May 13, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

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