For those of you who may have missed the official Mullings bio (which is mostly true, by the way), Dr. Robert Hill, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750 once introduced me as "What you get when you get when you cross a political hack with a philosopher."
I'm not sure about the philosopher part, but I proudly introduce myself as a "political hack" on airplanes, on the Washington Metro, and at the Safeway which generally keeps further conversation to an absolute minimum
Bill Press is a big-time Democrat, former Democratic Party Chairman of California and now the host of a pretty well-regarded Liberal radio show. On Friday morning, when I was on, we were talking about Delaware, Nevada, and Florida and I said, "Bill, this election season is why we do politics."
Let's run down a few items.
First, the Values Voter Summit, which was described as "a top convention for Christian conservatives" by Politico.com, held its convention in Washington late last week. At the end of the convention they took a straw poll among the attendees as to whom they thought would be the best candidate for the GOP nomination for President.
Among the 30+ speakers listed on its website were (in alphabetical order):
Wanna know who won the straw poll? Another speaker: Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana).
Pence, who is the chairman of the Republican Conference in the House, got 24 percent of the vote. Mike Huckabee got 22 percent. Mitt Romney got 13 percent; Newt 10, and Sarah Palin only seven percent.
Mike Pence isn't going to be the GOP nominee, but neither is Sarah Palin. It has to be of some concern to Newt and Mitt that they were bunched with her behind Pence and Huckabee.
Lisa Murkowski, who lost her primary election for U.S. Senator from Alaska, has announced she will run as a write-in candidate. I don't know what the write-in rules are in Alaska, but I hope, for her sake, that spelling doesn't count.
If I were Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate who beat Murkowski in the GOP primary, I would find someone named "Mullinsky" (or some such) to also run as a write-in to dilute her vote.
I don't know if Murkowski can beat Miller, but I do know that a state which should have been off the boards for the Republicans in 2010 is now in jeopardy because she couldn't take "no" for an answer.
Moving right along. Toby Harnden is the U.S. bureau chief for the London Telegraph newspaper. He has been, for a long time, one of the most astute observers of the American political scene - insider or outsider.
In his column for the weekend he looked at the Tea Party movement starting with this:
"First they were ignored. Then they were derided as the tools of Big Money. Then they were branded as racists, the unhinged, the unwashed, the paranoid, the subversive and the ignorant - or some combination thereof."
Harnden goes on to write:
"But each insult and attempt to marginalise them seems only to have stiffened their resolve and swelled their numbers."
Over the past week since the Delaware primary, I have said in every interview in which I can work it in that if you go back six or eight years and substitute the word "Democrat" for "Republican" and the phrase "MoveOn.org" for "Tea Party" you get a mirror image of what we're seeing today.
Why? Because back then the Republicans had control of both Chambers of Congress and the White House. Democrats were down and out.
You don't rebuild a political party from the center toward the edges. You rebuild a political party from your base and stretch the other margin as you gain success.
The problem with MoveOn.org is that they won. They lost their piñatas - George Bush and the GOP leadership in the Congress - and now find themselves doing battle with the very Democrats they worked so hard to elect.
The Tea Party movement will be successful in November. They are energizing the base of the Republican Party, and will give the base good reason to come out and vote.
Democrats are tired of defending the status quo - Liberals are tired of explaining why Cap-and-Trade, and Single Payer didn't pass; Moderates are tired of explaining why the Liberals control the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate.
That's why this is such a great time for Political Hacks.
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