The headline on CBS' SCOTUS favorability poll grabs the eyes, because it reports that more liberals view conservative Chief Justice John Roberts favorably than do his fellows on the right. But looking at the numbers, it's apparent that the real story here is that most Americans are "Undecided/Don't Know" when asked about the Chief -- 73% (yes, nearly three quarters!) of Americans have no opinion on him, or don't know who he is. Unfortunate, but not terribly shocking, I suppose.
The Chief is most popular among moderates, and clearly, his stock has fallen in the conservative crowd thanks to his ruling on the Affordable Care Act. But again, most notable is that three quarters of the country doesn't have an opinion:
Now, I won't delve into my usual this-is-why-we-need-better-civics-education-in-America spiel, but...this is why we need better civics education in America. It's a little shocking that three quarters of Americans polled don't know enough to have an opinion on the Chief Justice, isn't it? Heck, we see it all the time in Jay Walking, when Leno has someone ask unsupecting people on the street if they can name even one SCOTUS Justice -- and more often than not, they can't. So when the Court makes a momentus decision, as it did with the ACA, most Americans are encountering the Justices' names for the first time. That is sad. [end rant]
As for the results showing liberal's love affair with Roberts, don't expect that to last. This fall, the issue of affirmative action will come before the bench once again, and as Roberts has already made his position clear on that issue in the past, it's a safe bet he'll side with the right wing of the Court to strike down the policy.
Meanwhile, CBS also asked about how the healthcare ruling will affect people's votes, and the results reveal that sure enough, SCOTUS' opinion did a better job of galvanizing support for Romney than for Obama:
The Court's ruling did little to affect public perception of the healthcare law, however: indeed, the majority of the country still disapproves of the law, and wants either all or some of it repealed:
Still, the court's ruling does not appear to have changed overall opinions of the health care law very much: more still disapprove than approve of the law. Overall, 50 percent of voters said they disapprove of the law, 36 percent approve.
As to what Congress should do about the health care law, a third of Americans say it should be kept as is or expanded, 27 percent think only the individual mandate should be repealed, while 34 percent would like Congress to repeal the entire law.
So the upshot here: Americans don't like the law, and the Supreme Court's decision made people more willing to vote for Romney over Obama, but at the end of the day, no one really knows who John Roberts is. Whomp.
Solyndra, Fisker... If you thought nightmare stimulus fallout couldn't get worse, you thought wrong. An audit by the Department of Energy concluded that the agency has no idea what happened to $500,000 worth of stimulus cash granted to an unnamed company. The recipient failed to keep adequate records, and so the money has basically disappeared. Half a million dollars, and nothing to show for it.
The program was given nearly $2 billion in stimulus funds "to support the construction of U.S. based battery and electric drive component manufacturing plants." As of June, DOE had "expended" about $1.2 billion of that money and had made grants to "30 for-profit manufacturers," according to the July 10 audit report.
One of the three “conclusions and observations” the OIG made in the report is that more should be done to “ensure recipients adequately safeguard equipment purchased with federal funds,” the audit states.
“We were unable to locate equipment purchased by one recipient totaling about $500,000,” the audit states.
In an expanded section of the audit entitled “Safeguarding Assets,” it states: “While recipients were required to have property accountability systems in place, one of the three recipients we reviewed had not maintained records detailing information such as the location of equipment purchased with Recovery Act funds.
“In the absence of detailed inventory records, we attempted to locate property using information contained in invoices," the audit states. “However, despite the assistance of recipient officials familiar with the premises and knowledgeable about the purchases made, we were unable to locate 20 of the 37 equipment items sampled.
You know, maybe we wouldn't have to argue about whether or not America needs something like the "Buffett Rule" to raise more money for the government if it weren't throwing cash at fruitless green energy projects like this. The DOE may as well have flushed this money down the toilet. At least then, we'd know where it was.
President Obama loves to tout the fact that Osama bin Laden's death happened on his watch, in large measure because it's about the only effective action his administration has taken for our country. But former members of SEAL Team Six, the branch of the military responsible for actually carrying out that "gutsy" order, aren't so pleased with the way the president has politicized it. Now, Ryan Zinke, one of those former SEALs and a Montana state Senator, has formed a PAC aimed at defeating Obama, called Special Operations for America.
“Navy SEAL’s, Special Operations Personnel and Veteran’s across America have been outraged since Barack Obama conveniently took credit for killing Osama Bin Laden for political gain,” a statement announcing the loss of SOFA said. “The active duty military has no voice as they are forbidden to publicly engage in the political campaign process and it is career suicide for senior military leaders to speak out against the President.”
“The President has failed and he is jeopardizing the safety of our troops, their families and our National security for political gain. Obama has exposed the identity of special operations units, leaked classified information, and limited the rules of engagement of forces on the ground,” said Mr. Zinke. “For those who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, it is a call of duty to take back America from a Commander-in-Chief that is incapable of understanding the sacrifices that have been made for the values that have made America great.”
Looks like our current commander in chief better be careful about bragging, or he'll have a bunch of former SEALs to answer to -- and really, who do you think is going to win that battle of words: the politician, or the men who save the world?
The political class awaits Mitt Romney's choice for number two with bated breath, and this weekend gave Veepwatchers a chance to examine one of the names atop the list. On Saturday, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio gave the weekly Republican address, which you could think of as a sort of "VP screen test," offering a glimpse of his style as an attack dog. Watch as he hits President Obama for his failed economic policies and touts the Republican solutions, and see if you can imagine him on the stump as Mitt Romney's main surrogate:
Well, he may not be the spiciest of all candidates, but if Mitt Romney wants a ticket that screams "Competence," then Portman is a great choice. Nevertheless, the waiting continues...
It’s laughable to consider, but the party that brought us Vice President Joe Biden is so concerned with Mitt Romney’s veep pick that they’re launching an opposition research site to vet Romney’s potential number twos. After months of researching, leftist Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century launched VeepMistakes.com today, a site that has hundreds of pages on Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, and Marco Rubio. ABC News reports:
American Bridge decided to release the information before Romney picks his running mate in order to give fellow Democrats, as well as the press, a head-start on examining the major vulnerabilities of each of the contenders.
“In 2008 nobody was prepared for the disaster that was vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. And while even Mitt Romney couldn’t top that pick, the front runners he’s considering are all deeply flawed in their own right,” said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge. “This year we are going to make sure that the public has as much information as possible, as early as possible, on the extreme and out of touch positions of the candidates Mitt Romney would put a heartbeat away from the presidency.”
In addition to the written material, the super PAC, which was formed primarily as a tracking and research organization, is making public large amounts of video footage of the three vice presidential hopefuls. American Bridge trackers have been following Pawlenty since May 2011, Rubio since this February and Portman since May.
That’s right: the party that couldn’t take the time to vet its own candidate – and whose own vice president has committed every gaffe under the sun, from making racially insensitive remarks to expressing his admiration for China’s one child policy – is happy to help the GOP vet its own. The site attempts to portray Portman as a lobbyist who would pursue Bush-style fiscal policies, highlights Pawlenty’s many primary-era attacks on Mitt (think videos featuring Obamneycare remarks), and Rubio as financially insolvent and even corrupt.
But does the veritable library of alleged sins have any staying power? Even American Bridge says that remains to be seen:
American Bridge officials emphasized that it may be impossible to know now which nuggets of their research will come back to haunt one of the potential veeps down the road.
“Research is innocuous until it’s not,” Mollineau told ABC News. “A vote taken several years ago, a speech given to a special interest group, a law signed or vetoed can be harmless until put in the context of a present day campaign.”
Dun dun dunnnn…
Reason number one Romney shouldn’t – and honestly, won’t – pick Condoleeza Rice? Reactions like this. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of pro-life advocacy group Susan B. Anthony List, expressed strong disappointment in the rumor that Romney has Condi under consideration, issuing this statement via email:
Former Secretary Rice's position on the sanctity of human life makes her an unqualified candidate for Governor Romney to choose as a running mate. Throughout the campaign, including at the Palmetto Freedom Forum last September, he has pledged to us in no uncertain terms that he would choose a pro-life running mate. We have taken Governor Romney at his word and therefore believe Secretary Rice will be ruled out of consideration. Secretary Rice's position violates criteria that Governor Romney himself has laid out.
Romney’s already come under the microscope from conservatives who note his ambiguous position on the issue of abortion, which has changed over the years. To combat fear on the right that he’s too moderate, he pledged to choose a staunchly pro-life vice president, and Condi isn’t.
Of course, not all conservatives thought this would be a bad choice – take it from someone who knows: Sarah Palin. She joined Greta van Susteren last night to chat about the potential Condi pick, and didn’t seem too phased by the abortion roadblock:
“I think that Condoleezza Rice would be a wonderful vice-president,” Palin said warmly to Greta Van Susteren last night noting that Rice “certainly has much more experience than our sitting president does today.”
When asked about Rice’s “moderately pro-choice” views, Palin reminded Van Susteren that the vice-president does not legislate abortion.
“I would certainly prefer a Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate who had that respect for all innocent precious purposeful human life.” Palin added, citing her own pro-life views. “We need to remember, though, that it’s not the Vice-President that would legislate abortion and that would be Congress’s role and we’ll keep that in mind.”
So will it be her? Likely not, but it’s certainly interesting to see the divide in opinion among prominent conservatives.
Convention season is nigh, but the Democrats’ gather won’t quite be the Greek-columned, overflowing-football-stadium fete they had in Denver last time around. No, Charlotte is looking to be much more subdued: a shorter party with fewer guests, in large measure due to a union hissy fit.
Indeed, the Dems have cut their party down from four days to three, and now, their BFF from 2008 has decided not to come. Rather than join in the fun with Obama and company, unions have instead thrown money at their own party in Philadelphia, on August 11. Contributions and even physical presence in North Carolina will be minimal – and although they insist it has nothing to do with the union-unfriendly atmosphere in Charlotte, or dissatisfaction with Obama, they are, regardless, leaving the Democrats hurting.
Traditionally a generous supporter of Democratic conventions, IBEW contributed $1 million to fund the festivities in Denver in 2008. This year, it will instead be writing its check for a “Workers Stand for America” rally in Philadelphia on Aug. 11.
The Laborers' International Union of North America, by contrast, kicked in $1.5 million—making it the second-largest contributor to the Denver convention. This year, the organization is significantly pulling back.
“We saw Denver as a significant opportunity at a very historic time to raise the visibility of the work of LIUNA and all men and women who build this country,” LIUNA spokesman Richard Greer wrote in an e-mail. “This cycle, we’re focusing our resources on informing, organizing, and mobilizing our members and their families to reelect President Obama and progressive candidates at the state and federal level.”
The list goes on: The Communications Workers of America will only be offsetting the costs of members attending the convention, not contributing directly as it did by giving $52,000 in 2008. Unite Here told The Wall Street Journal in May that it will be keeping its $100,000 this time around. A dozen other labor organizations are boycotting the convention altogether, although many others are still planning to send delegates.
The AFL-CIO won’t be sponsoring any events, either. All told, the Democrats won’t be seeing nearly as much of the $8 million the unions kicked in for the convention last time, and NJ also reports that the DNC has raised just under $10 million of its total $36 million goal.
The unions were careful to note that they’re of course still dedicated to reelecting President Obama; however, they feel that both parties have neglected the middle class. The rally in Philadelphia will showcase “a second bill of rights” for the working class, and they’ll solicit signatures from politicians on the right and left.
However, this does reveal an interesting gap: Obama loves to talk about all the work he’s doing for the middle class, but the unions don’t see it, and as a result, won’t donate at the national level. Despite their professed commitment to getting Obama reelected, they’re withholding valuable funds and manpower, as well as the symbolic projection of a united front. Combine this with the reports yesterday that the NAACP felt somewhat snubbed by Obama’s absence, and you have a Democratic party that is seriously jeopardizing the participation of its go-to get-out-the-vote constituencies.
Drudge has an exclusive up right now, citing some Romney insiders with knowledge of his Veep search, and they claim that former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is the new frontrunner. The scoop:
Late Thursday evening, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign launched a new fundraising drive, 'Meet The VP' -- just as Romney himself has narrowed the field of candidates to a handful, sources reveal.
And a surprise name is now near the top of the list: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice!
The timing of the announcement is now set for 'coming weeks'.
It was Condi who received two standing ovations at Romney's Utah retreat a few weeks ago, and everyone left with her name on their lips.
Rice made an extended argument for American leadership in the world.
In recent days, she emailed supporters.
"2012 is perhaps a turning point for the United States," she warned.
"The upcoming elections loom as one of the most important in my lifetime. I'm very often asked to speak about our current foreign policy and the challenges that lie before us. However, we, as a country, are not going to be able to address any of those international challenges unless we first get our domestic house in order."
This jives with what Ann Romney said about Mitt considering a woman, and it would seriously bolster his ticket in terms of gender, race, and experience (Condi was also Bush's senior National Security Advisor for his first term, and if Iran becomes more of an issue, she'd be good to have on hand). Romney has also said that his top consideration is that his second in command must be prepared to be president right away, and there's no doubt of Condi's competence.
On the other hand, Romney was adamant about choosing a pro-life Veep, and Condi's creds on that issue don't fall in line, as she's known to support abortion rights. For her to be the pick, either she's had a fast change of heart, or Romney's commitment to the issue isn't as strong as he claimed. Given that he's already faced heavy criticism for his flip-flopping on the matter, it's unlikely he'd choose someone who would open him to more skepticism on the right.
We'll know for sure in a few weeks, but this little surprise annoucement succeeded in changing the conversation from the Bain non-troversey Guy wrote about earlier, so there's that. And hey, even if it's not true, let's all revel in the imagined debate between Condi and Sheriff Joe...
Many, on both the right and the left, would argue that President Obama has made mistakes. Conservatives would willingly name any one of his policy initiatives, while some liberals think he kowtows to the Republicans too often. But what does the man himself think his biggest mistake has been?
CBS News' Charlie Rose has an interview with the president and First Lady airing tomorrow, but an exercpt released today reveals his stunning arrogance: his biggest mistake, he says, has been a lack of storytime. Oh yes.
"When I think about what we've done well and what we haven't done well," the president said, "the mistake of my first term - couple of years - was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that's important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."
Mr. Obama acknowledged the dissonance between others' perception of his strength as an expert orator, and his own.
"It's funny - when I ran, everybody said, well he can give a good speech but can he actually manage the job?" he said. "And in my first two years, I think the notion was, 'Well, he's been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where's the story that tells us where he's going?' And I think that was a legitimate criticism."
Pressed by Rose about what he felt he needed to explain better to the American people, the president corrected that he wanted to do more "explaining, but also inspiring."
"Because hope is still there," Mrs. Obama added.
Gosh you guys, wouldn't we all be better off if Obama told us more about the "story" of the presidency? Isn't that why the unemployment rate is stuck at 8.2%, or why so many have lost their homes and their jobs, because the president hasn't talked about himself enough? Astoundingly, appallingly arrogant.
I suppose this also means he doesn't consider the Fast and Furious scandal -- nor the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans and two Americans -- a mistake. He doesn't consider the growth of the deficit, and his lack of a real plan to address it, a mistake. He certainly doesn't consider the irreparable damage he's done to American political discourse -- attempting to shame the Supreme Court into ruling his way, or falsely attributing Gabby Giffords' tragic shooting to Republican rhetoric -- a mistake. Heck, for him, those are all just part of the job, when you're a serial campaigner and an incapable leader.
As if Americans needed another reason to throw him out of office this November, he's just given it to us. Unless, of course, you want to have perpetual "inspiration" and no job.
The Romney campaign issued a statement shortly after this self-satisfied clip was released:
President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story. Being president is not about telling stories. Being president is about leading, and President Obama has failed to lead. No wonder Americans are losing faith in his presidency.
Hey, Mitt Romney might not be the most exciting personality around, but aren't we sick of having President Personal Life regale us with his autobiography every time he's in front of a mic? I'd take a robot with a plan over an orator with an ego any day.
The audience at the NAACP's annual conference were treated this morning to a rousing, angry address from Vice President Joe Biden, who sang President Obama's praises and implied the fight for civil rights would be revived were Mitt Romney elected president. Here's a little taste of Sheriff Joe's diatribe:
But no matter the warm reception he received, the audience felt decidedly snubbed by Obama's lack of a presence, Buzzfeed reports. Despite their unwillingness to criticize the president outright, there were some grumblings about neglect:
"The people here overwhelmingly supported President Obama, would have loved to have President Obama here. So there's definitely some disappointment about that," said Dedrick Muhammad, director of the NAACP's Economic Department.
[O]ne former Obama administration official noted to BuzzFeed that the move looked like a snub.
"Even considering the politics here, it seems odd that the first African-American President is sending his vice president to address the NAACP national convention in an election year," the official said.
Most of the convention's audience, comprised of black civic leaders, business owners, and community activists, were reluctant to criticize Obama to the press, even as they complained about his neglect off the record — a reflection of a sense of protectiveness among many African-Americans, and an understanding that Obama must at times disappoint.
The best the president could muster was a two-minute video address, in which he reminded the NAACP, "I stand on your shoulders." Furthermore, per the official White House schedule, Obama is in DC and has nothing on the books today, just an interview with PBS' Charlie Rose -- although his excuse to the NAACP was a "scheduling conflict." Thus, it's unclear why he chose not to attend the conference, and seems like he's taking advantage of one of his most stalwart blocs of supporters.
Many have taken notice of Obama's very transparent excuse. Indeed, Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air has a blistering clip of Wolf Blitzer admonishing the president for skipping out on the NAACP:
BLITZER: Here is something I’d like to say to President Obama: You should have attended the NAACP convention in Houston today. Mitt Romney did. It was the right thing to do. The Republican knows the nation’s oldest civil-rights group isn’t exactly friendly turf but went anyway. On the whole, got a polite reception, but was booed when he said this:
ROMNEY [from videotape]: “I’m going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find, that includes Obamacare.”
BLITZER: Despite the boos, it was a smart political move for Mitt Romney to address the NAACP. He knows he is not going to win over a lot of black voters, but attending these kinds of events is important in reassuring a lot of the suburban white voters that he is a moderate, decent politician, someone that wants to work with all Americans.
I’m surprised the president was a no-show. He is sending Vice President Joe Biden, will send a video. I checked the president’s schedule for today. He is here in Washington, D.C., over at the White House. He’s got meetings. I assume those meetings are very important. but he could have found time to pay his respects to the NAACP. The president should not take the African-American vote for granted.
Let’s not be under any illusions. He received 95% of the black vote four years ago. He’ll do almost as well this time around for sure. But his problem is voter turnout. The president needs excitement, he needs enthusiasm in the African-American community, especially in the battleground states he carried in 2008. Fewer African-Americans may go to the polls this time. They might not vote for Romney, but might not show up, especially now that black unemployment has risen to 14.4%. It’s a lot higher than the 8.2% for all Americans. So in my opinion, the president missed an opportunity today.
My bottom line is this: Romney did the right thing on this day, the president did not. Now some folks will disagree with me, Kate. That’s just me offering my sense of what’s going on.
Indeed, Obama risks alienating the African-American community; naturally, if they don't feel like their concerns are high on his list of priorities, they'll be less inclined to head to the polls in November. Given the 14.4% June unemployment rate within the community, Obama would do well to reassure the NAACP that he's mindful of their struggles, and that he's focused on delivering a solution. This would have been the perfect opportunity for him to rally a dependable constituency for him, and, as Ed pointed out, it won't be long before Obama's pining for as friendly an audience as he'd have received in Houston today. This was a very strange move on the Obama campaign's part, and it remains to be seen what political payoff, if any, he'll have won by staying home.
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