Monday, September 18, 2006

Coming clean

Here's fellow-blogsmith Andrew Sullivan, of the Sunday Times News Review, on his way out of the closet:
In my first year in America, as a budding young conservative ...
Despite the year-on-year, repetitive recitals of every canard against the Clintons, every bit of Bush-clearing in the Washington shrubbery, Andy, who could ever have guessed! But the ST still do not allow you to escape from below the fold.

Sullivan' s piece (which substantially retreads the premises of Tim Read's Times article from last Friday) is on 'the reawakening of the traditional conservative perspective'. This is in contrast to
an ideology based in born-again religious faith, immune to empirical* reality and dedicated to the relentless expansion of presidential clout. It sanctions wiretapping without court warrants, indefinite detention without trial and the use of torture.
Sullivan rightly hails the stand made by Senators McCain (Rep, AZ), Warner (Rep, VA), Graham (Rep, SC) and Collins (Rep, ME), and supported by Colin Powell, not to permit the White House to push illegal military tribunals, and all the accoutrements that would go with them, through on the Senate's nod.

Lindsey Graham, the old-gargoyle Strom Thurmond's political heir, is consistently conservative in his Senate votes, with the singular exception of issues over Guantanamo. He is also something of a bag-carrier for would-be 'President' McCain. Now McCain, who inherited Barry Goldwater's seat in the Senate, represents a bit of an enigma. He has been Limbaughed by the right as a "liberal", yet was hard-nosed about US foreign policy and Iraq long before the Bushies got their hands on the levers of power. He has taken moderate, even radical postures on some green issues, on the Federal Marriage Amendment, reforming campaign finance, collaborated with Teddy Kennedy on legalising the satus of illegal immigrants, and gone for the pork. Equally he is pro-life, supports the teaching of "intelligent design" and a ban on gay marriage. He voted for impeaching Clinton; and was paid-up in the "Contract with America". Malcolm fully appreciates The Nation's befuddlement over McCain last year.

Warner, the former Mr Elizabeth Taylor, five terms a Senator, and -- surely -- now calm of mind, all passion spent, is equally unpredictable: pro-life but in favour of stem cell research, he has voted for gun-control and for outlawing anti-gay hate-crime (neither popular stands among the Republican ranks). He came close to pulling the temple down around him by opposing Ollie North's run for the Senate. His position as unbiddable Chairman of the Senate Armed Forces' Committee makes him Bush's likely nemesis, and a shoo-in for Virginia as long as he maintains the inflow of defence money.

Susan Collins, now in her second term, crosses the radar mainly when she too breaks from the Republican line to vote for liberal issues. Although a Roman Catholic, she is a Republican for Choice, and backs stem-cell research. She is talked-of as a natural for a future Cabinet seat (under a President of either party) running the gargantuan Homeland Security franchise ($40B and loose change!).

After celebrating these unlikely heroes of decency and honour, Malcolm's mind turned to wider consideration. How will this play in Peoria for November's mid-terms? (Actually, it does not matter as far as this blog is concerned: there's no Senate election in Illinois this time round.) Non-nerds might need guidance here. The present Senate is 55 Rep to 44+1 Democrat (the +1 is Jim Jeffords, the Independent ex-Republican retiring in Vermont). This year there are 18 Democrat and 15 Republican Senate seats for election. Provided the Democrats keep hold on Minnesota and New Jersey (neither of which is anywhere near in the bag), the Dems need five+ seats to take the Senate.

As he has mentioned before, Malcolm watches Chris Cillizza's The Fix. At the moment Cillizza is rating Pennsylvania, Montana and Ohio as potential Democrat gains. Parallel to this, Malcolm keeps an eye on the Cook Political Report (subscription, but dig out the .pdfs available for free). Charlie Cook reckons that the Republican seats in at least six States are up for grabs: Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee. Chris Byers is currently reckoning on Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Montana and Ohio being reasonable prospects for a Democrat pick-up. So Byers has the next Senate still 51-49 Republican-control, while Cook would seem to go 52-48. Number freaks can get up-to-date, without subscription, on summaries at Zogby confirms much of this, but seems to be currently seeing the Republican support hardening (for which, see also Donald Lambro in the Washington Times). The Rasmussen Report is now favouring the Dems, reckoning Montana, Rhode Island and Ohio as 'leaning Democrat'. This confirms the other authorities, and would make the next Senate 49 Republican to 48 Democrat.

To stick with Rasmussen, the three states where Rasmussen has yet to call are Tennessee, New Jersey and Missouri. In Tennessee, recent polling has continued the trend towards the Democrat candidate, Representative Harold Ford, who now trails by just one percentage point (or, alternatively, is 3% up in a SurveyUSA poll). Tom Kean (Rep) has gained a recent 44-39 edge on Democrat Menendes, in a natural Democrat State and where the New Jersey mud is being slung quite aggressively. In Missouri, back in July, Claire McCaskill was 45-42 ahead of sitting Republican Senator Jim Talent: McCaskill seemed to have the surge, too.

Malcolm enjoyed the brief, bright and very-unbrotherly dissection of the campaign ads for Tennessee (and elesewhere) on

And as for Malcolm's previous target, the egregious Katherine Harris of Florida: she's pulling 60%! Yeah, but that's 60% of Republican votes: the other 30% are presently supporting her Democrat opposition.
* Footnote: Malcolm can never pass over the term empirical without recalling Smiling Gerry Healey addressing, nay harranguing his SLL clones on the vexed issue of Cuba: "Comrades, this is a conflict between dialectics on the one hand, and empiricism on the other. Let's not cloud the issue with facts!"

And an accusatory apology: reviewing a couple of recent postings, Malcolm wishes his little cyber-elf to brush up on HTML, or prepare himself for a good kicking. Sphere: Related Content

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