In trying to figure out what to write about today, I keep coming back to that great Inigo Montoya line from The Princess Bride…
It seems there is too much to explain today, so we’ll have to sum up instead.
1. It’s not over yet, but it looks like a massive shock in Alaska went down last night. Joe Miller, a Tea Party insurgent candidate backed by Sarah Palin, is a couple thousand votes ahead of incumbent Lisa Murkowski in vote counts from yesterday’s primary, with absentee and overseas ballots still to be counted. Murkowski might manage to win anyway; there isn’t much reason to think she’s going to get the 60 percent of the absentees she’ll need to overcome the deficit, but then again when some of those absentee votes were cast nobody knew who the heck Joe Miller was. That has to be considered unlikely.
Not as unlikely as the idea of Miller winning, though. He was running against one of the most recognizable names in Alaska, and he was doing so with a fundraising disadvantage so profound as to be laughable. As of the most recent filing, Murkowski had raised $3.5 million and spent $1.9 million. Miller had raised $283,000 and spent $199,000.
David had a sling and a smooth stone when he slew Goliath. Miller didn’t even have that. He had a wet noodle, and it looks like he won anyway.
Don’t count ANYBODY out in this cycle if they’re an impressive enough candidate.
And this is particularly good advice for the Einsteins at Slate.com. Here’s what they had to say about the Alaska race on Monday:
Mama Grizzly Man
Why the candidate of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express is losing in Alaska.
By Alexandra Gutierrez
Posted Monday, Aug. 23, 2010, at 5:54 PM ET
UNALASKA, Alaska—On Tuesday, in her home state, Sarah Palin’s favorite will probably get trounced. Joe Miller is widely expected to lose by a large margin to incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary—an embarrassing defeat for the former governor, who has endorsed Miller, but also to Miller’s other major backer, the Tea Party Express.
Not surprisingly, Steve Wackowski, a campaign spokesman for Murkowski, agrees that backing from Palin and the Tea Party Express is more of a liability for Miller than anything else. “It turns Alaskans off when outside groups from the Lower 48 like this California Tea Party Express come out and try to tell Alaskans how to vote and what they should be doing,” says Wackowski. “I’m from here; I grew up here. And whether it’s extreme environmentalists telling us that we can’t drill in ANWR or that we can’t do predator control to manage our game stocks, I think that really rubs Alaskans the wrong way. On Tuesday, you’re going to see evidence of that.”
Despite the long odds, Miller’s team is still feeling optimistic. On Friday Sarah Palin wrote yet another Facebook post extolling his commonsense conservative values, and campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto says internal polls show that the campaign is within one point of Murkowski. The race is “pretty much neck and neck,” he says. On Tuesday, we’ll find out exactly how close those necks are.
I bet Miz Gutierrez would like a do-over. But it’s doubtful she’d get it right the second time, because what’s wrong with her piece isn’t her groupthink, it’s her narrative. Slate has imbibed the legacy media Kool-Aid which says the Tea Party is just a bunch of rubes – racist, homophobic, Islamophobic fringe who are easily distracted by shiny objects and who will go back to their caves any time now. And also that Sarah Palin’s 15 minutes are over and she’ll go back to her cave any time now, too. If that narrative were true, Gutierrez could have written that story six weeks ago, Monday, last night or next Tuesday and it wouldn’t be any less valid.
But the legacy/ruling class media hasn’t understood either the Tea Party or the American people as a whole from the get-go since Obama was elected. They don’t grasp the fact that this is a conservative country at its core and always has been, that massive social and economic changes undertaken suddenly are political poison here, particularly when those changes lurch the country to the left, and that the mainstream folks who make this place work have always been deeply distrustful of their self-appointed betters.
And under THAT narrative, a bad-ass like Joe Miller can win in 2010 no matter how underfunded he is. Particularly when Sarah Palin throws in with him.
2. Just when you thought this Ground Zero Mosque thing had you as pissed off as you could be, get this – Feisal Abdul Rauf went around bragging that his book was the basis for President Obama’s much-despised Cairo speech last year.
The Shoebat Foundation obtained this shocking audio recording of Rauf’s own voice boasting in Arabic that Obama’s historic Cairo speech was provided by the Imam and the Cordova Initiative in what the Imam called “The Blue Print” which he said was the solution to the Islamic-American divide. Rauf claimed Chapter 6 of the Imam’s work engineered by the Cordova Initiative was the construct for the entire speech:
“This is an example of the impact of our work in a positive way to be used by the President.”
“The blue print,” Rauf elaborated, included everything from U.S. policy to Jewish and Christian relations with Muslims.
For an Imam in New York to be involved in the orchestrating U.S. foreign policy is quite the claim. In the recording dated February 5th, 2010 Rauf boasted that:
“We have to look at it [as] how to engineer solutions. At the Cordova Initiative we think of ourselves as an engineering shop. Yes. We have an analytical approach. Our work has been that. IN THE BOOK CHAPTER 6, I WROTE ABOUT THIS BLUE PRINT as to WHAT HAS TO BE DONE BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, what has to be done by the Jewish community, what has to be done by the Christian community, what has to be done by the Muslim community, what has to be done by educators, what has to be done by the media. For example, IN MY BOOK IN THE ARABIC VERSION page 293, what did I write? WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT THE UNITED STATES NEEDS TO DO. IF YOU EXAMINE THIS CHAPTER YOU WILL FIND THAT THE OBAMA SPEECH IN CAIRO WAS ALL TAKEN FROM THIS SECTION [Section 6]. When you do a job that is very complicated. You ask yourself, what have you accomplished. All these problems can be solved but requires the will to solve it. It requires political will, resources and the right focus. The signs of how to go to the moon was known 200 years ago, but the political will and financial will for it happened during 1960-1961. When John Kennedy said that we will send an American to the moon before the end of the 60’s, he established the financial resources and the political will.”
This is not going to go over well, we don’t think.
3. Back to last night, when Kendrick Meek blew out Jeff Greene in the Democrat primary for the Senate in Florida it more or less took Charlie Crist out of the race. Crist needs to consider whether it’s worth his while to continue – and the answer is “it isn’t.”
Florida isn’t your classic Southern state. There are lots of transplants, snowbirds, carpetbaggers and vagabonds over there – much more so than in a place like Louisiana, Mississippi or South Carolina, let’s say. That said, Florida still adheres to the basic Southern political calculus – which goes like this. There are two main, definable voting groups in statewide Southern elections – blacks and conservatives. And nobody wins statewide elections without capturing and invigorating one of those two.
In Florida, blacks are 16 percent of the population, which is a rather low number for a Southern state. Florida also has a larger percentage of white lefties than you’ll find elsewhere in the South. But white lefties will occasionally cross over and vote Republican; they’re not absolutely reliable, and particularly not in Florida.
So when Meek gets into the race, he automatically takes 16 percent of the electorate away from Crist. That means 43 percent is the magic number for a Marco Rubio victory. It’s probably safe to say, given that since 2000 the worst the GOP has done in major statewide races is about 38 percent (which was what Katherine Harris pulled when she ran against Bill Nelson in 2006) that Rubio has at least that much support available to him regardless of what kind of campaign he runs from here on in.
That leaves 46 percent of the vote available to Crist. Some part of that 46 percent is Hispanics who aren’t particularly conservative, for whom one imagines Rubio will have an advantage (Florida is 21 percent Hispanic); the rest ranges from centrist whites to white lefties.
Crist has chosen to run a campaign aimed at white lefties, but those campaigns almost always depend on the black vote to have a chance to win. He won’t have the black vote. So maybe he tacks back to the center hoping to pull votes from Rubio, but in doing so he’s going to have trouble losing the white lefties to Meek and he’s also going to lose credibility with center-right types who liked him as governor until he became Mr. Stimulus.
It’s too tight a needle for anyone to thread. It’s why independent candidates never win. And it’s why Crist is wasting his time. He’d be a lot better off getting out of the race before he fades into oblivion.
4. Also in Florida, Rick Scott beat Bill McCollum in the GOP primary for governor. Scott has lots of money, and he seems a pretty appealing candidate. But Scott’s Columbia HCA has a bad history with Medicare fraud issues and Democrat Alex Sink is going to do everything she can to wrap that around his neck this fall. It will make for an interesting race.
McCollum was the safe candidate, but he’s run for pretty much everything there is to run for in Florida and lost most of the time. He might have had a better chance to beat Sink, but nobody got excited about the guy and that’s why he lost. That, plus the fact that he’s considered an establishment candidate and nobody is interested in establishment candidates this year.
Oh, but wait – John McCain won big in the Arizona GOP senate primary. So obviously the establishment isn’t dead, right?
Well, let’s remember that McCain wasn’t running against Joe Miller, or Rubio, or Pat Toomey or Jim DeMint. McCain was running against J.D. Hayworth. And Hayworth, while he’s considered more conservative than McCain, hardly qualifies as anti-establishment or invigorating. This is a guy who was mixed up in the Abramoff scandals, who made gaffe after gaffe and who was caught endorsing one of those “get free government money” deals. That he got trounced is anything but a repudiation of the Tea Party. What’s probably more interesting is what McCain had to do to win, which was to cast himself as Mr. Conservative in the race.
5. Finally, and related to the last point above (and particularly with respect to immigration) – this will set you off. The Houston Chronicle reports that the back-door amnesty business the Obama administration has been kicking around behind closed doors is actually being implemented:
The Department of Homeland Security is systematically reviewing thousands of pending immigration cases and moving to dismiss those filed against suspected illegal immigrants who have no serious criminal records, according to several sources familiar with the efforts.
Culling the immigration court system dockets of noncriminals started in earnest in Houston about a month ago and has stunned local immigration attorneys, who have reported coming to court anticipating clients’ deportations only to learn that the government was dismissing their cases.
Richard Rocha, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman, said Tuesday that the review is part of the agency’s broader, nationwide strategy to prioritize the deportations of illegal immigrants who pose a threat to national security and public safety. Rocha declined to provide further details.
This, obviously, is not going to go over well, either.