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Sep 08 2010

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

What happened to the Republican lead over the Democrats that the MSM isn’t mentioning? It evaporated but as Steve Benen points out in the Washington Monthly it is “crickets” from everyone who was touting the 10 point lead that Republicans had last week.

SO MUCH FOR THE GREAT GALLUP FREAK-OUT…. Last week, Gallup’s generic-ballot tracking poll showed Republicans leading Democrats by 10, 51% to 41%. It was billed as the GOP’s biggest Gallup lead in the history of humanity, and the results generated massive media attention, including a stand-alone Washington Post piece on page A2. It was iron-clad evidence, we were told, of impending Democratic doom.

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Wouldn’t you know it, a week later, that massive, unprecedented, world-changing lead Republicans enjoyed is gone. The new Gallup numbers  show the GOP losing five points and Dems gaining five points, leaving the parties tied at 46%. Is there any coherent rationale to explain a 10-point swing in Dems’ favor over the last week? Of course not.

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Indeed, take Chris Cillizza, for example. Last week, the Gallup generic ballot was the lead story in his “Morning Fix” column, and he devoted more than 500 words to the results. Today, Cillizza’s “Morning Fix” column doesn’t mention the new Gallup results at all.

When the media culture decides poll results that Republicans like are more newsworthy than results Democrats like, there’s a problem.

So much for that “Liberal Press” bias. eh

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Joan Walsh: Are Democrats toast in November?

Imagine Boehner hosting Lily Ledbetter for an equal-pay unsigning ceremony, while McConnell cuts kids’ health care!

Tuesday was the official first day of the political season, with Labor Day finally behind us, and I woke up to this screaming headline in Politico’s Playbook: “New wave of polls points to Nov. blowout – Stu Rothenberg moves 20 House races toward GOP.” Cable TV was dominated by similar apocalyptic reports from the future, mainly based on two new polls with bad news for Democrats.

The Wall St. Journal/NBC News poll found that Republicans have a 9 point advantage in generic national ballot preferences; the Washington Post/ABC poll found the GOP held a 13 point lead. (It’s worth noting, however, that Gallup’s weekly tracking poll, which found a 10 point GOP lead last week, has the parties tied today; go figure.) There was other disturbing news in the two media polls, most notably that voters have gotten less confident in the Democrats’ ability to fix the economy and now trust Republicans more on that front.

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I don’t want to sugarcoat the Democrats’ obstacles from here to November. It doesn’t look great. But there’s an MSM groupthink going on where for now, there’s a rush to be the one to declare the Dems are in the WORST trouble. Soon, someone will decide to get attention by going counterintuitive, and suggest things aren’t so bad for the Dems. Then, finally, we’ll have the actual election and know what happened.

Michael Tomasky: Taxes and inequality (and Lady Gaga’s meat bikini)

Peter Orszag, Obama’s former budget director, wrote a buzzy column (as in, it’s getting some) in the Times today in which he came out for extending the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, upper-bracket ones included, through 2013, and then letting them all expire (middle- and lower-brackets included).

Robert Gibbs came out today and said no, the president doesn’t agree, and he still supports letting the cut expire (which it will do next year, under the rules of how it was passed) for households earning more than $250,000 a year. So Obama is prepared to stand in the fire on this one.

I’m well aware that this is completely impossible, but it would be nice to think that Obama and the Democrats who are with him on this one could hold the line and actually not suffer much politically on this. Something like that could start to change the politics of taxes in this country.

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(And finally,) Lady Gaga: I wrote the headlines “taxes and inequality” and decided as I looked at it that it had to be one of the all-time boringest headlines, so I decided to spice it up a bit. Have you seen the photo? Call me a traditionalist, but I think this was a lot more shocking, and it was 44 years ago, back when we taxing people at rates that could sustain a civil society.

Adam Serwer: Burning Flags And Holy Books.

Gen. David Petraeus’ warning that a radical church’s decision to hold a Quran burning “could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort,” was punctuated by an angry protest in Kabul yesterday, where protesters burned American flags in effigy and called for President Barack Obama’s death in response.

I’ve long argued that the way Americans treat Islam and Muslims definitely has an effect on the fight against terrorism abroad, but I’m uncomfortable with Petraeus drawing a direct line of responsibility between whether or not American troops live or die and whether or not a group of radicals holds a “burn the Quran day.” There’s something about that statement that crosses the line for me — I just don’t think that in a democracy people in uniform are the proper arbiters of what constitutes appropriate free expression, even when it’s an event with fascist overtones as obvious as a public book burning. Suffice it to say that if Republican elites were committed to tamping down Islamophobic hysteria rather than exploiting it and Democratic officials were less timid about assembling a national-security narrative in which America was strengthened instead of weakened by its tolerance and religious plurality, we wouldn’t be here.

As Blue Texan points  out this morning in Early Morning Swim: Right-Wing Silent after Gen. Petraeus Condemns Koran Burning, Reports Keith Olbermann:

Well, yes – burning Korans is deeply stupid and inflammatory. But, um, so is haphazardly invading, bombing, Predator striking, torturing, and imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people, just for the hell of it.

Just sayin’.

Great video from Countdown well worth watching.

Michelle Chen: State Lawmakers Harden the Colorline in Reproductive Health

A handy legislative round-up from the Center for Reproductive Rights  sums up the many ways state lawmakers have worked to limit women’s reproductive freedom in the past legislative session. And what a year it’s been.

Leading the charge are a slew of proposed bans on abortion coverage in private insurance exchanges under the health care reform program. As of mid-July, five states (Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee) had enacted bans. Proposed bans in Florida and Oklahoma were narrowly thwarted by a governor’s veto.

Remember that various federal medical programs already contain abortion restrictions-which the White House may soon quietly but dramatically expand as the health care reform plan is implemented. But advocates point out that some of the recent state-level proposals would go much further, not only by targeting the private insurance market but also banning abortion entirely, without federal law’s explicit exemptions for rape and incest.

The draconian restrictions on women in the Health Care bill was ans still is my primary reason for opposing it. It would not upset me at all if a good portion of this bill were found unconstitutional or was repealed.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Finding a way out of Afghanistan

Team B efforts have long played an influential role in determining the outcome of intra-elite debates on critical national security issues. In the 1970s, the CIA’s Team B report on Soviet military capabilities, together with the work of the Committee on the Present Danger, encouraged the Carter administration away from détente and toward an arms race with Moscow. And the Project for the New American Century, led by William Kristol and a passel of neo-cons, was influential in swaying the Bush administration toward the invasion of Iraq.

A Team B report to be formally released tomorrow by the Afghanistan Study Group — an ad hoc group of former government officials, well-known academics and policy experts assembled by the New America Foundation — has the potential to be similarly influential. At a moment when the administration and too many members of Congress have failed to explore alternatives to Gen. David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy, the importance of this clear and cogent report can’t be understated.

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