DEBUNKING THE SOUTHERN MYTH. If I may add a footnote to Charles� post below, I am particularly sensitive to the pervasive �conventional wisdoms� about Democrats and the South. One of the most annoying of these analyses -- so common that I wonder if it�s one of those cut-and-paste paragraphs journalist pre-write and insert into their stories about the South -- closed the very piece Charles links to:
SINKING FAST. A new Rasmussen poll shows Ken Blackwell trailing Ted Strickland by a whopping 25 points in the Ohio gubernatorial race While I typically spend more time handicapping Armageddon than elections, it�s hard to see how even Blackwell could come up with voting rules draconian enough to keep more than 25 percent of the electorate from voting. While the gap may be explained by Republicans falling out of favor nationally and in particular in Ohio, one might also read into these poll results a growing disgust with the self-righteous political proselytizing of Blackwell and his friends on the theocratic right.
EARLY START. Those people who get exercised when the commercials pushing the Time-Life Treasury of Christmas come on shortly after Labor Day will be happy to note that idiot season apparently opens in August these days. Will your national media fall for this crapola again? And in an election year? Stay tuned to hear Bill O'Reilly sing "Good King Wenceslaus" while accompanying himself on marimba.
CAN'T ARGUE WITH RESULTS. Writing in The New York Times, David Leonhardt and Stephen Greenhouse have the crispest, clearest description of how sick our economy has become that I've yet seen:
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity � the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation�s living standards � has risen steadily over the same period.
ALLEN FALLING. I think Matt is onto something with his observation that Virginia may be evolving into a non-Southern state. In addition to the election of two successive moderate Democrats as governors (the first, Mark Warner, being a non-native to Virginia or the South), the latest Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll in the '06 Senate race gives Democrats some reason for hope. It shows challenger Jim Webb dead even with incumbent George Allen. This is a dramatic shift from a few weeks ago when Allen led by double digits.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO JOE BIDEN. Give the man credit. It's only August of 2006, and we've already heard the single dumbest thing a Democratic presidential candidate is going to say prior to the 2008 election? Come on down, Joe Biden (D-Finance Charge). So he goes on FOX News and, like so many people recently, accidentally drinks out of Ollie North's water-cooler. (They simply have to mark that thing better.) He then steps before the cameras and produces one of the most stunning pieces of bafflegab imaginable.
THANKS KATHERINE. A big hand goes to colleague Greg Sargent for finding this little bit of nonsense. Personally, I don't think poor l'il Katie's "Some of my best friends are in the IDF" alibi is going to hold much water, and the real grace note in the piece is where it was that she happened to commit this latest episode in her ongoing attempt to disgrace her opposable thumbs. If "Talking Religion at a Gun Show" isn't the best definition of the modern Republican base ever contrived, then you can swell my head and call me Newt. Without this crazy woman, none of it would have happened. We should remember that.
WAL-MART: ROUND 2.Sebastian Mallaby's obtuse column about anti-Wal-Mart sentiment among Democrats offers me an opportunity to expand on some comments I made last week. Then, referring to a Jonah Goldberg column on the same subject, I said that "how to handle Wal-Mart is among the two or three most important issues facing the country." A lot of folks ceased reading right there and began accusing me of not taking "Islamofascism" and health care seriously enough. Yes, if only I paid more attention to health care.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE R'S IN '08. Bloggers and journalists focused on the Democratic presidential primary contest in '03 and '04 because there wasn't one on the Republicans side, and there still seems to be a bit of a hang-over from that reporting that leads people to pay more attention to possible '08 Democratic contenders than Republican ones. This really needs to end. The most common questions about the '08 contest in my experience involve Hillary Clinton: Will she run? Can she win? etc., etc. But the answer to such questions cannot be found by looking at Clinton's history or the political landscape alone. Clinton's electability will be entirely a function of who the Republican '08 candidate is, as will any Democrat's electability.