Happy New Year to everyone, and our best wishes here at Team America to you all for a happy and prosperous one!
First, a housekeeping item from The Management:
Regular readers will note off late that, as sometimes happens, tempers in comments can flash a bit in the vigorous give-and-take among commentors that we usually encourage. Lately, though, some of it's gotten a little out of hand and, frankly, is getting a little stupid and irritating.
We like having viewpoints challenged, records of candidates and politicians examined and debated, and healthy debate about the issues of the day (try to get fair treatment like that on a liberal blog).
But when the back-and-forth degenerates to simple 'I know you are (or your side/party/whatever is) but what am I?', the blog becomes a lot less fun to read and participate in. So, I'm giving everyone fair warning that comments that are just juvenile and have no redeeming intellectual value are going to be deleted. If you have something of value to add to the discussion, regardless of your viewpoint (and our track record proves that we respect all comers who have something intelligent to say), it'll be recognized. If not, see ya.
Now, to the topic of the day. We don't spend a ton of time on national politics here, as other forums can do that a lot better; the focus of this blog has really always been local Tenth District/Lake County stuff. But, we can't ignore the fact that this is a presidential election year, and numerous comments have already noted the downballot effect that the presidential race will have on our local elections, particularly in the 10th Congressional District. It's still an eternity in politics 'till the November election, and we don't even have a clear Republican nominee yet. But, the latest polling in Iowa shows Romney to be the front-runner, which position was in doubt for much of the past 60 days, with Rick Santorum coming on strong.
What does that mean? My personal thought it that undecided Republicans are finally getting to the point where they must make a decision (and Iowans largely show respect their first-in-the-nation status by putting a lot of thought and consideration into their votes, and demand the candidates show up in person to defend themselves and their platforms), and while many Mom and Pop Republicans have flitted from candidate to candidate to give them a 'test drive,' the closer the actual caucus vote comes, the more the question shifts to who will have the best chance in November to beat Obama. The fast answer to that question, almost from the first day of this cycle, seems to have be Romney, and the latest Rasmussen polling seems to support the notion that Romney in fact has a good shot to dethrown Obama. But, Hillary also figured she was the 'inevitable' candidate, and look what happened there.
We saw what happened to Newt Gingrich's lead in Iowa evaporate after about $8 million in negative ads flooded the airwaves; similarly, once Team Obama gets back to focusing on Romney as the clear GOP nominee (which they have taken only baby steps towards so far) with about a billion dollars to smash him with, we'll have to see where those head-to-head numbers look in September-October.
Anyway, getting back to my original point, what does everyone think the impact of the Presidential race will have on our local candidates across the board? My sense tells me that there is going to be a serious enthusiasm gap among the Democrats in rallying to Obama's banner this time around. He's gravely disappointed many of his most fervent followers, and his strategy now must be to create fear in his supporters that, as disappointing as he's been, the other side would be far worse, repealing ObamaCare, cutting taxes for the billionaires, and turning their backs on the poor and middle class. Will that message drive Dems to the polls this fall? It remains to be seen, but I have always suspected that in Illinois, now that people have gotten the historic thrill out of voting once for Obama out of their systems, and knowing that it's almost certain that Obama will win Illinois no matter what, Obama's coattails in this state will be quite short (more common people than you might think apparently understand that under the Electoral College system, as long as Obama is thought to be a lock on the state already, it gives all but the most zealous 2008 Obama supporters a great excuse to keep their money, avoid working the race, and maybe even finding more important things to do on election day).
Given that a moderate Republican like Mark Kirk has shown he can win the state, perhaps Obama should not be quite so complacent. But, in any case, unless the local Dems show up to the polls in some serious force this fall, local pols like Congressman Bob Dold have more than a fighting chance, even in some of these new districts.
One of the side stories in this race I have been watching with interest is speculation that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden will switch VP-SOS roles, and this will be matched up against whatever GOP candidates wins the nomination with former SOS Condolezza Rice.
I think both these scenarios are possible; Obama will play the Hillary card only if he feels so desperate that he thinks Hillary is his only lifeline to a second term; his ego won't allow him to go down that road unless he's convinced it's the only option (watch, though, the public story will be that it's all because Uncle Joe Biden just really would rather be SOS, and heck, Obama's a nice guy so he agreed to throw Joe a bone -- or some other ridiculous rationalization. Bleech.)
Okay, enough musings from me. What do y'all think?