Monday, September 08, 2008

Carnival of Divided Government
Quînque et Vîcênsimus (XXV)
Special "Labor Day + 7" Edition

Welcome to the 25th edition of the Carnival of Divided Government- The special "Labor Day Plus One Week and Two Conventions " Edition. As explained in earlier editions, we have adopted Latin ordinal numeration to impart a patina of gravitas reflecting the historical importance of the series. In this, the Carnival of Divided Government Quînque et Vîcênsimus (XXV), as in all of the CODGOV series, we select volunteers and draftees from the blogosphere and main stream media writing on the single topic of government divided between the major parties (leaving it to the reader to sort out volunteers from draftees). Consistent with this topic, the primary criteria for acceptance in the carnival is to explicitly use the words and/or concept of "divided government" in submitted posts. A criteria that, to our endless befuddlement, is ignored by many of the bloggers submitting posts, which sadly results in DWSUWF reluctantly ignoring their fine submissions.

Special Labor Day Edition - but wait! We also have Conventions!

Last year I was also a week late for the Labor Day Edition, and posted instead the Special Procrastination Day Edition. Can't do that this year again as it would be derivative. So instead - the first ever Labor Day Plus Conventions edition! The two conventions are over, two candidates have accepted the nomination, two VP picks have been selected, and we have two months until we our next President will be selected. Time to get very explicit about exactly what our choice will be in November.


This election choice is not really between Experience vs. Change, nor is it between Experience vs. Experience, nor is it between Change vs. Change. This election is not really even between McCain vs. Obama considered in a political vacuum. Since the Democrats will increase their majority in the House and Senate, this election is about choosing one of these two federal government configurations in 2009:

McCain/Palin (R) + Pelosi leading a 100 vote D majority in the House + Clinton/Reid leading a potential 60/40 filibuster proof D majority in the Senate.

Two Republican reformers with a reputation for bucking their own party and launching bi-partisan initiatives working with a Democratic Party holding the largest single party congressional majorities in modern history.

- or -


Obama/Biden (D) + Pelosi leading a 100 vote D majority in the House + Clinton/Reid leading a potential 60/40 filibuster proof D majority in the Senate.

A toe-the-party-line Democratic President and a consummate Washington insider working with a Democratic Party holding the largest single party congressional majorities in modern history.

Choose wisely.

My choice? On Nov 4, I will be voting for divided government. I will vote for Republican John McCain for President and for Democratic representative Nancy Pelosi in the House of Representatives (In California we do not have a Senate vote this year).

In this carnival we will be highlighting those who choose to vote for a divided government that reinforces the checks and balances in the Constitution and distributes power rather than a single party government that undermines the Constitution and concentrates power.

Over the next few days we will also be initiating a "Coalition of the Divided" Blogroll in the sidebar. DWSUWF will link to any bloggers and pundits that declare for a Divided Government vote. Who is in this coalition, standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity? Limited government advocates, Fiscal conservatives from both parties, Libertarians (big "L") who want their vote to count, libertarians (small "l") desiring a bigger political hammer, Disaffected Democrats and Hillary supporters who will support Democratic Senators and Representatives but vote for McCain, Independents leary of concentrated power in one party, and Disingenuous Republicans paying lip service to divided government because it is politically convenient in 2008 (much like disingenuous Democrats did in 2006). All are welcome in The Coalition of the Divided.


David Wright at Two Pennies distills the decision in "His wife ain't too shabby either...":
"I've got to vote for the Republican ticket no matter what, and it's a lot easier for me to do with Obama on the other side. More important than any one leader is maintaining divided government -- Congress is lost to the Dems so the White House has got to go to the Republicans, for the good of the country. If Congress was in the hands of the Republicans, I'd hold my nose and vote for Obama, despite my many reservations about the man."
We are as one David. Welcome to the coalition.

Riverdaughter at The Confluence speaks to disaffected Clinton supporters and reminds them that regardless of their vote for President - there are other elections to consider in "Rebuilding Years":
"That is why it is so important to make sure that Congress remains in the hands of Democrats. This year, we have the opportunity to increase our numbers in both the House and Senate. A number of these downticket Dems are true Democrats in the liberal and FDR style. For example, Linda Stender in NJ-07 is very much a progressive like Hillary Clinton: pro-choice, against the war, for rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Now is the time to work for these downticket Dems to guarantee that we have divided government in the wake of what will be almost certain defeat for Barack Obama."
I'm good with that. I will vote for my Democratic representative - Nancy Pelosi, and add the DCCC Banner to my recommended contributions for 2008. Right next to the McCain/Palin banner. I don't want the Democrats to get a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, but have no problem with them increasing their majority to keep McCain's judicial picks in check.

George Will is less sanguine about Obama's prospects while editorializing in the Washington Post, but still thinks that with the right apporach this is "A race that McCain could win":
"McCain should make an asset of an inevitability by promising two presidential vetoes. The inevitability is enlarged Democratic congressional majorities in 2009. Americans suffer political astigmatism. They squint at Washington, seeing an incompetent cornucopia that is too big but that should expand to give them more blessings. Their voting behavior, however, generally conforms to their professed suspicion about unchecked power in Washington: In 31 election cycles since the restoration of normal politics after the Second World War, 19 produced divided government -- the executive and legislative branches not controlled by the same party. "
Before both conventions, Glenn Thrush's analysis at The Politico explored a similar theme in "7 Worrisome signs for Obama":
"7. Americans may want divided government. Some Democratic operatives think a possible landslide for their party in congressional races could backfire on Obama. “Fairly or not, folks think he’s pretty liberal and nobody wants a pair of Pelosi’s running things,” says a New York-based Democratic consultant. Adds Bob Kerrey: “The country's still pretty divided… people may want a divided government. They want change but I'm not sure that the Democratic agenda has the support of a majority of Americans.”
To Glenn's point, consider what Mike the Actuary thought while watching the Democratic convention. He notes that it was not politic for Chuck Schumer to rub our nose in the decision we are facing in his "second and third convention thoughts of the evening":
"So, the choreography of the abridgment of the roll call, ending with Hillary moving to nominate Obama by acclimation, was very nicely done. Sadly…why did they have to go and spoil the festivities with Chuck Schumer’s call for assistance in getting the Dems to 60 votes in the Senate? The threat of either party having too much power is what drives folks like me to vote in support of divided government. I think Obama’s interesting…but the thought of no one being able to act as a check on Congressional Dems is just as disturbing as the Bush/GOP virtual monopoly on federal power was."
Disturbing indeed. The only one way to avoid it in 2009, is do the right thing in November, 2008.

The Bridgetown Peddler fears "There is no there there..." as it relates to McCain's economic policies, but is drawn to divided government anyway.
"Seen this writeup of McCain's economic policies in the Financial Journal? What a sad, sad case McCain makes and in the end the only case left is that as a Republican it may be better to have a divided government since the Democrats will clearly be in control of both houses of congress for some time."
I'm sympathetic Mr. Peddler, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and vote for what the better of bad choices.

Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy a consistent advocate for divided government noodles on the impact of the VP picks in "The Biden Pick" and "Sarah Palin and Libertarianism":
"In fairness, even if Obama had picked a moderate, I would still put more faith in the power of divided government to stem the growth of the state than in the potential influence of a moderate veep. This year, the only hope for divided government is a victory by McCain, no matter how flawed he is in other respects. However, not all libertarians and pro-limited government conservatives are as committed to that view as I am."

"Ultimately, I think that the main libertarian argument for McCain-Palin is based on the general benefits of divided government rather than on the details of their records. To the extent that the latter count, Palin's virtues are counterbalanced by McCain's many flaws; after all, he's the one running for president. Still, Palin's presence on the ticket makes it marginally more appealing from a libertarian perspective."
IIlya, we are as one. It is easier for me to put faith in a government state that has been unequivocally documented to historically limit the growth of the state. Ilya has been a leading voice about the virtues of divided government, and has been so since before this blog even existed.

John Babka at Positive Liberty lays out the libertarian case in "Why I don't want united government" and "The Gridlock Strategy":
"Until Obama flip-flopped on the FISA vote, and it became apparent the Democrats didn’t understand the need to stop their silly oil drilling ban, I liked Obama better than McCain. Now I don’t like either of the leading candidates, and I think the results will be more bad than good whichever one of them wins. I am very opposed to the Bush foreign policy, and I think McCain will continue that. I also hate McCain’s positions on carbon taxes and political speech. He’ll have aid and comfort from the Democrats on these positions. But McCain will, overall, accomplish far less than Obama will. And it’s that bi-partisan (or uni-party) accomplishment that I’m really concerned about. I don’t want both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. to come together to, “get things done.” When they get thing done, it costs us money, time, and hassle. It restricts our choices. It takes away our rights and liberties. Gridlock is good"

"Jack Welch, former CEO of GE (who thinks Clinton was a good President), appeared on CNBC’s Kudlow & Co. last night and he too made a case against “united government.” He said the worst alternative was for Obama to be able to indulge his bad tax-plan, central planning, and pro-union excesses because he’d have the willing aid and comfort of Pelosi and Reid. Someone needs to put on the brakes. Pelosi and Reid? Hey, two years ago I had high hopes they’d stand up to Bush too. But now? Well, let’s just say giving them the controls doesn’t excite me much. (If I had my druthers, my split would be a Republican Congress and Democrat President, and in 2004, we had the option, but not now)."
John, we are as one.

Jim Mathies' Current Word is that the divided government case is made more palatable when the ticket includes "Palin":
"Ultimately, I think that the main libertarian argument for McCain-Palin is based on the general benefits of divided government rather than on the details of their records. To the extent that the latter count, Palin’s virtues are counterbalanced by McCain’s many flaws; after all, he’s the one running for president. Still, Palin’s presence on the ticket makes it marginally more appealing from a libertarian perspective."
It is important to note that "marginally more appealing" is as good as it gets for libertarians.

Donald Luskin blogging at the The Conspiracy to Keep you Poor and Stupid takes Alan Blinder's NYT Op-Ed to task for sloppy statistics and a fallacious conclusion in "So much for this Liberal Chestnut":
"...And if we look at it terms of government control -- that is, party control of both the presidency and both houses of congress -- then the Democrats do worse than the Republicans (2.0% versus 2.1%). But wait! Divided government, when no party controls both the presidency and the congress, does even better: 2.3%!"
H/T to Christopher at The Charter of Dreams.

Back40 at Muck & Mystery is back in the Carnival with some thought about politics and the madness of crowds in "Love Sick":
"Timothy looks in that mirror and only sees conservatives, but at this time, in this country, I see Obamaniacs. In my view it's largely the usual contest between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum. The rhetoric panders in various directions, but it is obviously just rhetoric. My preference is for divided government to impede them all, so my first hope is that Obama loses and his party holds congress."
I have employed the Tweedldee Tweedledum comparison myself, and arrived at a similar conclusion. Welcome to the Coalition of the Divided.

Pete Davis at Capital Gains and Games is thinking about the choice both now and 2010 in his post "A maverick vs. an outsider":
"President McCain would have to work with a Democratic Congress, which would curtail many of his proposals, but President Obama could easily overstep, as President Clinton did, and find that the people may restore divided government after two years as occurred in the 1994 election."
One way to know a meme is gaining traction, is when an oppostion that would prefer to ignore it begins to attack it. A case in point is Coonsey's World interesting advice for Obama in "Divided Government - Choice of Many":
"Polls are now showing that the Democratic Party will retain power over the House and Senate in November. Some are even saying that the Democrats will have the largest majority since 1937 (George Will on This Week 9/7/08). For this reason alone, some voters will vote for Senator John McCain as President – just to keep a divided government. It is for this reason that perhaps Senator Barack Obama should consider running, in part, against the Democrats. Yes, I said against the Democrats."
As can be seen in the cross post at Daily Kos, this is a bit more "change" than the Kos kids will be able to handle.

We'll conclude with an interesting observation by Evan Newmark in the Wall Street Jounal. Staking out a contrarian view, he predicts a year end upside surprise in the stock market and speculates about what the catalyst might be in "A bull in the Chrstmas Stocking":
"The current Wall Street consensus is that Barack Obama will win. And that once elected, “liberal” Obama will make way for “moderate” Obama, whose economic policies won’t be all that different from those of Bill Clinton. Investors seem resigned to this scenario. In fact, some, like Warren Buffett and George Soros, are actively pushing for it. But a McCain victory isn’t such a stretch. More progress in Iraq. The deathbed economy showing a pulse. The Republicans pounding away at concerns among heartland Democrats that Obama is a bit too young and a bit too progressive. Voila, McCain could be in the White House. Pundits will tell you the stock market does better under Democratic administrations. But who is kidding who? Wall Street wants free-trade and the Bush tax cuts. And it prefers a divided government. The Democrats will control Congress. The moment McCain is declared the winner is the moment a huge relief rally begins."
Interesting. DWSUWF noted the Wall Street preference for divided government two years ago as we approached the Democratic Party victory in 2006. Grist for a future post.


Traditionally, we conclude this Carnival by including one "off-topic" submission, as a grudging acknowledgment and proxy for the many off-topic submissions received. Off-topic in this context meaning - no mentions of "divided government" or gridlock. For this edition, we selected Humorist, Haikuist and Hillaryist Madeleine Begun Kane. who's work we have featured before. For this edition Madeleine offered "Sarah Who???" posted at Mad Kane's Political Madness. In addition, I have decided to take one of her prior efforts that we published before, specifically her genius "Hillary Clinton Derangement Syndrome" (Haiku), and make a few minor changes to her work.
Sarah Palin Derangement Syndrome

Smearing Sarah,

Ignoring Barack’s foibles.

Must stop laughing.

And with that we conclude this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). The blogosphere has been laboring mightily to produce lots of divided government posts lately. Two years ago, with two months to go, we saw a big spike in Divided Government posts and articles before the election and the same thing is happening now. In response we will increase our CODGOV posting frequency between now and the election. I'll try to get one of these out every week to ten days. The next edition will be the Carnival of Divided Government Sextus et Vîcênsimus (XXVI) - Special "Constitution " Day Edition which will be ratified on or about the 17th of September, a mere nine days from now. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form.


Some recent carnivals and compilations of note:
UPDATED: 9/11/08
Fixed typos, added links.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

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