Sunday, October 19, 2008

Carnival of Divided Government Septimus et Vîcênsimus (XXVII) - Special Inexcusably Late Edition!

UPDATED : 24-Oct-08
Welcome to the 27th edition of the Carnival of Divided Government- The special "Inexcusably Late" 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 Septimus et Vîcênsimus (XXVII), 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.

No Excuses!

This edition was supposed to be published two weeks ago, kicking off an accelerated schedule of weekly carnivals heading into the election. What can I say? I just never got around to it. The reason for increasing the frequency did not go away. As expected, we are seeing the beginning of an upward trend in "divided government" posts and articles. From BlogPulse:

Since we are late, we have an embarrassment of riches in divided government posts and articles since our last endeavor. We'll start off with a sampling of traditional media...

Main Stream Media

Andrew Romano from Newsweek interviews Morris Fiorino in "Making Sense out of McCains 'Divided Government' Argument":
AR: "Is there an audience for McCain's divided-government message?"
MF: "We actually asked a question on a recent AP poll.... there was about 20 percent who still wanted divided government constellations. And there was more McCain-Democrat than Obama-Republican. So there is a set of voters out there that has this as their most preferred outcome. So if you added that set to the set that prefers a unified Republican government, you got about a tie. So if the McCain people have the same kind of data, that's obviously a place to go fishing."
Not only is "divided government" the best argument that McCain has going for him, it is the only argument that could still pull this out.

Rebecca Sinderland
at CNN reports "McCains Closing Argument: A push for Dived Government":
"Do we really believe that the American public is going to feel safe by having both the head of the Congress and the head of the White House from the same party that has had so many challenges with the way they’ve run Washington over the last couple of years?" McCain campaign manager Rick Davis asked on Fox News Sunday. It’s a strategy popular with some high-profile conservative voices."
It is also very popular with DWSUWF.

The Dallas Morning News endorses John McCain, fiscal responsibility and divided government:
"Mr. McCain is the one who promised to freeze domestic spending his first year and then limit it to 2.4 percent growth the rest of his term. He also has been clear about the urgent need for entitlement reform. You don't see that kind of independence with Mr. Obama, who has marched in spending lockstep with his party and mostly ducked questions about entitlement reform and budget cuts. The last time the nation saw Washington make real progress on deficit reduction was the 1990s, when a Democrat controlled the White House and Republicans held Congress. True, Republicans failed to cover themselves in deficit-reduction glory when they held the executive and legislative branches, but we read that as an argument in favor of divided government."
And a very good argument indeed.

Lynn Sweet of the Sun-Times has the transcript of Chris Wallace interviewing campaign surrogates in "David Axelrod, Rick Davis exchange blows on Fox News Sunday":
MR. WALLACE: "All right. Let's talk about this question of divided government, because I did some research on it. Nineteen of the 31 elections since World War II have either produced or maintained a split government, in the sense that the White House and at least one of the chambers of Congress have been occupied by different parties. And voters seem to like that arrangement, which raises the question, Governor Pawlenty, instead of going after Obama on William Ayers or ACORN, the left-wing voter registration group, would McCain be better advised to go after Obama and his links to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and the idea that if they all get elected they'll pursue a left-wing agenda for this country?"
GOV. PAWLENTY: " the point you raise, I don't think the country is going to like what -- the Democratic Party running the table on taxes, on education, on health care, and have kind of the liberal, unchecked, imbalanced approach to all of those issues. It's going to be bad for the country. I think having John McCain as president to balance that out and be able to work across the aisle, as he has throughout his career, to get things done would be a good compromise; a good balance."

Indeed. Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.

Even our cousins across the pond are getting into the act. The Economist has some good advice for the McCain campaign in "John McCain's Last Chance":
"The Democrats are likely to add at least another ten seats, and perhaps as many as 20, to their majority in the House. There is a real possibility that they may attain a 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate (Democrats are leading in eight Senate seats currently held by Republicans and are close in a couple of others; they control 51 of the 100 seats already). This will allow them to push through a wish-list of Democratic proposals on everything from “fair trade” to spending. The Republicans have only just started to point this out.
But Americans have a strong preference for divided government. America has only had one-party rule (with the same party controlling the White House and both chambers) for six years out of the 28 since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980—two years under Bill Clinton and four and a bit under George Bush. Mr McCain should argue forcefully that, as an experienced legislator who has worked with left-wing Democrats as well as right-wing Republicans, he will be the perfect man to check Congress where necessary and work with it where desirable"

In a similar vein, the Wall Street Journal opined about - "A Liberal Supermajority":
"Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933. In other words, the election would mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s. If the U.S. really is entering a period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy, Americans at least ought to understand what they will be getting, especially with the media cheering it all on...
The journal story was widely linked throughout the blogosphere, including DWSUWF and co-blogger Alan Scott Carl at Donklephant:
" we march toward giving the Democrats a potential supermajority, we really should consider the possible consequences. One-power rule is always a recipe for overreach."
The fundamental question in this election is whether American's preference for divided government will be sufficient to overcome their anger and desire to punish the Republicans for the disaster of the Bush administration. Speaking for myself, I was happy to see the Republicans lose the majority in Congress in 2006. I will be happy to see Republicans punished again in 2008 with an even smaller minority in Congress. However, I do not want Democrats granted virtual monarchical power,One Party Rule, and license to govern unfettered by any meaningful opposition.

Bloggers and New Media

Dennis Sanders at The Moderate Voice is still on the fence in "Moving into Ambiguity":
"...with Obama in the White House and bigger Democratic majority, would we have liberalism run amok? I wasn’t crazy with the GOP running the show from 2000-2006 and I’m none too crazy with having the Dems run everything. Absolute power tends to produce pretty lousy government. Could a President Obama become a check against going overboard, or will he just be an enabler like President Bush? I don’t know. So, there it is. I’m probably still leaning towards McCain, but I’m basically on the fence. I will vote for Republicans down-ballot because I want to have some divided government. As for President, we will find out."
Right diagnosis but wrong prescription, Dennis. We cannot get to divided government this year by voting GOP down ticket. The Dems are going to expand their majorities and possibly have a filibuster proof super majority in the Senate. The only way to re-elect Divided Government in 2008, is elect John McCain for President. It is the right thing to do.

Mark Landsbaum at Orange Punch, a liberty blog of the Orange County Register offers some lessons in Democracy and protecting minority rights in "Democracy: 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner":
"Here’s a vote for a divided government in Washington, where Democrats soon may find themselves in charge of each branch, directly by election and indirectly by appointment. We suspect if they do, they will proclaim they’ve received a “mandate” and that the people’s will must be enacted. The will of the people. What a fascinating concept... Is it wise for one party to control all branches of government? Is it even less wise when that party’s own propensity is to seek to do the majority’s will with the power to rob and loot others, but not their own?... It could be a dangerous four years."

Well. That was kind of depressing. I don't want to think about that right now.

How about we check in with Ray Harvey presenting Bailout posted at Blog of where he defines some terms, and deconstructs the bailout:
"Mercantilism is in every significant way the exact opposite of laissez-faire capitalism. Most businessmen today are not capitalists — insofar as they seek, demand, and receive government subsidies, or governmental protection from competition. This is also known as rule by special interest. It’s not only the type of system we live under in the United States today: it’s the system we’ve lived under for over a century now. Nominally, the U.S. is ruled by a divided government consisting of two primary parties, which are in a state of more or less perpetual gridlock, but this distinction, as we shall see, is only apparent... The truth about this once-great nation is that the right and the left are not fundamentally opposed: they’re two aspects of the same theme, and that theme is mercantilism."
A well thought out argument, but I don't agree with the premise that there is no difference between a divided government or one party rule under either the Democrats or Republicans. Too much historical evidence documented by political scientists, economists, and historians stand in contradiction. there is a very big difference.

Donald Hawthorne at Anchor Rising expores some of the consequences of the bailout in "An Argument for Divided Government":
"Many of us don't like McCain and also think he has run a terrible campaign. But the more we learn about Obama, the more willing some of us will be to hold our nose and vote for McCain. Because, in the end, it's not just Obama. It's the risk of Obama, possibly a filibuster-proof Senate under Reid, and a Pelosi-led House. Unrestrained left-wing politics.Which leads Fred Barnes to these thoughts. If we can't send the entire Federal government home on an extended paid vacation, then a vote for divided government may be the best we can hope for."
An inspirational call to action.

Teresa at Terry Ann Online also has a few things to say about "Divided Government":
"Divided government is one of the strongest argument McCain has... He needs to continually hit on this point in the next few weeks. Everyone keepson talking about President Bush's approval ratings, however, the American people aren't exactly ecstatic with the current Congress either. If you haven't noticed yet Speaker Pelosi and friends haven't gotten much done lately because they are waiting for a Democratic president who probably won't veto their legislation and reign them in. Check and balance."
Yup. It is all pretty obvious Terry. I am surprised and disappointed that more have not noticed.

Jeremy Hinton at Bering Drift explores McCain's "New Campaign Tactic: Divided Government is Good":
"It looks like there may be a new argument being weather ballooned by the McCain campaign, namely that having the same party in control of both the Legislative and Executive branches of government may not be the best thing for the country. Johnathan Martin at Politico has the details. Of course, the interesting thing is that the premise for this presupposes a poor showing for Republicans in Congress. Personally, i think this may be McCain’s best argument yet in the pursuit of independents. Just looking over Bush’s term, one can see the validity. I even agree to a point.."
Jeremy does not take his valid point far enough. It is enough to change his vote.

At PoliGazette, Michael Van Der Galien and Michael Merritt published an interesting series of posts on Divided Government since our last carnival.
The McCain Plan to Victory is Quite Simple:
"McCain should have made the case for divided government. It is likely that Democrats will not only win the presidential elections, but will also hold on to Congress. They may even expand their lead. This means that if Obama wins, Democrats will run every branch of the government. Although this would not have been a big problem if Democratic leaders were moderates, unwilling to give even a dime to special interests, the reality of the situation is somewhat different: three names - Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank..."
Will McCain Push for Divided Government?:
"I’ve previously expressed my support for divided government. I argued that it forces Congress and the president to work together in order to come up with a bill that will pass, but not pull the country in too far in one wrong direction or another. I believe both the liberal and conservative extremes are bad for America, and divided government helps to stop us moving toward one of those extremes too quickly. So an endorsement for divided government is intriguing. "
Divided Government - Its a Blessing:
"Make no mistake about it: America’s founding fathers believed divided government to be beneficial, even necessary for society and government to function. The video below, which makes the point, comes partially from West Wing, a television series truly produced by geniuses (it has tremendous academic influence, for instance)."
Ok, that last one was a bit self-serving, as Michael is reviewing a DWSUWF video, linked from this recent post.

Laura Ebke at Red State Eclectic also had some good things to say about that same video in "For Divided Goverment":
"An occasional correspondent, and fellow that I've come to agree with a lot of the time, "mw" of Divided We Stand United We Fall blog, has a great article over on his site, and has put this video together. Watch the video, then go over and read what he has to say. Needless to say, I agree. "
I can't help but think that Larua is a particularly intelligent and brilliant analytical blogger.

Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit quotes Craig Henry at Lead and Gold in "WHAT'S MISSING THIS ELECTION CYCLE:"
"I have not seen the establishment pundits writing/commenting on the joys of divided government. You know, like in 1996 when they suggested that the country would benefit if Democrat Clinton balanced the Republican congress." Well, silly, there's no Republican congress to balance this time!"
Well, DWSUWF may not be "establishment", but we have been a model of consistency.

Ken Blanchard at South Dakota Politics analyzes "Change We Can Be Suspicious About":
"...there is a reason why post-war America didn't turn out like post-war Europe. Divided government is the most basic theme of the American system, and it makes it harder for any single vision to be imposed on the whole structure of society and the economy. President Obama, if he shows up next January, will find that "change" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some of those different things will turn out to be mutually irreconcilable."
Ken also has some interesting insight into one of the insufficiently understood and vetted actors in this passion play - the inimitable David Axelrod aka Barack's Brain. check it out.

Finally, the media assault on "Joe the Plumber" prompted an angry letter from a reader to Mark Hemingway at The Corner:
"I really don't like McCain. I'll probably vote for him just as a vote for divided government. I'm far too libertarian in my leanings to be comfortable with McCain (or Obama, for that matter). That said, the way the pro-Obama media and bloggers, and Obama himself, have responded to Joe has got me nearly shaking with rage. They are attempting to destroy a man — a private citizen — who had the audacity to ask The One a question."
The letter hit a nerve, and was linked by DogFight at Bankstown, Rattler Gator, The Real Barack Obama, Cartago Delenda Est, Wizbang, and others.


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 Doug Boude presenting "The 42 Year Old (Political) Virgin" posted at Doug Boude (rhymes with 'loud'), saying:
"As I stated earlier, I feel it...there's something about this election, this time in our history, this place that the world finds itself in that is foreboding and frightening. The world's on the brink of so many things, some amazingly good, some amazingly horrifying. For this reason, and because (though I may be but a single drop in the ocean) my presence, however miniscule, DOES count, I have registered to vote and will do so for the first time in my life this coming November."
My advice for you Doug... Just Vote Divided.

And with that we conclude this edition. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all of the submissions (on-topic or not). we will once again attempt to increase our CODGOV posting frequency between now and the election. Look for the next edition of The Carnival of Divided Government Octâvus et Vîcênsimus (XXVIII) - Special Stretch Run Edition in about a week. Submit your blog article at carnival of divided government using our carnival submission form.


Some recent carnivals and compilations of note:
UPDATED: 24-Oct-08 - Added Links.

Divided and Balanced.™ Now that is fair.


Harlan Wallach said...


whats this guys problem ?
" Why so, since my views align a lot more with McCain’s than with Obama’s? And since I truly dread the notion of a Democratic president, Democratic House, and hugely Democratic Senate?

Primarily for two reasons, those of temperament and of judgment.

When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure.

Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate.

That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.

I sure hope Obama is more open, centrist, sensible—dare I say, Clintonesque—than his liberal record indicates, than his cooperation with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid portends. If not, I will be even more startled by my vote than I am now."

Ken Adelman is a lifelong conservative Republican. Campaigned for Goldwater, was hired by Rumsfeld ....

mw said...

Wow that is great! That makes all the difference. More evidence, as I have been saying all along that the election is over and we can go straight to the coronation. Some may have had had some doubts about crowning BHO with monarchical powers, giving a rubber stamp congress with no meaningful opposition, and the ability to govern by fiat. But Adelman should convince everyone that his vast experience as a community organizer and running for President means we can trust him with that power.

But for those who think this sort of thing is important...

"Governor Sarah Palin, like John McCain, is a reformer who has taken on the special interests and reached across party lines. She is a leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington.

That’s why the McCain-Palin ticket is the real ticket for change this year.

The Washington bureaucrats and power brokers can’t build a pen strong enough to hold these two mavericks.

And together, you can count on John McCain and Sarah Palin to fight for America and to fight for you! And that’s what our country needs most right now.

What we need most is not more party unity in America but more national unity!

Especially at a time of war, we need a president we can count on to fight for what’s right for our country — not only when it is easy, but when it is hard.

When others were silent, John McCain had the judgment to sound the alarm about the mistakes we were making in Iraq. When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops on the ground, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion and support the surge, and because of that, today, our troops are at last beginning to come home, not in failure, but in honor!

Before I conclude, I ask the indulgence of those in this hall tonight, as I want to speak directly to my fellow Democrats and independents who are watching.

I know many of you are angry and frustrated by our government and our politics and for good reason.

You may be thinking of voting for John McCain but you’re not sure. Some of you have never voted for a Republican before and in an ordinary election, you probably wouldn’t.

But this is no ordinary election, because these are not ordinary times, and John McCain is no ordinary candidate. You may not agree with John McCain on every issue.

But you can always count on him to be straight with you about where he stands, and to stand for what he thinks is right regardless of politics.

As president, you can count on John McCain to be a restless reformer, who will clean up Washington and get our government working again for you!

So tonight, I ask you whether you are an independent, a Reagan Democrat or a Clinton Democrat, or just a Democrat: This year, when you vote for president, vote for the person you believe is best for the country, not for the party you happen to belong to."

Joe Lieberman - Lifelong Democrat and Democratic VP Candidate in 2000.

Of course, that is nothing compared to Adelman, who showed extraordinary judgment as one of the neocon architects of the Iraq war and calling the war a "cakewalk". Truly a neocon's neocon. Nice bookend to Colin Powell, who, behind Cheney and Bush, was the man most responsible for our involvement in Iraq when he sold it to the American people and the world at the UN. Powell opposed the first gulf war, supported and sold the Iraq war, and oposed the surge. Wrong on all three counts. Great general, terrible political judgment. There is a special place in hell for Colin Powell. Right next to Bob McNamara.

Personally I think all three of these guys are assholes, and would not trust any of their judgment as far as I could throw them. But I've learned that if you are going to drink the kool-aid you don't need an asshole's endorsement to believe what you want to believe anyway.

I welcome our new Democratic Overlords.

Harlan Wallach said...

As do I:

Anonymous said...

Hello friend,

Thank you for the shout out. You've done a phenomenal job with your blog here, and I mean that very sincerely.

I would like to quickly clarify, if I may, your articulate but slightly misbegotten recapitulation of my post:

I didn't say, nor mean to imply (in the post above) that "there is no difference between a divided government or one party rule under either the Democrats or Republicans." In fact, what I say in the article is that the difference, which does indeed exist, is purely one of form. Fundamentally, however, there is no distinction -- insofar as it's all a variation of the same principle: the principle of neomercantilism.

But in terms of the concrete manifestation, yes, you're absolutely correct: for example, the left will allow you your freedoms, more or less, in the bedroom but wants to get into your wallet, whereas the right will, in theory, allow you your wallet, but wants to interfere in your bedroom.

A witty political commentator, whose name suddenly escapes me, once compendiated the essential difference between the right and the left as follows:

"The right is pro-business except when it comes to things like strip clubs, which they then want to outlaw; the left, on the other hand, says it's okay to have strip clubs as long as the dancers are making the minimum wage."

My point was not that there's no difference, but rather that the difference is merely a difference of concretes, not principles.

Thank you again.


mw said...

I have decided that I now need to embrace the full quote - My new standard sign off:

One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the Democrats will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new Democratic overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted independent blogger, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their mandatory volunteer service corps.

mw said...

Thanks for the kind words and clarification. After re-reading my comment, I think it is ambiguous and I need to re-write it. I actually agree with your point that there is no fundamental difference between one party rule by either Democrats or Republicans. We get remarkably similar effects from One Party Rule regardless of which party is in the driver seat: faster rates of growth in spending; less fiscal discipline; more abuse of power; more erosion of freedom; more corruption; more war.

My intended point was: There is a real documented historical difference between divided government and One Party Rule regardless of party,and there are real practical benefits in a divided government state for those who would like to see the erosion of liberty slowed. I was trying to make sure this distinction not be obscured by your point that there is no fundamental difference in the parties themselves.

Dyre42 said...

"I wonder whether Bob Barr may actually be pulling more support from Obama than McCain, contrary to conventional wisdom."

Not in my case. I would have voted for McCain were my state actually up for grabs.