MORE THAN A TRICKLE

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - / Bruce Tins­ley

“[The Dec. 14] an­nounce­ment by Rep. Bart Gor­don, D-Tenn., that he would not seek re-elec­tion cer­tainly stirred things up on Capi­tol Hill,” Char­lie Cook writes at Na­tion­alJour­nal.com.

“It’s an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that the dam is break­ing for House Democrats as in­cum­bents in tough dis­tricts re­tire. But it’s an un­der­state­ment to say that four such mem­bers an­nounc­ing their re­tire­ments in four weeks is a trickle,” Mr. Cook said.

“One can un­der­stand the in­di­ges­tion build­ing in Demo­cratic lead­er­ship offices in see­ing Reps. Den­nis Moore, D-Kan., John Tan­ner, D-Tenn., Brian Baird, DWash., and now Gor­don all step­ping down and open­ing up seats that will be dif­fi­cult to de­fend. Add to that num­ber the open seat cre­ated by Rep. Char­lie Me­lan­con’s Se­nate run in Louisiana; it’s a goner.

“Gor­don’s con­test had been rated by the Cook Po­lit­i­cal Re­port as Likely Demo­cratic un­til Nov. 19, when it was shifted to Lean Demo­crat. With his de­par­ture trig­ger­ing an open seat, and with its Cook Par­ti­san Vot­ing In­dex at R+13 — mean­ing that in pres­i­den­tial bal­lot­ing it votes 13 per­cent­age points more Repub­li­can than the na­tion as a whole — it is now rated likely Repub­li­can.

“Quite sim­ply, not enough House Demo­cratic mem­bers in tough dis­tricts have re­tired to cost the party its ma­jor­ity, but if a trend were to de­velop, it would start pretty much as this has so far. ...

“Prob­a­bly the best way to look at the Democrats’ sit­u­a­tion is to look at rel­a­tive lev­els of se­cu­rity of each of their 435 seats com­pared to early June.

“The Cook Po­lit­i­cal Re­port now has 174 seats in the Solid Demo­cratic col­umn; 44 oth­ers rated as Likely Demo­crat, mean­ing not yet but po­ten­tially com­pet­i­tive; and 23 more seats in the Lean Demo­cratic col­umn, mean­ing com­pet­i­tive.

“There are 19 seats rated as Toss Up, in which nei­ther party can claim a clear ad­van­tage. There are eight seats in the Lean Repub­li­can col­umn, 16 in the Likely Repub­li­can group and 151 rated as Solidly Repub­li­can.

“Put in a more un­der­stand­able for­mat, the cur­rent num­ber of Solid and Likely Demo­cratic seats is 218, co­in­ci­den­tally the barest pos­si­ble ma­jor­ity.” rolls out his lat­est pop­ulist blamethe-bankers cam­paign. This is be­com­ing a White House fi­nan­cial sta­ple. Re­call how the pres­i­dent joined the Con­gres­sional posse amid this year’s ear­lier AIG bonus up­roar, un­til it threat­ened to run out of con­trol. Later Mr. Obama tar­geted Chrysler’s bond hold­ers who weren’t ea­ger to ac­cept the gov­ern­ment’s mea­ger dic­tated terms. The bond hold­ers rolled over, but every­one in fi­nan­cial mar­kets got a mes­sage about what this Ad­min­is­tra­tion thinks about the sanc­tity of con­tracts.

“Now, amid Demo­cratic panic over 10 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment head­ing into an elec­tion year, the pres­i­dent is at­tempt­ing a dou­ble pop­ulist play: Blame the bankers for caus­ing the fi­nan­cial cri­sis and re­ces­sion by lend­ing too much, and blame them again for caus­ing high job­less­ness now by lend­ing too lit­tle.” years,” Mark Hosen­ball writes in Newsweek.

“Among the dead: Abu Khabab al-Masri, re­puted to be al Qaeda’s top ex­pert on weapons of mass de­struc­tion, and Bait­ul­lah Mehsud, leader of the Pak­istani Tal­iban and re­puted mas­ter­mind of the mur­der of [for­mer Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter] Be­nazir Bhutto. U.S. gov­ern­ment spokes­men won’t even con­firm the pro­gram’s ex­is­tence, but a U.S. na­tional-se­cu­rity of­fi­cial — who, like oth­ers cited in this ar­ti­cle, de­clined to be named talk­ing about sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion — says the pro­gram has been so suc­cess­ful that some coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cials want to ex­pand it.

“They say the drones have been ef­fec­tive not just in killing ter­ror­ists, but also in keep­ing them on the run and dis­rupt­ing their abil­ity to plan new at­tacks. They have asked for au­thor­ity to tar­get ter­ror­ists in more densely pop­u­lated ar­eas of Pak­istan,” Mr. Hosen­ball said.

“One per­son stand­ing in the way of ex­panded mis­sile strikes: Pres­i­dent Obama. Five ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials tell Newsweek that the pres­i­dent has sided with po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic ad­vis­ers

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Had enough: Rep. Bar t Gor­don of Ten­nessee has joined fel­low Demo­cratic con­gress­men Den­nis Moore of Kansas, John Tan­ner of Ten­nessee and Brian Baird of Wash­ing­ton in not seek­ing re-elec­tion.

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