By Jefferson Flanders

Borrowing Jimmy Cannon’s signature opening, nobody asked me, but…

THE 2006 MID-TERM ELECTIONS, in which the Democrats regained control of both the House and the Senate, will be long remembered for the message American voters sent about President Bush’s troubled policies in Iraq and their judgment that Republican would-be reformers had been corrupted by inside-the-Beltway power. The exit polls suggested that voters don’t favor a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq, but had lost faith in Bush’s “stay the course” approach.

The election results clearly strengthen Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s hopes of become the first woman to win the Presidency in 2008. The Electoral College now favors Clinton (or any centrist Democrat): she needs only to add Ohio (which dramatically swung Blue in 2006) or Colorado, to the 19 states that John Kerry won in 2004 (California, New York, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine) along with the District of Columbia. The Democratic base, which includes more large states, appears to be more defendable than the Red states of 2004.

Those who question whether America is ready for a female President (or a black one, considering that Senator Barack Obama is another leading Democratic hopeful) are seeing the presidential election in national, popular vote terms. The question is: can Senator Clinton win the mini-elections in the 21 states she needs? The answer is yes.

Perhaps John McCain, if nominated by the Republicans, could put Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Michigan in play, but it is more likely that he will be hard-pressed to defend Missouri, Iowa and Virginia, to say nothing of Florida (where Bill Clinton campaigning could be a significantly positive factor for Mrs. Clinton among African-American and Jewish voters). Senator Clinton has to be considered the front-runner now, and it will be intriguing to see if Democratic primary voters remain anxious about her electability in a general election or accept the new math.

The quick announcement by Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa that he is running for President suggests, in part, that other Democratic Party centrists see that the Electoral College math now tilts Blue.

WHY DOES ANTI-SEMITISM OFTEN BECOME THE FIRST REFUGE OF SCOUNDRELS? The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports that Venezuela has experienced a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism, fueled by the rhetoric of President Hugo Chavez. The ADL cites a “troubling mix of anti-Semitism and support for radical Islam that—along with anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism–have become the calling cards of the Chavez regime.” What makes this even stranger is that there are only an estimated 25,000 Jews in Venezuela—which has a population of some 25 million—making claims of “Jewish control” laughable. For a demagogue like Chavez, though, attacking external enemies diverts attention from his consolidation of power within Venezuela.

MORE SIGNS THAT COUNTRY MUSIC’S POPULARITY is transcending geographical boundaries: the latest music videos for singles by Keith Urban (“Once In A Lifetime”) and the group Sugarland (“Want To”) have decidedly Blue State, urban backdrops, filmed in San Francisco and New York City respectively.
IS THE U.S. IN DANGER OF LOSING ITS PRIMACY ON THE INTERNET? Some, like Fortune magazine’s David Kirkpatrick, warn that “China, India, and many European and Asian countries are moving faster to implement the addressing scheme known as Internet Protocol version 6, or IPv6.” Why does that matter? Kirkpatrick notes that IPv6 will allow a dramatic expansion of the number of Web sites and “will enable much more secure network transactions, as well as dramatically better mobile use of the net.” He adds:

More importantly, v6, as it’s known among the experts, will allow us to do things we simply haven’t imagined before. Because it can assign a unique Internet address to anything electronic, it can tie in sensors in our homes, vehicles and even under our skin.

A survey by Jupiter Networks of 1,000 high-tech types found that “75 percent of respondents said that they would like to see a central Federal IPv6 transition office.”

DON’T BLAME NEW REPUBLIC PUBLISHER MARTIN PERETZ for building a mansion in the Cape Cod town of Truro, nor the other homeowners who are “upsizing” their houses in Truro and Wellfleet in Cape Cod National Seashore areas, leading to alarm about “mansionization.” If there are objections to the impact of the new trophy houses, there are solutions: the federal government can condemn and buy the homes, or private organizations can raise the money to acquire them. Another approach—stricter zoning laws—which has been used in many suburban communities to stop property owners from “building big,” reflects the “tyranny of the majority” and, one can argue, is driven by envy rather than sincere public policy ends.
COMEDIAN WHOOPI GOLDBERG once suggested: “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”

Reprinted from Neither Red nor Blue

Copyright © 2006 Jefferson Flanders

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