The politicos are sure having fun with the latest polling results. My favorite headline last week came from Larry Sabato after Mark Foley resigned: “Bombshell Leaves Republicans with Unwanted Fall “Foley-Age.” But North Korean agression is much more important to deal with. The North Korean leadership has continually starved its own civilians in order to build its military.
A simple picture of the stark economic conditions in North Korea is this ‘night time’ satellite image that shows how few areas of the North have the same access to electricity as its sibling, South Korea. Seoul, the South Korean capital, is the largest illuminated cluster just south of the east-west border between the two nations. The constellation of lights seen in the top third of the image are located in China. North Korea is the dark region in between with Pyongyang, its capital, as the only significant light cluster. (Image from Google Earth Night)
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press meanwhile finds that “a majority of voters (51%) say national issues will matter more than local concerns in their vote for Congress” and “58% of the public saying that the U.S. military effort in Iraq is not going well, and a 47% plurality believes the war in Iraq is hurting, not helping, the war on terrorism.”
The Republicans no longer appear to have a monopoly on which party Americans think is best suited to handle national security issues. The unravelling of their national security cloak is far more damaging to the GOP in the long run than Foley-gate.
Those who track electoral politics here now are nearly unanimous: the GOP may loose more governorships, Senate, and House seats that thought possible just 4 weeks ago.
The public is clearly upset with the trustworthiness of Washington in the wake of whether or not the House GOP leadership could have acted to prevent Mark Foley from absuing his position of power with teenage pages. The GOP claimed the ‘family values’ moral high ground during the failed Clinton impeachment hearings. G.W. Bush ran in 2000 on “returning decency to the White House.”
This contradiction to the GOP family values platform is a double-edged sword for GOP campaigns. Foley-gate may not change voters’ minds so much as convince many GOP voters to stay home on election day in critically close races.
At the same time, Foleygate is clearly energizing the Democratic base and with it, a large swath of independent, swing votes, who tell pollsters that they more likely to show at the polls than in prior midterm elections.
As big as the Foley revelations were, the detonation in North Korea of a nuclear device last week is much more critical to our nation and the world at large. Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s leader, had long signalled his nation’s intention of joining the nuclear club.
Now just in time for our own midterm elections, he has delivered on his threat. The US has been monitoring North Korea’s weapons programs for a 40 years. But the bulk of our overall national security attention has been devoted to the Iraq and Afghanistan in the past 4 years.
We can not blame any gap in US intelligence work for the nuclear progress that North Korea made in secret. That responsibility lies with the North Korean regime in Pyongyang.
Bush and Cheney have spent 6 years undercutting the UN’s authority in matters of international security and nuclear weapons inspections. The consequence today is that the US seems incapable of building consensus among its key allies in this matter, namely Europe, Russia and China, especially at the UN.
Now, in the wake of the North Korean bomb test, the US comes across to its key partners as Johnny-come-lately at best when Washington now seeks to impose heavy sanctions at the UN Security Council on North Korea. Hence, the sanctions—if ever delivered—will be watered-down and will only further pinch the beleagured civilians of that nation.
The same remote mountainous region of North Korea, the North and South Hamgyong Provinces, that housed its suspected nuclear sites also houses many of its gulag prisons. Many operate as as mines,as reported by the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.
Short excerpts follow below on the latest GOP woes:
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball is positively breathless as these thing go. “A ‘Deep Blue Sea” in the 2006 Midterms? Small Craft Advisory becomes Gale Warning for GOP”… There are only three possible outcomes in the House, for instance. Either the GOP will maintain its majority by a wafer-thin margin, or the Democrats will get their own small majority, or the Democrats will break through for a sizeable majority. Options two and three—or something in between them—now appear likely. In the Senate, the alternatives are dramatically diminished GOP control or the slimmest of Democratic majorities, with the fates pointing to the tiniest edge still for a Republican Majority Leader. In the statehouses, important Democratic gains are literally certain.” (October 12, 2006)
For a chart on all the races, see www.centerforpolitics.org.
The Cook Political Report is using the stormy weather metaphors as well: “ ‘Category 5 Hurricane Heads for House GOP’… Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: there are 25 days between now and the November 7 election and things could well change, making what follows obsolete. That said, this is without question the worst political situation for the GOP since the Watergate disaster in 1974. I think a 30-seat gain today for Democrats is more likely to occur than a 15-seat gain, the minimum that would tip the majority.” (October 13, 2006)
National Journal’s a bit more staid in its language and places our NY-19 House District with incumbent Sue Kelly is on the National Journal’s newly expanded list of 60 competitive races. “With apologies to our editors, we’re expanding the list to 60 races. At this point at least that many are in play and, frankly, we could have gone to 75. Part of this field expansion is due to Democrats getting more fired up and therefore coming home earlier in polling.” (October 13, 2006)
— Leo Wiegman
Editor’s note: The pages of Crotonblog are open to all and are not limited to Democratic viewpoints. Recently, Crotonblog extended an invitation by email to Croton’s Republican mayor and trustee to offer opinions to our readers. Up until now, they have not responded.