Friday, January 22, 2010

It's Terrorism and Taxes, Stupid

Of course the stupid ones will never figure this out. Which is why the November elections will become a man-caused diaster for the Democrats.
In his upset Senate victory Tuesday, Brown emphasized two big issues overlooked by most political analysts: taxes and terrorism. Massachusetts voters ranked them as the third and fourth most important issues, behind only health care and the economy, according to a Rasmussen poll. Democratic challenger Martha Coakley actually did reasonably well among voters on health care and the economy. Brown's overwhelming victory came from voters who wanted lower taxes, stronger national security and a tougher stance on terror.

Those who considered taxes their top priority favored Brown 6-to-1 (87 percent for Brown). As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama understood that issue and promised not to raise "one penny of taxes" on the middle class. Unfortunately, he also promised health care reform would be self-financing, a feat that requires significant new revenues. These costs come on top of a large stimulus package and mounting deficits. Clearly, the public is worried, and Brown capitalized on it.

He also won big on national security: 67 percent to Coakley's 29 percent. Two themes stand out. One is that President Obama's efforts to befriend old enemies yielded little and conveyed a sense of weakness and equivocation. Iran is still building its nuclear capacity, insulting the U.S. and killing protesters. Venezuela is still nationalizing its economy and rallying the Latin American left. Russia is still bullying its neighbors and declining into a thuggish autocracy. North Korea is still North Korea. Obama's biggest foreign policy initiative, his conciliatory speech in Cairo, had little impact in the Muslim world.

With so few successes, the Obama administration must now re-evaluate its generous, multilateral diplomacy toward adversaries. That, at least, is one message from Massachusetts.

Another is that voters are unhappy with the administration's approach to terrorism, which downplays the threat and treats it mainly as a law-enforcement issue. The key officials here are Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, and Attorney General Eric Holder. They have failed to convince the public that their approach is effective, or well executed.

Again, Brown capitalized.
Republicans would do well to follow the Brown model for success this fall.

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