All this is to say that I really, really don’t get why anyone other than his attorney is defending the guy. The dude was 44 at the time of his offenses, so his indiscretions were only “youthful” in the sense that he wasn’t collecting social security at the time.
Our esteemed governor apparently thinks there isn’t a recession in Texas. I’ll gladly concede that the economy here is doing significantly better than in many other states, but the idea that there’s no economic downturn here is either optimism run amok or crazy talk. Perhaps both.
Via a friend on Facebook comes the sad news of the passing of C. Neal Tate, who was a prominent political scientist at the University of North Texas (rising to Dean of Graduate Studies) before taking on the rather unenviable task of rebuilding Vanderbilt’s political science department in the wake of their bout with receivership earlier in this decade.
I only had the opportunity to meet Neal once, in the context of an APSA meat market interview for a position at Vandy, but in that interaction he was most cordial even though I probably had absolutely no business being interviewed for that position. Even based on that brief interaction, however, I am certain that he will be widely missed by colleagues and former students alike.
In response to a Ross Douthat column both Alex Knapp and Steven Taylor are skeptical that the 2010 midterms will be a “repeat” of the 1994 GOP takeover of the House. While I agree that the fundamentals are somewhat less rosy for the Republicans this time around, there are a few reasons to expect a significant Republican rebound that will endanger the practical center-left majority in Congress:
Even if the economy recovers significantly by November 2010, it is unlikely that most voters will “feel” the recovery underway for months after the low point. The nature of retrospective voting is to look over a 12-to-18-month period, which means that either the improvement will have to be drastic or be well underway already. Both of these scenarios seem unlikely at best.
Any Democratic achievements during this Congress are unlikely to have a practical impact on voters by November 2010. In the case of health care reform that might be to the benefit of the Democrats, as they can take credit for action without the likely transition costs being apparent to voters by then. However, aspects of the “stimulus” that affect voters beyond the Democratic base (e.g. organized labor in the construction industry) are going to be largely invisible—few important stimulus projects, even the “shovel ready” ones, will be getting a ribbon-cutting between now and then. One achievement, the payroll tax reduction stimulus, was virtually invisible to most workers, and will bite a lot of retirees in the butt in April 2010 when the IRS comes to collect the taxes that weren’t withheld at the time, something unlikely to endear the Democrats or Obama to seniors already upset over the potential for Medicare spending cuts.
While the Republicans need 40 House seats to recapture a majority, recapturing even half of that could produce a working “winning coalition” with Blue Dogs on fiscal issues that will endanger any White House plans that can’t pass in the next year (which, at this point, is probably most of them). The Democrats’ filibuster-proof Senate supermajority is exceedingly unlikely to outlast the midterms, even considering that a Republican takeover is unlikely too.
Finally, as a practical concern, the Republicans are also likely to do well in major states’ legislative races that coincide with the presidential midterms, putting them in the driver’s seat for the 2010–12 redistricting battles in their states that will affect the Congresses Obama will have to work with beyond 2012 (assuming he seeks and wins reelection). Coupled with likely GOP pickups in California due to the new “nonpartisan” redistricting process there, Republicans should be well positioned as a result of the 2010 elections to gain more seats in 2012 (due to reapportionment) and 2014 (due to traditional midterm loss).
The bottom line: although I agree with Alex and Steven that a Republican takeover is not really in the cards, I suspect the practical impact—chastening a Democratic president into matching his bipartisan rhetoric with some truly bipartisan proposals—of the midterms will be much the same, minus the impeachment silliness that typified the later Clinton-GOP House years.
Update: A commenter clarifies that the California redistricting commission only applies to the state legislature, not congressional redistricting.
I really don’t have that much to say about my visit to Toronto for APSA; I was a rather bad political scientist when it came to attending panels, so I can’t report on much of the doings at those. Judging from the panelswritten up at IHE, I can’t say it seems like I missed much anyway. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the panel I attended discussing the future of the American National Election Studies was very informative and reassuring, considering that whether or not I get tenure is likely to ride in large part on the quality of the 2008–12 surveys.
Since all three of my official conference activities were, to borrow the colorful phrasing of IHE writer Scott Jaschik, conducted “in the faux privacy of a large room with tables, off limits to journalists,” I suppose I shouldn’t really spill the beans here about them. Suffice it to say I’ve learned enough in the past six years to know that reading the tea leaves of the interview room is virtually impossible—some meetings that have gone “well” in my opinion went nowhere, while some awkward meetings eventually ended with job offers. Hence the vibe that the discussion regarding the position I was most interested went the best is pretty much meaningless.
I have nothing in particular to add, except to say that most of my conference activities will be off-the-radar in one way or another. But any readers of more-than-passing acquaintance who are interested in coming to a Friday evening “recession-beating reception” may contact me via email for an invite, with the caveat that it’s a BYOB event.
Signifying Nothing formerly featured the stylings of Brock
Sides, a left-leaning philosopher turned network administrator
currently residing in Memphis,
Tennessee who now blogs at Battlepanda, and Robert
Prather, a libertarian-leaning conservative economist and
occasional contributor at OTB.