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Obama’s Coattails

Is the Republican victory in the September 2011 special election in the NY 9th Congressional district further enticing an independent presidential candidate in November 2012?

The November 1991 special election for the Pennsylvania Senate seat became a pacesetter for the November 1992 Presidential election. Democrat Harris Wofford – who represented the disenchanted middle class – defeated Republican Dick Thornburgh – a classic establishment candidate – and became the first Democrat to win a US Senate seat in Pennsylvania in thirty years. Wofford, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Labor, defeated Thornburgh, the US Attorney General under Reagan and Bush and twice the Governor of Pennsylvania. Paul Begala and James (“It’s the economy stupid”) Carville ran the campaign, which was dominated by healthcare and the economy. They nationalized the campaign by focusing on President Bush’s domestic failures, and laid the groundwork for Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential victory.

The November 2009 gubernatorial victories by Republican challengers Chris Christie – in deep “Blue” New Jersey – and Robert McDonnell – in Virginia – were pacesetters for the November 2010 Federal and State Congressional and Gubernatorial elections. Christie is the first New Jersey Republican to win statewide in 12 years, and McDonnell is the first Republican to enter the Governor’s mansion in Richmond since 2002. Both focused on independent voters, playing down divisive social issues, such as abortion, which used to dominate political campaigns. Instead, they highlighted job creation, foreclosures, taxes and the ballooning deficit, criticizing big government and President Obama’s economic policies. Their campaigns were perceived by voters nationwide as a prelude to – and a text book for – the November 2010 midterm election. They created momentum towards the worst Democratic midterm defeat since WWII.

The January 2010 victory by Republican Scott Brown in the race for the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy intensified the momentum, yielding a wave effect all the way to November 2010.

Will the September 2011 NY special election follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned campaigns, producing nationwide ripple effects?

When the middle class and independent voters are apprehensive about the integrity and capabilities of the establishment, and their anger approaches Howard Beale’s “I am mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore,” then policy-makers should be concerned.

If a Republican can win in the NY 9th Congressional District – which had not elected a Republican in 90 years – and in a senatorial race in Massachusetts, then no incumbent is secure.

The defeat of incumbents and candidates who are identified with Obama is further shortening Obama’s coattails. From a coattail President in 2008 Obama has been transformed into an anchor-chained President in 2011, causing an increasing number of Democratic legislators to distance themselves from the White House.

The NY special election centered on the predicament of the middle class: job insecurity, pessimism, deficit, big government, taxes and the price of gasoline. It was another referendum on President Obama’s job performance (including his attitude towards Israel), drawing the involvement of former President Clinton, Governor Andrew Cuomo, organized labor and former mayors Giuliani and Koch. However, even the most articulate establishment reassurance stands slim chance when pitted against the genuine long-term fury of the rank and file electorate.

The anti-establishment rage – targeting the Executive and the Legislature – has highlighted key constructive features of the US political system, which are unique among Western democracies: the central role played by the constituent; the complete separation – and equality – of powers; the full independence of each of the three branches of government; the primacy of legislators’ loyalty to the constituent over loyalty to the party or to the President.

Will the current candidates for the November 2012 Presidential election be able to earn the trust of the middle class and independents? Or, could the outcome and atmosphere of the September 2011, November 2010, January 2010 and November 2009 elections be a springboard for an independent Presidential candidate, who would leverage the leadership draught in both parties, galvanize the dissatisfied independents, and learn from the errors committed by Ross Perrot?


The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb

Congress – the co-equal and systematic ally of Israel

Presidents propose and Congress disposes

On September 23, 2021, the US House of Representatives voted 420:9 to replenish the Israeli-developed defensive “Iron Dome” missiles, which are increasingly manufactured – and eventually exported – by the US defense company Raytheon, that benefits from the battle-tested “Israeli laboratory.”

The overwhelming vote reflects Congressional realization that the “Iron Dome”:

*Enhances Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is critical to the survival of all pro-US Arab regimes and minimization of regional instability;
*Reduces the need for full-scale Israeli wars on Palestinian and Islamic terrorism;
*Provides an alternative to Israeli military ground-operations against Palestinian terrorists, which would entail substantial Israeli and Palestinian fatalities;
*Represents joint US-Israel interests, militarily and technologically, in the face of mutual threats (e.g., Islamic terrorism) and mutual challenges (e.g., developing world-class, game-changing technologies).

*Constitutes another example of the systematic support by Congress of enhanced US-Israel cooperation.

The decisive role played by Congress in the replenishment of the “Iron Dome” underscores the cardinal rule of the US political system: The President proposes, but Congress disposes.

The involvement of Senators and House Representatives in foreign policy and national security-related issues has surged since the Vietnam War, Watergate and Iran Gate scandals, the dismantling of the USSR (which transformed the world from a bi-polar to a multi-polar) and rapidly-expanding globalization.

In fact, former Secretary of State, Jim Baker, complained about the growing congressional assertiveness in the area of foreign policy: “You can’t conduct foreign policy with 535 Secretaries of State….”  Former Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, criticized Congress for micromanaging the defense budget: dictating how much to spend on particular weapons, imposing detailed requirements and programmatic restrictions, venturing into policy-setting and requesting that the Department of Defense submits mountains of reports.

Congressional muscles 

The US Congress is the most powerful legislature in the world, and it has demonstrated its co-equal, co-determining muscle in the areas of foreign and defense policies on many occasions, such as:

*Imposing sanctions against foreign countries in defiance of Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump (e.g., Egypt – 2012, Iran – 1996-97 and 2013, Russia – 2017);
*Non-ratification of the 2015 JCPOA, which enabled withdrawal by the US;
*The 2009 non-closure of the Guantanamo Detention Camp was led by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV-D), in defiance of President Obama.
*The 2009 non-confirmation of Charles Freeman to the Director of National Intelligence was led by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D);
*The 1999 non-ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in defiance of President Clinton and the international community;
*The unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperation took place despite stiff opposition by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker;
*The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act overrode President Reagan’s veto;
*The 1984 Boland Amendment aborted President Reagan’s financial and military aid to anti-Communist elements in Nicaragua;
*The 1983 blocking of President Reagan’s attempted coup against the Surinam pro-Soviet regime;
*The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act mandated congressional authorization of surveillance of persons and organizations, which may threaten national security;
*The 1975/76 Tunney (CA-D) and Clark Amendments stopped financial and military covert support of the opposition to the pro-Soviet regime in Angola;
*The 1973 Church-Case Amendment ended funding of military involvement in Southeast Asia;
*The 1973 War Powers Act overrode President Nixon’s veto;
*The Jackson-Vanik Amendment preconditioned aid to Moscow upon free immigration.

Congress empowered by the Constitution

As documented in the aforementioned paragraphs, one is advised to note that while Congress is preoccupied with District and State issues, it has the power to both propose and dispose in the areas of foreign and defense policies.

The US Constitution aspires for a limited government and a non-monarchical president, and therefore does not limit Congress to overseeing the budget. It provides the Senate and the House of Representatives with the power to act on strategic issues and policy-setting.

The Constitution accords Congress ”the power of the purse,” oversight of government operations, ratification of treaties, confirmation of key appointments, declaration of war, funding of military operations and cooperation with foreign entities, creation and elimination of government agencies, imposing sanctions on foreign governments, etc.

In other words, the President is the “commander in-chief” within constraints, which are set by Congress.


The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb